Your treatment team will discuss with you how medications may be used as an effective part of your treatment plan. 

Medications are prescribed based upon a person’s diagnosis and unique characteristics. Your doctor will select the medication, or combination of medications and treatments, that offers you the best opportunity for improved health and wellness.

Commonly used medications are included in these classifications:

  • Antidepressants for the treatment of depression and anxiety
  • Anti-anxiety medications for generalized anxiety, panic disorders and insomnia
  • Antipsychotic medications for disorders such as schizophrenia, but they may also be used for other conditions

Finding the Right Medication for You

There are several factors your doctor may consider when prescribing medication for your mental or behavioral condition. Antidepressants, antianxiety medications and antipsychotics work in different ways, and they have different side effects. So you and your provider will want to partner to determine…
  • Your unique symptoms (how your condition manifests, such as in irritability, trouble sleeping, etc.)
  • Potential side effects (these could vary widely, from weight gain to sexual side effects)
  • Interactions with other medications
  • Other health conditions you may have—some antidepressants may simultaneously treat depression and another health condition. But other medications may exacerbate certain medical conditions, so some people should avoid them.
  • Financial cost to you (your insurance coverage or financial situation may help determine which medication is prescribed—if a generic version is available, for example, it may be less expensive)
  • Whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (some medications affect pregnancy and nursing infants more than others, so you and your doctor can weigh the risks and benefits of each type)

Types of Antidepressant Medications

Antidepressants help restore the normal balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and help regulate your mood. In particular, they affect the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. When these brain chemicals are in proper balance, your depression may get better.

Each type, or class, of antidepressant can affect the neurotransmitters in different ways.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—these usually have few side effects and include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) and sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)—includes desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), levomilnacipran (Fetzima) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
  • Tricyclic antidepressants—these medications, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin (Silenor, Sinequan), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil) and nortriptyline (Pamelor), may cause more side effects than newer antidepressants.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)—MAOIs can cause serious side effects, so they’re not often prescribed until other medications have been tried first. MAOIs include isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate) and selegiline (Emsam), which you stick on your skin as a patch.
  • Mood stabilizers—mood-stabilizing medications, including divalproex (Depakote), lamotrigine (Lamictal), lithium (Lithobid) and carbamazepine (Equetro, Tegretol), can help treat mania and prevent manic/depressive episodes in bipolar disorder, treat mood problems linked to schizophrenia and reduce many symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder, such as anger, anxiety, depression, impulsivity and self-harm attempts.
  • Other antidepressants—includes bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL and others), trazodone (Desyrel), mirtazapine (Remeron), vilazodone (Viibryd) and vortioxetine (Trintellix).

Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

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