The pharmacological management of depression

Keywords: major depressive disorder, antidepressant, serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine


Depression affects nearly 350 million people worldwide. Local data indicates that approximately 17% of all South Africans will experience at least one episode of depression in their lifetime. Depressive disorders contribute significantly towards overall morbidity and increased risk for suicide. Antidepressant therapy remains one of the cornerstones in the management of depressive disorders. Although the efficacy of antidepressive drugs is continuously subjected to criticism, thousands of controlled clinical trials have shown, and will continue to show, their benefit in the effective treatment of depressive disorders. Since the introduction of antidepressants in the early 1950s, researchers have been searching for an ideal antidepressant able to adequately reduce, preserve and prevent features of depression with the absence of side effects. This article summarises the currently available antidepressant drugs in South Africa. Discontinued products have been omitted and newly registered agents have been added. This review does not contain reference to any experimental drug, or substances not yet available for local use.

Author Biographies

E Osuch, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University

Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa

A Marais, University of Pretoria

Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa