Antidepressants are a type of medicine used to treat clinical depression. Like any good medic on your team, they can also be used to treat a number of other conditions, including:

  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • generalised anxiety disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • some physical conditions


Antidepressants work by boosting or prolonging the activity of particular brain chemicals, such as noradrenaline and serotonin, which are thought to be linked to mood and emotion.

They are often used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression or other mental health conditions. This is because although antidepressants can treat the symptoms of depress, they don’t always tackle its causes.


Different antidepressants can have a range of different side effects. Always check the information leaflet that comes with your medicine to see what the possible side effects are.

Antidepressants usually need to be taken for at least 1 or 2 weeks (without missing a dose) before the benefit starts to be felt. The most common side effects of antidepressants are usually mild, and should improve within a few days or weeks of treatment, as the body gets used to the medicine.


The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you’re taking. See the Yellow Card Scheme website for more information.