The Alternative to Meds Center uses methods that greatly ease SSRI withdrawal. As a result, one can reduce the typically horrific symptoms of withdrawal from SSRI drugs safely and gently using these methods. Importantly, one should also bear in mind that if the underlying reasons for your depression or other symptoms were never resolved, withdrawal may cause your symptoms to re-emerge. Steps can be taken prior to and in tandem with tapering properly to avoid this common pitfall. (1)
In short, the term SSRI means Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Drugmakers reportedly designed the drug to block serotonin from being reabsorbed along the CNS pathways. That is to say, you could call these drugs serotonin blockers. These are medications that doctors prescribe as a hopeful answer to depression. And, other uses make an ever-lengthening list, including various anxiety disorders, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), eating disorders, phobias, PTSD, and others.
Stopping or even reducing an SSRI can bring on what feels like a bad case of the flu. Everything from diarrhea, nausea, and headache to chills and fatigue may hit. Additionally, electric zaps, vivid dreams or nightmares, restless sleep, feelings of agitation or other mood swings, dizziness or losing one’s balance, and thoughts of suicide might occur. Lack of support and proper treatment can turn these symptoms into a critical situation and can affect how long they last or how severe they become. (2)
Important to note, much more needs to be understood about how SSRI drugs affect the brain. But what we do know is that these drugs change the brain and how it functions. These changes are major, and abruptly stopping or trying to quit SSRIs too quickly can shock the body and brain. (3)
For example, for a person who has taken SSRI medications for 5 years, a good analogy might be walking on a tightrope with no net, about 100 feet off the ground. Above all, coming off these drugs slowly and with adequate support is absolutely essential for a smooth and safe ride back down to solid, safe ground.
First, never abruptly cut or stop your dosage. Doing that can be disastrous. Most importantly, gradual changes will be easier to tolerate and live with than trying to go too fast and ending up in a health crisis.
Second, get a trusted practitioner to guide you, don’t try stopping SSRI drugs on your own.
Third, prepare to take some time off work if you can, or even better, arrange a stay at an inpatient clinic. That way, you can focus on getting well, not juggling the rest of your life around your titration. As a result, an inpatient program can shorten the length of time required but you should be prepared to set aside at least some weeks or months as a realistic target for fully getting off SSRI medication.
Certainly, the Alternative to Meds program offers ways and means to address underlying causes for depression, anxiety, and other unwanted symptoms. That is to say, medical conditions can be checked for and addressed rather than masked with drugs. For example, thorough lab testing provides a clear pathway for treating nutritional deficiencies. In this way, purging the system of accumulated environmental toxins greatly helps in restoring stable and healthy neurochemistry. Natural supplements, amino acid therapy, chelation, sauna, equine therapy, peer support and a host of other kinds of help are provided to our clients to make the withdrawal process much easier to tolerate.
To summarize, our inpatient treatment program provides medical oversight, private and group counseling in a number of genres, Life Coaching, and trainer-led exercise classes (gentle). Each client is guided at their own level of ability and tolerance.
In addition, we offer Equine Therapy, cranial-sacral and other massage therapy, Reiki, mineral baths, yoga, stress-reduction training, brain health and nutrition education, and much more. Please call us to find out more about the kinds of help we offer in our SSRI withdrawal program.
(1) Cary, B, “How to Quit Antidepressants: Very Slowly, Doctors Say” New York Times [INTERNET] March 5, 3029 [cited April 5, 2020]
(2) Haddad, P The SSRI discontinuation syndrome. J Psychopharmacol. and PubMed [INTERNET] 1998 [cited March 12, 2020]
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.