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How Long Do Antidepressants Take To Work?

Depression and anxiety have become very common in our life. Millions of people have fallen prey to these invisible yet highly damaging health hazards and the number is increasing every moment. Generally, when a person suffers from depression or anxiety, doctors usually prescribes antidepressants. Antidepressant medicines help to improve the mood and reduce the level of depression. However, whenever doctors prescribe it to a patient the first question that comes into his mind is that how long do antidepressants take to work.

How Long Do Antidepressants Take to Work?

How Long Do Antidepressants Take to Work?

An antidepressant is a kind of medicine that is usually prescribed by most of the doctors for the treatment of clinical depression. There are various types of antidepressants available in the. Antidepressants mainly work by impacting the neurochemicals that are present in our brains such as serotonin. However, when people start taking the antidepressants they wonder when they will get relief from their anxiety or depression and when the antidepressants will start working.

Antidepressants may begin to act within one or two weeks but it may take longer to note improvement in symptoms.1 It depends on the type of antidepressant and the way they act. The effect also depends to a great extent on a person. Some people may note improvement in symptoms sooner while some may take a while.

All antidepressants do not work with the same time period. It is mostly seen that the antidepressants may take few weeks to show some symptom improvement. Usually great benefits of antidepressants are usually seen after taking for a longer period of about 8 to 12 weeks. Thus, if you are wondering about how long do antidepressants take to work, you need to understand the variation in the types of medications and a person’s health.

One of the most common antidepressants that are usually prescribed by doctors in modern times is Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Some common Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are Citalopram (Celexa), Paroxetine (Paxil), Escitalopram (Lexapro) and Fluoxetine (Prozac). These medication claims that the patient will start observing the effect within 2 weeks.

Apart from that, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and tricyclic antidepressants are the older class of antidepressants which are also very often prescribed by the doctors to the patient to fight with the anxiety, depression and other mental disorder. These medications usually take two to six weeks for working in most of the people. However, some people may get the benefit of this class of antidepressants within three to four weeks. Yet, one can never say exactly when the antidepressants will show you the effect. Every person is different and the way antidepressants act and how long they take to work varies from person to person.

It is seen that antidepressants do not work in the same manner for every patient especially when the antidepressants is taken for the first time. Some people may find it ineffective while some may experience some side effects. In any case, it is important to seek medical advice and follow it appropriately. It is necessary to consult the doctor so that the doctor can either prescribe the antidepressants of another class or increase the dosage to the patient.


It is seen that there are a different types of antidepressants. The antidepressants need to show their effect on reducing depression and anxiety in a person, which largely depends on the classes of antidepressants and the health condition of the person. Most of the people get frustrated when they see that the antidepressants are not working on them. In such cases, it is advisable to consult the doctor whether the class of antidepressants needs to be changed or the dose needs to be adjusted. How long do antidepressants take to work may vary, but if you observe that the symptoms of the anxiety are not reduced even after taking antidepressants for six to eight weeks, seek medical adivce.


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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 19, 2021

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