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Dangers of Antidepressant Abuse

For many people who are prescribed them, Antidepressants are an important medication. When taken as prescribed by a professional, Antidepressants can be incredibly useful to individuals who suffer from depression. Of course, like any substance, Antidepressants can be quite dangerous if abused. Abuse of Antidepressants isn’t incredibly common as most are not addictive, though it does happen.

Wellbutrin is prone to abuse, for example, most likely because it is a reuptake inhibitor of Norepinephrine and Dopamine. It is known that excess Dopamine can cause feelings of euphoria. This is an anomaly, though, as most Antidepressants are reuptake inhibitors of one or some combination of the neurotransmitters Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Noradrenaline, and Acetylcholine.

Abuse of Antidepressants can be habit-forming and can, regardless of the type, be detrimental to a person’s health. In rare cases, especially when abused with other substances, it can be fatal. Some long-term consequences include: heart problems, high blood pressure, impotence, and kidney failure.

Types of Antidepressant

There is are many different types of Antidepressants. Older types of Antidepressants tend to cause a host of unpleasant side effects, such as extreme sedation or drowsiness. They can also cause problems with the liver or kidneys.

The older types of Antidepressants are increasingly seldom used. These include MAOIs and tricyclic Antidepressants. Some older types have begun to be used for other purposes, such as sleep aids.

Newer and more commonly prescribed Antidepressants tend to be either SSRIs (Select Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), SNRIs (Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors), or a non-typical Antidepressant such as Wellbutrin. SSRIs include the most famous of Antidepressants, including Prozac, Lexapro, and Paxil. SNRIs include Cymbalta.

Antidepressant Effects

Different types of Antidepressants have different mechanisms of action. All Antidepressants aim at the same goal, namely to ease symptoms of depression. Some Antidepressants also work to ease anxiety, pain and symptoms of OCD.
Newer Antidepressants tend to have fewer side effects than older versions. SNRIs are known to help with systemic pain from conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. SSRIs help with depression while causing fewer side effects than it their predecessors.
Older Antidepressants are phasing out for treatment of depression due to their side effects. MAOIs are counter indicated for nearly every other medication on the market. Tricyclic Antidepressants are famous for causing severe side effects including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and REM sleep.

Warning signs of Antidepressant abuse in a loved one

Substance abuse is a serious condition that can lead to devastating consequences, including death. Identify the signs of substance abuse can be exceptionally difficult. For starters, the signs of abuse may vary significantly between substances. Alcohol, the most widely abused substance, manifests differently than many prescription or illicit drugs. There are some general signs and symptoms of abuse that you can look out for. These include:

adderall side effects and warning signs

Withdrawing from society, friends and family. Substance abuse can be extremely time consuming and illicit feelings of guilt and shame. For example, someone who drank too much the night before may wake up in pain and unable to attend scheduled events.

adderall side effects and warning signs

Financial problems are often associated with substance abuse. The monetary cost of maintaining a substance abuse problem can quickly add up. Alcohol, especially if consumed while in restaurants or bars, can quickly run hundreds of dollars for one night.

adderall side effects and warning signs

Frequent illness or physical ailments preventing your loved one from participating in events he or she normally attends is another warning sign. Substance abuse may cause such issues as headaches, fatigue, mania or just about any other hindersome symptom.

Factual Dangers: Antidepressant

Antidepressants are generally safe and effective when taken as prescribed. The newer drugs are generally safe and one would have to consciously try to abuse them past the point where they are safe. Older Antidepressants may have more potential for abuse, they are becoming increasing rare in the high doses required to treat depression. When used for insomnia, these older Antidepressants are often prescribed in doses one one-hundredth the strength used for depression.

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Fast Facts: Antidepressant

In this section we will spotlight key facts about the featured substance.The infographic series highlights the devestating effects that come withsubstance abuse, not only for the user but everyone connected to them.


adderall abuse facts

Between 2007 and 2012, the number of adults with ADHD prescriptions tripled.

