How to Safely Come off Depression Medication

Most depression medications are of the variety known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These medications usually come with a loading period, which means they take some time to build up to the right concentration in your synapses. Quitting depression medication safely is something that must be done carefully and under a physician's care if you want to avoid the rather severe withdrawal symptoms reported in some medical literature.

List of Items Needed

  • Friend or relative to help monitor you
  • Journal
  • Psychopharmacologist

    Speak With Your Doctor

  1. Speak with your prescribing doctor about why you want to come off depression medication. If the problem is a common side effect such as decreased libido, you may find that simply switching medications solves it altogether.

  2. Make a plan with your doctor. Different SSRIs have different half-lives in the system, and the severity of withdrawal tends to rise as that half-life decreases. Make sure your plan is appropriate to the specific depression medication you are taking.

    Come off Gradually

  1. Reduce your dosage as outlined by your doctor. Some people come off depression medication over the course of 2 weeks, while others take a month or more. Do not accelerate the process because of impatience or perceived success.

  2. Maintain a journal. Quitting an antidepressant safely usually comes with some bumps in the road, and you want to record these so you can monitor how your moods are progressing.

  3. Clear some time in your life if withdrawal symptoms worsen in the early stages. Serotonin moderates a wide array of physical systems, so you may experience everything from flu-like aches to nausea and sleep disorders.

  4. Call a doctor immediately if you experience suicidal thoughts or severe physical symptoms such as seizure. Although such symptoms are rare, they can represent a dangerous threat if left untreated.

  5. Stay on top of your withdrawal symptoms for several weeks after the initial symptoms have died down. Safely quitting any drug requires careful attention to detail, as certain disorders take some time to appear.

Tips and Warnings

  • You may experience side effects that will make you want to return to your prescription. These tend to fade in severity over time.
  • Expect to experience mood swings that may be somewhat greater than you experienced prior to taking the drugs. These, too, will cool down over time.
  • Major side effects such as suicidal thoughts require immediate medical care.

© Demand Media 2011