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Can Depression Meds Cause Anger Issues?

author image Joni Brown
Joni Brown began writing professionally in 2010. Her first essay appears in "America Is...," an anthology. Brown holds a Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Kentucky. She is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from National University.
Can Depression Meds Cause Anger Issues?
A woman is talking to a sympathetic looking doctor. Photo Credit: megaflopp/iStock/Getty Images

The diagnosis is depression and medication advised. It is now time for the patient to take an active role in the selection of an antidepressant. The physician takes a careful history of the symptoms and explains the various types of antidepressants and their side effects. One of the main concerns is the side effect of anger, so the patient wants to be an informed consumer.

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Categories of Antidepressants

There are five categories of antidepressants. According to the Mayo Clinic, the older antidepressants are Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, and tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants. These antidepressants are taken when more up-to-date medications have not worked. The side effects of these older pharmaceuticals are severe. The newer antidepressants with fewer side effects are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, norepinephrine serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or NSRIs, and atypical antidepressants.

Further Differences

SSRIs work on the serotonin levels and SNRIs work on the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the neurotransmitters in the brain. Low serotonin levels or low serotonin and norepinephrine levels can be causes of depression. Each person’s brain activity is as individual as a fingerprint, which is why a patient may need to try several medications to find the right one.

Atypical antidepressants are so named because they do not fit into the other categories. Atypicals will work on either serotonin or norepinephrine levels also. Patients must remember that the individuality of their brain systems will determine the medication that will be successful in their case.

Antidepressant Brand Names

Here is a list of the brand names of antidepressants belonging in each category: SSRIs -- Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft; SNRIs -- Cymbalta, Pristiq and Effexor; Atypical antidepressants -- Wellbutrin, Desyrel, Remeron and Serzone; Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants – Elavil, Clomipramine and Surmontil; MAOIs -- Marplan, Nardil, Parnate, Emsam, Eldepryl and Zelapar

Side Effect: Anger

Anger can be a problem with some on antidepressants.
Anger can be a problem with some on antidepressants.

According to the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, each antidepressant discussed has the following warning on this specific side effect: “You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: new or worsening depression; thinking about harming or killing yourself, or planning or trying to do so; extreme worry; agitation; panic attacks; difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; aggressive behavior; irritability; acting without thinking; severe restlessness; and frenzied abnormal excitement.”

In Conclusion

All side effects listed on antidepressant medications are things that can happen if you take that particular medication. It does not mean that it will. You and your doctor need to be aware of any anger issues you may already exhibit when deciding on which antidepressant is right for you. While you are on an antidepressant, take note of all side effects and inform your physician accordingly.

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