Please help support Alcohol & Drug Services in your local community

Commonly Prescribed Medications For Depression

Trade Name Generic Name FDA Approved Age
Anafranil (tricyclic) clomipramine 10 and older (for OCD only)
Asendin amoxapine 18 and older
Aventyl (tricyclic) nortriptyline 18 and older
Celexa (SSRI) citalopram 18 and older
Cymbalta (SNRI) duloxetine 18 and older
Desyrel trazodone 18 and older
Effexor (SNRI) venlafaxine 18 and older
Elavil (tricyclic) amitriptyline 18 and older
Emsam selegiline 18 and older
Lexapro (SSRI) escitalopram 18 and older; 12 – 17 (for major depressive disorder)
Ludiomil (tricyclic) maprotiline 18 and older
Luvox (SSRI) fluvoxamine 8 and older (for OCD only)
Marplan (MAOI) isocarboxazid 18 and older
Nardil (MAOI) phenelzine 18 and older
Norpramin (tricyclic) desipramine 18 and older
Pamelor (tricyclic) nortriptyline 18 and older
Parnate (MAOI) tranylcypromine 18 and older
Paxil (SSRI) paroxetine 18 and older
Pexeva (SSRI) paroxetine-mesylate 18 and older
Pristiq desvenlafaxine (SNRI) 18 and older
Prozac (SSRI) fluoxetine 8 and older
Remeron mirtazapine 18 and older
Sarafem (SSRI) fluoxetine 18 and older for premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
Sinequan (tricyclic) doxepin 12 and older
Surmontil (tricyclic) trimipramine 18 and older
Tofranil (tricyclic) imipramine 6 and older (for bedwetting)
Tofranil-PM (tricyclic) imipramine pamoate 18 and older
Vivactil (tricyclic) protriptyline 18 and older
Wellbutrin bupropion 18 and older
Zoloft (SSRI) sertraline 6 and older (for OCD only)

Many of the above antidepressants are also used successfully in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Possible Side Effects of Antidepressants

depression-medicationAntidepressants may cause mild side effects that usually do not last long. Any unusual reactions or side effects should be reported to a doctor immediately.

The most common side effects associated with SSRIs and SNRIs include:

  • Headache, which usually goes away within a few days.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), which usually goes away within a few days.
  • Sleeplessness or drowsiness, which may happen during the first few weeks but then goes away. Sometimes the medication dose needs to be reduced or the time of day it is taken needs to be adjusted to help lessen these side effects.
  • Agitation (feeling jittery).
  • Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women and may include reduced sex drive, and problems having and enjoying sex.

Tricyclic antidepressants can cause side effects, including:

  • Dry mouth.
  • Constipation.
  • Bladder problems. It may be hard to empty the bladder, or the urine stream may not be as strong as usual. Older men with enlarged prostate conditions may be more affected.
  • Sexual problems, which can affect both men and women and may include reduced sex drive, and problems having and enjoying sex.
  • Blurred vision, which usually goes away quickly.
  • Drowsiness. Usually, antidepressants that make you drowsy are taken at bedtime.

People taking MAOIs need to be careful about the foods they eat and the medicines they take. Foods and medicines that contain high levels of a chemical called tyramine are dangerous for people taking MAOIs. Tyramine is found in some cheeses, wines, and pickles. The chemical is also in some medications, including decongestants and over-the-counter cold medicine.

Mixing MAOIs and tyramine can cause a sharp increase in blood pressure, which can lead to stroke. People taking MAOIs should ask their doctors for a complete list of foods, medicines, and other substances to avoid. An MAOI skin patch has recently been developed and may help reduce some of these risks. A doctor can help a person figure out if a patch or a pill will work for him or her.

medicationType a medication name in the box below to view more detailed information:


Treating Depression with Medication

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.

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.


depression-medication-3

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

TOP