Tempted to Quit Antidepressants?
Find out what to do -- and why -- before giving up on an antidepressant.
Give It Time continued...
But a lot of patients give up before the drug has had time to enact changes in the brain's chemistry. Side effects are the most common reason for quitting an antidepressant within the first two weeks.
Fatigue, nausea, insomnia, and sedation are common and most notable when the drug is first started. Stomach upset occurs in about 5% to 10% of patients. Doctors say these side effects, while frustrating, usually go away within a few weeks, and they encourage patients to persevere and continue therapy. Patients who are depressed can be vulnerable to feeling pessimistic or hopeless about antidepressant treatment and may give up too early, Dunlop warns. He says patients need to understand that treating the depression will make them more able to tackle the challenges in their life and thereby improve their overall situation.
"Sometimes, the doctor has not taken the time to explain the rationale for treating the depression and how the medicines are thought to work, so the patient may not fully comprehend the reason for the medications and stop prematurely," Dunlop says.
Reasons for Quitting
Weight gain, like Niziol experienced, is one of the most common reasons people quit taking antidepressants. Paxil and Remeron are among the most likely ones to cause weight gain. If you are worried about weight gain, ask your doctor which antidepressants are least likely to cause you to pack on the pounds.
Some antidepressants may also zap your sex drive. That's a leading reason why patients, particularly young men, quit antidepressant therapy without telling their doctors.
Other common reasons for quitting include cost of treatment and negative beliefs about the treatment itself. For example, family or friends may say that you don't need a pill to relieve mood symptoms. And sometimes, patients stop taking the drug simply because they feel better and don’t think they need it anymore, unaware that this means the medicine is doing its job, and without it, the depression could come back.
Is Your Dose Right?
Some patients stop taking antidepressants because they think the drug isn't working. It may be that their dose just needs to be adjusted, Kennedy says.