17 July 2020

What next: staying off antidepressants once the side effects have worn off

Photo of a girl with brown hair and glasses. She is smiling into the camera

January 2019 was when I had reached a point in my life where I felt as though I no longer needed to take my antidepressants. Although at the time I felt I was on a low enough dosage to come off straight away, looking back I 100% should have done it in a much slower process and with more advice from my doctors (though they were the ones initially who said it would be fine to just stop taking them *shrugs*). I've written a blog post here where I've spoken all about the first four months of side effects from stopping taking them. 

All in all, the side effects lasted for at least nine months.The months of apathy really were the hardest, I felt. Things definitely decreased as the months went on, but it was only around Octoberish that I felt as though the side effects had completely worn off. The scariest bit was feeling quite low in mood for a while as part of the withdrawal effects, and worrying that, because I was feeling as bad as I did before I started taking them, I was going back to being 'bad' again and this was always how I was going to feel.

Photo of a monstera plant in a white pot on a brown sideboard

And then the clouds parted (ish)

Soon after this I reached a point where I realised I'd balanced out. I knew the side effects had worn off when I realised I'd stabilised: my moods weren't richocheting down from tiny tiny triggers, and although I wasn't happy all the time, the constant misery or apathy had disappeared.

Now we're over a year on from first stopping taking them, and there's definitely a noticeable difference still. My anxiety is FAR higher than it was on medication: driving, going to new places and work all can have a really intense effect on how anxious I feel. However, it's manageable. I've learnt to really engage in a whole host of self care to keep my anxiety under control most of the time, and it helps with my low mood too. 

There are definitely times where I've felt like things are going a bit downhill and I might need to go back to drs, but for the time being, these times are few and far between, and I do move past them even if it takes a week or two. My biggest fear is that I'll go back to feeling how I did when I was a teenager before starting to take them, so these weeks are always spent with me muttering 'it's just a phase' over and over again. For now though, I feel content a lot of the time, and more importantly stable when I feel my mood going downhill.

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