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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 Rx / OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol Reviews Rating Popularity
Symbyax C N X 16 reviews
8.9

Generic name: fluoxetine / olanzapine systemic

Drug class: psychotherapeutic combinations

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

Tofranil N N X 5 reviews
5.2

Generic name: imipramine systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

vilazodone C N X 571 reviews
6.1

Generic name: vilazodone systemic

Brand name:  Viibryd

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Zyprexa Zydis C N X Add review
0.0

Generic name: olanzapine systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

amitriptyline / perphenazine N N X 1 review
9.0

Generic name: amitriptyline / perphenazine systemic

Drug class: psychotherapeutic combinations

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts, Prescribing Information

armodafinil Off Label C 4 24 reviews
7.7

Generic name: armodafinil systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Off Label: Yes

atomoxetine Off Label C N 5 reviews
6.5

Generic name: atomoxetine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Off Label: Yes

brexpiprazole N X 80 reviews
6.9

Generic name: brexpiprazole systemic

Brand name:  Rexulti

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

levomilnacipran C N X 89 reviews
4.5

Generic name: levomilnacipran systemic

Brand name:  Fetzima

Drug class: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

lisdexamfetamine Off Label C 2 X 10 reviews
6.9

Generic name: lisdexamfetamine systemic

Drug class: CNS stimulants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Off Label: Yes

Norpramin N N X 5 reviews
9.8

Generic name: desipramine systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

paliperidone Off Label C N X 9 reviews
4.0

Generic name: paliperidone systemic

Drug class: atypical antipsychotics

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Off Label: Yes

phenelzine C N X 96 reviews
8.8

Generic name: phenelzine systemic

Brand name:  Nardil

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

selegiline C N X 38 reviews
8.2

Generic name: selegiline systemic

Brand name:  Emsam

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors, dopaminergic antiparkinsonism agents

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

tranylcypromine N N X 91 reviews
8.6

Generic name: tranylcypromine systemic

Brand name:  Parnate

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

XaQuil XR N N 3 reviews
9.0

Generic name: l-methylfolate systemic

Drug class: vitamins

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

esketamine 3 X 33 reviews
5.0

Generic name: esketamine systemic

Brand name:  Spravato

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

isocarboxazid C N X 6 reviews
9.0

Generic name: isocarboxazid systemic

Brand name:  Marplan

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

For professionals: A-Z Drug Facts

L-Methylfolate Forte N N Add review
0.0

Generic name: l-methylfolate systemic

Drug class: vitamins

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

maprotiline B N X 9 reviews
9.9

Generic name: maprotiline systemic

Drug class: tetracyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Marplan C N X 6 reviews
9.0

Generic name: isocarboxazid systemic

Drug class: monoamine oxidase inhibitors

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: Prescribing Information

protriptyline N N X 2 reviews
9.0

Generic name: protriptyline systemic

Brand name:  Vivactil

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Spravato 3 X 30 reviews
5.1

Generic name: esketamine systemic

Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

Surmontil C N X 1 review
0.0

Generic name: trimipramine systemic

Drug class: tricyclic antidepressants

For consumers: dosage, interactions, side effects

For professionals: AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information

thyroid desiccated Off Label A N Add review
0.0

Generic name: thyroid desiccated systemic

Drug class: thyroid drugs

For consumers: dosage, interactions,

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

Off Label: Yes

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

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.
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.

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Further information

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