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Signs of Antidepressant Abuse

signs of antidepressant abuse

Are antidepressants addictive?

Unlike most other illicit or prescription drugs, antidepressants don’t produce a high or cause any cravings. They're prescription medications that are used to treat depression symptoms. Antidepressants work by slowly elevating the person’s mood, which can result in physical dependence. The two common types of antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). While these medications aren’t considered addictive in the traditional sense, long-term antidepressant abuse can develop into physical dependence. Our nationwide drug and alcohol treatment center is sharing some common signs of antidepressant abuse you should look out for.


Can Someone Get Addicted to Antidepressants?

There’s a significant difference between dependence and addiction. Dependence on drugs or alcohol is characterized by the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms when that person stops using or drinking. For example, a person who experiences withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink alcohol for a day is probably physically dependent on it. Addiction, on the other hand, refers to a chronic and neurobiological disease that’s born of a combination of genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors. A drug or alcohol addiction is characterized by compulsive use, lack of control over drug use or drinking, addiction cravings, and continued use despite side effects. 

While antidepressants can create a physical dependence, they aren’t addictive like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine are addictive; however, this doesn’t mean they’re harmless. Prescription medications can cause a variety of side effects when they’re misused, abused, or mixed with other substances. If you take antidepressants without a prescription or do not take them as directed by your doctor, it can cause organ damage and other physical side effects.


Some common antidepressants include:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)


The signs of antidepressant addiction can become more evident as the person continues to abuse them. At Banyan Treatment Centers, we offer a prescription pill detox that includes medical treatment, as needed, and 24-hour supervision that helps patients to safely wean off of drugs.


What Are the Signs of Antidepressant Abuse?

Abusing antidepressant medication doesn’t produce a high like drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin produce, but that doesn’t stop people from trying.


Some of the most common antidepressant addiction symptoms include:

  • Bloodshot or red eyes
  • Poor hygiene
  • Financial struggles
  • Odd or irregular sleeping habits
  • Slurred speech


One of the most common signs of addiction to antidepressants is also polysubstance abuse. Because antidepressants don’t produce a high, people who take them intending to get high may become frustrated with their lack of intensity. This often leads to polysubstance abuse, in which the person may take antidepressants with other drugs or alcohol. They may also attempt to ingest them in different ways, such as crushing them and snorting them. Experimenting with these different combinations only increases the person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to antidepressants and other substances, as well as experiencing health issues.

Trying to find antidepressant addiction treatment can be difficult. Fortunately, our nationwide treatment facilities offer various levels of care that have helped numerous people recover from their substance abuse disorders. If you or a loved one needs help, call Banyan today at 888-280-4763 to speak to one of our team members.


Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Signs of Antidepressant Abuse
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