Depression Articles

Antidepressants - Types

TYPES OF ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATIONS

Depression is commonly treated with antidepressant medications. Antidepressants work to balance some of the natural chemicals in our brains. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters, and they affect our mood and emotional responses. Antidepressants work on neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

The most popular types of antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) These include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

Other types of antidepressants are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) SNRIs are similar to SSRIs and include venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta) Another antidepressant that is commonly used is bupropion (Wellbutrin) Bupropion, which works on the neurotransmitter dopamine, is unique in that it does not fit into any specific drug type.

SSRIs and SNRIs are popular because they do not cause as many side effects as older classes of antidepressants Older antidepressant medications include tricyclics, tetracyclics, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) For some people, tricyclics, tetracyclics, or MAOIs may be the best medications.

How should antidepressants be taken?

People taking antidepressants need to follow their doctors’ directions. The medication should be taken in the right dose for the right amount of time. It can take three or four weeks until the medicine takes effect. Some people take the medications for a short time, and some people take them for much longer periods. People with long-term or severe depression may need to take medication for a long time.

Once a person is taking antidepressants, it is important not to stop taking them without the help of a doctor. Sometimes people taking antidepressants feel better and stop taking the medication too soon, and the depression may return. When it is time to stop the medication, the doctor will help the person slowly and safely decrease the dose. It’s important to give the body time to adjust to the change People don’t get addicted, or “hooked,” on the medications, but stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

If a medication does not work, it is helpful to be open to trying another one. A study funded by NIMH found that if a person with difficult-to-treat depression did not get better with a first medication, chances of getting better increased when the person tried a new one or added a second medication to his or her treatment.