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Antidepressants: Summary of Recommendations
Antidepressants can improve the symptoms of depression. But they can also cause serious side effects, so you don't want to take one if you don't have to. The information in this report can help you decide—with your doctor or mental health professional—whether an antidepressant might be right for you, and if so, which one.

Retail prices for commonly prescribed antidepressants range from about $21 a month, and sometimes even less, to more than $1,000 a month. This report shows how you can save more than $100 a month or $1,200 a year, if you have to take an antidepressant regularly.

Here's a thumbnail guide to help you decide if you should consider medication:
  • It is normal to feel "down" or "blue" in the wake of a stressful life event, such as the death of someone close, a divorce, or a job loss. If you are still able to function and have no history of depression, your symptoms will usually ease on their own within a few months, aided, if necessary, by family support and professional counseling, without the use of an antidepressant.

  • If you are not functioning well and your symptoms have lasted for a few weeks, you are more likely to be a candidate for an antidepressant. That is especially true if there is no apparent reason for you to be depressed or if you have had repeated episodes of depression.

Your doctor may not be aware of price differences between medicines, so be cautious if he or she offers you a free sample of an antidepressant that they happen to have in their office. While getting a medication for free may be tempting, the drug may not be the right one for you. Individual needs vary and people respond to antidepressants quite differently. Some have to try two or three antidepressants before finding one that works.

Taking effectiveness, safety, side effects, and cost into account, we have chosen five Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs as initial options to consider for depression:
  • Generic bupropion
  • Generic citalopram
  • Generic escitalopram
  • Generic fluoxetine
  • Generic sertraline
These medicines are substantially less expensive than brand-name antidepressants and are equally as effective. Both bupropion and escitalopram are more expensive than the others, so if cost is a concern, that may be something to consider when choosing an antidepressant for the first time. If you have drug coverage, talk with your doctor about finding the antidepressant that has the lowest out-of-pocket cost under your insurance plan.

Other important considerations:
  • Start with the lowest therapeutic dose. If it doesn't help within six to eight weeks or causes side effects, talk with your doctor about changing the dose or switching to another antidepressant.
  • If you took an antidepressant before and it worked, you may want to stick with that one.
  • Tell your doctor whether the differences in side effects among the antidepressants are important to you.
  • If you already take an antidepressant and it is working for you, we don't recommend that you switch to another one.
This report was updated in September 2013.
Antidepressant Cost Comparison
Note: If the price box contains a , that indicates the dose of that drug may be available for a low monthly cost through programs offered by large chain stores. For example, Kroger, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart offer a month's supply of selected generic drugs for $4 or a three-month supply for $10. Other chain stores, such as Costco, CVS, Kmart, and Walgreens, offer similar programs. Some programs have restrictions or membership fees, so check the details carefully for restrictions and to make sure your drug is covered.


