ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATION WITHDRAWAL
Do you notice negative impacts in your life from taking prescription psychiatric medication, such as antidepressants?
Have you found it difficult to stop taking your antidepressant when you have wanted to?
How would it feel to have non-judgmental support in your life to explore the pros and cons of taking antidepressants or other psychiatric medications?
At An Enduring Love, we help to guide you through the process of evaluating your use of psychiatric medications, and empower you to make informed decisions for yourself.
Helping to Evaluate Your Psychiatric Medication Use
For many people, getting onto or off of a psychiatric medication can feel daunting, confusing, and disempowering. For all of the good they can provide for some people, psychiatric medications can also negatively impact a person’s day-to-day experience with frustrating side effects including mental fog, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, flattened emotions, and weight gain. And getting off of psychiatric medications, particularly antidepressants, can also come with serious withdrawal effects such as worsened depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, difficulty thinking, headaches, body aches, pain, tiredness, and insomnia. That’s a lot to work with on your own.
At An Enduring Love, we offer education and therapeutic support for clients starting, continuing, or stopping psychiatric medications. We help clients to assess the impact that taking prescribed psychiatric medications has on their lives. We do this through a structured process of monitoring and tracking the drugs’ effects, validating clients’ individual experiences with medications, and strategizing paths for moving forward with or without psychiatric medications. Our work extends beyond the drug itself to a focus on the client as a whole person, one who is working with psychological distress, while at the same time navigating their life choices and questions of identity and meaning.
Even when it’s the right decision for a client to stop using their psychiatric medications the process can still be difficult, and for some people stopping their medications comes with debilitating withdrawal effects. If a client decides to discontinue a medication, An Enduring Love helps clients to design strategies to successfully get off of their antidepressant or other psychiatric medications that are informed by a prescriber and the client’s own preferences. An Enduring Love supports clients in their journey of re-discovering themselves in the absence of psychiatric medicines by offering support and guidance that spans physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of their lives.
Psychiatric Medications Can Help...But Should You Take Them Forever?
For too many people, taking psychiatric medications can extend for years at a time with uncertain effectiveness, confusing or troubling effects, and a great deal of misinformation about real benefits versus risks. While psychiatric medications, like antidepressants, can be helpful for many people at difficult moments in life, they are not usually effective or beneficial to people as a long-term solution. Some people find themselves taking psychiatric medications far longer than they ever expected to and with little plan or support in place for how or when to stop using them. Some find the side effects, such as fogginess, dullness, sexual dysfunction, or weight gain, unbearable and possibly not worth any benefits they receive from the medication. And still others continue searching for “the right medication,” only to find themselves in a merry-go-round of prescriptions that often includes adding more medications on top of their existing ones. Some question whether their medication is still working for them at all. Research shows that 68% of adolescent and adult antidepressant users have been taking an antidepressant for two years or more, and 25% for 10 years or more.
At An Enduring Love we generally avoid the use of psychiatric diagnoses, even when other professionals have applied diagnoses to your struggles, because there are many other ways outside of psychiatric diagnosis to understand your experience of mental and emotional distress. In addition, by taking a wide view of your lifestyle and environment, An Enduring Love can recommend other approaches to support your healing that can include exercise, meditation, therapy, social support systems, self exploration, and other forms of connection that can help clients to find the right mix of tools. Because we operate outside of a narrow medical paradigm of mental illness, we also understand the use of psychiatric medications differently. Psychiatric medications are simply mood-altering substances that some people find useful and others do not for various reasons. We are open to supporting your own process of exploring what these medications mean to you and how they fit in your life (or not), without judgment, pressure, or “knowing better” than you about your life circumstances. Our aim is to support you in your own path for healing, wherever that takes you.
When Antidepressant Withdrawal Strikes
Even when someone does feel ready to stop taking a psychiatric medication, the withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to manage. Research suggests that psychiatric medication withdrawal, and particularly antidepressant withdrawal, may be far more common than prescribers and clients realize. While some antidepressant users have no problem starting and stopping psychiatric medication, others might experience mild to very severe withdrawal effects, including depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, difficulty thinking, headaches, brain zaps, body aches and pain, tiredness, or insomnia.
Psychiatric medication withdrawal effects are unpredictable in their type, severity, or how long they will last (which could be days, weeks, or months). These effects can leave clients feeling dependent on the drug, as if they have no choice but to continue taking it. For others, these effects are taken as evidence that their original mental health problems are worsening or that they are relapsing, rather than as a sign of drug withdrawal. Navigating the problems of withdrawal can be confusing and discouraging, particularly for persons with little external support to help them make sense of what’s happening.
When clients make the decision to stop using their psychiatric medications, An Enduring Love offers an experienced, compassionate approach to working with and around the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of withdrawal.