After over six years of being on anti-depressants, this year I decided that I was stable enough to attempt to reduce them with the aim of coming off them entirely, and a lovely triggering newspaper article about side effects set off my anxiety and pushed me to come off them. This time last year, I was on 200mg of Sertraline and 5mg of Aripiprazole (an antipsychotic) but as I write this I am now on 150mg and 2.5mg respectively. I thought that for today’s post I’d just share a little bit about how I’ve found reducing medication that I’ve become so dependent on.
I reduced Aripiprazole last year; it was making me so sleepy which wasn’t helping me! It was suggested by my pharmacist that I try halving my tablets so as to reduce it (luckily I was on a low dose anyway!) and I’ve found that that made such a difference. It’s helped enough to keep my moods in check a bit more, but I’m not as sleepy as I was.
Sertraline I only started reducing a month or so ago. Because I’m on such a high dose, I’ve been reducing it by 25mg at a time. I initially wanted to reduce my dose every two weeks, but I really started feeling withdrawal effects after that time so we decided to continue to make it a month. The first effects that I, and everyone around me, noticed were that I was very agitated and angry, which is so unlike me! I then crashed and went all emotional. It was a bit of a rollercoaster two weeks. However, after the first couple of weeks it all settled down a bit and I was able to continue with reducing. I’m now on my second month and taking 150mg daily. I thought it was all going plain sailing until this week; I’ve been feeling very light-headed and dizzy and getting headaches, which is unusual. That said, I have noticed these side effects in the past if I’ve ever missed more than one dose, so unfortunately I think I’m just going to have to ride it out.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking medication. In fact, I fully support it. But I also recognise that it’s not always the only solution and I don’t have to be on them for life; I can come off them and be okay! This is just my experience so far of reducing my medication, and it’s a process that I’ll be going through (if all goes to plan) until about September. Whilst I’m not particularly enjoying the side effects, I’m relieved that I’ve not struggled that much with my mental health, and it’s been more physical symptoms. It makes a change to feel like I’m in a bubble because I’m light-headed, and not because I’m on the verge of a meltdown!
All of the above is not going to be the same for everyone, and it’s also okay if you’re not ready to come off your medication. It’s taken me a long time to decide and it’s not a decision that you should feel under any pressure to make!