When I was 17, I was prescribed Prozac, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) – for my anxiety in the hope that it would help me recover from my eating disorder. It didn’t make too much of a difference, so my dose was increased a few months later and the symptoms started to improve. After telling my psychiatrist that I had a hard time cumming (a common side effect of the medication), he switched me to Zoloft, another SSRI, but it didn’t change anything.
Between this side effect and constant drowsiness, I wanted to quit the SSRIs. But every time my dose was lowered (which is done gradually to minimize side effects), I would become extremely irritable. Then I moved across the country and couldn’t find a new psychiatrist until my prescription ran out. I survived a few days without my meds and decided to continue riding this wave.
“Many of us would like to quit SSRIs, but are scared or don’t know how,” psychiatrist Steven P. Levine, MD told Bustle. “Because these are prescribed drugs and there is a risk of withdrawal or dangerous symptoms like suicidal thoughts, this is something that should always be done under the guidance of an experienced physician. Reasons for quitting include feeling well and wanting to stop taking medication, feeling blunt or numb in emotions, side effects such as weight gain, anorgasmia, or gastrointestinal discomfort. -intestinal, or it just doesn’t help. Once stopped, however, some people find the SSRI to help more than they thought. “
Know that there is many reasons people would want to stay on their SSRIs, too – and leaving them is definitely not the right choice for everyone. Also, I shouldn’t have stopped taking SSRIs like I did. Levine says you should decrease your dose gradually and see a psychiatrist first. I’m lucky the cold turkey worked for me. But just like taking SSRIs, stopping them had a number of side effects for me. Of course, the effects of quitting SSRIs won’t be the same for everyone, but here’s what I personally noticed when I quit mine.