Many types of antidepressants are available with different chemical mechanisms of action and side effect profiles. Most research with antidepressants has been done in people with unipolar depression—people who have never had a manic episode. In unipolar depression, the available medications are about equally effective. There has been little research on the use of antidepressants in bipolar disorder, but most experts consider the following 3 types to be first choices:
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Mirtazapine (Remeron)
- Nefazodone (Serzone)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors: phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate). These are very effective but also require you to stay on a special diet to avoid dangerous side effects.
- Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Pamelor). Tricyclics may be more likely to cause side effects or to set off manic episodes or rapid cycling.