Healthy Living: Increased demand for antidepressants causing shortage

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The FDA just announced a shortage in the popular antidepressant, Zoloft. Dr. Jim Polo the Behavioral Health Medical Director with Regence says this is likely because of an increase in demand during this Pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing an increase in anxiety and depression for a lot of us. With the fears of our health and those of our loved ones and the fears of our economic livelihoods, Dr. Polo says these feelings have lead to an increased demand for antidepressants.

“Antidepressants don’t change the way that you think, they won’t make you happy.”

Dr. Polo says often times, people feeling anxious or depressed will have physical symptoms including:

*Lack of motivation

*Lack of energy

*Trouble with sleep

*Changes in appetite

*Restlessness

*Muscle Tension

*Trouble concentrating or focusing

*Headaches

Dr. Polo says, “These are the symptoms that antidepressants will actually improve so that you can then deal with whatever is going on and improve your mood and have lower anxiety.”

With the potential shortage, there are a couple of things Dr. Polo says you should not do during this time.

First, don’t panic, “Panicking will only add to your symptoms to increase your anxiety and you may end up feeling worse.”

Dr. Polo says don’t ration your medication, “Very likely you’ve worked with your doctor to reach a dose that is just right for you and unfortunately if you space that out, or lower the dosage, you may render the medication ineffective altogether.”

Don’t substitute another antidepressant for the one that has been prescribed to you.

“They are not interchangeable. Although antidepressants can be prescribed by your physician or changed by your physician it is important to do that with a physician guiding that rather than trying to do that on your own.”

If you are worried about being in short supply, Dr. Polo says keep in mind that many medications come in different dosage forms and some of them have generics.

“There are reasonable alternatives that your physician can work with you on to prescribe and continue to help whatever symptoms you are having.”

Finally, don’t wait until you are out of medication!

Dr. Polo says if you notice you are running low on your prescription, call your pharmacy early, or call your doctor early.

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