Antidepressants are prescription drugs mainly used to treat moderate to severe depression. While these pills are prescribed by doctors, they do come with risks of addiction and damage to your mental and physical health. If you suspect that you or a loved one is addicted to antidepressants, this page will help you navigate everything you need to know about the impacts and what action to take.
What is antidepressant addiction?
Antidepressant addiction occurs when the brain and body become used to the presence of antidepressants, and you experience unpleasant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. This can leave you stuck in a cycle of taking more in order to maintain a feeling of normalcy, unable to function without them.
Signs of Antidepressant Addiction
If you are worried that a loved one is becoming addicted to antidepressants, there are behavioural signs to look out for. These include:
- Feeling unable to function without antidepressants
- Inability to make rational decisions
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Using other substances despite negative interactions with antidepressants
- Increasing your intake of antidepressants without medical guidance
- Finding ways to receive more antidepressants than you are prescribed
Effects of antidepressant addiction
Antidepressants cause chemical changes in the brain and, over time, can lead to some adverse side effects. It is useful to understand the normal side effects of antidepressants to compare this to adverse reactions and recognise in yourself or a loved one if symptoms become worse, potentially driven by dependency.
Some health risks of antidepressant addiction include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of libido, inability to maintain an erection or have an orgasm
- Serotonin syndrome*
*Serotonin syndrome occurs when levels of serotonin become too high and usually happens when you mix SSRIs or SNRIs with other medication or illicit drugs that raise serotonin levels. Symptoms include confusion, agitation, sweating, shivers, muscle twitches, and diarrhoea.
You may be at greater risk of experiencing negative side effects as a result of antidepressant addiction if you are taking higher or more frequent doses than recommended or if you are taking antidepressants which have not been prescribed to you. If you experience symptoms of serotonin syndrome, you should get immediate advice from your doctor.
Coming Off antidepressants
You should not stop taking antidepressants suddenly. Because antidepressants can cause physical dependence, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. These include fatigue, intense dreams, irritability, headaches, worsening depression, muscle aches, and dizziness. During antidepressant rehab, your therapist can help you taper off your antidepressant use when necessary.
The next steps
If you are struggling with antidepressant addiction, we at Linwood House are here to help. We offer expert care in a healing environment designed to make the start of your journey to recovery from antidepressant addiction as successful as possible.
Contact us today to begin your recovery journey. We look forward to hearing from you.