One of the most important steps in antidepressant treatment is deciding when and how to stop taking your medication. Quitting “cold turkey” can result in withdrawal symptoms that are not only uncomfortable, but can also be confused for the original symptoms you were trying to treat, causing you to unnecessarily remain on antidepressants. Here’s how to safely come off antidepressants and avoid withdrawal or relapse.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Coming Off Antidepressants
work closely with your doctor. Your doctor can help minimize your withdrawal symptoms by advising you how to safely come off your antidepressants. Keep your doctor informed of any side effects you’re experiencing so that he can adjust your dosage accordingly and taper it at a pace that allows your brain to adjust to the absence of the medication.
quit cold turkey. Abruptly quitting antidepressants can create withdrawal symptoms that interfere with your ability to function without medication. Signs and symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal vary, depending on the medication, and may include irritability, anxiety, sadness, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. You can avoid these unpleasant withdrawal symptoms by working with your doctor to develop a plan to safely come off your antidepressants.
confuse withdrawal symptoms with a relapse. It’s very common for patients who are experiencing withdrawal to believe they are experiencing the old symptoms they were originally trying to treat. This can cause them to stay on their medication for an unnecessarily long period of time. Continue working with a mental health professional who can monitor your well-being and help you through feelings of anxiety, sadness and irritability with talk therapy rather than returning to medications.
continue psychotherapy. Antidepressants work by covering up the symptoms of a mental health problem, but they aren’t a cure for the underlying issues causing the problems. Even though you feel well enough to come off your antidepressants, continue your therapy sessions to ensure you don’t relapse into old behaviors, feelings and symptoms.
practice a healthy lifestyle. Numerous studies show that healthy, balanced diet and regular exercising play a major role in boosting your mood, energy and self-esteem, and help reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia. Consult with a nutritionist or holistic practitioner who can recommend vitamin and herbal supplements that can treat your symptoms. Also consider “centering” exercises, such as yoga and meditation to find balance and inner peace.
If you’ve decided to come of antidepressants, the most important thing you can do is consult with a doctor or mental health practitioner. At Casa Palmera, we believe in a holistic approach to mental health treatment that combines traditional antidepressant and talk therapy with natural methods of mental health treatment. The result is a total mind, body and emotional healing. If you feel like you’re ready to come of antidepressants, call Casa Palmera today and ask how our holistic depression/anxiety treatment program can help you accomplish your goals.