Stimulant-related emergency-room visits have tripled in recent years.

adderall abuse facts
adderall abuse facts

Fifteen percent of college students have illegally ingested Antidepressant, Ritalin or another stimulant in the past year.

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true stories of


Tanner was prescribed ADHD medication, like Antidepressant, and became addicted at nine years old. His disease progressed quickly, but one day he had enough and reached out for help.

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Antidepressant Detox

Antidepressants are chronically debated. For millions of people, Antidepressants are nothing short of a life-saving substance that has given them the ability to live again. These highly debated substances can help people regain their ability to function. Depression is a serious condition, which most sufferers still remain untreated in the United States. Some estimates put the percentage of people with depression who are getting treatment at around one quarter of all depression sufferers.

Antidepressants are not typically meant to be used for the remainder of one’s life. Eventually, people stop taking these prescription drugs, with mild to severe resistance. Some Antidepressants can be quickly stopped. Wellbutrin and some other Antidepressants can essentially be stopped suddenly or within a few weeks with few or no major issues.

Other Antidepressants create such severe withdrawal symptoms that it could take months to a year of slowly tapering off the drug to fully wean off. Cymbalta is one of the more difficult Antidepressants to stop using. Detoxing off this Antidepressant is becoming increasingly well known as hazardous and painful. Each Antidepressant comes with its own common issues and each person reacts to these drugs differently. If you have any questions about stopping the use of an Antidepressant, communicate with your doctor before changing anything.

Antidepressants during Rehab Treatment

Dual-diagnosis is one of the most common issues seen by addiction rehab facilities. Dual-diagnosis, also known as co-occurring disorders, is the presence of substance abuse disorder and another psychical or mental illness occurring simultaneously. Many people who struggle with substance abuse issues also suffer from another mental disorder, the most common of which is depression.

Depression is a serious, life-threatening illness that affects people of all races, ages, and demographics. According to the National Institute of Health, NIH, approximately 16.1 million American adults, accounting for 6.7 percent of the population, experienced depression in 2015. People with depression are statistically prone to self-medicate, often resulting in abuse of substances and addiction. The attempts to ease one’s own suffering with substances such as Alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drugs often causes the depression to worsen.

When a person with dual-diagnosis presents in a rehab center, the medical professionals will often start the individual on Antidepressants. Timing, dosage and type of Antidepressant will vary; however, Antidepressants are commonly used to treat the underlying issue of depression that helped fuel the person’s substance abuse problem. Antidepressants are ideal as they raise people’s general mood without producing euphoria.

Intervention for Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and depression are common co-occurring disorders. A person may deal with his or her depression symptoms by numbing or countering the low mood with Alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit drugs. Depression can cause people to experience low mood, lack of energy, lack of motivation, systemic pain, and suicidal ideations. It is no wonder why someone who reach for something to ease his or her suffering.

Substance abuse and addiction are mental health problems. The medical community classifies addiction as compulsive drug seeking and using despite the presence of negative consequences. People who suffer from substance abuse, depression or both need the help of friends and family members. These diseases are each deadly by themselves, and together can be disastrous. If you suspect that a loved one is abusing substances, consider staging an intervention.

An intervention is a conversation between the individual using and at least one other close relation. It is often beneficial to utilize the expertise of a professional interventionist. It can be difficult to keep calm during such an intense and important conversation, however the presence of a professional often helps keep the conversation on track. Remember that your loved one is suffering from a mental illness and needs your love, support and guidance to find a better way.

Communicate with your Doctor

Antidepressants are not addictive in the same way other substances are. The term “addiction,” is misleading and potentially harmful when applied to Antidepressants. Addiction means that a substance is being sought and compulsively used in an effort to achieve a “high.” Since Antidepressants do not produce a high, or euphoric feeling, they are not correctly referred to as addictive.

