Top 5 Types of Antidepressants: Everything You Need To Know!

Hello, hello, Lets break the stigma and address the wonderful science of anti-depressants.  In this blog, I will be guiding you through the intricate details of various types, offering insights into their workings, side effects, and the crucial need for proper guidance during your healing journey.

How Do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants, like SSRIs, SNRIs, and more, function by elevating neurotransmitter levels in the brain, particularly serotonin and noradrenaline, meaning they can positively influence mood and emotion. Because they will increase levels of neurotransmitters, this can impact pain signals sent by your nerves, providing relief for long-term pain. It's important to note that while they treat symptoms, different forms of therapy is often combined to help for long-term treatment. 

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed, especially for cases that are persistent or severe. They are also typically the first type of Antidepressant a doctor may prescribe as they have been found to have the fewest side effects compared to other types (that being said you can still have them as I experienced but more on that later).


One of the other great things about SSRIs is that they don't just treat depression but they can also treat mental health conditions such as:

  1. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  2. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  3. Panic Disorder
  4. Agoraphobia & Social Phobia
  5. Bulimia
  6. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels within the brain, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is thought to have a positive impact on things like sleep, your general mood and emotions. Whilst increased serotonin is known to work to improve symptoms, its not the only thing that treats depression and you will typically be advised to have therapies such as CBT.


SSRIs are typically a form of tablet and a doctor will always start you on the lowest dose on your initial prescription. From there, a doctor will follow up with you 2 weeks then 4 weeks afterwards to find out how its been working for you. This is because around these time periods is when you should begin to feel a difference, if you don't it's very important you let your doctor know so they consider either increasing your current dose or trying a different type of antidepressant.


Depending on the severity of your condition it might be the case you are only taking medication for 6 months or it could be indefinitely but we will talk about coming off antidepressants later on in this blog!

doctor sat waiting to speak with a patient regarding their antidepressants

About the Top 3 SSRIs:


  • Can have a trade name "Lustral"
  • Comes in 25mg, 50mg and 100mg doses
  • Common side effects are;
    • nausea
    • headaches
    • sleep troubles
    • increased or reduced hunger levels
    • weight gain
  • Like many antidepressants do NOT consume Grapefruit


  • Also known as "Prozac"
  • Along with Depression, Fluoxetine can also treat OCD and Bulimia
  • Can come in tablet, capsule or liquid form
  • Some side effects include:
    • nausea
    • headaches
    • trouble sleeping
  • Some people can struggle to concentrate with this medication, and its advised if this is the case to avoid operating any heavy machinery until you can gage exactly how the medicine makes you feel


  • Mainly used to treat Depression and Panic Attacks 
  • It comes in tablet form or liquid drops that you can put in water
  • Citalopram can begin to make you feel better in 1-2 weeks
  • Side effects include:
    • Tiredness
    • feeling nervous
    • dry mouth
    • sweating
  • do NOT take the herbal suppliment St John's Wort

Noradrenaline and Specific Antidepressants (NSSAs)

Typically NASSAs are only prescribed to you if you have not had much luck with SSRIs (above). In the UK there is only one that is prescribed called Mirtazapine. But how do NASSAs differ from our more commonly chosen antidepressants such as SSRIs? I will do my best to explain this as its quite complex; they work by increasing the amount of noradrenaline and serotonin in the space between neurons and block some serotonin receptors to aid treating depression. 


NASSAs are not always used for depression and are quite commonly used to treat:

  1. General Anxiety Disorder in Adults
  2. Panic Disorder
  3. Social Anxiety


Since its only Mirtazapine in the UK please find more information below:


