11 Worries You Have When You Consider Going Off Antidepressants
For some, antidepressants are longterm and necessary to maintaining your health and wellbeing. Others, though, might expect for their use of antidepressants to be short-term. But when you go on a medication knowing (or at least assuming) there will be an end, you never really consider what that end will look like. Will it look like happiness, whatever that looks like? Will it look like structure? Will it look like peace? You tell yourself that your body will tell you when it's ready to go off medication. You tell yourself you'll just know.
But when years have gone by and you only ever planned for months, you start to worry about what life off antidepressants looks like. You forget about what it was like to wake up in the morning without a pill to take. You forget what it was like to have severe ups and downs. You remember that moment you filled the prescription and wonder if maybe you didn't need it. You remember that moment you took your first pill and crossed every finger and toe that good feelings were on their way, and that the black cloud would now linger at bay.
So if now's not the time to go off of your antidepressants, will it ever be? You were probably expecting to feel sure. You were probably expecting to wake up one morning and say "now it's time". You want to taper-down, but you're scared of what will rise to the surface if you do. These are 11 thoughts you have when considering going off your antidepressants:
"I Need To Take Time Off."
It might feel like you need to stop everything to taper-off your medication. You don't want to risk it interfering with your life, so you want to put everything on hold. You'll tell yourself that you're going to request time off, but keep pushing back that date.
"I Should Go Away."
A part of you wants to hide away while you go off your medication. You want to disappear and be alone, away from your every day life. You want to be in private, because you don't know how you're going to react.
"What If I Get Fired?"
Of course it's highly unlikely, but you can't help but think of the worst case scenario. In your mind, you're going to go bonkers when you lower your dosage and it's going to lead to some chaotic work drama that will get you fired. Because of that, you always push back your taper date, because you don't think anything is worth risking your job.
"I Should Wait Until After This."
There's always some event or happening you want to work around. You don't want to stop before your friend's wedding or a major test. You don't want to stop before summer because you get the winter feels. There's always a reason you think you need to wait for.
"What If I Have A Mental Breakdown?"
Some people have more severe reactions than others after going off of their medication. But if you follow your doctor's directions, the transition shouldn't lead to a breakdown. The important thing to note is that if you if you are concerned about that, you might not be ready — and that's OK. There is no reason to discontinue your medication unless it's a personal choice that you want to make for yourself.
"What If I Lose Someone?"
At the root of most of our fears, we're scared that our actions will cause people to abandon us. Maybe you're scared your partner will leave you if your behavior changes. Maybe you're worried your friends won't have your back through this potentially rough time. It's a risk you might have to take, but rest assured that your true friends will hold your hand through this, if you let them.
"Will It Hurt?"
Withdrawal effects manifest differently in each patient. There's no way of knowing exactly how it will feel to go off your medication. Each drug has a different interaction with the brain, so there's no blanket statement preparing you for how it will go down. The best thing to do is be in touch with a doctor you trust, and check in every step of the way.
"Is It Too Soon?"
If you're looking for a "right time," it's hard to tell when exactly that time is. Going off too soon can be incredibly dangerous, but if you're being honest with your doctor and yourself, you'll go off — or decide not to — when the time is right for you. You can't let any outside pressures persuade your decision.
"What If It's Changed Me?"
It's hard to imagine what your life will be like without the medication. You've changed so much since you first went on it, and knowing that, you have anxiety about the future. Try to be OK with the idea of having changed — hopefully it will be for the better. But also be patient with yourself, because it might take time for you to adjust.
"What If I Need To Go Back On?"
So what if you do? Plenty of people need to go back on. This process might take a little bit of trial and error, and you might find at the end of it that ultimately you are able to lead a better, more fulfilled life on antidepressants — and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is no reason to associate going back on with failure, because recognizing your needs and taking care of yourself is always, always, always a success.
"Should I Let Anyone Know?"
You should definitely let your doctor know, as it's very dangerous to go off antidepressants without a doctor overseeing the process. As for the rest of the people in your life, it's up to you. It's probably in your best interest to let the people who you spend the most time with know about what you're going through. It might help them help you, if you need the support. But ultimately, outside of your doctor's advice, it's no one's business but your own — so only you can be the judge.