Understanding the pros and cons of antidepressants can help an individual decide if they are the right treatment for them.

Antidepressant medications can help relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other conditions. Many people benefit from antidepressants. However, they may not work for everyone. They may also cause side effects, although these are typically mild.

Around 13% of adults in the United States take antidepressants. Prescriptions of these medications have continued to increase in recent years.

Antidepressants can help reduce symptoms of depression. These may include feelings of hopelessness, tiredness, or sleep disturbances. However, antidepressants may also cause side effects like appetite loss, headaches, or weight gain.

This article will explore the pros and cons of antidepressants. Keep reading to learn about what they do, potential side effects, and more.

Black and white image of a female dancing in the kitchenShare on Pinterest
Maskot/Getty Images

The effectiveness of antidepressants depends on a number of factors. Some individuals may benefit from certain types of antidepressants more than others. They are typically most effective for individuals with severe, long-term depression.

Antidepressants may also take some time to produce an effect. In some cases, antidepressants may begin to work within a couple of weeks. However, it may take longer in other cases.

Researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of antidepressants over placebo. One review found that antidepressants were more effective than placebo in over 500 different trials.

Overall, how effective an antidepressant is depends on the individual. Some people may also benefit from taking a combination of different antidepressants at the same time. To learn more about the effectiveness of antidepressants, speak with a healthcare professional.

Learn more about antidepressants.

Antidepressants can help reduce the symptoms of depression. They can also help prevent a relapse.

Improved quality of life and motivation

The symptoms of depression can have a negative effect on quality of life. Antidepressants can help address these symptoms to improve overall quality of life.

One study looked at people with anxiety, depression, or a combination of the two. After 36 weeks, over 90% of these individuals reported improved sleep. They also reported improvements in their quality of life and overall pleasure.

Improving life satisfaction can increase feelings of motivation. Boosting sleep quality can also make day-to-day tasks easier.

Symptom relief

Antidepressants can help relieve common depression symptoms. These may include:

  • feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • feelings of sadness
  • reduced energy levels
  • tiredness
  • difficulties with focus or decision-making
  • appetite changes
  • weight loss or gain
  • lack of interest in favorite activities
  • sleeping too much or too little

Relieving depression symptoms can help speed recovery in certain cases.

Overall safety

In most cases, antidepressants do not cause serious side effects. They may cause mild side effects for some individuals. However, these effects typically resolve on their own over time.

Antidepressants may not be safe for everyone. For example, healthcare professionals typically do not recommend antidepressants for pregnant individuals. This is to prevent any potential effects on a developing fetus. To learn more about antidepressant safety, consult with a healthcare professional.

Many individuals have a positive experience with taking antidepressants. However, these medications can be less effective or suitable for others.

Side effects

Some people may experience negative side effects while taking antidepressants. These side effects may include:

In rare cases, certain antidepressants can increase thoughts of suicide. This is particularly common among younger individuals. Anyone experiencing this or other side effects should speak with a healthcare or mental health professional. They may recommend stopping the medication or trying a different antidepressant.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

Was this helpful?

Delayed onset

Antidepressants may also take some time to work. Individuals may have to take an antidepressant for up to 8 weeks before noticing any improvements.

Individuals with moderate or severe depression should speak with a healthcare professional to learn more. They may recommend additional treatments like psychotherapy. A combination of medication and psychotherapy is a common treatment for depression.


Research has shown that the stigma surrounding antidepressants persists to this day. Some people may avoid taking antidepressants because of these negative stereotypes.


The cost of antidepressants may also deter people from taking them. One study found that prescription medications in the United States cost 256% more than in other countries.

Some insurance plans or pharmaceutical companies may provide partial or full coverage of these costs. Speak with an insurance provider or healthcare professional to learn more about payment options and discounts.

Not all antidepressants work for everyone

Each person may respond better to some antidepressants than others. Some people may have to try multiple antidepressants before they find the right one. Others may not see improvement even after they have tried multiple different antidepressants.

Individuals should speak with a healthcare or mental health professional about other treatment options if antidepressants are not effective.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about antidepressants.

How good do antidepressants make you feel?

Antidepressants can help relieve depression symptoms and boost overall mood and life enjoyment. Some people may experience complete recovery from their depression. Others may experience reduced symptoms as part of their recovery journey.

Do antidepressants make you gain weight?

Certain antidepressants can lead to weight gain. One 10-year study found that the increased use of antidepressants might even be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

However, other antidepressants may also lead to weight loss. The effects of each antidepressant can vary between individuals. To learn more about which antidepressants affect weight, speak with a healthcare professional.

At what point is it worth trying antidepressants?

Antidepressants are particularly helpful for individuals with severe depression. People experiencing severe symptoms of depression may choose to try antidepressants.

What percentage of people get better on antidepressants?

The percentage of people who get better on antidepressants depends on the individual and the type of medication. Some people may make a full recovery with antidepressants. Others may require additional treatments, like therapy, to see improvement.

Antidepressants can help relieve the symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions. Most people who take these medications do not experience serious side effects.

However, antidepressants can cause uncomfortable side effects in certain cases. They may work better for some individuals than others.

There’s no single cure-all treatment for depression. Each individual may respond better to a different antidepressant. Or they may recover with a combination of medications, therapy, and other treatment options. Speak with a healthcare professional to learn more about a personalized treatment plan.