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Last updated: 7 months ago

Are There Withdrawal Symptoms from SSRIs?

If you are taking an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant and wish to stop taking it, consult with your doctor. Your doctor can supervise you discontinuing the medication and assist with any side-effects or withdrawal symptoms you may have.

If you try to do it by yourself and stop abruptly, you could have withdrawal symptoms known as SSRI (or antidepressant) discontinuation syndrome.

What are SSRIs?

SSRIs are an extensively used antidepressant because they have fewer side-effects than other types of antidepressants.

Examples of SSRIs are:

  1. Faverin (fluvoxamine)
  2. Cipramil (citalopram)
  3. Zoloft or Lustral (sertraline)
  4. Lexapro or Cipralex (escitalopram)
  5. Paxil, Pexeva, or Seroxat (paroxetine)
  6. Priligy (dapoxetine)
  7. Brintellix (vortioxetine)
  8. Prozac or Oxactin (fluoxetine)

What are SSRIs used for?

SSRIs are used for a variety of mental disorders including:

  1. GAD (generalized anxiety disorder)
  2. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  3. panic disorder
  4. OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
  5. bulimia
  6. severe phobias (like social phobia or agoraphobia)

Sometimes SSRIs are used to treat other disorders such as:

  1. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  2. PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  3. fibromyalgia
  4. pain management

How do SSRIs work?

SSRIs increase serotonin levels in your brain to bring your brain function back to normal if you have a mood disorder. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter.

A neurotransmitter transmits messages between the nerve cells in your brain.

After the neurotransmitter transmits the message, the serotonin is reabsorbed by the nerve cells (reuptake).

SSRIs block this reuptake, so the serotonin is free to transmit more messages. Raising serotonin levels can boost your mood and relieve depression symptoms.

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Does taking SSRIs come with side-effects?

There are always possible side-effects when taking any medication.

Some of the possible side-effects of taking SSRIs are:

  1. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  2. Reduced sex drive, difficulty achieving orgasm, and ED (erectile dysfunction) in men
  3. Weight loss or weight gain
  4. Insomnia, drowsiness, and dry mouth
  5. Dizziness or blurred vision
  6. Agitation, anxiousness, restlessness, nervousness, or feeling shaky
  7. Headaches

You should consult with your doctor before you start an SSRI to see if there are any potential reactions to the prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, herbs, supplements, or vitamins you are currently taking.

Some SSRIs can affect other medication’s effectiveness or could cause harmful reactions.

In rare cases, people can develop serotonin syndrome because of the high levels of serotonin built up in their bodies.

This can happen when you are taking two types of medications which raise serotonin levels.

What are the symptoms of SSRI withdrawal?

While SSRIs aren’t addictive, stopping them quickly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

There are a variety of symptoms you can experience. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Feeling like you have the flu
  2. Feeling lethargic
  3. Feeling nauseated or dizzy
  4. Feeling uneasy

SSRI (or antidepressant) discontinuation syndrome happens in about 20 percent of people when they stop taking antidepressant medication quickly which they have been on for more than six weeks.

People experiencing this syndrome often think they’re having a relapse of their depression and/or anxiety and end up back on SSRIs.

There is a wide range of withdrawal symptoms a person can experience with SSRI (antidepressant) discontinuation syndrome.

They include:

  1. Flu-like symptoms, chills, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  2. Insomnia, vivid dreams, and nightmares
  3. Lack of balance, lightheadedness, and dizziness (vertigo)
  4. Hyperarousal and irritability
  5. Sensory and visual disturbances
  6. Depression, anxiety, and mood swings
  7. Tremors, muscle spasms, coordination issues, and walking difficulty
  8. Feelings of electric shock, out-of-body experiences, or paresthesia (sensations of burning or skin-crawling)
  9. Headaches and fatigue
  10. Concentration issues or catatonia (being unresponsive)

In unique cases, mania, psychosis, suicidal thoughts, and muscle pain can be experienced.

These symptoms can be mild to severe, will begin within a few days of stopping the medication, and will last up to a few weeks.

The amount of withdrawal experienced depends on the drug’s half-life.

Half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the molecules in the drug to be expelled from your body. If it is a long half-life drug, it will gradually be expelled when stopped.

If it is a short half-life drug, it will clear the body suddenly when stopped. This is when withdrawal can occur. A majority of SSRIs are short half-life drugs, which is why withdrawal should be closely monitored by a doctor.

While staying at an in-patient facility like Sanctuary Clinics a doctor can monitor you as you gradually decrease your dosage (tapering). This will help alleviate the sudden withdrawal symptoms listed above.

Get Help Today.

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery.
Let us call you to learn more about our treatment options.

We are here to help you through every aspect of recovery. Let us call you to learn more about our treatment options.

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