How do I get off my antidepressants?

Do you wonder how to get off antidepressants?

how to get off antidepressants anti depressives

There are many reasons to use antidepressants. Read about them here: Deciding to drug. 

If they are benefitting you, and you are happy, stay the course. There is nothing weak about feeling depressed, anxious or taking medicine.

Reasons to get off antidepressants

There are also many reasons people consider avoiding or attempting to get off psychotropic medications:

  • You want to get off antidepressants because you don’t like the side effects that you’ve experienced.
  • You want something to heal the past, and find long term peace.
  • Or, you don’t want your liver to process more than it needs to.
  • You don’t like how it makes you feel.
  • You judge yourself harshly for needing it.

(If your reason is the last one, please work on self forgiveness, not “should”ing on yourself, and allowing yourself to feel. Instead of trying to get off your anti-depressants, please stop judging yourself.)

People ask me how to get off antidepressants.

My first answer is get off antidepressants  “slowly. Very slowly.” (Allow 6-8 months of alternative treatment while gradually weaning off your anti-depressive, especially if you have been on them for a while. And always, consult your doctor.)

And, please, love yourself through the process of getting off antidepressants instead of judging yourself.

I’ll tell you how you can get off antidepressants, by telling you how I stay off them. They are five learnable skills that you can start practicing today!

Five Ways to Help Anxiety and Depression And Get Off Antidepressants

1. Change the situation.

Much of how you feel comes from the context of your lives. Unhappiness comes from stress. If you are in conflictual or stale relationships, living in chaos, poverty, oppression, experiencing loss, illness, or difficulty, in a horrible job, or struggling for any reason, it affects your mental health. How could it not?

If there is something you could do about this, or take some steps that could help empower you in the situation, or eliminate the stress, this is the best medicine for your anxiety and depression.

Do an evaluation of your life. What stressful elements can you change? What do you need to do?

2. Change your mind.

Sometimes we are safe and loved in life, yet still we feel depressed. Negative thoughts from voices of our past can haunt us by replaying old tapes. The culturally created sense of “never feeling good enough” can capture any one of us. Guilt over things we did in our past can keep us stuck. Fear of the unknown renders us powerless.

You mind becomes your negative context.

This can sometimes be a double whammy, because we feel “depressed for no reason” justifying loads of self judgment at our own weakness. And that makes you feel even worse.

Addressing this mind stress is crucial to feeling better. Peace of mind is one of the most important things to cultivate when treating anxiety and depression. Here are some ways to do it.

  • Stop judging yourself. Sadness and fear is sometimes 10% of what we feel and then judging ourselves for it comprises the other 90% of distress. Stay with the original feeling. Read about how in The Map to Whole Peace free video series.
  • Get enough sleep. 
  • Practice meditation. Sit quietly for at least 5 minutes a day. A daily spiritual, restful, or gratitude practice will change your life.
  • Get out of your head by distracting yourself. Counseling or talking to a loved one helps us feel acknowledged. Do something you really enjoy, playing with the dog, cook, or listen to music. Engaging in fun is a great place to start.

You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day- unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour. Old Zen Adage 

3. Eat Well.

The best way to take care of yourself is through thoughtful nutrition. Here are three places to focus.

1. Improve good gut flora

Sources say that 90% percent of neurotransmitters, including serotonin (the feel good hormone), are in our gut. (Also, 80-90% of our immune system is in our gut and you know how depressing and anxiety provoking it is when you are sick.) See psychology today article. 

Increasing good gut flora can improve overall health and wellbeing. Focusing on this can complement any current treatment you are on. It is one thing that all natural and allopathic doctors agree on.

The way to make the gut happy is to concentrate on the good bacteria in our gut, since these microbes help everything else run smooth. (Did you ever take antibiotics and have your mood temporarily change drastically? This is because the good gut bacteria has died off.)

Food is a great source of good gut bacteria (aka probiotics): Eat fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, as well as unwashed greens from your garden. These are the best sources of good bacteria.

