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Despite evidence of favourable outcomes, many Canadians still have concerns about the safety of antidepressants. Concern is wise – when it leads to good conversations with health-care providers, pharmacists and others armed with the facts. But when concern is based on old stereotypes, it may prevent some from trying a life-changing solution. Randy Howden, a pharmacist and owner of two Medicine Shoppes in Calgary, says most customers are worried about side-effects and getting "stuck" on medication.

Unfortunately, the first is somewhat true – most medications do come with a hefty list of side-effects. But that doesn't mean putting up with them.

"If there are concerns with medications, pharmacists can work with the patient and their care team to find solutions," says Mr. Howden. "Sometimes this means a medication or dose change, and they can assist the patient in building a plan and communicating with the prescriber."

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As for "getting stuck," Mr. Howden says the more common issue is giving up too soon.

"Many patients don't continue the medications long enough. When the depression seems to improve or resolve, many patients stop," he says. "We have good information now showing that continuing on an antidepressant for one year following resolution of symptoms is important to reduce the chance of relapse."

He adds that while antidepressants are effective and safe under a healthcare provider's regular supervision, people shouldn't expect an overnight improvement.

"Antidepressants take time to start working. This varies depending on the medication and the patient. We have to give the body some time to respond and see an improvement in mood."


This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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