These days there are dozens of antidepressant medications on the market, each designed to work on different chemicals in the brain and treat different mental health issues. Each may also have slightly different side effects, which can range from mild to severe. Of course, your doctor is going to play a large role in helping you to select the right antidepressant for your situation, but it may be a mistake to trust them in this task completely, especially when dealing with a general practitioner or family doctor, who may not know as much about antidepressants drugs as a psychiatrist or specialist. Outlined below is a guide for how to choose the right antidepressant medication.
*Do your own research: Mentioned above, your doctor is going to be integral in helping you to decide which antidepressant medication is best for your particular symptoms and diagnosis (whether you have unipolar depression, bipolar depression and/or anxiety symptoms). They can also help determine which type of antidepressant is likely to have the least side effects or the side effects that would be the least likely to affect your particular situation in a negative way. If you have an idea of the various types of antidepressants that are out there, you’ll get more out of conversations with your doctor an will know what questions to ask.
These days, there are three main types of antidepressant mediations that are commonly prescribed, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work on serotonin levels in the brain, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which work on serotonin and norepinephrine levels, and norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), which (you guessed it!), affect levels of norepinephrine and dopamine. Each is designed to treat slightly different symptoms and comes with slightly different side effects. Even drugs within the same family may work in different ways and carry different side effects, which is why it is so important to have a knowledgeable doctor to help you decide. For example, the SSRI family includes name-brands like Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil and Prozac, which may all affect your body in slightly different ways.
*Visit a psychiatrist: Your family doctor may be able to prescribe antidepressant medications and they may even know a great deal about them, especially if they specialize in mental health or depression. However, in most cases it is best to consult a psychiatrist when considering an antidepressant medication. They are likely to know more details about the various drugs, what they are designed to treat, the side effects they carry and any potential drug interactions. They are also generally more experienced at monitoring patients starting or switching antidepressant medications, which means that they will likely be a better resource if something does go wrong or if the medication isn’t working properly.
Of course, there is also an increased chance that a psychiatrist might be swayed or “bought” by a prescription drug company, so rely on trusted recommendations or referrals when selecting a new psychiatrist and beware of any doctor who tries to “sell” you on a drug without a through consultation. A psychiatrist that seems too pushy or upbeat about a particular brand or tells you things that go against reputable drug studies should also raise a red flag.
Unfortunately, choosing the right antidepressant medication is often a difficult task that requires some trial and error, which isn’t easy for someone who doesn’t have much energy or zest for life. If you have someone willing to help you with your research or refer a good doctor, don’t be afraid to accept his or her help. This is an important decision, so you don’t want to just take the first antidepressant medication that is thrown your way.