Which Antidepressant Is Right for You
How to Know Which Antidepressant Is Best for You
Finding the right antidepressant medication can feel like a “hit or miss” proposition. While it may appear that doctors choose which antidepressant to prescribe for you at random, there is some logic to it. Which Antidepressant Is Right for You is very essential to know.
In fact, there are flow charts known as algorithms that outline a logical progression that doctors may use to determine which antidepressant is best for you. These algorithms are based on current medical knowledge about which type of antidepressant works best for which patient.
Still, you never know what you will or will not respond to. In fact, many people do not respond to their first antidepressant, or they experience unfavorable side effects, so they must try a second, third, or fourth antidepressant before finding what works best for them.
Up to 80% of people do eventually respond to depression treatment, so there is every reason to have hope that you will land on the right one for you.
Factors to Consider: Which Antidepressant Is Right for You
There many factors we consider when a physician chooses an antidepressant for you—beyond the type of depression you are living with.
Some antidepressants are capable of performing dual functions. For example, if you’ve been losing weight because you’re not eating, your doctor may decide to put you on an antidepressant that has been linked to weight gain. If you’re having trouble sleeping, your doctor may recommend a sleep aid that you can take before bed.
Other examples of antidepressants that may have double-duty functions include:
- Smoking cessation: Wellbutrin (bupropion) is actually the same drug as the popular stop-smoking medication sold under the brand name Zyban. For a smoker, Wellbutrin may be the logical choice for lifting depression and aiding in smoking cessation.
- Neuropathy: Both tricyclic antidepressants and the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Effexor (venlafaxine) have been found to be helpful.
- Bedwetting: Though tricyclic antidepressants tend to be used less often than some of the newer formulations, for those who are struggling with bedwetting, Tofranil (imipramine) may help with both problems.
- Learning disabilities: It’s thought that some antidepressants may have a secondary benefit of helping with some learning disabilities. If this is you, talk to your physician about whether or not one of these medications may work for you.
Potential Side Effects
If you’ve previously used an antidepressant, your doctor will want to know which side effects were the most bothersome for you. If you are taking a medication that has side effects that you find intolerable, you are less likely to stick with it, so choosing one with the fewest side effects is the goal.
Other Medications You’re Taking
Some medications, such as antibiotics and steroids, can interact with antidepressants, so your doctor will need to know what other medications you’re taking (including over-the-counter, prescription, vitamins, and supplements) in order to make the best decision.
Other Health Conditions You Have
Again, some antidepressants have the ability to treat both physical and mental illnesses. So, for example, if you have both ADHD and depression, taking a medication like Wellbutrin (bupropion) can help you with both. On the physical side, if you have fibromyalgia or chronic pain, your doctor may prescribe Cymbalta (duloxetine), which can help with both pain and depression.
When prescribing an antidepressant, the first goal should be treating depression.
Sometimes this may mean choosing an antidepressant that is more likely to cause weight gain. Even in someone who is overweight or choosing an antidepressant that doesn’t treat another condition the person has, even if that option appears to be available.
Your Family History
Especially for parents or siblings, how a medication worked for them is a good indicator of how it might work, or not, for you.
Whether You’re Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Since antidepressants can have an effect on the baby. Your doctor will want to steer clear of antidepressants that have been shown to be harmful. You and your doctor will have to figure out the best plan to manage your depression. While you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant or breastfeeding.
Health Insurance and Cost
Some newer antidepressants don’t have a generic form available yet and maybe costly, which may influence your doctor’s choice.
On and Off-Label Uses
It’s also important to make a distinction between on-label and off-label uses of medications. On-label use means that the medication has received FDA-approval for that indication.
Off-label use does not mean that a medication is not useful. But rather that it does not yet have FDA-approval for that indication. It’s also important for people to know that some physicians are more willing than others to consider prescribing off-label medications.
Sexual Side Effects
One of the classic symptoms of depression is a loss of sex drive. Rather ironically, many of the medications used to treat depression can also potentially cause sexual side effects.
If these problems affect you and you cannot tolerate them, Serzone (nefazodone), Trintellix (vortioxetine), Wellbutrin (bupropion), and Remeron (mirtazapine) are medications that have fewer sexual side effects. Of course, these medications may have other side effects.
Weight gain on antidepressants is another commonly side-effect. In this department, Paxil (paroxetine) and Remeron (mirtazapine) are two of the worst offenders. Effexor (venlafaxine), Wellbutrin (bupropion), and Prozac (fluoxetine) are antidepressants that are not as likely to cause weight gain. And many people even lose a few pounds.
But again, everyone is different. Some people gain weight on medications. Unlikely to cause weight gain and lose weight on those that often cause weight gain.
A Word From DBlend Store
Finding the best antidepressant for you may take some trial and error. When you start a new medication, monitor your symptoms for a couple of weeks. Report back to your prescribing physician. Together, you can determine the right treatment plan for you.