Addiction to Antidepressants: What are Antidepressants
Antidepressants are a commonly prescribed medication for those with depressive disorders. These medications are meant to reduce the symptoms of depression. Thus, allowing the person to function normally. They work by correcting chemical imbalances in the brain that alter the person’s mood and behaviors. Antidepressants are used to treat more than depression as they have also shown effectiveness with anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and panic attacks. Antidepressants have become highly common as the stigma of taking such medications has virtually disappeared.
Is Addiction Possible
While it may seem that addiction to prescription medications is possible, it seems odd that antidepressants could lead to addiction. However, this is a possibility. The first true sign of addiction is tolerance. Tolerance occurs when the patient no longer responds to the drug that is present in their system. Consequently, they need more to attain that feeling once again. That being said, the risk of antidepressant addiction is low. Therefore, more of the medication does not better the experience. Furthermore, when being weaned off of antidepressants the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms of any kind is unlikely.
If you have become dependent or addicted to an antidepressant, there is a need for professional help. If fully stopping the medication all at once, some withdrawal effects may occur. These include nausea, insomnia, feelings of electrical shock in the brain, and even alteration in touch sensation. Some withdrawal effects could be worse or others may exist. However, these are based on the sudden discontinuation of an SSRI antidepressant.
Other types of antidepressants such as benzodiazepine can be more addictive and have stronger withdrawal symptoms. However, SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed because of the known component of addiction with other medications.
One common issue for those that are dependent or addicted to antidepressants is not necessarily the antidepressant, but a co-morbid disorder. Those who need antidepressants often have a dual diagnosis of depression with substance abuse, or other mental health disorders. Hence, makes dependence or addiction more likely. Therefore, even if you find a way to go without the antidepressant, symptoms of the other disorder still need to be dealt with. Meaning you may go back to using or abusing antidepressants.
The other concern, especially for addiction to antidepressants is that the person using them was misdiagnosed. If misdiagnosed it does not change the fact that the antidepressants change the brain’s chemistry. For those with depression this helps to alleviate some if not all of the depressive symptoms. On the other hand, for those without depression the brain chemistry is still altered and better feelings may come about. However, there is a slightly higher chance for dependence or addiction.
If you find yourself struggling with the use and misuse of antidepressants, then first speak to the prescribing doctor. They can often help wean you off at a safe rate so withdrawal is avoided. If you are still struggling with depression after the antidepressants then seek help to learn about options without the use of medication. Antidepressants help many, but other treatment options are available.
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