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SSRI and SNRI Tapering, Weaning, Titration

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on July 26, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

SSRI and SNRI tapering doesn’t have to be hellish. Using orthomolecular and environmental medicine, the journey back to health can be made not only tolerable but health-enhancing.

Like many of the staff at Alternative to Meds Center, you may have reached a point where you are no longer able or willing to continue to compromise your health, endure intolerable symptoms, and suffer potential injury by prescription drugs that are not helping.

Does Your Diagnosis
Require SSRIs or SNRIs?
SSRI and SNRI Tapering
Alternative to Meds has provided nearly 20 years of cutting edge safe and gentle antidepressant tapering and withdrawal methods. The goal has always been to improve overall health, using holistic, evidence-based treatments, while getting off prescription drugs. We recommend reading our published evidence that clearly demonstrates our clients’ successes with SSRI and SNRI weaning and titration. We look for the underlying conditions that were missed. Some important factors may have been left untreated or even misdiagnosed. We seek to address the intense symptoms that led a person to seek prescription medication. It is possible that with proper help, SSRI and SNRI medications may no longer be necessary or even helpful.
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SSRI and SNRI Tapering — Hormones & Neurotransmitters

In our fast-moving world, the physician prescribing medications can’t take time to educate themselves, let alone each patient they see in a ten-minute visit. There is much to know about how these drugs will impact hormones and neurotransmitters. But don’t hope to rely on drugmakers’ pamphlets to be fully informed. Most of the studies done on SSRIs and SNRIs were done in labs on rats and rabbits. While many drug pamphlets read like a piece of poetry, what a person really needs is cold, hard facts.

Alternative to Meds highly recommends making the effort to understand more about human hormones and neurotransmitters, especially if you are considering SSRI and SNRI tapering. Despite how these drugs are named and marketed, SSRIs and SNRIs may cause harsh reactions, often in unexpected ways. Alternative to Meds Center uses natural alternatives to ease the process of weaning off SSRIs and SNRIs. When drug dependence sets in, the problems can magnify. Be as informed as possible before beginning SSRI and SNRI weaning.

In a living body, all hormones can affect all other hormones as well as all of the endocrine glands and the nervous system to some greater or lesser degree. Correcting the diet with clean, nutrient-dense foods is a potent therapy. Holistic rehabilitation of neurochemistry means rebuilding. replenishing, rebalancing, not just masking deficiencies or attempting to manipulate mental health with man-made chemicals, a risky business at best.6

We also recommend learning as much as possible about nutrient and micro-nutrient deficiencies that can be tested for and might need correcting, to support and rehabilitate neurochemistry in natural, healthy ways.

About SSRIs and SNRIs

SSRIs are designed to manipulate serotonin. SNRIs manipulate both serotonin and norepinephrine. These drugs do NOT produce more serotonin and norepinephrine but cause these natural neurotransmitters to collect or aggregate in the synapses along the central nervous system channels. An artificial build-up is followed by a deficit as these “entrapped” natural chemicals eventually degrade and disappear forever.1

A Congressional Hearing occurred in 2009 about another kind of chemical manipulation — chemical manipulation of the weather. A discussion ensued about the butterfly effect where chemically engineered rain in one area, as in cloud-seeding, can cause a drought in another part of the world.4 When one factor is manipulated, another area of the planet could suffer as a result. Chemical manipulation may seem impressive in theory but does not seem to work very well in the natural world. A parallel could be drawn in the pharmaceutical industry, and some would question the credibility of the ‘chemical imbalance” theory as a figment of some drug advertising campaign’s imagination.5

This is not to say that biological factors don’t play a role in mental wellness, because they do. A growing consensus can be found in and around the field of holistic-minded mental health practitioners who are avid proponents of bio-physical-social treatments and natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs, whenever possible.7

