If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, your mental healthcare provider (a Psychiatrist or Nurse Practitioner) may have suggested that you use a type of medication called an antidepressant.
Antidepressants are medications that help treat depression. It is thought that they work by affecting the way your brain is able to utilize serotonin. Depression is not as simple as a “chemical imbalance” as once simply touted in the past. Serotonin may play a role in depression and often Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors one type of antidepressant can help improve symptoms of depression.
There are several different classes of antidepressants available today, with multiple different medications within each class. Your Psychiatrist or Nurse Practitioner may pick an antidepressant that will hopefully offer lower incidence of adverse effects (or side effects) while also hopefully improving your symptoms of depression.
We hope the list of antidepressants below can be helpful. Our list includes both modern antidepressants such as SSRIs and SNRIs, as well as a range of older antidepressants that aren’t as widely used today.
For each medication, we’ve included the common brand names you may see it sold under.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most common type of antidepressant prescribed in the United States.
It is theorized, SSRIs work by affecting the way your brain uses serotonin. We name its “mechanism of action” as blocking your brain cells from reabsorbing (or reuptaking) existing serotonin in the brain synapse Serotonin is not a “happy chemical” and the “more serotonin” you have doesn’t necessarily mean you will be happier. Serotonin a key chemical for regulating certain aspects of your mood, including feelings of happiness. It is thought that serotonin helps your brain cells communication with each other to help regulate mood.
SSRI’s were first developed in the 1970s, and were a relatively new class of antidepressants. They work well and generally have fewer drug interactions, safety issues and side effects than older antidepressants.
List of SSRIs
Currently, several different SSRI antidepressants are used to treat depression, anxiety disorders and other conditions. They include:
Citalopram (sold under the brand name Celexa) is an SSRI used to treat depression. It was first approved in 1998 by the FDA. Citalopram is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States.
Escitalopram (Lexapro) is an SSRI used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder in adults. It was approved by the FDA as a treatment for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in 2002, then approved in 2002 as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder.
As with many other SSRIs, escitalopram is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States.
Fluoxetine (Prozac) is an SSRI used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder and bulimia nervosa (an eating disorder). It’s also used in combination with other medication to treat depressive episodes in people with bipolar disorder and treatment-resistant depression.
Under the brand name Prozac, fluoxetine was the first SSRI to receive approval from the FDA in the United States in 1987. Today, it remains one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States.
Fluvoxamine (Luvox) is an SSRI. Unlike many other SSRIs, which are generally used to treat depression as a first priority, fluvoxamine is typically prescribed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In addition to OCD, fluvoxamine may also be prescribed to treat certain anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder. Although it’s less common than other SSRIs, it can be prescribed as an off-label medication to treat depression and as an off-label treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Paroxetine (Paxil) is an SSRI used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and several anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder (SAD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder.
It may also be prescribed off-label for other conditions, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and premature ejaculation (PE).
Paroxetine was approved by the FDA in 2001. As with other SSRIs, it’s a common medication that’s one of the most widely used prescription drugs in the country.
Sertraline (Zoloft) is an SSRI used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and panic disorder.
Like other SSRIs, sertraline is occasionally prescribed off-label to treat other conditions, such as premature ejaculation (PE).
Sertraline was first approved by the FDA for use as a treatment for depression in 1999. As of 2018, not only was sertraline the most common SSRI antidepressant, but also the most widely used psychiatric medication in the United States.
Vilazodone (Viibryd) is an SSRI that’s used to treat depression. It’s a slightly newer medication than other SSRI antidepressants, with the FDA first approving it as a treatment for depression in 2011.
Because of its relatively short amount of time on sale, Vilazodone is less widely used for treating depression than other SSRIs.
Vortioxetine, sold under the brand name Trintellix, is another newer SSRI that gained its FDA approval in 2013 after completing an approval process.
Trintellix is also a newer SSRI on the market.