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

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

Genes May Sway Antidepressant Response

If Confirmed, Findings May Help Refine Process of Picking Antidepressants
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 3, 2006 -- Certain gene variations may influence how well people with depression respond to certain antidepressants.

Hyeran Kim, MD, and colleagues report that news in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Antidepressants are often effective. But 30% to 40% of patients don't respond to the first antidepressant they try, note Kim and colleagues.

There is no test to predict which antidepressant may work best for any given patient. But genetics may provide clues about antidepressant response, the new study shows.

Depression Study

Kim works in the psychiatry department of Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. Kim's team studied 241 Korean adults (average age: 54-57) with major depression.

The researchers split the patients into two groups, giving each group a different type of antidepressant.

Patients in one group took either the antidepressant drug fluoxetine (brand names: Prozac, Sarafem) or sertraline (Zoloft), for six weeks.

Patients in the other group took another drug -- nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor) -- for six weeks.

The study doesn't specify whether the patients used brand-name or generic versions of those drugs.

Every two weeks, the patients were seen by a psychiatrist and completed a survey of their depression symptoms.

Gene Screening

The researchers also screened the patients' genes -- specifically, the monoamine transporter genes.

Those genes govern the transport of three brain chemicals: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Certain variations of those genes were associated with a good response to fluoxetine and sertraline, which target serotonin. Other variations showed a good response to nortriptyline, which primarily targets norepinephrine, the study shows.

However, the researchers haven't totally figured out the genetics of antidepressant response.

For instance, they note that other studies have linked different gene variations to antidepressant response in whites.

Genetics is complex, and more work lies ahead, including studies of younger patients, the researchers note.

They add that if their findings are confirmed, it could help refine the antidepressant selection process.

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