Guidelines for Tapering SSRIs and SNRIs

Tapering SSRIs and SNRIs guidelines include:
  • ssri snri tapering guidelinesThe slow approach is the recommended route in the case of virtually all prescription medication tapers. Months might be more realistic than weeks in planning the length of a taper.8,9
  • We recommend inpatient tapering but where this is not possible, seek a physician familiar with tapering SSRIs and SNRIs and who is sympathetic to your health goals.
  • Depending on the severity of your symptoms, a 5% or 10% reduction may be a good place to start. Be alert to your symptoms, and how these may change, and be flexible with the reduction schedule, as these can change throughout the tapering process. Generally, withdrawals will emerge around the half-life of the medication which is unique to each drug. Ask your doctor about the half-life of your particular drug so you have some predictability to work with.10
  • Discuss your tapering plans with close family or associates so they can support you and be able to better understand your situation and needs.
  • Maintain a clean, nutrient-dense diet and practice some form of exercise regularly.11
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) are both reportedly helpful during medication tapering regimens.12
  • Acupuncture, massage, yoga, music therapy, reflexology, Qi Gong, and mineral baths are some examples of SSRI alternatives that may help ease symptoms and discomforts as you progress through the taper.15-18
  • Be sure to let things settle out at each cut for a week or two before making further reductions.

About Serotonin

SSRI and SNRI TaperingSerotonin is a natural “inhibitory” chemical. This tiny molecule has the incredible power to affect every (EVERY) part and function of the body, including:

  • Bowel movements
  • Digestion
  • Can stimulate nausea/diarrhea to clean out toxic food, poisons, etc.
  • Healing wounds (allows blood to clot)
  • Inhibits overstimulation (calming, balances against excitation, quietens impulsivity)
  • Regulates/affects growth, weight, bone development, etc.
  • Helps to regulate sleep/wakefulness
  • Monitors and regulates heart rate, body temperature, and other vital functions such as mood, and sexual appetite.

SPECIAL CAUTION: when too much serotonin is activated, a life-threatening reaction called serotonin syndrome can result. Symptoms to watch for include sudden high fever, confusion, tachycardia, speech difficulties, and loss of consciousness. These symptoms can progress quickly and become life-threatening, requiring immediate hospital emergency treatment.2

About Norepinephrine

Norepinephrine is an “excitatory” natural chemical that can affect all tissues in the body. You can think of it as similar to epinephrine or adrenaline, which are the parent chemicals. Norepinephrine is a very powerful stimulant. The body secretes it at constant low levels as a regulator. When needed, the body secretes it in sudden larger amounts as in responding to a life or death situation. Examples can include:

  • Maintaining or raising heart rate
  • Monitoring/changing blood pressure, i.e., needed during septic shock or cardiac arrest
  • Relaxes/widens breathing tubes for better breathing efficiency
  • Monitors the “fight or flight” responses in the body

SSRI and SNRI Medications have a Wide Range of Effects

The body is an intricately complex interweaving of systems. Each system and gland in the body acts in tandem with or in response to other parts. Lab drugs are chemicals that are designed to disrupt, influence, block, or stimulate the body’s natural chemicals, glands, and systems.

Side effects of taking drugs result because the body cannot withstand being pummeled by these unnatural chemicals. Some of the reactions when reducing the dosage of SSRI and SNRI drugs are from the body attempting to regulate itself. These effects can be physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Undesirable reactions from the drugs range just as widely as the reactions when tapering SSRI and SNRI drugs. Think of anything that could go wrong with any organ or system in the body. That list would serve as good a summary as any. Do not despair. We have developed a program that softens and resolves these reactions during SSRI and SNRI titration.

Making SSRI and SNRI Titration Easier to Tolerate

At Alternative to Meds Center, we have been helping people wean off SSRI and SNRI medications for many years. We have established holistic, effective methods to soften the impacts of coming off these drugs.

SSRI and SNRI TaperingIt’s hard to imagine now, but in the past, the “cure” for scurvy was still a mystery. Vitamin C was yet to be discovered. Today we may not be completely out of the dark ages, but we have come a long way. This is especially so regarding psychiatric medications. We know the important role that targeted nutrition can play in restoring health after injurious drugs.

However, there is another aspect that needs to be addressed before SSRI, and SNRI tapering is attempted. That is to test and find out how polluted the body is. A body polluted with neurotoxic materials like heavy metals, drug residues, pesticides, or other chemical exposures, etc. is more resistive to the tapering process. So it is of great help on the front end of tapering to purge the accumulations of toxic junk first. This allows the body to accelerate the normalizing of the neurochemistry. Using gentle low-temperature sauna, nebulized glutathione treatments, mineral baths, ionic foot baths, colonics, and many other processes, these pollutants can be removed. When clients finish this purge, they often report feeling brighter, more energetic, calmer, and sleeping better, which is a good launch point for SSRI or SNRI tapering.

