Depression is one of the most common mental health issues that may start in early adulthood. It can affect your brain, so antidepressants that work on certain chemicals of the brain may prove beneficial.

Antidepressants may help ease your symptoms of depression, which work by balancing certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

For many antidepressants, there is no practical significance of brand-name versus generic. For instance, Elavil (amitriptyline) was introduced a long ago, and its patent has already expired. However, it is available as generic amitriptyline.

Some of the most common generic drugs for depression belong to the class of pharmacological agents called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Others include tricyclic antidepressants, tetracyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and atypical antidepressants.

Generic Drugs for Depression

  • SSRIs: They are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, which are highly effective and generally cause fewer side effects than other drugs. Common SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).

  • SNRIs: They work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Drugs include desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor), venlafaxine XR (Effexor XR), and milnacipran (Savella).

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: These were some of the first approved antidepressants. They are effective, but they have been replaced by newer drugs. Generic amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepine (Sinequan), Imipramine (Tofranil), and nortriptyline are few common examples of tricyclic antidepressants.

  • MAOIs: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors block the activity of monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain and other parts of the body, according to RX List. MAOIs include phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Emsam), and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

  • Atypical Antidepressants:  These drugs affect the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. Generic drugs for depression belonging to this group include bupropion (Wellbutrin), trazodone (Desyrel), mirtazapine (Remeron), and nefazodone (Serzone).

Please remember what works for you may not work for others so it is important to check with your doctor when it comes to treating depression. It is imperative to find the right generic drug for depression and it could take time. In most cases, it takes some trial and error before putting you on the right medication for your depression. It may take at least six weeks for an antidepressant drug to work, according to the Mayo Clinic.