How to Know if You Need Antidepressants

« Back to All Blogs
Published:  March 31, 2022

Depression is a serious mental health condition that can impact your life in many ways. If you are struggling with depression, you may be wondering if you need antidepressants. The first step to finding the right depression treatment is to meet with a qualified psychiatrist or nurse practitioner who can provide a diagnosis and treatment plan that meets your unique needs.

Below are some common questions you might be asking yourself about depression and antidepressants:

  1. Do I feel like I’m in a dark place most of the time?
  2. Am I able to improve my mood through other treatments or lifestyle changes?
  3. Am I struggling to enjoy things that used to make me happy?
  4. Have my eating habits or sleeping patterns changed?
  5. Am I having trouble focusing on tasks?
  6.  Do I feel hopeless or like my situation will never get better?

Medication is not the answer for everyone. Your psychiatrist can evaluate your condition and help you find the right treatment or combination of treatments to improve your symptoms of depression.

1. Do I feel like I’m in a dark place most of the time?

When considering medication for depression, it’s important to understand the difference between normal periods of sadness and clinical depression.

Sadness is a natural emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. If your depression has been brought on by a specific event or situation, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a period of ongoing stress, you may not need medication. In cases like these, therapy and support from family and friends may be all you need to get through this tough time.

If your depression is unrelated to any life events and has lasted longer than two weeks, it may be time to seek medical treatment from a psychiatrist.

2. Am I unable to improve my mood through other treatments or lifestyle changes?

Lifestyle changes are no substitute for professional mental health treatment, but many individuals find that creating positive routines can help reduce negative thoughts, anxiety, and feelings of despair.

Before prescribing antidepressants, your psychiatrist may recommend:

  • Improving your sleep hygiene
  • Evaluating your nutrition and diet
  • Creating a consistent exercise regimen
  • Spending more time outdoors
  • Developing a support network
  • Reducing stress

These lifestyle changes can reduce mild symptoms of depression without the need for medication. However, if these efforts do not provide relief, then you should discuss the option of taking antidepressants with your doctor.

3. Am I struggling to enjoy things that used to make me happy?

If you used to enjoy activities such as going for walks, playing sports, or listening to music, but are now struggling to find joy in these things, it could be a sign of depression.

Depression can cause anhedonia—the inability to experience pleasure from activities that were once enjoyable. If you feel like activities that used to make you happy no longer have the same effect, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Finding the right psychiatrist can be a great first step to finding joy in life again! 

Antidepressants may be able to help by improving your brain chemistry and restoring balance in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which helps regulate mood. Additionally, antidepressants can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress that could be contributing to your depression. 

4. Have my eating habits or sleeping patterns changed?

If you have noticed changes in your eating habits—such as a decrease in appetite, increased cravings for sweet foods, or significant weight gain or loss—it could be a sign that you are struggling with depression.

You should also pay attention to your sleeping patterns. If you are having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or oversleeping, it could mean that your brain is not producing enough serotonin and other hormones needed for normal sleep cycles.

In some cases, antidepressants can help restore balance to your sleeping and eating patterns. Certain antidepressants may also help improve energy levels and motivation and productivity throughout the day, which may help you feel less restless at bedtime.

5. Am I having trouble focusing on tasks?

Depression and anxiety can both cause difficulty concentrating, making it hard to focus on work, school, or any other activities. If you find yourself struggling to stay attentive, or if you are constantly feeling overwhelmed and unable to complete tasks, it may be a sign of depression.

Antidepressants can help improve focus by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate attention. They can also reduce intrusive thoughts that interfere with concentration.

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you are struggling with focus or concentration, as there may be other underlying causes or conditions that need to be addressed.

6. Do I feel hopeless or like my situation will never get better?

Depression can cause feelings of hopelessness and despair, which can make it difficult to find the motivation or take action in improving your life. If you are feeling like there is no way out of your current situation, then it may be a sign that you need antidepressants.

Antidepressants can help lift the fog of depression, enabling you to focus on positive solutions and develop an action plan for getting better. Additionally, antidepressants can reduce feelings of guilt and worthlessness that often accompany depression.

If you feel like your situation will never improve, know that there is hope. At P.S. Psychiatry, our providers can work with you to develop a treatment plan that addresses both the symptoms and causes of your depression. Request a virtual appointment to get started.