What is an atypical antidepressant?

Atypical antidepressants are defined as any of the medications that don’t fit neatly into antidepressant categories (SSRI or SNRI). In this selection from our ongoing psychiatric video series, we examine the major atypical antidepressant medications available to New York City residents who have found difficulty maintaining success on a simple SSRI regimen.

Here are a few of the medications we discuss in the video:


Trazodone used to be prescribed regularly as an antidepressant; unfortunately, the dosage required for it to have strong antidepressant properties is very high and can run the risk of moderate to severe side effects.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a useful tool.

These days, the video explains, Trazodone is mostly used as a sleeping pill. It’s often used alongside an SSRI or SNRI medication to offset the sleep problems that either of those drug classes can bring about.


Remeron is a drug that has been widely used to prevent anxiety. While it does possess antidepressant effects, it can cause huge appetite changes; people on Remeron often crave unhealthy amounts of food (specifical carbohydrates).

For individuals with atypical depressions, Remeron could potentially too strong a sedative, but for those with even slight bipolar symptoms, it could provide a much-needed level of sedation and anxiety relief.

Bupropion Buproprion, most commonly sold as Welbutrin, is one of the few antidepressants that doesn’t present sexual side effects. The video explains how Buproprion works via a different mechanism than, say, Prozac or Zoloft (hence the term atypical antidepressant).

For those seeking to avoid negative sexual effects, McMullen explains how it can often be advantageous to lower the SSRI or SNRI dosage and supplement this with Buproprion to “attack the mood disorder from two different directions.”

In fact, bupropion (and Welbutrin in particular) is so often combined with Zoloft that the combination has a name: “well-oft.”

lithium drug

Low-Dose Lithium

Low-dose lithium is available without a doctor’s prescription. It is sold in this form as lithium orotate.

Throughout his video series, Robert D McMullen, MD explains how lithium has received an unfair reputation over the years. Much of this is related to its primary use as a bipolar disorder-treating drug.

The truth is, many people with “garden variety” depressions are actually experiencing some form of bipolar disorder–however mild. These videos explain, at length, why these people might have a hard time finding the “right” antidepressant for them.

Learning More About Atypical Antidepressants

If you’re interested in finding out what atypical antidepressants can do for you, don’t wonder any longer–reach out to psychiatrist Robert McMullen today. With more than 35 years of experience and an education from Georgetown and Columbia Presbyterian, you’ll be in expert hands as you find the right solutions for your life. Call 212 362-9635 today!

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