Antidepressant Drugs: Mechanisms of Action and Side Effects

Jane Pei-Chen Chang, Arianna Zamparelli, Maria Nettis, Carmine Pariante

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Antidepressants (ADs) are among the most prescribed drugs worldwide, as a reflection of the increasing burden of depression and anxiety disorders. Thus, a thorough knowledge of the mechanisms of action and the side effects of these drugs is crucial for both clinicians and researchers. Indeed, the common objective is to identify treatments that are tailored to the individual patient.
After more than 60 years since the accidental discovery of the first antidepressant, impressive efforts have been made in order to discover new drugs with better effectiveness and a safer tolerability profile, going from first-generation ADs, such as Tricyclic ones, to second-generation ADs, such as SSRIs. Now, new treatment targets and compounds are being developed. The present article examines the different ADs classes, reviewing indications, therapeutic range, receptor profile and side effects. Finally, augmentation strategies, sometimes essential to treat conditions such as treatment resistant depression and bipolar depression, and novel potential candidates in the treatment of depression are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience
ISBN (Print)9780128196410
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 2021


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