Apr 19, 2024



Understanding Antidepressants: Types, Effects, And What To Expect


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Depression is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Effective management is crucial for improving quality of life. Antidepressants are among the most prescribed treatments for depression, offering relief from persistent sadness and other symptoms that accompany the disorder. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of different types of antidepressants, their effects, potential side effects, and what patients can generally expect when starting these medications. Additionally, it will discuss how CareCard can significantly reduce the financial burden associated with these prescriptions.

What Are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are medications designed to treat depression by correcting chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain that are believed to be responsible for changes in mood and behavior. While the exact mechanism can vary between different classes of antidepressants, generally, they work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, or by altering receptor sensitivity.

Types of Antidepressants

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants due to their relatively mild side effects and safety in overdose. Examples include fluoxetine and sertraline. Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), such as venlafaxine and duloxetine, target both serotonin and norepinephrine. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs), like amitriptyline and clomipramine, are older drugs that are used for severe cases due to more significant side effects. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are another class of older antidepressants, used less frequently today due to their dietary restrictions and side effects. Atypical Antidepressants, which do not fit neatly into the other categories, include bupropion and trazodone, each working differently.

Effects of Antidepressants

Antidepressants typically take several weeks to show effects because they gradually change brain chemistry. During the initial weeks of treatment, it's common for patients to notice no significant change in their symptoms, or sometimes they might feel worse before getting better. Understanding this process is crucial, as it helps set realistic expectations and ensures patients stick with their treatment long enough to see benefits.

Common Side Effects

Each class of antidepressants comes with its own set of potential side effects. For SSRIs and SNRIs, common side effects include nausea, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction. TCAs may cause more severe effects such as weight gain, dry mouth, and tachycardia. MAOIs require dietary restrictions to avoid potentially life-threatening interactions with certain foods like aged cheese and cured meats. Managing these side effects with the help of a healthcare provider is key to maintaining treatment adherence.

What to Expect When Starting Antidepressants

When beginning treatment with antidepressants, it's important for patients to understand that these medications take time to exert their effects. Initial side effects are common and can often be managed. Regular follow-ups with a healthcare provider are critical to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment and make adjustments as needed.

How CareCard Can Help

For many, the cost of medication can be a significant barrier to accessing effective treatment. CareCard helps alleviate this challenge by offering prescription discounts that can be used at thousands of pharmacies nationwide, both local and major chains. This can make managing the cost of antidepressants more manageable for patients, ensuring they can adhere to their treatment plans without financial strain.


Antidepressants are a key element in the treatment of depression, offering many individuals the chance to regain their quality of life. Understanding the different types of antidepressants, their effects, possible side effects, and what to expect when starting them is essential for anyone embarking on this treatment path. Additionally, with tools like CareCard, the financial burden of these medications can be reduced, making treatment more accessible.


How long does it take for antidepressants to start working?

Antidepressants typically take several weeks to exert their full effects, though individual response varies.

What are common side effects of antidepressants?

Common side effects include nausea, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain, depending on the type of antidepressant.

Can I stop taking antidepressants if I feel better?

It's essential to consult your healthcare provider before discontinuing antidepressants, as abrupt cessation can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

Are there any dietary restrictions while taking MAOIs?

Yes, MAOIs require strict dietary restrictions to avoid dangerous interactions with certain foods and beverages.

Can antidepressants be used for conditions other than depression?

Yes, certain antidepressants may also be prescribed for anxiety disorders, chronic pain, and other conditions. Consult your doctor for personalized recommendations.

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Pharmacy names, logos, brands, and other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Prescription savings may vary by prescription and by pharmacy, and in some cases may be discounted up to 85% off cash price*. Please note, this is NOT insurance. CareCard offers you the opportunity to find prescription discount prices, which ultimately depend on the provider. You are fully responsible for paying for all health care services but will be entitled to receive a discount from those health care providers in accordance with the specific pre-negotiated discounted rates. CareCard Inc. is not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the pharmacies identified in its price comparisons. This information is not mean to be a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. For additional information, please reach our customer support at 1-866-410-1217, Mon- Friday 9am – 5pm Est or email us at hello@carecard.com. By using the CareCard prescription discount card or service, you are agreeing to CareCard’s Terms of Service.

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