Antidepressant Abuse and Addiction

Antidepressants are prescription medications issued to patients suffering from depression to help reduce the symptoms associated with this condition. They mainly work by correcting chemical imbalances in the patient’s brain that affect their behavior and mood.

The most common antidepressants are serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs). The SSRIs treat depression by altering the brain’s serotonin chemical balance.

Serotonin is a chemical found in the brain that affects mood and helps people feel good. SNRIs work by hindering the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

Main Types of Antidepressants

Antidepressants are mainly classified into five types. Interestingly, all these types of antidepressants work similarly to regulate mood and behavior. They include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs) 
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

SSRIs are the most commonly used antidepressants. Common brand names of these depression medications include Lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, and Prozac. These drugs are available as capsules or oral tablets. Doctors prefer prescribing them because of their proven efficacy and tolerable side effects. 

Use of Antidepressants

Doctors prescribe antidepressants to treat different mental health conditions, including depression, pain attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, mood disorders, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Medics may also prescribe antidepressants to treat other medical conditions, such as:

  • Sleep disorders 
  • Smoking cessation
  • Chronic pain 
  • Postmenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Headaches

Antidepressant Abuse

It’s a common misconception that depressants do not cause the euphoria or the “high” feeling associated with most types of drugs, such as alcohol and opiates.

This may be because the number of individuals abusing antidepressants is lower compared with the other drugs. Also, antidepressants don’t result in the psychoactive effects that many abused drugs produce.

However, in some individuals, antidepressants abuse may cause unwanted side effects that can weakly mimic the psychoactive effects of other drugs, including hallucination, hypomania, and lethargy.

The side effects are rare, and most people using antidepressants may not experience them. If a patient uses antidepressants for an extended period, they may experience mild withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue the medication. These effects are mainly seen in patients who have used antidepressants for at least six weeks.

Such withdrawal symptoms are mild, and doctors can control them through prescription. The street market for antidepressants is also low compared to other commonly abused drugs, such as opiates. This means the drugs are not in high demand. 

Symptoms of Antidepressant Misuse

Misuse of antidepressants presents in different ways, including:

  • Disarray
  • Fantasies
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Seizures
  • Absence of emotion
  • Foggy vision
  • Diminished sex drive or sexual brokenness
  • Sore throat
  • Peevishness
  • Flimsiness
  • Weight gain

Antidepressant Addiction

Antidepressants, unlike most prescription or illicit drugs, do not evoke any cravings or a “high” feeling. They boost the user’s mood and can result in physical dependence. Although antidepressants are not addictive, long-term abuse of these drugs can lead to physical dependence.

It’s vital to recognize antidepressant addiction doesn’t present in the same way as an addiction for commonly abused substances, such as alcohol and heroin. 

Individuals abusing antidepressants will not experience euphoria cravings, advanced negative consequences, or addictive behaviors, as we see with other drugs.

Persons with depression are more likely to abuse drugs. Antidepressant dependence can also occur in people who are incorrectly diagnosed with depression. According to studies, doctors prescribe antidepressants wrongly to some people with depression.

The presence of withdrawal symptoms for patients who have quit using antidepressants is a clear sign that these drugs can be addictive or cause physical dependence. Patients using antidepressants should not discontinue the medication without their doctor’s consent.

Dangers of Antidepressant Abuse

Taking antidepressants and other drugs, such as alcohol, can worsen the symptoms and lead to unwanted effects, including:

  • Impaired alertness and thinking
  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • A spike in blood pressure
  • Worsening depression or anxiety
  • More side effects

Young adults, especially children and adolescents taking antidepressants can experience severe mental health changes. This mainly occurs when the doctor is changing an antidepressant dosage. As a result, the individual may take too many antidepressants and experience the following symptoms:

  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Worsening depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Extreme worry

If a person taking antidepressants exhibits any of the above symptoms, it’s vital to call a doctor immediately. Antidepressant dangers may occur when a person takes the medication by accident or on purpose.

The symptoms of antidepressant overdose may include fever, fainting, increased heartbeat, infusion, unsteadiness, and coma.

Antidepressant Withdrawal

A person addicted to drugs, such as alcohol, suffers from two forms of dependence. In the first case, the body and brain demand this drug. This is what we call physical dependence. If the person fails to take the medication, the brain reacts by producing present symptoms, which we call withdrawal symptoms.

If a person has developed antidepressant addiction, they can experience painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The second form of substance dependence is psychological, where an individual develops an emotional or mental need for the drug. This may cause dysfunctional or dangerous behaviors like addiction.

The other physical and psychological dependence on antidepressants is rare, but some individuals abusing this medication can develop an addiction.

Symptoms of Antidepressant Withdrawal

A person who has been using antidepressants and decides to discontinue the medication can experience the following symptoms:

  • Muscle aches and chills
  • Sleeplessness
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Feelings that resemble electric shocks in the body
  • Light-headedness
  • Irritable states of the mind

Also, antidepressant withdrawal presents as a comeback to symptoms of depression. Antidepressant withdrawal occurs when a person stops using the medication at once despite being on the medication for a long time. 

Treatment for Antidepressant Addiction and Withdrawal

If you or your loved one is undergoing antidepressant addiction or facing withdrawal symptoms after stopping taking the medication, it’s vital to seek medical assistance. 

With professional help, most people can stop antidepressant abuse or addiction and be able to use the drugs more comfortably and safely.

Antidepressants are an excellent way of overcoming the addiction, but overdose can make things worse for you because of the buildup of tolerance. 

If you’re facing challenges with antidepressant addiction or withdrawal symptoms, contact us today, and we’ll discuss the options available to overcome the problem.

Get Help with Inland Detox

Our team of experts will develop a therapy and detox program to help you overcome the antidepressants addiction. They will also help you overcome the side effects of antidepressant withdrawal. 

Our professionals combine different forms of therapy to get the best outcome. In addition, we have adequate resources, personnel, and care to ensure you comfortably and safely recover from antidepressant addiction.