Depression and Prescription Medicines in the U.S.

Depression and Prescription Medicines

What Is Depression?

Depression is much more than feeling sad or down for a short period of time. It is a serious condition that can interfere with all aspects of a person’s life

What Are The Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things

  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much

  • Feeling tired or having little energy

  • Poor appetite or overeating

  • Feeling bad about yourself, or that you’re a failure, or that you’ve let yourself or your family down

  • Trouble concentrating on things like watching television or reading

  • Moving or speaking slowly so that others notice or restlessness and moving around a lot

These symptoms have occurred at least several days over the past two weeks.


If your symptoms are very severe or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, you should get help right away. 


U.S.988 or 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

How Common Is Depression?

Depression is very common. In 2020, 21 million adults in the U.S., for example, had at least one episode of depression. That is 8.4% of all adults in the U.S. Depression is more common in women than men. And, by age group, it is most common in adults aged 18 to 25 years.

What Is The Treatment For Depression?

Depression treatment may include psychotherapy (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT), lifestyle changes (e.g. increasing physical activity, changing the diet, etc.), complementary therapies (e.g. nutritional supplements, mindfulness meditation, yoga, etc.), prescription medicines, and other treatments.

For most people, treatment consists of a combination of therapies. For example, you may establish a regular exercise routine, start seeing a therapist, begin taking antidepressant medicine, and try daily meditation.

What If I Need Prescription Medicines?

Depending on your symptoms, you may benefit from prescription medicines. At this time, Goodpath does not provide prescription medications but you can still participate in the rest of your Goodpath program.

Primary care doctors can prescribe these medications or refer you to a mental health doctor (psychiatrist) for antidepressant therapy. Before prescribing medicine, the doctor will explain the effects, the side effects, the costs, as well as your preferences.

Which Prescriptions Are Used To Treat Depression?

There are many prescription medicines to treat depression (antidepressants). The most commonly prescribed ones are in two groups (classes). They are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Both classes contain many different medicines. Their names and availability vary from country to country.

Common Prescription Antidepressant Medicines in the U.S.

  • SSRIs. Fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro).

  • SNRIs. Venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and duloxetine (Cymbalta).

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin). Another type of antidepressant that is often used in the U.S.

How Might I Respond to Prescription Antidepressants?

Each person responds differently to antidepressants. Keep the following in mind:

  • It often takes weeks to feel the full effects.

  • It may be necessary to try different antidepressants to find the one that works best, with the fewest side effects.

  • Antidepressants may be prescribed in combination - i.e. you may start on one medicine and another one may be added. 

Is Treatment Follow-up Needed?

Once you start taking an antidepressant, it is extremely important for you to follow up with your doctor.

Follow-up is necessary to monitor your response to the medicine and adjust the dose as needed. Your doctor can also help identify any side effects or safety issues.

As you improve, your doctor may suggest a plan to slowly taper antidepressant medicine. They will carefully monitor you for worsening symptoms. 

IMPORTANT! Do not stop taking your medicine without specific instructions from your doctor.

If you have any questions about antidepressant medicines, talk with your coach, therapist, or doctor. 

For More Information

National Institute of Mental Health (2022). Depression. Retrieved 7-26-2022 from

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2022). For People With Mental Health Problems. Retrieved  7-26-2022 from

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2022). Antidepressants. Retrieved 7-26-2022 from