Whenever possible, get this from food rather than supplements. When we eat, the soft palate on the roof our mouth “reads” the identity of the food and sends a signal to the brain. The brain sends a signal down to let the liver know what it needs to digest that food. Supplements taken in pill form circumvent this process and we may not be getting what we need out of it.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates tend to cause bloating and encourage the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria and yeast in the gut. Our emotional stability directly correlates with eating sugar and refined carbohydrates.

2. Increase GABA

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a hormone our body produces to counter our parasympathetic nervous system flight or fight hormones. In other words, GABA puts the brakes on the stress hormones and their effects on our mind and body. It calms us.

Here are some foods that contain GABA: oolong tea, cherry tomatoes, shrimp, almonds, tree nuts, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, halibut, mackerel, oats, brown rice, lentils, and oranges. See “Move your body” section below for some awesome tips on GABA!

3. Decrease caffeine, sugar, and alcohol

All can cause anxiety and depression. This is common sense but unfortunately not a common practice.

4. Medicine from the Earth.

In our culture, we still want to have something to “take” when we need some extra help to calm us or make us feel better. It is an action step and initiative that you can do to take care of yourself. In a way it gives you some power back and this alone is immeasurable.

I have a few things in my herbal medicine chest for anxiety and depression:

1. Tinctures

Tinctures are fresh herbs harvested in flower, covered in 100 proof vodka for 6 weeks. Take a few drops in a sip of water as needed. These are my go to’s…

Motherwort – for anxiety

St. John’s Wort– for depression (St. John’s Wort in pill form doesn’t work. And could counter the effects of other drugs you are taking.)

Catnip – for help with concentration and focus (Can be used for ADHD)

(I made mine myself using fresh wild herbs but you can buy them made online from HerbPharm* or at your local health food store. Make sure they are made from fresh herbs.) *not an affiliate link

2. Nourishing Herbal Infusions

An herbal infusion is like tea, but instead of one teaspoon of dried herb steeped for ten minutes, it’s one ounce steeped for 4-8 hours. Reheat or drink iced. Sweeten with honey if you need it.

I used these five as advised by Susun Weed. They have changed my life, and can change yours.

1. Nettle- Good for overall increase in energy and strength (physical and mental). She serves all of your organs, as a great source of iron and other nutrients. She is known to help with osteoporosis, joint pain, improving your immune system, nerve inflammation, allergies, and more. She’s good for everything.

2. Comfrey- She is good for skin, bones, tendons, and muscles, and improves memory.

3. Red Clover- She is one of the best anti cancer herbs. She eases PMS, improves fertility, and benefits pregnancy and lactation. She has loads of minerals to help bones and the lymphatic system, so she is an immune system booster and is especially good for lungs or breathing.

4. Oatstraw- She helps your nervous system and endocrine system. Good for memory, and attention, calmness and centeredness. Helps with any digestion problems. Also, she is an aphrodisiac.

5. Linden Flower- She is a leading cold remedy and a great anti-inflammatory.

Get a quart jar and put in one ounce of dried herb. Pour boiling water over it, seal it with a lid, and leave it for 6 hours or overnight.

You can buy dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herb or Frontier Coop.

3. Tea

Many people find Chamomile calming, and Dandelion tea is good for depression. The act/ritual of drinking a hot liquid itself is soothing on the nervous system. I like Traditional Medicines brand teas and have Easy Now in my office. You can buy teas at most grocery stores.  

4. Curb your use of essential oils and antibiotic soaps

I used to be a proponent of essential oils, but now I have learned better. So sorry for anyone I lead astray in the past! Essential oils are high concentrations of the volatile oil in plants. This volatile oil has antibiotic properties and kills off good gut flora damaging your immune system and hormone regulation. I know this will upset many people but I feel it is important to spread the word!

Also, buy non antibacterial soap. Too much exposure to antibiotics decreases the efficiency of the immune system, kills gut flora, and helps encourage growth of mutant bacteria. Trés mal. 

