oa South African Family Practice - Switching antidepressants : review

Volume 57, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Switching antidepressants because of lack of efficacy or unacceptable side-effects, while often required in general practice, may result in toxic drug-drug interactions, worsening depression or unpleasant discontinuation reactions. Switching strategies to minimise these risks include immediate switching, cross-tapering or incorporating a washout period. Immediate switching is generally possible when substituting a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor or a serotonin and noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor for a drug from its own class. Cross-tapering over a period of weeks is preferred when switching between different antidepressant classes or from high-dose antidepressants. Dangerous interactions necessitate the observance of an adequate washout period when switching to and from monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

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