Antidepressants are presented as the way to keep depression under control. But with the risk of side effects always present in most antidepressants, it’s understandable why people want to get off their meds.
Leaving cold turkey from your antidepressants is never a good idea, because succeeding may be a matter of will, as much as a question of brain chemistry.
Antidepressants balance the brain chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters. The brain chemicals are responsible for controlling your emotions and mood, as you’re dealing with depression or anxiety.
The majority of antidepressants cause side effects, and finding the right medication and dose may be a long process of trial and error.
Some people are tempted to get off their antidepressants once they feel better, but that’s rarely a good idea. Stopping your treatment abruptly poses many risks, with risk of suicide as the most important to name. Getting off antidepressants suddenly may also trigger withdrawal symptoms, and have your depression relapse. If it happens and you go back to your antidepressant, it may take you several weeks until it will rebalance your mood and emotions.
Taking antidepressants is what mainstream science presents as the solution to depression, even though more and better alternative therapies are emerging. The Holistic Sanctuary is a comprehensive treatment center where depression is addressed on all levels, with 100% natural therapies aiming to heal the body, mind, and soul. Hyperbaric oxygen, ozone therapy, proprietary NAD IV vitamin drips, and sacred plant medicine or proprietary chakra rebalancing techniques are used to take the brain to the pre-depression state. It’s a conglomerate of holistic and science-based methods that comprise the treatment for depression, helping the patient ultimately heal.
Unlike the natural methods at reputed centers like the Holistic Sanctuary, antidepressants have significant side effects, which only worsen over time. Weight gain, sexual problems, emotional numbness, the risk for addiction, suicidal thoughts, are only some of the numerous side effects that antidepressants bring into the picture.
It’s true that antidepressants work for some people, but it’s rarely without paying a toll for the benefits. Additionally, it can take months until patients discover the best antidepressant for their case. Only one-fifth of the participants in a study on the benefits of antidepressants in the long run, mentioned that the medications gave results. Many of them also stated that they wouldn’t have taken the antidepressants in the first place have they been aware of the side effects and withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop the treatment.
It becomes evident that getting off antidepressants is beneficial for many patients with depression, especially since there are alternative approaches that fare better than pills. Moreover, the natural alternatives don’t pose a risk for addiction, give long-lasting results, and ensure complete healing. Isn’t that perspective more appealing?
Quitting “cold turkey” will most definitely lead to withdrawal symptoms. When patients stop taking antidepressants all of a sudden, the depression may worsen. Here are some of the most common symptoms to expect when getting off your antidepressants:
Not taking your antidepressants may slow down your progress and cancel all the progress you’ve made so far. Even if you’re about to try an alternative treatment, your depression symptoms may worsen, and it may take you long until you feel good once again.
People may also get suicidal thoughts when they stop following the antidepressant treatment. The risk of acting on it is higher than when not being medicated at all. Depression symptoms could spike, and risk for suicide gets all of a sudden higher.
Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome (aka antidepressant withdrawal) is a real thing and develops when the person stops taking the antidepressants abruptly. Some people doing it will feel like having a stomach bug or the flu, but disturbing thoughts and images may also occur.
Some symptoms associated with depression may worsen when you stop taking your medication. Headache, insomnia, or pain could become more severe if the treatment ceases. At Holistic Sanctuary, the therapies used for addressing depression will also alleviate symptoms associated with depression. HBOT and ozone therapy will give 100% pure oxygen at high pressure to your body, healing affected tissues, and relieving pain. The proprietary IV drips, the organic superfoods, acupuncture, proprietary chakra rebalancing, and Kundalini yoga will decrease the pain of any kind, reduce stress and relax the patients.
With insomnia worsening from withdrawal from antidepressants, people will have difficulties to address the depression. The alternative methods such as ozone, HBOT therapy, massage, or vitamin drips will help the patients sleep better, and solve sleep disorders.
Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, flu-like symptoms are also symptoms that getting off antidepressants will cause. Liver detox, parasite/candida cleanse, mitochondrial repair protocol are some methods for cleansing the body of the patient before treatment at Holistic Sanctuary. The risk for side effects like in withdrawal from antidepressants is therefore decreased.
The Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome occurs after the patient reduces, stops, or discontinues the antidepressant medication. Difficulties sleeping, poor balance, nausea, flu-like symptoms, anxiety, sensory changes, and acute depression are the most common symptoms. They may appear within three days but may span for several months.
Professionals note that there’s no way to anticipate if someone will experience or not the discontinuation symptoms after getting off the antidepressants. They still didn’t figure out why only some patients will develop the antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, whereas others will not.
