You are feeling better, and you and the doctor agree that it is time to stop. You have been taking the medicine for at least 6 months after you feel better. You are having counselling to help you cope with problems and help change how you think and feel. You are not worried about the depression coming back.
Take your time. You may be tempted to stop taking antidepressants as soon as your symptoms ease, but depression can return if you quit too soon. Clinicians generally recommend staying on the medication for six to nine months before considering going off antidepressants.
Usually, you don't need to take antidepressants for more than 6 to 12 months. While they can make you feel better, you can get withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. Some people will get no symptoms when reducing or stopping an antidepressant – but many do.
Can antidepressants cause permanent changes to the brain? Antidepressants can cause changes in neurotransmitter levels and brain function; however, these changes are typically reversible once the medication is stopped.
Meanwhile, patients who benefit from antidepressants may not need to stay on them long term. Some may want to quit because of side effects such as loss of sexual desire or decreased arousal. In other cases, their prescribers may recommend they stop taking the medications.
Many people with depression continue taking antidepressant drugs for months or even years after their symptoms have resolved. This so-called maintenance therapy aims to reduce the risk of relapse. The numbers of people taking maintenance therapy for depression is increasing.
For people with chronic or severe depression, medication may be needed on a long-term basis. In these cases, antidepressants are often taken indefinitely.
People taking Paxil and Effexor often have more intense withdrawal symptoms. These drugs have short half-lives and leave the body faster than drugs with long half-lives. The faster an antidepressant leaves the body, the worse the withdrawal symptoms. This is because of the sudden imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
Acute withdrawal: The acute withdrawal phase can last six to eight weeks. 8 During this phase, you may begin to experience flu-like symptoms, have greater fatigue, and notice increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
Clinicians usually recommend that people continue taking antidepressants for about six months after they begin feeling better. Although it is tempting to stop taking the medication as soon as you feel better, abruptly stopping will greatly increase your risk of relapse.
Quitting without consulting a doctor can be dangerous to your physical and mental health; suicide is often a major concern when SSRIs and similar medications are stopped suddenly. It can also trigger worse symptoms and a relapse of depression or anxiety.
It's usually recommended that a course of antidepressants continues for at least 6 months after you feel better, to prevent your condition recurring when you stop. Some people with recurrent illness are advised to carry on taking medicine indefinitely.
Antidepressant withdrawal is possible if you abruptly stop taking an antidepressant, particularly if you've been taking it longer than four to six weeks. Symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal are sometimes called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome and typically last for a few weeks.
In the case of SSRIs, SNRIs, and related medications, the effects of taking antidepressants when not depressed can include developing a condition known as serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of this condition include the following: Confusion. Agitation.
It's important not to miss any of your doses, because this could make your treatment less effective.
In studies on adults with moderate or severe depression, 40–60% report improvements within 6–8 weeks. Those who wish to come off antidepressants because they feel better should ideally wait for at least 6–9 months after complete symptom remission before stopping their medication.
The most common signs your antidepressant dose is too strong are symptoms of serotonin syndrome. If you become overly elated, tense with your loved ones, or irritated and have mood swings, this indicates that you are taking high antidepressant doses.
Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome (ADS) Timeline
The symptoms typically last 1-3 weeks and will typically peak within the first week.
— Bupropion and venlafaxine were ranked #1 and #2 respectively in highest mortality rates among the second-generation ADs; bupropion had the highest morbidity rate. — Among the SSRIs, citalopram was the most dangerous, and in one comparison, it was four times more likely to be fatal than sertraline and escitalopram.
Specifically, weight gain seems to be a common long-term risk, especially the medications that affect serotonin levels. This could be because serotonin is associated with an increase in appetite. There is also a risk of higher blood sugar levels and diabetes with taking antidepressants long-term.
During long-term SSRI therapy, the most troubling adverse effects are sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and sleep disturbance.
“Even though they say your meds are 'non-habit forming,' you can still have serious, debilitating withdrawals when you try to get off of them, and there's no telling how long they will last.” — Matthew A. 3. “I didn't know antidepressants could affect your libido.
Some people will feel worse after starting an antidepressant. The worsening symptoms could involve increased depression, lower energy, and poorer sleep. In the worst situations, it could lead to suicidal thoughts, actions, and death.
What is emotional blunting? “Emotional blunting” is a term used to describe having a limited or muted emotional response to events. This could be different from the reaction that you'd typically expect. With this symptom, you may also have difficulty accessing the full range of emotions that you're used to.