Staying Informed: A Quick Guide to Five Popular Antidepressants and Their Side Effects

Posted on: February 9th, 2016 by Hannah Bessinger No Comments

Antidepressants are some of the most commonly prescribed medications on the market today, with millions of prescriptions filled each year. However, many Americans are not aware of the common side effects of these drugs. Here is a quick explanation of the most likely side effects that you will encounter with five of the most popular antidepressants.


Cymbalta, also known by its generic form, Duloxetine, is the most commonly prescribed antidepressant in the US, with 10.07 million prescriptions written monthly. What you may not know is that Cymbalta is often used to treat nerve pain in patients with ongoing pain related to diabetes, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or chronic back pain. This drug is widely used as a first option when treating depression because it is known for improving energy levels and sleep cycles. It also normalizes appetite, thus targeting three areas that are most affected by depression. The best part about this serotonin-norepinephrine inhibitor (SNRI) is that it also targets anxiety, often helping people who are struggling with both mood disorders.

So what kind of side effects should you look for if you are prescribed Cymbalta? The most common side effects include tiredness and drowsiness, dry mouth, nausea, constipation, and increased sweating. The nausea may cause a temporary loss of appetite. You may also feel dizzy or lightheaded.

If you experience unusual bruising or bleeding, muscle cramps, tremors, decrease in urine or trouble urinating, stomach pain, persistent vomiting and nausea, black or bloody stools, vision changes or eye pain, vomit that resembles coffee grounds, or seizures, contact a medical professional immediately. These side effects are rare but serious.


Pristiq or “Desvenlafaxine,” as it is known generically, is another popularly prescribed SNRI. This drug is made with a synthetic form of the primary active metabolite that is used in another popular antidepressant, Effexor, and it has been marketed as an improved alternative to this drug. In addition to depression, this drug is used for nerve pain, anxiety, and panic attacks, and it can be used to treat patients dealing with both depression and anxiety.

Common side effects for this drug include dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, nausea, decreased appetite, weight loss, trouble sleeping, excessive sweating, nervousness, and blurred vision. It can also raise blood pressure, so this should be monitored. These side effects are common and nothing to be overly concerned with. However, if you experience more serious side effects like severe headaches, easy bruising or bleeding, and changes in sexual ability, contact your doctor. If you experience rare side effects like chest pain, black stools, shortness of breath, seizures, changes in urine amount, or eye pain and vision changes, get medical help immediately.


This newer addition to the selection of antidepressants on the market was Viibryd is less likely to cause weight gain and sexual dysfunction, two of the most common and most distressing side effects caused by other SSRIs.

However, there are still common side effects to be aware of when you start taking this drug. The most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and dizziness, trouble sleeping, and a lowered interest in sex. These side effects generally taper off on their own, and if they persist, you should get in touch with your doctor.

Viibryd can also cause rarer but more serious side effects. If you experience numbness and tingling, weakness, pounding heartbeat, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, severe mood changes (such as suicidal thoughts), bloody or black stools, easy bruising and bleeding, eye pain and vision changes, unusual looking vomit, or seizures, get in touch with a medical professional immediately.


Celexa belongs to the family of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of drugs that works by preventing the uptake of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. In addition to depression, it is also used to treat conditions like panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. This drug saw 37.7 million prescriptions in 2011 and has remained popular.

If you are prescribed this drug, there are a few common side effects that you should be on the lookout for. You may experience nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, headache, excessive sweating, tremors, drowsiness, or difficulty sleeping. Only about 1 in 6 to 1 in 5 people experience side effects while taking this drug.

You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience shaking, tremors, easy bruising or bleeding, change in vision, irregular heartbeat, eye pain or vision changes, or seizures. These are rare but serious side effects.


Since it was put on the market in 1991, Zoloft has consistently been one of the most prescribed SSRIs. In 2011, 37 million prescriptions were filled for this antidepressant, and it has remained popular, despite the influx of newer antidepressants on the market. In addition to major depression, Zoloft is also used to treat anxiety disorders, PTSD, OCD, and premenstrual syndrome. It is a great choice for patients dealing with both depression and anxiety.

The most common side effects that you can expect to encounter when you start taking this drug are similar to those of other basic SSRIs. You may experience nausea, dry mouth, lowered appetite, drowsiness, dizziness, increased sweating, and diarrhea. These side effects are generally nothing to worry about, but if they worsen or persist, you should inform your doctor.

Unlikely side effects include bruising and bleeding, loss of interest in sex, muscle cramps, unexplained weight loss, shaking, black or bloody stools, vomit resembling coffee grounds, and eye pain or vision changes. You should get medical help immediately if you start to experience these side effects.

While the common side effects for these medications can be uncomfortable, it is important to remember that they often fade with time. For this reason, you should give your antidepressant a chance to work before you decide to stop taking it due to minor side effects. That being said, always let your doctor know if you have common side effects that persist or worsen, or if you experience any of the rarer side effects mentioned in this article.

About Author

Hannah Bessinger is a freelance writer and digital marketer based in Raleigh, NC. She earned an MFA in writing from North Carolina State University, and she continues to be obsessed with the power of story in everyday life. She enjoys writing about all things health and fitness related and is an advocate for stopping the stigma that surrounds mental illness. In her free time she loves to hike, read, and play with her pet parrot. She blogs about writing and other things at


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