Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Are antidepressants addictive?

06 February 2015, 10:08Susan Erasmus

Antidepressant 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.

The US National Centre for Health Statistics released a report in 2011, stating that antidepressant use among US teenagers and adults increased by 400% in the years between 1994 – 1998 and 2005 – 2008. The same government body revealed that 1 in every 10 people in the US was estimated to take antidepressants.

There are over 30 different kinds of antidepressants on the market today, according to the 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.

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.

Antidepressants 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.

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. Tranquilisers are addictive, but antidepressants are not.

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.

While 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.

Some of these medicines can take a few weeks to be become effective, and people who use them are advised not to stop taking the drugs without consulting their doctor or psychiatrist.

If you feel that the medication isn’t working, or that the side effects are too severe, a doctor can advise on switching to a different antidepressant. If you stop taking the medication of your own accord, the original condition may return.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists furthermore notes that many people think they’re addicted, because they experience difficulties when they stop taking the antidepressant. They confuse this with addiction. Doctors say that the greatest likelihood is that the original condition, for which the antidepressants were prescribed, has simply returned.

- Health24


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...