Womens Health

Types of Antidepressants

Antidepressants Work

While psychological treatment is very effective for many sufferers of depression, particularly teens and children, many doctors find that antidepressants are the better choice for adults with the illness.  Once diagnosed, the medical professional will determine which type of medication is best suited for the type of depression being treated.  There are many different types of antidepressants; among them are SSRIs, Tricyclic Antidepressants and MAO Inhibitors.  We'll take a closer look at each of these throughout this article.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a group of drugs which act only on the neurotransmitter serotonin.  SSRIs have fewer side effects for people taking them than do tricyclic antidepressants and MAO inhibitors.  That could be because selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors interact only with the chemical serotonin within the body.  Within this particular group of drugs are included escitalopram (brand name: Lexapro) citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (known as Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft).  Among the side effects of SSRIs are nausea, dry mouth, nervousness, headache, inability to sleep and sexual difficulties.  Fluoxetine or Prozac, as it is commonly known, can produce the inability to sit still.  Paxil, or paroxetine, may cause tiredness.  Those taking Zoloft (sertraline) may experience diarrhea and runny stools.


This group of drugs has been used for depression for many years.  They act not only on serotonin but also with another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine.  They may also interface with other chemicals in the body.  This group includes amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil), and nortriptyline (under two labels, Aventyl and Pamelor).  The side effects most commonly associated with these drugs are inability to think clearly, tiredness, dry mouth, blurred sight, constipation, trouble with urination, and increased symptoms of glaucoma.  Blood pressure and heart rate can also be affected by these drugs.


Monoamine oxidase inhibitors were once a last resort for those for whom SSRIs and tricyclics were not effective.  Today, they are being used more and more to address many issues related to mental health.  MAOIs act to prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter monoamine.  Monoamine naturally occurs in the brain and is a chemical transporter of signals.  They increase the availability of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine to the brain, aiding in the treatment of depression and many other illnesses.  Some of the common side effects of trazodone (Desyrel) are sedation, dry mouth and nausea.  MAOI drugs like phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate) usually cause weakness, dizziness, headaches and tremors.

Be Aware!

There are other types of antidepressants used and with them come their various side effects.  Antidepressants can also have an effect on other medications and herbal remedies.  It is wise to advise the doctor of any and all medications and drugs currently being taken in order to evaluate accurately which antidepressant would be the best and to make any necessary changes to existing medications in order to avoid serious complications.

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