Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Antidepressants Linked to Suicide Risk?  

Antidepressants Linked to Suicide Risk

The cycle of antidepressants and addiction might feel like an endless tunnel with a dim light never to brighten. Depression is a complex and varied mental illness that affects everyone differently. Dual diagnosis treatment options exist to improve the odds of returning to a sober, happy, and productive life.

Unfortunately, many treatments remain relatively linear. People go to therapy because they want to feel better, or at least a little less bad. When a counselor or psychologist recommends trying antidepressants, they may feel like the only option because nothing else has worked so far. Over time, a dependency develops for the antidepressants. And while therapists are well-intentioned, they may not be able to treat the psychological and mental addiction powerful drugs can create.

Some people experience amazing changes when they take antidepressants coupled with good therapy. Others find that the drugs only make their depression worse. Years of researching the effects of various treatment models for depression show that it is not as easy as taking a magic pill. Depression is primarily a disease of the mind, not the brain. This means that while chemical imbalances may influence someone’s risk and experience with depression, brain chemistry in and of itself is not the problem nor a solution.

Despite their widespread use, antidepressants have a long and controversial history. The most concerning risk and consequence lie in the increased number of suicides among people who take them. [1]

Can Antidepressants Make Depression Worse?

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are designed to treat depression by stabilizing certain neurotransmitters in the brain linked to mood and emotions. For some people, antidepressants can give them a much-needed “boost” to begin tackling their symptoms. This can mean better sleep and more energy. Even offering a slightly increased outlook on life makes them more likely to treat their depression than cope with it.

Unfortunately, the chemical imbalance theory of depression does not hold as much weight as the general population believes. The theory that mental illnesses, especially depression, are solely caused and carried out by chemical imbalances has never been scientifically proven. While there are definite biological factors at play, the widespread theory that depression is solely a chemical problem has given SSRIs a reputation as a cure that they alone cannot provide.

Without realizing this, someone who believes the chemical imbalance theory of depression might take antidepressants only to feel worse. This can cause them to feel like a failure and believe there really is no hope for them. In some cases, altering the brain chemistry with antidepressants leads to lower moods, worse emotional regulation, and greater thoughts of suicide and self-harm. This connected helix of thought between the belief in chemical imbalance and failure of prescribed medications can lead to suicide. The rates of suicide among those who have taken antidepressants are a staggering 66-times higher than that of the general population. [2]

To counter this, people may begin to self-medicate instead. If they cannot get rid of their depression entirely, they can at least numb it through other substances. But drugs, alcohol, and prescription medications are only masks. They can never provide the relief and recovery that are truly possible with the right care.

Does Depression Ever Go Away?

It is hard to tell someone who has been through depression that they will never feel low again, even after successful treatment. Mental illness changes your life forever, but that does not mean it always has to be for the worse. People can recover, thrive, and enjoy life again. They can overcome depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and addiction to lead a purposeful life. It all starts with getting the right help. For many, therapy alone is not enough, so they investigate rehab instead.

If you or someone you love has been using substances to cope with your depression, you may not have a full-blown substance use disorder. However, you could still benefit from dual diagnosis treatment or a mental health rehab program. Rather than seeing substances as your only tool for relief, you can see how they may be hindering your progress. Recognizing their temporary value but long-term downsides make it easier to gain a better perspective.

Dual diagnosis treatment is designed to help you build the tools and skills you need to make meaningful improvements in the struggle against antidepressants and addiction. This means accepting yourself as who you are right now, even though the person might not be anywhere close to who you want to be. Growth starts from here, always.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Help is Available

Depression can last for a few months, years, or a lifetime. But there is always help available and techniques to make things better. Clear Life Recovery specializes in depression treatment with dual diagnosis and therapies. One day at a time, the right treatment can help you begin to free yourself from all the destructive thoughts and habits you have used to cope. Our trusted staff will help you find new strategies for handling depression on our own terms. If you or someone you love is struggling with antidepressants and addiction, contact Clear Life Recovery today.




[1] https://addictionrecoveryebulletin.org/antidepressants-still-linked-to-increased-suicide-risk/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034101/