Posted by Deborah Pujoue on October 17, 2011
As more and more information keeps coming up about the birth defect dangers of taking SSRI medications like Paxil, Effexor, Zoloft and Prozac, a great many women may be thinking about quitting the medication before getting pregnant. At least, that is what I am hoping. Of course, once the decision to quit is made, the hard part is still ahead. It’s not quite the same as, say, refusing wine with dinner.
Many SSRI medications are highly addictive and can be harder to quit than smoking or drug addiction. The side effects from withdrawal are worse than the condition that caused you to take the medication in the first place. Symptoms include anxiety, intense insomnia, panic attacks, extraordinarily vivid dreams, extreme confusion during waking hours and even an intense fear of losing your sanity. More side effects from quitting can be found at quitpaxil.org.
But despite all of the potential pitfalls of quitting antidepressant medications, there is one really good reason to give it a try… your baby. Here are some things to consider before quitting that may help to make the transition easier. These tips were provided by Richard Shelton, professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University.
- Don’t quit cold turkey. Give yourself some time to ease off of your antidepressant because it can help lessen the symptoms of withdrawal and their strength.
- Consider the severity of your condition. Patients that have mild depression and are otherwise extremely healthy have a high chance of successful quitting.
- Give yourself time to quit. Don’t rush the weaning process because you will only fall off the wagon if you do and your symptoms will be worse.
- Try to choose warm months when quitting because it lets you get some sunshine and fresh air when the symptoms feel too debilitating.
- Avoid quitting during stressful times in your life (planning a wedding, after a trauma, etc.)