Here is one of the comments that we have received since this website has been published :-
“A big thank you and well done to both of you for your hard work and dedication in helping others get support. Antidepressant withdrawal is one of those things that unless it actually happens to you or a loved one, you just don’t know it exists. Withdrawal is a torturous, destructive, life changing experience that affects not only the person afflicted but everyone who holds them dear too. It really does wreck lives and destroy families.”
On reading that, many of you will be wondering “Why withdraw?” For many, withdrawal really can be every bit as bad as the description above. For others, it may be a fairly straightforward matter. To understand the reasons for working through such a gruelling experience, we need to look at the whole picture.
USE OF ADs
Antidepressants are prescribed for a range of issues ranging from coping with ‘life events’ to a deep depression. These medications are designed as a short term crutch to support the person as they come to grips with the underlying problems. However, due to a variety of issues, doctors are prescribing without having spent enough time explaining the whole picture of ‘antidepressant use’ to their patients. This means that their patients don’t really know what to expect from their medication. Added to this is the fact that so many of us now continue our prescribed medication journey by repeat prescriptions. By this method, the doctor has no way of knowing how much improvement there is in their patient’s health. Antidepressants were designed to be prescribed for a maximum of six months. Nowadays that has been increased to twelve months. The reality, though, is that very many are on them for years.
That, of itself, would not cause people to think about withdrawal. Whilst using antidepressants, a number will find that they have lost many of their emotional capacities. They will probably gain weight, lack concentration etc. and find that their whole life has become one, long uninteresting existence. A good life has its ups and downs – their lives will have become a numbed experience, where joy or disappointment will probably have been replaced by dejection. Family members will have noticed these changes but only after some time will they venture to face the truth as having a ‘dejected, numbed family member’ is better than having a constantly anxious person around.
It is rare for a doctor to suggest withdrawal from an antidepressant. They may well suggest a change of AD or an increased dose of the existing prescription if the patient were to complain that they don’t really feel any better after a few months’ use.
WITHDRAWING – WHO DECIDES?
Generally, therefore, it is the patient that decides to withdraw. This may be because they see very little improvement in their condition, maybe they dislike the new heavier self that has emerged or they may feel that their ‘real self’ has somehow been lost with the introduction of the AD. Whatever reason lies behind their decision to withdraw, their first step SHOULD MOST DEFINITELY be to seek their doctor’s support. The doctor gave the prescription and should be prepared to support the withdrawal.
Antidepressant withdrawal is NOT a simple case of removing the tablets – it needs careful planning with plenty of safety nets in place as it is, in many cases, a difficult journey. We will cover this journey in more detail at a later date.
So, if it’s so hard, WHY WITHDRAW? Many who start on their withdrawal journey soon start asking this question of themselves! They tend to reduce so far and then take a recovery break before venturing on to the next reduction. During that ‘recovery break’ the real person will begin to emerge. Family members will soon notice a slight difference and, eventually, the patient too will notice that they ‘feel’ in the ways that they used to many moons ago. IT IS THIS REAWAKENING THAT MAKES THE WHOLE JOURNEY WORTHWHILE. Yes, there will be many challenges along the way but knowing that there will be that window of wellness to follow, helps when coping with the very worst that antidepressant withdrawal can be.
It has to be considered that ALL who decide to withdraw will not suffer to quite such an extent but, unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly HOW your withdrawal will be, nor HOW LONG it will take, until you try it. As already stated, getting rid of the AD from your system could well bring back the real you that had been missing for so long.
Remember – this is our experience that we share here. If you have been through withdrawal please send a comment which we can add so that we can then have a wider base of experiences on here.