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Depression - stopping your medicines

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Description

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 and then consider no longer taking them.

Before You Stop Your Medicine

Stopping your medicine 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:

Why Do You Want to Stop Taking This Medicine?

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 provider may be able to adjust your medicine 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?

Making the Decision

Take your list of reasons to stop taking the medicine to the provider who prescribed it. Talk about each point.

Then, ask your 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 provider will help you decide whether to:

If You Decide to Stop the Medicine

Make sure you understand what you need to do to stop the medicine safely. Ask your 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. Then discuss these with your provider.

When to Call the Doctor

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 provider. You should also call your provider if you have the withdrawal symptoms listed above. It is very important to get help if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or others.

References

American Psychiatric Association. Major depressive disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013:160-168.

Fava M, Østergaard SD, Cassano P. Mood disorders: depressive disorders (major depressive disorder). In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 29.

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Review Date: 11/7/2020  

Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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