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Top 6 Tips to Reduce Antidepressant Discontinuation Symptoms

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Updated October 18, 2012

The following are some possible methods to alleviate uncomfortable antidepressant withdrawal symptoms that are often experienced when an antidepressant is stopped. These are not meant to constitute medical advice, but are rather ideas from practicing psychopharmacologists that you can discuss with your own physician. You should never discontinue a medication without your doctor's consent and guidance.

1. A Single Dose of Prozac (Fluoxetine)

According to Dr. Ivan Goldberg: "The administration of a single 20 mg capsule of fluoxetine usually does the job. The withdrawal symptoms are relieved within hours and the patient goes through a slow fluoxetine withdrawal that is usually symptomless. If the individual had been on a high dose of paroxetine or venlafaxine, a second 20 mg of of fluoxetine may be needed."

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2. Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an over the counter allergy medication that has been reported to help with discontinuation symptoms.

3. Taper Off Slowly

Gradually decreasing your dosage over an extended period of time is preferable to quitting "cold turkey."

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4. Switch to an SSRI or Effexor (If Already Using an SSRI)

From Dr. Ivan Goldberg: "There is no risk of such withdrawal symptoms when going between SSRIs or between an SSRI and venlafaxine. You can go from fluoxetine to just about anything, but an MAOI, and not worry because of that drugs long half-life."

5. Use Prozac as Your Antidepressant

Because Prozac has a very long half-life, extreme withdrawal symptoms are unlikely with it. There is a built in "tapering off" by virtue of the fact that it leaves your body so slowly.

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6. Keep a Regular Schedule with Dosing

Certain antidepressants, such as Effexor, may cause withdrawal symptoms even if you are slightly late with a scheduled dose. Keeping a regular schedule can help you avoid these symptoms.

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Source:

Dr. Bob's Psychopharmacology Tips. 1997. Dr. Robert Hsiung. Accessed: June 21, 2007.

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