Antidepressants, Simplified

A breakdown of commonly prescribed antidepressants and how they work.

If you’re being treated for depression or anxiety, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant as part of your treatment plan. You would not be alone. In fact, antidepressants are some of the most commonly prescribed medications on the market today.

According to a study by the CDC, more than 1 in 10 Americans over age 12 take antidepressants. Their rising popularity is in part because of their effectiveness in treating a wide variety of disorders including anxiety and panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and eating disorders.

Antidepressants work by changing the behavior of certain natural substances in the brain called neurotransmitters. Different drugs target different neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Antidepressants can be grouped into different classes or groups, based on what areas of the brain they target.

Here’s a rundown of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants:

SSRIs — Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by helping to restore the balance of serotonin in the brain. As reported by Medical News Today, depression and related conditions are believed to be caused in part by low levels of serotonin in the brain. According to the Mayo Clinic, SSRIs are the most widely prescribed antidepressants on the market today and are often taken for depression, anxiety disorders and certain eating disorders.

SNRIs — Effexor (venlafaxine), Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)

Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are among the newest class of antidepressants. They work by helping to restore the balance of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. As this article in University Health News explains, norepinephrine is a stress hormone and a neurotransmitter. According to a report published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information — as a neurotransmitter that regulates alertness, concentration and motivation — low levels of norepinephrine have been linked to depression and concentration issues.

NDRIs — Wellbutrin (bupropion)

Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) work by restoring the balance of certain natural substances (dopamine and norepinephrine) in the brain. NDRIs are the only antidepressants on this list that target dopamine specifically. According to American Addiction Centers, dopamine affects motivation and the ability to experience happiness. NDRIs are primarily prescribed to treat depression. They may also be used to prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs each year at the same time (for example, during winter).

Your doctor or a qualified mental health professional can help you determine what treatment plan and medication is best for you. If your doctor thinks antidepressants are an appropriate treatment option, be sure to check prices on Blink before going to the pharmacy.

This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 233 Spring Street, 8th Floor East, New York, NY 10013, (844) 366–2211,