Generic Name and Strength Brand NameA Frequency of UseB Average Monthly CostC
  Bupropion 75 mg tablet Wellbutrin Three a day $289
Bupropion 75 mg tablet Generic Three a day $64
  Bupropion 100 mg tablet Wellbutrin Three a day $357
Bupropion 100 mg tablet Generic Three a day $80
  Bupropion 100 mg sustained-release tablet Wellbutrin SR Two a day $280
  Bupropion 100 mg sustained-release tablet Budeprion SR Two a day $104
  Bupropion 100 mg sustained-release tablet Generic Two a day $62
  Bupropion 150 mg extended-release tablet Wellbutrin XL One a day $276
  Bupropion 150 mg extended-release tablet Budeprion XL One a day $158
  Bupropion 150 mg extended-release tablet Generic One a day $80
  Bupropion 150 mg sustained-release tablet Wellbutrin SR Two a day $294
  Bupropion 150 mg sustained-release tablet Budeprion SR Two a day $99
  Bupropion 150 mg sustained-release tablet Generic Two a day $63
  Bupropion 200 mg sustained-release tablet Wellbutrin SR Two a day $541
  Bupropion 200 mg sustained-release tablet Generic Two a day $140
  Bupropion 300 mg extended-release tablet Wellbutrin XL One a day $406
  Bupropion 300 mg extended-release tablet Budeprion XL One a day $141
  Bupropion 300 mg extended-release tablet Generic One a day $81
  Bupropion 174 mg extended-release tablet Aplenzin One a day $339
  Bupropion 348 mg extended-release tablet Aplenzin One a day $468
  Bupropion 522 mg extended-release tablet Aplenzin One a day $1,053
  Citalopram 10 mg tablet Celexa One a day $179
Citalopram 10 mg tablet Generic One a day $32
  Citalopram 20 mg tablet Celexa One a day $192
Citalopram 20 mg tablet Generic One a day $25
  Citalopram 40 mg tablet Celexa One a day $195
Citalopram 40 mg tablet Generic One a day $33
  Citalopram 10 mg/5 mL oral solution Generic One dose per day $61
  Desvenlafaxine 50 mg sustained-release tablet Pristiq One a day $196
  Desvenlafaxine 100 mg sustained-release tabletD Pristiq One a day $203
  Duloxetine 20 mg capsule Cymbalta One a day $226
  Duloxetine 30 mg capsule Cymbalta One a day $244
  Duloxetine 60 mg capsule Cymbalta One a day $247
  Escitalopram 5 mg tablet Lexapro One a day $193
Escitalopram 5 mg tablet Generic One a day $86
  Escitalopram 10 mg tablet Lexapro One a day $171
Escitalopram 10 mg tablet Generic One a day $87
  Escitalopram 20 mg tablet Lexapro One a day $183
Escitalopram 20 mg tablet Generic One a day $88
  Escitalopram 5 mg/5 mL oral solution Generic One dose per day $121
  Fluoxetine 10 mg capsule Prozac One a day $257
Fluoxetine 10 mg capsule Generic One a day $28
Fluoxetine 10 mg tablet Generic One a day $49
  Fluoxetine 20 mg capsule Prozac One a day $260
Fluoxetine 20 mg capsule Generic One a day $31
Fluoxetine 20 mg tablet Generic One a day $31
  Fluoxetine 40 mg capsule Prozac One a day $535
Fluoxetine 40 mg capsule Generic One a day $99
Fluoxetine 60 mg tablet Generic One a day $94
  Fluoxetine 90 mg delayed-release capsule Prozac Weekly One per week $199
  Fluoxetine 90 mg delayed-release capsule Generic One per week $145
  Fluoxetine 20 mg/5 mL oral solution Generic One dose per day $80
  Fluvoxamine 100 mg tablet Generic One a day $45
  Fluvoxamine 100 mg continuous-delivery capsule Luvox CR One a day $463
  Fluvoxamine 100 mg continuous-delivery capsule Generic One a day $302
  Fluvoxamine 150 mg continuous-delivery capsule Luvox CR One a day $417
  Fluvoxamine 150 mg continuous-delivery capsule Generic One a day $316
  Mirtazapine 7.5 mg tablet Generic One at bedtime $69
  Mirtazapine 15 mg tablet Remeron One at bedtime $169
  Mirtazapine 15 mg tablet Generic One at bedtime $44
  Mirtazapine 15 mg dissolvable tablet Generic One at bedtime $63
  Mirtazapine 30 mg tablet Remeron One at bedtime $170
  Mirtazapine 30 mg tablet Generic One at bedtime $42
  Mirtazapine 30 mg dissolvable tablet Remeron One at bedtime $150
  Mirtazapine 30 mg dissolvable tablet Generic One at bedtime $70
  Mirtazapine 45 mg tablet Generic One at bedtime $42
  Mirtazapine 45 mg dissolvable tablet Generic One at bedtime $72
  Paroxetine 10 mg tablet Paxil One a day $144
  Paroxetine 10 mg tablet Pexeva One a day $260
  Paroxetine 10 mg tablet Generic One a day $21
  Paroxetine 20 mg tablet Paxil One a day $160
  Paroxetine 20 mg tablet Pexeva One a day $253
  Paroxetine 20 mg tablet Generic One a day $21
  Paroxetine 30 mg tablet Paxil One a day $171
  Paroxetine 30 mg tablet Pexeva One a day $263
  Paroxetine 30 mg tablet Generic One a day $38
  Paroxetine 40 mg tablet Paxil One a day $170
  Paroxetine 40 mg tablet Pexeva One a day $331
  Paroxetine 40 mg tablet Generic One a day $37
  Paroxetine 12.5 mg sustained-release tablet Paxil CR One a day $153
  Paroxetine 12.5 mg sustained-release tablet Generic One a day $94
  Paroxetine 25 mg sustained-release tablet Paxil CR One a day $168
  Paroxetine 25 mg sustained-release tablet Generic One a day $103
  Paroxetine 37.5 mg sustained-release tablet Paxil CR One a day $177
  Paroxetine 37.5 mg sustained-release tablet Generic One a day $110
  Paroxetine 10 mg/5 mL oral suspension Paxil One dose per day $151
  Sertraline 25 mg tablet Zoloft One a day $185
Sertraline 25 mg tablet Generic One a day $33
  Sertraline 50 mg tablet Zoloft One a day $174
Sertraline 50 mg tablet Generic One a day $29
  Sertraline 100 mg tablet Zoloft One a day $181
Sertraline 100 mg tablet Generic One a day $33
  Sertraline 20 mg/mL oral suspension Generic One a day $159
  Venlafaxine 25 mg tablet Generic Two a day $89
  Venlafaxine 37.5 mg tablet Generic Two a day $83
  Venlafaxine 50 mg tablet Generic Two a day $93
  Venlafaxine 75 mg tablet Generic Two a day $78
  Venlafaxine 100 mg tablet Generic Two a day $99
  Venlafaxine 37.5 mg sustained-release tablet Generic One a day $119
  Venlafaxine 75 mg sustained-release tablet Generic One a day $108
  Venlafaxine 150 mg sustained-release tablet Generic One a day $120
  Venlafaxine 225 mg sustained-release tablet Generic One a day $270
  Venlafaxine 37.5 mg continuous-delivery capsule Effexor XR One a day $209
  Venlafaxine 37.5 mg continuous-delivery capsule Generic One a day $90
  Venlafaxine 75 mg continuous-delivery capsule Effexor XR One a day $223
  Venlafaxine 75 mg continuous-delivery capsule Generic One a day $100
  Venlafaxine 150 mg continuous-delivery capsule Effexor XR One a day $218
  Venlafaxine 150 mg continuous-delivery capsule Generic One a day $105
A. "Generic" indicates drug sold by generic name

B. As typically prescribed.

C. Prices reflect nationwide retail average for May 2013, rounded to the nearest dollar. Information derived by Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs from data provided by Symphony Health Solutions, which is not involved in our analysis or recommendations.

D. According to Pristiq's drug label, "in clinical studies, doses of 50-400 mg/day were shown to be effective, although no additional benefit was demonstrated at doses greater than 50 mg/day and adverse events and discontinuations were more frequent at higher doses."