Skip 
Navigation Link
Depression: Depression & Related Conditions
Resources
Basic Information
Introduction and Types of Depressive DisordersRelated Disorders / ConditionsHistorical and Current UnderstandingsBiology, Psychology and SociologyTreatment - Medication and PsychotherapyAlternative Medicine and Self-Help ResourcesSpecial IssuesReferences
More InformationTestsLatest News
Depression Inversely Linked to Body Composition in TeensReview: Depression Screening As Inpatient Important, FeasibleDepression Can Slow Hospital Patients' Recovery: StudyAntidepressants During Pregnancy Safe for Baby: StudyChronic Pain Common in Adults With Depression, AnxietyWhat You Need to Know About AntidepressantsAPA: Internet-Based CBT Can Be Helpful in DepressionCan Online Treatment Replace Your Therapist?Depression Often a Precursor to Falls in Elderly PeopleOverweight in Childhood May Up Lifetime Risk of DepressionHeavy Kids Face Triple the Odds for Depression in AdulthoodObesity, Sex Predict Remission for Antidepressant MedicationsGender Differences in Depression Tend to Appear About Age 12Depression's Gender Gap Shows Up in Pre-Teen YearsStudies Question Link Between Mom's Antidepressant Use, Autism in KidsMortality Up With Depression Just Before Breast Cancer DiagnosisDepressive Disorders Up With Antimuscarinics for OABTrauma as a Teen May Boost Depression Risk Around MenopauseBlood Test Promising for ID of Early Depression, SchizophreniaBlood Test Might Someday Distinguish Early Depression, SchizophreniaHold That Pose: Yoga May Ease Tough DepressionDepression May Hasten Death in Years After Heart DiagnosisAntidepressant Efficacy Varies for Depressive Symptom ClustersDepressed Psoriasis Patients at Higher Risk of Psoriatic ArthritisInternet-Based CBT Effective for Depressive SymptomsCan Depression Up Odds for Arthritis Linked to Psoriasis?Postpartum Depressive Symptoms Fell in 2004 to 2012Hey Fellas, Depression Can Strike New Dads, TooDepression Often Untreated in Dialysis PatientsGDM Found to Increase Risk for Postpartum DepressionPostpartum Depression Affects New Dads, TooPanic Disorder May Up Odds of Depression Rx Side EffectsSometimes the Holidays Aren't Always JollyPilots Suffer Depression, Suicidal Thoughts at Fairly High RatesMore Than 1 in 10 Pilots Suffer From Depression, Survey FindsSelf-Care Tools Cut Depression in AMD, Diabetic RetinopathyClinical Antecedents of Adolescent-Onset MDD IdentifiedAge-Related Cataract Linked to Depressive SymptomsDepression, Suicide Ideation Prevalent in Medical Students2 Out of 3 Depressed Teens Gain Lasting Benefits From TherapyAntidepressants + Exercise Beneficial in Late-Life DepressionDepressed Women Less Likely to Get Best Breast Cancer Care: StudyDepression on the Rise Among U.S. Teens, Especially GirlsMemantine + Sertraline Effective for Major Depressive DisorderDepressive Symptoms Linked to Functional Status in CADHigh Rate of Antidepressant Use After CancerResearchers Find Antidepressant Bupropion Crosses PlacentaSome Antihypertensives Linked to Depression, Bipolar RiskMom-to-Be's Antidepressant Use May Be Tied to Speech Issues in ChildDepression Can Fuel Heart Disease in Midlife Women: Study
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Anxiety Disorders
Bipolar Disorder
Suicide
Addictions: Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Pain Management

What You Need to Know About Antidepressants

HealthDay News
by -- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
Updated: Jun 2nd 2017

new article illustration

FRIDAY, June 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Medication can help millions of people who struggle with depression, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Depression affects some 350 million people worldwide. It's a serious illness and a major cause of disability. But its symptoms can be mistaken for other health issues and some people are afraid to seek help, the FDA said.

Not everyone with depression needs medicine, the agency said. But drugs used to treat it -- antidepressants -- can help ease symptoms, such as:

  • Depressed mood,
  • Loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities,
  • Changes in appetite or weight,
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much,
  • Loss of energy or fatigue,
  • Restlessness,
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt,
  • Problems thinking, focusing or making decisions,
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Doctors consider these symptoms -- as well as a patient's medical history, behavior and mental status -- to diagnose depression and rule out other health issues, including thyroid disease and Parkinson's disease.

Doctors should also evaluate patients for bipolar disorder, which can cause major mood swings. Giving antidepressants to someone with bipolar disorder could lead to psychosis, according to the FDA.

Antidepressants help treat depression by changing brain chemicals called neurotransmitters -- such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine -- that help regulate mood.

There are several different types of antidepressants, which affect different neurotransmitters in different ways. Antidepressants include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram) and Paxil (paroxetine),
  • Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), including Effexor (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine),
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), including Elavil (amitriptyline), Tofranil (imipramine) and Pamelor (nortriptyline),
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), including Nardil (phenelzine) and Parnate (tranylcypromine),
  • Other antidepressants include Remeron (mirtazapine) and Wellbutrin (buproprion).

"Some evidence shows that the most effective way to treat many patients with depression is through both talk therapy and prescribed antidepressant medication," Dr. Mitchell Mathis, director of the FDA's division of psychiatry products, said in an agency news release.

Taking antidepressants may cause complications, including birth defects and high blood pressure. Other possible side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Weight gain,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Sleeping problems,
  • Sexual problems.

It's important for patients to work with their doctor to find the best treatment for them, Mathis said.

But medication won't ease depression overnight, the FDA cautioned. Most patients must take their prescribed drugs for several weeks before they fully take effect.

And people who take antidepressants should not stop without talking to their doctor first -- even if they feel better. Suddenly discontinuing this medicine could cause depression to return or lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and irritability, according to the FDA.

The FDA requested drug makers to put a warning label on these drugs about the increased risk of suicidal thinking or behavior when children, teens and young adults up to age 24 start treatment or their dosage increases.

If you have suicidal thoughts or know someone who does, or you observe suicidal behaviors, seek immediate medical help. Or call the confidential and toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about treatment for depression.