There are many types of antidepressant drugs, and each has its own unique effects. It can take time to decide upon the best one for you. A switching antidepressants chart makes it easier to transition from one medication to another.
This article provides basic information on the different types of common antidepressants and what you should know when choosing to switch between them.
Switching between drugs of a different class (for example switching from an SSRI to a tricyclic antidepressant) will present different challenges than switching between drugs in the same class – such as from one SSRI to another. For example, people at risk for glaucoma may want to avoid certain antidepressants.
Different Classes of Antidepressant Drugs
There are several common classes of antidepressants on the market.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants on the market. SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin available in the brain.
Tricyclic antidepressants are similar to SSRIs in a few ways. Both drugs affect serotonin but tricyclics tend to focus more on norepinephrine. Also known as adrenaline, this chemical deals with energy and excitement.
Tricyclics are also less selective. This means that they affect other systems in the body. This includes systems that aren’t necessarily involved in managing depression. This causes tricyclics to have more potential side effects.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are another class of antidepressants. These work by preventing the brain from producing a compound known as monoamine oxidase. Without monoamine oxidase, other brain chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, remain in the brain for longer. For some, this prevents depression by allowing the ‘happy chemicals’ to do their jobs for longer.
How to Use a Switching Antidepressants Chart
If you’re planning to switch from one type of antidepressant to another, it’s important to know what to prepare for.
Switching from one drug class to another may require more time and commitment. The specific reasons are too varied and complicated to discuss here in detail. However, this outline should provide you with a basis of information.
If you have been using an antidepressant for long enough to feel its effects, this is because it has made changes to your brain chemistry. It might take some time for your brain to readjust once you stop taking the drugs.
During this adjustment phase, your doctor will probably recommend that you avoid taking a different antidepressant. Unless your depression is extremely severe, it’s a good idea to let your brain return to baseline first.
If you’ve only been using the drug for a week or two and feel that you want to change, you may not need to wait as long.
Switching between drugs of the same class is a little bit different. Since these drugs affect the same brain chemicals, you generally don’t have to wait as long before switching antidepressants.
Depending on the drugs that you’re switching between, your doctor may allow you to adjust immediately. This is where a switching antidepressants chart can provide clarity.
There are dozens of different antidepressants prescribed, and switching between them can cause problems.
Take time to read the switching antidepressants chart we provided above. Tell your doctor what you’ve learned, and they will help you make the switch. Groups like Surviving Antidepressants can help you stay strong during tough times.