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Antidepressants

 

Antidepressants were first used in the late 1950s. Now they are divided into three main classes:

  • Tricyclic drugs (TCAs).
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs)
 

 

 



 

Types of depression medication

Antidepressants were first used in the late 1950s. Now they are divided into three main classes:

  • Tricyclic drugs (TCAs). (sold as Amitriptyline, Imipramine)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) There are three types of MAOIs, phenelzine,(Nardil) isocarboxazid and tranylcypromine, ( Parnate) and moclobemide.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) - were developed in the 1980's and are the most common prescribed today. They are sold under brand names such as Prozac, Paxil, Prozac, Luvox, Zoloft, Celexa.

Newer "reuptake inhibitors" work on blocking the reuptake of different neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are becoming popular. (SNRIs)

In general SNRIs cause fewer side effects than TCAs and MAOIs.

Another type is Bupropion (Wellbutrin) - which is a dopamine reuptake blocking compound. It acts on the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

Tricyclic agents are used in the treatment of:

  • depression
  • panic disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • occasional chronic pain.

SSRIs are used in the treatment of:

  • depression
  • panic disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • bulimia nervosa
  • social phobia

MAOIs are used for all types of depression. They have also been used when 'atypical' features were present with the depression such as excessive sleeping, over eating and anxiety.

If you are on antidepressants they may have a different brand name but will generally fall under one of the types mentioned above.

The most commonly prescribed drug type for depression is the SSRI, due mainly to their apparent safety in overdose, compared to others.

How effective is depression medication?

Many people find great relief by using antidepressants. They can be very effective in giving a quick response, to relieve suffering in severe cases of depression. But the long-term use of antidepressants is far from the being the answer to depression. Also, as we have seen, if you are depressed, you need to learn the skills necessary to avoid depression in the future, not just treat the symptoms with drugs.

And despite drugs companies trumpeting SSRIs as 'the answer' to depression, newer antidepressants have just the same success rate as older ones.(1)