Find Out More About SSRI and SNRI Tapering

Alternative to Meds Center has much more information for you in regards to alternatives, coming off prescription drugs, and teaching clients how to achieve and sustain natural mental health without drugs.

We can answer any questions you may have about the process, and welcome inquiries about insurance, length of the program, or any other information you require. The center is nestled in the majestic Red Rocks near beautiful Sedona. Clients find the serene, pristine retreat-like setting to be restful and ultra-comfortable. We invite you to look over the documented results of our SSRI and SNRI tapering program, delivered inpatient-style at Alternative to Meds Center.

1. Munkboet C H, Larsen L W, Weisser J J, Kristensen D M, Styrishave B, “Sertraline Suppresses Testis and Adrenal Steroid production and Steroidogenic Gene Expressions While Increasing LH in Plasma of Male Rats Resulting in Compensatory Hypogonadism.” Society of Toxicology, Oxford [published online 2018 Mar 21] [cited 2022 July 6]

2. Volpi-Abadie J, Kaye AM, Kaye AD. Serotonin syndrome. Ochsner J. 2013 Winter;13(4):533-40. PMID: 24358002; PMCID: PMC3865832.[cited 2022 July 6]

3. Orisakwe OE. The role of lead and cadmium in psychiatry. N Am J Med Sci. 2014 Aug;6(8):370-6. doi: 10.4103/1947-2714.139283. PMID: 25210669; PMCID: PMC4158644. [cited 2022 July 6]

4. Transcript, Hearing on Geo-engineering, before the Committee on Science and Technology, House of Representatives, 111th Congress [Nov 2009] [cited 2022 July 6]

5. Baughman F. There is no such thing as a psychiatric disorder/disease/chemical imbalance. PLoS Med. 2006;3(7):e318. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030318 [cited 2022 July 6]

6. Health Canada Report, “Exposure and health effects of chemicals.” [online] [cited 2022 July 6]

7. Pies RW, “Debunking the Two chemical-Imbalance Myths Again.” published in the Psychiatric Times Vol 36 Issue 8 [online] [cited 2022 July 6]

8. Phelps J. Tapering antidepressants: is 3 months slow enough? Med Hypotheses. 2011 Dec;77(6):1006-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2011.08.035. Epub 2011 Sep 14. PMID: 21920673. [cited 2022 July 6]

9. Maixner SM, Greden JF. Extended antidepressant maintenance and discontinuation syndromes. Depress Anxiety. 1998;8 Suppl 1:43-53. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6394(1998)8:1%3C43::AID-DA9%3E3.0.CO;2-6. PMID: 9809213. [cited 2022 July 6]

10. Robert J. Hoffman, Adhi N. Sharma, in Comprehensive Pediatric Hospital Medicine,”Withdrawal Syndrome” 2007 [cited 2022 July 6]

11. Dalle Grave R. Nutrition and Fitness: Mental Health. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1804. Published 2020 Jun 17. doi:10.3390/nu12061804 [cited 2022 July 6]

12. Maund E, Stuart B, Moore M, et al. Managing Antidepressant Discontinuation: A Systematic ReviewAnn Fam Med. 2019;17(1):52-60. doi:10.1370/afm.2336 [cited 2022 July 6]

14. Sarris J, de Manincor M, Hargraves F, Tsonis J. “Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health.” Front Psychiatry. 2019;10:256. Published 2019 Apr 24. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00256 [cited 2022 July 6]

15.Bridges L, Sharma M. The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct;22(4):1017-1028. doi: 10.1177/2156587217715927. Epub 2017 Jun 30. PMID: 28664775; PMCID: PMC5871291. [cited 2022 July 6]

16. Hou WH, Chiang PT, Hsu TY, Chiu SY, Yen YC. Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;71(7):894-901. doi: 10.4088/JCP.09r05009blu. Epub 2010 Mar 23. PMID: 20361919. [cited 2022 July 6]

17. Bahrami T, Rejeh N, Heravi-Karimooi M, Tadrisi SD, Vaismoradi M. The Effect of Foot Reflexology on Hospital Anxiety and Depression in Female Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2019;12(3):16-21. Published 2019 Aug 30. [cited 2022 July 6]

18. Leubner D, Hinterberger T. Reviewing the Effectiveness of Music Interventions in Treating DepressionFront Psychol. 2017;8:1109. Published 2017 Jul 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01109 [cited 2022 July 6]

Originally Published Jul 18, 2020 by Diane Ridaeus

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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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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