How to manage the side effects of antidepressants

While all antidepressants have potential side effects, you may not experience them. Different people can respond quite differently to the same antidepressant.

If you are having trouble with side effects from your antidepressant, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how to manage them. You might also want to talk about whether a different antidepressant could give you less troublesome side effects.

Some side effects of antidepressants might go away after a few weeks of taking them. This usually applies to insomnia (sleep problems), nausea (sickness in the stomach) and dizziness. Others, such as sexual side effects, are not likely to go away if you are affected by them.

Some people feel nauseated when they first start an antidepressant — taking it with food might help if you get this side effect. This nausea usually goes away after a few weeks.

Read about antidepressants and driving.

Antidepressants & sexual side effects: what can you do?

You may get sexual side effects from your antidepressant, such as losing your sex drive, having difficulty reaching orgasm, or (for men) problems getting a strong erection.

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you get sexual side effects, as these can be difficult to deal with and may not go away if you are affected by them. Your doctor may be able to suggest a treatment option for you, for example:

If other strategies haven’t worked, taking an erectile dysfunction medicine may be an option for some men.

Keep in mind that it can be difficult to tell whether antidepressants are the cause of sexual problems, because depression itself can also be the cause.

For more tips on coping with antidepressant side effects, see Antidepressants: Get tips to cope with side effects on the Mayo Clinic website.

For more information

  • Bostwick JM. A generalist's guide to treating patients with depression with an emphasis on using side effects to tailor antidepressant therapy. Mayo Clin Proc 2010;85:538–50. [PubMed]
  • Taylor D, Paton C, Kapur S. The Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines, 10th edn. London: Informa Healthcare, 2009.
  • Psychotropic Expert Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: Psychotropic, Version 6. In: eTG complete [Internet]. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; 2008. (Accessed 9 February 2012)
  • Rossi S, ed. eAMH [online]. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook, 2012. (Accessed 9 February 2012).