Can Urgent Care Prescribe Antidepressants?
Are you worried about taking antidepressants because you don’t want to become dependent on them? Or maybe you’ve heard that they can cause side effects such as sexual dysfunction or weight gain.
Antidepressant medications are prescribed to millions of Americans every year. They include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
These drugs are commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, and other mental health conditions.
It’s important to note that antidepressants are only effective for some people. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, talk to your doctor about options.
You may also be able to try a complementary approach like acupuncture. Your healthcare provider can help determine if this is safe for you.
What Are Antidepressants Used For?
If you have symptoms of depression, you’ve likely taken an antidepressant before. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States today.
Symptoms include feeling sad or hopeless, having trouble sleeping, eating too much or not enough, and struggling to concentrate.
Unfortunately, many people who experience these symptoms aren’t sure what causes them, so they turn to their doctors for relief.
Antidepressants come in many forms: pills, liquids, creams, sprays, patches, and even more recently, liquid or oral dissolvable strips. The first type of antidepressant medication was Prozac, which hit the market in 1987.
How Do Antidepressants Work?
There are two main ways that antidepressants work: by affecting chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters and by influencing levels of certain hormones.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry information between cells in the brain, including neurons. One class of neurotransmitters is called monoamine neurotransmitters.
Serotonin regulates mood, sleep, appetite, pain response, muscle contraction, body temperature, blood pressure, and cardiovascular function.
Serotonergic pathways connect all brain areas together and play a key role in human emotion and behavior.
Dopamine is another monoamine neurotransmitter. Dopamine affects movement, motivation, pleasure, learning, memory, attention, and concentration.
Low levels of dopamine can cause problems with focus and coordination.
What Are The Main Types Of Antidepressants?
There are three main classes of antidepressants on the market today: tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
TCAs are also known as minor tranquilizers because they affect both serotonin and norepinephrine and decrease other neurotransmitters like dopamine and acetylcholine.
They may be effective at treating anxiety disorders but less helpful for major depressive disorder.
SSRIs target only serotonin. Although they are widely prescribed, they may take several weeks to reach full effectiveness. SSRIs sometimes interact negatively with other medications, alcohol, or caffeine.
And, some people find them difficult to tolerate due to their unpleasant side effects. Common side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, indigestion, nausea, sexual dysfunction, headache, and low energy.
SNRIS target both serotonin and norepinephrine. These drugs tend to have fewer side effects than TCAs, but may cause headaches and weight gain.
When Should I Consider Taking An Antidepressant?
Understanding the difference between depression and anxiety is necessary to determine whether an individual needs to take antidepressants for mental health issues.
A major depressive episode occurs when someone experiences unusually low moods accompanied by persistent sadness or loss of interest in activities.
On the other hand, anxiety is a feeling of unease or nervousness that causes one to avoid certain situations or engage in excessive worry.
As a result, someone who suffers from anxiety feels out of control, making them afraid to interact with others. At the same time, a person with depression tends to focus inwardly and view themselves negatively.
Suppose you have experienced a series of episodes of extreme stress or trauma. In that case, you should first seek professional help before considering medication.
However, suppose you are currently dealing with milder forms of depression or anxiety. In that case, a natural course of action is, to begin with, a prescription for antidepressants.
Can Urgent Care Prescribe Antidepressants?
Urgent care centers can certainly prescribe antidepressants. But where do they fall on the spectrum of medical necessity? Some experts consider antidepressants “first line” treatment for moderate to severe depression.
Others argue that antidepressant therapy should be reserved for patients with bipolar disorder or those who respond poorly to less aggressive treatments like psychotherapy.
If you’re struggling with mental illness, you can get urgent care. You can get help.
Once you arrive at an urgent care center, the staff will usually ask about your history of mental illness and medication usage.
In addition, they’ll want to know whether you’ve experienced any side effects while taking medications before, and if so, what kind.
