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Antidepressant Tapering

Unfortunately, it is all too common for medical professionals and many treatment centers to lack the training and expertise to help a person navigate antidepressant tapering, weaning, and titration.

If you’ve been prescribed an antidepressant that does not mean that a lifetime of being medicated is warranted.

Are you tired of drugs
being the only answer?

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Alternative to Meds has been primarily invested in medication tapering and withdrawal for over 15 years. Using Holistic and Environmental Medicine, we have published evidence demonstrating that over 77% of people discontinuing antidepressant medication and replacing them with a holistic lifestyle perform symptomatically better than they were while medicated.
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antidepressant weaningInpatient Antidepressant Tapering

If one can imagine the difficulty of applying a plaster cast to one’s own broken leg, one may begin to understand the difficulties of attempting unassisted antidepressant tapering. While suffering depression is quite different than a broken limb, depression is a serious health issue that requires competent and attentive medical help to overcome safely and successfully.

Antidepressant tapering is best done in an inpatient facility such as Alternative to Meds Center. With competent and knowledgeable help and medical oversight, you can achieve a successful and healthy restorative outcome.4

However, effective antidepressant tapering help is often very hard to find. Alternative to Meds Center can help.

Four Problems With Antidepressant Tapering

The problems related to trying to quit antidepressants may seem complex and unwieldy, but can be simplified within the following 4 parameters:

getting off antidepressantsInadequately trained physicians, errors and omitted steps in diagnoses
Physicians are licensed to prescribe, but not trained to taper off antidepressants and other medications. There is an absence of such training given in medical school. Additionally, physicians are advised by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to ensure that an accurate diagnosis must include determining that there is no physical illness or other physical factors that may need attention BEFORE prescribing an antidepressant or other types of medications. Despite the advice so issued, doctors often hastily prescribe medications based on a short interview with their patients in the office, no testing, and no exhaustive physical examinations of the patient.1

antidepressant taperingUsing band-aid solutions that only provide temporary relief.    Physicians most often prescribe medications without any real effort to clarify and address root causes, Antidepressant drugs are not a cure, and can only dampen (suppress) the unwanted symptoms. In some extreme and rare cases, this temporary measure may be necessary. However, in the main, experience and studies show that there is actually little to no long-term therapeutic value inherent in prescribing antidepressant medication. The most common outcome will be that a person’s suppressed symptoms will eventually return and then intensify.2 This is the point where a physician may increase the dosage, not knowing what else to do. At some point when antidepressant tapering is introduced, without proper guidance, preparation, and support, the usual result is agonizing and unbearable. This is why many antidepressant weaning attempts may fail.

serotonin deficiencyAntidepressant tapering and titration side-effects
Another layer of confusion that occurs during a course of prescribed antidepressant meds is the extensive list of side-effects that these drugs can throw into the mix. In fact, these antidepressant side-effects commonly cause a person to decide to discontinue their medication. Each person presents a highly unique profile, often overlooked in the initial prescribing decision. It may be that a person was prescribed antidepressants to help with sadness after the loss of a spouse. However, their medication may now be causing insomnia or panic attacks which were not present before their prescription. A person may decide to abruptly stop the antidepressant to relieve these drug side effects. However, stopping medication all at once can result in disastrous consequences.  A summary of the most common side-effects connected to antidepressant medication can be found below.

antidepressant side effectsAntidepressant weaning symptoms vs diagnosis
Quite separate from the return of original symptoms that may never have been properly diagnosed or given treatment, there are also withdrawal symptoms connected with antidepressant tapering. A list of some withdrawal symptoms commonly experienced during antidepressant cessation (especially when done too abruptly or without preparation and guidance during the process) is given below. There is perhaps no real way to articulate the amount of suffering and confusion that a person can face during such a crisis. 

Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms

tapering off antidepressants

A wide range of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms can present when coming off antidepressant medication. Some of these are: 

  • increased depression, including severe depression leading to suicidal thoughts
  • panic attacks
  • muscle pains
  • muscular spasms
  • emotional lability, i.e., crying spells, anger, hostility, apathy, despair, etc.
  • electrical “zaps”, sometimes referred to as “brain zaps”
  • nausea
  • nightmares, insomnia, disrupted sleep patterns

Antidepressant Side-Effects  

Some of the more common side effects of antidepressant medications include these:  

  • hyponatremia, or lowered sodium levels, leading to coma, seizure, mental confusion, or other effects
  • suicidality
  • reduced blood-clotting capacity3
  • anorgasmia and other sexual difficulties
  • respiratory tract infection
  • hyperhidrosis, or extreme and unusual sweating
  • frequent and inexplicable mood swings
  • emotional blunting, numbness
  • dehydration
  • akathisia, an agonizing internal restlessness accompanied by repetitive body motions such as rocking, pacing, etc.
  • weight loss
  • weight gain
  • rashes or skin eruptions which can be life-threatening
  • feeling nervous, shaky, increased anxiety5

The Importance of Seeking Antidepressant Tapering Help

It cannot be stressed enough that a person should seek competent help and support to initiate and navigate safely through antidepressant titration.

For well over 15 years, Alternative to Meds Center has specialized in providing gentle, safe, and properly managed antidepressant withdrawal.

Methods Used in Antidepressant Tapering at ATMC

help getting off antidepressantsMethods used at the Alternative to Meds Center include Amino therapy, stabilizing neurochemistry, toxin removal, therapeutic sauna, metabolic testing, allergy testing, targeted supplement therapy, and a clean keto-based diet.

Spiritual psychiatry, counseling of various genres, art and music therapy, equine-assisted therapy, yoga, Reiki, education components for sustained wellness, mineral baths, ionic foot baths, nebulized glutathione, classes on stress relief techniques, therapeutic massage, cranial-sacral therapy, trainer-led mild exercise classes, outdoor activities, guided peer support, are some of our protocols that provide relief and healing. 

A staff of over 60 amazing medical staff and caregivers provide care with compassion 24/7 for our clients. Most of the staff have personal experience with recovery and understand the processes and the challenges very well from an authentic viewpoint. 

Individual Antidepressant Tapering Schedule to Best Meet Unique Needs 

Each client-assigned team of care staff programs the person for their unique needs and is based on testing done at the start. We investigate the underlying conditions and root causes as an integral part of developing the client’s specific step by step program. Treatment is delivered in a collaborative manner, with daily and weekly patient-care team meetings to track progress and be able to quickly make the micro-adjustments that are so essential to a successful antidepressant tapering program. 

antidepressant tapering at ATMC

Alternative to Meds Center provides competent, attentive care for clients who wish to regain natural mental health without needing to rely on pharmaceutical drugs.

The programs offered at Alternative to Meds Center have helped thousands of clients to successfully negotiate antidepressant weaning in a comfortable, safe, and nurturing social setting and could be the exact holistic treatment help that you or your loved one have been searching for.


1. NAMI “Understanding Your Diagnosis ” National Alliance on Mental Illness [INTERNET] N.D. [cited May 21, 2020]

2. Hall-Flavin D, “Antidepressants: Can they Stop Working?” Mayo Clinic Patient Care and Health Info [INTERNET] N.D. [cited May 21, 2020]

3. Harvard Health Publishing, “What are the real risks of antidepressants?”  Harvard Medical School [INTERNET] March 19, 2019 [cited May 21, 2020]

4. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment Book,  “2 Settings, Levels of Care, and Patient Placement.”  SAMHSA [excerpt online. Bookshelf ID: NBK64109] N.D. [cited May 21, 2020]

5. Patient Health Info, ” Antidepressants – Side Effects.” NHS [INTERNET] August 2018 [cited May 21, 2020]

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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