Are all antidepressants the same? The consumer has a point

Psychol Med. 2023 Jul;53(9):4004-4011. doi: 10.1017/S0033291722000678. Epub 2022 Mar 29.


Background: Although a large variety of antidepressants agents (AD) with different mechanisms of action are available, no significant differences in efficacy and safety have been shown. However, there have been few attempts to incorporate data on subjective experiences under different AD.

Method: We conducted a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the posts from the website from different AD. We reviewed a random sample of 1000 posts.

Result: After applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, we included a final sample of 450 posts, 50 on each of the most used AD: sertraline, citalopram, paroxetine, escitalopram, fluoxetine, venlafaxine, duloxetine, mirtazapine, and bupropion. Bupropion, citalopram, and venlafaxine had the higher overall satisfaction ratings. Sertraline, paroxetine, and fluoxetine had high reports of emotional blunting, while bupropion very few. Overall satisfaction with AD treatment was inversely associated with the presence of the following side-effects: suicidality, irritability, emotional blunting, cognitive disturbances, and withdrawal symptoms. After adjusting for confounders, only emotional blunting was shown to be more frequently reported by users of serotonergic agents, as compared to non-serotoninergic agents.

Conclusion: This research points out that the subjective experience of patients under treatment should be taken into consideration when selecting an AD as differences between agents were evident. In contrast to the more frequent treatment decisions, users might prefer receiving a non-serotoninergic agent over a serotonergic one due to their lower propensity to produce emotional blunting.

Keywords: Antidepressants; apathy; dopaminergic agents; emotional blunting; psychological side effects; psychopharmacology; selection; serotonergic agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Bupropion / adverse effects
  • Citalopram*
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Paroxetine*
  • Sertraline
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride / adverse effects


  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride
  • Citalopram
  • Paroxetine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Bupropion
  • Sertraline
  • Antidepressive Agents