Overview Of Antidepressants

Antidepressants are prescription medications that could help patients experiencing a variety of mental health conditions such as mild chronic depression, major depression, social anxiety disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. There are several different types of antidepressants, and each type functions in a different way. Patients may need to take antidepressants for several years, and some conditions might require a combination of antidepressants for the most effective treatment. Antidepressants can be prescribed by primary care physicians and psychiatrists. In addition to the use of medication, patients coping with mental health issues are typically advised to have regular counseling sessions with a licensed therapist. Patients should have their mental health evaluated by a physician at regular office visits while taking this medicine.

The major antidepressant types, uses, side effects, and potential interactions are described below.

Types Of Antidepressants


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine, sertraline, and citalopram, are the most frequently prescribed type of antidepressants. These medicines work by blocking the absorption of serotonin in the brain, and this can help in stabilizing mood. Selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as venlafaxine and nefazodone, are similar to SSRIs, and they slow the breakdown of both noradrenaline and serotonin in the brain. Tricyclic antidepressants such as doxepin and nortriptyline have a three-ring structure as part of their chemical composition, and they were first introduced in the 1950s. Also introduced in the 1950s, monoamine oxidase inhibitors block the action of an enzyme known as monoamine oxidase, leading to higher levels of serotonin in the brain. Today, doctors often start by prescribing a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants are considered if the newer antidepressants are ineffective for the patient's needs. Less commonly, doctors might choose to prescribe a type of antidepressant known as a noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressant such as mianserin. This type of antidepressant can help with the treatment of personality disorders.

Learn about the common uses for antidepressants next.

Emily Fowler