Skip to main content

Antidepressant Withdrawal

Antidepressant withdrawalsPhoto from Getty Images

Antidepressant withdrawal treatments are most often given without any substantial medical or lifestyle workup being performed or foresight to the realities of antidepressant withdrawal.

Depression can be an expression of impaired hormonal states, vitamin deficiency, dietary factors, low thyroid, failed life aspirations, and other things that may not require psychiatric medicating to attend to.8-12

Do Your SymptomsRequire Antidepressants?
successful antidepressant withdrawal
Alternative to Meds has been primarily invested in antidepressant withdrawal for over 17 years. Using Holistic and Environmental Medicine, we have published evidence demonstrating that over 77% of people discontinuing antidepressant medication and replacing them with a holistic lifestyle perform symptomatically better long-term than they were while medicated.


How Long Does Antidepressant Withdrawal Last?

There are a number of factors that can help determine how long medication withdrawal takes. The following summary is followed by an expanded description of these points.

Factors that influence the timeline of antidepressant withdrawal include:
  • Age
  • General health
  • Quality of diet and sleep
  • Medical conditions
  • Dosage
  • How long the antidepressant was used
  • Abruptness of cessation
  • Presence of bioaccumulation of toxins
timeline of antidepressant withdrawalPhoto from Getty Images

Abruptly stopping antidepressant medications can make the withdrawal phenomena persist far longer than if the reduction were done gradually. This is because the changes that medication imposed upon the neuroplasticity of the brain and CNS — the proffered target of medication therapy — need adequate time and supportive therapeutics to come back to normal.

New research shows an exceptional range of benefits from self-generated strategic improvements in neuroplasticity. These can include lifestyle interventions or revamping the daily diet, that can be far more effective than simply taking a drug to do it for you.41

Fascinating research published in the 2013 Frontiers in Psychology Journal reveals a study where older adults who took 4 months of piano lessons and daily practice experienced a decrease in depression symptoms, induced greater positive moods, greater cognitive ability, improved executive capacity, improved divided attention skills, and many other benefits.42

In general, antidepressant withdrawal might take weeks to months to accomplish and is best done with supporting therapeutics, strategic lifestyle interventions, adequate rest and nutrition, getting rid of a toxic body burden, and very gradual reductions to ease the process.


Treating Root Causes — An Investigative Approach to Depression Treatment

Antidepressant withdrawal can be problematic. People are often put on an antidepressant before any substantial investigative medical effort is made as to why they are depressed or unable to sleep.17 In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health as of 2013 is pulling research funding away from using the DSM diagnostic categories because “the manual doesn’t provide any data or evidence about the cause of mental illnesses, including depression.”13 Very few psychiatrists do any medical lab testing at all.14

Medical Lab TestingPhoto from Getty Images

Are depressed people really low on serotonin, and even if so, is that the only reason why? What about medical reasons like low thyroid? What about the accumulation of environmental neurotoxins such as heavy metals that destroy energy metabolism and the immune system, cause depression, mood disturbances, and impair cognitive function? These symptoms of toxic exposure are often misdiagnosed, and neurotoxin removal is virtually ignored. That is why it is such a fundamental part of the antidepressant withdrawal program at Alternative to Meds Center.15,39

Other issues can also aggravate antidepressant withdrawal. Often overlooked, food allergies can lead to internal inflammation and swelling, This may slow metabolism, resulting in a host of possible negative outcomes, including lack of energy. Slow metabolism means a sluggish energy level. A 2019 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders studying over 11,000 Japanese participants found that food allergies a risk factor for depression and severe psychological distress.16

An individual may have a diet that is so poor in nutrients that they cannot create what is needed for brain health. 18 A diet that is poor in nutrients does not include the essential raw ingredients needed for optimal brain health. We often forget that our brain is subject to the same repercussions from a poor diet that the rest of our body would suffer from. Then again, perhaps a person may just be immersed in an unfulfilling life and needs a supportive environment to make healthy changes.

Many people start taking medications after an emotionally traumatic experience and then several years later they are still taking the medication. By conservative figures, 20% of antidepressant users experience antidepressant discontinuation syndrome struggling with antidepressant withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop taking their medication.19 Many antidepressant users are bothered by side effects and may attempt to discontinue their medication without professional help. It may be confusing as to which symptoms are from withdrawal, and which may indicate a relapse, as these symptoms can overlap.1

Getting off antidepressants at home unsupported is rarely ever a pleasant experience. We have tools including natural neurotransmitter support to make the process much easier to endure. In contrast with our approaches to mental health treatment for depression, the majority of facilities will actually increase antidepressants, along with minimal counseling, and provide inadequate nutritional support, and even counterproductive diet choices.



Are Your Symptoms Related to Toxic Impairment?

