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Antidepressants: Effective for Some, Side Effects for Many

Antidepressants: Effective for Some, Side Effects for Many

Depression is tricky to treat. In any given year, some 14.8 million people or 7 percent of the U.S. adult population will have depression that warrants treatment. Women appear to develop depression at about twice the rate of men, though it’s not clear why. And while antidepressant medication can improve the symptoms of depression, they can also have serious side effects including sexual problems, weight gain, insomnia, nervousness and agitation. You don’t want to take one if you don’t have to.
In the latest Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs Report on Antidepressants, we have chosen five Best Buys, taking effectiveness, safety, side effects, and cost into account, as initial options to consider for treating depression:

• Generic bupropion (Wellbutrin)
• Generic citalopram (Celexa)
• Generic fluoxetine (Prozac)
• Generic paroxetine (Paxil)
• Generic sertraline (Zoloft)

These Best Buys are substantially less expensive than brand-name antidepressants such as Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Lexapro (escitalopram) and they are just as safe and effective. Commonly-prescribed antidepressants range in price from about $20 a month to more than $400 a month. A recent  Best Buy Drug Report shows how you can save $100 a month ($1,200 a year) or more if you have to take an antidepressant regularly. So if you and your doctor decide on a drug treatment for your depression symptoms, try one of our Best Buys as an initial first step to see if they work for you.

Since people respond to antidepressants quite differently, and the drugs differ significantly in the side effects they cause. It’s not uncommon for someone to try two or three antidepressants before finding one that works. Between 30 and 45 percent of people don’t respond at all to treatment with an antidepressant. Keep in mind, too, that experts believe too many people are prescribed medications to treat depression in cases where it is likely to resolve in a few weeks on its own. And psychotherapy can also be helpful, either alone or in combination with medication.

Symptoms of depression include feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness, pessimism, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, work and other activities you usually enjoy, decreased energy or fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, irritability or feeling anxious. (For a more detailed list,  download the full report.)  If you have five or more of the symptoms listed for a period of several weeks, you may have depression and should see your doctor.

For more information on prescription drugs, alternatives to high-priced drugs and Best Buy selections for the most common, chronic medical conditions, visit 


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