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Psychologically and Physiologically Addictive Medications

Are antidepressants psychologically or physiologically addictive? – Kind of – but not in the way that you think!

For many years, most of the medical community have held steadfast to the idea that antidepressants were not “addictive.” But many Prescription Pain Medicationof those, not in the medical community or those with no personal experience of drug abuse or psychiatric illness, were convinced that those happypills were subject to abuse.  In fact, both were wrong.  Antidepressants are not “abusable“, but they are sort of “addiciting“.

To be clear – antidepressants are not subject to abuse.  They do not produce a “high” or anything like intoxication.  There is no immediate reward for taking antidepressants; in fact, one of the most troublesome things about antidepressants is that they take several weeks to actually work.

However, there is a difference between “abusabledrugs and “addictivedrugs.  Addiction is generally thought of as a psychological illness – in the way that marijuana and cocaine are psychologically addictive.  There is little evidence that either drug is physiologically addictive.  The body does not become dependent on the drug… the brain may – but not the body.

On the other hand, some medications are physiologically addictive – without being psychologically addictiveHormones are an example of this.  Once you start taking hormones (such as estrogen replacement), your body will adjust to the presence of the Psychologically Drug Addicted Dreammedication – and if suddenly discontinued, will not function normally.  There are many other examples of this, but you get the point.

Drugs like heroin, alcohol, and tobacco are psychologically addictive – but they are also physiologically addictive.  In addition to the brain “wanting” them, the body “needs” them to function normally.  If you suddenly take away the heroin, a severe withdrawal syndrome will begin.  If you suddenly take away alcohol – you may have seizures and a number of life-threatening conditions.

Prescription pain medications and anti-anxiety agents, when taken inappropriately can also be both psychologically and physiologically addictive – like heroin and alcohol.  When taken as prescribed, they are often still physiologically addictive.

Back to the antidepressants.

Certainly, years ago, sudden withdrawal of prescription antidepressants was known to be dangerous. But, with the development of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Paxil, and many others, most people have believed that there was no chance of physical addiction, and there would be no withdrawal.

Over the years, I would hear about people who complained of “withdrawal” symptoms which I dismissed – like most people in the medical community.  Many of these patients also had a myriad of complaints – generalized pain, foggy thinking, and other things that were considered to be indicative of a hypochondriac or chronic complainer.  Turns out maybe I was wrong.

SSRIs and other “next generation” antidepressants CAN cause withdrawal symptoms.  Some (not all but some) patients may experience symptoms of withdrawal such as Anxiety.

  • Anxiety
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Light-headedness and dizziness
  • Fatigue, headache and flu-like symptoms
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Loss of coordination, tremors and muscle spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nightmares and difficulty sleeping

Most people don’t experience these – or have only a mild reaction.  Unfortunately, even “tapering” down won’t make that much difference as the symptoms may take a long time to go away – but the withdrawal is real and shouldn’t be dismissed!

Melissa Lind

Depression in Children

It may not seem possible, and most people don’t want to think about depression in children.

Different from developmental disorders such as ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorders and different from mental disorders such as Schizophrenia, which have obvious symptoms, Depression can occur in children.

Childhood DepressionUp until about 20 years ago, depression in children wasn’t widely recognized.  It wasn’t that the depression didn’t exist; it was undoubtedly just that we didn’t know about it.  Two decades ago, even if the child was aware that “something” was wrong, the parents, teachers, and other adults were likely to dismiss it as a “stage” or “phase” that the child was going through.

There were several reasons for that way of thinking, such as:

  • A belief that children didn’t get depression – adolescents were dismissed as “moody,” younger children were dismissed as “difficult.”
  • Medication available for depression wasn’t appropriate for children due to severe side effects.  Newer antidepressants were not available until Prozac was approved in 1988 for adults.  These medications known as “serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors” (SSRIs) were not approved for children until 2002 and to date, only Prozac is recommended for depression in children though Zoloft and Luvox may be used for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in children.
  • The long-term effects of depression were not yet known.  Depression at any age can contribute to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Today, we recognize childhood depression.  About 11 percent of children have experienced at least one episode of childhood depression before the age of 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Normal behavior can certainly vary from child to child and from age to age – as children are prone to “stages” that they will grow out of.  But if a child has an extended period of depression – it is something that should be properly addressed. Such serious issues should not be taken lightly.

