Stopping your antidepressants? Be proactive and communicate with your doctor

Mental Health

By pH health care professionals

Your doctor prescribes antidepressants. It’s been a few weeks, and so far, no improvements. You’re experiencing side effects, there seems to be no benefit, and you figure you can probably do better on your own with a little research and experimentation with at-home remedies. Perhaps this describes you, or the way you’ve been feeling. In fact, this is quite common.

Research shows that about 20 percent of people prescribed antidepressants stop taking them without talking to their doctor about it. This is most common among patients age 18-30, with the most common reason being the side effects (20%) and the medication not really helping (21%) Many also stopped simply because they wanted to DIY (do it yourself) without prescription medication.

More specifically, side effects like gaining weight and sexual problems have been linked with an increase in people discontinuing their meds.

Why is this a problem?

Antidepressants work by altering the level of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which connect to receptors on nerve cells (called neurons). These nerve cells adapt to the level of neurotransmitters, and problems can arise when the level is altered abruptly, such as by discontinuing antidepressants. Therefore, depression and anxiety can result from stopping your antidepressants.

How can you be proactive?

  •          Keep your doctor in the loop. You may be worried your doctor won’t approve; we get it. But if you’re going to quit your medication no matter what, wouldn’t you rather at least know what to expect, any possible risks, and what your other options are? It can’t hurt to be as informed as possible. Your doctor may also be able to help you discontinue your meds in a way that minimizes the annoying side effects.
  •          Foster a good relationship with your doctor. Keeping open communication and a healthy level of trust with your doctor is important. Your doctor should be open to hearing the positive and negative experiences you have had with your medication, and you should be willing to share them.
  •          Ask away! Research shows that patients who understand the purpose of their medication are twice as likely to use it than those who don’t understand. Issues like not knowing when to take your medication or having trouble remembering all that info your doctor told you about your condition should be prevented. Research shows patients’ understanding of their condition and treatment is related to better adherence of the treatment plan. If you don’t understand, don’t agree or are just plain confused, you may benefit from a patient advocate!

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.