by felix sipra
The chemical imbalance of the brain that is attributed to depression, often requires the use of a drug to rewire the brain to a normal function. However, due to these chemical imbalances depression causes, and the soothing aspect antidepressants are known for, dependency is dangerous and likely for users. The unfortunate truth is, that despite the necessary and vital role antidepressants play in patients’ lives, they pose a dire threat to all users. While awareness for addiction to painkillers has been making headlines for quite some time, with President Trump declaring it a national emergency, antidepressants have slipped under the radar, and with that so have the victims.
Victims of addiction are often dismissed because there is a notion that there was a conscious decision to become an abuser of such drugs, thus it is ultimately the user’s fault. Antidepressants are in somewhat of a strange situation, because they are given to individuals who are ultimately more prone to making ill thought decisions. A patient with depression given antidepressants is in a more volatile situation than a patient with pain medication, because in most cases a doctor can predict when such medications can be deemed no longer necessary. With antidepressants however, the track towards exiting a major depression is a bit gray, and up to a patient’s ability to communicate their personal feelings, which is difficult for everyone, and a doctor’s ability to correctly assess a patient’s demeanor and statements. Antidepressants were originally meant for short term use of about six to nine months, and most independent researchers, as well as the federal government did not predict or create regulation for long term use. A syndrome known as discontinuation syndrome that categorizes the withdrawal terms for antidepressants, has become rampant across the globe, as long term users try to quit. Since this problem is so new, whereas addiction to opiates has plagued most of history, researchers struggle to pinpoint users who are most at risk of an addiction and what exactly is the best method of combating said addiction. Becoming dependent on these drugs can be particularly dangerous, as along with many other prescription drugs, the short and long term side effects can sometimes outweigh the benefits of taking the drug.
The crisis brewing among users of antidepressants ought to be treated with the same energy and concern as the opioid crisis. With nearly seven percent of all US adults using antidepressants in the long term, it has the potential to become a crisis at a massive scale. Although doctors and researchers are still trying to figure out what exactly to do with this issue an easy start would be to understand that these drugs are not meant to be taken for years at a time but rather for months. If a major depressive episode persists, doctors should reassess prescribing the drug and perhaps look into researching the creation of antidepressants that can be used in the long term without the discontinuation syndrome. The addicts of these drugs are victims just as any other addict of a drug, and they are deserving of people’s concern and willingness to help combat the crisis of addiction.
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