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Antidepressants are psychiatric medications used to treat a variety of conditions, but most commonly depressive disorders. Technically speaking, they target and correct chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in our brains, which most likely cause major changes in our mood and behavior. Therefore, while they may not cure your underlying disorder, they do reduce the harmful symptoms that come with it.

By the year 2010, approximately 23.3 million people were using antidepressants, which is a huge jump from 13.3 million just 14 years earlier. But they aren’t all taking the same kind…sometimes it takes a few tries before you find the right fit for you. Let’s say you try Celexa—it might be great and really lessen the blow of your depressive symptoms; or, it might feel like it’s not working at all. In that case, you can keep trying others until you find one that works for you. And don’t worry—there are a lot to choose from. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, there are almost thirty different kinds of antidepressants available today, which can be separated into a few main categories:

    1. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are very effective in treating depression and the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. These pills also come with little to no side effects, unlike many other antidepressant medications. SSRIs stop the absorption of serotonin in the brain, which in turn helps the brain send and receive messages—the key to a better, more stable mood. Some examples include:

    • Citalopram (Celexa)
    • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
    • Paroxetine (Paxil and Pexeva)
    • Fluoxetine (Prozac and Selfemra)
    • Sertraline (Zoloft)

    2. Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are typically used to treat major depression, mood disorders, and sometimes ADHD, anxiety disorders, and OCD. This form of antidepressant works by increasing levels of two neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, which play a major role in stabilizing one’s mood. These include:

    • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq and Khedezla)
    • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
    • Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
    • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)

    3. Noradrenaline and specific serotoninergic antidepressants (NASSAs), which treat anxiety disorders, depression, and at times personality disorders. These antidepressants sometimes cause drowsiness, blurred vision, and dizziness. Some examples are:

    • Aptazapine
    • Esmirtazapine
    • Mianserin (Blovidon, Norval, Tolvon)
    • Mirtazapine (Remeron, Avanza, Zispin)
    • Setiptiline/teciptiline (Tecipul)

    4. Tricyclics, which are used to treat depression, certain kinds of anxiety, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia. Side effects may include seizures, insomnia, nausea, sexual dysfunction, and vomiting. These include:

    • Amitriptyline (Elavil andEndep)
    • Desipramine (Norpramin and Pertofrane)
    • Doxepin (Adapin and Sinequan)
    • Imipramine (Tofranil)
    • Nortriptyline (Pamelor)
    • Protriptyline (Vivactil)
    • Trimipramine (Surmontil)

    5. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), work by inhibiting a brain enzyme called monoamine oxidase, which breaks down neurotransmitters like serotonin. This in turn results in more a stabilized mood and lesser degree of anxiety. MAOIs, however, can have serious side effects, so they’re typically prescribed as a last resort. This kind of medication requires an individual follow a strict diet, as it can react badly with certain foods and other medications. Some examples include:

    • Selegiline (Emsam)
    • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
    • Phenelzine (Nardil)
    • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)

    6. Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), a type of antidepressant that isn’t typically associated with sexual side effects like other major antidepressants. A popular example includes:

    • Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL)

    7. Atypical Antidepressants, which consist of medications that simply don’t fit under the umbrella of any other antidepressant:

    • Trazodone (Oleptro)
    • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
    • Vortioxetine (Brintellix)
    • Vilazodone (Viibryd)
Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

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