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What can I do to avoid withdrawal symptoms when stopping my antidepressant prescription?


Experiencing withdrawal symptoms from stopping the use of certain antidepressants is also known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. While not a formal psychiatric diagnosis, antidepressant withdrawal occurs in about 20 percent of patients after sudden discontinuation of certain antidepressants that were taken for at least six weeks. Common symptoms include upset stomach, nausea, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, and sensory disturbances.

To minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms, do not stop taking your antidepressant without first consulting your physician. After feeling better on an antidepressant, many patients are tempted to stop taking it. However, counseling by the doctor is important because the depression may not, in fact, be in remission, or the doctor needs to work on a plan for medication discontinuation with the patient.

Each patient and his or her medical history are different, and therefore drug regimens may vary from person to person. To avoid some of the common withdrawal symptoms, gradually tapering off antidepressants is often recommended. The patient may be advised to gradually reduce his or her dosage over time (often several weeks to several months). Again, this period of time depends on the patient and his or her health history and dosage amount.

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Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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