Take agomelatine once a day, at bedtime.
It can take a week or two after starting the tablets before the effect builds up and you start to feel the benefit. If you do not feel you have improved after this time, go back and talk with your doctor.
The most common side-effects are feeling dizzy or sick - these are usually mild and soon pass. Rarely, agomelatine can affect the way your liver works. If you develop dark urine, pale stools, any yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, pain in your tummy (abdomen), or feel unusually tired, you must let your doctor know about this straightaway.
|Type of medicine||An antidepressant|
Depression is common. Symptoms can affect day-to-day life and can become very distressing. Treatments include talking (psychological) treatments and antidepressant medicines.
Our bodies have a number of important physical and behavioural processes which are controlled by the cycling of day and night. These are called circadian rhythms and, if disrupted, can result in depression. Agomelatine relieves depression by helping to restore the balance of these biological rhythms.
Before taking agomelatine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking agomelatine it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are under 18 or over 75 years of age.
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or if you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have ever had abnormally 'high' moods or dementia.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take agomelatine
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about agomelatine, and will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
- Take agomelatine exactly as your doctor tells you to. The usual dose is one tablet daily. This may be increased in some people to two tablets daily (taken together) after a couple of weeks. You should take the tablets at bedtime. The tablets can be taken either with or without food.
- If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose when it is due.
Getting the most from your treatment
- It can take a week or two after starting the tablets before the effect begins to build up, and maybe a few weeks longer before you feel the full benefit from the treatment. Do not stop taking agomelatine after a few days, thinking it is not helping.
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is because your doctor will want you to have a blood test every few weeks to check that your liver is staying healthy. Your doctor will also give you a booklet to read which explains about what symptoms to look out for as signs that the medicine could be harming your liver. There is a list of these symptoms in the section below on the problems which can be caused by agomelatine.
- While you feel depressed or are taking agomelatine, you may have thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life. It is very important that you tell your doctor about this straightaway if it happens to you.
- Taking agomelatine and alcohol is not recommended, so do not drink alcohol during your treatment with this medicine.
- Smoking can affect the amount of agomelatine in your body. Let your doctor know if you either start or stop smoking while you are taking agomelatine.
- Your doctor will ask you to carry on taking agomelatine for a while after you feel better. This is to stop your symptoms from returning.
- There are several types of antidepressants and they differ in their possible side-effects. If you find that agomelatine does not suit you then let your doctor know, as another could be found that will suit you.
Can agomelatine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with agomelatine. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common agomelatine side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)
||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling sick (nausea), diarrhoea||Stick to simple foods (avoid fatty or spicy meals) and drink plenty of water|
|Feeling dizzy, tired or sleepy||Do not drive or use tools or machines. Do not drink alcohol|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor|
|Constipation, tummy (abdominal) pain||Try to eat a well-balanced diet containing fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink plenty of water|
|Difficulty sleeping, feeling anxious, increased sweating, back pain||These effects are usually mild and soon pass but if any become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: if you experience any of the following rare but possibly serious symptoms, stop taking agomelatine and contact your doctor for advice straightaway. These may be signs that your liver is not working as it should.
- Dark urine, light coloured stools, yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice), unexpected bruising, tummy pain, itchy skin, and feeling unusually tired.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store agomelatine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your prescribed medicines.
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Valdoxan®; Servier Laboratories Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2015.
- British National Formulary; 71st Edition (Mar-Sep 2016) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Hannah Gronow