Indications for antidepressants

What are the major indications for antidepressants? 

Under the label of “antidepressants” falls a broad range of medications with diverse mechanisms of action and clinical utility beyond simply the treatment of depression. 

Here is the table which lists some of major indications for antidepressants.

Possible Indications for Antidepressants

  • Major depressive disorder and other unipolar depressive disorders, including secondary to a general medical condition (including poststroke, posttraumatic brain injury, etc.)
  • Atypical depression (e.g., monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
  • Depression with psychotic features (in combination with an antipsychotic drug)
  • Bipolar depression (in combination with a mood stabilizer)
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Pathologic laughing and crying and other affect disorders (e.g., SSRIs)
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (sertraline and paroxetine)
  • Impulse-control disorders (e.g., SSRIs)
  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder (e.g., clomipramine and SSRIs)
  • Bulimia nervosa (avoid bupropion due to seizure risk)
  • Neuropathic pain (tricyclic drugs and SNRIs)
  • Insomnia (e.g., trazodone, amitriptyline)
  • Enuresis (imipramine best studied)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (e.g., desipramine, bupropion)
  • Poststroke motor recovery (e.g., fluoxetine)
  • Smoking cessation (bupropion)

SNRIs , Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors; SSRIs , selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.


Data from Fava M, Papakostas GI. Antidepressants. In Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, editors. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. London, Elsevier, p. 490 (Box 43-1), 2016; Chollet F, Tardy J, Albucher JF, et al. Fluoxetine for motor recovery after acute ischaemic stroke (FLAME): a randomized placebo-controlled trail. Lancet Neurol 10(2):123–123, 2011; Wortzel HS, Oster TJ, Anderson CA, et al. Pathological laughing and crying: epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment. CNS Drugs 22:531– 545, 2008.


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