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Antidepressant Addiction

What Are They?

Antidepressants are a group of prescription drugs that are used to treat clinical depression along with OCD, Anxiety and PTSD. While it is not understood exactly how antidepressants work, scientists believe they increase the levels of some chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. These include serotonin and noradrenaline. This can help lift someone’s mood but it is important to remember that it does not fix the cause of depression or other mental illnesses. 


The most common class of antidepressants are known as SSRIs. This stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The most widely used SSRIs are fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Cipramil), paroxetine (Seroxat) and sertraline (Lustral). 

There are also other groups of drugs that are used in certain cases including serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Efexor). 

young woman asleep on sofa
addiction treatment group therapy room


Help Me Stop’s antidepressant addiction treatment is provided at approximately one-tenth of the cost of traditional residential treatment programmes. We can work with you to create a treatment plan that fits around your job and your family. This means you can start your recovery without having to sacrifice time with the people and things that are important to you.


While the exact effect drug on brain chemistry is not fully understood, antidepressants are generally considered to work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin and noradrenaline. This means a person’s brain is still producing chemicals that make them feel good but those chemicals are not being reabsorbed so they build up. Essentially people on antidepressants are feeling the effects of a higher level of the natural chemicals in their brain. 

It is important to remember that people who abuse antidepressants are not getting high in the traditional sense. These drugs do not cause feelings of relaxation or euphoria so it can be hard to tell when someone is abusing them. 

Symptoms Of Abuse

  • Acting half asleep or like a zombie
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Reduced libido
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea 
  • headaches
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Low mood/no energy
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Bad sleeping habits or erratic sleeping
  • Slurred speech
  • Pulling away from family and friends
  • Ignoring work of school

If antidepressants are abused for a longer-term, they can also produce more severe side effects including:

  • Worsening depression
  • Mental confusion
  • Organ failure
  • Insomnia 
  • Increased need to take drugs

When someone abuses antidepressants for a long period the drugs can start to take their toll on the body. Sustained abuse can harm organs, affect the ability to focus and destroy relationships. When someone starts to abuse the drug they can also become dependent. Their brain has actually begun to rely on the drug so if they stop using it can create a host of problems. This is called withdrawal and the symptoms include: 

  • Nausea 
  • Uncontrollable seizures
  • Hand tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Disorientation 
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Suicidal thoughts

Getting Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with antidepressant addiction it is crucial to get professional help. If you simply stop taking the medication it can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms. At Help Me Stop, we have experts who can provide help and treatment. Our counsellors can work with you to find the root of your addiction and get you back on the road to recovery.