Depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans aged 15 to 44, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It affects both mental and physical aspects of life, sometimes making it difficult to even rise in the morning. There are many medications available that aid in restoring drive and inciting action for a fulfilling life.
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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, aid in relieving depression by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain 24. These drugs accomplish this by preventing nerve cells from reabsorbing serotonin, which improves the mood and symptoms of depression. According to MayoClinic.com, SSRI effectiveness depends on the patient's genetic make-up 1. In addition, individuals may have varying responses to different SSRI drugs. Therefore, patients must often try several drugs before they find the one that is most effective.
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Tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs, treat depression by restoring the balance of certain neurotransmitters in the brain 3. They increase levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine while simultaneously decreasing acetylcholine. MayoClinic.com indicates that TCAs also affect other receptors in the brain, which leads to possible side effects of drowsiness, weight gain and nausea 1. Not only do TCAs treat depression, they are also used for obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and chronic pain.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs, treat depression by increasing levels of both norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain 24. MayoClinic.com indicates that the mechanism of action for SNRIs is not established, but the higher neurotransmitter levels may improve the mood by enhancing transmission in the brain 1. Side effects include insomnia, anxiety and agitation.
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- MayoClinic.com: Depression
- MayoClinic.com: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
- RxList: Internet Drug Index: Tricyclic Antidepressants
- MayoClinic.com: Serotonin and Norephinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
- Ramachandraih CT, Subramanyam N, Bar KJ, Baker G, Yeragani VK. Antidepressants: From MAOIs to SSRIs and more. Indian J Psychiatry. 2011;53(2):180-2. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.82567
- Harvard Health Publishing. What causes depression? Harvard Medical School. Updated June 24, 2019.
- Santarsieri D, Schwartz TL. Antidepressant efficacy and side-effect burden: A quick guide for clinicians. Drugs Context. 2015;4:212290. doi:10.7573/dic.212290
- Cleveland Clinic. What are the side effects of antidepressant medications? Updated May, 24, 2019.
- Kima T, Xua C, Amsterdam J. Relative effectiveness of tricyclic antidepressant versus monoamine oxidase inhibitor monotherapy for treatment-resistant depression. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2019;250:199-203. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2019.03.028
Based in Virginia, Tyffani Benard began writing health-related articles in 2010. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Benard has a background in dentistry and science, and enjoys making these complicated subjects accessible to the general public through her writing. She holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery from Howard University and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Florida A&M University.