Antidepressants

Explains what antidepressants are, how they work, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.

Your stories

A letter to depression

Antalia shares a letter to depression.

Antalia Terblanche
Posted on 24/05/2016

Depression: sharing my story

Andy Baddeley, 1,500m runner and two-time Olympian, blogs about his experiences of depression.

Andy Baddeley
Posted on 27/05/2015

How treatment helped me to live with depression and anxiety

Rachel, a member of Mind, blogs about finally accepting CBT and anti-depressants and how they helped.

Posted on 12/11/2014

How can I compare different antidepressants?

This page contains comparison tables, presenting all antidepressants by:

Why might I want to compare antidepressants?

After considering the cautions before taking any antidepressant, you might want to know more about the different antidepressants available to help you talk to your doctor about what's right for you.

Possible situations might include:

  • If you have problems with a particular type of antidepressant (such as tricyclics), and want to avoid them.
  • If the drug's half-life is important to you – for example, if you are concerned about withdrawal effects and would prefer a drug with a long half-life. (See our page on half-life for information about what this means and why it matters).
  • If you have problems with swallowing, or are unable to take tablets, and need your medication in a different form.
  • If you have any dietary restrictions, such as being vegetarian, or if you are allergic or intolerant to some ingredients.
  • If you are worried about the impact of particular side effects, such as whether it could affect your ability to drive. (For information about the side effects of a particular antidepressant, you can look the drug up in our antidepressants A–Z).

Remember: drugs don't work the same way for everyone, and it's important to find a medication that works for you. See our page on receiving the right medication for more information.

Overview of antidepressants by generic name and key characteristics

Generic name

Trade names (UK)

Type of antidepressant

Forms available

Half-life

Dietary considerations

agomelatine

Valdoxan

other

• tablets

1–2 hours

• contains lactose

amitriptyline

(none)

tricyclic

• tablets
• liquid

9–25 hours

n/a

citalopram

Cipramil

SSRI

• tablets
• oral drops

about 36 hours

• contains lactose

clomipramine

Anafranil

tricyclic

• capsules
• slow release tablets

12–36 hours

n/a

dosulepin

Prothiaden

tricyclic

• tablets
• capsules

about 50 hours (just over 2 days)

n/a

doxepin

Sinepin

tricyclic

• capsules

33–80 hours (1.5–3.3 days)

n/a

duloxetine

Cymbalta

SNRI

• capsules

8–17 hours

• contains gelatin

escitalopram

Cipralex

SSRI

• tablets
• oral drops

about 30 hours

n/a

fluoxetine

Prozac, Prozep, Oxactin

SSRI

• tablets
• liquid
• dispersible tablets*

96–144 hours (4–6 days)

• contains gelatin

fluvoxamine

Faverin

SSRI

• tablets

17–22 hours

n/a

imipramine

Tofranil

tricyclic

• tablets
• liquid

about 19 hours

• contains lactose
• contains gelatin

isocarboxazid

(none)

MAOI

• tablets

about 36 hours

• contains lactose
• contains gelatin
• requires food restrictions

lofepramine

Lomont

tricyclic

• tablets
• liquid

12–24 hours

• contains lactose

mianserin

(none)

tricyclic-related

• tablets

6–39 hours

• contains lactose

mirtazapine

Zispin

other

• tablets
• liquid
dispersible tablets*

20–40 hours

n/a

moclobemide

Manerix

reversible MAOI

• tablets

2–4 hours

• requires food restrictions

nortriptyline

Allegron

tricyclic

• tablets

about 36 hours

• contains lactose

paroxetine

Seroxat

SSRI

• tablets
• liquid

about 24 hours

n/a

phenelzine

Nardil

MAOI

• tablets

11–12 hours

• requires food restrictions

reboxetine

Edronax

other

• tablets

about 13 hours

n/a

sertraline

Lustral

SSRI

• tablets

22–36 hours

n/a

tranylcypromine

Parnate

MAOI

• tablets

about 2 hours

• contains gelatin
• requires food restrictions

trazodone

Molipaxin

tricyclic-related

• tablets
• capsules
• liquid

5–13 hours

• contains lactose
• contains gelatin

trimipramine

Surmontil

tricyclic

• tablets
• capsules

about 23 hours

• contains lactose

(amitriptyline and perphenazine)

Triptafen

other (compound of amitriptyline and perphenazine)

• tablets

n/a (see half-life information for amitriptyline and perphenazine)

• contains lactose
• contains gelatin

 

venlafaxine

Efexor XL, Depefex XL, Foraven XL, Politid XL, Sunveniz XL, Tonpular XL, Venaxx XL, Venadex XL, Venlalic, ViePax

SNRI

• tablets
• capsules

4–7 hours

• some formulations contain lactose
• some formulations contain gelatin

vortioxetine

Brintellix

other

  • tablets
  • oral drops
about 66 hours  n/a

 *dispersible tablets will disintegrate quickly in the mouth or can be mixed with water, orange juice or apple juice.

Comparing antidepressants by type

Type of antidepressant

Drug names

SSRIs

SNRIs

Tricyclics

Tricyclic-related drugs

 

MAOIs

 

others

Comparing antidepressants by half-life

(See our page on half-life for information about what this means and why it matters).

Half-life

Drug name

1–2 hours  agomelatine
about 2 hours  tranylcypromine 
2–4 hours  moclobemide
4–7 hours  venlafaxine
5–13 hours trazodone
6–39 hours mianserin
8–17 hours  duloxetine
9–25 hours amitriptyline
11–12 hours phenelzine
12–24 hours lofepramine
12–36 hours  clomipramine
about 13 hours  reboxetine 
17–22 hours  fluvoxamine
about 19 hours  imipramine
20–40 hours  mirtazapine
22–36 hours  sertraline
about 23 hours trimipramine
about 24 hours  paroxetine
about 30 hours  escitalopram
33–80 hours (1.5–3.3 days)  doxepin 
about 36 hours  citalopram
about 36 hours  isocarboxazid
about 36 hours  nortriptyline 
about 50 hours (just over 2 days) dosulepin
about 66 hours vortioxetine
96–144 hours (4–6 days) fluoxetine 
n/a (see half-life information for amitriptyline and perphenazine) Triptafen

Comparing antidepressants by form available

Form

Antidepressants available in this form

tablets

capsules

liquid

oral drops

 

dispersible tablets*

 

 

*dispersible tablets will disintegrate quickly in the mouth or can be mixed with water, orange juice or apple juice.

Comparing antidepressants by dietary considerations

Dietary consideration Drugs this applies to

Contains lactose

Contains gelatin

Requires food restrictions

All other antidepressants currently available do not contain lactose or gelatin, and do not require any specific dietary restrictions, although caution when drinking alcohol is a recommended for all antidepressants (see cautions before taking any antidepressant for more information).

 


This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2018.


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