Is Depression Medication Addictive?

Learn if depression medication is addictive from psychiatrist Ankur Saraiya in this Howcast video.


There are a few different things to understand about this question. First of all, there's a problem with terminology in understanding exactly what one means by addictive. I think a better way, and a more useful way, to understand what the consequences are, is to ask your doctor and understand what happens, or what the process is for stopping the medication. It's important to understand that not all anti-depressant medication is created equal; so you can't have a simple answer to that question for all medications. There are some medications that are complicated in terms of the way that you stop them, and there are other medications that you can just stop taking, without any complications. So, the important question to ask is "what are the risks", and "what's the process" for coming off of the medications. In general the idea of a medication being addictive is somewhat associated with the idea of whether there's withdrawal in stopping the medication; are there physical and psychological symptoms associated with coming off of the medication? And that's one way that can be useful in terms of thinking about whether or not a medication is addictive. But as I said, it's more useful to simply think about "what is the process", and "what are the complications" in stopping a medication. It's important to keep in mind that just because a particular medication has withdrawal symptoms, or is difficult to stop, doesn't mean that another, different anti-depressant will necessarily have the same issues. And these are things that are important to understand before starting the medication, so you can make an informed decision about choosing the right medication for you.

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