Can You Overdose on Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are a type of medication that helps treat depression and prevent it from returning. They are occasionally used to treat people with long term pains, including back pain and are also used to treat other conditions including:

  • OCD  (obsessive compulsive disorder)
  • GAD (generalized anxiety disorder)
  • PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)

While they are helpful, they can also be harmful if not taken correctly.

Can You Overdose On Antidepressants?

Antidepressants overdoes is a strong possibility and is very dangerous. Be careful when taking antidepressants and never self-medicate yourself to avoid any dangerous result. Prescription drugs are the most common drug for Americans to overdose on. And antidepressants are among the most common cause of drug poisoning. These prescription drugs remain active in the body for over 24 hours (this is known as the half-life), which causes the user to accidentally overdose as they continue to take more and more, which is extremely dangerous. 

Signs of Overdosing on Antidepressants

1. Central Nervous System Effects

  • Antidepressants treat depression by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. If you overdose on antidepressants, these chemicals become overactive and can harm your brain and spinal cord (your central nervous system).
  • This also affects the part of your brain that controls movement and coordination, causing your muscles to contract and spasm.
  • Additionally the overdose can cause you to lose control over your eye muscles and can cause seizures, and can ultimately result in a coma.

2. Cardiovascular Instability

  • Not only do antidepressants impact your central nervous system but they also affect the way sodium enters your cardiovascular system. This impacts the heart's ability to do its job properly, and overdosing can lead to irregular heartbeats.
  • This disruption can lead to hypotension or low blood pressure, which can lead to cardiac arrest and eventually death.

3. Muscle Effects

Can you overdose on antidepressants? It's never a safe idea. If you overdose on antidepressants, you can block the neurotransmitter in the brain that stimulates muscles, resulting in dry mouth, fever, muscle twitches and blurred vision.

4. Other Symptoms

  • Rapid pulse
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to urinate
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Respiratory arrest

Treating an Overdose on Antidepressants

The two biggest concerns when overdosing on antidepressants are the impact on the central nervous system and the impact on the heart.

Medical help includes:

  • Support for your airways through a ventilation system
  • Hydrating the body using fluids inserted into the vein
  • Controlling seizures through different medication
  • Ensuring the individual who overdosed is safe in the future
  • Inserting sodium bicarbonate into the blood to reduce acid levels
  • Helping the stomach using charcoal
  • Monitor and treat the heartbeat

Taking Your Antidepressant Correctly

Can you overdose on antidepressants? Yes. Therefore it is important to monitor them and take them correctly.

  • Antidepressants are usually taken in tablet form and are prescribed by your doctor, who will give you the lowest amount possible to treat your symptoms. The aim here is to reduce the risk of side effects, therefore you will take between one to three tablets a day and the strength of these tablets will be monitored. If they are not helping, the strength can then be increased.
  • Doctors normally recommend staying on antidepressants for six months, and state that you should notice a difference up to four weeks in. If you have not noticed any improvement, then your dose may need to be increased.
  • If you have experienced depression before, you may need to stay on the tablets for two years or in more serious cases, for the foreseeable future.
  • As there are side effects with taking antidepressants, your doctor will most likely weigh up the seriousness of your condition with the effects of the tablet. If your illness is severe, you may need to continue treatment; however, if it is mild then you may be able to stop after a short period of time.

Missed a Dose of Tablets?

Try not to miss any doses of your medication as this can impact the effectiveness of your treatment. If you do miss a dose then take the next one as soon as possible; however, do not take two tablets at one time if it is time for your next dose. You should contact your doctor immediately if you take more tablets as you can overdose on antidepressants.

Want to Stop Your Antidepressants?

Do not just suddenly stop taking your antidepressants, no matter how you feel. This can be really damaging and can cause the following symptoms:

  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • stomach pain
  • flu
  • seizures

If you decide to come off antidepressants, you should talk to your doctor who will reduce your dose over a few weeks. If you come off too soon your condition can return, or if you have only been taking the tablets for a few weeks they may not have even kicked in.

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