Mental & Emotional Health

Antidepressants: Which Are Best?

Although researchers know there’s a biological basis for depression – and therefore, a way it can be treated – there’s still not enough known to predict exactly how different drugs will interact with a specific person. Here, from the experts at Harvard Medical School, is an explanation of the factors that go into choosing a drug for a patient:

Diagnosis. Certain drugs work better for specific symptoms and types of depression. For example, the Harvard experts say, some antidepressants may be better than others when insomnia is an issue.

Side effects. Ask your doctor about the side effects of the recommended antidepressant. There may be another option

Age. As you age, your body tends to break down drugs more slowly. Thus, older patients may need a lower dosage. The Harvard experts warn that only a few depression medications have been studied carefully for use in children.

Health. Your doctor will consider factors such as heart disease or neurological illnesses when recommending an antidepressant. That’s why patients need to tell the physician prescribing the antidepressant about their health history before starting a medication.

Medications, supplements, and diet. Antidepressants may not work as well, or could have bad side effects, when they’re combined with certain drugs or substances. People taking an antidepressant known as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) need to take particular care, the Harvard experts say.

Alcohol or drugs. These can not only make depression medication less effective, they can actually cause depression, according to the Harvard experts. Doctors often treat alcohol or drug addiction first if they believe either is causing the depression. But in many cases, the experts say, it may be effected to treat addiction and depression simultaneously.

For additional information on medications and their effectiveness, buy Understanding Depression, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. Click here to order.