Antidepressant Medications: Sample Directions For Taking Antidepressants

Instructions to Patients to be Read Before the Patient Leaves His Office
Joseph H. Talley, M.D.

IMPORTANT: These are sample directions (below) given out by one doctor and to be used accordingly. These do not apply to your specific situation or health. Please contact your personal healthcare provider for information on your health, any treatments or medications you may be taking.

Please read the following directions until you are certain that you understand them thoroughly, but call if there are any questions about your medications.

  1. The name of your antidepressant medication is circled below. The bold italized names are the chemical names for the brand names listed under them:
Imipramine Desipramine Amitriptyline Trazodone Protripyline Fluoxetine Sertraline
Tofranil Norpramine Elavil Desyrel Vivactil Prozac Zoloft
Tofranil-PM Pertofrane Endep        
Janimine Trimipramine Nortipyline Doxepin Maprotiline Amozapine Paroxetine
Pramine Surmontil Aventyl Adapin Ludiomil Asendin Paxil
Presamine   Pamelor Sinequan      
  1. Antidepressants must be taken regularly, not just when you feel like you need them. In other words, never stop taking the medications because you feel better and think you no longer need them. Stop them only when I tell you. Your treatment with antidepressants will last a minimum of four months.

  2. Take your medication all in one dose, and take them about four hours before you intend to go to bed. That will put some of your side effects such as drowsiness while you sleep. There are two exceptions: Trazodone (Desyrel) should be taken right at bedtime with a snack. Fluoxetine (Prozac) should be taken after arising.

  3. Most of the good effects of this antidepressant medication will not show themselves for about two-four weeks. Some of the medications will help you sleep right away, but all of the other beneficial effects will be delayed for two-four weeks or sometimes longer. When the medication does begin to work your headaches or other pain will go away. Your tendencies to cry and feel irritable will go away; in other words, you will feel like you are back to normal.

  4. When you do begin to feel back to normal, do not stop taking the antidepressant medication. If you do, within three or four days you will feel worse again.

  5. It is extremely important that I see you again after the first two weeks of treatment in order to evaluate whether the diagnosis and treatment is correct. Whatever you do, do not stop taking the antidepressant medication until you see me.

  6. If anything troublesome happens which you think may be due to the medication, call and let me know what is happening. Many times the problems will have nothing to do with the medication at all. However, it is true that with a few people there may be such reactions as constipation, blurring of vision, delay of urination. or a lot of perspiration. Such side effects are usually temporary and can be controlled other ways.

  7. You should be able to work, drive, and carry out your usual activities while taking the medicine. When first beginning the antidepressant, you should use some caution about driving or engaging in other hazardous activity until you see how the medicine will affect you. Usually you can do anything you wish, especially after the first two or three days. If you are too sleepy after that, or cannot sleep, it usually means that we need to change the type of antidepressant to one that gives more or less drowsiness, and I can easily do that by phone. Call if there is any problem.

  8. You should be aware that the safety of these antidepressant medications lies in the fact that you cannot hide from troublesome life situations with them. If, for example, you do not have the true medical disease of depression, but instead are only working too hard, you will receive no "energy" from these pills. If you do not have a depression, but instead are simply unhappy with a life situation that would make anyone unhappy, then the pills will give no happiness. If your headache or stomach ache are due to some other disease, the pills won't help. They only work when the disease depression is present, and in that situation they usually give dramatic and gratifying relief to all of the symptoms. Thus you can see the basic difference between these medications and such drugs as alcohol, "uppers", "nerve pills", sleeping pills and the like. These medications cannot be used as an escape from life's problems. and are not habit forming. The antidepressants cannot be used in that way, and that is their greatest safety feature.

Important: This is a sample set of directions handed out by a specific doctor to a specific patient. You are advised to follow your doctor's specific directions and ask your doctor any questions before making any changes in your medications or the way you take them.

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APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2008, November 29). Antidepressant Medications: Sample Directions For Taking Antidepressants, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: June 18, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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