A Closer Look at Withdrawal Symptoms for Antidepressants
Table of Contents
- A Closer Look at Withdrawal Symptoms for Antidepressants
- What are Antidepressants?
- How Do Antidepressants Work?
- How do Antidepressants Affect the Body Over the Long Term?
- Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms
- How Long do Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
- Tapering for Discontinuation Syndrome
- How can a Medical Detox Help with Withdrawal Effects?
- Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment
- The Main Types of Treatment For Addiction
- Therapy and SSRI Discontinuation
- The Importance of Seeking Treatment Now
- Effective Treatment for Antidepressant Dependence and Addiction
- Find Freedom from Depression and Medication Now!
- Medically Reviewed By
Antidepressants are medications used to treat depression. Usually, antidepressants are only really recommended or prescribed for a person suffering from major depression or a major depressive disorder. They may also be used to treat other conditions, such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Unfortunately, they can also cause antidepressant withdrawal and a lot of discomforts.
Despite this, antidepressants are a highly prescribed class of drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11% of Americans over age 12 had taken antidepressant medication between 2005 and 2008.
Keep reading to find out about discontinuation symptoms and your antidepressant medication, as well as effective forms of treatment.
What are Antidepressants?
There are several types of antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the most commonly prescribed types of antidepressants. Other types include tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and atypical antidepressants.
Doctors can be hesitant to prescribe antidepressants casually because of the risks of addiction associated with taking a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This can cause physical dependence as well as psychological symptoms of dependence on the substance. In addition, there is the withdrawal syndrome that usually follows discontinuing antidepressants to consider.
How Do Antidepressants Work?
Antidepressant treatment is usually not recommended for mild symptoms or mild mental health disorders. Taking antidepressant drugs is usually reserved for severe disorders including debilitating anxiety disorders. Antidepressants affect neurotransmitters in your brain that are involved with mood regulation. Antidepressant therapy can sometimes take up to three weeks for patients to notice changes in their symptoms.
They may help relieve symptoms of depression by increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals). Some types of antidepressants also increase the number of other neurotransmitters that work as natural antidepressant agents in your brain.
How do Antidepressants Affect the Body Over the Long Term?
The long-term use of antidepressants is increasing in the US. They can be used short-term (6 to 9 months) or long-term (more than 1 year). Long-term use of antidepressant medications has been linked to a number of health risks including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and low libido. In addition, some antidepressant drugs may cause withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the medication.
The long-term use of antidepressants is linked to a range of side effects and severe symptoms, including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and an increased risk of dementia.
Sexual dysfunction is another common side effect of antidepressants. A recent survey found that 20% of people who took them reported problems with sexual function – this rose to 28% for those who had been taking the drugs for more than five years.
There is also evidence that long-term use of these medications may increase your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease by between 40% and 60%.
Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms
Upon hearing the word “withdrawal”, many people immediately think of illicit drugs typically associated with addiction. In reality, many drugs can result in withdrawal syndrome after discontinuing usage.
Antidepressants can also cause drug withdrawal when abruptly discontinued. Certain kinds of antidepressants are more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms than others. Typically, a patient has to be taking antidepressants daily for 6-8 weeks to feel any withdrawal symptoms once they stop. Some patients take these medications for much longer than that, which can cause even more intense effects.
Symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal occur one to three days after taking the last dose of medication, and can include:
- Dizzy spells
- “Zapping” sensations
- Muscle pain
- Anxiety and insomnia
- Trouble sleeping
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea imbalance
- Sensory disturbances
- Mood swings
Antidepressants fall into two groups: short-acting and long-acting. The medications that fall into the short-acting group are more likely to cause some of these symptoms. These effects may also be referred to as “discontinuation” symptoms or Antidepressant withdrawal phenomena, but this term is interchangeable with antidepressant withdrawal in most settings.
Abrupt discontinuation of an antidepressant suddenly has the potential to not only cause withdrawal symptoms but also a relapse of depression or other pre-existing conditions. With certain antidepressants, there is an increased risk of attempted suicide or self harm for 28 days after stopping the drug. If at any time you or someone you know exhibits suicidal thoughts, it is important to get help immediately.
