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Medications are most often used to treat depression and are thought to improve mood by adjusting levels of the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that contribute to depression symptoms.
Although these drugs can be very effective at combating depression, they can have side effects. They may also interact in negative ways with other drugs you are taking. As a result, it’s very important that you check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure that the medication you’re taking for depression doesn’t interact with any of your other medications (including over-the-counter drugs) or any vitamins or supplements you might also be taking.
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How to Overcome Depression: Effective Drugs
Antidepressants are usually the first drugs prescribed for depression. Because the different types of antidepressant drugs have similar effectiveness, which medication your doctor prescribes will largely depend on the side effects and how well you tolerate the drug.
There is also some science behind matching certain antidepressants with the specific types of symptoms you are experiencing and sticking with the same antidepressant that worked well for you or another family member in the past.
Overall, doctors have quite a lot of leeway in terms of the specific antidepressants they prescribe, so be sure to communicate exactly what your preferences are regarding therapy, such as which specific symptoms are troubling you the most and what side effects you would particularly like to avoid.
Other medications used to treat depression and its related symptoms include anti-anxiety drugs, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. Your doctor can tell you whether any of these medications might help you.
Another important component of treatment for depression is to talk with a trained professional about the issues that may be causing or worsening your symptoms. It might sound simple, but talking can lift a lot of the emotional weight that you feel. And talk therapy doesn’t mean simply “venting.” Talk therapy (called psychotherapy or just “therapy”) will help you identify the problems that are contributing to your depression so that you can begin to work through them. Increasingly, talk therapy also involves learning specific coping skills and problem-solving strategies.
Therapy for depression is individualized. While one person might benefit from one-on-one time with his or her therapist, another might feel more comfortable discussing issues in a supportive group setting. Still others might need their families present if family dynamics are a substantial source of stress. Fortunately, different types of therapy can accommodate all these needs and preferences.
Originally published in May 2016 and updated.