Depression is the medical condition with one of the highest prevalence rates, but also one of the costliest ones in terms of human suffering, missed work hours, higher mortality and the higher incidence of physical illnesses. First-line treatment is usually a combination of medication and psychotherapy. In milder cases, psychotherapy alone may be sufficient, while in very severe cases, psychotherapy may not be possible. Antidepressants from a number of functional families are available, with the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) being the mostly used ones, followed by the serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and antidepressants from other groups. In cases of treatment resistance, an increase in the dose, or if this is not possible a switch to a different group of antidepressants may be necessary. Rarely is a combination therapy needed. Selection of an antidepressant depends on the specific symptoms, such as insomnia or reduced activity, the patient’s current situation, including pregnancy or a requirement for alertness on the job, and many other factors, including past episodes of depression and the medication history.
Keywords: depression, medication, psychiatry
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Dr Jonathan Haverkampf, M.D. MLA (Harvard) LL.M. trained in medicine, psychiatry and psychotherapy and works in private practice for psychotherapy, counselling and psychiatric medication in Dublin, Ireland. He also has advanced degrees in management and law. The author can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the website www.jonathanhaverkampf.ie.
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