Antidepressants & Addiction Explained

Antidepressants are frequently prescribed to treat a wide variety of psychiatric conditions, especially those relating to mood disorders or chronic pain. There are many types of antidepressants, and most individuals will have to try out a few before they find the one that works best for them.

While antidepressants are common, they come (like any prescription) with possible side effects. Most doctors don’t categorize antidepressants as an addictive drug, but a person can overdose on them.

Ironically, antidepressants can increase thoughts of suicide when taken by children and young adults. These symptoms occur when first taking the medication and typically stop as time passes.

Types of Antidepressants

Most antidepressants fall into two categories: serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SNRIs are prescribed for individuals afflicted with major depression, ADHD, mood disorders, OCD, anxiety disorders, menstrual symptoms, fibromyalgia and chronic neuropathic pain. This type of antidepressant helps to stabilize a person’s mood by raising their levels of norepinephrine and serotonin.

SSRIs are used to treat many forms of depression and have minor side effects. This type of antidepressant blocks the absorption (reuptake) of serotonin in the brain, which allows brain cells to better receive and send messages. This serves to stabilize an individual’s mood.

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Are Antidepressants Addictive?

Antidepressants can be addictive but in a very different way than drugs such as heroin or alcohol are addictive. Individuals taking antidepressants aren’t overcome with cravings for the drug because they don’t experience a sensation of euphoria when they take antidepressants.

However, individuals can develop a physical dependence on the drug. If a person were to suddenly stop taking their antidepressant, they would experience withdrawal symptoms such as hand tremors and nausea. Additionally, they are very likely to experience feelings of depression or anxiety. Doctors generally recommend that people slowly wean themselves off antidepressants and always consult with their family physician first.

Signs and Symptoms of Antidepressant Overdose

It’s very possible to overdose on antidepressants, especially if they are combined with other drugs or alcohol. The lethal dose of antidepressant medication will vary for each individual. dry mouth, dilated pupils, confusion, fever, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and high blood pressure.

Some factors to consider are the type of antidepressant, the individual’s weight and tolerance, their age and any pre-existing conditions such as heart, kidney or liver conditions. Some mild symptoms of an antidepressant overdose are headaches, drowsiness,

More severe symptoms can include tremors, seizures, low blood pressure, an abnormally fast heart rate, hallucinations, coma, cardiac arrest, respiratory depression and even death.

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