There are several depression and anxiety medications available on the market. Each can be grouped into a distinct category with its own unique benefits and methods for working on the neurological system to fight depression and anxiety disorders. Let's look at a few families of these depression and anxiety medications and examine their characteristics.
These depression and anxiety medications are effective for individuals who are experiencing mild depression. MAOIs also help people who demonstrate excessive behaviors such as over-reaction, oversleeping, or overeating. These depression and anxiety medications effectively work on the brain's three neurotransmitters - dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine - to calm hyperactivity.
TCAs have been around longer than all the other depression and anxiety medications available today. This family of drugs came onto the scene in 1958 and was used to fight against major forms of depression. TCAs work to increase norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain and have a tremendous sedative effect. These depression and anxiety medications are most useful for patients who are experiencing severe depression.
SSRIs are a newer addition to the roster of depression and anxiety medications which have become increasingly popular within the past decade. These drugs are typically prescribed during the beginning stages of depression if psychotherapy and/or behavioral therapy have been ineffective.
Benzodiazepines have been around since Librium was discovered in 1954 and work by slowing down the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines are classified by the length of time they take to get to work and how long they remain in the body.
Short-acting Benzodiazepines have a half-life of less than 12 hours and are marketed for insomnia under the names of ProSom®, Dalmane®, Restoril®, and Halcion®. Unfortunately, habitual use can cause rebound insomnia and anxiety during the day.
Longer-acting Benzodiazepines are used to treat patients with daytime anxiety. These include alprazolam (Xanax®), librium®, Tranxene®, Valium®, Paxipam®, Ativan®, Serax®, Centrax®, and Doral®.
Long term use of benzodiazepines generally creates physical dependence or addiction, and is associated with amnesia, hostility, irritability, and vivid or disturbing dreams. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines should be medically supervised and may require hospitalization.