Antidepressants Archives - THE GRAND

Drug Class Series: Antidepressants

Andrea Hartley, CPhT
Pharmacy Technician/Central Supply Manager
The GRAND of Dublin

Drug Class Series: Antidepressants

antidepressantsContinuing the series of articles featuring common drug classes, this article will be about antidepressants.

This class of medications is used to treat depression as well as anxiety and other psychiatric or sleep disorders as determined by a physician.  Nearly all antidepressants are taken orally and all require a doctor’s prescription.

There are 4 types of antidepressants within the class, based on how they work in the body:  SSRIs, Tricyclics, MAOIs and Atypical.  Side effects of medications within the same antidepressant group are very similar.

Below are the medications in the antidepressant class along with the most noteworthy facts about them.

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors):

Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Serzone (nefazadone), Luvox (fluxoxamine), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine).

SSRIs ease depression by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that carry signals between brain cells. SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin in the brain, making more serotonin available. SSRIs are called selective because they seem to primarily affect serotonin, not other neurotransmitters.  They are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant and generally cause the least amount of side effects.

Tricyclics (TCAs)

Anafranil (clomipramine) Elavil (amitriptyline) Norpramin (desipramine), Pamelor (nortriptyline), Sinequan (doxepin), Tofranil (imipramine), Vivactil (protriptyline),Asendin (amoxipine)

This type of antidepressant was discovered in the 1950s.  TCAs are named after their chemical structure, which contains 3 rings of atoms.  This type of antidepressant impacts several different neurotransmitters in order to change the brain and for that reason can cause many unwanted side effects.


Marplan (isoxarboxazid), Nardil (phenelzine), Emsam (selegiline), Parnate (Tranylcypromine)

MAOI stands for MonoAmine Oxidase Inhibitor.  This was the first variety of antidepressant developed.  They are effective, but are known for causing many side effects; frequently ones that are unsafe.

Atypical or Miscellaneous

Wellbutrin aka.  Forfivo, Budeprion, Aplenzin(bupropion), Viibryd (vilazodone),  Desyrel (trazodone),Trintellix (vortioxetine),  Remeron (mirtazapine), Serzone (nefazodone)

Medications are placed in this category because they don’t fit into the other groups.  This is because they treat depression in a completely different way or they combine multiple characteristics of other groups to work uniquely.  They are each unique medications that work in different ways from one another.

When you stay at The Grand, the knowledge of our doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and pharmacy technician is at your disposal.  If you have a questions about your medications, just ask!