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any of a wide range of drugs used to treat psychic depressiondepression,
in psychiatry, a symptom of mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of loss, sadness, hopelessness, failure, and rejection. The two major types of mood disorder are unipolar disorder, also called major depression, and bipolar disorder, whose sufferers are
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. They are given to elevate mood, counter suicidal thoughts, and increase the effectiveness of psychotherapypsychotherapy,
treatment of mental and emotional disorders using psychological methods. Psychotherapy, thus, does not include physiological interventions, such as drug therapy or electroconvulsive therapy, although it may be used in combination with such methods.
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. Before the introduction of such drugs in the late 1950s, most patients with major depression had no recourse but hospitalization; only 45% improved after one year. In contrast, 80%–90% of such patients can expect significant relief from depression with one of the medications now prescribed.

Antidepressants act on the flow of the neurotransmitters epinephrineepinephrine
, hormone important to the body's metabolism, also known as adrenaline. Epinephrine, a catecholamine, together with norepinephrine, is secreted principally by the medulla of the adrenal gland.
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, serotoninserotonin
, organic compound that was first recognized as a powerful vasoconstrictor occurring in blood serum. It was partially purified, crystallized, and named in 1948, and its structure was deduced a year later.
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, and norepinephrinenorepinephrine
, a neurotransmitter in the catecholamine family that mediates chemical communication in the sympathetic nervous system, a branch of the autonomic nervous system.
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 across neural synapsessynapse
, junction between various signal-transmitter cells, either between two neurons or between a neuron and a muscle or gland. A nerve impulse reaches the synapse through the axon, or transmitting end, of a nerve cell, or neuron.
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. Common antidepressants include monamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), tricyclics such as imipramine (Tofranil) and amitriptyline (Elavil), and the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline HCL (Zoloft). Venlafaxine (Effexor) inhibits both serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake.

The choice of antidepressant often has more to do with its side effects (variously sedation, constipation, hypotension, tachycardia, weight gain, sexual dysfunction) than efficacy, as they are generally regarded to be equally effective. The newer drugs, especially SSRIs, are tolerated better and are currently by far the most widely prescribed, but SSRIs also appear to be less effective in children and teenagers and may cause some of them to become suicidal.


A drug, such as imipramine and tranylcypromine, that relieves depression by increasing central sympathetic activity.


any of a class of drugs used to alleviate depression
References in periodicals archive ?
What I learned is that, typically, one in four patients feels worse when beginning any antidepressant drug and "drops out" or quits use of the drug within the first month; almost half quit within three months.
The escalation in prescription rates for antidepressant drugs over the last decade suggests that rates of depression have reached epidemic proportions, particularly among women.
Generic pharmaceutical company Lannett Company (NYSE:LCI) reported on Tuesday that it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for antidepressant drug Aripiprazole Oral Solution 1 mg/ml.
Considering that pharmaceutical companies have also been caught over the years suppressing evidence of toxicity (as with Vioxx and other drugs), one wonders what other unsuspected dangers of antidepressant drugs will eventually surface.
But they're not comparable in quality to the kinds of studies necessary to have a new antidepressant drug approved.
SureGene Test for Antipsychotic and Antidepressant Response offers clinicians valuable new information to help personalised antipsychotic and antidepressant drug selection.
In an experimental model of depression, Rhodiola performed as well as St John's wort and the antidepressant drug imipramine.
Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca plc (LSE:AZN) (OMX:AZN) (NYSE:AZN) revealed today that it will record an intangible asset impairment charge of USD50m after an antidepressant drug failed in clinical trials.
Lundbeck A/S has lost a court case in Norway concerning patent rights to its antidepressant drug Cipramil.
Another antidepressant drug could soon be ready for prescription prime time, after the Food and Drug Administration last month issued an "approvable" letter for the antidepressant duloxetine.