Medication Information

When there has been a change in mood, many people feel that taking medication often comes with a stigma attached to it and that it is a sign of weakness. This is not the case. Taking medication is an effective treatment that should not be overlooked as it may be the right thing for you at this particular time.

However, there are common mental health problems that may not require an antidepressant or anxiolytic. It may be changes to your lifestyle, thinking and involvement in those/things around you that may be of most benefit.

Medication is commonly known and used as a treatment to manage mood changes,so speak to your GP. Whilst this website is designed to help people help themselves, medication is still a very effective treatment of some mood disorders. You may:

  • have tried self help and feel you may need medication
  • you may be somebody who has been on medication and wishes to reduce the dose or plan to stop; using self help techniques.


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE 2009) recommends a GP to wait and see how somebody’s mood develops (known as ‘watchful waiting’) in the first instance. It is then likely the patient is seen again within the space of 2 weeks. Sleep management techniques and anxiety and depression management can help some people with mild to moderate symptoms. For other people, exercise or guided self-help may be more beneficial.


Others may do best with structured therapies, like cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling.

Different types of medication

Antidepressant medication and more intensive psychological therapies, such as longer-term CBT are not usually recommended for mild symptoms of depression, though antidepressants may be considered for mild depression that persists and/or if you have a had a severe form of depression in the past. Antidepressants are thought to work by increasing the activity of certain chemicals in our brains on  neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters pass signals from one brain cell to another (RCP 2012).  They are often referred to as “Happy Pills”, however they are more likely to improve your sleep, appetite and improve concentration than create happiness. It is when we think well, eat well and sleep well that daily functioning improves therefore; we feel well.

It widely thought that feeling an improvement in your mood,  from using an antidepressant may be between 4-6 weeks. It is recommended to stay on an antidepressant for a minimum of 6 months and  up to two years; whereby its effectiveness may begin to decrease. It is within this time period that you could work with your antidepressant by looking at changes you can make to your lifestyle, socialising, self development etc You may also want to look at managing the things that may have contributed to your mood decreasing in the first place.

Click here to learn about the different types of antidepressants and visit this website by the charity MIND on making sense of antidepressants. To learn about specific medications, visit the electronic medicines compendium website, where you can type in the name of a prescribed drug and get information about its use and dosage. If you wish to know more about discontinuation symptoms click here and read about the side effects when stopping or reducing antidepressants.

Anxiolytics - The term anxiolytic is now commonly replaced with the term anti-anxiety medication. Many anxiolytic drugs are also used to help promote better sleep, but primary use, as the name implies is to promote a state of calm. They belong to several classes, including benzodiazepines and antidepressants. If you feel you have been affected with dependence on benzodiazepines, visit this website, which is recommended by the organisation Anxiety UK, for information on benzodiazepines and how to reduce them. However, you must speak to your GP on how to reduce them safely and at a steady pace that reduces any problems.

Other types of medication that may have anxiety-relieving properties are beta-blockers.  However, none of these medications can cure anxiety disorders.  They help by reducing some of the symptoms associated with Anxiety.

If you feel that you wish to discuss either commencing medication to help your mood or wish to reduce it, then speak to you GP. They will be able to discuss the most appropriate treatment option for you. Another great resource, is your local community pharmacist. They can answer queries you may have and point you in the right direction. You can also look at the live life well links below to look at how what lifestyle changes you may make.

Whilst care has been taken to research reputable websites for information and guidance, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are not responsible  for the content of external websites.



NICE CG90 Depression: clinical guidelines

RCP 2012 Antidepressants.

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