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The Right Antidepressant for You

By on June 25, 2015

Antidepressants are a popular treatment choice for those with depression. Although antidepressants may not cure depression, they can reduce your symptoms. The first antidepressant you try may work fine. But if it doesn’t relieve your symptoms, or it causes side effects that bother you, you may need to try another.

When prescribing an antidepressant that’s likely to work well for you, your doctor may consider:

  • Your particular symptoms. Symptoms of depression can vary, and one antidepressant may relieve certain symptoms better than another. For example, if you have trouble sleeping, an antidepressant that’s slightly sedating may be a good option.
  • Possible side effects. Side effects of antidepressants vary from one medication to another and from person to person. Bothersome side effects, such as dry mouth, weight gain or sexual side effects, can make it difficult to stick with treatment.
  • Whether it worked for a close relative. How a medication worked for a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, can indicate how well it might work for you.
  • Interaction with other medications. Some antidepressants can cause dangerous reactions when taken with other medications.

Many types of antidepressant medications are available to treat depression, including these below. Discuss side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Doctors often start by prescribing an SSRI. These medications are safer and generally cause fewer bothersome side effects than other types of antidepressants. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac, Selfemra), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Examples of SNRI medications include duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla) and levomilnacipran (Fetzima).
  • Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL) falls into this category. It’s one of the few antidepressants not frequently associated with sexual side effects.
  • Atypical antidepressants. These medications don’t fit neatly into any of the other antidepressant categories. They include trazodone (Oleptro), mirtazapine (Remeron) and vortioxetine (Brintellix). Both are sedating and usually taken in the evening. A newer medication called vilazodone (Viibryd) is thought to have a low risk of sexual side effects.

Keep in mind research studies say antidepressants are more likely to reduce suicide risk by improving mood.


There are several steps you can take to get the best results:

  • Be patient. Once you and your doctor have selected an antidepressant, it may take six or more weeks for it to be fully effective. With some medications, you can take the full dosage immediately.
  • See if the side effects improve. Many antidepressants cause side effects that improve with time. For example, initial side effects when starting an SSRI can include dry mouth, nausea, loose bowel movements, headache and insomnia, but these symptoms usually go away as your body adjusts to the antidepressant.
  • If it doesn’t work, try something else. If you have bothersome side effects or no significant improvement in your symptoms after six weeks, talk to your doctor about changing the dose, trying a different antidepressant (switching), or adding a second antidepressant or another medication (augmentation).


Content courtesy of Mayo Clinic.