Additionally, accumulations of environmental toxins over time may take an enormous toll on both physical and mental well-being.5,6,7 This toxic burden places a strain on the body’s ability to metabolize and produce energy.15 This underlying factor can complicate antidepressant withdrawal. Heavy metals are linked to a number of commonly reported symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Accumulated heavy metals can be removed from the body gently and effectively using the protocols in our program. Take a look at the below list of common adverse reactions to mercury and other toxins, commonly present in our food.

Heavy Metal TestingPhoto from Getty Images

Originally Posted On:


Top 6 reactions to toxins (like mercury, aluminum) in food, often resulting in a prescription for antidepressants:
  • Anxiety 35
  • Mood swings, i.e., irritability, impulsiveness 35,36
  • Depression 35,36,37
  • Numbness 38
  • Tremors 38
  • The risk of Alzheimer’s increased by 71% after exposure to aluminum.*

* “Aluminum and amyloid-beta are intimately woven in the neuropathology,” according to the lead investigator of a recent study on Alzheimer’s and aluminum, Christopher Exley, Ph.D., out of Keele University in Staffordshire, UK.

Why does a person experience antidepressant withdrawal symptoms?

Even if the person was not serotonin deficient in the first place, rat and humanized mice studies have shown that SSRIs can potentially create a serotonin deficiency.20,21 The SSRIs and SNRIs do not create serotonin, they block the reuptake.22 This is so the nerve cell can use it again. It is a conservative process. When serotonin is forced to stay out in the nerve space (synapse), it may cause the brain to slow down natural production. This may contribute to the symptoms seen during antidepressant withdrawal. So of course when you take away the drug, there may be a serotonin plunge even if serotonin deficiency was not the original cause of the depression.23

It is similar to how cocaine only combats depression for a short time. Cocaine spends all the dopamine, it does not create it.24 Dopamine is the reward neurochemical and when a person first takes cocaine, everything is rewarding. At some point, however, all of the dopamine is exhausted and nothing holds value or reward for the person. Serotonin is an inhibitory agent as it inhibits stimulus from our environment. It also reduces compulsive behavior and thinking 25 and creates the sleep neurohormone, melatonin.26 When a person is in antidepressant withdrawal they are likely to suffer over-stimulation, anxiety, sleeplessness, brain zaps, OCD, movement disorders, or similar types of symptoms.27,28 This may be because of an antidepressant-induced serotonin deficiency.20

The lab testing we do helps us understand the underlying causes of depression or other symptoms. With these tools, we can provide a customized diet and nutrition as well as offer individual and group counseling. Medical professionals design and oversee personalized treatment protocols for each resident based on their unique biochemistry, medical assessment, and lab test results.


At Alternative to meds Center, we use many support strategies to aid the gradual and gentle process of reduction or tapering medication, to avert these harsh reactions.

To combat symptoms during antidepressant withdrawal and discontinuation, we provide targeted nutrients that will actually assist the production of serotonin and other neurochemicals.

We also seek to help remove those poisons that would debilitate the neurochemistry from achieving balance, like pesticides,29 and chelation of heavy metals.30 We call this poison removal process neurotoxin removal.


Counseling can help a person change reactions to life events that may have led to a lingering depressed state. Combined with nutrition, cleansing, physical exercise, relaxation therapies, and other techniques, such strategies can create lasting success allowing a person to be happy and medication-free. We also offer many complementary and holistic healing services that help to make this process as comfortable as possible. Our medical professionals oversee the personalized treatment plan of each client in a luxury residence facility.

Integrated Holistic Care to get off Antidepressants

Alternative to Meds Center determines the medical reasons why a person might be depressed, anxious, or unable to sleep. Our program uses lab testing, stabilizes the neurochemistry through the use of natural substances based on orthomolecular medicine, and employs detoxification for accumulated environmental neurotoxins. Using an array of these and other services, the center provides personalized antidepressant withdrawal help. You can find out about other protocols on our services page, such as IV therapies, colon hydrotherapy, nebulized glutathione treatments, acupuncture, equine-assisted therapy, peer support, yoga, Qi Gong, massage, trainer-led exercise, counseling in various genres, life coaching, art therapy, and many other holistic therapies to combat depression, anxiety, and insomnia.2

Alternative to Meds Center does much more than alleviate antidepressant withdrawal. We search for and correct the underlying causes of depression.

TherapyPhoto from Getty Images

Antidepressant withdrawal responds extremely well to our methods, and can usually be accomplished within our 8-week program. If the medication is still somewhat effective for the individual and it is the antidepressant withdrawal process that is problematic, targeted nutritional treatment could have a significantly positive effect in many situations. If the individual is no longer responding well to the medication, it is probable that neurochemical bankruptcy and toxic impairment is occurring, which is repairable in most cases.

