A large proportion of people who have suffered from anxiety and depression have been offered anti-depressants such as Prozac, lexapro and Celexa. A percentage of these people will not have taken the drugs for any length of time. There are often tolerance and side effect issues that cause many people to cease using the drugs at an early stage and seek alternatives.
But for those who are lucky enough to tolerate the drugs well, or who feel side effects at first but wait for them to subside, often these drugs can prove very effective. That leads us to the biggest question of all:
When is it time to stop taking SSRI’s?
Well, doctors tend to advise that you keep taking a stable, therapeutic dosage of the drug for at least six months after you feel better. It is important that you stay on the dose your doctor has prescribed you and only change the dose under supervision from them. Often, after six months to a year have passed your doctor (who should be inviting you back frequently for check ups) might well suggest that it’s time to think about coming off the drugs.
If you’ve been feeling good while taking the drugs, in some cases feeling calmer and more relaxed than you have felt for years, your first thought of this suggestion might well be one of fear. What if the symptoms come back? What if I feel worse?
Stopping the drugs in one go (often called “Cold Turkey”) is not at all recommended. Instead it is important to taper of the drugs and in doing so correctly it is quite possible that you won’t feel and major ill-effects. If you do feel something, a flash of anxiety, a bit of low mood, or some other withdrawal symptom, then speak to your doctor about it. It might be a good idea to slow your withdrawal or plateau at the same dose for some time.
Will my old symptoms come back?
That depends what action you have been taking while you were on the drugs. If you have done nothing in terms of therapy, and your situation has not changed, then the symptoms may return. After all SSRI’s are not a cure, they are symptomatic relief only. If on the other hand you have invested time (and money) making positive changes in your life, and dealing with triggers and causes of anxiety and depression, then this will be an important experiment to see if you have lessened or eradicated your symptoms. Remember, you won’t really know if you don’t try!
If I change my mind, can I go back on SSRI’s?
Yes. There is a rumour circulating on the Internet that SSRI drugs don’t work as well the second time round. I have done some research and this seems to be based purely on hear say and gossip. Actually if they worked once then the chances are they will work again. If anyone KNOWS and RESEARCH that suggests otherwise, please let me know! I suspect that this kind of rumour was started by people who’s treatment failed or took a setback for one reason or another, possible due to external circumstances.
Does it matter when I come off the drugs?
Ideally, you taper off the drugs when the rest of your life is stable. I.E, you work and home life is going smoothly. If your life is particularly hard or difficult, why not invest some time making it easier and dealing with problems, before you withdraw from the drugs? Also, why not come off the drugs in spring or summer? Generally we feel better at those times of year.
To sum up, if you have been on the drugs for more than six months and feel good, why not start to think about it!
del.icio.us tags: withdrawing
, taper off