Fast Acting Antidepressants: How To Feel Better Faster

The US is currently in the midst of a growing depression epidemic, especially among younger individuals and vulnerable populations. For those facing debilitating depression symptoms, traditional treatments such as SSRIs and SNRIs may take too long to provide relief. Because of this, medical professionals and researchers are exploring innovative solutions that can deliver faster relief from the symptoms of clinical depression. The alarming rate of suicide among certain age demographics in the US underscores the urgent need for fast-acting antidepressant treatments or medications.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at a few major depressive disorder treatments that are known to achieve clinically meaningful responses within a shorter amount of time than most antidepressant drugs. Learn about various rapid acting antidepressants and their unique mechanisms of action. These novel therapies offer hope for individuals who have not responded to traditional medications, providing relief from symptoms in a shorter timeframe.


Exercise is increasingly recognized as an underutilized depression treatment, with mounting evidence supporting its antidepressant effects and generally positive effects on mental health. Regular physical activity has been shown to boost mood, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve overall well-being. In recognition of its therapeutic benefits, some psychiatrists are now prescribing exercise as a complement to traditional treatments, acknowledging its ability to quickly enhance mood regulation and alleviate symptoms of clinical depression.

Incorporating exercise into a comprehensive treatment plan for depression can not only promote physical fitness but also provide a valuable and accessible tool for managing symptoms and improving overall mental health. Regular physical activity is a powerful ally for our bodies and mental health. It’s one of the fastest-acting interventions to improve mood and reduce depressive symptoms.

The Science Behind Exercise and Mental Health

Studies show that exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, natural painkillers and mood elevators. It also promotes neural growth, reduces inflammation, and facilitates new patterns of activity that promote calmness.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

No need to be a fitness fanatic or exercise enthusiast for these advantages. Even moderate amounts can make a big difference. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Type Of Exercises To Consider

  • Aerobic exercises: Jogging, swimming, cycling – all decrease tension levels.
  • Mind-body exercises: Yoga or tai chi enhance mood, flexibility, and strength.
  • Sports: Team sports provide social interaction and physical benefits.

Incorporating exercise into your routine might seem challenging initially, but you don’t have to put too much pressure on yourself. Start slow; even short walks around your neighborhood can make a significant impact on how you feel mentally.

Related: How Diet and Exercise Support Mental Health

Esketamine (Spravato)

Ketamine, originally developed as an anesthetic, has emerged as a promising treatment for depression in recent years. Ketamine treatment for depression traces back to the early 2000s when researchers discovered it demonstrated rapid onset and significant antidepressant effects. Studies demonstrated that even a single low-dose infusion of ketamine could produce rapid relief from depressive symptoms, often within hours.

Esketamine, on the other hand, is a derivative of ketamine that has been developed specifically for treatment refractory patients and individuals struggling with treatment-resistant depression. It is structurally similar to ketamine but is formulated as a nasal spray. In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved esketamine nasal spray, sold under the brand name Spravato, as a treatment for individuals with treatment-resistant depression. Esketamine has shown efficacy in reducing depressive symptoms, and its nasal administration makes it more convenient and accessible than intravenous ketamine infusions.

Efficacy of Esketamine

Esketamine is unique because it works fast, reducing depressive symptoms within hours or days compared to traditional antidepressants that take weeks to show significant effects. This makes it particularly beneficial for individuals who have not responded well to other treatments or are in urgent need of relief from severe depressive symptoms.

Mechanism of Action

Esketamine functions by targeting glutamate, a distinct type of neurotransmitter thought to be involved in regulating mood. By blocking certain receptors in the brain associated with this neurotransmitter, esketamine may help restore neural connections faster, thereby alleviating depressive symptoms more quickly.

Treatment Process with Spravato

Spravato, the FDA-approved form of intranasal esketamine, comes with specific guidelines for administration due to its potential side effects such as dizziness and disorientation immediately after use. It must be administered at certified treatment centers under the supervision of a mental health care professional.

