Withdrawal of antidepressants

Various groups of antidepressants are prescribed to treat depression. They affect the activity of brain neurotransmitters – serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, GABA. When drugs are withdrawn , various mental and somatic disorders may appear . Unlike antipsychotic withdrawal disorders, antidepressant withdrawal is not associated with addiction. But the physiological consequences of the withdrawal of a pharmaceutical preparation are possible , as in diabetes mellitus when insulin is withdrawn.   

About one in five patients who have been taking an antidepressant medication for six weeks or more may experience various withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it abruptly. 

At this point in time, it is not clear why some people experience withdrawal while others do not. Apparently, the sudden cessation of antidepressant intake prevents the brain from adapting to changes in biochemical processes. Withdrawal syndromes are characteristic of antidepressants that affect the metabolism of norepinephrine and dopamine and drugs from the groups of tricyclic antidepressants and MAO inhibitors.  

Withdrawal symptoms begin within three days of stopping antidepressant medication and last for two weeks. And include:

  • headache;
  • fatigue ;
  • nausea;
  • insomnia;
  • vomiting;
  • ARVI symptoms;
  • dizziness;
  • mania.

Cancellation of antidepressants from the group of MAO inhibitors leads to disorganization of thinking, psychosis, and behavioral disorders.

The best way to discontinue the drug is to slowly taper the dose under the guidance of a psychiatrist. In this case, withdrawal symptoms disappear within a few weeks. If symptoms are severe, the psychiatrist may prescribe other medications to help relieve withdrawal.  

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