November 13, 2023

Antidepressant Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Antidepressant addiction does not develop in the same way as addictions to alcohol and drugs like opioids. Individuals who use antidepressants can become dependent on the medication, though. Also, some people who are prescribed antidepressants for depression might engage in self-medication with other addictive substances. Read on to learn more about the following issues:

  • Which antidepressants are addictive?
  • Are SSRIs addictive?
  • What are the most commonly abused antidepressants?
  • What problems are associated with SSRI abuse and SSRI dependence?
  • How to get help for addiction antidepressants in California.

Are Antidepressants Addictive?

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Antidepressants are not considered as addictive in the conventional sense of triggering euphoria and increased dopamine production in the brain. This class of medication can, though, lead to the development of physical dependence, as indicated by the presentation of withdrawal symptoms upon reducing or discontinuing usage. Abrupt cessation of antidepressants often brings about symptoms like nausea, tremors, and heightened feelings of depression.

Despite this, the motivation for the abuse of antidepressants is low due to the absence of a pronounced euphoric rush of dopamine associated with addictive substances.

Occasionally, people misuse antidepressants, especially Wellbutrin (bupropion), by crushing and snorting the tablets. That said, even altering the route of administration does not usually lead to addiction. Rather, such actions might stem from an unavailability of the preferred substance – cocaine or meth, for instance. In such cases, the result of snorting antidepressants amounts to little more than a placebo, a substandard substitute for the desired drug that does not deliver the intended effects.

Despite the potential risks associated with antidepressants, these medications significantly contribute to enhancing quality of life for many people battling mental health disorders like depression (major depressive disorder). Those who have been prescribed antidepressants should always consult their prescribing physician before considering any changes to their medication regimen. This ensures a safe and appropriate approach to managing their mental health.

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Signs of Antidepressant Addiction

In contrast to various mood-enhancing prescription medications, antidepressants do not induce euphoria or trigger cravings.

Their effects gradually elevate the person’s mood over time. However, some people struggling with addiction to other substances – this is known as co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis – might attempt to misuse antidepressants for recreational purposes.

Beyond this, some people prescribed antidepressants for treating depression might misuse their medication or resort to addictive substances as a means of finding relief if they feel that the antidepressants are not producing strong enough improvements in mood.

Research shows that individuals dealing with depression are two to three times more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol as those without a diagnosis of depression. Those misusing antidepressants are unlikely to experience immediate effects from the drug, potentially leading them to misuse other substances concurrently or to increase patterns of consumption further.

Several common indicators of substance abuse include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Deterioration in physical appearance
  • Financial hardships
  • Changes in appetite
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Slurred speech

Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms

Antidepressant withdrawal occurs when someone who is dependent on this class of medication abruptly discontinues use without medical oversight. Symptoms may vary in duration and presentation depending on the type of antidepressant and individual physiological response. Common antidepressant withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms – nausea, fatigue, and headaches
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Sensations of electric shocks – brain zaps
  • Mood swings, including increased anxiety and irritability
  • Sleep disturbances, such as vivid dreams or insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea or stomach cramps

Seek medical advice when considering the discontinuation of antidepressants to manage and minimize the potential adverse effects of withdrawal. Consulting with a healthcare professional can facilitate a safer and more comfortable transition process.

Antidepressant Addiction Treatment

The process of treating antidepressant addiction usually encompasses a comprehensive approach that incorporates various therapeutic interventions and professional guidance. One of the core objectives of treatment is to facilitate a gradual reduction in dependence on antidepressants while simultaneously addressing any underlying mental health concerns.

Psychotherapy plays a central role in the treatment regimen, with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) being among the most widely utilized techniques. CBT focuses on identifying and altering negative thought patterns and behaviors, providing people with coping strategies to manage cravings and address the psychological components of addiction. Other evidence-based therapies, such as DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and IPT (interpersonal therapy), may be incorporated to address specific emotional and social challenges.

In conjunction with psychotherapy, support groups may offer a valuable platform for individuals to share their experiences, gain insights from others facing similar struggles, and receive encouragement and solidarity throughout their recovery journey. These groups provide a sense of community and understanding that can be instrumental in maintaining motivation and fostering resilience.

Medication management is another crucial aspect of antidepressant addiction treatment, especially when it involves the gradual tapering of antidepressants. Medical professionals carefully oversee this process, ensuring that the reduction in dosage is carried out in a controlled manner to minimize withdrawal symptoms and prevent potential complications.

By integrating these multifaceted approaches, individuals with depression can receive comprehensive care that addresses the physical, psychological, and social dimensions of antidepressant addiction, fostering a path toward sustained recovery and improved mental well-being.

FAQs

Is SSRI addiction common?

SSRI addiction is not common, as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) do not trigger euphoria or a surge of dopamine in the brain. However, they may cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms in some people.

Can you get addicted to antidepressants?

Antidepressants are not generally addictive, but they can lead to dependence in some cases, especially if abruptly discontinued. This dependence is often related to the body’s adjustment to the medication.

Does your brain depend on antidepressants?

For anyone wondering does your brain become dependent on antidepressants, the brain doesn’t depend on antidepressants to function normally. That said, the use of antidepressants can modulate the brain’s chemical balance, influencing the levels of neurotransmitters, and may help manage symptoms of certain mental health conditions.

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Call Addiction Hotline for Help Overcoming Antidepressant Addiction

If you or someone that you care about needs immediate help with issues related to antidepressant addiction, call our 24/7 addiction hotline.

Speak with an experienced and committed professional who can offer guidance, advice, and support if you are uncertain how to engage with addiction treatment near you. Hotline staff can provide referrals to addiction specialists, inpatient and outpatient rehab centers, and healthcare providers throughout the state of California.

Call 855-7010479 any time of day or night and move beyond a life constrained by addiction to antidepressants.

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