Antidepressants are capable of restoring the proper functioning and production of neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine), which regulate the mood.
Some mental health professionals believe that stopping the antidepressants abruptly doesn’t give the brain the time it needs for adjusting to the fast change.
It seems that acupuncture can reduce the risk of depression relapse for patients who stopped taking the antidepressants. It seems that acupuncture can lead to positive effects for a short and an extended amount of time in patients who ceased to take antidepressants.
In a study, two groups of participants followed the same protocols for reducing their medications. One of the groups benefitted from acupuncture throughout the process. The Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD) was used to measure the results at three-time points: before treatment, one week after completing the stopping process, and one year later.
The study revealed that patients who benefitted from acupuncture showed a 50% improvement in short-term withdrawal syndrome results. Only 3.3% of these patients experienced withdrawal syndrome than 53.3% of the patient without acupuncture treatment. The alternative method also leads to other short-term side effects. 93.3% of patients receiving acupuncture were able to stop taking their antidepressants in just one week. On the contrary, only 73.3% of the patients who didn’t receive acupuncture were able to complete the cessation process.
Long-term benefits are even more critical, though. One year after stopping their antidepressants, the relapse rate for patients with acupuncture treatment had only 13.3% withdrawal. On the other hand, the relapse rate for patients without acupuncture treatment was as high as 40%.
At Holistic Sanctuary, acupuncture is just one of the alternative therapies used for addressing depression. The method is sustained by healthy and vegan dieting, physical activities, and proprietary NAD IV vitamin drips and proprietary protocols.
All medications possibly lead to adverse side effects, and the antidepressants don’t make an exception. Some of these drugs can alter the appetite, the activity, and energy level, metabolism, and, obviously, the weight. Antidepressants pose a high risk of causing any/all of the side above effects.
It’s mostly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that increase appetite and weight gain.
These two antidepressants (escitalopram and fluoxetine) are some of the most common SSRIs that cause increased appetite. Since they also work very well against depression, they’re widely used, despite the weight gain. Sometimes, the side effects may occur in the first four weeks after the treatment and go away once the body adjusts to the medication. However, in many cases, the metabolism problems will remain, which frustrates the patients.
Patients who want to stop taking the two antidepressants have to talk with their physician about the best way to taper off slowly. Not taking SSRIs suddenly may lead to less pleasant symptoms, whereas gradual tapering will help the body readjust to the change. Therefore, it may control appetite and weight, along with all the other physical symptoms.
Stopping the antidepressants will not lead to weight loss directly, as the body has a new metabolism when on medications. Even if the appetite decreases, the weight loss may not happen overnight. Should you be interested in losing weight, you still need to help your metabolism and make it work faster. When you’re skipping meals, the metabolism is only slowing down, so you’re not losing weight.
Regular meals are fundamental for speeding up the metabolism, though. Even if you want to lose weight, you shouldn’t drastically reduce the caloric intake, as you’re only making the metabolism slow down. For example, nutritionists at Holistic Sanctuary teach patients the importance of raw, vegan, plant-based, non-GMO, and organic food. The dieting gives the body a healthy amount of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins it needs for recovering, without causing weight gain.
Physical activities and regular exercises will push the metabolism to speed up. One hour of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise almost every day will burn plenty of calories. At Holistic Sanctuary, patients have daily access to the gym, spa, and enjoy walks in the most serene and beautiful location.
Discontinuing antidepressants, especially SSRIs, is a very challenging process. Studies on long-term use of antidepressants showed that it’s harder for patients on SSRIs to stop the treatment. Some of these patients will develop discontinuation syndrome, which is a severe condition. Tremors, restlessness, vomiting, nausea, or neurological symptoms such as dizziness, difficulties at focusing, the sensation of “brain zaps” are some of the most common symptoms to note. When people have been using the antidepressants for two decades, the risk for severe symptoms is even higher. Anxiety and depression may spike, but a gradual taper may alleviate the withdrawal symptoms.
Tapering is an essential topic for professionals. Most of them recommend patients a 2-4 week tapering program when getting off the antidepressants. Recently, researchers highlighted that the tapering should be even longer than that. According to the new study, the dosage should be reduced by smaller amounts, down to one-fortieth of the first dose. It can take months or years until the patient will be off the antidepressants, but it’s connected to how the medications changes to brain chemistry.
