In the last year, mental health was a major concern for most American’s. In fact, during the global pandemic, incidence of mental disorders increased 50%, according to a Gallup poll. Alcohol and other substance abuse also surged, with young adults more than twice as likely to seriously consider suicide than they were in 2018. Trends also showed a sharp rise in use and misuse of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. According to a Market Watch study, anti-anxiety drug sales increased over 34% and antidepressants sales rose over 18% in May 2020. The reality for most American households is learning to cope with mental disorders. Understanding the signs of abusing antidepressants can help keep loved ones safe from the dangers of prescription misuse.
If you or someone you love is facing antidepressant abuse and addiction, it’s important to find qualified help as soon as possible. AspenRidge provides ongoing support to individuals and families dealing with medication abuse and the underlying causes as they relate to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Contact us today directly at 855-281-5588 to learn more about our prescription medication recovery programs.
Depression is one of the most mental health illnesses in America. In 2019, it was reported that 19 million adults in the U.S. had experienced a major depressive episode. At any given moment about three to six percent of Americans are facing major depression, with an overall lifetime risk of about 17 percent.
What is depression?
The term “depression” can seem like a broad concept. When it comes to a psychiatric diagnosis, professionals are looking for a low mood that is more severe and persistent that a normal low mood or bout of sadness that comes with common life stressors.
Causes of Depression
There are a variety of potential things that can cause depression. Some of these include:
- Biological and genetic predisposition to depression
- Imbalances of mood-regulating chemicals in the brain
- Traumatic life events (for example, the death of a loved one)
- Side effects of medications
- Symptom of other medical issues
Several of these factors can also coincide with one another to cause depression.
Signs of Depression
Depression can manifest itself in many ways and vary from person to person. Sometimes, these signs aren’t always obvious even to family members or close friends. Some of the most common signs of depression, however, include:
- Hopeless outlook on life
- Loss of interest in activities one used to look forward to
- Fatigue, exhaustion, and difficulty sleeping
- Irritability or anger (especially found in men with depression)
- Changes in appetite and/or weight
- Difficulty controlling one’s emotions
- Expressions of guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
What are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are medications that can help treat and relieve the symptoms of depression. Additionally, they are also often used to treat other mental illnesses like anxiety disorders. Antidepressants work to restore a healthy balance of neurotransmitters in the brain that may be responsible for depression.
How Prevalent is Antidepressant Use?
The CDC reported that between 2015 and 2018, over 13 percent of adults in the U.S. had used antidepressants in the last 30 days. Antidepressant use is more common in women than it is in men (17.7% versus 8.4%, respectively).
How do Antidepressants Work?
Antidepressants attempt to balance the neurotransmitters in the brain. Because these chemicals affect mood and emotions, antidepressant medicines aim to improve mood, aid sleep, increase appetite, and focus concentration
Types of Antidepressants
There are five main types of antidepressants and many different brands and generic versions of antidepressants.
These five main types of antidepressants are:
SSRIs and SNRIs
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. These antidepressants work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin — a hormone that stabilizes one’s mood — by the brain. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) raise levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which are neurotransmitters that work to stabilize mood.
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
TCAs are similar to SSRIs and SNRIs and work by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels while blocking acetylcholine. TCAs are also commonly used to treat depression, but can also be used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, eating disorders, and even chronic pain.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
MAOIS were widely used to treat depression before SSRIs and SNRIs were introduced. MAOIs work by blocking the breakdown of neurotransmitters like serotonin by monoamine oxidase in the brain. MAOIs can cause serious side effects and are generally only used today in special cases where other antidepressants have not worked.
Noradrenaline and Specific Serotonergic Antidepressants (NASSAs)
NASSAs are also used to treat depression, as well as some personality disorders. NASSAs work by causing noradrenaline and serotonin to build up in the brain.
Using Antidepressants Safely
The safest way to use antidepressants and effectively treat depression is by only taking medication that is prescribed to you, and by taking the correct dosage at the correct frequency, as explained to you by a licensed prescribing professional. It’s also important to keep in mind that antidepressants might not work right away, and your prescriber may have you try several different antidepressants before you find the one that works best for you. Even when you start to feel better, it’s important to keep taking your prescribed antidepressants, and to not go off them without consulting your doctor.
Antidepressant Substance Abuse
It’s very important that a person takes their antidepressants exactly how it was prescribed to them. People taking antidepressants can become physically dependent on them, and some may start to take higher doses of the drugs than what was prescribed to them, or with higher frequency.
It is estimated that depression and substance abuse disorders occur together over 20% of the time when antidepressants are being taken. That’s why it’s important to know the warning signs of antidepressant abuse.
Warning Signs of Abusing Antidepressants
Antidepressants are an extremely important and positive feat of medical technology and can be life-saving for some. However, the decision to take antidepressants should never be taken lightly. Warning signs that someone is overusing antidepressants may include:
- Taking more of the substance that was prescribed over an extended period of time
- Cravings or obsessions over the substance
- Withdrawal symptoms when not using the substance
- Substance use interferes with work or life commitments
- Continued use despite negative consequences and effects
- Tolerance of the substance
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Seek Help?
If a person is taking antidepressants too often or in too high doses, then it is time for them to seek help. Additionally, if the antidepressants are no longer relieving symptoms of depression, it’s important that the person seeks professional help.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any or multiple of the above warning signs while taking antidepressants, it may indicate antidepressant overuse and abuse. The best thing a person can do in this situation is to take action early.
How Can AspenRidge Help?
Oftentimes, depression can’t be treated by the use of antidepressants alone. As we have seen, depression and antidepressant abuse sometimes coexist.
At AspenRidge Recovery, our certified clinicians use a wide variety of effective results-based strategies to address mental illness and related substance abuse disorders. We are experienced in providing cognitive-behavioral therapy alongside substance abuse treatment in dual-diagnosis cases.
If you or someone you love is suffering from antidepressant substance abuse, our knowledgeable professionals are here to work with you and find a solution tailored specifically to each client. Our recovery options can help provide ongoing support for those who are impacted by antidepressant abuse.
You can call us anytime at (719) 259-1107. Our staff will verify insurance options and to explain treatment programs available at AspenRidge Recovery Centers.