Antidepressants (SSRIs) Misuse and Addiction

What are Antidepressants?

Seratonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) are a class of prescription medications approved for the treatment of depression and anxiety. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, but researchers believe in that in some individuals, these medications delay the speed at which the body’s naturally produced neurotransmitter Seratonin is reabsorbed, therefore prolonging the Seratonin’s naturally occurring pleasant effects.

What are Antidepressants Used for?

SSRI antidepressants are used to treat depression and anxiety, after non-pharmacological interventions such as lifestyle changes, stress management, and therapy or counseling have not helped alleviate the individual’s symptoms.

What are the Side Effects of Antidepressants?

There are a wide-range of side effects than can occur with antidepressants. Mild physical side-effects include nausea, dry-mouth, mild lethargy, or mild agitation, and these frequently resolve fairly quickly. More serious side effects include sexual side effects, mood swings, rashes, tics, stomach upset, agitation, profound lethargy, and in some cases, suicidal thinking and/or suicide. Some SSRIs are also considered significantly dangerous for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and prenatal exposure.

Signs of Antidepressant Abuse

SSRIs are not frequently abused, as they do not produce any of the qualities that characterise substances of abuse. Additionally, SSRIs do not work immediately. They require daily doses for up to four weeks before the individual may recognize any change in symptoms. One possible way in which antidepressants have been misused is by individuals who have other substance abuse issues and are seeking to alleviate the side-effects of those substances by taking a prescribed antidepressant or other mood management medication.

Health Risks of Antidepressant Abuse 

There is not currently scientific research demonstrating long-term antidepressant use risks, although individuals may build up tolerances and experience ongoing side-effects during the course of use. Using antidepressants to alleviate the side effects of other substances is considered by some practitioners to be misuse. Some antidepressants pose risks to a developing fetus and babies that are breastfeeding. Additionally, there are certain medical conditions such as a potentially fatal condition known as Seratonin Syndrome that can occur with antidepressant use. Some antidepressants have been identified as having a higher potential for addiction than others.

Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms

Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms can include minor physical symptoms such as stomach upset, headaches, and agitation or lethargy. Psychological symptoms of withdrawal may include severe mood disturbance, severe agitation, depression, suicidal thinking, and death from suicide. Individuals needing to discontinue antidepressant use should do so under the careful direction and supervision of a medical professional.

Treatment for Antidepressant Addiction at Castle Craig

Frequently, individuals with substance abuse issues have been prescribed antidepressants as a means of addressing their other substance use concerns. As part of our comprehensive treatment program, Castle Craig assists individuals who have been inappropriately prescribed antidepressants (either in use or dosage) in safely discontinuing the use of these medications under careful supervision, while engaging in comprehensive treatment to address the underlying substance abuse and related issues.

Contact us to get help for antidepressant misuse.