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SSRI Withdrawal or Return of the Issue?

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From Bosnia and Herzegovina: Hello, two years ago i was diagnosed a depression with anxiety. I was prescribed 20mg Seroxat/1.5mg Xanax per day. I felt better after a week or two, and as the therapy continued I noticed further improvements in my mental state. I wasn’t concerned with irrelevant things anymore, became more focused, I started to enjoy sincerely. Some four months ago, after almost two years of therapy, I began to work and started to take less and less seroxate (still took xanax occasionaly), and at some point, I quit on seroxate completely on my own. After a couple of days of cold turkey, I felt excellent. I felt completely healed, so I decided to quit the therapy completely and continue to fight with everyday issues on my own, with will, work, and exercise. In the past few weeks, I began experiencing some of the symptoms from before the therapy. Quite mildly at the start, but in last days I feel more and more anxious, and I started to obsess myself with some things from the past, as well as some irrelevant things that I bother myself for no reason. My question is — are these the symptoms from SSRI withdrawal, or am I going to my previous state (I had some serious breakdowns before I began with the therapy). Overall, I know that therapy helped me a lot, I don’t have major breakdowns anymore, nor most of the major depression symptoms — but these things still bother me. Thank You in advance.

SSRI Withdrawal or Return of the Issue?

Answered by on -

A.

A: From what you are describing here, my best guess would be that it is a return of your symptoms rather than SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome. It sounds like you went off the medication slowly rather than an abrupt withdrawal and the symptoms that are coming back took a few weeks to manifest, both of which lead me to think it’s most likely a return of Depression and Anxiety. Here’s an article to that gives a nice overview: https://psychcentral.com/lib/ssri-discontinuation-or-withdrawal-syndrome/0005734

Either way, I think it is prudent to speak with your prescribing physician and/or your therapist to help you decide how to proceed. It may be that a return to therapy alone might be enough to ward off the return of your symptoms if you want to remain medication free. However, if you know the medication helped you lead a more productive and peaceful life, you now have evidence that it is worth staying on them, at least for a few more years. Although it is risky, sometimes the best way we find out that a certain treatment is working is to discontinue it and see what happens. Sounds like you did much better in treatment.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

SSRI Withdrawal or Return of the Issue?

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). SSRI Withdrawal or Return of the Issue?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/11/03/ssri-withdrawal-or-return-of-the-issue/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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