Antidepressant medication is used to treat depression and also diseases where depression is a part of the condition, like bipolar disorder. It is used along with counseling or psychotherapy to treat depression. It is important that you find the right medication and dosage for you, and it is normal that this can take some time. If the first antidepressant your doctor prescribes isn’t a good fit, your doctor could try a different medication from the same or different group of drugs, or try adjusting the dosage. Also, you may be prescribed more than one antidepressant, and this is common. Antidepressants help by stimulating and increasing neurotransmitters in the brain, thus elevating and balancing emotions.
Antidepressants come in the following major groups:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly used antidepressants, and are often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. SSRIs work to increase serotonin levels in the brain.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) also increase serotonin levels like SSRI’s, but differ in also increasing norepinephrine reuptake.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are like an earlier version of SNRIs because they affect serotonin and norepinephrine to treat depression. While TCAs are effective, they also have greater side effects, which is why SNRI’s will usually be recommended before TCAs.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were also one of the first antidepressants developed. They are an effective option to treat depression that has not responded to other medications. MAOIs can have negative reactions with other drugs and specific foods, so it usually isn’t prescribed before other antidepressants.