How to Compare Antidepressant Drugs

Six Methods:General Information to ConsiderSelective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)Atypical AntidepressantsTricyclic and Tetracyclic AntidepressantsMonoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Finding the right medication to treat depression can be difficult for patients. These drugs can take several weeks to become fully effective and can cause bothersome side effects. Fortunately, there are several types. If one doesn't work for you, you can try another. Most people can find the right medication or combination of medications to relieve their symptoms. This article will tell you how to compare antidepressant drugs.

Method 1
General Information to Consider

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    Tell your doctor about all of your symptoms. Different antidepressants work better on some symptoms than others.
    • For example, if you feel tired all the time an antidepressant that acts as a slight stimulant may be better than one that causes sleepiness.
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    Tell your doctor about other medication you may be taking. Some antidepressant medications can have serious interactions with other medications, such as blood pressure medication.
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    Discuss other health problems you have with your doctor. Some antidepressants can worsen certain health issues. Others can help underlying conditions such as attention-deficit disorder (ADD).
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    Talk to your doctor about other treatment options if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Many antidepressants are not safe for the baby.
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    Consider the cost of medications you are considering. Some antidepressants can be very expensive, especially if no generic is available. They can be even more expensive if you don't have health insurance.
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    Find out what medication worked best for an immediate family member. If a certain medication worked well for your parent or sibling, it may also do the same for you.
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    Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type of antidepressant with your doctor, taking into consideration the information from the above steps.
    • A summary of the different types of antidepressants and their pros and cons are listed below for your convenience.

Method 2
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They tend to be safe and work for most people. Some examples of this type include Prozac and Zoloft.

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    However, they are known for sexual side effects including inability to orgasm for women and delayed ejaculation for men.

Method 3
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs are a newer type of antidepressant. These medications include Cymbalta, Effexor and Pristiq. This type may relieve certain types of physical pain that can be related to depression more than others.

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    These antidepressants can raise blood pressure or cause liver problems. This medication should not be used by heavy drinkers.

Method 4
Atypical Antidepressants

The atypical antidepressants don't fit into any of the other categories. This type includes Wellbutrin and Remeron. These medications tend to cause the least amount of sexual side effects.

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    Some of the atypical antidepressants can raise cholesterol and lipid levels. There's also Nefazodone, which has been linked to severe liver problems.

Method 5
Tricyclic and Tetracyclic Antidepressants

These medications are older types of antidepressants that are not used as much. They include Amitriptyline and Norpramin. These medications tend to be effective for those who do not see improvement on other antidepressants.

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    They are not the first choice currently because of numerous side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, sedation, sexual side effects and weight gain.

Method 6
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

These medications can provide relief when all other types of antidepressants have failed. They include Marplan and Eldepryl.

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    These antidepressants are a last resort for patients. They have many side effects including dry mouth, dizziness and muscle twitches. MAOIs are also known to interact dangerously with certain foods and medications.


  • If you don't get noticeable improvement in your symptoms after six weeks, talk to your doctor about switching medications.
  • Be patient and wait several weeks to see if symptoms improve. Side effects can also improve during this time as well, but everyone is different.


  • Studies have shown there can be an increased risk of suicide in children and young adults up to 24 years of age after starting or changing doses of antidepressants. Keep close watch for new signs or worsening depression.
  • Do not stop or alter the dosage of your antidepressant without talking to your doctor. Some medications can cause withdrawal type symptoms when discontinuing them.

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Categories: Medication and Medical Equipment