How To Get Off Antidepressants Without Going Insane
Tears ran down my face uncontrollably.
Lifting one foot to place it a few feet forward felt like an enormous task.
I couldn’t recognize a single face on the train.
My home was a few blocks away, yet felt impossibly far.
Every cell in my body had given up on me. I had zero energy.
Heavier tears were somehow making their way out of my eyes as I began to sob in public, hoping that nobody would see me.
I open the door to my home and heard that familiar creaking sound. My living room came into view.
I took a step inside, and collapsed.
My mind raced with uncontrollable thoughts of anxiety.
I stared at the ceiling and told myself over and over, “You have to get up and eat something. You have to get up. You have to get up man.” Finally I get up. I look at the clock.
It was 2:15pm. It takes 30 minutes to get home from my internship. I left that internship at 11:00am.
I had been on the floor trying to get up for almost 3 hours.
I thought I could stop taking antidepressants cold turkey. I thought they were safe.
But in that pain while laying on the ground I made a new discovery.
Not only was I depressed, I was now dependent on medication.
How to Get Off Antidepressant Medication
I wanted to get off antidepressants because I had become “manic” from a recent increase in my dose of citalopram. Every couple months, the medication would stop working. My psychiatrist simply told me all I had to do was keep increasing the dose.
They said I was bipolar. Lithium didn’t work too well either. Looking back, the amount of citalopram I was taking was high enough to make anyone go a little crazy.
One thing was clear. Antidepressants weren’t the answer for my long-term health and happiness.
If you’ve found this page, you’ve probably decided the same thing for yourself.
The good news is, you can get off your antidepressant if you do it right.
My Successful Attempt To Get Off Antidepressants
Celexa withdrawals left me incapable of functioning. I was forced to continue taking it or become a vegetable.
I had to wait until there was a few weeks of no responsibilities to try again.
I loaded up with amino acids, vitamins, and an old bottle of lortab. I waited. And waited some more.
I got sick. Not sick as in mentally sick, but I caught a bad cold or virus.
That was my time to strike.
I cut my citalopram pills in half for 3 days. Then I completely stopped my dose.
Everyday I woke up I took Tryptophan with B-Vitamins, Tyrosine later in the day, and Tryptophan at night.
I felt severe pain. The combination of withdrawing from a powerful drug and being extremely sick was rough. Back then, I didn’t care and I took a lortab to help.
Lortab is not necessary to get off an antidepressant. I want to be honest and admit that I took a few lortabs during my withdrawal to escape the pain a few times.
I already knew what drug addiction was like. If I took lortab everyday, I’d have to wean off lortab also. That obviously defeats what I was aiming to do, which was be happy with no drugs.
Anyways, withdrawal from citalopram is bizarre. I relived old painful memories. I listened to music on my bed in the dark and drifted off to psychedelic realms as if I had taken a hallucinogen. I became sensitive to physical pain. Stubbing my toe or bumping my elbow felt 10x worse.
The weirdest phenomenon was getting “electric shocks.“I thought only people that went off Paxil experienced them. You might know them as Brain Zaps. Yes, they are real.
I would be walking around or drifting off to sleep and feel a distrubing sensation of a small electric jolt that felt as if it should hurt but didn’t. I swear I felt unconscious for a microsecond, almost like a mini seizure. It would sometimes travel from my brain to other parts of my body. It was slightly painful but had a very real, disturbing sense of unnaturalness about it, yet wasn’t painful at all.
Going off citalopram was a rough ride. I still remember what I experienced withdrawing from antidepressants to this day.
The first 2 weeks were insane, then it was clear skies from there. I didn’t feel good, but I was feeling better. A month and a half later, and I had recovered. I was antidepressant free and depression free.
I got the occasional “Brain Zap” for about two months (I capitalize the word on purpose as I respect its ability to mystify me). I got so used to them I remember realizing one day as I froze in the hallway and said out loud, “I haven’t felt one of those brain zaps in about a week!”
