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Antidepressants: Side Effects, Addiction, Withdrawal & Treatment
When it comes to antidepressants, there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. Some people think that antidepressants are addictive, while others believe that they are safe and can be taken without any worry.
In this blog post, we will explore the effects of antidepressants on the body, both positive and negative. We will also discuss addiction, withdrawal, overdose, detox, and treatment options for those who are struggling with antidepressant addiction.
What Are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. These drugs are designed to address depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. There are many different types of antidepressants available on the market, and each one works in a slightly different way.
Some of the most common antidepressants are:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- tricyclic antidepressants
- serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors
Some of the known brand names are Celexa, Paxil, Prozac, Nardil, Tofranil, Elavil, and more. Street names include blue bullets, busters, barbies, Christmas rolls, Mexican reds, Mickey Finn, and Backwards.
What Do Antidepressants Look Like?
In terms of physical appearance, these drugs are available in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. Depending on the specific antidepressant, they may be available as a pill, capsule, or even a liquid.
What Are Antidepressants Used For?
Antidepressants are used to treat a variety of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. They can also be used to medicate nervousness, pain, and difficulty sleeping. There are also cases where they have been seen to be effective in alleviating ADHD conditions.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a widely used drug to treat depression. Samples of this medication are Paxil, Prozac, and Celexa. It inhibits the brain from taking in serotonin which in turn balances one’s emotions.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are mainly used to medicate obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), abrupt mood changes, anxiety, and changes in mood due to the menopausal period. Examples of this drug are Cymbalta and Effexor.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are also used to alleviate depression, restlessness, and stress. Examples are Pamelor, Elavil, and Tofranil.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are the medications first prescribed to patients before allowing them to take SNRIs and SSRIs. Examples are Parnate and Nardil.
How Do Antidepressants Work?
The active ingredients of these medications target the brain through the alterations of the concentrations of some brain chemicals. These brain chemicals which influence brain communication and mood are dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline.
Serotonin has a significant impact on the brain’s activity. This brain chemical is also responsible for balancing behavior and mood. Overall, these medications aim to balance the mood and behavior of a person.
How Long Before You Can Feel the Effects of Antidepressants?
It usually takes two to four weeks for people to feel the effects of antidepressants. However, it may take longer for some people.
Some people may not feel the effects of antidepressants until they have been taking them for a few months. And, sometimes, a person’s symptoms may worsen before they start to feel better.
If you are not seeing any improvements in your symptoms after a few weeks, you should talk to your doctor. They may want to adjust your dosage or try a different medication altogether.
How Long Do Antidepressants Stay In Your System?
The duration of these drugs in the body is influenced by several factors. These include metabolism, age, organ function, immune system, lifestyle, and health status as well as current treatments you’re on.
Each brand of these drugs has a specific half-life inside the body. Half-life is the time it takes for the original amount of any substance to reduce into half.
For instance, Venlafaxine (Effexor) has a half-life of 5 hours. So if you have 10 mg of it, after five hours it reduces to 5 milligrams. Other examples of common antidepressants and their respective half-lives are the following: Prozac (4 to 6 days), Celexa (36 hours), Paxil (24 hours), Zoloft (26 hours), and Lexapro (27 to 32 hours).
What are the Short and Long-term Effects of Antidepressants?
The side effects of these drugs can be both short and long-term. Its common short-term side effects include numbness, an abnormal change in appetite, difficulty sleeping, and vomiting.
Whereas, its long-term effects are the following: impotency, birth defects, suicidal behavior, and lack of enthusiasm.
Are Antidepressants Addictive?
Generally speaking, antidepressants are not considered addictive. Because there is no euphoric “high” associated with taking them, as there is with drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine, people are not likely to abuse them.
However, some people may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking antidepressants suddenly. These symptoms can push people to keep taking the medication, even though they may not need it anymore.
Some people abuse these drugs because they can be easily accessed compared to other prescription medications. Some mix these drugs with other substances or alcohol to enhance their effects.
If you cannot stop taking antidepressants or if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit, it is important to speak to your doctor. They may be able to help you wean off the medication slowly so that you can avoid these symptoms.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms?
If you have been taking antidepressants for a long time, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them suddenly.
Some of its common withdrawal symptoms include weight loss, abdominal cramps, uncontrolled sweating, hypersensitivity to sounds, quick mood changes, and unhealthy sleeping habits.
What Causes Antidepressant Overdose? Signs of an Overdose
If antidepressants are not considered addictive, can you overdose on them? The answer is yes. An overdose usually happens when people take more than the recommended dosage of these drugs. It can also happen if you mix antidepressants with other drugs or alcohol.
The signs and symptoms of an antidepressant overdose may vary depending on the specific drug involved. But, in general, you may feel nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, blurred vision, and confusion.
What Should You Do If Someone Is Overdosing?
Seek immediate help if you think someone is overdosing on antidepressants. You should call emergency services right away and stay with the person until medical help arrives.
How Do You Treat Antidepressant Addiction? Detox & Treatment
While many believe that addiction to antidepressant drugs is not possible, it can and does happen especially if you abuse the meds along with other drugs.
Before beginning any treatment program, however, it is important to detox from the drug. This can be done in a medical setting where you will be monitored by healthcare professionals. Choosing the right addiction treatment center is essential.
Final Thoughts: Addressing Antidepressants Abuse and Addiction
Antidepressants can be very helpful for people struggling with depression and other mental health disorders. However, there may come a point when you need to stop taking them. It is important to speak with a doctor first before doing so.
If you or someone you know is struggling with antidepressant abuse, contact us today. We can help you find the treatment you need to get on the road to recovery.