This information is for people who are 18 or over in England who are thinking of stopping taking antidepressants. If you experience mental illness, your GP might offer you antidepressant medication to help. If you feel that your medication isn’t right or you’re thinking of stopping, this page can help you understand your choices.
What if I want to stop taking my antidepressants?
There are different reasons why you might want to stop taking antidepressants. You might not want to be on medication long term, or the side effects might be a problem for you. Or it could be other things like you’ve felt well for a while, or you’ve found other ways of coping.
It’s your choice whether you continue to take the medication. Whatever the reason that you want to stop, you should talk to your doctor first. You might get withdrawal effects when you stop taking the medication. This can often happen if you’ve been taking the medication for a long time.
Antidepressants aren’t addictive, but your body can become used to them. If you stop taking them suddenly you can get withdrawal symptoms.
Your doctor should tell you the best and safest way to withdraw from your medication. They might advise you to gradually lower the dose of your medication over a few weeks or months.
If you get severe side effects, tell your doctor as soon as possible.
You can also get advice from a pharmacist about the best way to stop taking your medication.
It is best to not suddenly stop taking medication without getting advice from your doctor or a pharmacist. This could lead to issues, such as bad withdrawal effects.
You can find more detailed, expert information on stopping antidepressants from the Royal College of Psychiatrists here: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/treatments-and-wellbeing/stopping-antidepressants
What are some of the possible side effects of stopping antidepressants?
The side effects of withdrawing from medication will differ from person to person. Depending on the strength and type of medication you’re taking, some of the symptoms can include:
• trouble sleeping or staying asleep
• stomach problems
• feeling anxious or irritable.
If you experience severe symptoms or are concerned, please talk to your doctor or call NHS111.
© Rethink Mental Illness 2023
Last updated June 2023
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