Antidepressant Addiction and Abuse

When it comes to focusing on the topic of antidepressants, we do not usually look at it in a negative light.

Antidepressants are commonly advised and prescribed by medical professionals, yet more and more are people speaking up about their concerns about the substance. In this article, we will be exploring antidepressants and questioning if they really are promoting health.

What Are Antidepressants?

An antidepressant is a type of medication prescribed by medical professionals, and given to those suffering from illnesses such as depression and anxiety. After first being developed in the 1950s, antidepressants have grown tremendously being a top choice of medication prescribed by doctors.

By taking this medication, the chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) will balance which will ultimately have an impact on a person’s mood.

What are Some Different Types Of Antidepressants?

Antidepressants fall into two categories: there are SNRIs (serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors) and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). It is important to take the correct form of medication as they differ depending on the specific health concerns.


SNRIs are for those showing major signs of depression, OCD, anxiety, ADHD, chronic neuropathic pain, social phobia, and more. What this antidepressant does is raises the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine which work to stabilize a person’s mood.


SSRIs are for those needing treatment for depression. This antidepressant works differently. Instead of raising levels, this medicine blocks the absorption of serotonin in the brain. By doing this, the brain cells are able to give and receive messages easier which allows a person’s mood to stabilize.

Are There Any Negative Side Effects Of Antidepressants?

Like all drugs, antidepressants do indeed come with some side effects. Some cases are more strong than others (for example, side effects of SSRIs are mild) so how you react to antidepressants is not set in stone.

Some examples of side effects are:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

What are the Positives of Taking Antidepressants?

Despite the controversy, there are many positives to taking antidepressants making it one of the leading medications for those with depression and anxiety.

If you are someone struggling and contemplating antidepressants, it is advisable to first research the medication as there are plenty of mixed views.

But, with this said, that is not to say that antidepressants should be feared as there is much good that comes from taking the substance.

Are Antidepressants Safe?

When it comes to taking medication, especially one you are not familiar with, the biggest concern can be safety. With antidepressants, however, it is completely safe. Many medications restrict certain vulnerable people from taking it, but antidepressants are so safe that no one is restricted.

No matter if you are pregnant or someone with an underlying condition, antidepressants are safe to take.

How Effective Are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are very effective, making them the number one treatment for depression, anxiety, and others alike. When taking this medication, people responded very positively, even before it was presented to the public.

During the testing process, volunteers are blindly given the drug – one real, the other a placebo. 

When configuring the results, it was found that a considerable amount of people reacted more positively to the real medicine than the placebo.

With a placebo, many people will make themselves believe that they are feeling the effect of a pill, so using this method is a great way of retrieving accurate data.

Do Antidepressants Improve Lifestyle?

People have found their life has improved dramatically after taking antidepressants. For those who are depressed or struggle with anxiety, they have felt that taking antidepressants have led to a positive change in their emotions and the way they feel.

They do not let negative effects impact them the way it used to, their levels of concentration have improved, they feel more balanced.

Antidepressants and Addiction

Despite there being plenty of positive reasons for introducing antidepressants into your life, there is a current argument of antidepressants being addictive. With so many positive responses, it can be surprising to hear this assumption but it is true that many people have felt the effects of addiction.

But does this mean that the antidepressant itself is addictive?

What Is Addiction?

Before looking at the link between addiction and antidepressants, it is necessary to acknowledge what addiction means.

Addiction, by definition, is a brain disorder in which an individual has no control over their urges. Addiction can be harmful if not controlled and is commonly associated with smoking, gambling, alcohol, and drugs.

What many people fail to understand is that addiction cannot be put into one category for anyone can form addictions to anything. People can be addicted to food, dieting, exercise, and, in this case, prescribed medication.

Are Antidepressants Addictive or Able to Be Abused?

The answer to this question is not straightforward, for antidepressants themselves are not addictive. However, this is not to say that people cannot form a dependency on the substance.

The reason why people view antidepressants as addictive is because of the reaction some people experience after stopping this scheduled dose of medication. 

To suddenly stop taking antidepressants can lead to withdrawal symptoms, and this is a cause for concern.

Antidepressants are made to help aid people’s health, not have them hooked to the point of experiencing withdrawal. Because of this knowledge, many people are hesitant when it comes to using antidepressants.

What should be noted is that the symptoms a person may feel do not compare to that of other substances such as alcohol or cigarettes. Antidepressants do not hold any euphoric properties nor create an addictive rush, so you will not find people struggling to hold up their daily routines because of it.

As well as this, you will not experience any cravings either. Based on all of this data, although people can still rely on antidepressants, it is not dangerous enough to be a huge concern.

How are Antidepressants and Substance Abuse Related?

When prescribed antidepressants, your doctor will tell you the dose you should be taking, when you should be taking it and how often. By doing this, you will feel the effects of the medication without taking too much. 

