Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas

Your Benefits & Coverage

What Are Antidepressants and How Do They Work?

Antidepressants are medicine that may help you if you’ve had:

  • Two or more weeks of very low or sad moods
  • Loss of joy in normal day-to-day activity
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Appetite or energy level changes
  • Negative thinking or self-talk (what you say to yourself)
  • A hard time focusing
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts about death or suicide

Antidepressants work well mainly when used along with counseling. One type of counseling that can help is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps people learn skills to change how they think and act to improve their mood. These new skills can help people learn better ways to cope with life’s challenges.

Antidepressants do not cure depression, but they lessen the symptoms of depression by raising the activity of certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Antidepressants help nerve cells talk with each other in the brain. This helps improve mood, focus and motivation so people can start to feel better.

A major depression event can last six months or longer. Often a doctor will suggest taking antidepressants for six to 12 months. Most people start to feel better on antidepressants within a few weeks. This may make them think all is back to normal, but it may not be.

It is important to follow the doctor’s recommendations and keep taking antidepressants even when you start feeling better. Stopping antidepressants early can result in the depressive symptoms coming back. Always ask your doctor before stopping a medication.

For questions concerning behavioral health issues, call Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) at the number on the back of your ID card.

Want to learn more about depression? Go to the My Health tab on Blue Access for MembersSM or Care onTargetSM for more facts.

The Behavioral Health program is available only to members whose health plans include behavioral health benefits through BCBSTX.