Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Maintenance Medications for Depression

Antidepressants are some of the best treatments we have for depression. But these drugs don't cure depression in the way that antibiotics cure infections. Instead, they can help ease the symptoms.

You will probably need to continue medication even after you feel better. The American Psychiatric Association recommends that people keep taking their medicine for four to five months after they recover from a first episode of depression and often longer (sometimes even indefinitely) for people who have had multiple previous depressions. This helps reduce the risk of relapse.

Recommended Related to Depression

Coping With Side Effects of Antidepressants

Like any medication, antidepressants can cause side effects. The specific problems vary from drug to drug -- and from person to person. In fact, side effects are one of the main reasons that people with depression stop taking their medicine during their recovery. One study found that 65% of the 1,000 people surveyed said they had stopped taking their medicine, and half of those people cited side effects as the reason. Yet it's important to keep in mind that antidepressants can help you recover...

Read the Coping With Side Effects of Antidepressants article > >

Depression can sometimes be like any chronic illness, like diabetes or heart disease, and may need ongoing treatment. This is called maintenance treatment.

Here is a rundown of some of the most common medicines used to treat depression and prevent it from coming back.

  • Newer Antidepressants
    In the past two decades, many new types of antidepressants have become available, each working in slightly different ways.

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) affect the levels of a chemical in your brain called serotonin. This class of antidepressants include Brintellix (vortioxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Viibryd (vilazodone), and Zoloft (sertraline). Side effects of most SSRIs are generally mild. They include stomach upset, sexual problems, insomnia, dizziness, weight change, and headaches.

    Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) affect levels of both serotonin and another brain chemical, norepinephrine. This class includes Cymblata (duloxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), Fetzima (levomilnacipran), and Pristiq or Khedezla (desvenlafaxine). Side effects are usually mild. They include upset stomach, sleep problems, sexual problems, headache, anxiety, and dizziness, and weakness.

    Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) affect norepinephrine and a different chemical in the brain, dopamine. This class of drugs includes Wellbutrin (bupropion). Side effects are usually mild, and include upset stomach, headache, sleep problems, and anxiety. Wellbutrin may be less likely to cause sexual side effects or weight gain than other antidepressants.

    Noradnergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs) also affect serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. This class of drugs includes Remeron (mirtazpine). Side effects are usually mild, and include upset stomach, sleep problems, weight gain, anxiety, and dizziness.

  • Older Antidepressants
    Some of the first medicines used to treat depression were tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Both types affect the availability of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) that are thought to play a role in depression. While these medicines can help, doctors don't use them as much anymore. They can have more severe safety risks due to certain drug or food interactions and also can be very dangerous in overdose. However, they are still the right choice for some people with depression -- especially if newer antidepressants don't help.

  • Other Medicines
    Other drugs that are not actually antidepressants can also help. For instance, some people recovering from depression will benefit from drugs for anxiety or insomnia. In addition, certain atypical antipsychotics -- such as Seroquel XR (quetiapine) or Abilify (aripiprazole) -- have been shown to enhance the effect of antidepressant medicines for depression when an antidepressant alone isn't fully effective.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path