Unfortunately, there are some people who choose to abuse antidepressants even though it does not lead to any sense of euphoria or rush. There are a few reasons why people choose to abuse antidepressants.

Why Do People Abuse Antidepressants?

One reason for abusing antidepressants is out of desperation. Every day, people are struggling more and more with their mental health.

Whether their anxiety restricts them from socializing or their depression stops them from seeing the positive that life has to offer, mental health strikes us all. Mental health comes in all different forms and, unfortunately, there are some who struggle much worse than others. 

Those who are really struggling may feel that the only way to get better is to ignore the doctor’s orders and increase their dose of antidepressants, therefore abusing the substance. In this case, this is not intentional but is done simply out of desperation.

Please be sure to contact your doctor if you feel that the antidepressants are not enough. Your doctor will access this and then safely increase your level of medication.

Can Antidepressants Make You High?

Another reason why people abuse antidepressants is that they want to achieve that “high”. Of course, with antidepressants, this is not something that can happen but people still misuse them. 

Antidepressants are slow burners meaning you will not instantly feel happy after taking the medication. It can take a number of days for the medication to take full effect.

Unfortunately, because of this people will begin to fix antidepressants with other addictive substances such as alcohol and drugs.

This is a very unhealthy way of living and can create great damage. 

Moreover, with over half of the population struggling with some form of mental health, they are easily able to receive antidepressants and mix it with whatever they desire in hopes of feeling better.

Antidepressant Addiction (1)Can You Overdose on Antidepressants?

Although not harmful by itself, it is very possible to overdose on antidepressants, particularly when paired with other substances such as drugs and alcohol.

Taking higher amounts of the medication prescribed can very easily damage the body and cause harm (that is why doctors guide you through what amount should be taken). Mixing this with alcohol and drugs further heightens the risk of overdose.

Unfortunately, you do not have to be irresponsible with the antidepressant to overdose. Some people take all of their medication correctly, and stick to what the doctor has advised, yet still overdose (yet this is rare).

Furthermore, some people may take antidepressants from a friend or someone they know. This is not a risk you should take. Doing this may shock the body’s system and lead to an overdose. 

It is important to be careful when taking antidepressants as it can be easy to abuse, even without realizing it. Do not share medication. Watch your alcohol intake after taking your daily antidepressant dose.

Signs Of Antidepressant Overdose

It is important to be aware of the signs when overdosing, especially for those who did not intend to misuse the substance. Upon seeing the signs, you may think that these are simply side effects of the medication but it may be that you are overdosing. Watch out for these signs and respond quickly by calling 911.

Effects of overdosing on antidepressants include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Shaking limbs
  • Problems with vision

How To Tell If You Are Addicted to Antidepressants

Addiction is very possible with antidepressants but, as established, this doesn’t have anything to do with the medication itself but the person taking it.

Users can sometimes feel a dependency on the medication and this leads to them wanting to take more than they should in order to feel satisfied. With this said, not everyone can tell that they are addicted until it is too late.

If you are worried about a loved one or are concerned about your own dependency on antidepressants, refer to the list below highlighting all the signs of addiction in a person.

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when away from the medication
  • Showing signs of obsession with antidepressants
  • Developing a tolerance (the recommended dose provided by the doctor has no working effect like it used to)
  • Using antidepressants in dangerous settings (e.g., using antidepressants when out drinking alcohol)
  • Taking more antidepressants than advised for an extended period of time 

Is there Antidepressant Addiction Treatment?

Any addiction, no matter what it is, can be enough to take over someone’s life. Because of this, there are many ways to get help and help you through your addiction.

Rehab for Antidepressant Addiction

One method is rehabilitation, particularly inpatient rehab. Through this, the addict will be under 24-hour medical care, placing them in a safe environment away from any stress and from the addicting drug. 

This type of rehabilitation can last anywhere between 28 days to several months and is a great tool for those using antidepressants at extreme levels (mixing with drugs and alcohol, overdosing, etc.).

Depression Relapse Prevention

Another option is to work with yourself to find ways to handle your depression without only relying on antidepressants. If you are noticing a reliance, you should be able to handle this in the early stages of addiction. 

A good move is to speak to a therapist. Antidepressants will help to handle your emotions and mood but what really helps is to speak to a health professional, especially when you find yourself depending on the medication.

You can also pick up hobbies, change your diet by eating healthy, or even get a pet to keep you company.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have discovered that like other medications out there, antidepressants can indeed be addictive. However, it is important to note that this is mainly due to the individual’s needs and not because of the medication itself. 

Addiction is a powerful thing that can alter a person’s life for the worse, so it is important to see the signs and do something about the issue at hand.

If you are someone who is dependent on antidepressants, seek help from a medical professional before it turns into an addiction.