Around 20% of people who use antidepressants will experience some sort of negative reaction once they stop or reduce their dose, especially if they’ve been using them for more than four to six weeks.1
These effects can be alarming and uncomfortable and leave you wondering if you may have become addicted to the drugs.
What Are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are prescription drugs used to treat the symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or PTSD. On average, a patient will use antidepressants for around six months, although some may take them for up to two years to manage their mental health condition.
Although they are highly effective at relieving the symptoms of depression and anxiety, using antidepressants for more than six weeks could result in you experiencing discontinuation or withdrawal symptoms once you stop.
Do Antidepressants Cause Withdrawal?
Antidepressants aren’t typically addictive. However, their long-term use could result in withdrawal symptoms once you stop or reduce your dosage. This is not because you are addicted to the drug.
It’s simply your body’s reaction to no longer experiencing the regulatory effect of the medication, a lot like how you may experience pain once the results of a painkiller wear off.
Who Develops Withdrawal Symptoms?
Anyone could experience withdrawal from antidepressants once they reduce or stop their usage. However, withdrawal is most common in people who have used an antidepressant for four to six weeks or more.
Their bodies have had enough time to get used to the drug’s effects, and they may experience adverse symptoms once they no longer take their medication.
Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms
The effects of antidepressant withdrawal vary in intensity and duration from person to person but, typically, include some of the following:2
- Mood swings
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- A lack of coordination
- Flu-like symptoms
- Loss of balance
- Muscle spasms and pains
- Electric shock sensations
Most of these symptoms start within three days of quitting antidepressants and could last for several weeks.
Why Doctors Recommend Against Quitting Antidepressants Cold Turkey
When deciding to stop your use of antidepressants, you should never choose to do it cold turkey. Stopping all at once could cause severe withdrawal symptoms and cause your depression or anxiety to return or even get worse than before. Instead of stopping entirely, it’s better to gradually taper down your use of the drug over time, so you give your body a chance to adjust to functioning without the medication in your system. One of the best ways to safely stop using antidepressants is to participate in medical detox.
Treatment for Antidepressant Discontinuation
Antidepressant treatment usually involves tapering down your use and going through withdrawal under medical supervision.3 One of the best ways to do this is at an antidepressant rehab.
Detoxing from antidepressants under professional supervision could help you get through withdrawal with fewer negative experiences. Doctors can also help ease your symptoms by prescribing medication to counteract the effects of withdrawal.
If a loved one or you are struggling with antidepressant withdrawal, get in touch with our team at (833) 489-5577 today to get the help you need.