Recognizing And Responding To Antidepressant Overdose


Overdosing on any drug is potentially harmful to humans, but prescription antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication can be especially serious. If you carry antidepressants with you, or have a family member who takes them regularly, you should be aware of the symptoms of overdose, how to respond to overdose, and how to properly store and regulate medication to make sure that accidental overdose does not occur.

Symptoms Of Overdose

It is actually more typical than you may think for depressed individuals to use more medication than recommended by their prescription, often without intention to cause themselves harm. Overdose symptoms are acute-- they are the result of taking too many pills at once, resulting in immediate, life-threatening danger. Symptoms include:

  • seizures, tremors, and involuntary eye movement. Because antidepressants affect the nervous system, overdosing can cause the nerves to be overstimulated. The central nervous system will react to millions of nerves that can't stop firing. Most people will lose control of their muscles because their nerves aren't working properly. Other side effects of losing nerve control is the inability to go to the bathroom and deliriousness. 
  • racing pulse, low blood pressure, and irregular heart beat. The other part of the body that is most affected by antidepressant overdose is the cardiovascular system. The heart beat depends on regular electrical impulses from the nervous system. When these impulses become erratic, the heart will not beat properly. If the overdose is not treated in time, the victim can go into cardiac arrest.

First Aid Response

If you recognize the symptoms of antidepressant overdose, you need to act quickly in order to preserve the life of the victim. The chances of death from overdosing decrease dramatically if medical help is provided in a timely manner. In fact, if victims are able to make it to a health care facility, only 2-3% of cases result in fatality. 

  1. Call 911 immediately, especially if the person is already unconscious.
  2. Determine if the person is still breathing. If they are not breathing, or if breathing is very shallow (as can be expected from extremely low blood pressure), you should begin CPR. Make sure you know the procedure for child CPR if the victim is younger than 8. You can look online for classes in  first aid and CPR training near you.
  3. Contact (or have another person contact) the Poison Control Center. Have the bottle of antidepressant on hand so that you can tell the exact drug and dosage. They will direct you on how to proceed. Unless specifically instructed to do so, do not give the victim any food, water, or make them throw up.

If the victim is still having active seizures, you will need to make sure he or she is stable until help arrives. Lay the person on a clear spot of ground on a comfortable mat if you have one. Remove glasses, jewelry, or any clothing can could lead to further injury. Never try to hold a victim down or prevent them from moving during a seizure. Keep the breathing passage clear by turning the person onto his or her side if possible. For the information of the medical professionals, you can time the seizures, especially if there is more than one.

Medication Safety

Even though intentional overdoses do occur, accidental poisoning is a reality. Children, especially, will not know about the serious side effects of these medications. Therefore:

  • always dispose of old prescriptions, even if you think you might need the pills again. You can get new ones from your care provider if you need them in the future. 
  • never leave pill bottles within reach of a child. Try not to keep them in your purse or on the kitchen counter. If you can, keep them in a locked cabinet.
  • explain to you children the purpose of medication. If you have a teen who is taking medication, make sure they follow correct safety procedures and keep pills away from younger siblings. 


2 April 2015

Frequently Asked Questions About Airport Transportation

Typically, my husband and I ask our neighbor to give us a ride to the airport when we are going on a trip. In return, we drive her when she needs a ride there. However, we were going out of town soon and she was feeling under the weather, so I decided to go about seeking other arrangements. I was surprised to learn just how many ways one could get to the airport. You could take a limo, town car, taxi or ride share. I created this website to give information about each of these options and answer some of the questions you may have about each option.