5. Move your body especially if you want to get off antidepressants

Movement helps you “take residence” in your body instead of your mind. It shifts your attention. Rather than focus on your anxiety from the neck up, you can, for example, think about the length of your step as you are walking.

Yoga brings awareness into the body and gives our mind a rest (Read what Laura Zera says about GABA and yoga.) Yoga can change your life by improving your mental state and easing extreme emotions. Backbends are done for depression and forward bends are done for anxiety.

Walks, runs or other exercise helps the body release endorphins. Endorphins not only block our perception of pain, but also trigger a happy feeling. Exercise also improves sleep.

Committing to exercise gives a sense of achievement building our self-esteem.

You accomplished a goal. It gives us an overall boost of energy, too!

Exercising outside has many benefits. Being in nature gives us a sense of beauty and wonder. It takes us outside of ourselves and helps us connect to something bigger and greater. Walking, sitting and staring in nature calms our mind in a way nothing else does. I spoke about this on Natural Savvy radio this week. Check it out! 

Music and dance allow us access to another part of ourselves that we cannot get to verbally or intellectually. And it feels so good.

Research was done at Harvard and Columbia University showing that power posing- basically spreading your arms and legs out- instantly causes neuroendocrine and behavior changes such as increasing testosterone, decreasing cortisol (stress hormone), and increasing feelings of power. (See Power Posing by Careny, Cuddy and Yap) , decreasing stress. Tiffany Staropoli shows us how it is done. 

So there you have it.

Now what?

Now it is about trust, discipline, and compassion. How can you gently work on one small thing at a time? What might be the easiest thing to incorporate?

Tell me what one small change you want to make after reading this. Stay on or get off antidepressants? When I read your comment, I will infuse it with good intention.

44 thoughts on “How do I get off my antidepressants?”

  1. Hi Jodi,

    Loved the post indeed 🙂

    Yes, I would say it all starts and ends with the mind. If you can change your mind, you can change anything – the way you think depend on it. There is no room for anxiety and depression once you follow all that you mentioned, especially the mind part – it all starts from there. I agree that changing your situation and remaining healthy too are vital points we need to take care of.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. Thanks Harleena,
      Everything is about the mind. We will still get sad and scared sometimes, those are human, but they wouldn’t take us over as much!

      You have a great week, too, and stay happy!

  2. Hi Jodi,

    Anxiety and depression are so common in modern life that every second person complains about it. While anxiety may be controllable if we make conscious efforts, depression the bigger sister of anxiety often gets out of hand very soon.
    Does it define we have weak mind and lack of will power or too sensitive?
    I often wonder about these questions as I have seen such people suffer from anxiety, over small, everyday issues.
    I appreciate the natural self-healing processes that you have recommended but weak-minded people often fail to take care of such things, when they are passing through such a phase.
    Balroop Singh recently posted..Of Traditions, Conservatism and Giving…My Profile

    1. Usually it is hard for people to take action on what they know might help them because they feel hopeless that it will work. This has to be helped first!

  3. Hi, Jodi, I agree that antidepressants are not for everyone, and if people can do well without them, that’s great. I am one of those people with treatment resistant depression, likely genetic. I personally don’t ever plan to stop taking antidepressants, but that’s a decision I’ve made with my doctors and over time. That said, there are many things I can still do to help myself besides taking a medication, because the medication can’t do everything. It just allows me to BE ABLE to do other things. Your ideas above are wonderful, and I’m working on some of them. I am slowly but surely working on my diet to see how foods affect me. And my doctor is all for me doing things like this. Meditation is also very important to me, and I am working on making it more of a part of my life. Thank you for sharing so much helpful information. It helps me, and I know it will help many others.
    Tina Fariss Barbour recently posted..Out the windowMy Profile

    1. Hi Tina,

      Thank you for saying ” It just allows me to BE ABLE to do other things. ” I feel so bad that I am back on strong medication, and nothing the doctor said really convinced me, but you did. Thank you.

