Are antidepressants addictive?


Question from Linda G: Are antidepressants addictive? I read that a group of women in California had the labeling of Paxil changed because that drug IS addictive. Is that true?
Answers - Diane Thompson Some people notice what we refer to as a 'discontinuation syndrome' when they stop taking certain antidepressant medications. This seems to occur more often with some antidepressants than with others. Paxil (chemical name: paroxetine) has been noted to produce a discontinuation syndrome that feels much like the flu when the medication is stopped abruptly. This doesn't happen to everyone, but for those who experience it, it can be quite uncomfortable. If someone is taking Paxil, I encourage her to discuss tapering this medication when she and her doctor decide it is time to stop treatment. However, Paxil is NOT addictive.

Editor's Note: If you are taking tamoxifen, talk to your doctor about which antidepressants are safe for you to take. Some antidepressants -- including Paxil, Wellbutrin (chemical name: bupropion), Prozac (chemical name: fluoxetine), Cymbalta (chemical name: duloxetine), and Zoloft (chemical name: sertraline) -- interfere with the body's ability to convert tamoxifen into its active form, preventing you from getting the full benefit of tamoxifen. For more information, please visit the Tamoxifen page.

On Wednesday, March 19, 2003, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Overcoming Depression. Rosalind Kleban, M.S.W., Diane S. Thompson, M.D., and Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. answered your questions about medication and lifestyle changes that can ease depression along with to put hope, fun, and pleasure back into your life during and after breast cancer treatment.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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