Skip to content

    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

    Electroconvulsive Therapy and Other Depression Treatments

    When medication fails to ease the symptoms of clinical depression, there are other options to try. Brain stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), for example, can be used to treat major depression that hasn't responded to standard treatments. The least invasive of these techniques is called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), in which a magnetic field is created by a device held to the forehead. causing a weak electrical signal to be applied to the prefrontal cortex,...

    Read the Electroconvulsive Therapy and Other Depression Treatments article > >

    Depression can sometimes be like other chronic illnesses, like diabetes or heart disease, that 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 activity of a chemical in your brain called serotonin. This class of antidepressants include Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Paxil (paroxetine), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline). Brintellix (vortioxetine) and Viibryd (vilazodone) are newer medicines that bind to the serotonin reuptake receptor (the same one as with SSRIs as well as other types of serotonin receptors that may have unique effects. 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 the action 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, tremor, 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, sleepiness, weight gain, anxiety, and dizziness.

    • Older Antidepressants

    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