Antidepressant Addiction and Abuse North Jersey Recovery Center - A young man is meeting with an addiction therapist to ask: "Are antidepressants addictive?"

What is Antidepressant Addiction and Abuse?

If you or your loved one suffer from depression, you may wonder: are antidepressants addictive?

And even if they are not addictive, can you still be affected by antidepressant abuse?

These are important questions to answer, since millions of people take these medications each day.

As it turns out, antidepressants are not addictive.

However, in some ways, they can mimic the effects of addictive substances.

For this reason, antidepressants are sometimes potential substances people turn to for prescription drug abuse.

What’s more, a significant percentage of the people who abuse these medications are addicted to something else.

The experts at North Jersey Recovery Center will help you uncover these additional problems.

We will also provide you with a recovery program that fits your specific situation.

Are Antidepressants Addictive?

What Are Antidepressants?

All antidepressants are medications designed to ease the effects serious depression.

However, not all of these medications are the same.

In fact, there are multiple types of antidepressants.

There are also multiple forms of medication within each category.

Types of depression meds include:

  • SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • SNRIs, or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
  • Bupropion
  • MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Tricyclics
  • Tetracyclics

Each type of medication fights depression symptoms in its own way.

Today, SSRIs are the most widely used group of antidepressants.

They include common options such as citalopram, paroxetine, fluoxetine and sertraline.

Examples of the SNRI group include duloxetine and venlafaxine.

Bupropion is a single medication that works differently than other antidepressants.

MAOIs, tricyclics and tetracyclics are older types of depression meds.

They are not used as often today because of the number of side effects they can produce.

Still, some people still rely on these medications for their everyday depression treatment.



Antidepressants and Addiction

People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol suffer from two kinds of substance dependence. First is physical dependence. This condition is defined by a physical need within your brain and body to take a certain substance. If you fail to meet that need, your brain will react and produce unpleasant symptoms.

The second form of dependence is psychological. It occurs when you develop a mental or emotional need to take a substance. It is this need that drives the dangerous, dysfunctional changes in behavior found in addicted people.

Do antidepressants trigger physical dependence? Research indicates that the answer to that question is usually no. Most people who take these medications do not develop physical dependence. However, some people do experience this form of dependence.

What about psychological dependence? There is no evidence that you can develop this problem. For this reason, depression med users do not change their behavior in harmful ways like people affected by addiction.


Symptoms of Antidepressant Withdrawal

What happens to people who withdraw from one of these medications?Symptoms you may experience include:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Chills and muscle aches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Unusual feelings of anxiousness
  • Irritable states of mind
  • Feelings in your body that resemble electric shocks

In addition, your symptoms of depression may reappear. You are most likely to experience withdrawal if you:

  • Quit using your medication all at once
  • Have been on your medication for more than a month or so

It can take several weeks for your withdrawal symptoms to fade away.

Even Though Antidepressants Are Not Addictive, You Can Abuse Them

You can abuse a medication without being addicted to it. For example, you may take your prescribed antidepressant more often than your doctor ordered. You can also take it in larger doses than your doctor ordered. In addition, you can use a medication that was not prescribed to you. Experts define all of these behaviors as cases of prescription drug abuse or misuse.
Why do people abuse depression meds? There are a range of potential reasons. Some people think that they will get a bigger treatment benefit if they take more of their prescription. That may be especially tempting for those affected by the sometimes crippling symptoms of depression.
In addition, some people abuse these medications for recreational purposes. Can you get high off antidepressants? Yes, you can. But not all medications produce the same recreational effects. Many antidepressants produce effects that resemble stimulants. Examples of such meds include:

  • SSRIs
  • SNRIs
  • MAOIs
  • Bupropion

Bupropion and SNRIs can also produce the extreme form of pleasure called euphoria. The same is true for tricyclics.

Possible Consequences of Abuse

You should be aware that abuse of your depression medication can put your health at serious risk. Depending on the medication, the list of possible consequences includes:

  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • A rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Damage to your heart muscle tissue
  • Kidney damage
  • Psychosis
  • Delirium


Antidepressant Users and Dual Diagnosis

It is common for people affected by depression to develop problems with addiction. In fact, more than half of all people with major depression have serious drug or alcohol issues. When addiction is combined with mental illness, the result is something called dual diagnosis.

If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you have higher chances abusing your depression medication. The same is true if you have a past history of addiction. For this reason, experts recommend that doctors screen all depression patients for substance problems. In addition, doctors pay special attention to signs of medication abuse in people with these problems.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you are affected by dual diagnosis, you must seek specialized help to support your recovery. Why? In this situation, you cannot just get help for your depression. You must also get help for your substance problems. If you do not address both issues, your chances of recovering from depression drop. At the same time, the odds of substance recovery also drop.

During dual diagnosis, you will likely keep take a depression med. In addition, you will receive treatment for your specific form of addiction. That treatment may include medication. It may also include a specific form of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

At North Jersey Recovery Center, we are dedicated to the effective treatment of dual diagnosis. Whatever the source of your addiction, we provide treatment options that will help you achieve sobriety. We will also provide you with a detailed treatment plan for your depression.



Find Out More About Questions Such As Are Antidepressants Addictive

Antidepressant medications are widely prescribed in the U.S.

These medications come in several different types or categories.

There are multiple treatment options within each category.

Are antidepressants addictive?

No. However, that does not mean that use of these medications is always trouble-free.

Some people abuse their prescribed treatments.

Others commit abuse by taking those treatments without a prescription.

Can you get high off antidepressants?

This is indeed possible.

In fact, some people abuse these medications in order to feel a “high.”

Others partake in abuse for other reasons.

That includes the desire to keep depression symptoms at bay.

No matter why you abuse a depression medication, the behavior is dangerous.

Not all people experience serious harm.

Nevertheless, you run a risk of developing severe health problems in several vital organs.

Depression is often associated with substance problems.

This overlap is referred to as dual diagnosis.

The presence of dual diagnosis may increase your chances of abusing your medication.

In addition, you will need specialized care to recover your health.

That care must address your depression and your drug or alcohol problems.

For more information on depression and medication abuse, contact NJRC today.

We are also your reliable resource for dual diagnosis treatment.

Our in-house professionals focus on custom solutions to mental health and addiction issues.

This personalized approach adds greatly to your ease and comfort during treatment.

It also maximizes your ability to return to a stable day-to-day lifestyle.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by njrc