DISCLAIMER: I will NEVER tell someone to not take antidepressants, to stop taking antidepressants or to change their dose without really doing A LOT of research. The first thing to do if you decide that the antidepressants aren’t for you is to talk to whomever prescribed them, work on the issues that brought you to them (I highly recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and discuss everything with your friends and loved ones. If you decide to taper off of antidepressants, you will need a lot of support and help, so make sure everyone is on board for the rough journey. This is MY tapering schedule …. it’s NOT to be used for anyone else.
I have heard about so many stories of doctors telling patients that they need to taper off of antidepressants and then give them tapering instructions that doom them to fail. Taking a half dose for a week and then stopping altogether is NOT tapering. I tapered off of 20 mg of Paxil over an eight month period of time and even that was a little too fast. I had to stay at the 5 mg dose for two months, because the withdrawal symptoms were so horrific.
This is how I safely tapered off antidepressants. While it wasn’t an easy process and I did experience antidepressant withdrawal symptoms, a slow taper helped me to be able to function while I did it.
Here’s my tapering schedule …
1/05/07 … from 20 mg to 17.5 mg
1/20/07 … from 17.5 mg to 15 mg
2/24/07 … from 15 mg to 12.5 mg
3/08/07 … from 12.5 mg to 10 mg
3/29/07 … from 10 mg to 7.5 mg
4/12/07 … from 7.5 mg to 5 mg
6/15/07 … from 5 mg to 3.75 mg
6/30/07 … from 3.75 mg to 2.5 mg
7/28/07 … from 2.5 mg to 1.5ish mg
8/11/07 … from 1.5ish mg to 1 mg
8/25/07 … from 1 mg to ZERO !! (this date is now celebrated as my RE-BIRTHDAY)
The lower doses are very hard to get accurate when you are using a pill cutter to divide pills. Some doctors will prescribe liquid, but mine refused. His nurse informed me that I didn’t need it. The doctor had her call the drug rep to get tapering advice for me and when she told me that the drug rep suggested I just take a half dose for a week and then stop altogether, I literally laughed into the phone. I had tried that approach in the past … IT DOES NOT WORK!!!
A slow taper is like hitting a brick wall with your car ten times going five miles per hour and a cold turkey stop is like hitting a brick wall with your car one time going fifty miles an hour. Neither is fun …. but the slow hits are a lot more tolerable. It’s not a race.
SSRIs make changes to the brain and body chemicals and your brain and body have to be given time to change WHILE you are working on the issues that brought you to antidepressants in the first place. It’s not easy, but it can be done. I’m living proof.
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