Dependence is a possibility when it comes to antidepressants, however, again, not in the same respect as with other substances. Antidepressant dependence can be difficult to tell apart from requiring the drug for the treatment of depression. Dependence simply means that one needs the drug to feel normal or baseline. In cases of chronic depression, this is true but not due to abuse of the substance or the development of tolerance. The drug is simply still needed for the treatment of symptoms.

In many cases, the dependence on the drug simply shows the need for Antidepressants in the first place. Other therapies and tactics are advised in addition to Antidepressants, such as exercise, talk therapy, healthy diet, quality sleep, and involvement in social events. People have been known to rely solely and perhaps too much on Antidepressants. Cases where people have taken the drug for a decade are not uncommon. Some people may no longer need the Antidepressants but have become psychologically dependent on them. In such cases, the person should discuss the issues at hand with his or her doctor and plan to taper off the Antidepressant.

Seeking help for a loved one

  • Do Interventions Work?
    With the proper balance of love and genuine concern, interventions have shown to be effective.
  • Is an Intervention Necessary for an Antidepressant Addicted Loved One?
    It can be. It may take an intervention to get your loved one to understand that he or she deserves treatment.

Dependency vs. Therapeutic Dose

Antidepressants are not addictive in the same way other substances are. The term “addiction,” is misleading and potentially harmful when applied to Antidepressants. Addiction means that a substance is being sought and compulsively used in an effort to achieve a “high.” Since Antidepressants do not produce a high, or euphoric feeling, they are not correctly referred to as addictive.

Dependence is a possibility when it comes to antidepressants, however, again, not in the same respect as with other substances. Antidepressant dependence can be difficult to tell apart from requiring the drug for the treatment of depression. Dependence simply means that one needs the drug to feel normal or baseline. In cases of chronic depression, this is true but not due to abuse of the substance or the development of tolerance. The drug is simply still needed for the treatment of symptoms.

In many cases, the dependence on the drug simply shows the need for Antidepressants in the first place. Other therapies and tactics are advised in addition to Antidepressants, such as exercise, talk therapy, healthy diet, quality sleep, and involvement in social events. People have been known to rely solely and perhaps too much on Antidepressants. Cases where people have taken the drug for a decade are not uncommon. Some people may no longer need the Antidepressants but have become psychologically dependent on them. In such cases, the person should discuss the issues at hand with his or her doctor and plan to taper off the Antidepressant.

Recovery from Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is one of the most devastating and deadly conditions seen in the United States. According to the CDC, approximately one in 10 American adults suffers from substance abuse. That means that ten percent of the United States population abuses substances. Prescription drug abuse and Opioid addiction has overwhelmed headlines in recent months. With stories of people in some of the worst situations, it can be easy to compare oneself to what is seen on tv. Substance abuse comes in all shapes and sizes. The most commonly abused substance and one responsible for the most harm is Alcohol.

What few people realize is that substance abuse is often tied to untreated mental health problems. In a consumer-driven society where perfection is expected of all people always, it is easy to fall into an emotional pit. For some people, an emotional down-turn means the expression of major depression and the turn to potentially deadly mood and mind-altering substances for the relief of those symptoms. The dangers and consequences are commonly nothing short of disaster.

Whatever your story and no matter how far you have fallen, there is hope. Millions of people have been where you are and found happiness and health through working a 12-step program. 12-step programs are designed to address the symptoms and causes of substance abuse. They do not, however, treat depression and other mental illnesses. Find a doctor to treat the depression and let the 12-steps help you with the issues surrounding substance abuse.

  • Is Antidepressant Recovery Possible?
    Yes. Recovery is possible. You just need to have the willingness to change your life, have the strength to reach out and take the action needed to recover.
  • How Do I Recover from Antidepressant Addiction?
    There are many ways one could recover from Antidepressant addiction. A very effective way to recover would be to attend inpatient rehabilitation.
  • Are Antidepressant Overdoses Common?
    The rates for Antidepressant overdose has increased three-fold from 1999 to 2005 according to the CDC.
  • How Dangerous is an Antidepressant Overdose?
    An Antidepressant overdose is very dangerous. It could lead to cardiac arrest, stroke or breathing failure.

