Skip to Content

Medications for 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
lithium Off-label 5.9 45 reviews
Rx D N X

Generic name: lithium systemic

Drug class: antimanic agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

Off-label: Yes

desipramine 9.1 16 reviews
Rx N N X

Generic name: desipramine systemic

Brand name:  Norpramin

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

fluvoxamine Off-label 6.7 34 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: fluvoxamine systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

Off-label: Yes

imipramine 6.4 30 reviews
Rx N N X

Generic name: imipramine systemic

Brand name:  Tofranil

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

l-methylfolate 7.8 125 reviews
Rx N N

Generic name: l-methylfolate systemic

Brand names:  Deplin, L-Methylfolate Forte, XaQuil XR

Drug class: vitamins

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

modafinil Off-label 8.7 58 reviews
Rx C 4

Generic name: modafinil systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

Off-label: Yes

niacin Off-label 8.6 52 reviews
Rx/OTC C N X

Generic name: niacin systemic

Drug class: vitamins, miscellaneous antihyperlipidemic agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

Off-label: Yes

Paxil CR 7.1 12 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

Remeron SolTab 8.0 6 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: mirtazapine systemic

Drug class: tetracyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Abilify MyCite Rate Add review
Rx C N X

Generic name: aripiprazole systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

amitriptyline / chlordiazepoxide 9.5 4 reviews
Rx N 4 X

Generic name: amitriptyline / chlordiazepoxide systemic

Drug class: psychotherapeutic combinations

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, Prescribing Information

amoxapine 9.5 5 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: amoxapine systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

clomipramine 7.1 37 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: clomipramine systemic

Brand name:  Anafranil

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

Emsam 8.1 31 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: selegiline systemic

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors, dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Methylin ER 9.5 2 reviews
Rx C 2 X

Generic name: methylphenidate systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Nardil 8.6 95 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: phenelzine systemic

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

nefazodone 9.3 56 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: nefazodone systemic

Drug class: phenylpiperazine antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

Pamelor 4.4 11 reviews
Rx N N X

Generic name: nortriptyline systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Parnate 8.8 80 reviews
Rx N N X

Generic name: tranylcypromine systemic

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Pexeva Rate Add review
Rx D N X

Generic name: paroxetine systemic

Drug class: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

Symbyax 9.0 17 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: fluoxetine / olanzapine systemic

Drug class: psychotherapeutic combinations

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

vilazodone 6.0 588 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: vilazodone systemic

Brand name:  Viibryd

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

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

Zyprexa Zydis Rate Add review
Rx C N X

Generic name: olanzapine systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

amitriptyline / perphenazine 9.0 1 review
Rx N N X

Generic name: amitriptyline / perphenazine systemic

Drug class: psychotherapeutic combinations

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, Prescribing Information

Anafranil 7.9 9 reviews
Rx C N X

Generic name: clomipramine systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

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
M The drug has multiple schedules. The schedule may depend on the exact dosage form or strength of the medication.
U CSA Schedule is unknown.
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.