Coming off antidepressants

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Wilum

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How do you know when it's the right time to come off Antidepressants?

I've been on Mirtazapine 45mg for maybe 2 years now. I've had counseling and CBT and worked really hard on myself to get to a better place. I don't want to be on these pills for the rest of my life, or for years to come. But the thought of stopping them terrifies me. I know I can come off them slowly, and can go back on them if I need to. But every time I feel like I'm in the right frame of mind to do it, the fear of going back to that hopeless void just sends me into a downward spiral...

Any advice?
 

Shayna

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I may be the wrong person to chime in on this topic, as I have no plans to go off my AD.

I would ask - why do you feel the need to stop taking something that helps you?

Would you ask a diabetic to stop taking insulin?

Just my $.02
 
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Wilum

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@Japaholic Not a dumb question at all. I used to run a lot, and I know it really helped my mental health. I don't want to make excuses, but I went through a hellish time last year and stopped running, then found it really hard to start again. I got a rescue dog in March, and I walk him before and after I go to work. So that is a little exercise, though no where near as good as running. To be honest, I was planning on getting a Beagle who would have been a perfect running partner, but his owners decided to keep him... I ended up giving a home to a little Jack Russell cross, who I love to bits and is great company. He is just unfortunately not made for running... lol.
@Shayna You actually raise a very good point. I guess I've just always had the possibly wrong view that antidepressants are more of a short term, quick fix while you tackle the real issues. I know some people have persistent depression, and do need to take medication for ever. But I've had CBT and counselling which helped me a lot, so I guess I feel like I shouldn't need the medication any more, and that it's just a crutch. But your point has really made me think about it, and it's just the stigma that mental health problems are somehow a sign of weakness, which is of course a load of rubbish. If I need the medication, I need it!

Thank you both, you have given me a lot to think about. I really appreciate your input :lovedup:
 

Shayna

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@Wilum I wish you all the best. I once felt like you did, and I came off my ADs. However, I did it because I was in a relationship with someone who said that I shouldn't be taking these.

Long story short, I ended up going back on these after the relationship ended, and I haven't stopped since -- even though I am in a much better relationship now.

Only you can decide what is right for you. However, I hope you won't let internalized stigma interfere if these are something that makes your life better.
 

billyboy

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How do you know when it's the right time to come off Antidepressants?

When you and your psychiatrist make the decision.

If you're suffering from a chronic mental illness, and not being depressed because your dog was run over by a car, you'll probably need to take some sort of medication for the rest of your life.

I do and it's not a big deal to me.
 

Caffeine2011

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If that is the only medication you're taking I would definitely taper off of it and not just stop abruptly. I read a post on here about someone else who was on 15mg Mirtazapine (Remeron) that tried to go from 15mg to 7.5 mg. After a few days they started getting brain zaps and other sorts of negative side effects. I would personally taper slower so your body can get used to not having the medication. Example would be to break the 15mg pills in 1/4s. This way you can take 15mg (or whatever the dose your on is) for a week or two. Then lower it to 11.25mg for another few weeks and gauge how you react to the medicine slowly eliminating itself.
 
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@Wilum How are you getting on? Do you still notice any effect from the Mirtazepine?

I quit Mirtazepine a while back. I began to notice that it just wasn't helping anymore. I gained a lot of weight. I also had withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, shakes, sweats. These lasted for a good couple of months.
 

DancingWriter

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Please don't stop abruptly. I've done it (not by choice) and it's a hell I wouldn't wish on anyone. I've accepted that I will need to take Prozac, some type of ADHD med, and as-needed meds for anxiety for the rest of my life. I function a lot better with meds than without. That said, I don't know how severe (or not) your depression issues are. If you do go off them, please taper ideally with a doctor's supervision. And don't be ashamed to go back on them if needed. Meds don't cure everything (therapy, exercise, spirituality, goals, etc. are also important for me) but they are important for most people with mental health issues to function.
 

middle_aged

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Sorry, but is coming off antidepressants a good idea? To my knowledge, if you have depression, why would you want to stop taking your medication? That would be like having high blood pressure and wanting to get off your high blood pressure medication.

I don’t see how this is a good thing.
 

dearie23

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I was on Zoloft on and off many times for 3 years and kept going off it for a variety of reasons...

1. Not feeling I needed it much anymore and/or not noticing it was doing anything anymore, so I would forget to take it. I rarely experienced any side effects or withdrawls from suddenly stopping.

2. My extreme issues with swallowing pills. Despite the fact I already cut them in half, I still tended to waste a lot due to gagging and having to spit them out.

3. Not wanting to "be on pills" long term.

I would go back on the Zoloft when hard times would happen in my life, when I quit smoking and had a majorly hard adjustment to that, and when relationships broke down.

I am now realising I simply function better on anti-depressants and see no reason to go off them, especially now I'm on liquid Lexapro and have no problem taking it.

I am a nicer person on these pills.
 

Mickleditch

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The right time for me to come off Trazodone was when I felt the side effects (headaches, dizziness, sweating, made pre-existing tinnitus and hyperacusis worse) were outweighing the benefits (I had them for sleep). They had stopped working for sleep, so all I was getting were the side effects.

Because I was on a fairly low dose, 75mg, my doctor said it would be ok just to stop taking them without tapering. Tried that and had two nights of total insomnia and horrible diarrhea. :mad: So I went back on the normal dose for a week or so until I'd stabilized and then tapered off properly. I halved the dose every five days - so 75mg, 37mg, 18mg, 9mg - and that seemed to avoid any problems. When I got to 9mg I stopped altogether and was ok. Please taper gradually even if a doctor has said you don't need to.
 

