Prescription medications can help alleviate depression symptoms, treat mental illnesses, and improve quality of life. Among these medications, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are currently the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. However, these drugs are not without risks. Antidepressant abuse and addiction have become a growing concern, and more people are seeking treatment for these issues.
In this article, we will explore the most common symptoms and antidepressant treatment
options that can help you, or your loved one, address the problem.
What Is Antidepressant Addiction?
Antidepressant addiction occurs when someone abuses their prescribed antidepressants or takes them without a prescription. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as seeking a mood boost, self-medicating, or trying to get high. While antidepressants are not considered to be addictive in the traditional sense, people can develop a psychological dependence on them. They may feel that they cannot function without the medication or that it is the only thing that can help them feel better.
It is important to recognize the signs of addiction, as it can be difficult to stop taking the medications without professional help.
Symptoms of Antidepressant Addiction
Symptoms of antidepressants abuse can include:
People at Higher Risk of Antidepressant Addiction
That being said, there are some factors that may increase the risk of developing dependence on antidepressants or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing the medication. These include:
Individuals with a history of substance abuse may be more prone to developing dependence on antidepressants.
The longer an individual takes antidepressants, the higher the likelihood of developing dependence or experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Taking high doses of antidepressants may increase the risk of developing dependence.
Individuals with co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety or bipolar disorder, may be more likely to develop dependence on antidepressants.
Abruptly stopping or rapidly changing the dosage of antidepressants can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Commonly Prescribed Antidepressants and Their Side Effects
These are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. Common SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro). Common side effects include nausea, headache, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain.
SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor). Potential side effects include nausea, headache, dizziness, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and elevated blood pressure.
TCAs are an older type of antidepressant that is less commonly prescribed due to their potential for serious side effects. Typical side effects include dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, weight gain, and dizziness.
MAOIs are also an older type of antidepressant that is less commonly prescribed due to their potential for serious interactions with other medications and certain foods. Potential side effects include nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and weight gain.
This category includes medications such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and mirtazapine (Remeron). Potential side effects of bupropion include insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. Potential side effects of mirtazapine include drowsiness, weight gain, and elevated cholesterol levels.
The Dangers of Antidepressant Abuse
Here are some potential dangers of antidepressant abuse:
People who abuse antidepressants are at an increased risk of developing substance abuse problems and may be more likely to abuse other prescription medications or illicit drugs. Drug abuse can lead to negative physical, psychological, and social consequences.
Abusing antidepressants by taking too much or mixing them with other substances can lead to overdose, which can be fatal.
Suddenly stopping antidepressants after long-term use can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, and confusion. These symptoms can be dangerous, especially if someone is driving or operating heavy machinery.
In some cases, antidepressants can increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially in young adults and teenagers. Abusing antidepressants can increase this risk.
Antidepressants can have various side effects when taken improperly or at high doses, including high blood pressure, heart problems, and seizures.
Abusing antidepressants can mask underlying mental health issues, preventing individuals from receiving appropriate treatment and care.
Treating Addiction to Antidepressants
It's important to note that addiction treatment should be tailored to the individual and their specific needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to antidepressants, seek help from a healthcare professional who can provide appropriate treatment and support.
The Bottom Line
Additionally, healthcare providers and rehab programs like the one we offer at Miracles Asia in Phuket, Thailand can play a crucial role in preventing addiction and promoting alternative treatments for depression and mood disorders. Together, we can break the stigma surrounding antidepressant use and help people get the care they need.
If you or someone you know is struggling with antidepressant addiction, seek help from a healthcare provider or mental health professional. Remember, addiction is a treatable condition, and there is hope for recovery.