Antidepressants are drugs used to treat major depressive disorder. They are also used to treat other mood disorders such as chronic depression, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hayperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders. In addition, they are used to treat chronic pain (most notably fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain), menstrual pain, migraine, substance abuse, stroke recovery, premature ejaculation and sleep disorders. They are many times combined with other medications to achieve the desired therapeutic effect.
Most antidepressants fall into one these catagories, and each catagory affects brain chemistry in different ways: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, like Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft), serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs, like Cymbalta, Savella, Tofacine and Effexor), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs, like Elavil, Norpramin, Tofranil and Pamelor), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs, like Marplan, Zelapar, Manerix and Humoryl), tetracyclic antidepressants (TeCAs, like Asendin, Tolvon, Remeron and Tecipul), and noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSAs). Other drugs used or proposed for the treatment of depression include buprenorphine, low-dose antipsychotics, and St John’s wort.
There are many antidepressants and they are used alone or in combination to treat many illnesses and conditions. It is important to work with a qualified health care professional when using these drugs. There may be periods of “trial and error” in finding the correct drug at the correct dose. In addition, most have side effects, the most common being weight gain or loss, sexual dysfunction and an increased risk of suicidal behavior in those under 25.