What is The Best Antidepressant for You?

When it comes to treating depression, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone’s body and brain chemistry is different, so you need to find the antidepressant that works best for you. Furthermore, medications are only one part of the picture. Other factors affect your mood. They include your lifestyle, relationships, and work environment. 

The good news is that there are a variety of antidepressants available on the market today, ranging from SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to tricyclic antidepressants and even newer drugs such as ketamine.

woman holding half full glass and white medicine pill representing antidepressant.
Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com retrieved 1/17/2023

Types of Antidepressants

SSRIs

The most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The simple explanation for how they work is  by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain.  They do not “make”  more serotonin, just keep more available for the brain to use.  However, there may be other pathways as well.   Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that can help regulate mood and emotions. Examples of SSRI antidepressants include Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Paxil.

Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin (generic name bupropion) has been around for a long time.  It’s not really in a category. It works largely in the frontal lobe.  Women tend to like it because it typically does not cause weight gain.  Wellbutrin can often improve motivation, cognition, and sex drive, as well.   The one downside is that it can cause insomnia.

SNRIs

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are a popular antidepressant option.  As the name implies, they work on the neurotransmitters (brain chemical) norepinephrine and serotonin. In my practice, I find they are a bit more energizing than SSRIs. 

Other Antidepressants 

There are some older classes of medications including tricyclic  (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).  They are not used as commonly because of side effects, risk of toxicity and medication-medication reactions.  However, they can be good options if other things don’t work. 

Side Effects of Antidepressants 

Before deciding which antidepressant to take, it’s important to talk to your Nurse Practitioner or Doctor about any potential side effects or drug interactions with other medications you might be taking. It’s also important to keep in mind that some drugs may take several weeks before they start working effectively. Additionally, some people experience side effects such as nausea or headaches when they first start taking an antidepressant.   This usually passess within two weeks. 

Managing Side Effects

I’m sure you have heard that side effects can include weight gain, decreased sex drive, or changes in sleep. This does happen for some people but not all.  There are several ways to manage side effects. 

  1. Start the medication at the lowest dose 
  2. Medication should be  adjusted very slowly
  3. Checking for other factors that could be causing the side effects

In some cases, switching medications may be best.  

Depression affects millions of people worldwide every year and while there is no cure-all treatment plan available, there are a variety of medications available on the market today.   Different classes of antidepressants work differently depending on an individual’s body and history.   Therefore, it’s important to discuss all available options with your Nurse Practitioner before deciding what type of medication is right for you. With patience and dedication, finding the right medication could make a world of difference in improving your  quality of life.  

woman surrounded by sunflowers. She is thriving on the right antidepressant.
Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com retrieved 1/17/2023

Are you struggling with depression?  We can help.  Our Nurse Practitioners have openings and will work patiently with you to find the right medication. 


About the Author

Sharon P. Fisher, MS, PMHNP is a psychiatric nurse practitioner and founder of Nurtured Well, LLC, a boutique women’s mental health practice in Towson, Maryland. 

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