Comparing Medical Treatments for Antidepressants

About one in every six adults experiences depression at some point in his or her life. The good news is that depression can be treated to give you a better quality of life. But finding the right treatment that fits your needs can sometimes be tricky. The most common treatments are antidepressant medicines, counseling, or a combination of the two. Finding the right antidepressant can be confusing and frustrating. To help you work with your doctor or nurse to select the right medicine, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), developed a guide on antidepressants for adults with depression. In addition to discussing the different drugs used to treat depression, the guide also gives practical information on depression. Scientists used a type of research called comparative effectiveness to develop the guide, which summarizes the findings of nearly 300 published studies. Comparative effectiveness research focuses on a specific health problem and asks what the pluses and minuses are of the current treatments. These research findings do not make your choice for you. That decision is always left to you and your doctor. But it does provide information that can help you and your doctor make the best choice. When it comes to treating depression, any drug’s success depends on hitting the right balance between relieving symptoms and minimizing side effects. The AHRQ guide concludes that most people can find an antidepressant that works for them. Six out of 10 people feel better with the first drug they try. However, most people need to take an antidepressant for 6 weeks before they get the full benefit. The guide also summarizes important information about side effects. It outlines possible side effects—including weight gain, constipation, diarrhea, and sexual problems—and which drugs are more or less likely to cause side effects that may concern you. For example: — People who take mirtazapine (sold as Remeron®) gain more weight than people who take citalopram (Celexa®), fluoxetine (Prozac®), or other antidepressants. — People who take venlaflaxine (Effexor®) experience nausea and vomiting more often than people who take other antidepressants. Medicines can improve the quality of your life if you suffer from depression. With research that compares different drugs' effectiveness, you and your doctor can make the best choice for you.