Antidepressants altering the serotonin in the brain are difficult to be stopped, as the patient will experience both physical and emotional symptoms that happen when the typically high level of serotonin disappears. Even though similar, the symptoms aren’t the same as in physical withdrawal from drugs. Physiological withdrawal occurs if the patient is using a substance that is addictive, causing cravings and drug-seeking behavior. However, antidepressants don’t have the habit-forming component, so the patient will not crave for it when stopping the treatment.
Unlike the typical drug withdrawal, getting off antidepressants doesn’t resemble addiction effects, but instead leads to the physiological impacts of stopping the drug. It’s like when a diabetic patient stops taking the insulin. One in five patients on antidepressants for more than six weeks will go through discontinuation symptoms when they stop taking the antidepressants all of a sudden. No matter which antidepressant you’re on, tapering it down will alleviate and reduce the physical symptoms.
All in all, Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), and Paxil (paroxetine) are the hardest to stop antidepressants. Keep in mind that any antidepressant may be hard to get off when stopping suddenly.
Modern antidepressants, with Prozac as the most famous to name, changed the whole world of antidepressants, as they don’t contain the harmful Valium or the benzodiazepines. Overdosing the SSRIs is quite tricky, and getting off them is rather easy too.
Some patients tried to get off Prozac throughout six months, as faster tapering may cause unpleasant side effects. Insomnia, dizziness, brain zaps, excessive rage may be expected as well. Some doctors may prescribe a secondary antidepressant for reducing the side effects of discontinuation.
The patient’s age, how the body handles the change, and how the metabolism is affected by the antidepressant are essential when getting off. As we’ve mentioned already, some antidepressants may lead to less severe side effects when ceasing the medications, but professionals still don’t know which patients will react better.
It’s a common and reasonable problem for people on antidepressant treatment, especially since recent research notes that antidepressant withdrawal symptoms occur more often, more severely, and for a more extended time.
Even if medical professionals believe that patients may get off the antidepressants quickly, many of them experience mental and physical withdrawal symptoms that can last for months and years. It has become apparent for most professionals that getting off antidepressants may not be as effortless as considered, due to the antidepressant withdrawal.
Some professionals highlight that withdrawal symptoms lasting for just a couple of weeks couldn’t be any further from the truth. Moreover, they occur more often than professionals anticipated.
Even if antidepressants have been on the market for more than three decades, scientists are still trying to figure out how they affect the brain. Evidence for withdrawal effects builds up, as professionals are adjusting the guidelines for prescribers once more.
It’s understandable why people would turn away from antidepressants and look for help at alternative treatment centers like the Holistic Sanctuary.
Will you be able to live a life without antidepressants? Most definite “yes,” especially if you reach for the alternative solution, with holistic and evidence-based therapies. Will it be difficult for you to get off antidepressants? Most likely, “yes.”
Tapering is essential for all antidepressants, but it has to be extremely low for specific antidepressants (clomipramine, venlafaxine, and paroxetine). The risk for patients to experience critical discontinuation effects is significant as well.
When discontinuation reactions cannot be ignored, it’s recommended to replace the longer-acting medication (fluoxetine is one) throughout the tapering period. 10 to 20mg/d of fluoxetine for a week may be administered, and have both antidepressants stopped. Some patients may start with discontinue the medication or they may continue with the fluoxetine for a couple of weeks. It’s a safe method to reduce the risk for side effects.
To this day, doctors still don’t believe that antidepressants are the culprit for birth effects; it doesn’t mean that there’s no risk for them to harm the baby. It’s essential that both the mother and the doctor are aware of the dangers, nevertheless.
30% of babies whose mothers were on SSRIs will present the so-called “neonatal adaptation syndrome.”Irritability, jitteriness, and respiratory distress are some of the symptoms to highlight. However, doctors don’t know if the withdrawal from SSRIs after birth causes the effects, or it’s the exposure to the drug before birth, creating it.
Not all babies presenting the symptoms have mothers on SSRIs, so it’s difficult for doctors to determine the cause. They have to run tests, and the effects disappear after some time.
Women who get pregnant shouldn’t stop their antidepressants, as it’s more important to keep the depression under control. Women take antidepressants three months before getting pregnant or throughout their pregnancy, without harming their babies.
It’s legitimate for women who want to get pregnant if or when to stop taking their meds. However, research reveals that most antidepressants, especially SSRIs and older medications, are safe before and during pregnancy. The risk of congenital disabilities or other conditions is present, but it’s quite low.
The doctor and patient should weigh in the pros and cons, as some of the antidepressants pose a risk for severe problems. For instance, Paxil is linked to a high risk of lethal cardiac defects if taken in the first trimester. Prozac and Zoloft are also connected to a high risk of a rare lung condition in newborns when taken in the latter half of the pregnancy, while newborns will develop withdrawal symptoms after birth.
