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Antipsychotic vs. Antidepressant: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 14, 2023
Antipsychotics treat psychotic symptoms like delusions, while antidepressants manage mood disorders like depression.

Key Differences

Antipsychotics are medications primarily used to treat symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions, often associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Antidepressants, in contrast, are designed to alleviate symptoms of depression, including persistent sadness and lack of interest.
The action of antipsychotics typically involves the modulation of neurotransmitters like dopamine, crucial in managing psychotic symptoms. Antidepressants, on the other hand, commonly work by altering levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, which affect mood and emotional state.
Antipsychotic medications can also be used to treat severe agitation and bipolar mania. Antidepressants are often prescribed for a range of conditions, including various anxiety disorders, in addition to depression.
Side effects of antipsychotics may include drowsiness, weight gain, and in some cases, movement disorders. Antidepressants can cause side effects such as insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and sometimes increased anxiety.
Antipsychotics can be divided into two main classes: typical and atypical, with varying side effect profiles. Antidepressants are categorized into different classes, like SSRIs and SNRIs, each with distinct mechanisms of action and side effect profiles.

Comparison Chart

Primary Use

Treat psychotic symptoms like delusions
Treat mood disorders like depression

Mechanism of Action

Modulate neurotransmitters like dopamine
Alter neurotransmitters like serotonin

Common Side Effects

Drowsiness, weight gain, movement disorders
Insomnia, sexual dysfunction, anxiety

Additional Uses

Treat agitation, bipolar mania
Treat anxiety disorders, other mood disorders


Typical and atypical antipsychotics
SSRIs, SNRIs, and other classes

Antipsychotic and Antidepressant Definitions


They modulate brain neurotransmitters to reduce psychotic symptoms.
Antipsychotics are essential in treating schizophrenia.


Antidepressants are medications used to treat depression.
The antidepressant improved her mood significantly.


Antipsychotics are drugs that treat symptoms of psychosis.
The antipsychotic helped manage his hallucinations.


Antidepressants can also treat anxiety disorders.
Her antidepressant was also effective for her anxiety.


These medications come in typical and atypical classes.
He was prescribed an atypical antipsychotic for fewer side effects.


They work by altering brain chemicals like serotonin.
His antidepressant was an SSRI, increasing serotonin levels.


Antipsychotics can be used for severe mental health crises.
In acute bipolar mania, antipsychotics can be effective.


Different classes of antidepressants have varied effects.
She switched to an SNRI antidepressant for better results.


Counteracting or diminishing the symptoms of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia.


Antidepressants can cause side effects like insomnia.
He experienced insomnia after starting the antidepressant.


An antipsychotic drug.


A drug used to treat depression.


(pharmaceutical effect) Preventing or counteracting psychosis.


(pharmaceutical drug) An agent that prevents or counteracts depression.


(pharmaceutical drug) Any of a group of drugs used to treat psychosis.


(pharmaceutical effect) Preventing or counteracting depression.


Tranquilizer used to treat psychotic conditions when a calming effect is desired


Any of a class of drugs used to treat depression; often have undesirable side effects


Antipsychotics also help in managing bipolar disorder.
Antipsychotics stabilized her mood fluctuations in bipolar disorder.


Do antipsychotics have serious side effects?

They can, including movement disorders and metabolic changes.

What do antidepressants do?

Treat depression and other mood-related disorders.

Can antipsychotics treat depression?

Sometimes, particularly in cases of severe mood disorders.

Can antidepressants be used in children?

With caution and under strict medical supervision.

What are antipsychotics?

Medications that treat psychotic disorders and symptoms.

Are antidepressants addictive?

Generally not, but discontinuation should be gradual.

Do antidepressants improve sleep?

Some can, but others may cause insomnia.

Are antipsychotics used in anxiety treatment?

Rarely, and usually only in severe cases.

Are antipsychotics effective immediately?

They often take several days to weeks to show full effects.

How long do antidepressants take to work?

Often several weeks to see full effects.

Can antipsychotics be used for bipolar disorder?

Yes, particularly in managing manic episodes.

Are there different types of antipsychotics?

Yes, typical and atypical, with different side effect profiles.

Do antidepressants interact with other medications?

Yes, they can, so it's important to inform healthcare providers.

Can antidepressants cause weight gain?

Some can, though this varies by the type of medication.

Can antidepressants cause sexual side effects?

Yes, this is a common side effect.

Do antipsychotics affect cognitive functions?

They can, especially in higher doses.

Are antidepressants safe during pregnancy?

This depends on the specific medication and individual situation.

Can antipsychotics be stopped abruptly?

No, they should be tapered off under medical supervision.

Can antidepressants worsen depression initially?

Some people may experience increased anxiety or mood changes at first.

How are antipsychotics administered?

Orally or as long-acting injections.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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