Dangers of Antidepressant Overdose

Antidepressants are great tools for healthy living. These powerful psychoactive drugs demand respect and adherence to the prescribing physician’s instructions. Taking too much of anything can be harmful and Antidepressants are no exception. An overdose occurs when more of a substance is in a person’s system than can be handled. It is possible to overdose on Antidepressants. Too many of some types of Antidepressants are more prone to causing life-threatening symptoms than others. Tricyclic Antidepressants are most frequently to blame for people winding up in the emergency room due to an overdose. These older Antidepressants account for most overdoses and deaths within the realm of Antidepressants. They are known to cause death due to cardiac complications.
SNRIs seem to have greater toxicity than SSRIs in general according to one study. This may mean that fewer SNRIs are needed to reach fatal toxicity than SSRIs. Taking large doses of either can potentially prove fatal. Doses needed to reach lethal toxicity of any Antidepressant is not a set amount and will vary from person to person. If you are concerned about a medication you are taking, make sure you are adhering to the prescribed amount and talk to your doctor.
Generally, an overdose of Antidepressants most notably affects the Central Nervous System and Heart. Overdoses can produce seizures, tremors, delirium, coma, cardiac arrhythmia, low blood pressure, involuntary muscle movements, gastrointestinal issues, weak eye muscles and dry mouth.

Depression, Antidepressants and Therapy

Recent headlines of celebrities committing suicide serves as a tragic reminder that depression is fatal and affects people across all demographics. For those who struggle with mental illness such as depression, no reminder is needed. The struggle can mean battling daily or hourly symptoms that overwhelm and detracted from the individual’s overall quality of life.

Depression can cause symptoms can include extreme fatigue, chronically low mood, mood swings, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, suicidal ideation, lack of concentration, irritability and increasing social isolation.

Some symptoms, such as irritability and social isolation can cause the depression to increasingly worsen. The more irritable and moody a person is the more others may pull away. Actively isolating oneself from friends and family can further increase feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and other depressive symptoms.

While in a depressive episode, the ability to see a way out of the low mood and other symptoms is greatly diminished. It can convincingly seem as though nothing will ever get better. Even if one believes that certain thing will help, exercise for example, the energy and motivation to engage in these activities can seem to escape a depressed person like air from the lungs.

The majority of Americans who have experienced at least one two weeks period of significantly low mood, which counts as a depressive episode, do not receive any treatment for the condition. The cause of this lack of adequate health coverage may be due to the rising costs of health insurance, the price of Antidepressants without insurance, access to care, or avoidance of getting help due to stigma surrounding mental health.

Fluoxetine, the generic version of Prozac, can cost over $250 for a one-month supply. Cymbalta can cost nearly $500 for a one-month supply at 90 milligrams a day. Then there is the doctor visit to get the prescription. Again, without insurance it could cost $100-300 per visit, on average.

Doctors should do their due diligence to ensure the health of the patient. When the costs add up, it can sometimes mean more than that individual can spare.

Financial matters explain why some people do not get the adequate care for depression, but not all. Antidepressants are not now, nor ever meant to be the sole treatment for any mental health issue. Antidepressants are thought to only help people truly overcome depression if combined with therapy.

The majority of Americans who take Antidepressants only use the drug-therapy to combat symptoms.

Studies have shown that Therapy combined with Antidepressants is far more effective in battling the symptoms of depression than drug therapy alone. Much of depression can be maintained through negative thought processes and self-defeating core beliefs. The thought and behavioral aspects of depression are not addressed with Antidepressants but can be cured with therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a gold standard in depression and addiction treatment. CBT helps individuals understand how their thoughts influence their reality. A negative core belief such as “I’m not good enough,” can cause enormous issues and perpetuate a self-fulfilling prophesy that strengths the individual’s belief in the statement. Much of these negative thought processes and core beliefs are so well-worn that the individual may not even recognize them as negative, abnormal or harmful.