Can You Get Off Antidepressants Also?
I was on my antidepressant for 7-8 months. If you are on a high dose or have been on an antidepressant for a long time, you will want to take things slower. It would be wise to do this with a doctor who is willing to support you in the process.
If you can’t really taper off for months at a time and don’t have a doctor to help you, this is how to do it. Be careful, listen to your body, and get back on your antidepressant if your situation becomes too paralyzing until you can try again. I happen to be a little extreme and wanted to get it over with.
First, Pick the Right Time To Get Off Antidepressants
Don’t try and go off your antidepressant when you are in the process of being promoted at work, your brother is getting married, and you have twins on the way.
You might lose your mind and it is essential that you have the proper environment to start your journey. If you can’t relax and be free of responsibilities for a while, stay on your antidepressant until you can.
You might “trip” while coming off. Pandora played a song called The Easterner by General MIDI who I’d never heard of before. I thought the song was teaching me the secrets of life. Serious.
I got sick with a cold and realized I was going to lay around in agony anyways. It’s better to find a week or two at full health, let everyone know you are going to be taking it easy, and start tapering off. If you can start tapering off without much harm, start that first. Plan your week of relaxation for when you come completely off your antidepressant.
Take the Right Amino Acids To Get Off Antidepressants And Maintain Your Sanity
The Mood Cure by Julia Ross has a wealth of information about amino acids and is where I began my journey. In fact, Julia Ross claims that she tapers people off of their SSRIs with no withdrawal symptoms. People say it can be hard to understand and implement the book while depressed, but if all you can do right now is walk to the library and start reading, pick this book up first.
Each amino acid affects people differently. My body and mind prefer l-tryptophan over 5-HTP. Most people respond better to 5-HTP. This is because 5-HTP skips a step in the conversion process to create serotonin. Leading practitioners in nutritional therapy try 5-HTP with people first, just don’t stop if 5-HTP doesn’t do the trick for you.
L-tryptophan is an amino acid that the brain uses naturally to create Serotonin. It does this by utilizing Vitamin B-3 to convert Tryptophan into 5-HTP, which is used in conjunction with Vitamin B-6 to convert into serotonin.
Amino acids compete with each other. You must take amino acids on an empty stomach. I made sure I had no other amino acids in my system by waking up first thing in the morning with a glass of water next to my bed. I’d take an L-Tryptophan with complex B-Vitamins, then meditate for a half hour before eating anything. I took Tryptophan at night to aid with sleep.
Your brain uses tyrosine to produce dopamine and norepinephrine. It didn’t help me as much, and actually revved me up to the point of making me manic, so I didn’t take too much of it. I later discovered that l-phenylalanine affected me more positively.
If you still have questions, click here for an entire article dedicated to taking amino acids while on antidepressants.
Your Antidepressant Tells You Which Amino Acids To Take Based On The Receptors It Affects
SSRIs affect serotonin levels. If you take an SSRI, you will want to take either 5-HTP or tryptophan.
If you take atypical antidepressants or SNRIs, you will want to take either tyrosine, DLPA, or l-phenylalanine along with 5-HTP or Tryptophan if needed. SNRIs and some atypical antidepressants (like Wellbutrin) affect the brain’s norepinephrine levels. Tyrosine or DLPA with 5-HTP or Tryptophan can help restore these neurotransmitters back to healthy levels.
Common SSRIs include:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac, Prozac Weekly, Sarafem)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Luvox CR)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva)
- Srtraline (Zoloft)
Common SNRIs include:
Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
Atypical Antidepressants include:
Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL)
Trazodone (Oleptro) – if you use this for sleep, take Tryptophan or Melatonin at night
Mirtazapine (Remeron, Remeron SolTab) – for sleep try Tryptophan or Melatonin
Research your antidepressant and find out which neurotransmitters it is affecting. Use 5-HTP or tryptophan to replace serotonin (SSRIs). Use tyrosine or DLPA to replace norepinephrine or dopamine (SNRIs or Atypical).
