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Antidepressant addiction is a complex issue that deserves attention and understanding. As antidepressants are commonly prescribed medications for conditions like depression and anxiety, there’s a growing concern regarding their potential for addiction and abuse. While these medications serve a crucial purpose in managing mental health disorders, their long-term use and the potential for dependence pose significant challenges. Understanding the nature of antidepressant addiction, recognizing its symptoms, and implementing effective treatment strategies are essential steps toward addressing this issue.

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Addiction to Antidepressants

In some cases, a patient can abuse antidepressants by mixing them with other substances or alcohol. Some patients also start abusing the drugs by taking them in huge quantities, to feel the effect of the drug, as antidepressants work over a few days or weeks. Most people do not develop addictions but it is still possible to do so. Many professionals argue that a person cannot become addicted to antidepressant drugs as they would with heroin or opioids. However, it is possible to develop a physical dependence on antidepressant medicines, especially for those who use them without prescriptions. Many side effects are associated with the misuse of antidepressants. These include; stomach problems, diarrhea, uterine bleeding, muscle spasms, nausea, cramps, loss of motor control, lack of joy, apathy, fatigue, etc. In some instances, it can cause suicidal tendencies and can also lead to seizures. This is why most antidepressants come with black box warnings.

List of Antidepressant Drugs

Different types of antidepressant addiction can be categorized based on how they work. A few of the most commonly used antidepressants today include;

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors or MAOIs

These are some of the first antidepressants to be made; they work by blocking the monoamine oxidase enzyme. This way, the enzyme can no longer block neurotransmitters in the brain and freely flow throughout the brain. These types of antidepressants don’t work with certain foods or medications; therefore, it is important to monitor the person using them.

Tricyclic Antidepressants or TCAs

TCAs were some of the earliest antidepressants. These also block the brain from absorbing norepinephrine and serotonin. It is reserved for those patients who are resistant to modern antidepressants.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs & Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors or SNRIs

SSRIs and SNRIs are two of the most commonly used medications today. SSRIs are the most popular antidepressants. Both of these have fewer side effects as compared to older medications. SNRIs are also used to treat menopause, anxiety, and fibromyalgia syndrome. Both SNRIs and SSRIs block the brain from absorbing serotonin. SNRI also blocks the absorption of norepinephrine.

Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors

NDRIs also block the brain from absorbing norepinephrine and dopamine. As they are readily present in the brain, this provides feelings of well-being.

Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person who abuses antidepressants stops taking them, they experience an antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. This is much more prevalent in the older forms of antidepressants. A person feels the withdrawal symptoms depending on how much they have abused an antidepressant in the past. One of the most common symptoms is depression. Another one is the risk of suicide. This is why it is very essential to monitor those who are undergoing withdrawal. Other than this, one should not go cold turkey or decide to stop abruptly. It is better to stop over some time by limiting the dosages. Other common symptoms include; headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, nausea, vivid dreams, and flu-like symptoms. These are just common symptoms that a person may experience but different antidepressants have different symptoms, so some people might experience different things.


Treatment for antidepressant addiction varies from person to person. Many factors influence the treatment these include:

  • Whether the person was taking prescription drugs
  • The amount they were consuming
  • If they were consuming the drug with any other substance

For some people, the treatment is fairly simple; they go to the doctor who tells them how to limit their dosage over a few weeks. Others require therapy sessions; these include group or individual therapy to help them create lifestyle changes. If the person has a severe drug addiction, he may opt for inpatient or outpatient services If you are struggling with an antidepressant addiction or think that you might be abusing antidepressants, it is best to get help. You don’t need to suffer alone as we are here to help you out. If you have any questions or queries, please reach out to us, and we will do our best to assist you. Our center offers a wide range of services, including therapies that can help you feel better and make a lifestyle change. Recovery is always possible if you are willing to make an effort. We are here to support you if you decide to get help.


Valerie Tecci, Program Director

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