The common types of antidepressant drugs can include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), tricyclics, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI). All these types of antidepressants work by interacting with some biochemicals in the body that are said to affect a person’s mood. All types can also cause common side effects such as nausea, sleeping problems, and fatigue.
The most standard type of antidepressant drugs is the SSRI. Serotonin is a chemical known as the “happy hormone” because it produces a feeling of happiness. A lack of serotonin in the body occurs when neuro-receptors reabsorb or “reuptake” the serotonin, which can result in depression. The SSRI prevents the reuptake of serotonin and provides adequate amounts of the chemical. Common drugs under the classification of SSRI include fluoxetine, sertraline, and escitalopram.
Tricyclics are another type of antidepressant drugs prevalent since the 1950s. This type of antidepressants works on the reuptake of both norepinephrine and serotonin. Tricyclics can particularly be very lethal when taken in large doses, causing drastic increases in heart rate. In spite of their effectiveness, tricyclic antidepressants are used less often because of the wide availability of safer medication. Examples of tricyclics are imipranime, nortriptyline, and amitriptyline.
Another type of antidepressant medication similar to tricyclics is SNRI. As its name suggests, SNRIs also block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. A patient may have symptoms of withdrawal if medication is abruptly discontinued, so doctors recommend a gradual decrease of dosage. Antidepressant medications under the SNRI category are venlafaxine, milnacipran, duloxetine, and desvenlafaxine.
Doctors can prescribe another type of antidepressant drugs called MAOIs if the other types do not take effect. MAOIs have a large potential to be dangerous, which is why physicians usually do not prescribe them as a first course of treatment. These antidepressants function by interacting with three biochemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Antidepressants that are considered MAOIs are phenelzine, isocarboxazid, and selegiline.
All antidepressant drugs can possibly produce some undesirable side effects, which is why many people turn to alternative antidepressants such as herbs. St. John’s Wort is said to be one of the most effective and well-researched forms of alternative medication and other herbal antidepressants include lavender, saffron, and wormwood. Traditional medicine such as Ayurveda and acupuncture are also said to help depression and anxiety. A more natural medication is the intake of omega-3, vitamin B-12, and folic acid. Regular exercise can also help decrease depression as it releases endorphins, another hormone associated with feelings of pleasure.