Types of Antidepressants - Step To Health
 

Types of Antidepressants

Depression is a difficult issue to approach. There are several types of antidepressants that can be prescribed for its treatment; but they must always guided by a professional. We'll tell you a bit more about them right here.
Types of Antidepressants

Last update: 27 October, 2021

There are many types of antidepressants – a group of medications prescribed to treat depression. Depression is one of the most common and well-known mood disorders. Anxiety, followed by depression, are the most common ones overall.

Depression is an illness that affects several areas including cognitive, emotional, and social spheres. For this reason, the treatment of these diseases is multidisciplinary, encompassing specialties such as psychology and psychiatry.

What is depression?

From a clinical point of view, a person is suffering from depression when they experience a series of symptoms that indicate the presence of an overall sad mood. However, in some cases, irritable moods may be manifested, accompanied by a lack of motivation, sleep disturbances, or weight variation.

Depressed people, in general, are in a state of passivity; they experience the feeling of not being in control of their lives, and suffer from hopelessness. In addition, this type of patient has a high level of negativity and low mental and physical activation.

Different types of professionals deal with how to treat depression by using various psychological therapies combined with pharmacological treatments.

A depressed woman.
Depression is a mood disturbance.

Types of antidepressants

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that are related to depression. Especially serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. For this reason, many types of antidepressants exert their effect by acting on these substances in different ways.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

This group of drugs acts by inhibiting monoamine oxidase, and are generally only used when other drugs don’t work, as this group of antidepressants has side effects that can be serious.

In addition, taking this type of antidepressant requires you as a patient to follow a strict diet, since the interaction of these with some foods can become dangerous.

You may also be interested in: Antidepressants: 5 Things To Remember

Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants

These drugs are, after MAOIs, the oldest. For a long time, they were the most common antidepressants. Their mechanism of action is based on preventing the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline.

They have the disadvantage that their mechanism of action isn’t specific on serotonin and noradrenalin, but affects other hormones such as acetylcholine, histamine and dopamine. Due to this nonspecific action, they can produce important side effects, even creating addiction to these drugs.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common type of antidepressant today. They’re the treatment of choice in cases of depression, since their side effects are milder when comparing them to those that other types of antidepressants may cause.

Depression is closely related to anxiety, and because of the mechanism of action of SSRI drugs, they can be used to treat both mood disorders.

This type of antidepressant acts by specifically inhibiting the reabsorption of serotonin, and doesn’t affect other neurotransmitters. However, they may produce some side effects that are usually mild, such as nausea, vomiting, or mild sedation. This is one of the safest groups of drugs.

In this pharmacological group are among others the following active ingredients:

  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline
  • Citalopram
  • Escitalopram
a depressed person with a friend
Antidepressant drugs intervene in neurotransmitter metabolism

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

This type of antidepressant acts on serotonin and noradrenaline, the main difference with tricyclic antidepressants is that they’re specific, acting only on these two neurotransmitters. The best-known active ingredients of this pharmacological group are venlafaxine and duloxetine.

Other antidepressants: bupropion

Bupropion is a drug that acts by selectively inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. It has been effective in the treatment of depression, although it’s currently considered for the results in helping people stop smoking.

The value of antidepressants

In conclusion, most antidepressants improve depression by acting on one of the neurotransmitters. However, depression is a complicated disease that requires different types of therapies to be successful.

It might interest you...
How to Overcome Depression Due to Infidelity
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
How to Overcome Depression Due to Infidelity

Overcoming depression due to infidelity isn't easy, but it is possible. We'll give you some guidelines to learn how to manage.



  • Heerlein, A. (2002). Tratamientos farmacológicos antidepresivos. Revista Chilena de Neuro-Psiquiatria. https://doi.org/10.4067/s0717-92272002000500003

  • Andrés, Á., Apraez, M., Fernando, M., Calvache, L., Alejandro, A., & Alvarez, Á. (2015). Intoxicación por antidepresivos tricíclicos. Urgentia. Int. Med. Emergencias.

  • Cortajarena García, M. C., Ron Martin, S., Miranda Vicario, E., Ruiz de Vergara Eguino, A., Azpiazu Gomez, P. J., & Lopez Aldana, J. (2016). Antidepresivos en la tercera edad. Semergen. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semerg.2015.07.015