How Long do Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Antidepressant withdrawal reactions or discontinuation symptoms generally last from one to six weeks. A small percentage of patients may suffer for longer than six weeks, but symptoms may be less intense or less frequent.
The length of the withdrawal symptoms depends on the individual chemical makeup of the patient, dosage, length, and type of antidepressant used. Even with all these variables, antidepressant withdrawal symptoms tend to follow common patterns.
Tapering for Discontinuation Syndrome
One option when dealing with antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is to simply wait it out. This can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but the worst will pass for the majority of patients in about two weeks. For those unready to endure the symptoms, the only way to stop them quickly is to go back on an antidepressant. Sometimes a doctor can prescribe a different antidepressant, or a lower dose than the patient was previously taking.
Tapering is a method where the dose of a certain medication is lowered over time to avoid antidepressant discontinuation symptoms. It is not only used for antidepressants but for other drugs associated with withdrawal symptoms as well.
Anyone who is considering stopping the use of an antidepressant should see their physician for help to determine the best course of action. A doctor is able to give the best advice on how long an individual should taper, and can prescribe lower doses when necessary. Tapering down and discontinuing the use of antidepressants through a medical detox is possible with the help of a trusted medical professional.
How can a Medical Detox Help with Withdrawal Effects?
In discontinuing medication, your body may go through an adjustment period as it readjusts to no longer being influenced by the medication. This can cause some temporary side effects like nausea or fatigue until your body has adapted to its new state without the drug. However, if you have been taking an antidepressant for a long time (or if you are withdrawing from a high dose), then these side effects may be more intense than usual and last longer than expected because your body is dealing with more change than normal at once.
There are two main phases of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms: the acute phase and the protracted phase. The acute phase lasts for about three to five days and is characterized by severe physical and mental symptoms. The protracted phase lasts much longer, sometimes even months or years after stopping antidepressant use.
Medical detox is one option for treating antidepressant addiction, although it is not always necessary or appropriate for everyone. Medical detox aims to minimize the severity of antidepressant withdrawal effects from the abrupt discontinuation of the substance by providing medications and supportive care during the process.
Medical detox allows patients to take their medication under close supervision so that they can safely taper and engage in safe dose reduction over time by gradual discontinuation.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help people addicted to opioids, alcohol and other substances transition from using drugs or alcohol to being sober.
Medications used in MAT include:
- Buprenorphine (Subutex) and buprenorphine-naloxone combination (Suboxone). These medications are taken as tablets or dissolvable films by mouth once or twice a day. They can be used for opioid withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
- Naltrexone (Depade). This drug is prescribed as a monthly injectable shot that blocks the effects of opioids if you take them. It does not stop cravings for opioids, but it may help prevent relapse after detoxification.
- Methadone (Dolophine). This long-acting opioid medication is taken once or twice a day by mouth to block withdrawal symptoms during detoxification from heroin or other strong opioids. Methadone maintenance therapy is used to help some people transition from illegal drug use to abstinence over time.
Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment
For anyone seeking to discontinue antidepressant use, when it has evolved to the stage of being a legitimate addiction, the best option is to seek out the services of an Addiction center. Addiction Treatment Centers are qualified for dealing with everything around addiction. You will be able to get help dealing with the antidepressant discontinuation syndrome associated with abrupt withdrawal, as well as the underlying co-occurring conditions that led to the antidepressant addiction in the first place.
Inpatient treatment programs are the most common form of treatment for addiction and drug abuse. Inpatient treatment is designed to provide long-term care for people who are recovering from substance abuse or addiction. Inpatient treatment programs are available at many different types of facilities, including hospitals, residential treatment centers, and sober homes.
Inpatient treatment programs provide round-the-clock supervision at a facility that can be either residential or non-residential in nature. In residential settings, clients live at the facility while receiving care on-site 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Inpatient treatment programs are designed for individuals who need a longer-term approach to recovery. These programs typically require patients to stay onsite for a period of 30 days or longer, but some can last as long as 90 days. An inpatient treatment program is ideal for those suffering from severe addiction, including those with underlying mental health issues that may require stabilization.
