Starting an antidepressant

Trying a new medication for depression can be scary. But there are ways to make it better.
That’s why we put together these 4 helpful tips.


You’re not alone.

Learn from people who’ve been there.

Chances are you know someone who’s going through depression too—even if you haven’t talked about it. Every year, about 16 million Americans have a bout of depression. And 1 in 10 people in the U.S. are taking an antidepressant.

  • Read medication reviews.

    Iodine has reviews from thousands of people who have taken antidepressants. If you want to know what other people have tried, and what they think of a medication, find that on our depression page to see what people say about it.

  • Watch videos.

    British researchers put together a helpful series of video interviews of people talking about their decision to take antidepressants for the first time.


It’s a trial and error process.

But you’re in the driver’s seat.
The first antidepressant you try might not work for you.
Most people (more than half) need to try more than one medication before they find one that works in their life. It’s all about one that works well and has the fewest side effects that interfere with your life. You and your doctor will work together to try a medication that might work best, but you’ll have to check in a few weeks after you start to decide whether it’s right for you.
Compare depression meds
There’s no test to find out if your antidepressant is working.
The only way to know if your medication is working is to keep a close eye on your actions and feelings. Between 2 and 4 weeks in, you should be seeing signs of it working. By 6 weeks, you should know how well your dose works for you.
It takes a few weeks to try a medication.
In general, you have to start with a lower dose and increase it according to your doctor’s instructions. And you can’t stop your antidepressant suddenly. Instead, you have to take a few days to a couple of weeks to slowly lower your dose.
Side effects are common.
Many go away after your body gets used to the medication.

Here’s a timeline of what to expect when starting Cymbalta (duloxetine).
These are some of the most common side effects, according to our pharmacists.

  • First few hoursHours
    First few daysDays
    First few weeksWeeks
    First few monthsMonths
  • Effectiveness
  • Starts to kick in
    Full effects
  • First few hoursHours
    First few daysDays
    First few weeksWeeks
    First few monthsMonths
  • Possible side effects
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constipation

The Mayo Clinic has helpful tips for dealing with common antidepressant side effects.


No single antidepressant works best.

Finding the one that works best for you is what matters.

Antidepressants are similar, but not exactly the same. If you are trying one to see if it works for you, it’s helpful to know a little bit about it. And how it compares to others.

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is good for treating depression, anxiety, and some forms of chronic pain, but it is more likely than other antidepressants to cause problems if you drink alcohol or have high blood pressure.

Learn more about Cymbalta (duloxetine)

  • Upsides
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine) may help relieve nerve pain from diabetes and other forms of chronic pain.
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine) has several uses, which may be good for people with multiple conditions.
  • Available as a generic, which is cheaper.
  • Downsides
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine) may not be a good option if you're a heavy drinker, or have liver or kidney problems.
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine) can increase high blood pressure.
  • Like most antidepressants, Cymbalta (duloxetine) can cause higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people aged 24 and younger.