It is these patterns of thought that Antidepressants do nothing to help. A person may start Antidepressants, feel better, stop the drugs but find that he or she is right back to the beginning. This is because no work has been done to remove some of the most harmful aspects of depression and other mental illnesses.

Only through concurrent treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Antidepressant medication can the individual hope to see long-term results. The goal behind all medical treatments is to provide relief and health to the person suffering. Antidepressants provide relief but the Behavioral therapy is what changes the person’s thinking for the better. Antidepressants should be used as a sole treatment.

Antidepressants are not free from side effects and complications. If a person has depressive symptoms that are not life-threatening, an attempt should be made to treat the depression with therapy alone. CBT or other forms of therapy have long been known to permanently cure the symptoms of depression, in some cases. This is not true of everyone and everyone should work with a therapist and doctor to determine what works best for them.

When it comes to depression, or any mental illness, there is no one size fits all. Despite all the chatter and recommendations from experts and quacks alike, everyone should investigate and find what works best for him or her. Whatever the answer, there is no guilt or shame in getting better.

  • What Are Some Common Short-term Effects of Antidepressant Abuse?
    Antidepressant presents many negative side-effects such as appetite loss, irritability, trouble sleeping and feeling of restlessness.
  • How Do I Prevent Myself from Having Short-term Effects from Antidepressant?
    If you are addicted to Antidepressant, the only way to prevent side effects is to stop abusing the medication. If you are prescribed, talk to your doctor about going on a lower dosage.

Short-term effects

Antidepressant is a short acting stimulant that last approximately 4 to 6 hours. It is marketed as a treatment for ADHD, ideally to be used in conjunction with psychotherapy and other treatments. Rarely do people do more than fill a prescription to treat their ADHD.

The beneficial effects of Antidepressant include an increase in alertness and attention span. For those with ADHD, this drug congruently decreases impulsivity and hyperactivity and seemingly directs that energy into more manageable state of calmness, focus and attentiveness.

For people who do not have ADHD, the drug has the opposite effect. It increases energy, possibly increasing impulsivity and hyperactivity as well. Antidepressant works like Cocaine in people who lack the symptoms of ADHD.

Antidepressant can cause dangerous behaviors in people regardless of whether they do or do not have ADHD. Additionally, short-term side effects include insomnia, sleep problems, weight loss, headache, dry mouth, nausea, anorexia, nervousness, dizziness, stomach ache, teeth grinding, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, stroke, increased libido, aggression, depression, abnormal thoughts, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and more.

Serious side effects such as heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, severe headache, extreme fatigue, jaw pain, pain in left arm, and highly increased heartbeat all warrant immediate medical attention.

Despite the popularity of Antidepressant, one of the most common prescription drugs, abusing it can be exceptionally dangerous.

Antidepressants and Pregnancy

What goes into a woman’s body during pregnancy is one highly debated issue. There are numerous schools of thought on the issue and the battle is still raging, especially when it comes to prescription drugs for mental health. In recent years there has become an accepted common practice when deciding whether to stop use of Antidepressants during pregnancy. This practice is to let the woman decide. Antidepressants increase the overall health, whereas they may not provide much help in others.

One reproductive psychiatry specialist, Dr. Emily Dossett, commented that the best course of action is to give the mother the latest and all information and let her decide. “I’ve seen women in very similar situations make completely different decisions about what to do,” she has said. For some people, stopping their Antidepressant regiment spells disaster. For some people have such severe symptoms that it becomes difficult to get out of bed at all. Quitting Antidepressants in a case such as this would ultimately prove detrimental to both mother and child. The lack of exercise, chronically low mood and generally poor health would put both mother and child at risk.

