How long will you have to take antidepressants?
Usually, these drugs must be taken regularly for at least 4 to 8 weeks before their full benefit takes effect. You are monitored closely during this time to detect the development of side effects and to determine the effectiveness of treatment.
In order to prevent a relapse of depression, medicines are generally prescribed for 6 to 12 months after a first-time depression. When you and your provider determine that you are better, you should expect to continue the medication for at least 4 to 6 additional months. After this, your provider may gradually taper you off your medicine.
If you feel better, can you stop taking antidepressants?
Once you and your provider have determined it is safe for you to stop taking your medicine altogether, you should continue to be monitored during periodic follow-up appointments (about every three months) to detect any signs of depression returning.
Long-term treatment with antidepressant medicine may be recommended to prevent further episodes of depression in people who have already had two or more episodes of major depression. A history of depression in one’s family is another factor that supports long-term treatment.