Addiction and Depression – Do Antidepressants Work?
Despite some high-profile research suggesting that antidepressants are ineffective, most clinical studies find that this category of drugs can elevate mood and treat depression in most cases. Although depression isn’t completely understood, the symptoms can be treated effectively. Antidepressants don’t cure depression, but they are effective at relieving symptoms. Similar results apply to a dual diagnosis of addiction and substance abuse. However, this combination of disorders requires a more careful and balanced treatment approach, which dual diagnosis OC offers.
Best Treatment Protocol for Addiction and Depression
Difficulties can arise when treating a dual diagnosis of depression and addiction. Some people fear that effective treatment just substitutes one problem for another. It is accepted as truth that addictive-prone people can become just as addicted to antidepressants as other dangerous substances. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Most antidepressants don’t supply a rush or buzz. People can become dependent on any medication, but the risks of extreme addiction and dangerous addictive behaviors are minimal when the right antidepressants are found. Continuous medical treatment of depression becomes possible and beneficial.
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What Happens When Antidepressants are Stopped
Although there can be withdrawal symptoms because antidepressants change the chemistry of the brain, people who suffer from depression usually need to stay on their medication indefinitely unless side effects or reactions occur. Patients might become irritable if their medication is changed, but it’s a lot more manageable than addiction to other substances such as heroin, painkillers and alcohol. 
Addiction and Depression Statistics
The World Health Organization reveals that depression ranks as the leading cause of work and social disability, which affects 350 million people around the world.  Another group of statistics reveals these insights into dual cases of depression and substance abuse: 
- Millions of U.S. residents live with a dual diagnosis of co-occurring mental disorders.
- About 24.6 million Americans have a substance abuse problem.
- More than 50 percent of those diagnosed with a dual disorder receive no treatment for either condition.
- Either condition can occur first and trigger the other condition.
- The symptoms of each condition tend to aggravate the symptoms of the other disorder.
- Of those who receive treatment, 34 percent receive therapy and 2 percent receive drug rehab, but only 12 percent get help for both syndromes.
There is no single group of characteristics that define people who have a dual disorder. Treating one condition–without treating the underlying depression–is not effective. That’s why treating each condition simultaneously with medication, behavioral intervention, support groups, therapy and long-term follow-up care has proven more effective for most people who receive a dual diagnosis. A balanced therapeutic approach works well when patients are treated in a clinical setting with an expert team of specialists in dual-diagnosis treatment.
How Antidepressants Work
Several types of antidepressants are prescribed worldwide. Different medications work on the brain in unique ways, and the results often vary because of genetic predispositions and other factors. In general, antidepressants affect the neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain to improve mood and generate positive emotion.Substance abuse cases include alcohol, opioid, marijuana and prescription medication addiction. Depression can be caused by different mental conditions, and researchers have yet to determine exactly why this disorder occurs.
However, most experts believe that low serotonin levels in the brain are strong contributory factors. Serotonin levels are linked to appetite, mood and motor, autonomic and cognitive functions.  Here’s a brief overview of some of the most common drugs used to treat depression: 
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors These drugs, called SSRIs, prevent the brain from reabsorbing certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Brand name drugs in this class include Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft and others. The drugs cause released neurotransmitters to stay in the synapses instead of being reabsorbed by the brain, which increases their level in the nervous system. This result is thought to trigger a more positive outlook on life and feelings of well-being.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors These were the first type of antidepressants. They’re not used very often today because they can produce dangerous side effects and interactions with other drugs.
Serotonin And Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors
- Serotonin And Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors These drugs are newer types of antidepressants and include Cymbalta, Effexor, Khedezla, Fetzima and Pristiq.
- Tetracyclics These drugs include Asenden, Ludiomil and Remeron. These antidepressants prevent reuptake by stopping neurotransmitters from binding with nerve receptors.
Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors
- Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors This drug works like SSRIs, but the only current version approved for use is Wellbutrin, which prevents reuptake of norepinephrine and Dopamine.
Serotonin Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitors
- Serotonin Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitors These drugs act in two ways. First, they prevent reuptake of serotonin. They also prevent serotonin from binding with undesired receptors that might trigger bouts of depression.
Which Antidepressant Can I Take if I’m In Addiction Recovery?
Each case is different, and mental health specialists can choose from many combinations of antidepressants to find the best treatment option. Most antidepressants don’t actually trigger addiction, but they can cause dependence. However, it’s important to continue treating the symptoms of depression, so dependence is an acceptable risk when compared the dangers of a dual diagnosis of substance abuse and depression.
Choosing the Right Treatment Facility for Dual Diagnosis OC
Ocean Hills Recovery, which is located in Orange County, California, enjoys a high success rate in treating dual-diagnosis conditions. Our facility also holds CARF accreditation, which is an international group that accredits more than 50,000 top medical programs and services worldwide. 
Our experts understand that each case is different, but they follow a balanced approach of treating both depression and substance abuse at the same time with a course of therapy, group support, antidepressant medication and behavioral modification. If you suspect that a friend or loved one suffers from dual mental disorders, it’s important to take a proactive approach to get treatment. The road to recovery can be rocky, but genuine healing almost never occurs without some professional treatment. Contact Ocean Hills Recovery today for help.
 Rehabs.com: Why Can’t Antidepressants and Recovery Go Together?
 Dualdiagnosis.org: Antidepressant Addiction | Dual Diagnosis
 Dualdiagnosis.org: Important Statistics on Dual Diagnosis
 Medicalnewstoday.com: Can antidepressants really help to treat depression?
 Webmd.com: How Different Antidepressants Work
 Carf.org: Home
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATC). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.