Hi bbnrse - no, they don't make them addictive on purpose. It's that the way they affect a person's brain makes it hard to get off of them. So, while depression is much more complicated than just serotonin and neurotransmitters, something definitely does happen when you start changing the balance of serotonin and neurotransmitters that makes it hard for your body to re-equilibrate or to find its own balance once the drugs are removed. It's kind of like stepping off of a boat after being out at sea - even though the dry land is completely stable, your balance mechanisms have gotten so used to shifting seas, you might feel like you're off balance. Only with depression, that transition is acutely discomforting instead of just disorienting.
I have had success helping people get off antidepressants using the amino acids 5-HTP and Tyrosine, which are neurotransmitter precursors. I used to think that these were valuable as depression treatments, but based on the new evidence I don't think so anymore.
As I mentioned, the drugs do appear to work for severe major depression. However, the studies that indicate this appear to mostly have lasted 4-8 weeks, so they don't tell us much about what happens when you're on the medications for years. I am hoping to find some studies that examine longer-term usage of antidepressants.
Dr. Daniel Heller