College of Veterinary Medicine

Counseling & Wellness Services

Self-Help Information:
Understanding Anti-Depressants 

What are the common psychological signs of depression?
  • Mood of sadness, despair, or emptiness
  • Decreased ability to experience pleasure
  • Low self-esteem
  • Apathy, low motivation, social withdrawal
  • Excessive emotional sensitivity
  • Negative pessimistic thinking
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal ideas
  • Decreased concentration or ability to perform daily activities, forgetfulness
  • What are the common physiological signs of depression?
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Increase or decrease in weight
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Restlessness, agitation
  • Fluctuations in mood
  • Sleep disturbance-early morning awakening, frequent awakenings during the night, excessive sleeping
  • Is medication an effective form of treatment for depression?

    Yes! Anti-depressants are up to 80% effective for the treatment of depression and are a good adjunct to counseling for reducing depressive symptoms.

    Common Anti-Depressants

    Generic Brand
    Citalopram Celexa®
    Venlafaxine Effexor®
    Paroxetine Paxil®
    Fluoxetine Prozac®
    Bupropion Wellbutrin®
    Sertraine Zoloft®

    How do they work?

    Most anti-depressants work by restoring the balance of certain natural chemicals in the brain.

    These medications are not habit forming!

    How long does it take the medication to work?

    It may take two to four weeks before the full benefits of the medication take effect.

    How long will I have to take the medication?

    Length of treatment usually ranges from six to nine months for mild to moderate depression. However, treatment may be longer for more severe forms of depression. It is very important to continue taking the medication as prescribed even if you feel well!

    Do anti-depressants interact with other medications?

    Alcohol and recreational drugs should not be taken with anti-depressants! Consult with your physician about drug interactions with other prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs.

    Common Side Effects

    Important: You may initially see only side effects, but they should decrease over the course of one to two weeks and then diminish over time. Not all the medications listed above have all of the following side effects. Ask your physician which side effects to expect from the medication prescribed to you.

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Sexual side effects
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lightheadedness
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Rash/itching
  • Nervousness
  • Ways to Minimize Some Side Effects

  • Nausea - take medication with meals
  • Drowsiness - take medication at bedtime
  • Insomnia - take medication in the morning

  • Need Additional Help?

    Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine Counseling and Wellness Services offer free individual counseling for these and related issues for veterinary students (WSU Veterinary Students ONLY). For more information or to schedule an appointment call or e-mail:

    Anne LaFrance, MA, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
    (509) 335-4607
    135A McCoy Hall

    NOTE:  The information contained in these self help documents is not to be used as a substitute for professional care.  Neither the authors, Washington State University nor the College of Veterinary Medicine assume liability for injury incurred by following the information presented in these self-help documents
    Last Edited: May 13, 2014 12:43 PM   

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