When you are taking medication for your Mental Health, you are not supposed to cut medication out without speaking to a doctor. People still try it though.
When it comes to Mental Health Medication, whether it be for Anxiety or Depression, not to mention anything in between, you should never quit medication cold turkey. Even antibiotics are to be taken as prescribed until they run out, or else you may have reactions.
When it comes to Mental Health Meds, even after a few days missed of your medication, you may actually start to exhibit severe withdrawal symptoms – symptoms that echo exactly why you’re taking them in the first place.
Not only do I have the first-hand experience of missing doses of Sertraline and feeling extremely depressed, contributing writer Jessie Reynolds on The Mighty wrote a step-by-step recount of what happened when she didn’t have her meds for a few days. Here’s an excerpt from that post:
“That’s when I realize I’ve forgotten to take my antidepressant again. I’m half tempted to text my husband and have him bring me my meds, but I already know I will get a lecture about not taking care of myself, so I make a mental note to take the stupid thing when I get home from work. I don’t know why I bother, however, because by this point the wires in my brain are so confused from three days of not having the one thing that makes it function properly that I’m lucky I remember my own name, let alone to take a medication.”
She continues to not take her meds for a week, and eventually her husband catches on and hands her a pill, and she takes a nap, but not after she replays about 20 scenarios in her head about how she felt so confused and how things begin to feel not only unfamiliar, but how she wants to feel MORE PAIN, and that she bets her husband could never love her because she is that much of a mess.
You may think that sounds dramatic, but as I said, I’ve got first-hand experience of this – and that’s exactly what happens. You want to do nothing but sleep, everything you are doing goes wrong, you start wanting to quit the things you love doing because you don’t feel you’re good enough, and you start pushing people away because you don’t know why they bother talking to someone so depressing as you.
It takes time to get the medication back in your system, but after taking it for months and months, your body can tell when you don’t have enough. Reynolds sums it up perfectly, she says it becomes “hard for me to recognize that there is something wrong inside my brain.”
You start to feel helpless, that nothing is going to make it any better, and even if you took your meds, you still think you’re not worth it. And all because you stopped taking one silly little pill every day.
When your body starts to lose that constant reinforcement, the side effects echo your anxiety and depression. Many people forget or start to try and come off the medication because they “feel fine,” but the fact of the matter is, that’s what the medication is supposed to do.
This is not advocating that every person with anxiety or depression should take medication, nor does it endorse that if you get on meds and feel you should come off them that you just *shouldn’t quit,* but any time you either decide that you feel as if you don’t need your medication anymore, you should consult your doctor to help bring you off the medication properly.
For me, sometimes I get forgetful, so I began to carry the medication with me, that way when I DO remember or realize I’m feeling extra-low, and I realize it’s because I forgot my pill, I am able to immediately take it. If you forget your medication and you get very low, think of suicide, or are exhibiting extreme side effects, also call your doctor and ask how to proceed.
To read the full account from Reynolds, refer to the link below in the tweet.
"Surely two missed doses couldn’t cause this much emotional chaos?"— American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (@afspnational) April 26, 2018