5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Antidepressants

Advantages and Disadvantages of Antidepressants

There are different types of antidepressants; the most common being SSRIs, SNRIs, and TCAs.

They have some differences between the drug types but also many similarities.  Especially when it comes to how long it takes for them to work, and even a lot of the side effects. 

As a mental health nurse I’ll list 5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Antidepressants. 

5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Antidepressants

5 Advantages

advantages and disadvantages of antidepressants

1  More Energy

Serotonin influences our mood and emotional state, our digestion, appetite, and our sleep cycle. It is found in your brain, in your intestines and even in your blood.

Because antidepressants give us more serotonin, we usually have more energy after starting them. 

2 Improved Mood

Since SSRIs, SNRIs and TCAs increase serotonin levels, you’ll have more of it to regulate your mood. 

However, it’s worth noting that Wellbutrin (an antidepressant that is not an SSRIs, SNRIs or TCAs) can make people more irritable. 

3 Less Anxiety

It’s thought that by your brain having to restructure from an increase in serotonin, it gets better at “remodeling” and better able to adapt to stressors & anxiety.

4 Placebo

Just starting an antidepressant can give us hope.

It may be a small step to some, but it is a step.

It’s an accomplishment that motivates us to keep going or even make other positive changes.

5 Less Panic Attacks

The increase in serotonin not only helps with generalized anxiety, but also reduces panic attacks. 

If you’re someone who suddenly feels as if you’re dying often, this is a HUGE relief.

5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Antidepressants

5 Advantages and Disadvantages of Antidepressants

5 Disadvantages

1 Dry Mouth

Antidepressants create a cascade of effects in the body like dry mouth & constipation.

Dry mouth is an annoying side effect, and beyond that can even negatively impact our dental health.

advantages and disadvantages of antidepressants

2 Responsibility of Remembering to Take Them

Enough said.

oh wait, actually here is a medication log PDF if it helps.

& These are the most common reasons people don’t take their meds

advantages and disadvantages of antidepressants

3 Sexual Dysfunction

One of the biggest disadvantages of antidepressants for depression is undoubtedly sexual dysfunction.

Diminished sex drive & inability to climax being the biggest issues. 

advantages and disadvantages of antidepressants  

*However, Wellbutrin (an antidepressant that is not an SSRIs, SNRIs or TCAs) is more likely to increase sex drive. 

4 Weight Changes

Anti depressants aren’t the most notorious medications for weight gain, in fact they’re for the most part “weight neutral”.

But, everyone is different and adding an antidepressant can certainly impact weight, which is a touchy subject.

5 Adjustment Period

It can take 4-6 WEEKS to get the full impact of most antidepressants.

When we’re depressed and anxious we’re more likely to overthink the side effects that are likely to hit us before the real benefits. 

advantages and disadvantages of antidepressants

Try giving a good two weeks for side effects to go away & 4-6 weeks for the full effect of the medication.

advantages and disadvantages of antidepressants

The 5 Drug Classes of Antidepressants

“Should I take antidepressants?”

If you’re curious about starting an anti-depressant

here are the 5 antidepressant drug classes and a little bit about each one.

1 Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors | SSRIs

citalopram, celexa, escitalopram, lexapro, fluoxetine, prozac, sarafem, symbyax, fluvoxamine, luvox, luvox CR, paroxetine, paxil, paxil CR, pexeva, sertraline, zoloft, vilazodone, viibryd

Drug class

Many professionals claim that this drug class has the best medication for panic attacks and anxiety.

This makes it a very common drug class; prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, migraines, panic attacks, eating disorders, PTSD, OCD, and even chronic pain.

Like any other medication there are advantages and disadvantages of SSRIs.

Over 10% of the US takes an SSRI


Tricyclic Antidepressants  | TCAs

anafranil, clomipramine, asendin, amoxapine, elavil, amitriptyline, norpramin, desipramine, pamelor, nortriptyline, sinequan, doxepin, surmontil, trimipramine, tofranil, imipramine, vivactil, protiptyline

Drug Class

The word “tricyclic” refers to the three molecular ring shapes associated with this drug class. These existed before SSRIs, but they seem to cause more side effects.

The negative effects of antidepressants on the brain (like memory loss & forgetfulness) are usually associated with TCAs. This has led to SSRIs being more commonly prescribed nowadays.

But, TCAs are still often prescribed for things like anxiety, depression, migraines, panic disorder, eating disorders, mood disorders, insomnia, hormone disorders, bedwetting, and even nerve pain.


3 Selective and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors | SNRIs

cymbalta, duloxetine, effexor, venlafaxine, fetzima, levomilnacipran, pristiq, desvenlafaxine, savella, milnacipran

Drug Class

A similar drug class to the SSRIs but instead of just inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, it also inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine.

They’re prescribed for depression, anxiety, panic disorder, fibromyalgia, and even nerve pain.


4  Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors | MAOIs

isocarboxazid, marplan, phenelzine nardil, selegiline, emsam, tranylcypromine, parnate

Drug Class

The first antidepressants! But, not prescribed much anymore because of side effects. These drugs inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.

The kicker is MAOIs block monoamine oxidase, which breaks down tyramine, which impacts our blood pressure.

So if you’re taking an MAOI you have to avoid tyramine because it impacts blood pressure which can get dangerously high OR low when you take an MAOI.

Tyramine is in; beer, soy sauce, pickled foods, smoked/processed meats & a lot of others things..

That’s just too much to ask & too problematic with the result being deadly blood pressure fluctuations.

More on MAOIs


Atypical Antidepressants

bupropion, wellbutrin, mirtazapine, remeron, nefazodone, trazodone, vilazodone, viibryd, vortioxetine, trintellix

Drug Class

This drug class still works with dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Though, they don’t all work the same.

If you’re prescribed one you’re better off looking up the specific drug vs learning about the drug class. 

More on Atypical Antidepressants


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