Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat depression, a mood disorder. When they are used as directed, they can be an effective way to help bring color into a depressed individual’s gray existence. Combining medications with talk therapy in a two-pronged approach is considered the most effective way to deal with this condition.
Antidepressants must be taken for a few weeks before the patient starts to feel that their moods are more normal. In some cases, the medication must be taken for up to six weeks before the patient has an idea of whether it is working for them. During this time, they need support to keep taking the medication even though their symptoms of worthlessness or hopelessness remain.
Facts About Antidepressants
You may not think of antidepressants as a substance someone can become addicted to1, but misusing them can fit the definition of an addiction.
- Taking a medication that has been prescribed by a physician as directed will not cause the patient to become addicted to it. An addiction may start when the patient starts varying how he or she uses the medication.
- A person who takes a higher dose of the antidepressant than what was prescribed runs the risk of becoming an addiction.
- Taking the drug more often than directed by the prescribing physician is a danger sign for addiction.
- Continuing to take the antidepressant after the doctor has told the patient to stop using them is another sign to watch for when evaluating whether an addiction has started.
- People who have become addicted to their antidepressant medication focus on the drug excessively. They think about when they took their last dose, when they are going to get the next one and being late taking a dose of their medication may cause them mental anguish.
How Antidepressant Addiction Treatment Works
A person who is being given antidepressant addiction treatment should not be encouraged to go off the drug all at once. Since the drug builds up in the user’s system over time, it will take some time for that individual’s system to rid itself of the medication. A slow tapering off is the best approach and it will minimize the withdrawal symptoms the person will experience.
Withdrawal from antidepressants2 may include flu-like symptoms, as well as anxiety, headaches, stomach upsets and vomiting. Some people report paranoia, aggressive behavior and anger. In some cases, the person going through antidepressant withdrawal may experience homicidal feelings.
Going to a facility that is equipped to carefully monitor the dose of the drug and the withdrawal symptoms will help to ensure that the antidepressant addict is kept safe and healthy during this phase of treatment.
Medical professionals will state that treating addiction is a multi-stage process. Going through a detox process is the initial stage of treatment. Once the drug has left the addict’s system, going to an antidepressant rehab clinic or entering a drug treatment center with staff trained in treating antidepressant addiction is key to moving from addiction to recovery.