Mental Health

How Much Do Antidepressants Cost Without Insurance in 2021?

Jacqueline Slobin15 Sep 2021

The average cost of generic antidepressants without insurance is $62.50 for 30 tablets, while the average cost of brand-name antidepressants is $487.75. If your medication is covered by insurance, you may pay a significantly lower price. In addition to antidepressants, many people manage their depression with supplements, exercise, and therapy. 

If you don’t have insurance or if your plan does not cover the cost of medications you need, Mira’s prescription portal can help you locate pharmacies to get antidepressants for the lowest cost near you. In addition, Mira offers coupon codes that can be used to get your medication at a discounted price, up to 80% less. 

Cost of Antidepressants Without Insurance 

The cost of antidepressants without insurance depends on what medication you get, your dosage, a generic or brand name medication, and where you get the prescription from. Below we outline the average retail cost of the common dosages for 10 generic and brand name medications used to treat depression. All of the prices below are for 30 capsules of each medication. 

Cost of Antidepressants Without Insurance (Brand Name)

Brand NameBrand Name Price
Celexa

$369.55

Lexapro

$455.70

Prozac

$624.15

Paxil

$261.08

Zoloft

$411

Cymbalta

$322.24

Effexor

$518.78

Pristiq

$509

Elavil

$15

Pamelor

$1,392.00

Cost of Antidepressants Without Insurance (Generic Version)

GenericGeneric Price
Citalopram

$16.45

Escitalopram

$67.43

Fluoxetine

$21.17

Paroxetine

$24.06

Sertraline

$28.54

Duloxetine

$125.81

Venlafaxine

$38.17

Desvenlafaxine

$277.36

Amitriptyline

$11.22

Nortriptyline

$14.82

Having insurance might reduce the cost of these drugs, but many plans will have prescription-specific deductibles that you’ll have to meet before the plan pays out. That means you’ll be left with the whole bill for a while, and possibly all year. Often the best discount will come from a program like Mira’s, where you can get up to 80% off the total costs, regardless of insurance. 

Other Costs of Depression 

In addition to the costs of antidepressants, individuals may incur other costs to manage depression. A 2019 article in the American Journal of Managed Care found that individuals with depression spent a total of $8,662 to $16,375 annually to cover the direct and indirect costs of depression. The amount of money spent varied depending on depression severity. 

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Below we explain some of the direct and indirect costs that are associated with managing depression. 

  • Therapy: The cost of therapy can vary depending on several factors, including your therapist’s specialization, length of session, therapist’s training, location, and insurance status. In general, a therapy session costs between $100 - $200 without insurance. If your insurance covers your therapist, you will pay the amount of your copay.
  • Supplements: Some individuals managing depression take supplemental medications such as 5-HTP, St. John's Wort, Vitamin D, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. The cost of these supplements depends on the brand you purchase and the size of the bottle. In general, these supplements cost between $10 - $30 per bottle.
  • Exercise: Many people find that exercising can alleviate symptoms of depression. You can exercise for free by running, jogging, or walking outside. In addition, many apps and websites help with at-home exercise plans for free or at a low cost. However, some gym memberships can be pricey. The average cost of gym membership in the U.S. is $54/month. Some cheaper memberships cost about $20-30 a month, while more expensive memberships can cost a couple of hundred dollars a month.
  • Medical Care: Individuals with depression may visit the emergency department and outpatient facilities more frequently than those without depression, as depression can exacerbate other health conditions. A study found that direct costs for seeking medical care for depression can range from $6,053 to $10,611 annually. However, these numbers vary greatly from person to person, depending on how much care is needed.
  • Indirect Costs: There are many indirect costs to living with depression as well. These costs can come from lost productivity, job loss, marital instability, and loss of education. Indirect costs vary greatly for each individual and can be mitigated by treating and managing symptoms of depression.

Antidepressants Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi, who has a degree in bioethics and a Doctor in Pharmacy from Western University of Health Sciences, provided answers to some common questions about antidepressants for this article. Dr. Nouhavandi is the co-founder and co-CEO of Honeybee Health, an online pharmacy that helps patients access low-cost prescription medications. 