Juveniles (those up to age 17) often have different symptoms of depression than those common in adults.  Children with depression may be excessively sad and lethargic, but depression may also show as:

  • Complaints of illness
  • Refusal to go to school
  • Clinging to a parent or caregiver
  • Excessive worrying
  • Sulking
  • Grouchiness
  • Anxiety
  • Acting out at school
  • Excessive negativeness
  • Feelings of being misunderstood

Depressed FeelingsThese symptoms are occasionally experienced by most children as they are growing up, but when symptoms persist for several months or interrupt normal activities and development, more investigation is needed.  One needs to find out what the cause may be.  If a child is being bullied – he or she may not want to go to school.  If a child complains of illness – it may truly be sick.  On the other hand if these events occur over and over, you need to discuss the problem with a doctor.  You may also need to see a child psychiatrist or psychologist.  In some cases, therapy may be warranted but in other cases, the child may benefit from medication suitable for depression.

In any event, you should not ignore symptoms of depression or any other mental illness signs – but investigate them.  It may be that your child is “going through a stage”, but it may be more serious.

Children complaining of illness may be depressed!

Dispelling a Few Myths about Bipolar Disorder

Dispelling myths about Bipolar Disorder

Hello again, fellow wackos and electronic rubberneckers!Bipolar?

If you’re here because you’re like me—just a little “off”—then welcome. If you’re here to learn about bipolar disorder, stick around, because I know a thing or two and I like to talk. If you’re here to watch the train wreck happen, hoping I’ll melt down and post something crazy about the talking wombats that live in my refrigerator and their TV viewing habits… well, you’ll probably be a little disappointed. I may be a freak, but I’m not crazy.
Yeah, that’s right. I just called myself a freak. I figure if other people are going to call me that, I can probably get away with saying it myself. Wacko, nutcase, loony, psycho… There are lots of things people say about bipolar disorder, and many of them just aren’t true. Let’s take a look at a few of those things right now.

Bipolar Myth #1People with bipolar disorder aren’t really sick.
Bipolar SkelletonSome people say that bipolar disorder is “all in your head.” They say things like “everyone gets depressed. You just need to suck it up and deal with it like everyone else.” If this is true, then diabetics just need to get over their illness, too. I mean, too much sugar is bad for everyone, right?
Just as a diabetic’s body doesn’t process sugars properly, a person with bipolar disorder’s brain doesn’t process dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine quite right.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Take it from research scientists at the University of Michigan who’ve studied Abnormal Brain Chemistry Found in Bipolar Disorder. They know what they’re talking about.
I’m just some freak, remember?
So, you can tell me I don’t have a “real” disease and that I just need to deal with it, but first you gotta tell Ms. Diabetic to eat six Twinkies and deal with it. Go ahead. I’ll call 911 while she’s chewing.
This myth is so prevalent that insurance companies are allowed to treat it—or more accurately NOT treat it—like it isn’t a “real” disease. The last health insurance I had would pay for 80% of the bill if I had to have major surgery, but only 50% if I saw a doctor for bipolar disorder. Also, they limited the number of times I could see a doctor for treatment to 12 times a year. Tell you what… let’s limit diabetics to 12 insulin shots per year and see how well they do.
What? We shouldn’t do that because they could get sick and die?
Well, people with bipolar disorder die, too. In fact, without proper treatment, 20% of them commit suicide. That’s one in five, folks. I’d say that constitutes a serious health risk. Maybe this bipolar thing is a real disease after all.

Bipolar Myth #2People with bipolar disorder are beyond hope.
He’s got bipolar disorder. He’s crazy. He can’t be helped. He’s a lost cause. Or is he?
The fact is—he isn’t. Bipolar disorder is one of the EASIEST conditions to treat. There are several effective medications, some of which have been in use for quite a while. Lithium, for example, has been around since the 1950’s. Lithium doesn’t work for everyone, though. That’s why there’s Lamictal, Depakote, Zoloft, Tegretol, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Effexor, and a partridge in a pear tree. A psychiatrist can tinker with medications until he finds a combination that works.
Medications can help, but so can just talking. Talk therapy did me more good than any pill ever did. However, without the pills, I probably wouldn’t have listened to anything when I was at rock bottom.
The point is this: people with bipolar disorder CAN be helped. So if you have bipolar disorder or know someone who does, don’t give up. There is hope.
Well gang, it looks like I’m over word count. I told you I like to talk! We’ll talk some more next time when I dispel a few more myths about bipolar disorder.
So to all my friends and fellow freaks, until next time… keep fighting!

Bruce Anderson

Read more here: Words As Weapons And Another Bipolar Myth Dispelled