It's Mental Health Awareness Month: Take Time to Evaluate Your Antidepressant

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(ARA) - Of the 15 million American adults who suffer from major depression each year, less than 25 percent currently receive treatment despite the fact that depression can be effectively managed with therapy and medication.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you are diagnosed with depression and currently taking an antidepressant, this is a good time to talk with your doctor about how you are doing. Antidepressants affect individuals differently, so it is important to let your doctor know how your antidepressant is working for you.

Medication can help reduce symptoms of depression. The first antidepressant you try may work fine. However, if it doesn't relieve your symptoms the way you think it should, or causes side effects that bother you, there may be other options to consider. Research has shown that not all medications work for all patients; that is why additional treatment options are needed.

This May, or at your next appointment, make it a point to speak candidly to your doctor about your treatment experience and whether your current antidepressant is the right option for you.

Tips for talking to your doctor

How do you know if your antidepressant is really working for you? Antidepressants work differently for different people. It is important to speak to your doctor about:

  • Your specific symptoms. Symptoms of depression can vary. It is important to share your symptoms with your doctor so he or she can take them into account when selecting a treatment for you. If you still have unresolved symptoms of depression, talk with your doctor.
  • Your current treatment experience. Some side effects, such as weight gain, reduced sex drive, trouble sleeping, nausea and diarrhea, can make it difficult to stick with treatment. Though some of these topics may be hard to discuss openly with your doctor, it is important that you do, as there could be another option out there for you. The more your doctor knows, the better he/she can help tailor treatment to meet your specific needs.

There are a number of different antidepressant options available. VIIBRYD® (vilazodone HCl), which became available in 2011, is the most recently approved antidepressant by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). VIIBRYD is the first drug of its kind approved by the FDA to treat depression in adults. While the exact way VIIBRYD - or any other medication for depression - works is unknown, it is thought to affect the activity of serotonin in the brain.

Important Risk Information

What is the most important information I should know about VIIBRYD?

VIIBRYD and other antidepressant medicines may cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms described below, or call 911 if there is an emergency.

Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs

Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, teens, and young adults. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. VIIBRYD is not approved for use in patients under 18.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms as they may be signs of rare but potentially life-threatening conditions:

  • Agitation, hallucinations, coma or other changes in mental status, muscle twitching or coordination problems, fast heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, fever or sweating, muscle stiffness or tightness, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Who should not take VIIBRYD?

  • Do not take any drugs known as MAOIs within 14 days of stopping VIIBRYD
  • Do not start VIIBRYD if you stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 days.

People who take VIIBRYD close in time to taking an MAOI may have serious or even life-threatening side effects.

What should I talk to my healthcare provider about?

  • VIIBRYD may increase suicidal thoughts or actions, especially when starting treatment or when the dose is changed. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have suicidal thoughts, or if you become agitated, irritable, hostile, aggressive, impulsive or restless, or if your condition gets worse.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking or plan to take, including:
    • Medicines to treat migraines, anxiety, psychotic or thought disorders, or mood disorders, including triptans, tricyclics, lithium, SSRIs, SNRIs, buspirone, or antipsychotics; this is necessary to avoid a potentially life-threatening condition
    • Aspirin, NSAID pain relievers, or blood thinners (warfarin, Coumadin or Jantoven) because they may increase the risk of bleeding
    • Tramadol, mephenytoin (Mesantoin) or over-the-counter supplements such as tryptophan or St. John's Wort
  • Before starting VIIBRYD, tell your doctor if you:
    • Have kidney or liver problems
    • Have or had mania, bipolar disorder, seizures or convulsions
    • Have or had bleeding problems. VIIBRYD may increase your risk of bleeding or bruising
    • Have low salt (sodium) levels in your blood. Elderly people may be at greater risk
    • Are nursing, pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these symptoms or conditions occur while you are taking VIIBRYD. Some may be signs of serious side effects.

Do not stop VIIBRYD without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping VIIBRYD suddenly may cause serious symptoms including: anxiety, irritability, high or low mood, feeling restless or sleepy, headache, sweating, nausea, dizziness, electric shock-like sensations, tremor, and confusion.

What should I avoid when taking VIIBRYD?

  • Until you know how VIIBRYD affects you, be careful driving a car, operating heavy machinery or engaging in other dangerous activities. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking VIIBRYD.

What are the most common side effects of VIIBRYD?

  • The most common side effects in people taking VIIBRYD include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and trouble sleeping.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of VIIBRYD. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Please also see the Medication Guide within the full Prescribing Information.