Antidepressants are prescription medicines you may take to help with depression, anxiety, or pain. Like any medicine, there are reasons you may take antidepressants for a while, then consider no longer taking them.
Stopping your medications may be the right choice for you, but first you should talk with your health care provider. The safe way to stop taking this medicine is to lower the dose over time. If you stop taking the medicine suddenly you are at risk for:
Write down all of the reasons you want to stop taking the medicine.
Do you still feel depressed? Is the medicine not working? If so, think about:
If you have side effects, write down what they are and when they happen. Your health care provider may be able to adjust your medication to improve these problems.
Do you have other concerns about taking this medicine?
Do you think the problem may be gone, and you wonder if you could stop the medicine now?
Take your list of reasons to stop taking the medicine to the health care provider who prescribed it. Talk about each point.
Then, ask your health care provider:
Find out whether there are other things you can do to address your reasons for stopping the medicine, such as:
Get the information you need to make a good decision. Think about your health and what is important to you. This conversation with your health care provider will help you decide whether to:
Make sure you understand what you need to do to stop the medicine safely. Ask your health care provider how to lower the dose of this medicine over time. Do not stop taking this medicine suddenly.
As you reduce the amount of medicine you take, write down any symptoms you feel and when you feel them, to discuss with your health care provider.
Depression or anxiety might not come back right away when you stop taking the medicine, but it may come back in the future. If you start to feel depressed or anxious again, call your doctor. Similarly, you should call your doctor if you experience the withdrawal symptoms listed above. It is especially important to get help if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or others.
Huffman JC, Alpert JE. An approach to the pyschopharmacologic care of patients: antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, and natural remedies. Med Clin North Am. 2010 Nov 1;94(6):1141-60.
Rotherberg B, Schneck CD. Anxiety and depression. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 47.
Updated by: David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc
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