Antidepressants to Treat Depression
WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD
There are several types of depression medications (antidepressants) used to treat depression and conditions that have depression as a component of the disease, such as bipolar disorder. These drugs improve symptoms of depression by increasing the availability of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. It is believed that these brain chemicals can help improve emotions.
Major types of antidepressants include:
· Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are some of the first antidepressants used to treat depression. They primarily affect the levels of two chemical messengers (neurotransmitters), norepinephrine and serotonin, in the brain. Although these drugs are effective in treating depression, they have more side effects, so they usually aren't the first drugs used.
· Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are another early form of antidepressant. These drugs are most effective in people with depression who do not respond to other treatments. Substances in certain foods, like cheese, beverages like wine, and medications can interact with an MAOI, so these people taking this medication must adhere to strict dietary restrictions For this reason these antidepressants also aren't usually the first drugs used.
· Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a newer form of antidepressant. These drugs work by altering the amount of a chemical in the brain called serotonin.
· Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another newer form of antidepressant medicine. They treat depression by increasing availability of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine