Antidepressant Withdrawal

Check out this COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF ANTIDEPRESSANT WITHDRAWAL. You’ll learn what to expect during withdrawal and how you can address symptoms effectively.

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Are You Ready to Quit?

Are you tired of taking antidepressants that do not help you? Are you tired of the cycle of constant dosing? Or maybe you find it difficult to stop because of withdrawal?

You are not alone.

Antidepressants are one of the most widely prescribed group of medications, with over 118 million prescriptions written in the U.S. to patients aged 12 and above. This means that there are thousands of Americans currently out there who are just like you! Plus, there are hundreds of thousands who have succeeded.

You can be one of them!


Antidepressant Detox Centers are available to help you.
Call us NOW.
Our helpline is open for calls 24 hours a day.


Here, we review the possible risks and side effects of stopping antidepressants. We’ll explain what you can expect during detox and we offer practical, proven solutions for dealing with withdrawal. At the end, we welcome any remaining questions. In fact, we try to answer all real life questions personally and promptly.

Defining Withdrawal

Antidepressant withdrawal or Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome (ADS) refers to a set of physical and psychological symptoms that appear in people who abruptly stop using their antidepressant medications. Research suggests that it takes about six (6) weeks of regular use for your body to become dependent on antidepressants. After this initial period, you can expect to go through withdrawal symptoms when you eventually decrease the usual dosage or try to quit completely.

Withdrawal can be challenging, but it is generally not life-threatening. Still, it is advised that people going off antidepressants should be closely monitored for suicidal ideation or self-injurious behavior due to symptoms such as:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • rebound depression


Ready to stop using antidepressants?
Get through withdrawal safely.
Call us.


Does Dependence = Addiction?


Addiction and physical dependence are two separate concepts.

You can be physically dependent on an antidepressant medication and still use it for medical treatment as prescribed by your doctor. Likewise, it is also possible to be addicted to antidepressants without being physically dependent. But usually addicted individuals will display symptoms of physical dependence. So, what’s the difference?

Physical dependence is a physiological phenomenon that is a natural and expected consequence of regular antidepressant drug use. Symptoms of dependence include:

  • Tolerance – Needing more of the drug to achieve the effect once achieved at lower doses.
  • Withdrawal – Occurrence of uncomfortable side effects as a result of either discontinuing the drug or drastically cutting down the dosage.

Addiction, on the other hand, is a condition characterized with a non-medical use of antidepressants. In other words, you use the drugs for reasons and in ways other than prescribed. Addiction results in a number of adverse consequences to the individual, including the being unable to control or stop use despite repeated attempts.

Am I really addicted, or not?

If you suspect that you are becoming too reliant on your antidepressant medication, the following symptoms can help you self-evaluate whether it is addiction, or not. Still, know that addiction is best diagnosed with the help of a medical professional such as a licensed psychologist, medical doctor, psychiatrist, or clinical social worker.

Addiction is usually characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following:

  1. Compulsive use of antidepressants.
  2. Continued use of the substance, despite harmful consequences.
  3. Cravings for your drug-of-choice.
  4. Impaired control over amount and frequency of use.
  5. Increase of doses or dosing without doctor’s suggestion.
  6. Using multiple sources (often illegal) to get antidepressants.

Recognize some of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one? No need to be worried, ashamed, or scared! Addiction is a medical condition. As a medical condition, addiction responds successfully to adequate medical treatment.

In fact, the sooner you seek help, the bigger your chances of achieving long-term recovery.

Don’t Wait!
Call Today to Get the Best Treatment Options.

What Causes Withdrawal Syndrome?

Using antidepressants chronically for a period of time changes the way your brain and body function.

BRAIN CHANGES – Antidepressants work by altering levels of neurotransmitters that your brain’s neurons eventually adapt to. When the current level of neurotransmitters changes too much too fast (which happens when you quit suddenly), symptoms that range from mild to distressing may arise.

BODY CHANGES – Over time, the body adapts to antidepressants in the body as a way to maintain homeostasis, or balance. With regular of any psychoactive drug, your body starts to adapt to the presence of the medication. Any decrease or complete removal of dosage will easily throw your body out of the balance that it has created for itself, causing it to experience as state of ‘shock’. What’s really happening is that all the symptoms that the drug “blocks” come to the surface during withdrawal. Once enough time passes, the body returns to normal function (pre-drug).

