What are the Antidepressants used for Depression & Anxiety disorders

Find out what antidepessents are, how they work and why they help people. Learn more about depression and anxiety medications.

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Antidepressants used for depression

Antidepressant medications are used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). They are very helpful to treat depression & anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder

There are many kinds of antidepressants. All are different on the basis of their working in the brain. They are helpful to treat many anxiety conditions and symptoms but they do have some side effects also. Each of the antidepressants has different side effects. Every people responds differently to these side effects. Some might not feel anything while some may have some serious side effects of the medications. So there is a need to try different medications to get the right fit. 

Now, we are going to have a discussion about various types of antidepressants and the side effects that are associated with them. The possibility and severity of side effects vary from person to person. That may include the side effects which are not listed here. 


SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors):

These SSRI medications are known to affect serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that affects the mood and behavior in the person. These neurotransmitters are chemical messengers acting in the body. 

When the serotonin is released by the brain, some part of serotonin is consumed in communicating with the other cells, while some part of it goes back to the parent cell that released it. SSRIs decrease the amount of serotonin that goes back to the parent cell, so much space is available vacant for the other cells to establish a communication with the brain. 

Although it is a hot topic to research how serotonin level leads the patient into depression. But many researchers believed that if the serotonin level is low, the person might be at the risk to develop depression. 

These SSRI Antidepressants includes:

  1. Citalopram
  2. Sertraline 
  3. Escitalopram
  4. Paroxetine
  5. Fluoxetine 
  6. Fluvoxamine 

SSRIs can also be helpful in the case of: 

  1. General anxiety problem 
  2. Panic or phobias 
  3. Social anxiety disorder
  4. Traumatic stress or post-traumatic stress 
  5. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  6. Hot flashes
  7. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

The common side effects with SSRIs include: 

  1. Frequent headaches 
  2. Nausea 
  3. Irregular sleep cycles
  4. Dizziness
  5. Diarrhea
  6. The feeling of weakness and fatigue
  7. Anxiety and stress
  8. Frequent stomach upset
  9. Dry mouth
  10. Sexual problems such as low sex intentions, erectile dysfunction, or ejaculation problems 

The frequent side effects from the above with SSRI may be the sexual problem. There can also be seen appetite change, frequent weight gain problems. 

SNRIs or Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors:

These are much similar to SSRI and are used to treat MDD (Major Depressive Disorder). SNRI works by preventing cells in the brain from reabsorption of particular neurotransmitters. So, these neurotransmitters will be available to communicate with the other cells and the brain. SNRIs often affect serotonin and norepinephrine. 

What are the Antidepressants used for Depression

The SNRI antidepressants include: 

  1. Desvenlafaxine
  2. Duloxetine
  3. Levomilnacipran
  4. Milnacipran
  5. Venlafaxine 

SNRIs is mostly used to treat depression cases, but it is also helpful in the cases with: 

  1. General anxiety
  2. Hot flashes
  3. Fibromyalgia
  4. Nerve damage due to diabetes 

The common side effects of these SNRIs includes: 

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Dizziness
  3. Low appetite
  4. Constipation
  5. Frequent Headaches
  6. Nausea
  7. Insomnia or irregular sleep cycle 
  8. Drowsiness 
  9. More sexual problems such as low sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, or ejaculation problems 
  10. The feeling of weakness and fatigue 
  11. Excessive sweating 

SNRIs are responsible for sexual problems but it is not as frequent as SSRIs. Frequent weight change is also common in which weight loss is more commonly seen. In rare cases, people taking SNRIs may also be seen with increased blood pressure. 

TCA(Tricyclic antidepressants) 

TCAs are prescribed to the patients when SSRI and SNRI do not work on them. Although research is still going on to ensure how these work well in reducing depression. 

Medications in TCAs include: 

  1. Trimipramine 
  2. Amitriptyline 
  3. Amoxapine 
  4. Clomipramine
  5. Protriptyline
  6. Desipramine
  7. Doxepin
  8. Imipramine
  9. Nortriptyline 

The commonly seen side effects of these TCAs include: 

  1. Low BP 
  2. Irregularity in heartbeats 
  3. Seizures 

Tetracyclic Antidepressants 

Tetracyclic antidepressants like maprotiline are used for treating depression symptoms and anxiety disorders. It helps put in balancing the neurotransmitters and ease out symptoms of depression. 

The commonly seen side effects of this medication include: 

  1. Feeling of lightheadedness
  2. Frequent headaches
  3. Blurred vision
  4. Dry mouth 
  5. Feeling of drowsiness
  6. Weakness in the body 

Dopamine Reuptake Blocker 

Dopamine reuptake blockers like Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Forfivo, Aplenzin) are mild dopamine as well as norepinephrine reuptake blocker. They are used to treat depression as well as Seasonal Affective Disorders. They are also being used in smoking cessation. Its common side effects are: 

  1. Blurred vision 
  2. Vomiting 
  3. Nausea 
  4. Drowsiness 
  5. Constipation 

5-HT1A Receptor Antagonist 

The 5-HT1A Receptor Antagonist such as vortioxetine is helpful to treat depression because it affects the work activity of brain chemicals. 

Its commonly seen side effects include: 

  1. Sexual issues
  2. Nausea 

MAOI or Monoamine oxidase inhibitors 

The MAOIs are the oldest known drug for depression treatment. They stop the breaking down of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin and this is how they work. It is difficult for the patients to take more antidepressants because they interfere with prescribed and other non-prescribed drugs for depression. They can't be used in combination with stimulants and antidepressants. 

Some MAOIs includes: 

  1. Tranylcypromine
  2. Isocarboxazid 
  3. Phenelzine
  4. Selegiline, which comes as a transdermal patch 

The side effects of MAOIs include: 

  1. Dizziness
  2. Drowsiness
  3. Restlessness
  4. Nauses
  5. Sleeping troubles 

Noradrenergic Antagonist 

Noradrenergic antagonist such as Mirtazapine is basically used to treat depression. This antagonist works by replacing particular chemicals in the brain and hence it ease out symptoms persisting in depression. 

Its common side effects include: 

  1. Increase in weight
  2. Dizziness
  3. Drowsiness 

Atypical medications 

The other antidepressant drugs apart from the above fall into this category i.e. Atypical medication. This depends on your psychologist that who may also prescribe these medications. 

For an instance, olanzapine/fluoxetine is a kind of atypical antidepressant medication. This medication is used to treat depressive symptoms as well as bipolar disorder when the other antidepressants do not seem to be much effective. 

Natural Treatment for Mental Health Disorders 

Some people do not like to rely on medicines and drugs such as antidepressants. They prefer to use natural treatment for mental health issues such as depression, stress, anxiety, etc. While on the other side, some may prefer it to use as an add-on with antidepressant medications. Some herbs are seen with proven results to fight depression. They are seen with positive results on depression patients. These herbs can be used instead of having antidepressants or as an add-on with antidepressants. These are Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Jatamansi, Menthol(Pudina), Maca (Peruvian ginseng), etc.

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Dr. Neha Mehta

Dr. Neha Mehta

Consultant Psychologist Hisar, India
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Dr. Neha Mehta

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Area Of Expertise : Child Counseling, Couple Counseling, Marital Counselling, Parenting, Self Improvement, Sleep, IQ Testing, ADHD, Adolescent Counselling, Stress Mgt.

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