From getting an accurate depression diagnosis to starting treatment options, treating depression is a long, complicated process. As the primary form of treatment for depression, antidepressants are unable to cure it but are able to mitigate symptoms such as loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, persistent low mood, feelings of worthlessness, and others. While you are taking antidepressants for your condition, it is important that together with your doctor, you evaluate the risks and benefits of each medication type to optimize its usage for the treatment of your symptoms.
If you are unsure about the available options, here is a list of the best depression medications to aid your decision.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)
Introduced in the mid-1980s, this category of antidepressants is the most common choice of physicians for treating depression due to its proven track record of having fewer side effects than other options.
Commonly prescribed SSRIs for depression include Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine (Paxil), and Sertraline (Zoloft).
Their side effects are generally mild and may include nausea, fatigue, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain.
Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI)
A newer class of antidepressants, SNRIs are one of the top treatment options due to their effectiveness and generally mild side effects.
Commonly prescribed SNRIs for depression include Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Venlafaxine (Effexor XR), Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and Levomilnacipran (Fetzima).
Consumption of these can cause side effects such as upset stomach, insomnia, sexual problems, dizziness, and increased blood pressure.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MOI)
One of the earliest forms of treatment for depression, this class of medication is typically used only when other forms of medication do not work, as they can cause serious side effects.
Types of antidepressants in this category approved by the FDA for medical use include Tranylcypromine (Parnate), Phenelzine (Nardil), and Isocarboxazid (Marplan).
Although MOIs are effective, they are not commonly prescribed as there exists the risk of serious complications with some other medication or food. Foods that negatively react with MOIs include aged meats and aged cheese.
Introduced in the 1950s, they were also one of the first antidepressants. However, they are often not considered as a first resort as their side effects may be too strong for some people.
Commonly prescribed tricyclic antidepressants for depression include: Imipramine (Tofranil), Desipramine (Norpramin), Nortriptyline (Pamelor), and Amitriptyline (Elavil)
The side effects one might experience include changes in blood pressure and blood sugar levels, blurry vision, urinary retention, constipation, stomach upset, and dry mouth.
This class of medication affects neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin to elevate mood.
Types of antidepressants in this category approved by the FDA for medical use include Bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL), Mirtazapine (Remeron), Nefazodone, Trazodone, Vilazodone (Viibryd), and Vortioxetine (Trintellix).
The side effects of these medications are usually mild. Trazodone is usually recommended to be taken with food to reduce the chances of stomach upset.
Get the Best Out of Your Treatment
You should seek the opinion of a trained medical professional on the best type of medication for yourself. Once you start your medication, stick with your prescribed treatment. Antidepressants take a while, usually up to eight weeks before taking full effect, so you should give them a chance to work. Keep your doctor informed of any side effects or changes in behavior. You can also consider pharmacogenetic testing with ClarityX to check your medication response to over 130 mental health medications and get the right medication prescribed.