Then, in other cases, the Antidepressants may prove not necessary. Some people may be able to manage their mood with psychotherapy, diet, exercise and other tactics that perhaps were ruled out initially in favor of Antidepressants. When it comes to such a complicated issue, there is no clear short answer that will work for all.

  • What are the Long-term Effects of Antidepressant Abuse?
    Antidepressant abuse can really harm any person who is abusing the drug. Abusing Antidepressant can lead to hostility, depression and paranoia.
  • Will the Long-term Effects go away when I Stop Abusing Antidepressant?
    The effects can possibly go away over time but it may take a while. Some people require therapy for their effects.

Get the Help you need

Levi’s addiction took him to places he never thought he would go. He didn’t realize how dangerous drugs and alcohol were until it was too late and he was already addicted. He was drinking alcohol and failing all his classes and needed something to help him get on track. A friend introduced Levi to Antidepressant and his addiction took off from there. He started selling drugs to support his habit, and shortly after got into trouble with the law. He realized his addiction was out of control and decided to reach out and ask for help. Levi has since recovered and living a life of happiness and joy.

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Seeking help for a loved one

  • Will Inpatient Treatment Help my Antidepressant Addiction?
    Yes. Inpatient treatment is one of the most effective ways to recover from any addiction.
  • How Long is Antidepressant Inpatient Treatment?
    The length of your stay in an inpatient program depends on your individual addiction and the program you chose to go to.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring disorders is when a person presents with Substance abuse disorder and another mental illness. Co-Occurring disorders can pose special challenges to people trying to recover from addiction. Both the substance abuse and the mental health problem must be treated for the individual to recover from either. If the substance abuse is targeted but not the other disorder, the person is likely to relapse and quickly. If the mental disorder, such as depression, treated but not the substance abuse, the individual will not likely see any relief.

Many people who arrive in addiction treatment centers present with co-occurring disorders. The most common disorders seen with substance abuse are depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and bipolar disorder. Understandably, if a person with any of these disorders remains without proper treatment, the person is likely to resort to self-medication. This can quickly take on a life of its own and threaten to consume or kill the individual. Addiction treatment centers are now well versed and prepared to handle dual-diagnosis clients. Look for a treatment center that provides integrated treatment or custom-tailored treatment programs.

Rehab centers that provide integrated treatment programs will take both mental health problems into consideration during treatment. Medical professionals will evaluate each client and find a therapeutic regime that works for all related problems. This may include the increase or introduction of Antidepressants to help with symptomology.

Outpatient Rehab

Antidepressants have increasingly become commonplace in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, 11 percent of all Americans over the age of 12 take Antidepressants. The category with the largest use at 23 percent is women between the ages of 40 and 59. Women are more likely than men to take Antidepressants in general, the survey conveys.

The numbers may not accurately portray the whole issue, however. Before 1987, when Prozac hit the market, was released the only options for the treatment of depression were the MAOIs and Tricyclic Antidepressants. These are associated with such severe side effects that few people could cope. Thus, understandably, with the advent of a successful drug that treats depression without making the individual catatonic sparked the masses to consider a drug to treat depression. Before Prozac, people may have tried diet, exercise and other techniques but ultimately may have found the most relief through the abuse of such substances as Alcohol, Cocaine and others.

Quality of life may simply have suffered for those struggling with depression before the discovery of SSRIs and other new psychiatric medications. The increase in prescriptions, therefore, may only signify that more people are getting treatment for the debilitating condition of depression, anxiety, OCD and others. The statistics still point to more much needed progress. It seems less than 30 percent of people in the United States with significant depression symptoms are being treated.

  • What is Outpatient Rehab?
    Outpatient rehabilitation is most effective when you have already completed an inpatient program. You will travel to a facility a few times a week for different types of therapy.
  • Will Outpatient Help my Antidepressant Addiction?
    Yes. Outpatient will help your addiction but works best if you attend inpatient rehab first.