Outpatient treatment programs are much more flexible and allow patients to engage with their recovery process at their own pace. Outpatient treatment is often recommended for those who have a family or job that requires their presence outside of the facility during the week, or who simply want more freedom during their recovery process.
These treatment programs are typically designed for those who have already completed a detoxification from drugs or alcohol and need continued counseling care to help maintain sobriety after leaving the hospital. Outpatient treatment programs offer patients a less intensive level of care than inpatient programs. Patients attend the program for several hours per week, typically for 12 weeks or more.
The Main Types of Treatment For Addiction
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain. It causes compulsive drug seeking and use, even when the user knows there are negative health and social consequences. Drug abuse also can lead to physical dependence and tolerance, which means that users must take more drugs to get the same effect.
Many people who are addicted to drugs also have other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety disorders. They may turn to drugs to cope with these problems. Most drug addiction treatment programs include counseling and group therapy sessions designed to help patients:
- Understand the nature of addiction
- Identify triggers that can lead to relapse
- Learn how to avoid situations that may trigger drug use
- Develop strategies for avoiding high-risk situations
Therapy and SSRI Discontinuation
There are many different types of therapy that can be used in antidepressant addiction treatment programs. These therapies help you learn how to cope with stress, anxiety and depression without relying on antidepressants to combat these feelings.
One type of therapy that is often used in antidepressant addiction treatment programs is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps you identify the negative thought patterns that lead to drug use and teaches you how to change those thoughts into positive ones. This type of therapy also teaches you how to replace bad habits with good ones, so you aren’t tempted to use drugs again once you’re discharged from treatment.
Another popular form of therapy used in antidepressant addiction treatment programs is motivational interviewing (MI). MI allows therapists and patients alike to explore their motivations for taking antidepressants or other substances so they can develop healthier coping methods instead of using drugs again after they leave the clinic or addiction center.
Family therapy can be beneficial for both the patient and family members who are concerned about the patient’s behavior. Family members often play an important role in helping with treatment because they can help provide support and keep track of medication compliance.
Group therapy can be helpful for many reasons, including providing education and support from other people who have similar experiences or concerns. Group therapy sessions can also help increase self-esteem and reduce social isolation by giving patients a sense of belonging in a group setting.
As treatment options for addiction continue to expand, so do the methods used by therapists and counselors to help patients. While traditional therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective, some patients respond better to holistic treatments. Holistic therapy is an approach that uses a combination of different therapies and treatments to treat a wide range of conditions.
Holistic therapies are non-invasive treatments that use various methods to promote healing and balance within the body, mind, and spirit. They focus on improving your overall health rather than just treating specific symptoms or diseases. They offer natural relief from depression and anxiety symptoms without the use of drugs or medications.
Holistic therapies work by addressing the underlying causes of these problems instead of simply masking their symptoms with prescription drugs. This allows you to avoid side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, nausea, and vomiting that can occur when using prescription medications as well as withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop taking them suddenly after long-term use without medical supervision.
One of the most common types of holistic treatment is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a Chinese practice that involves placing needles in specific points on the body to relieve pain and treat illness. Although acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in China, it has only recently begun to gain popularity in Western countries like the United States.
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective at treating depression and anxiety disorders. It may also help relieve symptoms associated with chronic pain, insomnia, and nausea. In addition to these benefits, acupuncture can help reduce cravings for drugs or alcohol.
Another popular form of holistic therapy is yoga therapy. Yoga therapy combines physical poses with breathing exercises and meditation to improve overall health and well-being. Yoga is especially beneficial for those who suffer from depression because it encourages them to spend time alone away from busy lifestyles which often contribute to stress levels that can lead to depression. Yoga also helps people become more mindful of their thoughts and feelings so they can better cope with their emotions.
12-Step Programs and Support Groups
Twelve-step programs and support groups can help with antidepressant addiction treatment, according to a study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. The study found that 12-step programs can help people with depression who have been prescribed antidepressants.
The researchers found that these programs have helped many people with depression overcome their addiction to antidepressants. This is because they provide a safe environment where members can share their experiences and offer support to each other. In addition, these groups also help users understand how medications work and how they affect the brain.
