How long does it take to work? A question Australians are asking about their medicines

Questions about how long it takes for antidepressants to work and for any side effects to improve are commonly answered by pharmacists who staff Medicines Line, a free telephone information service delivered by NPS MedicineWise.

Over 70,000 questions from the general public about a variety of medicines have been answered since 2010. Callers often asked about antidepressants, accounting for around 7% of calls to the service – with 72% of enquiries about medicine interactions and 58% about side effects.

“A common question about antidepressants is about how long it takes for them to start working,” says Nerida Packham, pharmacist and Medicines Line Team Lead at NPS MedicineWise.

“When treating depression, these medicines can take 1–2 weeks to start working and it may take 6 weeks to feel their full effect. For anxiety, a response is usually seen within 4–6 weeks and continues to improve with time,” says Ms Packham.

“Side effects are common, and we can reassure callers that these may often go away with time, but we always recommend that they go back to their prescribing doctor if they have any concerns or feel the medicine is not right for them.

“We are also frequently asked about pain medicines, reflux medicines and complementary medicines, and we’re able to give people

/Public Release.