Who should take antidepressants? 

“Antidepressants are used to treat various conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others. Patients must be screened and diagnosed by a physician or licensed health care provider before receiving a prescription for antidepressants. If you think antidepressants might be right for you, reach out to your doctor or pharmacist to learn more.”

Can I get antidepressants over the counter?

“No, all antidepressant medications need a prescription. There are some over-the-counter supplements that may be effective for mild or moderate depression, including 5-HTP, St. John's Wort, Omega 3 Fatty Acids. 

However, it must be noted that these are not intended to provide any cure and should be taken in conjunction with an antidepressant and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) if taken at all. And, as always, consult with your pharmacist and/or doctor before taking a new supplement to make sure that it does not interact with any other medications you take.”

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How do antidepressants work? 

There are three main types of antidepressants that work in different ways. Below we outline how SSRI, SNRI, and TCA antidepressant medications work. 

  • "SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor)
    Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (messenger that carries signals between nerve cells and the brain) that is thought to have a good influence on mood, emotion, and sleep. SSRIs block serotonin from being reabsorbed into the cell, thus leaving higher serotonin levels in the brain. Examples of SSRIs include escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline.
  • SNRI (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors)
    The neurotransmitters (messenger that carries signals between nerve cells and the brain), Serotonin, and Norepinephrine are known to affect mood. It is believed that SNRIs help treats depression by keeping up the levels of these two messengers in the brain. They do this by stopping Serotonin and Norepinephrine from going back into the cell, thus higher levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Examples of SNRIs include venlafaxine and duloxetine.
  • TCA (Tricyclic Antidepressants)
    These work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain by blocking the reuptake by the cells that release them. TCAs also affect other messengers like histamine, which can lead to some side effects. Examples of TCAs include amitriptyline, nortriptyline, imipramine, doxepin.”

What are the common side effects of taking antidepressants? 

Unfortunately, some individuals who take antidepressants may experience side effects. These side effects vary from person to person and depend on the type of medication you take. Below are some of the common side effects associated with SSRIs, SNRIs, and TCAs. 

“SSRIs

  • Sedation
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction

SNRIs

  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • headache
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight loss

TCAs

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sedation
  • Sexual dysfunction”

How long does it take for antidepressants to start working? 

“Antidepressant effects aren't instantaneous. Depending on the antidepressant you take, it might take 2-6 weeks before benefits start to show. That being said, it is always important to stay adherent and consistent with taking medication.

Never stop taking the medication without first speaking to your doctor. Dose adjustments and other medication changes may be needed depending on the response and are not unusual. It is best to participate in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) while taking antidepressants to get the most benefits.”

Lowering the cost of Depression 

The cost of antidepressants without insurance and other treatment for depression can be expensive. There are several things that you can do to try to lower the cost of managing depression. Below are some tips: 

  • See if your doctor can prescribe you the same dosage of your medication in a way that may cost less. For example, if you are supposed to take 450mg of medication each day, you can take three 150mg tablets or two 300mg tablets and one 150mg tablet. One option may be significantly cheaper over the course of several years.
  • Check out Mira’s prescription portal to access coupon codes and see the price of the medication you need at various pharmacies.
  • If you are prescribed a brand-name medication, ask your doctor if you can get the generic medication instead. In many cases, there is no difference between the brand and generic medications.
  • If you have insurance, find a therapist that is covered by your plan. If you do not have insurance, shop around a bit to see if a therapist is a good fit for you and charges a low rate. You can also look into options such as group therapy, which may be cheaper than individual therapy.
  • Try to do at-home workouts or exercise outside rather than buying a gym membership.
  • Find apps that can help you manage symptoms at home for a low cost.

Bottom Line 

Managing depression can be expensive, as the cost of prescription medications, supplements, therapy, and exercise, and medical treatment accumulate quickly. Nonetheless, there are several steps you can take to manage depression and access medication at a low cost.

For only $45/month, Mira membership can help you get access to urgent care, lab tests, and discount codes that can be used to help lower the cost of antidepressants without insurance. Sign up now, and you can get your prescription started the same day.