How do you decide if/when to go off meds?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 73
   Posted 6/23/2009 8:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Just to be clear, I don't mean cold-turkey or unsupervised.
I'm on a very low dose of prozac, and I've only been on it for about six months.  I'm also seeing a therapist.  But, my life as been totally different since starting those two things.  I feel like I can cope with regular everyday things a lot better, and for the first time in my adult life, I feel really good about myself.  I feel comfortable in my own skin and in my role within my family. 
Is there any reason I shouldn't be content continue meds indefinitely, if they've helped me this much?  Or at some point, do I need to trust myself enough to try going off?  I get all teary-eyed when I think of what my life was like before, and I am just so terrified of going back to that.
I guess I'm just afraid that since I started the meds after the birth of my second child, someone (I don't know who) is going to tell me that my time is up and I'm no longer "allowed" to have issues, even though my issues aren't necessarily related to pregnancy or post-partum.  The hormones definitely exacerbate my issues, but they've always been there in some form or another.
Does this make any sense?

Precious Gem
Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 1139
   Posted 6/23/2009 9:06 AM (GMT -6)   

The first thing I want to do when I start feeling better is go off my meds.  I have been on a number of them over the last two years.  If they did not work fast enough or made me feel bad (side effects) I would stop.  I have been on Celexa for 8 weeks and I feel somewhat better.  The simple fact that I could tolerate it was great but I still do not feel "well".  My Doc told me if I stopped I would probably end up in the "cellar" again.  I really prefer natural remedies but my problems were obviously way past that.  I hope one day I can come off of this med but as long as you are working with your Dr. to tapper off then you should be fine.

Glad you are doing so well.



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Date Joined Apr 2007
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   Posted 6/23/2009 9:16 AM (GMT -6)   

If your meds and the therapy are working for you and it has just been 6 months, I would suggest you continue as you are.  If it is working why upset the apple cart? :-)

You do not have a time limit on getting over anxiety.  Most of us have to deal with it for life.  Sometimes it gets out of control as yours did but now you are feeling well, hold onto that feeling.

No guilt for feeling well. 

Gentle Hugs



Moderator: Osteoarthritis & GERD/Heartburn
Co-Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
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"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
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Georgie Girl
Regular Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 319
   Posted 6/23/2009 9:54 AM (GMT -6)   
I would recommend you not go off your meds. You are only on one - right? If so, that's not a big deal and if there are no adverse side effects, I'd leave well enough alone.

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 6/23/2009 11:00 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Treester! I'm not the best proponent of med use, but it does sound as if the Prozac may be helping you right now. A friend of mine who has taken anti-anxiety meds for years would feel better and then go off of them too soon and relapse. For me personally, I am a big supporter of non-medication anxiety treatment. I am of the opinion that medications are only a temporary "fix" when they do work. I feel this way after many many years of trying most of them. I am 28 years old and have been placed on them off and on since I was 16. I feel that just because a medication alters the brain's chemistry while it is in the body, all too often when the mediction is removed, the symptoms often will return, simply because the true cause of the anxiety has not been adressed. I too see a wonderful therapist whom I care about dearly, but I have also noticed that the more I hash out all of the beliefs I hold about my anxiety, the more anxious I become because I am keeping it alive in my own mind. I hope I'm making sense here. Whether you decide to take Prozac long term or not, I would also urge you to look into CBT or "The Linden Method" (I am not an advertiser for The Linden Method, but this method helped me moreso than anything else I have ever tried, including years of therapy and medications). The reason I have found it so beneficail, is because it urges you to look past your anxiety rather than constantly focusing on it. Focusing our energies on the fear of the fear is what keeps us in our anxious states. Minimizing our world experiences more and more, until we are confined in our homes and terrified of everything. The more we learn to live and experience the world outside of ourselves, the more anxiety becomes old news to our subconcious mind. Anxiety IS NOT a mental illnesss although it may be called so medically. Anxiety forms when the mind becomes conditioned to accept a higher level of anxiety as it's "norm" through our own behavioral patterns. Treester, when you say that you are terrified of going back to how things were for you before, you are unknowingly setting yourself up. This is something that all anxiety sufferers do to themselves *big hug*. We worry about the anxiety returning, and because we are thinking about it, it makes us anxious and it becomes a vicious cycle. IF you feel panic coming on in the future, just say to yourself "STOP! Anxiety only causes the sensations of fear and it can't hurt me", then go on with whatever you were doing. The more you practice removing your fear of the anxiety, the easier it will become.

Before I make anyone upset if what I've said has sounded out of the norm when it comes to the info out there about anxiety, please know that I have also been in the worst depths of anxiety. I have gone through multiple bouts of refusing to leave my home, once for an entire year straight. I have been on medications that had given me hallucinations and frightening thoughts and have been room bound. I have gone through multiple medication withdrawals. I have limited myself since I was 16 due to fear of "losing control" of the anxiety and have had very little personal success as a result. What I have learned over the years as horific as some of them have been, is that the power to overcome anxiety lies within myself. It's not something that comes from my therapist, or my family, a medication or through any of the research that I've done so extensively over the years. It comes from me and my own determination to live my life fully and without self imposed constraints. I am also not saying that it's easy, but when it comes to anxiety we are alone with it. It belongs to us and nobody but us can remove it, which in itself is frightening yet invigorating at the same time.

I wish you and everyone here the best of everything, but please remember that the more you discuss and dwell on your anxiety, you are constantly reminding your mind that it exhists and keeping it alive in yourself. *big hugs for everyone*

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1015
   Posted 6/23/2009 1:27 PM (GMT -6)   
My 2 cents: stay on the Prozac. I've been taking it for years. I know if I went off of it I would be back to terrible mornings and possibly even panic attacks again. The quality of life is what is important. These meds are available to us and we should take advantage of them if we decide to do so.