        1. I know that you’re right. It’s just that they never seemed to really work, so doctors keep increasing dosages in a scary way till they agree with me that it’s not working so we change medicine and try again and again. I’m trying this new one now, hoping for good results. Thank you for your encouragement. I needed it.

  4. Millions of people have struggled with depression problem. During depression they bound up by physical pain, psychological fear , helpless…Some people get addicted of anti-depressant pills. I think taking pills is not right way to get rid from this problem. Meditation ,yoga and brain switching( avoid negative thoughts think about some funny, lovable moments) , regular healthy diet and there are various way to get rid from depression problem. You have shared a wonderful article , i think this definitely helpful for people suffering from this problem.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Surajjagoori! I think there is hope for everyone to feel better and I will keep sending out the hope into the world!

  5. Thank you for saying these things. Yes, many people depend on antidepressants, and even though I believe there is a better and safer way, I don’t recommend they stop them while I am treating them, until they and their doctors agree that it is time for that.
    There is nothing “weak” about being anxious, depressed, or taking medication. In fact, at least you are doing something for yourself. Everybody has their own history they are bringing to this moment and enjoying our lives is about doing what works for us today.
    Embrace who you are, you are the best “you,” you can be today. Love yourself! Love yourself! Love yourself!………………………………….And find a good therapist or counselor who you can relate to and who will champion who you are.

    1. Jackie, I love what you have to say here! We are two peas in a pod! Thanks so much for coming over and saying hello! Hope we see each other again some day!

  6. Great tips!
    I’d like to add that taking fencing lessons helped me quite a bit. I enjoy yoga, but fencing both exhausts me physically (endorphins, yay!) and keeps me focused on something interesting, since it’s not something I can do absentmindedly. Depression simply doesn’t exist during the training.
    angel011 recently posted..Skinny Isn’t Always FunMy Profile

  7. Thank you for the all the useful tips. It’s nice to read them, but I know myself very well with these things and I know that the only ones I try to do and will keep trying as they do help me are the first two: change the situation and change the mind.
    Anything that is related to food or “healthy eating” is not something I can do. I always considered eating what I like (whether it was healthy or unhealthy food) the only pleasure I had, and one I was deprived of for really long.
    What I don’t do and will start doing after reading your post is to start moving my body, do some walking in nature. I’m not at all into exercising, but I would love to start.

    There is only one thing that you didn’t mention in your post 🙂
    Enough for me to see the photo attached to feel happy! Your smile is very contageous!

    Love you <3

    1. I thought that you only eat cereal in coffee everyday. I would love it if you ate all of the wonderful cooking that you do. Get that variety and whole foods. Thanks for liking my photo!

      1. When I’m happy, eating is a pure pleasure, something that I really enjoy, not a need.
        It’s when I’m feeling very very bad, that I don’t eat as I don’t even “deserve” the pleasure or comfort it brings (punishing myself)
        It’s when I’m stressed, anxious, bored or depressed that I need comfort food. At these times (which are the most frequent) i can eat anything and everything non stop.

  8. Oh good. Before I even started reading I said to myself, “I hope she includes meditation.” I think this is big. Just being in that calm state of mind is so important.

  9. Great advice, Jodi! This is so important. I haven’t been on anti depressants but I have considered it. Going through my divorce was high stress but I really wanted to feel the emotions rather than stuff them. I was afraid drugs would only delay the emotional impact of my experience but that’s just a personal feeling. I took up Yoga over a year ago and LOVE it! It has eased emotional stress x100.
    lisa thomson-The Great Escape… recently posted..Finding Your Inner Sex GoddessMy Profile

  10. Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive piece, Jodi (and for the shout-out re: GABA and yoga post)!

    I have tapered off anti-depressants a few times, then went back on (but with a change in medication — I was someone who had one that worked well for 10 years, then stopped working). Life is such a journey and I’ve learned and implemented so many new things in the past few years, that I will probably try to go off them again at some point, and see if some of my newer tools make the difference in sustainability.

