A social media user asks The Doctors on their Instagram @thedoctorstv: “I currently take anti-depressants. Will I need to be on these forever? Is it dangerous to stop taking an anti-depressant right away?”
16 million people have a major depressive disorder and 1 in 8 of them are on antidepressants so this is a very relevant question.
Psychiatrist Domenick Sportelli joins The Doctors and his answer to this question is, “It depends.” The answer varies by patient, depending on how many depressive episodes they have had and if they have had any suicidal thoughts. Dr. Sportelli explains the various phases of putting his patients on antidepressants and he recommends 4 – 9 months of treatment if the patient has had only one episode. However, if there have been more, treatment may need to continue.
The good news? Dr. Sportelli says these medications by definition are not addictive so patients can’t build up a tolerance or go through withdrawal. However, if someone were to just stop treatment they may feel pretty bad and experience SSRI discontinuation syndrome.
If someone wants to stop taking the medications, Dr. Sportelli recommends first talking to his or her doctor and to taper off the meds slowly. The Doctors note that finding the right medicine can change your life for the better.