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The Best Medications for Teenagers for Depression

author image Michelle Bolyn
Michelle Bolyn is a licensed mental health professional and has worked since 2006 as a therapist. Bolyn has been writing mental health, wedding-related and relationship focused articles since 2007. She is published on Suite101.com and Examiner.com. Bolyn received her master's degree in social work from New York University.
The Best Medications for Teenagers for Depression
The Best Medications for Teenagers for Depression Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Some doctors recommend that teenagers try therapy before turning to medication unless the teen is experiencing major depression because of possible side effects and increased risk of suicidal thoughts. The most commonly prescribed antidepressants for teens are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but they all come with the warning that they might increase thoughts of suicide in children and adolescents. Parents should contact a doctor or mental health professional immediately if they notice worsening depression, thoughts of suicide or increased anxiety.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used most often with teens, because they are less likely to produce unwanted side effects than other types of antidepressants like monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Some antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants, are not approved for teenagers. SSRIs usually take about one to eight weeks to become fully effective. The different SSRIs can have different effects on each teenager. It could take a few attempts before a teenager and his doctor find the right medication for him.

There are possible drug and food interactions with each particular drug, so a teen and her parents should discuss all medications that the teen is taking with her doctor before starting a prescription for antidepressants. Also, teens should have regular doctor visits planned when taking any antidepressant.


Like other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, this medication affects the chemical imbalances in a teenager's brain that affect his mood. It is used to treat major depression, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. ABC news reported that Prozac may be more effective for teenagers suffering from major depression than therapy. According to Insight Journal, Prozac is more likely to help increase someone's energy level than other SSRIs.

Zoloft and Paxil

Both of these selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are prescribed for teenagers who suffer from depression or other anxiety disorders. This might be the best fit for a teenager who struggles with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.


This is another selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that treats major depression and may be prescribed for teenagers. However, this medication is not routinely prescribed for anxiety, so it is not a good fit if the teenager is suffering from a combination of depression and anxiety. If the teen is feeling hopeless and worthless, having problems with sleeping and eating and loses in interest in activities that used to make her happy, this medication could be a good fit.

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