Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 05/12/2021
When you’re depressed, asking for help can be difficult. Really, it can be difficult to do anything when you’re under a constant cloud of depression.
But whether it’s finding a therapist to talk to or medications to help lift that cloud, even slightly, asking for help is an important first step in the process of feeling better.
There are an estimated 300 million people around the world who suffer from depression. The disorder doesn’t discriminate — it affects men, women and nonbinary; all races, nationalities and socioeconomic statuses. And it can be debilitating.
They can be an effective tool in the fight against this disease.
A doctor or mental health professional can help determine whether or not your condition warrants medication for the treatment of depression.
But having some idea of whether or not an antidepressant may work for you ahead of time can be helpful.
Seeking care is difficult, but being informed can help push your confidence to a place where it’s easier to ask for help.
Antidepressants are largely prescribed for people who suffer from a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD).
MDD is defined as having that depressed, sad mood nearly all day, every day, for at least two weeks.
In order to receive a diagnosis of MDD, at least four other symptoms of depression are required from the following list:
Weight gain or weight loss
Trouble making decisions
Suicidal thoughts or frequent thoughts about death
The slowing down or speeding up of movement
Feelings of worthlessness
A healthcare provider uses this list to determine whether your condition warrants a diagnosis, and then, whether antidepressants are the right choice given your symptoms.
Of course, the severity, length, and presence of these symptoms vary widely from person to person.
Some people struggle with depression for years before getting help, while others may experience shorter periods of it throughout their life.
Whether you struggle with a history of depression, recurrent depression that comes and goes or even if this is your first experience with the disorder, antidepressants may be an effective treatment.
It’s important to note, antidepressants may also be prescribed to help manage anxiety disorders, pain and sleep disorders such as insomnia. But, by and large, they’re prescribed as a treatment for depression.
All antidepressants are prescription medications. Most often, this means you have to make an appointment with a healthcare professional to talk about how you’re feeling, receive a diagnosis and then receive a prescription to get filled at the pharmacy.
However, you can also go through this process online, making a difficult conversation slightly easier because you’re in the comfort of your own home.
However you choose to talk with the prescribing physician, they’ll be looking to ensure they’re prescribing the right depression medication at the right dose, so will ask you about your symptoms and medical history.
There are three main types of antidepressants most commonly prescribed today”
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
Older antidepressants such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tetracyclics, and tricyclics are less commonly used, as these newer varieties cause fewer side effects.
SNRIs include venlafaxine (Effexor®) and duloxetine (Cymbalta®).
Bupropion is slightly different than SSRIs and SNRIs and can also be used to help people with seasonal affective disorder and quitting smoking.
If you think antidepressants are necessary, it’s time to ask for help.
To say that living with depression is difficult is a massive understatement, and antidepressants can help lift the veil.
Struggling with mental health conditions of any kind can be isolating, and major depression feeds off of your isolation.
Don’t wait for things to get worse before you reach out for the medicine that could make a significant difference in your quality of life.