Antidepressant prescribing patterns and factors influencing the choice of antidepressant for the treatment of depression were examined in the Factors Influencing Depression Endpoints Research (FINDER) study, a prospective, observational study in 12 European countries of 3468 adults about to start antidepressant medication for their first episode of depression or a new episode of recurrent depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were the most commonly prescribed antidepressant (63.3% patients), followed by serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs, 13.6%), but there was considerable variation across countries. Notably, tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs) were prescribed for 26.5% patients in Germany. The choice of the antidepressant prescribed was strongly influenced by the previous use of antidepressants, which was significantly associated with the prescription of a SSRI (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.54, 0.76), a SNRI (OR 1.49; 95% CI 1.18, 1.88) or a combination of antidepressants (OR 2.78; 95% CI 1.96, 3.96). Physician factors (age, gender, speciality) and patient factors (severity of depression, age, education, smoking, number of current physical conditions and functional syndromes) were associated with initial antidepressant choice in some models. In conclusion, the prescribing of antidepressants varies by country, and the type of antidepressant chosen is influenced by physician- as well as patient-related factors.