Before I divulge into my story, I want to be clear this post is in no way, shape or form, meant to be taken as medical advice. I am not a medical professional. I am just a person who struggles with mental heath. The goal of this post is not to influence anyone's opinions on anxiety medications. Recovering from any mental health illness is a unique and individualistic process, suited to each person, there is no one-cure fits all. I simply just want to share my experience.
I have made the decision to no longer pursue depression or anxiety medications. I have been quite nervous, consequently, to speak to my psychologist at the hospital. I do not want the professionals helping me, to feel as though I do not value or respect their opinions or the treatment plan they have come up with. However, I no longer have the same desire to attempt this path of treatment. Therefore, I did something, most professionals would advise patients against doing, and I stopped taking the recommended dose of my medication.
To backtrack a little, I have tried five different anti-anxiety and depression medications to date. In order, I have taken, Cipralex, Pristiq, Wellbutrin XL, Celexa and Cymbalta. Furthermore, after trying these medications for over a year and a half, I have not noticed a substantial enough difference, in my general mood and anxiety-level, to justify taking these types of drugs anymore. In other words, I do not feel all that different, from how I initially felt before I started this whole process. That being said, when I was at my lowest moment, I was in a suicidal place and I am no longer in that dark of a place or in the same general vicinity. However, I do not believe the medications, truthfully, were much of an aid in the process. I believe all my progress is a direct result of cognitive behavioral therapy. As a result, these medications, just feel like an external force messing with my body.
Although, my feelings towards these medications are valid, the one improvement I could have made, was consulting with my doctors first. For that reason, I went into my appointment, fully expecting a lecture on this very issue. However, I was more than relieved, when he was completely supportive of my decision to stop with the medication and encouraged me to keep the lines of communication open, whenever I may need it.
It is important to note, I did not abruptly stop taking my medication or start reducing it blindly. I did a lot of research, before I came up with a plan to stagger myself off of the medication. It is crucial to gather all the information possible, before making a decision to come off or reduce anxiety medication for two major reasons. First of all, it is common for people to stop taking medication and relapse, consequently, because the meds were more effective than they realize. Therefore, it is vital to recognize any signs of relapse and monitor your mood and any thoughts of hurting yourself. Secondly, you should know what physical withdrawal symptoms are normal and to be expected.
Overall, apart from some pretty miserable nausea, my transition to being med-free has been pretty smooth. My energy level has improved. I have been able to tackle more exposures than in the past. My depression symptoms have not worsened. My social anxiety is still very much prevalent, but I am working on making it more manageable everyday.