Pharmacology Antidepressants #5

Question

A patient reports, “I have been taking this new antidepressant for a full week and it is not working!” The patient requests a prescription for a different antidepressant. Which response is most appropriate for the nurse to give to the patient?

Answers

  1. "I will let the provider know so we can call in another prescription for you."
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the patient needs to continue to take the new antidepressant since antidepressants generally take from 2-6 weeks to become effective and therapeutic. It is not appropriate for the nurse to report this to the provider since the medication has not had adequate time to be therapeutic.

  2. "Keep taking the medication as prescribed. It could take 2-6 weeks to work."
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because antidepressants can take from 2-6 weeks to become effective and therapeutic. Patients should be educated about this concept so to know what to expect and facilitate compliance. Patients often think antidepressants will begin to make them “all better” in a few days to a week and may become frustrated if depression is lingering. The nurse should assure the patient to be patient since this class of medication can take a number of weeks to begin to make the patient feel better.

  3. "Your new medication could take 2-4 months to work so try to be patient."
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because antidepressants can take from 2-6 weeks to become effective and therapeutic. The time frame of 2-4 months is too long for the patient to wait before reporting the medication is not helping their depression symptoms.

  4. "You should have felt better in 2-3 days, let me schedule you to see the provider."
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because the patient needs to continue to take the new antidepressant since antidepressants generally take from 2-6 weeks to become effective and therapeutic. It is not appropriate for the nurse to schedule this patient to see the health care provider since the medication has not had adequate time to be therapeutic.

Overview

Antidepressants generally take 2-6 weeks to become therapeutic for the depressed patient.

Explanation

Learning Outcomes

Antidepressants can take from 2-6 weeks to become effective and therapeutic. Patients should be educated about this concept so to know what to expect and facilitate compliance. Patients often think antidepressants will begin to make them “all better” in a few days to a week and may become frustrated if depression is lingering. The nurse should assure the patient to be patient since this class of medication can take a number of weeks to begin to make the patient feel better. Family members should also be cautioned to monitor the patient carefully for suicide. As the patient begins to feel a little better, energy levels may increase enough to allow the patient to have the energy to actually act on their suicidal intentions.

Test Taking Tip

Patient education is extremely important. Therefore, nurses should understand many details about medications being prescribed, including the class, what to expect, how to take the medication, and what to report.

Video Rationale