DepressionMental Health

Managing Medication Side Effects For Anxiety and Depression

Living with anxiety or depression is already difficult for millions of people, but taking prescribed medications with strong or regularly-occurring side effects can make life challenging in other ways. While it’s true that every drug has side effects, some are more consistent and severe for people who take antidepressants, which are widely used to treat both depression and anxiety. 

Just how vulnerable you are to these side effects usually depends on a variety of different factors, including biological makeup, whether you’re taking other medications simultaneously, and the environments local to where you live. Let’s take a closer look at some common uncomfortable side effects that can result from taking antidepressants in order to understand how to manage them for a better quality of life.

Brain Fog

Depression can produce a wide range of symptoms, including cognitive developments that people commonly describe as brain fog. Antidepressants and even common painkillers are among the types of medicines that have the potential to make your head feel fuzzy and make it difficult to concentrate. You may also find it difficult to remember names or words or easily process information, all of which can prevent you from accomplishing your goals.


Management Strategy:

Luckily, once you finish your treatment, the foggy feeling in your head should stop. But in the meantime, try to take notes of important details for work or during conversation to stay on top of things. You can also use a voice recorder before taking your treatment to jog your memory while in the foggy state. In general, try to structure our day to handle the most complex tasks at times when you feel most alert.


Feeling dizzy is usually more common with tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) than with other types available. These medications come with a greater risk of causing low blood pressure, which results in dizziness.


Management Strategy: 

After taking your medication, try to remember to get up slowly from seated positions to help keep your blood pressure low. Use handrails and other support tools like canes or walkers, if applicable. Be sure to avoid driving or operating machinery, and stay hydrated throughout the day. Another useful tip is to take your medication close to bedtime, so long as your doctor approves.

Overactive Or Intermittent Bladder Control

While a small portion of antidepressants may actually help urinary incontinence, most come with the risk of making symptoms worse. Some drugs, including Antidepressants and pain relievers, have the potential to keep your bladder from fully emptying when it normally would. This can make your body leak urine without much control, causing understandable stress, frustration, and confusion.


Management Strategy:

One of the easiest solutions is to cut back on fluids for the time being. Try to avoid caffeinated soda, drinking tea, and coffee-based drinks. They all come with the potential to function like diuretics, making you go to the bathroom more. To catch unpreventable leaks and hide unwanted odors, try pads or highly absorbent underwear. If you believe your antidepressant is making your incontinence worse, contact your doctor about the possibility of changing your medication.


Constipation is typically associated with tricyclic antidepressants due to how they disturb normal digestive tract functionality and carry the potential to alter other bodily systems too. Other antidepressants may cause occasional constipation as well.


Management Strategy:

To treat constipation, drink lots of water and try to stick to high-fiber foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products with probiotics, like yogurt. Try to also exercise regularly and, if needed, take a fiber supplement like Metamucil. If none of these efforts work, be sure to ask your doctor for the best advice on stool softeners or even laxatives.

Changing Drugs

If you need to switch antidepressants or other anxiety medications due to uncomfortable or painful side effects, talk with your doctor first before quitting them altogether. This is important because some drugs need to be reduced slowly in order to prevent even greater negative side effects. Getting off any medication too fast could even make you sick. Your doctor will know how to best help you change your initial prescription and start your next medication.

TMS Center at Lehigh Valley is dedicated to helping you live your life to its healthiest and fullest. Contact us today for more information about our treatments and meet with our experienced team of professionals. Don’t let the side effects of your medications keep you from feeling comfortable and cared for.