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Antidepressants are medications that are prescribed to help treat chronic symptoms of depression.

Antidepressants help regulate a person’s emotions and sense of wellbeing by increasing the availability of certain chemicals found in the brain like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Click here to see a list of common antidepressants.

Taking antidepressants with certain foods or some specific medications can cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

Two of these effects are Serotonin Syndrome and Hypertensive Crisis (high blood pressure).

Click here to read more about these two medical conditions.

All antidepressants require a prescription for use, and each prescription is written with an individual’s current and past medical history in mind. Because of the personal nature of each prescription, sharing antidepressants can result in unintentionally harming someone else.

What can happen when antidepressants are taken inappropriately?

Taking more of your antidepressant than directed or taking it with alcohol or certain medications can have serious negative consequences, including:

  • forgetfulness
  • dangerously elevated heart rate
  • lingering grogginess
  • dangerously elevated blood pressure
  • confusion
  • serotonin syndrome
  • seizures
  • death

How can misuse of antidepressant medications be prevented?

If you’re taking a prescription medication for depression, these steps can help prevent a medication poisoning:   

  • Always follow the dosing directions prescribed by your doctor.  
  • Don’t share your medication with others.  Some drug interactions can be life threatening.
  • Tell all your doctors about all of your medications.
  • Make sure all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) are out of the reach of all the children living in or visiting your home.

Call NC Poison Control, your doctor, or your pharmacy if you have questions about your antidepressant and any possible drug interactions with other medications.  You don’t have to wait for a problem to arise before calling NC Poison Control.  You can call with questions, too. 

What should you do if you or someone you know has taken antidepressant medication incorrectly?


If the person is not breathing or not responsive, call 911 immediately.  Otherwise, you can call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for further treatment recommendations. 


If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, click here to find a treatment facility.


Last Updated on 12/04/2023