How do I get off my antidepressants?44 comments
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.
There are also many reasons people consider avoiding or attempting to get off psychotropic medications:
- You don’t like the side effects that you’ve experienced.
- You want something to heal the past, and find long term peace.
- 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 “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 instead of judging yourself.
This is how I personally stay off anti depressants. They are five learnable skills that you can start practicing today!
Five Ways to Help Anxiety and Depression Without a Prescription
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:
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.
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
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 us 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 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. When I read your comment, I will infuse it with good intention.
Jodi Aman / /