Antidepressants are a form of medication used for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). However, they may also be used to treat other disorders, such as anxiety disorders, chronic pain conditions and also helps manage addictions. Typical side-effects of antidepressants include dry mouth, weight gain, lack of sex drive, anhedonia, emotional blunting, and in some cases erectile dysfunction.
The first antidepressant was initially discovered on accident in the 1950’s. By the 1970’s the first Serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors, more commonly known as SSRIs or antidepressants, were being specifically developed to help treat depression.
How do antidepressants work?
In our brain there are certain chemicals called neurotransmitters that are associated with depression. These chemicals are primarily serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It is the job of most antidepressants to relieve depression by affecting these neurotransmitters. There are several types of antidepressants, with each type effecting these neurotransmitters in slightly different ways.
Different Types of Antidepressants:
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
The most commonly prescribed antidepressant. SSRIs generally cause fewer side effects and are less likely to cause problems at higher doses. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro).
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
Examples of SNRI medications include duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla) and levomilnacipran (Fetzima).
Some examples are trazodone, mirtazapine (Remeron), vortioxetine (Trintellix), vilazodone (Viibryd) and bupropion (Wellbutrin, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL).
Examples are imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), amitriptyline, doxepin and desipramine (Norpramin). These antidepressants are associated with higher side effect rates and are not generally prescribed before other antidepressant have been tried.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Examples of MAOIs are tranylcypromine (Parnate), phenelzine (Nardil) and isocarboxazid (Marplan). These may be prescribed only when other medications have failed, due to their side effects. Using an MAOI requires a strict diet because of dangerous (or even deadly) interactions with foods — such as certain cheeses, pickles and wines — and some medications, including birth control pills, decongestants and certain herbal supplements. Selegiline (Emsam). However, while using an MAOI that you stick on your skin as a patch, may cause fewer side effects than other MAOIs.
Finding an antidepressant that is right for you is as easy as following a few steps:
- Be patient. It can take up to 6-8 weeks before an antidepressant starts to work.
- Take your antidepressant consistently and at the correct dose.
- See if the side effects improve.
- Consult your doctor if it doesn’t work well.
- Try psychotherapy.
- Don’t stop taking an antidepressant without talking to your doctor first.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
If you are diagnosed with depression and looking for new treatment options, consider a clinical research study with us today.