What’s the Best Medicine for Depression? — Results from 4000 Reviews of 5 Popular Antidepressants

The following “worth it” scores reflect how well each antidepressant worked for the people reviewing it. But keep in mind, these scores don’t predict how you will react to these medications. Every person’s body is unique and has its own way of processing drugs, so your experience might be very different from those of these reviewers.

Because antidepressants themselves also work in very different ways and have their own set of side effects (ranging from moderate sleep disturbance to severe gastrointestinal problems and sexual dysfunction), it’s common to have to try several before finding one that works. The statistics below are only meant to be a starting point for you to get an idea of what other people have encountered.

All of the five antidepressants above scored around 60% for how “worth it” they were. Compared to a score of 80%, which heartburn drugs sometimes get, 60% might seem low. But treating depression is especially tricky; matching someone to the right antidepressant takes a lot of patience and perseverance.

Effexor (venlafaxine) — worth it score: 62%

Effexor (venlafaxine) belongs to a relatively new class of drugs known as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which improve symptoms of depression and anxiety by increasing the amount of these two chemicals in the brain. Possible side effects include sexual dysfunction and sleepiness.

It can take as long as 12 weeks before Effexor really works, but it might be worth the wait. Effexor may work better than older SSRI antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac because Effexor affects two brain chemicals, while SSRIs just target one.

Cymbalta (duloxetine) — worth it score: 58%

Just like Effexor, Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an SNRI that can take up to 12 weeks to start working. Cymbalta can treat depression and anxiety, along with certain types of chronic pain. Possible side include sleepiness, agitation, and gastrointestinal problems.

Cymbalta doesn’t mix well with alcohol, so even if you’re a light drinker, you might want to ask your doctor about whether this is the right drug for you.

Prozac (fluoxetine) — worth it score: 62%

As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Prozac (fluoxetine) is an older type of antidepressant that treats depression and other mood disorders by boosting serotonin levels in the brain.

Prozac often comes with a number of side effects, such as trouble sleeping, drowsiness, and nausea and diarrhea. To prevent stomach upset that can come with taking Prozac, you may want to take this medication in the morning with food.

Zoloft (sertraline) — worth it score: 59%

Zoloft (sertraline) is another SSRI that treats depression but comes with a set of side effects similar to Prozac’s. Some of these side effects go away within a month, but others — like lower sex drive — can persist. One advantage to using Zoloft is that it seems to cause less drowsiness than other SSRIs.

Celexa (citalopram) — worth it score: 61%

Celexa (citalopram) is yet another SSRI that treats depression. Though it seems to come with fewer side effects than other antidepressants, Celexa can be a complication in those with liver or kidney disorders. Other potential downsides to Celexa include minor weight gain (one to five pounds), and if you take a high enough dose (more than 40 mg per day), it can lead to an irregular heartbeat.

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