About two months ago, I decided to try and go off my antidepressants, because I wanted to see if I could manage without them. You should never try to do this without help from a doctor. A doctor will give you a plan to help you gradually get off them and answer any questions you may have. My doctor and I made a plan.
It has been an interesting process. It has also been hard, but it’s supposed to be. I started to feel more anxiety and have less motivation to write. I told my counsellor I was worried. She said it was because I was taking away something that was helping me, and I should only start to worry if I have serious thoughts of harming myself, which I have not.
I kind of like the fact that I’m doing this. It gives me more of a challenge. I’m not saying antidepressants make you weak, but this process is helping me find out how strong I truly am. As I gradually lower the dosage, I can feel it. I can actually feel my anxiety increase and my energy decrease. It sucks, but when I overcome it – without taking any medication – it feels so good. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I could. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I was strong enough. However, if at the end, I decide that I can’t do it or that it’s too hard to manage without them, that’s okay.
The decision to go off antidepressants involves many important factors. Below is a list of questions you might want to take into consideration.
Why do you want to go off them?
Some people stop taking antidepressants for the wrong reasons, such as minor side effects, or go off them too quickly without giving them a good enough chance. If you want to go off them, make sure you do so for a good reason.
Are you in a good place in your life?
I know that it doesn’t matter where you are in life or what your life looks like; you can still have depression. However, you may be in a better place mentally than you were when you first started the antidepressants.
Do you have a good support system?
A good support system is vital. I don’t know where I would be without mine. I definitely wouldn’t have the strength to take care of myself, let alone go off antidepressants. These are the people who will catch you when you fall.
Do you have other coping skills?
My counsellor told me that I needed to replace the antidepressants with other coping skills. There are tons of other coping skills out there and you just need to find out what works for you. Or perhaps you already have coping skills that you might just have to use more often as a replacement for antidepressants.
Have you talked to your doctor, counsellor or another mental health professional about the possibility of going off your Antidepressants?
You should never stop taking any medications without talking to your doctor. When you talk to your doctor, they will help you create a plan to gradually get off them and answer any questions you may have.
If you (with the help of your doctor) decide to go off your antidepressants, you might experience withdrawal symptoms, such as the increased anxiety and low energy that I experienced; this is normal. It might even be good, because it’ll give you an opportunity to use other coping skills. However, if you get too overwhelmed – especially if you have thoughts of harming yourself – please contact your doctor or another mental health professional right away.
Harvard Health Publishing posted an interesting article with lots of good information. Click here to read it.
Some of you may have noticed I haven’t been writing much lately. The truth is, I really want to write and have many ideas. However, as I said before, I have less motivation to start. So, I hope you all can be as patient with me as I am being with myself.