The methods we employ allow individuals to get off antidepressants, expedite the process of antidepressant withdrawal, and alleviate the majority of withdrawal effects. With corrective techniques targeted at the cause of depression, antidepressant discontinuation and sustained stability are not just a possibility, this outcome is a reality. Many staff members at Alternative to Meds Center have had similar experiences, where, with proper treatments, they have been able to overcome and reach a place of genuine understanding. If you or someone you care about is not receiving adequate relief from antidepressants, call Alternative to Meds Center and get the guidance you have been waiting to hear regarding antidepressant withdrawal.

Do Antidepressant Drugs Raise Serotonin?

Antidepressants are thought to “work” by affecting the chemicals in the brain, specifically serotonin levels.31 These drugs are promoted as agents that can increase serotonin levels in the brain and thereby raise a depressed mood. This implies that a depressed person was deficient in serotonin.

It is important to understand that even if a person was not deficient in serotonin in the first place, SSRI medication may create a deficiency in serotonin as demonstrated in rat and mice studies, including genetic variances.20,21 This feature is likely what makes antidepressant withdrawal produce discontinuation symptoms. Serotonin is a chemical that dampens or inhibits stimulus that comes in from our environment, producing a sensation of relaxation and calmness.32 Neurotransmitters, like hormones, affect behavior, and our response to the environment.3

Antidepressants, whether SSRIs, SNRIs, or other medications, do not produce additional serotonin. These drugs act by blocking available serotonin from being reabsorbed (as is meant to happen). These serotonin molecules stay trapped outside the nerve synapse, where they will eventually degrade. This serotonin plunge may be a large part of the symptomatology of antidepressant withdrawal.


This temporary entrapment or accumulation can create an augmentation in mood, similar to the way cocaine uses dopamine to produce a temporary high. But the body’s neuroadaptive process often adjusts to the presence of the antidepressant over time, which can down-regulate the initial effects.33

It is important to note, that in the presence of analogs (fake chemicals) the body slows the production of its own natural chemicals, alters the receptors, or both.34 Drugs affect the CNS In other compensatory ways as well. Antidepressants interfere with the intricate networks along which neurotransmitters are transmitted, increasing or decreasing the sensitivity of the receptor cells.4

Antidepressants and Overprescription

It is not uncommon for a person to suffer some trauma, loss, or other situational distress for which antidepressants are prescribed. Yet, several years later it may well be that the person is still taking the antidepressants, unable to stop taking them without severe antidepressant withdrawal effects. Perhaps the person may be experiencing an unfulfilling life, needing a more supportive environment so that healthy changes can be considered, planned, and put into actuality. These areas can be addressed effectively in various forms of therapy we provide.

When a person is struggling in the midst of such a number of negative factors, the side effects of the antidepressant drugs themselves can add another significant burden. But attempting to quit taking antidepressants without taking into account the wider range of causal factors can often lead to failure, as the antidepressant withdrawal process is simply too uncomfortable to endure. This is why trying to quit taking antidepressants without help often proves too much of a challenge, and can end in hopelessness and getting back on antidepressants.

Residential Antidepressant Withdrawal Treatment

Alternative to Meds Center provides a relaxing, luxury-styled, retreat-like facility for those who wish to accomplish the task of getting off antidepressant medications and addressing antidepressant withdrawal symptoms in a much more comfortable and humane setting. In this nurturing, caring setting, investigative work can begin that can isolate the factors that need to be brought in balance to attain better overall health. Doing so offers a sustainable, comfortable path toward medication reduction and total elimination in the vast majority of cases. Offering a customized diet, nutritional support, neurotoxin removal, individual counseling, personalized care management, and peer support make powerful tools for recovery.

The lab testing that is done helps to understand the potential underlying causes of depression and other negative symptoms that one wishes to be rid of. Using the lab results, medical professionals can design a personalized treatment plan that is based on the person’s unique medical assessment and biochemistry.

Using the protocols described above, we can help individuals to expedite the withdrawal from antidepressants without suffering the majority of the usual adverse effects associated with medication withdrawal.

Meet the Team


Antidepressant Withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center

Sedona drug rehab

Corrective techniques as described are focused on eliminating the causal factors of depression so that coming off antidepressants can be accomplished much more comfortably and usually within our 8-week-long programs.

Many of the staff members at the center have had their own personal experiences with antidepressant withdrawal, and with proper treatment, they have successfully overcome these challenges and have reached better health as a result. Our medical team and staff are well-trained in their various disciplines of therapy and can provide meaningful and thoughtful assistance to individuals who are seeking freedom from medication, as well as freedom from depression and other unwanted symptoms, without drugs.

Our goal is to help the individual create lasting and sustainable success, in a state of being medication free. Our numerous holistic healing services help make this process a reality. Contact us for more information and find out if Alternative to Meds Center has the antidepressant withdrawal program you or a loved one could benefit from today.

Data & News supplied by
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.