Get Your Body And Mind Back By Restoring Them Properly
There is always a root cause for why you are depressed. Most people who question whether or not it is possible to beat depression haven’t yet realized that. This is a deadly cycle. Not taking care of myself caused me to become depressed and becoming depressed caused me to not take care of myself.
You get to break that cycle.
First thing you need to do is look at your diet.
If you’ve succumbed to the “low-fat” diet, start consuming large amounts of healthy fats.
Things like salmon, grass fed beef, avocados, fish oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, etc. make your brain feel very, very good.
Why? Because your brain is made up of mostly fatty acids.
Start eating whole, unprocessed foods.
Check for food allergies. I went gluten free and saw a dramatic reduction in symptoms.
Eliminate sugars and vegetable oils. Sugar will wreck your overall sense of well-being. Sugar depletes your body of B Vitamins and nutrients. Canola oil contains too many omega-6 fats and is inflammatory, both of which can cause depression.
Start appreciating healthy grass-fed butter and coconut oil and foods that fuel your brain. Start to fear sugar and anything that comes in a “box.” Eat vegetables like they are going out of style, and eat them in the highest quality that you can.
If you’re not getting enough sun (which is pretty much everyone), start taking Vitamin D.
Once you’ve dialed in your diet, start experimenting with exercise. You probably won’t be able to do squats and deadlifts while coming off your antidepressant, but a short jog or walk in the sun sounds simple yet works.
If you can’t get yourself motivated to go for a walk, tell yourself that you will only do it for two minutes. After two minutes, you can go inside if you want.
Take baby steps towards getting your mind and body functioning right and you will thank yourself for the rest of your life.
If anything is confusing or you just don’t know where to start, contact me.
Prepare yourself for the voyage, rally up some of your close friends to have on call, and go for it. If you supplement with amino acids, eat healthy, get light exercise, relax, and have a support system, you’ll make it through the pain period and come out the other side healthier and happier.
If you do all the above and it still doesn’t work, you might have something else going on like leaky gut. Keep researching, keep listening to your body, get tests done by a doctor, keep searching until you find what you need.
I had slight adrenal fatigue which I corrected. I got my energy back.
These are common issues that a doctor or psychiatrist sadly never ask about. Instead, they ask you what powerful medication you’d like to start taking.
If you want true recovery, it is possible. Unfortunately with depression, the trial-and-error period can be extremely painful. It can be hard to figure out what to do when your in the midst of numbness and agony.
You may simply be eating gluten and you’re slightly allergic to it. You’re actually healthy, but don’t know how to communicate your needs properly to others. You think you’ve been getting enough sleep, but in reality you’re only sleeping 5 hours a night.
If you’re struggling to find real advice on how to recover from depression without medication, click Here for daily emails that give you truthful and actionable steps to feel like your old self again (plus a free bonus).
Let us all know in the comments if you have any other questions, thoughts, or ideas about living a life free from the side effects and withdrawals of medication. I wish you all the best.
Update From A Subscriber
A subscriber told me about her method for weaning off her antidepressant. You can use a bottle of water with milliliter measurements (can get one free from the pharmacy similar to a cough medicine bottle).
Make sure that your medication doesn’t use a film coating that gradually releases the medication into your body at a slow and controlled rate. If you dissolve or break these pills, it can destroy this slow-release seal. This would be counterproductive.
If you have checked that your medication is safe to do this, dissolve your medication in the bottle and depending on how much water is in it, you can take a very specific amount of your antidepressant.
Lets say you had a 5mg pill and a 50ml bottle. Once dissolved, every 10ml of water would contain 1mg of your medication. This way, you could slowly wean off your medication by taking 4mg a day, then 3mg, then 2mg, and so on.
You can really wean off it slowly and can even take half a milligram. You can keep diluting the 1ml in water and take 0.5 or 0.3 of a dose. This way, you can get off your medication with even less zaps or horrible withdrawal effects.