use has soared in the last few decades. And while health professionals and
manufacturers maintain that antidepressants are not addictive, some people are
reporting problems when they stop taking these medications.
Royal College of Psychiatry. These are prescribed for depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, chronic pain, eating
disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions.
Read: Are antidepressants overused?
When is something addictive?
Before something can be called addictive, it has to fulfil two criteria:
- You need
to keep increasing the dose to get the same effect.
- When you stop taking the medicine or substance, you experience cravings.
don’t fulfil these criteria and are not deemed to be chemically addictive,
according to Drug Addiction Family Recovery, but some people still experience
difficulties when stopping their medication.
Antidepressants vs. tranquilisers
Many people don’t correctly distinguish between antidepressants and tranquilisers.
treat anxiety by depressing the central nervous system. Antidepressants, on the
other hand, relieve the symptoms of depression by increasing the activity of
certain chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and noradrenaline.
are addictive, but antidepressants are not.
Read: Single antidepressant dose changes brain connection
Side effects and ‘withdrawal symptoms’
Known side effects of antidepressants include a slight tremor, nausea, a
dry mouth, sleepiness, weight gain, constipation, confusion and a drop in
libido. But many people experience no side effects at all.
antidepressants aren’t addictive, doctors advise that their use be tapered off,
rather than stopped abruptly, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
They mention that about 30% of people who stop taking antidepressants can
experience withdrawal symptoms that can last between two weeks and two months.
In only a
small percentage of cases are these withdrawal symptoms severe. These can
include digestive problems, flu-like symptoms, anxiety, dizziness, vivid dreams
and sensations in the body that feel like small electric shocks.
How antidepressants work
Gene predicts responsiveness to antidepressants
Combination of therapy and medication best for severe depression
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