Another way to describe it is: During withdrawal, your brain and body struggle to regain normal functioning. When “normality” has become the presence of antidepressants in the system, it takes time to return to a state of balance. Withdrawal symptoms are the brain and body’s way of manifesting what’s happening chemically. What’s more, many of the effects of antidepressant withdrawal are similar to the symptoms they are taken to treat such as depression, mood changes, and anxiety…making you believe that you cannot live or function normally without taking more.

Symptoms Of Antidepressant Withdrawal

You will likely experience physical as well as psychological effects when you stop taking antidepressants or lower the dose too fast. Commonly reported withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • balance issues
  • crying spells
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • fatigue
  • fever or chills
  • hallucinations
  • headaches
  • hyperarousal
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • mood swings
  • nausea
  • paranoia
  • restless legs
  • sensory disturbances
  • suicidal thoughts and/or actions
  • tingling sensations
  • trouble sleeping
  • vomiting

NOTE: This is not a complete list of possible withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants. Additionally, not all of the mentioned effects will be felt by all individuals attempting to come off of their medication.

Although you may not experience all of the possible symptoms, you need to be prepared for anything when it comes to quitting antidepressants; withdrawal can be severe and unpleasant. Luckily, there are quality residential facilities that employ medically trained staff who can make your withdrawal process safe and comfortable. Medical detox from antidepressants does not need to be lonely or uncomfortable.

All you need to do is pick up the phone and CALL for Free, Confidential, and Anonymous help. We understand drug problems. And we can help you right now.

How Long Does Antidepressant Withdrawal Last?

Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms typically occur when 90% or more of the drug has left your body. You can calculate the time when you will start feeling the effects of withdrawal if you know the half-life of your particular antidepressant medication. Approximate half-life of popular antidepressants are:

Effexor (venlafaxine) – 6 hours
Zoloft (sertraline) – 24 hours
Paxil (paroxetine) – 29 hours
Lexapro (escitalopram) – 30 hours
Celexa (citalopram) – 36 hours
Prozac (fluoxetine) – 5 days

The duration of your withdrawal, however, is individual and depends on several factors such as:

  1. How long you’ve been using antidepressants.
  2. How frequently you took antidepressants.
  3. Your age.
  4. Your level of tolerance.
  5. Your rate of metabolism.
  6. The presence of other mental illnesses.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) indicates withdrawal symptoms usually last from 7 to 14 days but can last up to 6 weeks and may occur in approximately 20% of patients discontinuing antidepressants.

1-3 DAYS – Initial symptoms appear.
1 WEEK – Symptoms reach a peak in intensity.
2 WEEK – Symptoms start to slowly diminish.
3 WEEK – Symptoms of rebound depression, and overall feelings of discomfort reoccur.

Tapering Antidepressant Doses

The “best” way for you to approach withdrawal and detox from antidepressants depends on how much and how often you use, your general health state, and personal preferences or treatment goals.

Tapering antidepressants involves gradually stepping down doses until you can safely stop taking them. Your doctor can help you determine the pace at which you will be titrating doses based on your personal case AND prescribe medications or suggest over-the-counter meds for short-term management of symptoms. Generally, a slower, more gradual taper can make for a more comfortable process and lessen withdrawal symptoms. In addition, your physician should stay available to you throughout the process in case you need a quick over-the-phone consultation or advise.

How long does tapering last?

Your tapering period can be as slow as needed to avoid major discomfort. Some people taper down in as little as 1 month while others taper down over 2 or more months.

How much and how often should I cut doses?

It really depends…Some people start by cutting their initial dose in half and then reduce the rest by quarters. Others cut smaller doses on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

How To Safely Withdraw?

The safest way to quit a psychoactive drug is to enroll into a detox facility. Medical detox can help limit withdrawal symptoms and address them as they occur.

There are many treatment programs for drug withdrawal and addiction that differ in cost, environment, and length. When you are looking for a rehab program, make sure to carefully explore your options and be prepared for what happens during medical detox.