    Meditation — yes! And it was your 21-day series that really got me going, so thank you. I also found that listening to the same kind of music that I hear in my acupuncturist’s or massage therapist’s office on my own iTunes playlists really helps with anxiety. I’ve dialed way back on the rockin’ tunes! 🙂

    Foodwise, I’ve yet to find a fermented food that I like, but may try the pill probiotics again. But wow, what a difference an alcoholic drink makes to my mood. I still indulge occasionally, but I know I will feel “off” the next day.

    Great info in the Medicine from the Earth section, and practically all of it is new info to me. Will be googling that stuff soon.

    One small change (big change for me) is to continue to whittle away at my sugar consumption. I am trying to change my palate, but it has been a tough area for me. I do love my chocolate. About a year ago, I cut dairy from my diet (due to allergies and mucous production), and so getting rid of ice cream was a big sugar reduction, and one I couldn’t have imagined myself making even a few years ago. My first job was at Baskin Robbins, for goodness sake!
    Laura Zera recently posted..George Clooney Got Engaged, and We Acted Like AssholesMy Profile

    1. Dairy doesn’t produce as much mucus and we are led to believe. Actually orange juice is worse, can you believe it? But not much around allergies except for NAET. I’ve had great luck with that! You can goggle that, too! Let me know if you try anything!

  11. I’ll have to look into some of the herbs. I don’t know anybody on ant-depressants and I’ve never used them myself. I reckon things are real bad off if someone’s using them though. Your suggestions seem like good alternatives.
    totsymae1011 recently posted..Sunday MorningMy Profile

  12. Like Totsy, I’ve never had to use them either, but once when my son was a teen, his dad and his dad’s bi-polar girlfriend decided my son had to be on anti-depressants. They took him in to see a therapist of some sort who, based on their word, prescribed something (I can’t remember what) for him. I found out when I started noticing how tired he was all of a sudden. Needless to say, I went to see that therapist and as soon as I explained things to her, was able to put a stop to it immediately. So glad that period of my life is over. Anyway, enough said.

    Happy Mother’s Day, Jodi!
    monicastangledweb recently posted..My Awkward Family PhotosMy Profile

  13. I’ve struggled with depression my whole life. Now I’m labeled as having “treatment resistant depression”. I feel like I’ve been on every drug & every possible combination. I’m being pressured to do ECT which I will absolutely not do. I’m tired of being a lab rat. I constantly work on all the things you mention. It is hard & it is exhausting. My biggest challenge right now is #1. I feel so frustrated & powerless. It’s MY situation to change, yet it is taking so long due to other people & i have no control over that. I want the change to happen in the fall when both of my children will be away at college. I need the cooperation of another person for this to work & it’s not happening. Stall tactics, mind games, blame & abuse is what I am getting. Sometimes I just want to give up. I’ve been fighting abusive people my whole life & I’m tired, very tired. I’m also tired of the drugs. I don’t want anymore drugs that don’t work & are poison to my body. This is one thing I do have control over.

  14. Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    A huge thing for me has been dropping the alcohol. Exercise is also so important to good health. If I go a few days without working out then my mental health drops. I eventually want to get off my mood stabilizer (lamictal), but that will take a lot of time and effort. Part of it is nerve wracking because I have been really stable on it. I also think sleep is so important too.

    Thanks for the tips. I am going to try the different foods you suggest. Chamomile tea, here i Come!

  15. Thanks Jodi! I want to eat lots less sugar and eat healthier. I enjoy moving my body, walking, line dancing, exercise class, etc and feel so much better when I have done one of these. Great tips as always, Jodi!

  16. It all comes down to the gut, the source of good and bad health, depending on our choice. I had read somewhere that the food that we eat regularly, if it is nutritious, then it not only nurtures our body but also ensures good health by boosting our immune system.

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