Mind.org.uk - Coming off psychiatric drugs.pdf

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Making sense of
coming off
psychiatric drugs
coming off
psychiatric drugs
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Making sense of coming off psychiatric drugs
Many people would like to stop their psychiatric
medication, but coming off can be dificult. This
booklet is for people who are thinking about
coming off their medication, and for friends,
family and others who want to support them.
Is coming off my medication right for me?
Who can I talk to about my options?
Can I refuse medication?
Why do I have to withdraw slowly?
How much should I reduce the dose?
What if I take more than one dose per day?
What if I take more than one drug and want to come off all of them?
What is the ‘half-life’ of a drug and how does it affect withdrawal?
How can I tell whether I have withdrawal symptoms
or my mental health problem is coming back?
What are the withdrawal effects of the different types of drugs?
What support can I get while I am coming off?
What can I do to help myself?
How can friends and family help?
Appendix 1: Psychiatric drugs list – form, lowest available
dose and half-life
Appendix 2: Equivalent doses for benzodiazepines and SSRIs
Useful contacts
Making sense of coming off psychiatric drugs
Is coming off my medication right for me?
People take psychiatric drugs for a variety of conditions and for varying
lengths of time. Some take them for relatively short periods, but,
depending on the diagnosis, some may ind they are expected to
take medication for long periods – perhaps indeinitely.
If you are taking psychiatric drugs and feel that you no longer need them
or do not wish to take them for a long period, you may want to see if you
can manage just as well, or get on better, without them.
Some reasons why people have said they wanted to come
off medication:
I feel it has done its job, and I no longer need it.
I have found other ways of coping with my mental health
problem and want to try and manage without medication.
The medication is not helpful.
The medication has unwelcome side effects which make it hard
to tolerate.
I’m worried that the medication may affect my physical health.
Medication makes me lose touch with my feelings.
I would like to start a family and am afraid the drugs may affect
my baby while I’m pregnant or breastfeeding.
Alternatively, you may ind your medications helpful and feel that the
advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Some reasons why people have decided to stay on medication:
Since I found a drug that suits me, I have been getting my
life back together.
I feel I beneit from taking the drug and so it’s worth putting
up with the side effects.
Is coming off my medication right for me?
My doctors think I should continue with it, and I value their advice.
My family would be really worried if I stopped taking it.
I need to stay well for my baby.
I think I still need it at the moment, but might consider coming
off at another time.
Weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of coming off
It’s very important to think about the decision to come off medication
and whether it is right for you. You might ind it helpful to use a
decision chart, like this example:
Coming off medication
Staying on medication
I can drive again.
I will have more energy.
I might lose some weight.
I’m quite stable at the
moment – why rock the boat?
I don’t want to risk the
withdrawal effects.
I might have another breakdown.
My partner will have a go at me.
I don’t feel truly myself.
My sex life is affected.
You could make a chart like this for yourself, and think about the
advantages and disadvantages from your own point of view. Write down
the things that are most important to you.
If you decide to try coming off your medication, you will need to approach
the process carefully – ind out what the possible risks of doing so may
be, and get support. It is never a good idea to just stop taking medication
you have been taking for more than two or three months, without thinking
carefully about the decision, and discussing it with people you trust.
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