Here is what the withdrawal process in medical settings generally looks like:

Assessment and evaluation – Discontinuation of any antidepressant medication use, whether as prescribed or illegal, should be done after a physician assesses your state. You’ll need to present a medical hsitory and undergo a physical exam, plus submit blood or urine samples. After a physician runs these initial examinations to make sure you are in good physical and mental health, you may start detox treatment.

Monitoring and support – During detox, your physician can create a tapering schedule, monitor you regularly, and manage any dangerous withdrawal symptoms that may arise. Having the support of family and friends is also important as you go through withdrawal. You may also want to find a support system of people that have gone through a similar experience as you, such as:

  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
  • Mental Health America (MHA)

Medications – Although there are no approved medications to specifically address antidepressant discontinuation symptoms, many of the accompanying symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medications. Alternatively, your doctor may switch you to a longer-acting antidepressant.

Continuing therapy – Medications are only part of the treatment process for withdrawal. Sometimes, people taking antidepressants are polydrug users, also abusing alcohol and other drugs such as marijuana if their medication isn’t working. Polydrug use can make symptoms of depression worse and increase the risk of addiction. Therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Talk Therapy can help uncover and resolve the underlying causes for your drug abuse.

If you have any questions, please call us to get in touch with our helpline staff. We’ll provide you with everything you need to know about antidepressant withdrawal, addiction, and available treatment options.

Going Cold Turkey Off Antidepressants

Thinking about quitting antidepressants abruptly right now? We suggest you rethink this decision as it may lead to unnecessary consequences.

In fact, gradually decreasing your dosage over an extended period of time is preferable to quitting “cold turkey.” And to be honest, whether you use or abuse antidepressants, you should never stop suddenly. Doing so throws you into a state of imbalance. This can result in symptoms that are both psychologically and physically challenging.

The first step towards finally being free from antidepressant use is to overcome the fear of withdrawal and ask for help from medical professionals. So, whether it’s your first or hundredth attempt to quit, it’s never too late to turn your life around.

Reach out to our trusted recovery consultants to get help right NOW. Once you decide to get help, you regain control over your life instead of letting your medication control you.

The Importance of Rehab

If you are abusing antidepressants or have become addicted to them, don’t be afraid to consider entering substance abuse treatment. There are numerous reasons to start abusing antidepressants…from curiosity and pleasure, to dealing with tough moments in life.

One thing’s for sure: whatever it was that compelled you to start abusing antidepressants, it is time that you stop allowing it to stop you from getting better.

You don’t have to go through the process of withdrawal and treatment alone. There are people who can help you with the struggles you are facing. CALL today to learn more about services that work to get you back on your feet.

What can you do if you’re scared?

If you still feel that something is stopping you from reaching out, read the following. We’ve outline some simple steps that can help you overcome those obstacles.

  1. Break out of denial. First, it’s time to face the consequences antidepressant abuse and addiction have brought to you. See that you are most likely not the only person affected by this situation, but your loved ones, family members, and close friends can also feel the consequences. Then, admit to yourself that you have problem…and only once you see a problem can you really take the needed steps to solve it.
  2. Educate yourself. Addiction is a medical condition. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Read, research, ask, watch testimonials…or simply give us a call. By learning more about what your situation is, what caused it, and how it can be treated, you’ll be better prepared to seek help and get ready for recovery.
  3. Find the best rehab for you. Treatment options could include inpatient or outpatient rehab, therapy, alternate medication options, and support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) and SMART Recovery.

Does Treatment for Withdrawal Work?

Yes, it does.

When you approach antidepressant withdrawal and addiction medically instead of trying to solve it quickly (or on your own) – you are making the safe choice. Working with a medical team can help you overcome the fear of withdrawal, and get you through the whole process with round-the-clock care.

In summary: RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE! Keep in mind that 23 million people walk tall in addiction recovery. If they can beat withdrawal and addiction, so can YOU!


Is withdrawal getting in your way?
Want to get rid of antidepressants once and for all?

CALL NOW for treatment and support.


Reference Sources: Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
Mental Health America (MHA)
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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