Guide To Antidepressants

A Doctor Reviews Popular Depression Medications

Antidepressants are prescription medications used to treat and alleviate symptoms of depression.

There are different types including MAOI's (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), Tetracyclics, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), and tricyclics.

How Do They Work?

They are all believed to work by interacting with chemicals in the brain that contribute to the symptoms of depression.

Most of them affect the levels of of the neurochemical serotonin in the body. An imbalance of serotonin is thought to be one of the causes of clinical depression.

Types Of Depression Medication


Popular SSRI's include Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.


Popular SNRI's include Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq.


The list of most common MAOI's includes Nardil, and Parnate.


The long list of tricyclics includes Sinequan/Adapin, Anafranil, Elavil, Endep, Ludiomil, Norpramin, Pamelor, Pertofrane, Surmontil, Tofranil, and Vivactil.


Other depression medications include Buspar, Desyrel, Edronax, Vestra, Remeron, Serzone, and Wellbutrin.

Side Effects

All medications have side effects, both positive and negative. Common side effects of depression medication can include, headaches, nausea, sleep disturbances, or inhibited sexual functioning. For the full list of side effects, see this helpful guide: Side Effects Of Depression Medication.


There are a few notable and serious considerations and concerns when taking depression medications. See these special warnings.

Antidepressants And Suicide

There may be an increased risk of suicide while taking depression medication, particularly in children and young adults. See this warning about link between depression medication and an increased risk of suicide.

As a result, extra caution and monitoring when prescribing these medications to children and young adults. For these reasons, small children should not be given depression medication.

Pregnancy And Birth Defects

Some studies indicate an increased risk of various birth defects and pregnancy complications while taking depression during pregnancy. Further, some research indicates impaired cognitive functioning and abilities in children whose mothers were given antidepressants during pregnancy.

For more information, see these warnings and guides about antidepressants and pregnancy and Paxil and pregnancy.

Mixing With Alcohol

These medications should not be used in conjunction with alcohol. Alcohol slows down cardiac and respiratory output.

In addition, alcohol is a depressant and should not be used by folks who already suffer from depression. Further, operating vehicles or other heavy machinery is not advised while taking either substance, especially while taken synergistically.

For more information, see this safety guide regarding the dangers of mixing alcohol and depression medication.

Weight Changes

These meds may cause weight change in a small percentage of folks who take them. See this guide about the link between depression medication and weight changes.

Helpful Tips

It may several weeks before you experience the full effects of your medication. These medications should be prescribed by a psychiatrist, not a general physician. Remember to attend your medication monitoring sessions with your psychiatrist in order to receive optimum care. Communicate your questions and concerns and report any side effects.

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