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An antidepressant is a medication that can be prescribed to alleviate mood disorders related to depression.  They are also of use in helping with anxiety disorders and social anxiety disorder.  There are several different types of antidepressants (not to be confused with brands), each of which affects a different system in the brain. 
There are many different types of anti depressants, and they are often helpful in assisting in the treatment of co-morbidity (psychiatric illness and drug addiction).
Antidepressants are available in a variety of different chemical compositions including: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NaSSAs), norepinephrine (noradrenaline) reuptake inhibitors (NRIs), norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), selective serotonin reuptake enhancers (SSREs), norepinephrine-dopamine disinhibitors (NDDIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOIs), and augmenter drugs.
There are also nutrients and herbal depressants available, such as Omega 3 fatty acids and St. Johns Wort which have been proven to alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.
Either of these approaches pharmaceutical or natural can be beneficial, particularly when combined when exercise.
Some people will respond better to a particular antidepressant medication than others which means that doctors may have to try a few options before finding an effective medication to treat a patient.  Antidepressants may have side effects; sexual dysfunction is a fairly common side effect for example.

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