Antidepressants are often given as psychiatric medication to deal with severe cases of depression. The drug is given to restore the chemical imbalance in the brain and help in providing the right amount of neurotransmitters. They are often thought to be responsible for changes in behavior and mood. But there are several concerns raised about antidepressants being the best cure for depression. There are often questions about the effectiveness of drugs in a long term and their potential side effects.
The use of antidepressants can sometimes lead to addiction as well. If that happens, the medication will cause more harm than it will do good.
Causes of antidepressants abuse
Antidepressants are not addictive by nature, but it is possible that because of constant abuse of medication a person develops a dependency on the drugs. The antidepressants are responsible for enhancing the mood of a person. People try to abuse these drugs so they can elevate their mood even further. It is not helpful, and the increased consumption quickly becomes an addiction.
One type of substance addiction is inhaling it. Other ways of abusing it are self-medication and taking more dosage than instructed. It often happens because a person thinks that the medication is not helping with the depression. They think that abusing their medication is the answer to all of their depression-related problems. Things can become even worse, if the addiction is triggered by something personal and tragic like losing a loved one.
The side effects of antidepressants
In the beginning, the antidepressants have an excellent effect. They elevate the mood and make a person much more calm and relaxed. If the medication is strong, then it can also end up sedating a person. In the beginning, there may be no side effects or reactions.
Many physical side effects of drug may show up after prolonged consumption of the drug. They may cause mild headaches, nausea or an upset stomach. Suddenly stopping the daily dosage of the medication can result in agitation, anxiety, dry mouth, constipation, and abdominal pain.
Symptoms of antidepressant addiction
Using these drugs for an extended period can often lead to drastic consequences. It can impact the ability of a person to work regularly. There are several physical effects along with mental effects associated with long-term use of the medication. Some of the symptoms that indicate an addiction to antidepressants are excessive talking, mood swings, convulsions, tremors, vivid dreams, irritability, nausea, panic attacks, insomnia, and increased risk of suicide, cardiac arrhythmia, and erectile dysfunction.
It can also make a person psychologically dependent on the drugs. The medication alters the chemical balance of the brain, and this leads to increased consumption of medicines, because the person feels he cannot function properly without more drugs.
Symptoms of withdrawal
When people stop taking the antidepressants, the body can have a particularly emotional and physical reaction. The body reacts to the decreased levels of serotonin which had been elevated by the consumption of antidepressants.
The physiological withdrawal symptoms are cravings, which are known as the drug seeking behavior. Psychologically there can be bouts of occasional depression. There are treatment groups that can help in coping with such situations.
Guidelines for taking antidepressants
If you have a better knowledge of antidepressants, then you are more equipped to deal with the side effects and can avoid addiction. Here are some tips for safety:
- Before taking the antidepressant medication, see a psychiatrist instead of a family physician. A psychiatrist specializes in mental illness and is more qualified to give you advice. They are also more familiar with the research on the medications related to depression and the probable safety concerns.
- The medication should always be taken according to the instruction of the doctor. Never alter your dosage.
- Keeping a track of emotional and physical changes is also important. Tell the doctor about any such changes that you observe.
- Patience is critical. Finding the right dosage is a trial and error procedure, so do not get impatient and alter dosage by yourself. The medication can take several weeks to reach their complete therapeutic effect.
- You can use drug test kits to make sure that there are no drug interactions. Some drug interactions can be dangerous, so it is important to know that the medication you are taking is not going to react badly with any other medications you are currently taking. A drug test kit will help you find if there is any substance in your blood that can cause a dangerous reaction.
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