Under the Hood

Antidepressant Types Update: Which Common Medication Should You Try First?

People with depression often feel emotions of hopelessness, despair and anger and may have trouble completing daily tasks. An imbalance of serotonin in the brain may play a role in depression, along with other factors. Currently, there are several medications available to help those suffering with the form of depression that may be caused by issues in brain chemistry, instead of factors in the person's life, past, or circumstances. 

Which antidepressant medications are the most common? For those who are working with a doctor and about to start taking these prescription drugs, we’ve answered some frequently-asked questions.

Depression The facts about common antidepressants. Photo courtesy of Pexels

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depressed people don’t typically worry about what might happen to them in the future; instead they think they already know what will happen and believe it will inevitably be bad. Key symptoms include loss of interest and enjoyment in usual activities, lack of energy and difficulty concentrating.Additionally, people suffering from depression often experience physical symptoms like severe appetite changes, headaches and sleep problems.

Which medications treat depression?

Several drugs are available for treating depression and include certain serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Cymbalta and Effexor; tetracyclic antidepressants including Remeron, Elavil and Sinequan; drugs with unique mechanisms such as Wellbutrin; and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) like Emsam, Nardil and Parnate.

What are the most common antidepressants?

SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants, according to Healthline. These drugs fight symptoms by decreasing serotonin reuptake in the brain, leaving more serotonin available to work in your brain.Commonly-prescribed SSRIs include Zoloft, Prozac and Lexapro.

What are the side effects of taking these prescription drugs?

Side effects of SSRIs — the most common antidepressants — include nausea, trouble sleeping, nervousness, tremors and sexual problems.

How can you choose the right antidepressant for you?

Doctors consider many factors when prescribing certain antidepressants, Mayo Clinic reported. Factors include the specific depression symptoms being experienced, possible side effects of the drug, other medications the patient is taking, existing health conditions, as well as the medications’ cost and health insurance coverage.

Doctors also consider how an antidepressant medication worked for a first-degree relative, like a parent or sibling. The results can indicate how well it might work for the patient. But to a large extent, finding the right antidepressant may be trial and error: starting a new medication and waiting to see results (which are not instantaneous and can take weeks to become apparent), adjusting the dosage, and possibly then weaning off the drug in order to try another. 

Read more:

How Antidepressants Work In The Brain: A Comprehensive Guide

Drinking Alcohol While Taking Antidepressants Could Exacerbate Depression, Increase Drug's Side Effects

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