Canada Med Stop

Medications & Therapies for Depression

Friday 20 November 2020
Mental Health
4 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Major Depressive Symptoms

II. Finding the Antidepressant for You

III. Types of Antidepressants

a. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

b. Serotonin & Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

c. Atypical Antidepressants

d. Tricyclic Antidepressants

e. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

f. Other Antidepressants

Major Depressive Symptoms

Major depression is a serious mental health condition that requires treatment. Major depression, also known as clinical depression, involves constant feelings of hopelessness and low mood. Having major depression can significantly impact your normal habits, including working, studying, sleeping, eating, and social activities. Typically, environmental, genetic, and biological factors affect your risk of developing this mood disorder. You may be experiencing major depression if you have the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • Impaired concentration
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Diminished interest in almost all activities

Unlike many other medical conditions, major depression cannot be diagnosed with a simple blood test. You must communicate your mood to your doctor so they can help you properly diagnose this disease. Depression affects hundreds of millions of people every year, and there are plenty of medications available to try to treat your symptoms. Once your depression is diagnosed, you may be prescribed Cymbalta (Duloxetine), Trintellix (Vortioxetine), Rexulti (Brexpiprazole), or Ludiomil (Maprotiline). Read on to learn more about the function of these medications and how they may improve your clinical depression. [1] 

a man looking sad sitting in a corner

Finding the Right Antidepressant for You 

It is important to take stock of your overall health before starting a new antidepressant regime. There are several different side effects of every medication, and you and your doctor need to consider several things before beginning a new treatment. These factors can include:

  • Possible side effects
  • If your antidepressants interact with any other medications you are taking
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding: There are several risks and benefits to taking antidepressants during pregnancy. Your doctor will let you know if your medication is safe to take if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. 
  • Cost and health insurance coverage
  • Your other health or mental conditions
  • Your particular symptoms [2]

Types of Antidepressants

The goal of antidepressants is to stabilize your mood and help increase feel-good hormones to the body and brain. For some people with depression, areas of the brain react differently than a brain without depression. In some cases, the hippocampus area of the brain is smaller in those with depression. The hippocampus is responsible for memories and emotions, so if it is smaller than normal, depression may be more likely to occur.

a. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs like Prozac (fluoxetine) are normally the first type of medication prescribed. On average, SSRIs usually have fewer side effects and are less likely to cause serious problems. These drugs can also be given at higher therapeutic doses than other antidepressants. SSRIs increase the level of serotonin in the brain and can relieve depressive symptoms. Typical side effects of SSRIs include:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness or agitation
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Impact on appetite [3] 

b. Serotonin & Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs are the second most prescribed type of antidepressant. These medications ease depression by stimulating neurotransmitters and increasing communication between brain cells. They eventually change the brain’s chemistry and can help regulate mood. SNRIs like Cymbalta (Duloxetine) can be used for major depression and anxiety disorders and chronic pain conditions. Common side effects of SNRIs can include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness [4]

c. Atypical Antidepressants

Atypical antidepressants like Trintellix (Vortioxetine) do not fit neatly into a specific class of depression medications. Like other antidepressants, these drugs work by altering brain chemistry and enhancing the neurotransmitters’ communication between brain cells. These antidepressants can change the level of dopamine, serotonin, or norepinephrine. Some people may not experience any side effects, while others can suffer from:

  • Sleep changes (insomnia or oversleeping)
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea
  • Sexual side effects [5]

d. Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants were the earliest developed depression medications. Tricyclic drugs like Ludiomil (Maprotiline) block the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine and increase these substances' levels in the brain. These drugs also affect chemical messengers and may cause several side effects, so they are prescribed less often than SNRIs and SSRIs. Side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • A drop in blood pressure
  • Urine retention
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision [2]

a man with an obscured, blurry face

e. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

Your doctor may prescribe MAOIs if other antidepressants have not had the desired effect on your mood. MAOIs are usually left as a last resort because they are known for some serious side effects. You have to adhere to a strict diet when taking these drugs because they can interact with certain foods like wines, pickles, cheese, and other medications. MAOI skin patches can have fewer side effects. [2]

f. Other Antidepressants

In some cases, your doctor may recommend a combination of two different types of antidepressants. This combination can decrease side effects and improve your symptoms. In these particular cases, you may be prescribed an antipsychotic like Rexulti (Brexpiprazole) that combats several symptoms of depression. Rexulti helps decrease feelings of nervousness and anxiety while improving your mood and energy level. It is known as an atypical antipsychotic and can be used for depression and other mood disorders. Talk to your doctor to determine the right antidepressant medication for you. [6]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.