Skip to Content

Medications for Depression

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood condition characterized by persistent and overwhelming feelings of sadness that can affect your day-to-day activities and how you think, feel, and behave. Sometimes it can affect your outlook on life and make you feel that life isn’t worth living. Depression may also be called major depressive disorder or clinical depression.

What Causes Depression?

Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes depression but believe it is due to a combination of different factors, such as genetic vulnerability, faulty mood regulation by the brain, stress, chemicals in the brain, medications, or medical problems, that all interact together to bring on depression.

The risk of developing depression is higher in women and people:

  • Aged 45 to 64 years of age or the elderly
  • With chronic or acute health conditions
  • Who are undergoing a major life event, such as a job loss, divorce, workplace stress, or physical or mental abuse
  • With severe grief due to the death of a loved one
  • Taking prescription drugs that may cause a low mood
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Depression is not just feeling blue occasionally. It affects daily feelings, thoughts, and actions over a longer period. (MDD), can result in difficulties with family life, work, and social activities.

Symptoms may vary depending on how severe a person’s depression is but may include:

  • A prolonged and persistent low mood, tearfulness, or a sense of hopelessness that has lasted for at least 2 weeks
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Avoidance or refusal to participate in activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Withdrawal socially, from family, friends, and relationships
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • Alcohol, drug, or substance abuse
  • Engaging in risky or destructive behaviors
  • Self-harm or attempts at suicide.

In children and teens, symptoms may include clinginess, worry, aches and pain, and refusal to go to school.

In older adults, symptoms may be less obvious and include memory difficulties or personality changes, physical aches and pains, and fatigue.

How is Depression Diagnosed?

If your mood has been low for a while and you are having difficulty coping with day to day activities, talk to your doctor or a trusted professional. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and your medical history and may ask you to complete a questionnaire that may help to diagnose depression or refer you to a psychiatrist.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or have an online chat (http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/). All information is confidential and free.

How is Depression Treated?

Depression is treatable with high rates of success. Treatments may include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressants, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Responses to antidepressants vary, and most antidepressants take 4 to 6 weeks for full effect. About 50% of patients respond to the first treatment, whereas others may have to try a few different types of antidepressants before they find the best one for them.

There are several things you can do to help with your symptoms as well, such as:

  • Setting realistic and daily goals
  • Developing strategies to work through crises situations
  • Developing coping and problem-solving skills
  • Learning how to develop positive relationships
  • Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Drugs used to treat Depression

The following list of medications are in some way related to, or used in the treatment of this condition.

Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
Cymbalta 6.3 569 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: duloxetine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

bupropion 7.1 1203 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: bupropion systemic

Brand names:  Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Budeprion SR, Forfivo XL, Aplenzin …show all

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants, smoking cessation agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Zoloft 6.8 573 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: sertraline systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Lexapro 7.2 575 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: escitalopram systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

sertraline 6.9 1126 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: sertraline systemic

Brand name:  Zoloft

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

citalopram 7.3 673 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: citalopram systemic

Brand name:  Celexa

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Prozac 7.0 397 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: fluoxetine systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Wellbutrin XL 7.4 270 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: bupropion systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

fluoxetine 7.0 630 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: fluoxetine systemic

Brand name:  Prozac

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Celexa 7.2 353 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: citalopram systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

escitalopram 7.1 820 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: escitalopram systemic

Brand name:  Lexapro

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

venlafaxine 6.1 921 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: venlafaxine systemic

Brand names:  Effexor XR, Effexor

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Abilify 6.5 282 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: aripiprazole systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Effexor XR 6.7 325 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: venlafaxine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Trintellix 6.0 559 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: vortioxetine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

aripiprazole 6.5 301 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: aripiprazole systemic

Brand names:  Abilify, Abilify MyCite

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

duloxetine 6.3 668 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: duloxetine systemic

Brand names:  Cymbalta, Irenka

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Rexulti 6.8 91 reviews
Rx N X

Generic name: brexpiprazole systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

vortioxetine 5.9 809 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: vortioxetine systemic

Brand name:  Trintellix

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

trazodone 6.8 118 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: trazodone systemic

Brand names:  Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose

Drug class: phenylpiperazine antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

brexpiprazole 6.9 103 reviews
Rx N X

Generic name: brexpiprazole systemic

Brand name:  Rexulti

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph

Pristiq 6.9 739 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: desvenlafaxine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

mirtazapine 6.8 536 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: mirtazapine systemic

Brand names:  Remeron, Remeron SolTab

Drug class: tetracyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Effexor 5.5 331 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: venlafaxine systemic

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Paxil 6.4 179 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: paroxetine systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Topics under Depression

Alternative treatments for Depression

The following products are considered to be alternative treatments or natural remedies for Depression. Their efficacy may not have been scientifically tested to the same degree as the drugs listed in the table above. However there may be historical, cultural or anecdotal evidence linking their use to the treatment of Depression.

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription Only.
OTC Over the Counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over the Counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
EUA An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the FDA to authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a declared public health emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

Browse Treatment Options

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.