Support groups are peer-led meetings where people with similar problems come together to share their experiences and offer each other support. They’re usually facilitated by a trained individual who has had experience in that particular field. The exact format varies from group to group, but they often include an opening discussion on the topic of the day, followed by sharing time where everyone can speak, ask questions or simply listen. Some groups are structured around a certain topic (such as codependency), while others focus more broadly on topics like stress management or emotional health.
Twelve-step programs are based on the principle of “one day at a time.” Members are encouraged to focus on their recovery rather than on any previous failures or relapses. They also learn how to identify situations that may trigger substance abuse and how to avoid them when possible.
Success Stories: Kicking Antidepressants
The internet is full of negativity, horror stories, and the temptation to self-diagnose our problems. However, there are also many positive testimonies of people overcoming antidepressant dependence.
Take the story of Cindy, a 34-year-old teacher who has been on paroxetine for three years. She suffered from depression and anxiety since her early twenties and finally decided to get some help. She was prescribed 30 mg/day. It seemed to work after a while, but she always had this feeling that something just wasn’t right. She never really felt well rested, either. But she figured it would all work out after her body adjusted to the medication.
She did adjust somewhat, but it never made her feel the way she wanted. Then she went on a weekend trip with some friends and forgot to bring her medication. After a couple of days, she started to feel dizzy, and super tired and got these weird brain zap feelings in her head. She realized she didn’t have her medication and that was probably why she felt like that. It scared her, and she decided enough was enough.
When she returned home, she took her next dose immediately to stop the uncomfortable feelings. She went back to her doctor and made a plan to taper off her medication. Over the next two months, she slowly reduced the use of paroxetine and integrated some other therapeutic tools to help with the withdrawal-related depression and anxiety she likely faced.
Cindy is now totally off of her antidepressant and never experienced any intense withdrawal. She worked with her doctor and therapist to make sure she would be successful. She had support to help her work through any tough spots, and learned some techniques to help with any anxiety she felt as a result of weaning off her medication.
The Importance of Seeking Treatment Now
Anyone wishing to stop their antidepressant use should seek medical advice. The best chance for success is to plan ahead and have a support system. Going through antidepressant withdrawal can be daunting, especially for those trying to stop on their own without help.
If you or someone you know has become dependent on antidepressants and is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Depression can be a serious condition, and quitting antidepressants without professional guidance can lead to further problems with mood disorders such as anxiety and panic attacks.
Drug addiction is a complex disease, which makes it difficult for people to overcome. It can be extremely challenging for individuals to stop using drugs even if they want to, as they have to fight physical and psychological cravings in addition to social pressures. This makes drug addiction one of the deadliest diseases in the United States.
But the sooner that you seek treatment, the better your chances are of recovery. The longer you wait, the more damage will be done to your body and mind. Addiction is a progressive disease that gets worse over time — not better.
Effective Treatment for Antidepressant Dependence and Addiction
Getting help for antidepressant dependence is the best way to ensure a successful recovery. Waiting until you are ready to stop using drugs could lead to a relapse, which can be deadly. Drugs change your brain chemistry and can make it difficult to stop using them on your own. Addicts often need professional treatment to overcome their cravings and get their lives back on track. This is where a professional Addiction center can be invaluable.
Rehabilitation programs are effective in helping people regain control over their lives. With professional help from a rehab program, you can learn how to cope with your addiction and resist temptations when they arise. You will also learn how to replace your unhealthy behaviors with positive habits that will help you lead a fulfilling life free from substance abuse. Once you complete rehab, you will be able to maintain sobriety for the rest of your life with minimal effort on your part!
Find Freedom from Depression and Medication Now!
Know that there is hope. If you are struggling with your antidepressant medication and you’re considering drug rehab or a detox center, it is important that you seek medical advice from a trusted professional who can help you break your dependence. Contact us today and let us help you take that next, all-important step towards freedom!
Rachael Goldstein has been a freelance writer for more than 10 years, having written for Find Addiction Rehabs for the past two years. She specializes in writing about the law, mental health, psychology, and addiction. She is the owner and author of the website www.addicted-to-sobriety.com. Rachael is also a licensed attorney in the state of Pennsylvania.