Second generation antidepressants are the most commonly-prescribed medication in the world. Despite that, most people don’t know what they are – or, at least, they don’t know what separates a second generation antidepressant from the rest. Second generation antidepressants are those which were developed after first-generation antidepressants. As pharmaceutical companies continue developing drugs, they strive to produce medicines with fewer side effects.
These antidepressants are safer and more effective than those that came before. Nowadays, people often receive first-gen antidepressants only when second-gen drugs don’t work.
Examples of Second Generation Antidepressants
Second generation antidepressants work by targeting specific brain chemicals. This makes them more useful than the drugs that came before.
These are the most common forms of second generation antidepressants.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are by far the most commonly-prescribed medications. These drugs work by affecting serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical called a neurotransmitter. This neurotransmitter affects our mood and energy levels.
SSRIs improve the amount of serotonin available in the brain. They do this by preventing a process called reuptake. During reuptake, serotonin is reabsorbed into a carrier cell. This prevents it from continually activating the related receptors.
By preventing reuptake, serotonin continually activates our receptor cells. This corrects symptoms of serotonin deficiency.
Some examples of SSRIs include Prozac and Celexa.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) work the same as SSRIs. The difference is that they also affect norepinephrine.
Norepinephrine is also known as adrenaline. This is another brain chemical that is responsible for energy levels. By working on both serotonin and norepinephrine, SNRIs produce different effects.
Examples of SNRIs include Cymbalta and Effexor.
Examples of First Generation Antidepressants
First-gen antidepressants are not prescribed as often as second-gen antidepressants. They cause more side effects and more unwanted interactions. However, people who are resistant to second-gen antidepressants may still receive them.
These are the most common first-generation antidepressants:
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) prevent the activity of a chemical called monoamine oxidase. This chemical breaks down the serotonin and dopamine in our brain.
In doing this, MAOIs allow the brain to use more dopamine and serotonin. This can improve mood and energy levels.
MAOIs are notorious for causing many unwanted interactions.
Examples of MAOIs include Marplan and Parnate.
Tricyclic antidepressants also work to keep more serotonin and adrenaline in your brain. They are effective when SSRIs or SNRIs don’t work.
However, tricyclics often cause unwanted side effects. This makes doctors more hesitant to prescribe them when compared to other medications.
Examples of tricyclics include amitriptyline and Tofranil.
There are many antidepressants available. Some are more effective than others. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your doctor to decide upon which drugs are the most effective.
Different antidepressants may present different issues. If you’re a regular drinker, take the time to learn about whether or not you can combine antidepressants and alcohol.
And always remember that antidepressants should be a temporary solution. If you’re interested, consider joining a group like Surviving Antidepressants. These groups teach you coping skills and provide support for any struggles you’re experiencing with antidepressants.