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Do SSRIs Cause Dependence and Addiction?

An SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor is a class of drugs typically used for depression. These antidepressants are often used to treat the major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and other psychological conditions.

How Do Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors Works?

SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. They block the reabsorption or reuptake of serotonin into neurons. This makes more serotonin available to improve the transmission of messages between the neurons. SSRIs are selective because they only affect the serotonin neurotransmitter. Some of the most common SSRIs are:

  • Prozac (Fluoxetine)
  • Celexa (Citalopram)
  • Lexapro (Escitalopram)
  • Zoloft (Sertraline)
  • Paxil, Pexeva (Paroxetine)

All of the SSRIs generally work in the same fashion. Still, they differ in their potencies at blocking serotonin reuptake and how quickly the body metabolizes the drug. If an individual tries one particular SSRI and doesn’t tolerate it well, a different one may be effective for them. Do SSRIs Cause Dependence and Addiction?

Do SSRIs Cause Dependence and Addiction?

To answer this question, we must first define the difference between dependence and addiction. Dependence is defined as a state of adaptation caused by frequently taking a drug. If someone is dependent on medication, then suddenly discontinuing it or rapidly decreasing the dose could cause withdrawal symptoms.

More About SSRI Dependence and Addiction

Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by continued use despite harm, cravings, compulsive use, and impaired control over a substance. Sometimes addiction will occur as a result of dependency, but not always. SSRIs, along with some other antidepressants, can cause dependence. Someone with depression and anxiety may need to take these medications long-term to control their symptoms. The brain starts relying on the drugs due to the chemical transformation they cause and, as a result, needs them to function normally. Dependence can be a natural physical occurrence when taking any medications chronically, and withdrawal symptoms may occur if an individual abruptly stops taking the medication.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) is Addictive?

Are SSRIs addictive? The National Library of Medicine says:

Addiction/dependence is a syndrome in which the hallmark is a compulsive pattern of drug use. Most authorities do not regard antidepressants as causing addiction, but this has been challenged. Withdrawal or discontinuation symptoms have long been recognized with antidepressants, but other features of addiction such as tolerance and compulsive use are exceptionally rare. Common clinical problems are patients taking subtherapeutic doses and prematurely stopping antidepressants. The pharmacodynamic profiles of most antidepressants and the absence of acute ‘desirable’ effects make addiction theoretically unlikely. It is concluded that, except tranylcypromine and amineptine, antidepressants do not have a clinically significant liability for causing addiction. Tranylcypromine and amineptine should be avoided in those with a history of substance misuse. Patients prescribed other antidepressants should be told that they are not addictive. (NLM)

Most addictive substances are addictive because they cause a euphoric rush of dopamine and give the user some high. Antidepressants are considered “happy pills” but do not cause that intense euphoric feeling or high that other substances can cause. Also, addiction to a substance will cause obsession or cravings over the substance and drug-seeking behavior. SSRIs do not cause cravings or cause people to give up their everyday commitments trying to obtain more. So, SSRIs can cause a physical dependence as evidenced by withdrawal symptoms, but getting addicted to an SSRI or other antidepressant is very unlikely.

Treatment for Antidepressant SSRI Addiction At Evoke Wellness

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness offers safe SSRI medical detox with minimal discomfort. We provide residential treatment in a structured but comfortable environment. We also provide aftercare support to help lead you on the road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer. All calls are free and confidential. It is time you give us a call so one of our addiction specialists can help you on the path to a happy and healthier lifestyle, free from addiction.