Prescription Antidepressant Abuse, Addiction, Detox and Rehab

When deciding to quit antidepressants, many people struggle to get off the medication because of withdrawal symptoms, a concurrent drug or alcohol addiction, and worries about leading a happy normal life without medication.

Under the umbrella of prescription drug rehab, Elevate Addiction Services offers help and healing for safely and effectively getting off antidepressants and starting a new life.

Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome

Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome occurs when a patient quits using an antidepressant suddenly. Within a couple of days, the patient can experience a host of symptoms, including:

  • Vivid dreams
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as achy muscles and chills
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Return of depression symptoms, sometimes worsening
  • Nausea
  • Electric shock sensations

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between returning depression symptoms versus withdrawal symptoms from the antidepressant itself. The pain of acute withdrawal can start as soon as one day after the patient’s last dose, and can last several weeks.

The longer a person has been taking antidepressants, the harder it can be to get off them. The withdrawal can feel particularly difficult if someone has been taking the medication for more than six straight weeks.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the second generation of antidepressants, are particularly culpable in causing this common withdrawal syndrome. Studies have shown that this type of antidepressants, in particular, causes more dependency problems. Tapering down is necessary to avoid unpleasant side effects.

Some examples of common SSRIs are:

  • Wellbutrin
  • Prozac
  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Viibryd

When Prescription Antidepressant Abuse Rehab Is Needed

Number Of Americans Prescribed Psychiatric Drugs Statistic - Elevate Addiction ServicesAnyone using an antidepressant for a period of time will inevitably develop a dependence. While it is unusual for someone to abuse antidepressants in the typical way of addiction, the dependency people develop can make them feel like they’re addicted.

However, many people do abuse antidepressants by seeking the drug out when they never needed the medication in the first place. People also take more pills than prescribed, thinking that because the prescribed dose is not alleviating their symptoms, more will be better. Finally, people overdose on antidepressants in the same way of other prescription drugs.

Treatment for the physical and psychological symptoms is available in rehab. If you are considering stopping the use of an antidepressant and want to avoid antidepressant addiction symptoms, contact your doctor or a rehab specialist for information on the next step.

When stopping any psychotropic medication, it is necessary to do so under medical supervision. If an individual chooses professional rehab to aid in this process, he or she can receive not only clinical guidance, but also holistic treatment, counseling and help in learning a new way of life drug-free.

Inpatient rehab is often the best option for people overcoming depression or a drug addiction. Inpatient rehabilitation places the patient under 24-hour care and offers a safe place to detox and recover. Healthcare professionals monitor the individual for mood changes and suicidal tendencies.

Teens, a group at enhanced risk for suicide, are vulnerable at a time such as this. Professional care and monitoring at a rehab facility can prevent tragic outcomes, giving the teen’s brain a chance to balance the natural chemicals to a normal state in a safe environment.

Stopping the Use of Antidepressants

If you take any type of medication or chemical for an extended period, quitting cold turkey is going to give you some negative withdrawal effects. This is especially true of psychotropic medications that alter your brain chemistry. Detox from antidepressants will remove the toxins from your body and rebalance the chemicals in your brain.

When a person is stopping the use of antidepressants, he or she may benefit from the same kind of traditional rehab that one would undergo for other prescription or illicit drug abuse. However, not every facility will offer antidepressant rehab.

Doctors’ Advice

Doctors and psychiatrists agree that patients need to wean off antidepressants slowly to avoid negative effects and withdrawal. Stopping any medication suddenly without speaking to your doctor first is never a good idea.

Coming Off Antidepressants and Learning to Live Without Them

People choose to stop using antidepressants for many reasons:

  • The depression or condition it was prescribed for has improved.
  • The medication does not seem to be helping the patient’s condition.
  • The depression or other condition seems to have improved on its own.
  • The depression was a result of a now-removed external factor or tied to other drug or alcohol abuse.
  • The side effects of taking antidepressants are intolerable.
  • The patient simply decides he or she wants to live drug-free.

Leaning on any kind of medication can become a crutch to facing reality, especially if you don’t truly need it for a long period of time. Don’t let anything inhibit your recovery or mask any personal issues inside that need to be addressed.

You Don’t Have to Live with Chemicals

You may have been told you need to have these antidepressants. However, most people can live a natural and free life without the use of antidepressants. These drugs should really only be used long-term in serious depression cases and when the individual isn’t concurrently abusing alcohol or other drugs.

There are other, just-as-effective techniques for dealing with depression. For example, studies have shown that cognitive therapy has just as high a success rate for treating depression as medications do.

Some doctors contend that exercise is the best cure for depression. According to studies, such as one by Duke University, exercise improved the symptoms for people with major depressive disorder more effectively and longer than those who took an antidepressant (Zoloft).

What is also interesting about the Duke study is that just as many people got better without really doing anything (they took a placebo). In some cases, but not all, it may be worth trying to “wait it out” instead of trying an antidepressant, but leave this up to a doctor’s discretion.

Even in cases where antidepressants are recommended by psychiatrists or primary care doctors, the best results are attained when used in combination with other treatments.

You Don’t Have to Suffer

At Elevate Addiction Services, our caring support staff will guide you through a medically assisted process of detoxification. You will be more comfortable and experience fewer issues with our medical professionals by your side.

The Elevate detox process includes:

  1. Therapies such as massage, nutritional counseling and aromatherapy will be provided in addition to helping you taper down your use of antidepressants.
  2. Exercise is part of our whole wellness therapy approach.
  3. Other therapies included in our rehab program will assist you in coping with the shifting and rebalancing of emotions, thoughts and feelings that inevitably come with changing body chemistry.

Just like any other drug, prescription or illicit, antidepressants can come with some nasty withdrawal symptoms. Many people struggle with coming off prescription drugs and learning how to live without them. Elevate Addiction Services has the know-how and experience to provide a tried-and-true program to safely stop the use of these drugs. Contact us today for help.

See More on Our Detox Process

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