How can I choose an antidepressant?

The best way to decide on which antidepressant to take is by educating yourself about what options are available and working in collaboration with an experienced healthcare professional (HCP) who can advise and prescribe. You may hear from a friend or family member about a medicine that worked well for them and be tempted to ask your doctor for that medication. You may see an appealing pharmaceutical advertisement for an antidepressant promising miraculous results. You may read in online forums and blogs about pros and cons of different antidepressants. While all this information can be useful, you should not base your decision alone on what you read or hear without discussing with your HCP.

Start by informing your HCP about all your symptoms and which side effects from antidepressants are most concerning for you. Also, make sure your HCP knows about any past experiences you have had with antidepressants. Many HCPs choose an antidepressant by their side effect profile. For example, someone with trouble sleeping may prefer an antidepressant that is more sedating. If you have taken a medicine from one class of antidepressant and it didn’t work, you may want to try one from a different class. Be prepared to have to try several different medicines before you find the one that works the best for you.
Sometimes the process can get frustrating and you may be tempted to give up on medicine if you have had a bad experience with one or two antidepressant trials. There are so many treatments options out there that you and your HCP should be able to find a medicine that will help. 
Celeste Robb-Nicholson
Internal Medicine
There are many factors to consider when selecting an antidepressant. Because chemistry is an important determinant of anyone's response to antidepressants, some drugs will be more effective than others for any given person. Moreover, each antidepressant is associated with a slightly different set of side effects -- for example, loss of libido, constipation, stimulation, or weight gain -- which can influence the choice. While your clinician should have an idea of the drugs that are likely to be effective for you, you should let him or her know which side effects you consider the most tolerable.

Because several weeks of treatment may be necessary for an antidepressant to become fully effective, it is important not to give up on a drug too soon. Your clinician should be able to judge when you have given a medication an adequate trial. It is often necessary to try a few antidepressants before finding a drug that effectively relieves symptoms and whose side effects are tolerable. As a general rule, drugs alone are most successful when the depression is not exacerbated by an ongoing stressful situation.

Continue Learning about Antidepressant

Are Antidepressants Safe to Take During Pregnancy?
Are Antidepressants Safe to Take During Pregnancy?
Research suggests that depression is diagnosed twice as often in women as it is in men, and it typically presents during a woman’s childbearing years....
Read More
How effective is antidepressant medication?
Michael D. Banov, MDMichael D. Banov, MD
Most healthcare professionals would agree that treating depression is not as simple as popping a pil...
More Answers
What medications or supplements interact with amitriptyline?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
If you are taking a 5-HT3 antagonist, an antipsychotic, lithium, metaxalone, methylphenidate, metocl...
More Answers
What Is Treatment-Resistant Depression?
What Is Treatment-Resistant Depression?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.