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Withdrawing from Psychiatric Medications

Withdrawing from Psychiatric MedicationsYou’ve been diagnosed with a mental disorder and have been in treatment now for years. You’ve done both psychotherapy and psychiatric medications, and now it’s time to try to live life drug-free. You’ve successfully ended your psychotherapy treatment, but now you’re looking for advice and information about how to end your psychiatric medications.

My first suggestion to you would be to talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. Nobody should go off of any medication without first getting their doctor’s consent and, hopefully, cooperation (or, if not their consent, at least their grudging acceptance that it’s your body and you can do with it what you want). Ideally, you’re seeing a psychiatrist for your psychiatric medications and not just your family doctor. If you are just seeing your family doctor, you may need a little more help than someone seeing a psychiatrist, because psychiatrists have much greater familiarity with helping people get off of the medications they previously prescribed to them. (In my experience, I’ve found many family doctors simply have little clue about the idiosyncrasies of discontinuing psychiatric medications, because of their unique tapering properties.)

Second, enough cannot be said about the importance of tapering for a majority of psychiatric medications — whether it be an antidepressant, an anti-psychotic medication, or something else. Tapering is simply the process of decreasing the dose of a medication a little bit over time. The key for most successful psychiatric drug discontinuation is slow, gradual tapering over a long period of time — many months even. I simply cannot emphasize this point enough. I’ve heard of many, many horror stories of patients being asked to taper off of a psychiatric medication they’ve been on for years over the course of a few weeks. That’s just criminal, in most cases.

This article offers only the most basic of introductions to this topic, because others have covered this area far more extensively than I have. A great place to start is this psychiatric drug withdrawal primer. While not succinct, it does contain all of the information you’ll need to know to successfully end your psychiatric medication treatment.

I cannot emphasize this enough — discontinuing psychiatric medications on your own is not recommended. You should enlist your doctor in your efforts to stop the meds.

Withdrawing from Psychiatric Medications

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder & CEO of Psych Central. He is an author, researcher and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues -- as well as the intersection of technology and human behavior -- since 1992. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member and treasurer of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He writes regularly and extensively on mental health concerns, the intersection of technology and psychology, and advocating for greater acceptance of the importance and value of mental health in today's society. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Withdrawing from Psychiatric Medications. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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