Depression affects more than 264 million people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, only a small fraction of people receive treatment for it. This, in turn, often results from a lack of financial resources and the high cost of treatment.
Legitimate online pharmacies (LOPs) have helped unlock those barriers to depression treatment. For one, buying depression medication from these LOPs usually translates to lower costs. LOPs also offer a more discreet way to get access to these drugs for such a stigmatized condition.
The thing is, not all of the 30,000 to 35,000 online pharmacies are legitimate. Some are illicit or rogue pharmacies that do more than damage than good.
To that end, we came up with this safety guide on ordering medication for depression online. Read on to learn what to look for in an online pharmacy to make sure it’s legit.
1. Make Sure You Have a Valid Prescription
The first key step to the safe purchase and use of antidepressants is to consult a doctor. Most options for medication designed to help with depression are prescription drugs. Under the law, medical doctors, including physicians and psychiatrists, can prescribe these drugs.
These drugs need a valid prescription since their use requires careful professional supervision. You need to take them as directed by your doctor; otherwise, they may not work or may even cause harm.
Your doctor or psychiatrist is likely to prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs come in many forms, although sertraline, sold under the brand name Zoloft, is one of the most popular. It’s safe and effective, but it’s vital to learn more about Zoloft first, as it still has a few side effects.
Your doctor should explain everything upon writing your prescription for antidepressants. This is the document you need to show an online pharmacy so that you can buy the prescribed drugs. Once you have your supply, follow your doc’s directions to a T so that the meds can do their job.
2. Ensure the Website Requires a Valid Prescription
Legitimate online pharmacies will never sell prescription drugs without a prescription. It’s illegal to do so because it puts people’s health and welfare at risk.
So, be sure to look at the requirements of each online pharmacy you come across. Illicit sites are likely to tell you that they don’t need a copy of your prescription. Report the site to your country’s boards of pharmacy so that they can investigate it.
3. Confirm the Pharmacy’s Licensure
Whether you live in the US, Canada, or another country, be sure to buy only from a licensed online pharmacy. All reputable online pharmacies have a license issued by a pharmacy regulating agency.
For example, the US has the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Each US state has a local NABP branch, and in some cases, an equivalent state agency.
The Canadian version is the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA). There are also provincial or territorial regulatory boards within the country.
You can contact these agencies to find out if the pharmacy you intend to buy from is a license holder.
4. Verify the Online Pharmacy’s Physical Address
Even if LOPs operate mostly online, they still need to have a physical business address. This is a legal requirement to run a business, including an e-pharmacy.
So before you buy antidepressants online, check the site’s About Us or Contact Us page first. They should have a published address, complete with a building number and street name.
You can then run the complete address in Google Maps or a similar location tool. The results should show the name of the business in that location, which in this case, is the pharmacy. If it’s not, or if the address shows an empty block, that website is a hoax.
5. Look for the Name of a Managing Pharmacist
Reputable LOPs always have a licensed pharmacist available during business hours. E-pharmacies also publish the names of their pharmacy manager online. Look for this and then run it by your pharmacy regulatory board to confirm their licensure.
Next, ring up the online store and ask to talk to the pharmacist. You should be able to speak to them any time you have questions about your depression medication.
This is also a great time to test the pharmacist: ask the person you speak to about SSRI alternatives. They should give you a few other names, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or citalopram (Celexa). However, they should also tell you to talk to your doctor before you do make the switch.
Since most antidepressants are prescription drugs, you need a new one if you want to switch. As such, respectable pharmacists will tell you to get in touch with your doctor first. They will teach you about your options, but they won’t dispense it until you get the new prescription.
6. Read Unbiased Online Customer Reviews
It’s also a smart idea to go through online customer reviews as you compare online pharmacies. Look beyond the positive ones, and instead, look for negative comments. These include late deliveries, incorrect orders, mishandled packages, and refund issues.
Doing all that can give you an idea of how reliable an online pharmacy is. They may be legitimate, but that doesn’t mean they’re 100% dependable.
Stay Safe When Buying Depression Medication Online
There you have it, the top tips to follow when buying depression medication online. Make sure you order only from a licensed pharmacy that always requires prescriptions. Don’t forget to check their license, and be sure you can talk to their pharmacist any time you need to.
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