How To Come Off Antidepressants & The Mental Healthcare Crisis

14 January 2018

When I was only 17 years old, I was prescribed an anti-depressant to help deal with my fleeting happiness. What doctors failed to notice or remotely care about was whether I had depression or was just depressed. Any child at 17 will often go through depression at various stages of maturity. I didn't consider myself mature enough for adult life until I was 24, so I was on strong Citalopram for about 7 years of my developing life, fluctuating in moods along with my dosage.

I was on Citalopram for a number of years then moved onto Mirtazapine for the remaining years when Citalopram stopped working. This should have been an indication that I should be taken off and possibly had a review on the possible damage it may have caused my body.

11 years later, I am no longer on any type of medication for depression.



During those years, I'd been to counselling, CBT, counselling again, psychotherapy and CBT again. I had differing experiences with all of these but as a whole, found these to alleviate my worries so much more than a little pill ever did. 

The first time I went for counselling was during college and while it did aid me, it was also these sessions that spring-boarded me towards that little pill in the first place. 

I was referred to CBT and after waiting 6 months, on my second session - I was told that I was already doing what the therapist was going to advise and was promptly discharged.

Yeah ok mate, I just waited half a year to see you and you tell me you can't help me. Sound.

After this, I was referred to counselling in a local unit called Bickerstaffe House. This was incredible but it was also the point I realised counselling probably wasn't the answer to my specific problems. You see, there are different types of mental health services for different types of problems and counselling just wasn't right for me.

It was a number of years before I attempted psychotherapy which was much more suited to myself. However, these weren't offered via the NHS so I could not afford to keep this up - therefore this ended immediately after the initial session.

Then luckily, I was referred to CBT with Self Help at The Zion Centre in Manchester (which is by the way inspiring AF) which helped me realise something...

I did not have depression. 

Why did I get addicted?

I tried coming off several times myself but they never worked. Why? I was an insomniac. As a child, I used to be woken up for school by a a beep.

A bloody beep.

So when I was prescribed a pill that meant I slept like a baby, I never wanted to come off. I didn't actually find the medication helped all that much in terms of mood.

How To Come Off Medication

I've attempted to come off several times but the lack of sleep meant I always gave in to the pill just so I'd have a good night's sleep finally.

The best way to come off is to ween yourself off - never go cold turkey because you go a bit cuckoo. 

This is the order I committed to:

  • Full pill one day and half pill every other day
  • Half a pill every day
  • Half a pill every other day
  • Half a pill every few days I couldn't sleep
  • 3mg melatonin tablets when lack of sleep was unbearable
  • No pills motherf*ckerrrrrrr

I didn't set a duration for each of these steps, I just progressed depending on how I felt. I'm sure a qualified doctor could have suggested a better routine but the conspiracy theorist in me thinks they want me on the meds because I'm pretty sure mental health problems brings a lot of money to the UK economy. 

Withdrawal Symptoms

Are you prepared to feel and act like a crack addict? Because this is when it begins. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel and boy does it feel glorious! 

Diary of my withdrawal:

14th June 2017 - Finally stopped taking antidepressants
19th June 2017 - Emotional, cried about Grenfell Tower for 30 mins straight, insomnia begins
20th June 2017 - Emotional, lonely, heightened anxiety, depersonalisation (this was the scariest)
21st June 2017 - Nausea, dizziness, stomach pain, shakes
22nd June 2017 - Fever and sweats begin and heart palpitations 
23rd June 2017 - Lost appetite 
24th June 2017 - Excessive scratching and itching

I am very lucky in that I had been on medication for 11 years but my symptoms only lasted the best part of a month. This is because your recovery will also depend on your metabolism and I'm very grateful to have a good/fast metabolism. 

It sounds horrendous and at times, it was but you have to focus on the outcome. Read more about antidepressant withdrawal here: Antidepressants 101

I think the NHS is doing such a great job with the little resources and funding they have from the Government. I think it's sad that they are struggling so much, yet there are politicians out there on an incomprehensible salary watching porn at work. Nah thanks, mate.

There needs to be more funding and mental health awareness; stop misdiagnosing and stop dishing out pills like they're old school Woolworths pick 'n' mix and offer alternative support and the right type of alternative support at that. Suggest something other than just counselling and improve the standards of these practices. Nobody wants to wait half a year for sought after therapy only to be told they can't be helped...

People are dying for the wealth of other people's pockets. Do something.

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