All Antidepressants are Created Equal

Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the US. Are there any real differences between the numerous antidepressants on the market? Learn more!

by Jennifer Bunn, RN

The American College of Physicians has released new guidelines relating to the efficacy of antidepressants. Surprisingly, the College found no real difference in how well antidepressants work from one drug to the next. Since the release of Prozac 20 years ago, new antidepressants have flooded the market, each claiming to be more effective at treating depression.

What the guidelines do state is that side effects and cost are the two biggest ways in which these drugs may differ. Venlafexine (Effexor) was found to be more likely to cause nausea, while Paroxetine (Paxil) tends to cause more weight gain, a potentially undesirable side effect for many patients.


So what do the new guidelines mean to the general public? If one antidepressant works as well as the next, doctors can prescribe antidepressants based on affordability and side effects. Until now, doctors have likely prescribed antidepressants according to familiarity with the drugs and how well they thought the drugs worked at relieving the symptoms of depression.

Other guidelines that are recommended include changing or modifying treatment if the patient does not show improvement within six to eight weeks, monitoring patients carefully after drug therapy has started to ensure that the drug is working and side effects are tolerable, and treating patients experiencing their first episode of depression for four to nine months (longer for those patients who have had more than one bout of depression).

Related Links:


Video: Treating Depression from HealthGuru


Antidepressants from Medline Plus


Antidepressants: Selecting One that's Right for You from the Mayo Clinic