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Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs, and Detoxification

Antidepressant withdrawal may occur in some antidepressant users when they stop using the medication suddenly. It is not the same as being addicted to antidepressants, however, because the criteria required to diagnose an addiction are not present in antidepressant users. Also, you cannot develop a tolerance to antidepressants. Tolerance occurs when a drug loses its effectiveness and you need more and more of it to get the same effect. Tolerance is one of the things that can lead to an addiction. Because of these facts, psychiatrists do not consider antidepressants to be drugs of abuse or dependence.

Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms can be either mental or physical. Physical symptoms associated with antidepressant withdrawal include nausea, headaches, and fatigue. In some cases, the patient may mistake withdrawal symptoms for the flu. Insomnia may also occur in people who suddenly stop taking antidepressants, while others may experience vivid dreams. Mental symptoms are also common and may include anxiety, irritability, and the return of depression. The collection of symptoms involved in antidepressant withdrawal is called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Some withdrawal symptoms are notably absent. Someone withdrawing from antidepressants does not experience cravings for the medication. The individual also typically does not experience an inability to control use of the substance. Not all antidepressants cause withdrawal symptoms, and not all people experience withdrawal symptoms from the same antidepressant, even when the drug is not tapered off. The two types of antidepressants most likely to cause withdrawal symptoms are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, also known as SSRIs and SNRIs. About a third of the people who use these antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms lasting up to two months, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists in London, England.

Withdrawing from Antidepressants: Treatment Methods and Options for Help

If you have been taking antidepressants for a while, withdrawal should be done gradually and under the care of a physician. In most cases, the dosage is tapered off over a period of a few weeks to get the body used to the absence of the drug in your system. One treatment option involves taking another medication to reduce the withdrawal symptoms and make the process even more gradual. Some people who experience withdrawal from antidepressants may also need psychological counseling to help overcome fears of living without the drug. This type of psychological addiction can be treated with individual or group counseling. In general, withdrawal from antidepressants is treated on an outpatient basis, although some people may need to check into a hospital or clinic to be watched for signs of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Detoxing, Addiction Treatment Rehab and Recovery

Antidepressant withdrawal treatment differs from drug addiction treatment because antidepressants are not addictive. One of the biggest concerns with regard to antidepressant withdrawal is that the original depression may return. In some cases, signs of depression during withdrawal are merely a side effect of the withdrawal. If this is the reason for your depression symptoms, the symptoms will go away on their own over the course of a few days or weeks. In other cases, the depression during the withdrawal is actually the long-term depression returning. If this is the reason for your symptoms, then it will be necessary to treat the underlying depression. This could mean starting to take the same antidepressant again or switching to a different antidepressant. Because antidepressants are not addictive, there is no problem with taking the same drug again. Tapering the dosage to ease withdrawal symptoms is one way of distinguishing whether depression symptoms are the result of withdrawal or the real thing. Call 1-888-935-1318Who Answers? for more information about antidepressant withdrawal and adapting to life without antidepressants.

Antidepressant Information at a Glance
Form, Intake and Dosage Interactions and Complications
  • Drug Forms: Pills, capsules
  • Administration Routes: Taken by mouth
  • Dosage: Varies by medication and prescription
  • Overdose: Varies by medication and prescription
  • Alcohol Interaction: Can worsen depression and other symptoms
  • Illicit Drugs: N/A
  • Prescription Medications: N/A
  • Contraindications: N/A
Effects and Adverse Reactions Substance Abuse
  • Short-Term: Social anxiety, mental cloudiness, numbness, mood swings
  • Long-Term: Similar to short term
  • Risk of Substance Abuse: High
  • Signs of Abuse: Severe depression, anxiety, irritability
Physiological Problem Signs and Symptoms Dependence and Addiction Issues
  • Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: 24 to 48 hours
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Irritability, more severe depression, nausea, insomnia
  • Tolerance:
  • Cross Dependence: N/A
  • Physical Dependence: Can cause chemical imbalance/dependency
  • Psychological Dependence: N/A
Legal Schedules and Ratings
  • Controlled Substances Act Rating: Schedule I


Questions and Answers (FAQ)

How Long Do Antidepressant Withdrawals Last?

Each recovery timeline is different. The duration of withdrawals can depend on the amount of medication prescribed to a patient as well as the length of time a patient has been taking the medication.

Do You Have a List Popular Slang or Street Names for Antidepressants?

Bars, Footballs

What are Common Misspellings?

Anitdepressant withdrawl, antideppressent withdrawls, antidepressent withdrawel, antidepessant withdrawels

Are There any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?

Because of the severity of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms, it is best not to use a home remedy or alternative medication (including “natural” remedies) and seek relief from a professional instead. To help relieve your symptoms, consider visiting a rehabilitation center or talking to a medical professional.

How Long Does it Take to Detox from Antidepressants?

The length of time for withdrawals from antidepressants can vary depending on the type of antidepressant, how long a person has been taking them and how much is in their system. Fortunately, there are many options available to those looking to achieve a safe and successful recovery. To review your options, call 1-888-935-1318Who Answers? or visit our locator page before it’s too late to get the help you or your loved one need.

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