The best time to take an antidepressant, either morning or night depends on the type of side effects you might be experiencing. To determine if you should take your antidepressant at night or in the morning, consider the common side effects of the specific medication you're taking and how it influences your quality of life.
Often, the decision comes down to which side effects are associated with the medication you've been prescribed and how it affects you personally.
For example, if your doctor has prescribed you Prozac (fluoxetine), some of the most common side effects include insomnia, agitation, nausea, and vomiting. If you are experiencing insomnia, take your medication in the morning. If you have nausea, it would be better to take it at night.
Not everyone experiences these effects, as medications can affect each person differently. Your doctor can help you better understand your potential side effects and when to take the medication to best avoid them. Additionally, here is a quick cheat sheet as to when it may be best to take your antidepressant based on the side effects you are having.
|Timing Suggestions Based on Side Effect|
|Side Effect||When to Take Medication|
When to Take an Antidepressant in the Morning
Antidepressants are sometimes best when taken in the morning due to their potential side effects. Here are a few to consider.
Some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the class of antidepressants most often used, can disrupt sleep for some people and would be best taken in the morning.
For example, the manufacturer of Prozac (fluoxetine)recommends it be taken in the morning because it can make some people feel more energized, especially at the beginning of treatment. Effexor (venlafaxine) is sometimes recommended to be taken in the morning because it may interfere with sleep when taken at night.
However, when Prozac is given in combination with Zyprexa (olanzapine)—a combination called Symbyax—as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression, it can cause sleepiness, so then it's recommended to be taken in the evening.
Paxil (paroxetine) is generally taken in the morning in order to prevent sleeplessness at night. However, it may be given at bedtime if it is found to cause drowsiness in the person taking it. Wellbutrin(bupropion) is another antidepressant that is recommended to be taken in the morning in order to prevent insomnia at night.
When prescribed inchildrenoradolescents, Zoloft can cause frequent urination as well as urinary incontinence. In this case, taking the pill in the morning can prevent any nighttime bedwetting.
While relatively uncommon, urinary incontinence can also sometimes be a side effect of Wellbutrin (bupropion).
If you experience sexual side effects (such as low libido, erectile dysfunction, or inability to ejaculate) from your antidepressant, the timing of when you take your antidepressant can make a difference.
Antidepressants are the most likely to cause sexual side effects include SSRIs such as Zoloft (sertraline), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, and MAOIs such as Nardil (phenelzine).
Research indicates that it may be helpful to consider the time of day when you're most likely to engage in sexual activity and plan to take your antidepressant shortly thereafter.
When to Take an Antidepressant at Night
Some side effects are better tolerated if an antidepressant is taken closer to bedtime. These are a few of the effects that fall into this category.
Unlike some SSRIs, certain other antidepressants tend to make you feel drowsy, so they're better tolerated if you take them at bedtime.Among these medications are Luvox (fluvoxamine), Remeron (mirtazapine), and the tricyclic antidepressants, including:
- Elavil (amitriptyline)
- Norpramin (desipramine)
- Tofranil (imipramine)
- Pamelor (nortriptyline)
Some classes of antidepressants (mostly SSRIs) can trigger nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Commonly prescribed antidepressants that may cause nausea include:
- Celexa (citalopram)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Viibryd (vilazodone)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
While this often resolves itself as your body adjusts to the medication, sticking to a nighttime medication schedule can also help by hopefully allowing you to sleep through any digestive woes.
Other Optimal Medication Strategies
In addition to discussing with your doctor the time of day that is best to take your antidepressant, it's critical to remember that there are other strategies that affect how well your medication will work, including:
It typically takes several weeks for the full therapeutic effects of antidepressants to kick in. Remember that antidepressants take time to work, potentially anywhere from six to 12 weeks for the full effect, although many people notice improvement within a week or two.
However, you may begin experiencing side effects during the first week. Many of these side effects will gradually subside as your body adjusts to your medication.
When you start your antidepressant, keep in close contact with your doctor and stay positive. You can find a way to treat your condition, but it may take a little bit of trial and error.
Take your antidepressant as directed at the same time every day and do not stop it without first talking to your doctor.
If you've taken an antidepressant for one month or longer, you may experience withdrawal, otherwise known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, when you quit.
Talk to Your Doctor
If your antidepressant is causing side effects, remember that many, if not all of them, will go away with time. If the side effects are intolerable, get in touch with your doctor right away. Finding relief may be as simple as changing the dose, switching to a different antidepressant, or adding a second medication to ease the side effect.
A Word From Verywell
Taking an antidepressant needs to be part of a well-thought-out plan with your doctor to maximize its benefits and minimize any potential side effects. Don't make any changes to your treatment plan without consulting with your doctor first.
The recommendations noted above are general and may or may not be applicable to your own unique situation.Your doctor will be able to provide you with specific recommendations about whether your antidepressant should be taken at a particular time of day for the best results for you.
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Nancy Schimelpfening
Nancy Schimelpfening, MS is the administrator for the non-profit depression support group Depression Sanctuary. Nancy has a lifetime of experience with depression, experiencing firsthand how devastating this illness can be.
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