Side Effects – Antidepressants
The antidepressants most commonly prescribed for treating symptoms of bipolar disorder can also cause mild side effects that usually do not last long. These can include:
- Headache, which usually goes away within a few days.
- Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), which usually goes away within a few days.
- Sleep problems, such as sleeplessness or drowsiness. This may happen during the first few weeks but then go away. To help lessen these effects, sometimes the medication dose can be reduced, or the time of day it is taken can be changed.
- Agitation (feeling jittery).
- Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women. These include reduced sex drive and problems having and enjoying sex.
Some antidepressants are more likely to cause certain side effects than other types. Your doctor or pharmacist can answer questions about these medications. Any unusual reactions or side effects should be reported to a doctor immediately.
Should women who are pregnant or may become pregnant take medication for bipolar disorder?
Women with bipolar disorder who are pregnant or may become pregnant face special challenges. The mood stabilizing medications in use today can harm a developing fetus or nursing infant. But stopping medications, either suddenly or gradually, greatly increases the risk that bipolar symptoms will recur during pregnancy.
Scientists are not sure yet, but lithium is likely the preferred mood-stabilizing medication for pregnant women with bipolar disorder. However, lithium can lead to heart problems in the fetus. Women need to know that most bipolar medications are passed on through breast milk. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should talk to their doctors about the benefits and risks of all available treatments.
The Psychotropic Drug Advisory Service (PDAS) in Melbourne is an independent source for information on medicines used to treat mental illnesses and other drugs that affect the way we think, feel and behave. Service users include individuals, medical practitioners, health care professionals, mental health care support organisations and their staff, carers and consumers. Though predominantly telephone based, the service is also accessed via email and facsimile.
PDAS provides advice on:-
- Treatment choice
- Treatment response
- Adverse effects of medications, as well as other psychoactive substances
- Interactions between medications and other drugs
- Specific information on the use of medications by special populations (e.g. children, adolescents, the elderly and women who are pregnant or breast feeding)