Leann Poston, M.D.
Leann Poston, M.D. earned her medical degree from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. She completed an MBA from Raj Soin College of Business, focusing on healthcare. She is a full-time medical communication writer and educator.
Ryan is an experienced health writer helping educate and inform people on all types of important health topics. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT and can be found recreating in the local mountains.
February 4, 2021
The range of types of antidepressants available is quite vast, depending on how far you look. Given how paralyzing and potentially dangerous mental health disorders can be, it can be hard to find a good starting point for treatment.
This article will go over antidepressant medications, the most common antidepressants, types of antidepressants, and even how to get an antidepressant prescription online.
Antidepressants aren’t a cure-all to treating mental illnesses, but they certainly do help a significant number of patients live life in a better way by reducing symptoms.
It may come as a surprise that antidepressants aren’t just for treating depression.
Antidepressants treat many mental health conditions, including:
Antidepressants can be incredibly helpful in the lifelong journey for mental health. Finding an antidepressant that best suits you is important because each is designed to block or increase different chemicals in the brain. They are meant to change your brain’s chemistry and improve the communication between brain cells, but each one uses a separate process to achieve that.
Let’s break down each type of antidepressant to understand the best option for you.
There are a wide variety of antidepressants available on the market. The list is quite long, and many perform different functions and treat mental illnesses differently. To fully understand what each one does, it’s best to understand the five major classes of antidepressants. Knowing the infrastructure of antidepressants can help you speak with your doctor about which medication is most likely to benefit you.
Now let’s go over some of the most common antidepressants.
In all of our brains, there is a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin plays a massive role in our body. It’s responsible for critical functions such as controlling bowel function, facilitating blood clotting, improving sleep, and affecting mood. When serotonin levels are low in the brain, we can experience prolonged mood changes such as depression.
SSRIs have been shown to improve mental illnesses such as:
“The most widely prescribed antidepressants come from a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” according to helpguide.org.
SSRIs increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. They block the brain’s receptors responsible for the reabsorption of serotonin, making it more available for nerve cells to use. The brain registers the decreased reuptake of serotonin as a critical lack of serotonin, which “tricks” it into producing more.
SSRIs are one of the newest and most commonly prescribed antidepressants in today’s world.
Commonly prescribed SSRIs include:
SNRIs are very closely related to SSRIs, except they have one other function SSRIs don’t – they also block the reuptake of norepinephrine. When norepinephrine levels are low, it can cause slower brain and body functions, which are often the root causes of mental illness.
These antidepressants are useful not only to treat depression but also:
SNRIs block both serotonin and norepinephrine’s reuptake in the brain, making it more available for nerve cells.
Commonly prescribed SNRIs include:
TCAs are some of the first antidepressants prescribed, dating back to the 1950s. Tricyclic antidepressants work similarly to SNRIs by reducing the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine.
Unlike SSRIs and SNRIs, however, TCAs also block the action of acetylcholine at some receptors. Acetylcholine is heavily responsible for many of the body’s subconscious movements, such as blinking, dilating blood vessels, and slowing the heart rate.
Tricyclic antidepressants can be prescribed to treat patients who are experiencing:
Tricyclic antidepressants are gradually losing popularity due to SNRIs and SSRIs providing treatment with far fewer side-effects.
Commonly prescribed TCAs include:
Monoamine inhibitors were discovered in the 1950s and therefore are roughly as old as tricyclic antidepressants. MAOIs were also one of the first antidepressants to be used in medical practice. Today, they are pretty much completely phased out because other antidepressants such as SSRIs and SNRIs have fewer side-effects and are more effective.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors reduce the patient’s levels of monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down monoamines in the brain. This increases the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which makes more neurotransmitters available for mood regulation.
MAOIs also come with diet restrictions that aren’t required with SNRIs and SSRIs. MAOIs can trigger potentially severe reactions when foods high in tyramine are eaten.
Commonly prescribed MAOIs include:
Atypical antidepressants are a broad category of their own. These antidepressants don’t fall under any of the other categories of antidepressants.
To be classified as an atypical antidepressant, these medications have to perform differently from those in the other categories. These medications affect the neurotransmitter levels in the brain in unique ways.
Common Atypical Antidepressant Medications Include:
This is a lot of information to digest. When it comes to taking antidepressants, your doctor is going to be the best resource. They will give you a professional assessment and help you find what’s best for you.
If you are suffering from a mood and anxiety disorder, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in ten Americans over the age of 12 are prescribed antidepressants. A doctor can work with you on a mental health treatment plan and put any worry or concern to rest so you can look forward to living a better life.
Did you know you can get antidepressants prescribed online? Online doctors are an accessible and affordable option for mental health treatment.
Consider setting up a virtual appointment with a doctor. Virtual appointments allow you to get the professional advice and treatment you may need without the stress of a physical doctor’s office.
Our partners at PlushCare have doctors that can answer all your questions and help you get started on a mental health treatment plan. PlushCare’s doctors commonly treat mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety and can work with you to create a custom treatment plan involving prescription antidepressants. At PlushCare you can see the same doctor for follow up appointments and regular check-ins to ensure your care plan is working and get prescription refills.
Book an appointment with a doctor here.
PlushCare also provides online access to top therapists who offer weekly emotional support and development. PlushCare’s therapists and doctors work together to ensure you’re getting the highest level of care.
Book an appointment with a therapist here.
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