Why Am I On Them In the First Place?
“According to a government study, antidepressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. They’re prescribed more than drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches. In its study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005. Of those, 118 million were for antidepressants.” (source: CNNHealth.com)
It is no shock that of those millions of patients, many either don’t really need the meds or are being used as “experimental” subjects to determine if the drug will help conditions other than depression. It is in this fact that one has to be careful about not only starting an antidepressant but getting off of one.
Dr. Kelly Posner, assistant professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, is convinced that the incline in these types of meds is “encouraging” because people are not hesitating to ask their physicians about the sensitive topic of mental health. On the other hand, Dr. Robert Goodman, an internist in New York City, believes that it is the “marketing” of pharmaceutical companies to physicians and consumers that is driving the numbers up. If you think about it, do you remember seeing medication ads on TV and in magazines twenty or thirty years ago?
How Do I Know If I Still Need Them?
The question remains one that first should be addressed to your healthcare provider for your own safety. If and when it is determined that you are physically and mentally in a place to attempt separation from your medication, the method can then be set. Keep in mind that various drugs have criteria for abatement due to the “withdrawal” symptoms that can be mild to life-threatening; this depends on the patient and the medication type.
Think about “why” you were put on the medication in the first place: was it for clinical depression or for temporary mood swings associated with your cycle? Was it a “just in case” approach to smoothing out the rough edges of life? Understanding the seriousness of your condition is the key to successfully discontinuing any type of drug. It may be that you are past a point of grief, unstable events, or other physical condition that pushed you into a temporary form of depression. In this case, you may be ready to change or discontinue use altogether. Knowing your specific body and mental changes is the most important thing you can do for yourself when considering any shifts in your care.
What are the benefits of stopping your antidepressants?
♦ Side effects will go away and bring about a more normal sense of being.
♦ You will no longer have the expense of the drug.
♦ Your kidneys, liver, and other internal organs will be healthier.
♦ You won’t have to consider drug interaction risks.
♦ You will have the opportunity to “feel” what your normal is and determine any life-changes that need to happen.
♦ If you are taking them for a condition other than depression; such as, Migraine, PMDD, chronic pain, etc., you can explore other treatments that won’t tax your system as much.
What are the risks of stopping your antidepressants?
♦ Depression could return.
♦ You could experience withdrawal symptoms that range from mild headaches to seizures depending on the drug and the patient.
♦ If you are not ready to discontinue your meds and do, you could risk your mental health treatment taking months or years longer.
In order to successfully stop any medication, you must always take care in discussing it with the prescribing physician. If you have changed doctors or are seeing a natural physician, transferring records and detailing your symptoms will be helpful. Changing anything that your body is used to will be challenging and, be aware that it may not “feel” good to do so. It could, however, lead you to alternative therapies or drugs that suit your needs more effectively without putting your health at risk. For more information on depression, antidepressants, and alternative treatments, please go to the following Web sites:
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