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Antidepressant Q&A for expats

A useful resource to answer questions you may have about depression medication while living away from home

How do antidepressants work?

Antidepressants help restore the balance of important chemicals in the brain that affect your mood.

Are antidepressants addictive?

No. Antidepressants are not addictive or habit-forming, and they do not give you a ‘high’.

How long will it take before my medication starts working?

Antidepressants are different from cold medicines or pain relievers. It can take a few weeks before they begin to work. And you should continue to take the medication even if you are feeling better to prevent depression from returning.

In many cases, sleep and appetite are the first things to improve. It may take a little longer for mood and energy to improve.

If you do not improve after about six weeks, you can talk with your doctor about changing the dose or trying a different medication.

How long will I have to take the antidepressant?

Once you feel better, you might stay on your medication for a matter of months or longer. But every person is different. So it is important to speak with your doctor before you stop taking your medication.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose of the medication?

Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take a double dose unless you clear it with your doctor.

Can I drink alcohol while on antidepressants?

Ask your doctor first. Alcohol can sometimes cause a bad reaction when mixed with antidepressants. It can also make you feel worse.

Is it safe to take antidepressants with other medications?

In most cases, the answer is yes. But it’s very important to talk with your doctor about everything else you are taking. This includes other prescription medications as well as vitamins and over-the-counter drugs. Your doctor or pharmacist can also tell you which drugs are safe to take with antidepressants.

Can I stop taking the medication once I start feeling better?

You should not stop taking the antidepressant on your own. This sometimes causes withdrawal symptoms. Or your depression could come back.

Your body took time to adjust when you started taking your antidepressant. Your body also needs time to adjust when you stop taking it. It’s best to talk with your doctor if you feel ready to stop taking your antidepressant. Certain antidepressants may have a “weaning off” schedule with follow-up doctor visits recommended.

Can an antidepressant help me with other problems?

Antidepressants can sometimes help with some other conditions such as anxiety. Your doctor can discuss this with you and decide whether an antidepressant might be appropriate.

What if I’m already taking an antidepressant before I move abroad?

Every country has its own regulations and restrictions when it comes to bringing medications with you. Check with your prescribing doctor or international health insurer for the customs policy in the country you’re moving to. Whenever you travel, always carry your medications in their original containers accompanied by your prescription.

Can a psychiatrist remotely prescribe antidepressants for me while I’m living abroad?

Possibly. If you have been able to consult with a prescribing doctor via phone or video chat through our virtual health service or other means, you may be able to have that prescription filled in person where you are or by mail.

Aetna International members can have their medications shipped to their location if that country’s customs regulations allow it. Through our partnership with Expatriate Prescription Services (EPS), we can ship up to a 12-month supply of allowed medications to 140 countries and territories.

Can I have antidepressant refills shipped to me while living abroad?

Whether you can have refills shipped to you depends on where you’re living. Check the customs regulations for your country and ask your prescribing doctor.

Aetna International members can have their medication refills shipped to their location if that country’s customs regulations allow it. Through our partnership with Expatriate Prescription Services (EPS), we can ship up to a 12-month supply of allowed medications to 140 countries and territories.

How does shipping through Aetna International/EPS work?

Our members can order antidepressants and other covered prescriptions online and have them shipped directly to them almost anywhere in the world. This is especially useful when they find it difficult or unsafe to fill their prescriptions locally. This gives them easy access to high-quality, lower-cost medications delivered efficiently with minimal customs issues. Learn more

Our CARE team can help you with any antidepressant questions or one-to-one help. Contact Aetna International in your region.

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