What do antidepressants look like? That’s a seemingly simple question with loads of possible answers.
There are several types of antidepressants on the market. They’re mostly formulated to help balance brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that affect mood.
Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are three neurotransmitters strongly linked to depression. Serotonin helps with sleep, appetite, and mood. Norepinephrine is linked to arousal, alertness and anxiety. Dopamine has an effect on how a person perceives reality.
Medications can address those imbalances, but the disease is far more complex than that. Genetics, trauma, the time of year (seasonal affective disorder), and other underlying health conditions can all factor into depression, too.
Out of multiple categories, each contains many options, frequently available in brand-name and generic versions as well as in varying strengths.
Types of Anitdepressants
Types of antidepressants include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These are more recent and usually what doctors prescribe first. They include Fluoxetine (Prozac), Paroxetine ( Paxil, Paxeva), Sertraline (Zoloft), Escitalopram (Lexapro) and Citalopram (Celexa)
They tend to have fewer side effects and work by blocking the reuptake (or reabsorption) of serotonin.
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR), and inhibit serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). These tend to have more side effects so they aren’t so commonly prescribed unless other antidepressants have proven ineffective. Common tricyclic antidepressants are Amitriptyline, Amoxapine, Desipramine (Norpramin), Doxepin, Imipramine (Tofranil), Nortriptyline (Pamelor), Protriptyline, Trimipramine.
They affect serotonin and norepinephrine as well as acetylcholine (another neurotransmitter)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These can have serious side effects so they are not a first resort. Dietary choices (certain cheeses or wines) and various medications (including SSRIs) and herbal supplements can cause dangerous side effects. Common MAOIs include tranylcypromine (Parnate) and isocarboxazid (Marplan).
- Atypical antidepressants. These don’t fit into other antidepressant categories. Mirtazapine (Remeron) and bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL) are considered atypical. Some drugs in this class are used for bipolar depression or depression that’s resisted treatment thus far.
- Other options. Doctors may suggest combining antidepressants or adding other medications to boost the effectiveness of an antidepressant.
How to Identify Antidepressants
What does an antidepressant look like? What do generic antidepressants look like? Antidepressants’ physical appearances vary widely. They come in a rainbow’s assortment of colors, in all kinds of shapes, sizes, with different imprints, and in all kinds of strengths (mg).
If a person isn’t sure what kind of medication something is, there are many ways to find answers. A pharmacist can answer a lot of questions. Another place to go is to the internet, but search only trusted sites.
Such sites (and some apps) allow people to search capsules and tablets by some identifiable markers including:
- Imprint code
People can often search these sites by the name of the drug in question, too, for a quick visual answer.
Some major pharmacy chains have pill identifier options. AARP has a Pill Finder option, too. Websites and apps, including WebPoisonControl, can help seekers find answers. WebPoisonControl has data from two dozen poison-control centers in the United States.
If, for example, you have a green capsule-shaped tablet with 25 MG imprinted on one side and G 4960 on the other, that would be a 25mg sertraline (the generic of Zoloft). A white and brown capsule with RDY 284 would be 90mg of fluoxetine DR.
There are many types of antidepressants, in all kinds of shapes (oblong, capsule, round, five-sided, diamond-shaped, and more) and colors (red, orange, blue, yellow, green, bicolor, and more).
When having an antidepressant prescription filled you’ll get a description of the medication’s physical appearance with the drug information. If a label or name isn’t readily available, the more specific information you have about the color, imprint, and shape, the easier it’ll be to find out what a pill is.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.