Blue Flowers

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I've been on antidepressants for anxiety and panic since I was 23, I am now 36. I've tried SLOW tapers several times and it was hell and not successful. Not only did it cause deep depression (which was never my problem) but horrifying physical symptoms. I want nothing more than getting off but i don't think it's possible for me. Welbutrin was a breeze but the others were hell on earth. I hope my case is different than yours. Prozac in addition to weening off your antidepressant is helpful when getting off for many but I can't see me getting off for the rest of my life. Going through benzo w/d is a walk in the park compared to ADP withdrawal for me. I hope your brain and body will be kinder to you if you do decide to discontinue.
 

Mickleditch

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Because I was on a fairly low dose, 75mg, my doctor said it would be ok just to stop taking them without tapering. Tried that and had two nights of total insomnia and horrible diarrhea. :mad: So I went back on the normal dose for a week or so until I'd stabilized and then tapered off properly. I halved the dose every five days - so 75mg, 37mg, 18mg, 9mg - and that seemed to avoid any problems. When I got to 9mg I stopped altogether and was ok. Please taper gradually even if a doctor has said you don't need to.

UPDATE to my previous comment!! I posted the above when I had been off Trazodone about 7-10 days. Shortly after that at 2 weeks, everything changed and withdrawal kicked in big time. I've since found out that delayed withdrawal can easily occur. Mine has included:

* Near-permanent headaches
* Earache
* Massive worsening of pre-existing tinnitus
* Insomnia
* Dizziness
* Extreme rebound depression

I've now been off the Traz 2 months and it's taken me until now to see some improvement. If I've had this after tapering too fast (?) what would have happened if I'd just stopped as suggested??
 

mancman

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@Blue Flowers - I agree with your experiences with ADP withdrawal...what doctors (and often honestly don't realise) is that once you've started messing with those brain chemicals (and for me personally the SSRI's, SNRI's etc have been the worst) is that it can becomes a long road of swapping and changing and the interim hell of side effects when you change meds...they like to call it 'discontinuation syndrome' to distance it from what it is 'withdrawal' and a lot of the times with a capital W!
 

Blue Flowers

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@Blue Flowers - I agree with your experiences with ADP withdrawal...what doctors (and often honestly don't realise) is that once you've started messing with those brain chemicals (and for me personally the SSRI's, SNRI's etc have been the worst) is that it can becomes a long road of swapping and changing and the interim hell of side effects when you change meds...they like to call it 'discontinuation syndrome' to distance it from what it is 'withdrawal' and a lot of the times with a capital W!

Totally agree! I've never been on heavy duty stuff for long periods but I SWEAR the pain of antidepressant W/D HAS to be up there with opiate W/D but typically last much longer (the acute w/d at least). I can say for a fact it's a 1,000 times worse than benzo or Z drug w/d's, at least in my case as I've been on SSRIs or SSNRI's for SOOOOO unbelievably long. The brain just goes crazy without the amounts of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine it's used to getting. Not only does it mess with your head but I had symptoms of fibromyalgia and another severe pain in my back from trying to get off. One doctor told me IF I DO ever get off, I'll probably have fibromyalgia for the rest of my life...oh joy!

- - - Updated - - -

@Blue Flowers - I agree with your experiences with ADP withdrawal...what doctors (and often honestly don't realise) is that once you've started messing with those brain chemicals (and for me personally the SSRI's, SNRI's etc have been the worst) is that it can becomes a long road of swapping and changing and the interim hell of side effects when you change meds...they like to call it 'discontinuation syndrome' to distance it from what it is 'withdrawal' and a lot of the times with a capital W!

Totally agree! I've never been on heavy duty stuff for long periods but I SWEAR the pain of antidepressant W/D HAS to be up there with opiate W/D but typically last much longer (the acute w/d at least). I can say for a fact it's a 1,000 times worse than benzo or Z drug w/d's, at least in my case as I've been on SSRIs or SSNRI's for SOOOOO unbelievably long. The brain just goes crazy without the amounts of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine it's used to getting. Not only does it mess with your head but I had symptoms of fibromyalgia and another severe pain in my back from trying to get off. One doctor told me IF I DO ever get off, I'll probably have fibromyalgia for the rest of my life...oh joy!
Oh, did I mention that I completely loss my sense of taste for months....weird and miserable!
 

dearie23

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I am always confused by the fact I seem to have absolutely NO WDs when abruptly stopping or briefly tapering off ADs. Lexapro seems to not do anything for me I think, like Zoloft kind of didn't. Stopping either of them had no noticeable feelings. How is this possible?! Is everyone giving me sugar pills? Lol
 

Skeletal_Wings

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I am always confused by the fact I seem to have absolutely NO WDs when abruptly stopping or briefly tapering off ADs. Lexapro seems to not do anything for me I think, like Zoloft kind of didn't. Stopping either of them had no noticeable feelings. How is this possible?! Is everyone giving me sugar pills? Lol

If they didn't do anything for you, that just means you don't have a Serotonin "imbalance". When I stop my antidepressants, I don't get any withdrawal effects at all either, but I will over time start to notice a definite shift in my emotions and behavior, which is how I know that I do need SSRI drugs. But I wouldn't say your lack of response to the antidepressants is normal -- they're generally not really known to produce serious, if any, withdrawal. At least that's what doctors always told me.
 

mancman

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@Skeletal_Wings My experience of coming of AD's - especially SSRI's & SNRI's involved bad withdrawal symptoms...I think a lot of people have and are finding this out.
 
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