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Drugs Used to Treat Mental Disorders

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What Drugs Are Used to Treat Depression?

When treating depression, several drugs are available. Some of the most commonly used include:

Your health care provider can determine which drug is right for you. Remember that medications usually take four to eight weeks to become fully effective. And if one medication does not work, there are many others to try.

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Tests Used to Diagnose Depression

If you are planning to see your doctor about depression, here is information about the kinds of tests your doctor might ask for. First, keep in mind that not every test is a "depression test." Some tests aren't used to diagnose clinical depression but rather to rule out other serious medical conditions that may cause similar symptoms. In most cases, the doctor will do a physical exam and ask for specific lab tests to make sure your depression symptoms aren't related to a condition such as thyroid...

Read the Tests Used to Diagnose Depression article > >

In some cases, a combination of antidepressants may be necessary. Sometimes an antidepressant combined with a second antidepressant from a different class, or a different type of medication altogether, such as a mood stabilizer (like lithium) or atypical antipsychotic (like Seroquel or Abilify) can boost the effect of an antidepressant alone.

Side effects vary, depending on what type of medication you are taking, and may improve once your body adjusts to the medication.

If you decide to stop taking your antidepressants, it is important that you gradually reduce the dose over a period of time recommended by your doctor. Quitting antidepressants abruptly can cause discontinuation symptoms such as headache or dizziness or increase the chance that symptoms will return. It is important to discuss tapering off (or changing) medications with your health care provider first.

What Medications Are Used to Treat Anxiety Disorders?

When treating anxiety disorders, antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, have been shown to be effective.

Other anti-anxiety drugs include the benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan and Xanax. These drugs do carry a risk of addiction or tolerance (meaning that higher and higher doses become necessary to achieve the same effect), so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability. Some anticonvulsant drugs (such as Lyrica or Neurontin) and some atypical antipsychotics (such as Abilify or Seroquel) are also occasionally used "off label" to treat anxiety symptoms or disorders.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on January 14, 2015
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