When the patient is trying to get off the antidepressants, he/she needs all the help that he/she can get. If you go to reliable treatment centers like the Holistic Sanctuary, you will have the chance to benefit from the most innovative protocols and holistic methods for letting go of the antidepressants. HBOT and ozone therapy, proprietary NAD IV vitamin drips, liver detox, coffee enemas, GABA and serotonin receptor repair, Mitochondria repair protocol are some of the methods used for cleaning the body and providing the minerals and vitamins it needs for recovery.
For those of you who cannot access professional treatment just yet, some of the supplements down below will help with the discontinuation process.
Activated charcoal will clean the body of the possible toxins from your antidepressants. It’s common for patients on antidepressants to deal with toxicity related to the drug for a long time. Taking some activated charcoal will eliminate the toxins from the body, easing out the recovery process. It reduces the risk of poisons to be absorbed by the stomach, blocking the circulation of toxins and drugs.
Taking omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) have several benefits, with DHA working as a building block for the brain, whereas EPA will reduce the inflammation. Scientific evidence revealed that omega-3 fatty acids would increase the grey matter, brain volume, and sustain the normal brain processes.
Omega-3s will also improve aggression, anxiety, concentration difficulties, brain zaps, depression, and irritability.
We should also note that, for some people, fish oil may not work, and it can aggravate depression and anxiety. Should you experience this kind of effect, you must stop taking it.
Glutathione is a potent antioxidant in the body, and every cell has it to reduce the build of toxin and prevent inflammation. As we age, our body will produce less glutathione, and when we don’t have enough of it, the immune system is compromised.
People who use antidepressants for a long time may harm the liver, so it’s essential to take care of it. (At Holistic Sanctuary, liver detox will be fundamental for cleaning and healing the liver later on).
Green food will give your body enough glutathione, but the amount your body produces naturally may not be enough if you’ve been using antidepressants for years.
Getting off antidepressants will affect your sleep quality, with insomnia as one of the side effects. At Holistic Sanctuary, you will benefit from Kundalini yoga, meditation, acupuncture, HBOT, and ozone therapy that improve your sleep quality.
Melatonin production is affected by the antidepressants, and during withdrawal, the brain tries to rebalance it on its own. The antidepressants cause a reduced level for melatonin, so you need to take supplementation of melatonin for restoring the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Magnesium is an anti-stress mineral, and lack of it will lead to various symptoms, with anxiety as the most important to highlight. Increasing the level of magnesium will make the patient calmer and in a better mood.
Taking magnesium during withdrawal symptoms will help with insomnia and anxiety, restore the homeostatic brain functions, and even reduce heart palpitations.
Vitamin B3 and B6 are essential for the conversion of tryptophan. Some people experience a boost of energy when taking B supplements, which is useful for reducing the fatigue in withdrawal. However, the boosted energy may also increase agitation and anxiety, so you should stop taking B vitamin supplements. In this case, it’s better and safer to take individual B-vitamins such as B3, B6, or B12.
At Holistic Sanctuary, the NAD IV vitamin drips will be administered daily, so that the patients take the best amount of vitamins for their bodies.
People experiencing a low sodium-potassium ratio will want to raise the salt intake. Typically, long time exposure to fight-or-flight response will tax the adrenals, in which case a bit of Himalayan salt or fresh sea salt added to the diet will work miracles.
It seems that a deficient sodium intake will correlate with a high level of anxiety. Some professionals even state that lack of salt in the diet is a cause for adrenal issues and mood issues.
Some other supplements can also help with the symptoms when getting off antidepressants. Gaba, Sam-e, Rhodiola Rosea, and St. John’s Wort are some to name. Gaba repair is one of the methods successfully used at The Holistic Sanctuary, helping the brain recover after antidepressants.
The majority of antidepressants used for depression will lead to changes of the menstrual cycle, with amenorrhea as the most common condition to note.
It’s mostly the antidepressants in the SSRIs category that will lead to high prolactin hormone release. High levels of prolactin will slow down the producing of follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) from the ovaries, stopping the eggs from releasing the eggs. If so, the chances for menstruation to occur are quite slim.
Bupropion is another antidepressant that affects the cycle as it shortens the menstrual cycle and causes menstrual spotting and amenorrhea.
Patients who used selegiline may develop irregular periods, even if the mechanism is still unclear.
Regardless of the issues, most of the antidepressants will not affect the menstrual cycle. Therefore, getting off the antidepressants may not change the period in any way as well.