  • Mirtazapine comes as standard tablets, tablets that disolve in your mouth or a liquid
  • Typically Mirtazapine takes longer than an SSRI to notice changes, with it being 4-6 weeks
  • Common side effects include:
    • Headaches
    • Dry Mouth
    • Feeling sick
    • Sleepiness
    • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Mirtazapine is known to make you feel sleepy, however if you are having difficulties sleeping due to your depression it might be useful and create a bit more balance
  • You cannot take Mirtazapine if:
    • You are Diabetic as it impacts sugar levels
    • You have any heart problems as it causes low blood pressure
    • Glaucoma
    • Epilepsy
  • Mirtazapine comes in 15mg, 30mg and 45mg doses, and it can be reccomended to be splitting it in two
  • Its normally taken before you go to sleep
  • Do NOT take with St John's wort or consume any Grapefruit

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Tricyclic and Tetracyclic antidepressants can also be known as cyclic antidepressants. They are some of the earliest of their kind developed and whilst they are affective they have been replaced with the likes of SSRIs due to the number of side effects. Typically cyclic antidepressants will now be used if other forms of treatment have not been successful. 


Similar to other antidepressants they work by affecting neurotransmitters that communicate to the brain. They alleviate symptoms by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine and increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters. The reason cyclic have more side effects is due to the drug also impacting other chemical levels within the body. 

Amitriptyline hydrochloride

  • Typically taken 1-4 times a day as prescribed by the doctor
  • If its only one dose its advised to take at night as it causes drowsiness
  • Side effect include:
    • dizziness
    • dry mouth
    • blurred vision
    • constipation
    • trouble urinating

Clomipramine hydrochloride

  • As well as being used to treat depression, doctors may also utilise this drug to treat OCD
  • Due to the stomach upset this drug causes it will typically be administered in lower doses with food till your body is used to it and the dosage can be corrected to suit you
  • Side effects include:
    • Dizziness
    • Drowsiness
    • Dry Mouth
    • Constipation
    • Nausea / Vomiting
    • Increase in Anxiety symptoms

Imipramine hydrochloride

  • Whilst Imipramine's main use is as an antidepressant, it can also be used to treat nighttime bed-wetting in chiildren. 
  • Typically for depression it takes around 3 weeks to see the benefits of this medication
  • If you struggle with daytime drowsiness it may be reccomended to take at night
  • Side effects include:
    • Dry mouth
    • Blurred vision
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Diarrhea
    • Increased Sweating

Serotonin Antagonists and Reuptake Inhibitors (SARIs)

Whilst serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors are classed as an antidepressant, they will typically get used for conditions such as insomnia and anxiety. They work by acting as antagonists to inhibit a certain serotonin receptor, by blocking the function of a serotonin transporter protein, and therefore causing an increase of serotonin throughout the central nervous system. 


  • Trazodone is the most commonly used SARIs
  • Typically used to treat anxiety and/or depression
  • It will help with low moods, not sleeping and poor concentration
  • Typically takes 1-2 to begin working 
  • It is reccomended to take this medicine at night
  • Side effects include:
    • Feeling sleepy
    • Headaches
    • Nausea
    • Constipation
    • Dry mouth

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

MAOIs are typically used to treat a variety of things, such as depression, panic disorder, social phobia. They were one of the very first antidepressants introduced to the market but are no longer the first choice as they require several dietary restrictions, side effects and general safety concerns. This drug will typically be an absolute last resort for professionals to prescribe to patients. 


  • The medicine works by blocking the action of a chemical substance known as monoamine oxidase in the nervous system
  • There is alot of medications you should not take along side this, you can find the full list here
  • You cannot have any caffeine, avocado, bitter orange or tyamine containing foods
  • Side effects can include (this is not all):
    • Actions out of your control
    • agitation
    • bleeding gums
    • issues with stool
    • burning, crawling, itching sensations
    • chest pain
    • confusion
    • dizziness

Caution: Coming off Antidepressants

Talk to your doctor before stopping antidepressants. Abrupt discontinuation can lead to withdrawal symptoms. When you're ready, your doctor will likely recommend a gradual reduction over weeks or longer to prevent any adverse reactions. Always prioritse professional guidance for a safe and smooth transition. 🌟💚


#AntidepressantsExplained #MentalHealthTreatment #HealingJourney


Add comment


There are no comments yet.