Depression: Treatment with medications

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Learn how antidepressants treat the symptoms of depression.

Key points

  • SSRIs work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain, which reduces depression and anxiety.
  • SSRIs usually take two to four weeks to start working. They should be taken for at least six months to a year after a person starts feeling well.
  • Common side effects of SSRIs include nausea, headaches and restlessness. Other side effects, some of which are rare, include reduced sexual interest and suicidal thoughts.
  • SSRIs are effective for treating moderate to severe depression in children and teens. Other medications may be considered if SSRIs do not work.
Last updated: July 15th 2016