FDA: Depression Medicines


From the FDA Office of Women’s Health

Do you feel depressed? Do not feel ashamed or alone. Women are more likely than men to feel depressed, although it is a major problem for both sexes.

There is hope.

Depression can be treated with medicine or counseling. Sometimes both are used. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out what will work best for you. 

Use the following information to help you talk to your healthcare provider about medicines called antidepressants that can help treat depression. The medicine charts list FDA-approved products that are available to treat this condition. You will also find some general information to help you use your medicine wisely. Ask your healthcare provider to tell you about the risks of taking this type of medicine. The information provided only covers some of the risks. Also, it is important to tell your healthcare provider about any medicine that you are taking.

Signs of Depression

Everyone feels sad at times. People with depression feel sad most days. These feelings can get in the way of everyday life.
If you are depressed, you may:

  • Feel sad
  • Feel tired all the time 
  • Sleep too little or all the time 
  • Cry a lot 
  • Lose interest in eating 
  • Eat too much 
  • Have trouble paying attention
  • Feel nervous or cranky 
  • Think about death or trying to kill yourself 
  • Notice that things that used to make you happy do not make you happy anymore

Talk to your healthcare provider about your feelings if you have noticed these signs for at least 2 weeks or immediately if you have any dangerous thoughts or behaviors. Only your healthcare provider or counselor can tell you if you have depression.

Depression and Pregnancy

Some women become depressed when they are pregnant or after they give birth. Other women notice that their depression gets worse during pregnancy. 

No one knows the exact cause of depression during or after pregnancy. It may have something to do with: 

  • Stress and sleep problems 
  • Hormones – after a woman has a baby, her hormone levels drop quickly 
  • Having depression before you get pregnant
  • Lack of support from family and friends 
  • Young age – the younger you are when you have your baby the more likely you are to become depressed

Women should talk to their healthcare provider about the risks of taking antidepressants during pregnancy and after the baby’s birth.

Depression can make it hard for a woman to take care of herself and her baby. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your feelings. Also, try to get some help from your family, friends, or a support group. 

  • Ask a relative to watch your baby for a few hours. 
  • Join a group for new mothers. 
  • Ask a friend to cook a meal for your family or to help with chores.

“The Baby Blues”

Having a baby can be a joyful time. However, some women cry a lot and feel sad right after they have a baby. This is called “the baby blues.” These feelings usually go away after about two weeks.

If you still feel sad after two weeks, go to your healthcare provider or clinic. You may be depressed. This type of depression is called postpartum depression because it starts after a woman has a baby. A woman can have this kind of depression up to one year after she has a baby.

Sign Up for a Pregnancy Registry

Pregnancy Exposure Registries are research studies that collect information from women who take prescription medicines or vaccines during pregnancy.

Pregnancy registries can help women and their doctors learn more about how depression medicines affect women during pregnancy.

The FDA does not run pregnancy studies, but it keeps a list of registries. 

Medicine for Depression

There are different kinds of medicine for depression. 

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI)
  • Tricyclic and Tetracyclic Antidepressants 
  • Atypical Antidepressants 
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) Antagonist 
  • Neuroactive Steroid Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)-A Receptor Positive Modulator

Read the following information to find out some general facts about the different kinds of medicine for depression.

Like all drugs, depression medicine may cause side effects. Do not stop taking your medicine without first talking to your healthcare provider. Tell your healthcare provider about any problems you are having, including thoughts about suicide. Your healthcare provider will help you find the medicine that is best for you.
Tell your healthcare provider about any medicine that you are taking. Do not forget about cold medicines, supplements, and herbals like St. John’s Wort. Some of these can interact with antidepressants and cause unwanted side effects.

Order our Free Medicine Record Keeper.

Questions To Ask Your Healthcare Provider

  • What medicine am I taking? 
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • What other prescription medicine should I avoid while taking medicine for depression?
  • What foods, herbs (like St. John’s Wort), or over-the-counter medicine should I avoid?
  • When should I take each medicine?
  • How many times per day do I take each medicine?
  • Can I take my medicine if I am pregnant or nursing?

Source: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/womens-health-topics/depression-medicines