Antidepressant Addiction Treatment in Long Island

In recent years, the use of antidepressants has escalated quite significantly among people ages 18 and 25. While those numbers increased during and after the 2020 pandemic of COVID-19, there was already a rise at the beginning of 2020.

With antidepressant prescriptions increasing for young adults and teens, drug abuse becomes an issue. In this post, we educate you on antidepressants so you understand these meds, how they work, and how they affect you or your loved one better.

What Are Antidepressants Used For?

Contrary to popular belief, antidepressants aren’t just for depression. Further, antidepressants are typically only prescribed for major depressive disorders and not mild depression. For that, doctors usually recommend talk therapy or CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) rather than meds.

With that, you can take antidepressants to treat the following mental health conditions:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Phobias, such as agoraphobia
  • ED (eating disorders) like bulimia

Interesting fact: A certain class of antidepressants (TCAs or tricyclic antidepressants) are prescribed for more complicated conditions. These include chronic nerve pain illnesses, such as sciatica and multiple sclerosis, where they act as pain relievers.

How Do Antidepressants Work?

Antidepressants work differently according to which class they belong to. However, they all need to break the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to effectively carry out their functions.

One of these functions includes increasing the level of certain brain chemicals. These chemicals could be mood boosters or regulators that your normal brain doesn’t produce enough of, if ever.

Alternatively, another function of antidepressants is retaining a specific percentage of a neurotransmitter in your blood. This class of antidepressants does this by inhibiting a natural brain process known as reuptake, thus classifying them as reuptake inhibitors (RI).

Reuptake is what happens to a neurotransmitter (such as dopamine or serotonin) after the brain releases it into your neural synapses. The cell that released them, reuptakes them back into the blood and to your brain.

Antidepressants classified as reuptake inhibitors delay this process for a while. As a result, the levels of certain neurotransmitters remain high in your blood for longer before being taken back.

What Are the Types of Antidepressants? (Side Effects & Examples)

Antidepressants have come a long way since their discovery in the 1950s. What’s rather fascinating is that some of the first-ever antidepressants are still being used today. Though they’re usually a last treatment resort due to their severe side effects.

Luckily, throughout the decades, science created newer antidepressants that don’t wreak such havoc on the patient’s body—though they still come with their fair share of negative effects.

In this section, we cover just some of the main classes of antidepressants you’re likely to be prescribed. We include examples and common side effects as well.


From the name, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) alter the reuptake process of the neurotransmitter serotonin. They’re a relatively newer class of antidepressants (invented during the 70s) and are also the most commonly prescribed ones.

Examples of SSRIs are Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), and Paxil (paroxetine). Out of all antidepressants, SSRIs cause the safest and fewest of side effects, though still unpleasant to some. Those are:

  •  Headaches and dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal issues and nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dry mouth
  • Sexual problems


Similar to SNRIs, selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) work in a close manner to them. Both classes also share some side effects. The one difference they share is, you guessed it, SNRIs work on norepinephrine in addition to serotonin.

Norepinephrine regulates blood pressure in times of stress. Additionally, the neurotransmitter is responsible for increasing alertness and attention. As for serotonin, it’s a mood regulator and monitors sexual desire, sleep, and digestion.

SNRI examples include Fetzima (levomilnacipran), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Savella (milnacipran), and Effexor (venlafaxine). While side effects can be:

  • Agitation and excessive shaking
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia


MAOIs stand for monoamine oxidase inhibitors. These are a particularly dangerous class of antidepressants because patients on them have to alter their diet. They also have to be mindful of any other medication they’re taking due to the interactions MAOIs have with various chemicals.

The way MAOIs work is that they inhibit the activity of the enzyme MAO (monoamine oxidase). This enzyme breaks down three main neurotransmitters in your brain, namely serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

The latter neurotransmitter fuels motivation, satisfaction, and pleasure. On MAOIs, the percentage of the aforementioned chemical messengers remains relatively high, counteracting anxiety and depression symptoms.

Some MAOIs include Emsam (selegiline), Marplan (isocarboxazid), and Nardil (phenelzine). They’re the least prescribed antidepressant type due to their side effects, including:

  • Convulsions
  • Hypomania (extreme mood swings)
  • Impotence or sexual dysfunction
  • Paresthesias (false tingling and prickling sensations)
  • High blood pressure


Typical antidepressants, including those above (SSRIs and SNRIs), use a similar mode of action. Atypical antidepressants, however, follow different mechanisms of action. While they also alter brain chemistry and affect neurotransmitters, atypicals are prescribed for treatment-resistant depression.

Some atypicals are FDA-approved, such as Mirtazapine (Remeron), Nefazodone, Trazodone, and Vortioxetine (Trintellix). They all come with their considerable risks along with a set of side effects like:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Digestion issues (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping

As for the considerable risks mentioned, those usually manifest as:

  • Liver failure
  • Priapism
  • Heart rate dysregulation (cardiac arrhythmia)
  • Seizures

Are Antidepressants Addictive?

Antidepressants aren’t addictive in the normal sense. Unlike stimulants or opioids—which have a high risk of substance abuse—antidepressants don’t. Instead, patients using antidepressants can develop a physical dependence on the drug.

As a result, it becomes almost impossible to function without them. This seeps into their personal and professional life. It may lead to doctor shopping, self-medicating, or increasing the prescribed dosage without informing a healthcare professional.

Further, attempting to stop the drug, whether due to side effects or symptoms getting worse, will do more harm than good. Patients will have to battle with antidepressant discontinuation syndrome (ADS), a health-staggering condition that no one should go through alone.

What Is Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome (ADS)?

ADS is a form of withdrawal specific to antidepressant medications. Like withdrawal, ADS comes with an onset of harsh side effects that patients should go through under the care of medical professionals. Here’s what antidepressant withdrawal looks like:

  • Exacerbation of mental conditions (anxiety, depression…etc.)
  • Hypomania
  • Suicide ideation
  • Hyperarousal
  • Imbalance
  • Flu-like symptoms (chills, sweating, nausea, and fatigue)
  • Sensory disturbances
  • High blood pressure

Disclaimer: Due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms, professionals don’t recommend battling ADS alone.

Antidepressant Addiction Treatment: What Are Your Options?

Treating an antidepressant dependence starts with detox or medication-assisted treatment.

Under the care of a licensed staff, they’ll prescribe the necessary meds to help wean patients off their antidepressants. These meds will also take care of the physical and psychological dependence patients have strongly developed due to their antidepressants.

Note: Detox is another straining process for patients. That’s typically because, during detox, your mental health conditions quickly escalate.

After (and sometimes during) detox, therapy becomes essential—whether that’s individual or group therapy. Understanding the underlying causes of your mental issues helps you navigate them better. Sharing experiences with others helps as well.

Consider Our Services at Long Island Addiction Treatment Center

The idea of no longer taking your antidepressant medication seems daunting at first. With the right guidance and compassionate care, however, you’ll learn that it’s more than possible.

Contact us today at Long Island Addiction Treatment Center to find out more about what services are available to help you or your loved one with your antidepressant addiction.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Long Island Treatment Center