I know I went many years without any meds. I was scared to take anything and I felt I could deal with the anxiety/panic attacks. Well, I did deal with them. But I decided I didn't want to even have to do that. If the med is working along with the therapy, don't quit either one of them. Enjoy your life now and relax!
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
60 mg. Prozac, Ativan as needed.
"Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets." Paul Tournier

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 73
   Posted 6/23/2009 2:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks everyone. I guess I was kind of wondering if I was supposed to be working towards living med-free, ultimately, but I honestly don't want to. Not yet, anyway. TechGirl, I understand what you're saying, but I'm so exhausted from a lifetime of anxiety. I almost feel like I owe it not only to myself, but also to my husband and my children to stay medicated, because life is good for all of us right now.

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 341
   Posted 6/23/2009 3:09 PM (GMT -6)   
You are absolutely right Treester.

If the meds and therapy are working then keep going. My dad has been on meds for over 30 years. (I know 25 for sure). And he funtions day to day as if he has no anxiety attacks.

What works for some will not work for others. But you have the best combo going for you and keep it up.

A lot of the problem is people who (like yourself) start to feel better. Then dump their meds, therapy etc. And fall deeper into the whole and have to climb harder to get out. So please don't stop something that is working for you. It is much much harder to start over then it is to just continue with what you have.

Don't EVER think you are to weak to fight it or that depending on meds is the end of the world. That you have lost "control". Because that is NOT the case what so ever.
Everyone at some point is going to need some sort of meds to help them through the day. Let it be high blood pressure, arthritis, allergies, etc. Its just the way things are. And we have our anxiety meds that we need to function. So let it be and enjoy life as you know it now. Instead of possibly falling deeper into a whole that is going to take more then just one shovel to get out of next time.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 6/23/2009 3:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Well said Allestaria!!! I agree 100%.
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Been living with Crohn's Disease for 33 years. Currently on Asacol, Prilosec, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain, Zofran, Phenergan, Probiotics, Calcium  w/Vit D, and Xanax as needed for my anxiety.  Resections in 2002 and 2005. Also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Anxiety. Currently my Crohns is in remission, but my joints are going crazy!
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Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 1683
   Posted 6/24/2009 6:06 AM (GMT -6)   

Ive been on meds for 15yrs. they work, and i cant function without them. i dont feel badly or weak about it because i have an illness that sometimes can only be primarily treated with meds (in conjuntion with therapy) and when i switch meds i do it as an inpatient at my local private pysch facility- its like a 5 star hotel. except for all the nurses and group therapy! but 6months isnt long, and if its working, then why stop?

good luck with your journey-

Maz XX

                        Co-Moderator Anxiety & Panic- Depression
'He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.' (Psalm 147:3)
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Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1009
   Posted 6/24/2009 7:38 AM (GMT -6)   
I agree with peeps that if you don't feel ready to get off the meds, don't. If you're not having negative side effects there's really no hurry. If you do intend to get off of the meds, it's important to learn other coping mechanisms so that you will be able to better handle stress and anxiety without the meds. I stopped taking medication because I wanted to try to get pregnant and I thought it would be safer for the baby if I wasn't taking meds. I was on Paxil, then Celexa for about 2 years. I can tell you from my own experience of coming off of the meds, that my level of anxiety has never gotten back up to the point that it was before I took the meds. I feel that part of that is because I now recognize the signs of anxiety and PA and I know how to get through it. I also really think that my brain chemistry was out of whack and the meds helped to make it right again, so when I went off the meds, it was still OK. I would consider taking medication again if my level of anxiety increases to the point where I can't function during the day. The side effects weren't terrible, but I didn't appreciated the extra weight or sexual side effects.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 161
   Posted 6/24/2009 2:01 PM (GMT -6)   
I would say if you really felt strongly about being med-free then I would talk to your doctor about giving it a try. If you are happy and everything is working for you and you don't really feel like you are ready (which if you have ANY hesitation, don't!) - well if it ain't broke, don't fix it! It sounds like it does work for you and life is good, so why take the risk?

I went med free about 4 years ago, but I was having side effects and only went off them when I was 100% sure that I could manage my anxiety at the time (and I made HUGE changes in my life... job, relationship, pretty much overhauled my life). I also have acknowledged since then that anxiety will be with me forever, sometimes its dormant and sometimes it kicks my butt. For now I'm doing Ok but I know now what to look for if I start downward spiraling and I will go back to the meds if I need it. I don't ever want to live and suffer the way I did before. Life is too precious to just spend it sitting in the corner watching everyone else have fun! I still have bad days. But the good outnumber the bad and that is what I try to focus on!

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 393
   Posted 6/29/2009 7:18 AM (GMT -6)   
I jus want to say i agree with evreything panic and dixie said.. I went med free bout 6 months ago but it was becoz i having bad effects from the medication. I was 100% sure it was something i wanted todo. I stil have bad days but i dont have panic attacks nemore mainly becoz of the cbt and coping mechanisms i have learnt. From the 6 months i have spent med free if life ever gets really stressful then i will prob go back on meds. If your not 100% sure its something u want to then dont do it.

Badfish ;p

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 13
   Posted 6/30/2009 5:03 AM (GMT -6)   

I think it would be safer if you consult with your doctor with regards to stopping medication as there may be withdrawal symptoms that you may experience when you stop taking medicine.

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