Our understanding of mental health is steadily increasing. This means that more people are seeking treatment to deal with serious issues like anxiety and depression. Sure, antidepressants are the leading and the most popular treatment for a number of disorders but unfortunately, various risk factors are attached to them.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the number of people using the antidepressants as a way of dealing with mental health issues is on the rise. They state that the number of Americans taking antidepressants increased by almost 65% between 1999 and 2014. This shows that the use of antidepressants is probably more common than most of us realize.
These findings raise different kinds of concerns as the cases of antidepressant addiction are becoming more common. Addiction to antidepressants is one of the biggest causes of concern right now. With the increasing use of these prescription drugs, it is logical to question their pros and cons.
In order to understand the addictive properties of antidepressants, first, it is important to know what antidepressants are, how they work and what makes them addictive in the first place. Scroll down to read all you need to about antidepressants, then decide for yourself if they are truly addictive in nature or not.
What are Antidepressants?
‘Antidepressants’ is a broad term that encompasses a number of drugs and medicines that are usually prescribed to people struggling with mental health. Basically, it is the kind of medication that is given to the patients of depressive disorders to reduce the symptoms by correcting the chemical imbalances in their brain. These tablets work to correct the hormonal and chemical imbalances in the body to elevate mood and control the behavior of the users.
These medicines work well for a number of disorders including depression. Other than that, antidepressants are often used in the treatment of mental conditions like panic attacks, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Furthermore, they can be combined with other medicines to deal with medical issues like premenstrual dysphoric disorder, headaches, smoking cessation, chronic pains, and sleep issues.
Types of Antidepressants
Although there are a number of categories of antidepressants, we have compiled a list of the ones that are most commonly used nowadays.
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Noradrenaline and Specific Serotonergic Antidepressants (NASSAs)
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
How Antidepressants Work?
How we feel and react to certain stimuli depends largely on the chemicals and hormones that are naturally produced by the body. Sometimes the ratio of these brain chemicals and hormones can get off balance, which messes up your mood, your emotions, and can even affect how you perceive normal situations. To put it simply, an antidepressant works by balancing the chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain to improve its overall functioning.
Antidepressants and Addiction
A study carried out in New Zealand revealed that a significant number of people on antidepressants believe the drug to be addictive. More than half of them reported having experienced withdrawal symptoms.
To be precise, out of the 1,367 people who filled out the study, 54.9% reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms, while only 25.1% complained that the effects were serious enough to have required treatment. With statistics like this, it is difficult to overlook the potentially addictive nature of antidepressants.
Becoming dependent on antidepressants after years of use is one thing, but some people abuse this medicine on purpose. Although antidepressants do not induce a euphoric effect like most drugs that are taken for recreational purposes, some people still try them out for fun.
A common misconception is that because an antidepressant can improve mood, its high doses must work to induce a euphoric effect. What people need to understand is that this is not how this drug works. In fact, misuse of antidepressants is extremely dangerous and can even be fatal.
Some people try to mix antidepressants with other drugs and alcohol. This is even more dangerous. Combining antidepressants with alcohol can cause a whole new lot of problems like intense sedation, impaired coordination, dangerously high blood pressure, and fatal overdose. Moreover, depression and anxiety usually get worse when antidepressants are mixed with alcohol.
Some common signs of antidepressant overdose include confusion, fainting, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, uncontrollable shaking or shivering, and impaired coordination. If you ever encounter these symptoms or see someone struggling like this after taking antidepressants, it is advisable to contact a doctor immediately.
Keep in mind that researchers are yet to finalize whether antidepressants are truly addictive or not, but it is important to realize that they surely train your brain to act in a certain way. Therefore, suddenly discontinuing the use of antidepressants can be dangerous. If you quit your antidepressants without consulting with a specialist you are likely to experience severe withdrawal effects.
This makes it imperative to seek help if you plan on stopping your antidepressant medication. One easy way is to slowly decrease the daily dose of your medicine. But do not forget to check in with your doctor before cutting down the doses. Eventually, your body will get used to the low dose, making it easier for you to quit your antidepressants completely.
On the other hand, if you think that your antidepressant consumption has taken over your life and it seems impossible to quit, it might be the right time to contact an addiction specialist. Seek help from a medical facility like Arizona Addiction Recovery Center to overcome your antidepressant dependency in no time. Our goal is to ensure your recovery process is as easy and effective as possible.
Remember, antidepressants are for dealing with mental issues and that is all they should be used for. Don’t let a tablet rule your life.
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