Posted by Dana Hinders on May 9, 2012
If you’ve decided that the side effects of your antidepressant medication aren’t worth the benefits, it’s important to remember that you should not just abruptly stop taking your pills. SSRI or SNRI antidepressant withdrawal affects everyone differently, but it’s common to experience side effects like tension headaches, stomach upset, dizziness and lethargy. You will need to work with your healthcare provider in order to gradually reduce your medication dosage. By allowing medications like Paxil, Celexa and Effexor to leave your system gradually, you’ll help limit the number and severity of withdrawal symptoms you are likely to experience.
Social support also is very important when you want to try to withdrawal from your antidepressant medication. Having a spouse, family member and friends to turn to talk about your symptoms and your feelings can make it easier to cope with the physical effects of withdrawal. These people can also help be on the lookout for more serious changes in mood or behavior that might necessitate an immediate call to your healthcare provider.
In some ways, quitting your antidepressant medication is like quitting smoking. The effects of withdrawal, even though they are only temporary, might make you want to go back on your medication. Therefore, doctors often recommend that you set a concrete day for beginning the quitting process and set specific rewards for yourself for reaching your goals. For example, you might treat yourself to a new outfit or an evening out with your friends after two weeks without your medication. If you have very specific reasons for quitting, such as a desire to be free of medication when you plan to conceive, it can be helpful to keep a written reminder of why getting off your antidepressant medication is important to you in a place where you’ll be sure to see it on a regular basis.
If you won’t be taking your antidepressant medication, it is helpful to have a concrete plan in place for managing the symptoms of depression. Many people have had success treating mild to moderate depression with yoga, aromatherapy, meditation and acupuncture. Counseling, support groups and regularly writing in your journal can also be good ways to deal with the effects of depression without antidepressant medications.