What Are The Major Benefits Of Getting Off Antidepressants?

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 8 Americans over the age of 12 reported taking antidepressant medication in a survey conducted between 2015-2018. This translates to approximately 13.2% of the US population. The use of antidepressants has been on the rise in recent years, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Antidepressants are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. They were first introduced in the 1950s with the development of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were developed in the 1980s. Today, there are several types of antidepressants available, including serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and Noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs), but SSRIs remain the most prescribed antidepressants.

Antidepressants can be life-changing. For those living with a mental health condition, antidepressants can reduce symptoms that impact day-to-day life and interfere with the comfort and efficacy of talk therapy. This said, antidepressants have many side effects that are tolerated differently by everyone.

While antidepressants have saved many lives and are effective for many people, studies suggest that only about 50% of patients experience a reduction in symptoms after taking their antidepressant medication. Additionally, taking antidepressants carries a risk of side effects. Common side effects of antidepressants include nausea, dry mouth, headaches, brain zaps, insomnia, drowsiness, and sexual dysfunction.

Why Would Someone Want To Quit Antidepressants?

There are many reasons why a person may want to stop taking their antidepressant medication. One common reason is side effects. Although side effects are usually mild and treatable, they can also significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Even if the medication is effectively treating their depression, the side effects may be too difficult to tolerate, and they may decide to seek alternative treatments.

A person may think about stopping their antidepressants because they are longer experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety that led them to take antidepressants in the first place. In other words, they feel better, and they believe they no longer need the medication.

If you or a loved one is considering stopping antidepressants, it’s important to involve your healthcare provider.

The Benefits of Getting Off Antidepressants

If you are unhappy with your current antidepressant medication, you may consider trying a different class or dose of antidepressant drugs, or a non-drug treatment like TMS therapy. Here are some of the potential benefits of stopping antidepressants.

Improved Mental Clarity

Depression and other mental health conditions can impact mental clarity. So, when antidepressants work successfully to reduce or eliminate mental health symptoms, many people experience improved mental clarity. However, for those whose symptoms are not sufficiently treated with antidepressants, many report feeling more focused and clear-headed when they come off of medication. Being on medication, particularly if the dose is too high, can dull your senses, making it difficult to think clearly or concentrate effectively. Getting off of antidepressants or reducing your dose can help you feel sharper and more alert in both your personal life as well as in your professional life.

Reduced Side Effects

Antidepressants can have a number of unpleasant systemic side effects, including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and gastrointestinal issues. By reducing your antidepressant dose or tapering off medication altogether, you can reduce or eliminate these side effects.

Is it Hard to Stop Taking Antidepressants?

For some people, stopping antidepressants can be difficult if done alone, without the supervision of a healthcare provider. Antidepressants work by altering the chemistry of the brain, and when a person stops taking the medication abruptly or without medical guidance, the brain may need time to readjust. In many cases, if a person stops taking antidepressants suddenly, they may experience temporary withdrawal symptoms. A doctor or psychiatrist will usually recommend tapering off of an antidepressant over the course of a few days, weeks, or even months.

Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome

In rare cases when discontinuing antidepressants, withdrawal symptoms can be severe enough that they cause antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is a group of symptoms that can occur when an individual suddenly stops taking their antidepressants. Common discontinuation symptoms include fatigue, anxiety, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and brain zaps. Brain zaps are a common side effect of SSRIs that typically occur when starting and stopping their medication which feels like an unpleasant shocking sensation in your brain. Antidepressant withdrawal can also include physical withdrawal symptoms such as muscle pains and weakness, fatigue, brain zaps, and irritability. In some cases, a person’s depression symptoms may return or get worse. It is important to talk to your doctor before making changes to your medication regimen to avoid antidepressant withdrawal.

In most cases, psychiatrists and doctors will recommend slowly reducing the amount of the medication that you take over a period of time. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for gradually tapering off of your medication, so you can manage the antidepressant withdrawal effects and antidepressant discontinuation symptoms. Tapering is especially important if you have been taking antidepressants for a long time, or are prescribed a higher dose.

If you are tapering your medication and still experiencing withdrawal symptoms, speak to your doctor or psychiatrist. It’s important to be aware of any emotional or physical shifts that occur during the process and discuss them with your doctor. With the right treatment plan, antidepressants can be safely and easily discontinued without compromising mental health or quality of life.

Alternative Treatments for Depression

Whatever your reason for stopping antidepressants, if you are still dealing with depression symptoms, there are other, non-drug treatments for depression that are safe and effective at treating mental health.


TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is an alternative to antidepressant medication. It’s an FDA-approved treatment for depression that uses gentle magnetic pulses to treat the brain directly, without any systemic side effects. TMS may be a good alternative for those who have had difficulty with antidepressant medications, are unable to tolerate the side effects of medication, or have not seen improvement with other treatments. TMS is a non-invasive procedure and requires no anesthesia or sedation. It has been found to be safe and twice as effective as medication. Plus, TMS works faster and is covered by most insurance. Many people report feeling better after just a few sessions. Neuro Wellness Spa offers TMS therapy at many of its locations all throughout California.


Spravato is the brand name for esketamine, an FDA-approved medication designed to treat depression in adults dissatisfied with the effectiveness of their current antidepressant medication. Spravato is a nasal spray derived from ketamine, but unlike regular ketamine, esketamine was specifically developed for its antidepressant properties. Notably, Spravato exhibits a faster onset of action compared to conventional antidepressants, providing potential relief for individuals facing acute or severe depression. Neuro Wellness Spa offers Spravato treatment at many of its locations all throughout California.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that has been shown to be an effective as an alternative to, or in combination with, antidepressant medication. CBT focuses on helping individuals change the negative thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to their depression. Through CBT, individuals can learn to identify and challenge negative thought patterns, develop coping strategies, and improve problem-solving skills.

CBT can help individuals develop skills to prevent future episodes of depression. It can provide insight and self-discovery about the personal causes and sources of depression. They also allow for addressing external factors that can be contributing to depression. It’s important to understand that depression and other mental health symptoms can interfere with the comfort and efficacy of CBT and other forms of talk therapy. In many cases, medications, TMS, and other depression treatments are used in conjunction with talk therapy for maximum effectiveness.

Overall, talk therapy modalities like CBT ensure a more comprehensive approach to depression than medication alone. They provide insight into why someone is experiencing depression and help to develop long-term coping strategies and healthy lifestyle habits. Additionally, they reduce the risk of relapse and recurrence by providing individuals with a sense of control over emotions and circumstances. This type of therapy is often very effective in restoring hope and preventing future episodes from occurring.

Lifestyle Changes

Physical activity and exercise are essential for maintaining a healthy mind. Not only do they help you stay physically fit, but they also promote good mental health by increasing your mood and helping you connect with others. In addition, exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels.

Diet has also been shown to have a profound effect on mood and mental health. By including plenty of anti-inflammatory, plant-based foods in your diet, avoiding processed foods, and consuming healthy portions, you can promote and support optimal brain function and mood regulation.

Should I Stop Taking Antidepressants?

If you are unhappy with the results of your antidepressant medication, speak to your doctor about taking a different approach. It is important to work with your provider to taper your dose in order to avoid antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.

Ask your doctor about other medications or alternative depression treatments such as TMS, CBT, and lifestyle changes. Ultimately, it is important to consult with a mental health professional who can help guide you through the process. If you are considering coming off antidepressants, there are other treatment options that can help.

Neuro Wellness Spa is here to help you discover the best treatment plan for your mental health. Our team of compassionate and knowledgeable psychiatrists are ready to work with you to find a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.

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