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how to get off ssri

SSRI Withdrawal

Here in the Alternative to Meds Center drug treatment program, we have found SSRI withdrawal help methods to ease this process, and reduce symptoms of withdrawal. SSRIs are prescription medications prescribed for depression as well as other psychiatric illnesses. Picture this scenario: You have been on an SSRI for 5 years or more. You discuss with your doctor your desire to decrease your dosage. He prescribes alterations and tapering in typical 10mg increments. After a few days of beginning this, you may start to show severe flulike symptoms –diarrhea, headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, chills, and fatigue. Agitation, vivid dreams, insomnia, impaired concentration, irritability, and suicidal thinking can also occur. These SSRI side effects last anywhere from a week to as long as a year and vary in their intensity. You are wondering what the hell is going on.

What is SSRI Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome?

Welcome to SSRI antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, a result of reducing your dosage or stopping the antidepressant altogether without SSRI withdrawal treatment. Some SSRI medications comprise of a really short half-life, which means that these drugs don’t stay within the body for a prolonged period of time. They go in, work for a few hours, then they come out again. One of the most prescribed SSRI antidepressants on the market today is Effexor. In as little as 5 hours of reducing or stopping an SSRI, SSRI discontinuation syndrome begins. If you miss just one dose, symptoms can occur. Five hours is frighteningly short. Electric shock sensations or brain zaps start to occur. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon or a very tall building and looked down, there is a falling feeling that your brain sometimes throws at you though you are not falling at all. Your head feels like jelly with vertigo-like feelings. You get a migraine. You feel incapacitated. Never attempt abrupt SSRI withdrawal. (1)

Simplifying SSRI Withdrawal

SSRI medications are nothing to mess around with. Stopping an SSRI cold turkey isn’t advisable. With Effexor for example, you may be forced to open up the capsule, calculate the number of granules, and lessen the dosage one granule at a time each day as a method of dealing with withdrawal pain. This is a painstaking method that you must do each day. You cannot just take out one granule, since one capsule may contain more granules than another capsule. You have to add up the number of granules in each capsule every day. With these rigid procedures, people often restart the drug, often mistaking SSRI withdrawal symptoms for the original symptoms that led to taking the drug in the first place. You just want to feel better. This is why it is crucial to go through the kind of SSRI withdrawal process that is simple enough to do, and so it becomes tolerable and doable. (2)

SSRI Withdrawal Should be Slow

ssri withdrawal

It is important to withdraw extremely slowly from these antidepressant drugs, often over a period of a few months or more and under the supervision of an experienced mental health specialist. Think of your doctor as your partner in healing. Don’t go off one of these drugs without medical supervision. One of the most important methods of getting SSRI withdrawal relief is to wean off the medication slowly. By reducing the dosage in small increments, the brain can gradually adjust to the change in chemical balance and slowly adapt to living without the drug. SSRI discontinuation syndrome can last up to a year or longer, especially when an individual doesn’t have adequate SSRI withdrawal treatment. (1)

Other Treatments for Depression Besides SSRIs

It is best to withdrawal from SSRIs when any external factors that may have led to depression are resolved or at least under control. Support is the most important during this time, and having what you need to stay comfortable is also a key factor. The Alternative to Meds Center program searches for potential underlying sources that are contributing to depression. There can be physical and medical reasons for depression for which drugs alone will not be able to provide relief. (3) Our program uses laboratory testing, natural substances for promoting neurochemistry stability, SSRI withdrawal syndrome treatments, detoxification of collected environmental toxins, support from peers, amino acid therapy, targeted nutritional treatment, yoga, personal exercise training, massage, and the advantages of many therapies created to offer effective SSRI withdrawal relief. You are invited to call us and talk, so you may receive a better understanding of the SSRI withdrawal help available at the Alternative to Meds Center.

  1. Study published in the US National Library of Medicine in 2001, “Steps Following Attainment of Remission, Discontinuation of Antidepressant Therapy”, online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181183/, accessed October 19, 2019.
  2. Harvard Medical School issued Mar. 19, 2019, “What are the real risks of antidepressants?” online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-are-the-real-risks-of-antidepressants, accessed October 19, 2019
  3. Harvard Medical School Women’s Health article entitled “Drug Free Options to Fight Depression”, published March 14, 2014, online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/drug-free-options-to-fight-depression, accessed October 19, 2019

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