What Are the Top 10 Antidepressant Drugs?

Reviewed on 5/24/2022
A young man looking at a package of prescription antidepressant medication
The most commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs in the U.S. include duloxetine (Cymbalta), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), vilazodone (Viibryd), citalopram (Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac Weekly, Prozac), trazodone (Desyrel), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR), and venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR).

Antidepressant drugs are used to treat depression, depression with anxiety, and depression associated with bipolar disorder or cyclothymic disorder. They may also be prescribed for pain relief and sleep problems

There are many types of antidepressants and different medications work in different ways to balance the chemicals in the brain and improve mood, concentration, and sleep

It can often take four to six weeks for an antidepressant to start working, and many people may need to try a few different medications in order to find the one that works best for them.

The top 10 antidepressant drugs most commonly prescribed in the U.S. include: 

  1. Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  2. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
  3. Vilazodone (Viibryd)
  4. Citalopram (Celexa)
  5. Sertraline (Zoloft)
  6. Fluoxetine (Prozac Weekly, Prozac)
  7. Trazodone (Desyrel)
  8. Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  9. Paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR)
  10. Venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR

What Are the Most Common Types of Antidepressant Drugs?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most prescribed type of antidepressant. They work by blocking some reuptake of serotonin, helping to elevate mood. Examples of SSRIs include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac Weekly, Prozac, Sarafem)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva, Paxil CR)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are similar to SSRIs and work by blocking reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine to help elevate mood. Examples of SNRIs include:

  • Venlafaxine (Effexor, Effexor XR) 
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta, Irenka)
  • Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are an older class of antidepressants. While they are stronger, they also have more side effects and are usually only prescribed when other, newer types of antidepressants don’t work. Examples of TCAs include:

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are one of the first classes of antidepressants on the market and are usually only prescribed when all other categories of antidepressants have failed to work because they have serious side effects and interactions with foods and other medicines. Examples of MAOIs include:

Other types of antidepressants

A norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) is another type of antidepressant that works differently than SSRIs or SNRI, and also treats seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and helps people stop smoking

Sedating antidepressants may also be used to help treat insomnia

What Are Side Effects of Antidepressant Drugs?

Side effects of antidepressant drugs vary depending on the type. For many antidepressant drugs, side effects improve over time.

Side effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are similar and may include: 

Common side effects of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive sweating (especially at night)
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat 

Common side effects of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Liver enzyme elevation
  • Involuntary muscle jerking
  • Dizziness on standing
  • Numbness and tingling sensations
  • Swelling of extremities 
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Urinary hesitancy

Common side effects of the norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) bupropion include:

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Reviewed on 5/24/2022
Image Source: iStock Images