Maintenance Treatment May Be Necessary

Maintenance treatment may be necessary following initial therapy with Spravato depending on individual response rates and symptom severity. While these drugs act rapidly, they do not provide long-term relief but rather manage symptoms effectively when used correctly.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is a non-invasive procedure used in the treatment of certain mental health conditions, primarily depression. This new treatment uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of the brain associated with depression and has the potential to work faster than traditional depression medications and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

The Process of TMS Therapy

Treatment sessions last about 20 minutes and are typically administered five days a week over six weeks. An electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead, delivering short pulses of magnetic fields that cause small electrical currents in the part of your brain responsible for mood regulation.

Safety and Efficacy

TMS therapy is considered safe and is well-tolerated by most patients. Side effects of TMS are generally mild and include headaches or discomfort at the treatment site during or after treatment.

While it still may take a couple of weeks for TMS therapy to show significant effects, many people find it works faster than traditional antidepressant medications. Some studies even suggest that its benefits may be longer-lasting compared to other treatments.

Maintenance Treatment With TMS Therapy

After successful initial treatment, a maintenance phase often follows where frequency gradually decreases over time based on individual needs until only occasional booster treatments are needed. This approach to treating depression may help maintain symptom improvement long-term without relying on antidepressant drugs.

Antidepressant Medications

Traditional antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are known to take around 6 weeks to show significant effects. However, there are a couple of SSRIs that have anecdotal reports of taking effect sooner, on average, than others. There’s also a brand new atypical antidepressant medication that aims to quickly relieve major depressive disorder symptoms.


While individual responses to antidepressant medications can vary, some people have reported that Zoloft (sertraline) seems to work more quickly compared to other antidepressants. Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that increases the availability of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to improve mood. The quicker onset of action reported by some individuals may be attributed to factors such as the individual’s unique brain chemistry and the specific symptoms being targeted by the medication.

However, it is important to note that response times to antidepressants can still vary, and it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for an individual’s specific needs.


Like with sertraline, some individuals report experiencing faster results with Prozac (fluoxetine). Prozac is also an SSRI that increases serotonin levels in the brain, and it is known to have a longer half-life than some other SSRIs. The relatively shorter time to perceive improvement in mood reported by some individuals may be influenced by factors such as the specific symptoms being targeted, individual brain chemistry, and personal response to the medication.

While these medications typically take several weeks to reach their full effect, some patients may start noticing improvements sooner. Again, it’s important to note that everyone’s response time will vary based on individual factors including genetics, the severity of depression symptoms, and concurrent use of other medications or therapies.


Auvelity is a new antidepressant medication and fascinating clinical development that combines bupropion and dextromethorphan, and has shown promise in clinical trials for its rapid onset action against depressive symptoms. Unlike other psychiatric medications, Auvelity starts working within days rather than weeks.

Auvelity offers hope to patients who need immediate relief. Before beginning any new treatment, you should consult with a healthcare professional for more information.

Fast Acting Antidepressants: Finding Hope for Those in Need

Depression is a serious issue in the US, especially among young people and vulnerable populations. Thankfully, there are several promising options available that can provide relief quickly.

To recap, regular exercise can have immediate mood-enhancing effects. It’s an accessible solution that everyone should consider incorporating into their routine. The emergence of ketamine derivatives like esketamine (Spravato) offers hope to those with treatment-resistant depression. These medications can alleviate depressive symptoms within hours or days. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy uses magnetic fields to stimulate brain areas associated with depression. TMS therapy could potentially outperform many traditional antidepressant medications in terms of speed and efficacy. Lastly, newer antidepressant medications such as Auvelity, and some SSRIs, such as Zoloft (sertraline) and Prozac (fluoxetine), may provide faster relief for some people than other traditional treatments.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, contact Neuro Wellness Spa to learn more about our depression treatments. Our expert team of clinicians including psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and therapists is only a call or click away. We offer a variety of treatment options from medication management through online or in-person psychiatry to talk therapy and alternative treatments like TMS therapy.

In this era where mental health issues are on the rise due to various factors; innovative treatments and research serve as glimmers of hope for patients struggling with depression who haven’t yet found success in treating their depression symptoms.

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