for better mental health

Antidepressants

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

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

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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

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

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

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

Comparing antidepressants by type

Comparing antidepressants by half-life

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

Drag or scroll this table to view full contents
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

Comparing antidepressants by dietary considerations

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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).

Dispersible tablets

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

This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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