Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 9/13/2022
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, with an estimated 21 million U.S. adults having a major depressive episode. Meanwhile, over 40 million adults struggle with an anxiety disorder. The good news about these mental health conditions is that they’re treatable.
However, only about one-third of those diagnosed receive treatment. One reason why more people don’t receive treatment is a lack of health insurance. Those with inadequate or no coverage are often faced with unattainable treatment costs. That’s why we've put together a guide on how to get antidepressants without insurance.
Antidepressant medications are thought to work by affecting certain chemicals in the brain associated with major depression.
Antidepressants can also be used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sometimes chronic (long-term) pain.
In some cases, antidepressants are used to treat bipolar disorder, although they’re used conservatively due to certain risks.
The most common types of antidepressants are:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressant. They increase the amount of serotonin in your brain by preventing the brain from reabsorbing the neurotransmitter. SSRIs generally have fewer drug interactions, safety issues and side effects than older antidepressants.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These antidepressants increase levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Like other antidepressants, SNRIs can cause side effects. However, these tend to be mild and often disappear after several weeks of use.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). An older class of antidepressants, TCAs work by increasing certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and norepinephrine. These antidepressants are about as equally as effective as SSRIs but are used much less often due to a higher risk of causing certain side effects and drug interactions.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are another older class of antidepressants. They increase levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and tyramine by blocking the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which breaks down those neurotransmitters. MAOIs are rarely used except when other medications for depression aren’t effective.
Atypical antidepressants. Some medications, such as bupropion, are referred to as atypical antidepressants because they don’t fall under the other classes of antidepressants. Your healthcare provider may suggest using an atypical antidepressant if other medications are ineffective for you.
Our full list of antidepressants goes into more detail on all the types of antidepressants, their side effects and more.
Antidepressants mainly treat the symptoms of depression so they are often used in combination with psychotherapy to treat more severe depression and other mental health conditions.
If a healthcare provider or mental health professional believes taking antidepressants is right for you, they’ll start you off with one that works best for your symptoms.
But what if you don’t have health insurance to cover the cost of antidepressants?
Keep reading for how to get on antidepressants without health insurance. We’ll also cover how to get a prescription for antidepressants without insurance.
Wondering how to get prescribed antidepressants without insurance? Or how to get a prescription for antidepressants without insurance?
Below we’ve covered how to get antidepressants without insurance.
There’s often a cost difference between generic and brand-name antidepressants. On average, generic drugs cost 85 percent less than the brand version.
For example, costs for the recommended 50mg daily dosage for sertraline (the generic name for Zoloft®) can range from $18 to $32 for 30 tablets.
However, the cost for a supply of 30 tablets of 50mg of Zoloft® (the brand name) is around $416.
Generic drugs even saved U.S. consumers $253 billion in 2017.
Generic medications are a chemical copy of the brand-name versions.
A major difference between generic and brand-name is that the FDA gives patent protection to brand manufacturers for some time. Once the patent expires, generics can enter the market after meeting the same quality, safety and effectiveness FDA standards as brands.
Not all antidepressant drugs are available as generic versions though. Ask your healthcare provider if a brand-name or generic antidepressant is the best option for you based on your health and budget.
Many pharmaceutical companies also offer patient assistance programs (PAPs).
These programs offer financial assistance to low-income individuals for prescription drug coverage. You can ask your healthcare provider for more information, including how to apply.
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) is another free and confidential service that helps connect those without health insurance coverage to prescription assistance programs that offer medicines for free or at low costs.
Pharmaceutical companies also offer samples of new medications to healthcare providers and clinics.
Buying medication online can be another cost-effective way to treat major depression or anxiety disorders. Be sure you’re only buying from a legitimate site as the FDA warns against the potential danger of buying medication online.
If you order medication online, only use a licensed pharmacy with a licensed pharmacist on call to answer your questions.
Untreated mental health conditions can interfere with your life and negatively affect your overall mental health and wellbeing.
Whether or not you have health insurance coverage shouldn’t affect your ability to get help though.
It takes work but there are ways to get on antidepressants without health insurance.
You can talk to a licensed psychiatry provider online to receive a personalized treatment plan and medication if necessary to help you treat your depressive symptoms and take control of your mental health.
You can learn more about what to expect from healthcare providers on how to get antidepressants.
Our mental health resources also provide effective strategies from licensed therapists that you can use to understand, recognize and help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.