Quitting Your Medication Properly
There are times in our lives where we feel we need to ask for help. And when we’ve reached out, whether this is to professional help or to a friend, we may find ourselves relying on certain things to get through. When we are getting professional help for something like depression or a health concern, but we feel that we have come out on the other side, we may consider stopping our medication. It’s not unusual for people to consider coming off medication, especially if they are feeling better or the medication is making life difficult. But what do we need to consider when we are making this leap? What does coming off your medication really consist of, and what can you do to ensure that you are coming off them for the right reasons, but also do it safely?
Stopping for the Right Reasons
If you are taking medication for a chronic condition and you feel that your condition has improved within the first year, you may feel ready to come off the medication. Unfortunately, this can result in a worsening of his chronic conditions and a worse outcome overall. You have to remember that if you feel better after taking a medication such as an antidepressant, the symptoms may return when you stop. Other medications for conditions like high cholesterol do not have any symptoms, which means a decreased chance of sticking with the medication. A lot of people think that they can stop the treatment when they feel better, but this could result in significant side effects.
You also need to ensure that when you discuss coming off medication that you have the ability to come back onto it if necessary. There could be issues if you come off the medication and are discharged by the doctor, meaning that it would be a long waiting list to get back onto. And if this medication is working for you, but you’ve fought a battle to come off it, acquiring it will be difficult. And if this was the only medication that yielded any positives, you may be desperate to get back onto it, even if this means breaking the law. Of the many facts about drug crimes, it’s the fact that drug crimes also include taking prescription medications when you do not have a valid prescription. This is why you’ve got to really talk through the issues with a specialist. Your condition can worsen, but you can also experience side effects if you don’t come off the medication gradually.
Speaking to the Doctor in Great Detail
Many people take medication that they no longer need. For example, sleeping pills should only be used in the short-term, and allergy medications may only be needed during the Spring. There are many reasons to stop your medication, but you need to discuss what you are taking with your doctor. If you discontinue the medication abruptly, the side effects will worsen so you need to speak to the doctor about how and when to stop a drug when it is prescribed.
It’s also worth considering certain lifestyle habits that might have changed from when you originally started taking the medication. For example, if you are taking medication for hypertension, but since you started you have lost some weight, you need to get the permission of the doctor to cut this medication out of your life.
Understand the Best Method to Stop Your Medication
While some drugs can be stopped immediately, some require what is called a taper. This is a slow reduction in frequency or dose. It usually can last between 2 and 6 weeks, but some cases can take longer. The purpose of undergoing a slow taper is to avoid nasty side effects that you may experience if you were to stop the drug quickly. Again, this is about checking with the doctor.
In addition, you need to understand the side effects of what would happen if you were to stop quickly. People that take antidepressants can experience a wide variety of unhealthy side effects if they stopped immediately. Upset stomach, dizziness, fatigue, or anxiety are a handful of potential symptoms, also known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. While the symptoms are not usually dangerous, it’s important to lessen the effects, which is why a gradual or tapered withdrawal can help.
Preparing a Discontinuation Plan
There are many reasons to discontinue using a medication. You may very well need to make a switch due to a lack of effectiveness. If you are switching medications in the same class, it’s possible to switch them immediately, tapering off the first medication while starting the new one at a lower dose. But if you start to make a few notes for future reference, this will give you more control over the situation.
Many people have blind faith in their doctors. It’s important to work with them, ask several questions of them, and record the responses should you encounter issues of the future. It’s worth making a note of the dose of the schedule as well as what you want out of it, the side effects, the cost of the medication, as well as the duration you plan on taking it. With these in mind, you can prepare your discontinuation plan more effectively.
Knowing What to Do to Prepare for Coming off Your Medication
While it is possible to stop taking medication at once without any negative side effects, it’s important to do some preparation while also withdrawing your medication slowly. There are a handful of things that you should consider:
The first thing to do is to explain to those you care about what you are planning to do and how this may impact you. If you are withdrawing from an antidepressant or anxiety medication, you need to explain in great detail to your friends and family how this could impact your emotions and mood. It’s vital for you to discuss what your needs are during this time, and how your loved ones can help. It’s important to be as detailed as possible at this point.
Understanding your own triggers is the next port of call. You can keep a diary while taking the medication and when taking something like anti-anxiety meds can help others to spot patterns. Ultimately, you will know the triggers better than anybody, which is why it’s important to communicate these, but also become very aware of your mental state if you are going off course.
The next thing you should do is to prepare an Advance Directive. This is a written document that contains information for others should you have a crisis during the withdrawal process. It should detail how you would like to be treated should something happen. This is crucial for those who are withdrawing from antipsychotic medication. It’s important to give a copy to somebody that you trust, as well as your doctor.
Finally, you need to record any side effects. When coming off any medication, it is hard to remain objective. If you monitor your mood and notice when there are very subtle changes, only you recognize this will help you to understand what was the medication and what wasn’t. By recording any information like this, you will begin to spot patterns that aren’t so obvious.
What if You Choose to Stay on Your Medication?
We may feel that medication is the one thing holding us back. However, there can be times when medication is a key pillar of an overall treatment program. For someone experiencing depression, antidepressants can be used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication isn’t a cure-all and there can be instances where a combination of methods works well. You may want to come off a medication because it is not working, however, it is vital to remember that treating yourself is an ongoing commitment. If you decide to stay on your medication, you need to consider a handful of essentials:
- Keeping regular appointments with your specialist can help them and you to monitor the treatment progress. You can make adjustments as and when necessary.
- Being active in the treatment can make a big difference in your progress. It’s important to discuss any concerns and learn about your options. Working with the doctor is important, so if you are not comfortable in their presence, it’s important that you find someone that does make you feel able to discuss your concerns.
Medication is not a cure. It is a way that can help you to manage a condition. This is something that we can misinterpret. Medication should be part of a holistic approach to improving your overall illness. It is important to remember that medication can take some time to work, or you may have to take more than one type of medication before you find the right fit. When you are looking to stop your medication, you have to remember that it can take time for it to work and the side effects can occur first. When you are thinking about coming off your medication, you’ve got to work with the doctor. By raising any concerns with them and working out a plan that you both agree on will have a far more positive impact on living a healthier, more balanced life.