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Can You Ever Come off Anti-Depressants?

Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana

2 min read

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Antidepressants can be instrumental in relieving the symptoms of depression, but as patients begin to get better, they often wonder if they have to take the pills forever. Most psychiatrists renew the prescription indefinitely if the patient is doing well to prevent a relapse, but antidepressants are often accompanied by side effects such as headaches, drowsiness, decreased libido, and insomnia.

That’s why it might sometimes be acceptable to come off the pill when you no longer need it and it’s doing more harm than good.

Easing Withdrawal Symptoms:

However, the decision to stop antidepressants must be made by a physician, and not by the patient. A doctor or a therapist will provide the required support to ensure that you are not going off the pills prematurely, as this can result in a recurrence of depression.

Once you decide to come off the medicines, your doctor should outline steps to minimize or avoid the withdrawal symptoms that may appear if the pills are quitted too quickly.

In certain cases, your physician may prescribe another medication on for a short period of time to ease the symptoms and help your body adjust. You might be put on the new pill before you are allowed to completely quit the original antidepressant.

Antidepressants alter the levels of neurotransmitters that attach to nerve cells throughout the body and affect their activity. In response to medications, the nerve cells adapt to the new level of neurotransmitters. However, if you abruptly stop taking the medicines, this level will change a lot in a short period of time. Although this is not dangerous medically, it can be very uncomfortable.

The antidepressants that influence the system the most, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are linked to many withdrawal symptoms which are sometimes referred to as the antidepressant or SRI discontinuation syndrome.

On the other hand, coming off antidepressants which do not affect the serotonin system, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), is less bothersome, although some patients may experience severe irritability.

However, the discontinuation symptoms do not indicate an antidepressant addiction. Only a few patients who antidepressants develop a craving as drug addicts do. Moreover, SRI stops working sometimes and this may necessitate a dosage increase.

Coming Off Antidepressants:

There are a couple of things to consider if you decide to quit antidepressants. Most clinicians recommend staying on the pills for at least six to nine months before going off them. For patients who had a relapse three or more times, it is recommended that they stay on the prescribed medication for at least two years.

As mentioned before, it is crucial to talk to your clinician before coming off the pills. It is essential that you do not quit antidepressants when you are under stress or when your life circumstances are unstable.

Your doctor may taper down your dose before allowing you to come off the pill completely. You might also want to consider psychotherapy, which can reduce the chances of a relapse. It is also crucial that you nurture your mind and body with a good diet and take up a physical activity as it can make up for the changes in serotonin levels as you come off the medications.

If you feel that you no longer need antidepressants, talk to a doctor who will determine the future course of action. You can book an appointment with a top Psychiatrist in Faisalabad, Karachi, and Islamabad through oladoc.com.

You can also call our helpline at 042-3250-044 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana - Author Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana is among the Best Psychiatrists in Lahore. Dr. Nusrat Habib Rana is a Psychiatrist practicing in Lahore. She is Ph.D from Spain, MD from China and MCPS from Pakistan. If you wish to seek her advice on mental health issues, please visit oladoc and get an appointment with her.
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