15 Reasons People Stopped Taking Their Antidepressants
Editor’s note: This piece is based on the experience of individuals. Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.
There are many reasons people go off antidepressants. For some, the negative side effects outweigh the beneficial aspects. Others reach a point in their mental health journey where they’ve decided with their doctor medication isn’t necessary anymore. And unfortunately in some cases, high costs can keep people from being able to afford their medication.
We wanted to know the reasons people might stop taking their antidepressants, so we asked our mental health community to share why they did so in their own lives. Some people stopped because it was for the best — in other cases, stigma played a role. But no matter how you choose to treat your mental illness, it’s important to do whatever works for you. And no matter what your situation is, it’s also important to make medication decisions with your doctor.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Feeling Numb
“The first few weeks of taking them, I felt wonderful and alive and alert. After a while I started to feel super flat and emotionless. I wasn’t sad but I just felt like [I] existed. I was beyond exhausted. They did their job of getting me out of bed and functioning again, but I needed to continue to get over the hump and I felt as if they were preventing that.” — Lisa M.
“It made me a zombie. I was numb, careless and I stopped making an effort to maintain any form of relationships with the people I care about.” — Karie O.
2. Financial Reasons
“I stopped because my medication and my appointment fees were putting me in debt. I lost income to go to my appointments. My appointment deductibles an then copays were getting paid with credit cards and I just couldn’t afford it anymore. I felt I was doing well on medications, but it was a financial burden I couldn’t deal with any longer.” — Cait B.
“I couldn’t afford them. I lost a job due to my mental health, therefore couldn’t afford to pay for them. It was a horrendous time.” — Chloe S.
3. Always Feeling Tired
“I always felt so tired and ‘fuzzy.’ Also I couldn’t seem to write anymore either. My brain felt like a giant cotton ball.” — Kristy H.
“They also made me very sleepy and lethargic; I could sleep all the time and anywhere.” — Heather M.
4. Meds Stopped Working
“The meds stopped working for me. I kept having to go up a dose for it to work for awhile, only for it to not work again. Before the meds I just stopped, the other meds made me feel way more anxious — gave me heart palpitations and made me feel super paranoid. I haven’t found anything yet that’s worked long-term.” — Jen B.
“I stopped taking antidepressants because after seven years of trying several different meds, I realized all they were doing was making me a zombie. My depression is considered ‘treatment resistant’ and the meds made me numb, gain weight and cause side effects that just weren’t worth it anymore.” — Tressie P.
“I stopped taking my meds to try to get pregnant.” — Ashley M.
“I’m not proud to admit [it], but I stopped taking antidepressants because of my family and the stigma around it. I was always told, ‘Your life isn’t bad. You don’t need them’ or ‘You’re on antidepressants? Are you crazy? You must be crazy.’ It hurt, so I stopped taking my meds.” — Lauren P.
“I went off twice because everyone kept saying, ‘You don’t want to be on them forever!’ Both times were disastrous. My life would have to change drastically for me to feel safe doing it again.” — Beth W.
7. Increased Mania for People With Bipolar Disorder
“I had to stop because if you have bipolar disorder, a potential side effect is increased mania. It caused me to ultra rapid cycle for a few months. It was incredibly frustrating because I had no idea what was going on. I’m also just recently recovering from the monetary irresponsibility from that time.” — Rachel H.
“I had to stop taking them because it was causing my bipolar disorder to rapid cycle, it was like a roller coaster with hypomania, my sleep pattern was messed up, and coming off of it was the worst. Even with tapering down the brain zaps were awful.” — Sarah W.
8. Decreased Creativity
“I feel like I lose something when I’m on meds. My imagination maybe? My creativity. It’s difficult, but after almost 20 years, I’ve come to terms that life with [my] meds is still better than life with no meds.” — Melissa G.
9. Weight Gain
“[I’ve stopped antidepressants] many times over the course of my life, usually due to the sexual side effects and weight gain. However I’m currently back on medication again and doing better this time around, don’t give up there’s many options out there and sometimes it takes a long time to find what’s right for you.” — Carrie M.
“Sometimes it’s because my doctors have warned me it causes weight gain. I’ve gained [weight] just from certain medicines and I’m just now losing the weight— slowly.” — Rachel T.
10. Libido Changes
“[My medication] gave me complete sexual dysfunction.” — Sarah L.
“Inability to orgasm. Feeling like a zombie. Decreased libido.” — Catie M.
“Depersonalization to the max. I felt like I was watching myself from a distance, like things weren’t real.” — Catie M.
12. Increased Suicidality
“I stopped taking antidepressants after they made me suicidal. The side effects were so strong. I would have brain zaps every time I blinked, I wasn’t sleeping, I was emotional, depressed… and these never went away. Finally after a very dark day, I decided they weren’t for me. I have since found the perfect cocktail of mood stabilizers. They work for some people, but I will never touch them again.” — Angelina M.
13. Medication Resistance
“I became resistant to the medications. Instead of them working, they would give me night terrors to the point I would wake up screaming in a cold sweat. I would feel even more depressed and due to lack of sleep it wasn’t helping.” — Mizheekay H.
“It made me the exact opposite of myself — I was angry all the time, I was just downright mean to the people I love.” — Alyssa V.
15. Feeling OK Without Medication
“I took mine for approximately eight years and decided to slowly come off of them. I felt that I had my anxiety and depression under control, and I didn’t want to rely on medication all the time. ” — Heather M.
If you are experiencing side effects from your antidepressant that are making your life difficult, please don’t hesitate to talk about it at your next doctor’s appointment. And don’t be discouraged if you haven’t found a medication that works for you — it doesn’t mean there’s no hope for recovery. For another perspective, here’s a list why people decided they needed to start taking medication: “30 ‘Red Flags’ That Let People With Mental Illness Know It Was Time to Start Medication“
Thinkstock photo via Dokmaihaeng