Should I Take My Antidepressant at Night or in the Morning?

Time It Right to Avoid Adverse Effects

Man taking medicine

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Determining if you should take your antidepressant at night or in the morning depends on the specific medication you're taking, its side effects, 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, feeling agitated, nausea, and vomiting. 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
Insomnia Morning
Drowsiness Bedtime
Sexual Issues Morning
Nausea Bedtime
Urinary Problems Morning

When It's Better to Take In the Morning

Antidepressants are sometimes best when taken in the morning due to their potential side effects. Here are a few to consider.

Insomnia

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.

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.

Urinary Problems

When prescribed in children or adolescents, Zoloft can cause frequent urination as well as urinary incontinence. In this case, taking the pill in the morning can prevent any nighttime bedwetting.

Sexual Issues

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.

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 It's Better to Take 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.

Drowsiness

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)

Nausea

Some classes of antidepressants (mostly SSRIs) can trigger nausea as well as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. 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:

Have Patience

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. 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.

Stay Consistent

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.

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5 Sources
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