They may also ask how long your symptoms have lasted and when they began. If you were prescribed an antidepressant, they’d want to know whether it’s helping you feel better.
If you don’t have insurance, it’ll be essential to let them know if you take other medications.
When talking with a counselor, remember that not all counseling services are covered by insurance.
Therefore, your provider may recommend you speak with a psychiatrist or psychologist instead, depending on your specific needs.
What Are My Options At An Urgent Care Center?
When you visit an urgent care clinic, you may be asked questions like these:
- Does this condition warrant immediate attention?
- Are you experiencing any physical problems related to this condition?
- Do you need a follow-up appointment?
- Is there anything else I can do to improve my situation?
These questions will give you insight into what might be causing your symptoms and whether or not you would benefit from seeing a doctor.
Remember, your urgent care clinic has access to the same tools as a local physician. If you require further evaluation or assistance, your provider will likely refer you to another specialist.
Antidepressants vs. Psychotherapy
There are several reasons why urgent care physicians don’t always feel comfortable ordering antidepressants as primary treatment options:
- Antidepressants may require additional monitoring due to increased side effects with other medications or conditions.
- Some patients may refuse antidepressants because of fear of addiction or the negative social stigma of taking psychiatric meds.
- Patients may prefer individualized psychological therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) instead of antidepressant medications.
How To Choose Between Antidepressants And Psychotherapy
Suppose you’re looking for relief from depression. In that case, you’ll want to choose a treatment plan that includes both psychotherapy and antidepressants to maximize your chances of success.
The best way to decide on this plan is to ask yourself what type of therapy works best with your personality.
For instance, traditional talk therapy helps people communicate better and work through problems in real-life settings.
CBT focuses on learning new ways of thinking, behaving, and relating to others to combat negative thoughts and behaviors.
Some studies suggest that combining these two treatments may yield even more excellent results than either approach alone.
It’s also important to consider how much time you’re willing to commit to working through therapy.
While most doctors recommend at least 12 sessions over six months, some therapists will push for more extended periods depending on the severity of the patient’s condition.
Suppose you think it might be challenging to maintain regular appointments for long periods. In that case, you may need to look into online options like Skype counseling or telephone therapy.
You may also find that talking to friends about their own struggles can provide insights that they could never share during actual face-to-face meetings.
Antidepressants come in many different forms. Your doctor may advise using an antidepressant that’s been approved for general use in the United States.
Or you may opt for a generic version that has not received regulatory approval but has proven effective in clinical trials.
When choosing between two different types of medication, it’s essential to weigh up the pros and cons of each option so that you make a good decision.
You Can Always Get Online Help From Experts In The Field
If you don’t feel that your condition warrants a trip to urgent care, other options are available. The Internet offers a wealth of helpful information for those suffering from mental health issues.
For example, the National Institute of Health maintains a website with facts, figures, and more about anxiety disorders.
Similarly, the Anxiety Disorders Association provides information about panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder. In addition, both sites offer links to support groups and educational courses.
These types of websites aren’t always available via mobile devices. Still, luckily, many providers offer their own apps for accessing content digitally.
These programs allow users to easily download pamphlets, audio recordings, or even video lectures on mental health topics.
You can use these resources to learn more about the causes and treatments for your mental health concerns, as well as what to expect once you start getting treatment.
And remember, if you ever feel that you need additional support, just head to an emergency room. There, you can receive further assessment, diagnosis, and treatment without delay.
There are times when it becomes complicated to treat mental illnesses with natural remedies, and that’s why certain medications are available to help ease suffering.
It’s possible to get relief without relying on antidepressants, however.
But, antidepressants can be beneficial when treating severe cases of depression or anxiety. In addition, psychotherapy can be helpful when used alongside antidepressants to improve overall well-being.
It’s essential to learn more about your options and determine if you need to try medication to find the right combination of therapies for you.
Plenty of online resources, including this site, can help provide insight into the various kinds of treatment and pills available.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT (license:115130)
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: September 27, 2022