Explains what antipsychotics are used for, how the medication works, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.
Some doctors may suggest that you keep taking antipsychotics for some time. This is usually to reduce the risk of your symptoms coming back. You might feel that this is the right choice for you.
But there may also be reasons that you want to stop taking antipsychotics. For example, you may be experiencing unpleasant side effects. Or you may want to try other ways of coping with your mental health.
This page covers:
See our page on alternatives to antipsychotics for ideas on managing your symptoms without medication. Or see our pages on coming off medication for information about making the decision to come off, withdrawal symptoms and finding support.
"I feel so much better being off – less drugged up and more alive."
Some people may be able to stop taking antipsychotics without problems, but others can find it very difficult. If you have been taking them for some time, it can be more difficult to come off them. This is especially if you have been taking them for one year or longer.
If you are considering stopping taking antipsychotics, it is worth thinking about the following:
Unfortunately, your doctor or psychiatrist may not support your decision to come off antipsychotics. This may mean they don't offer as much help as you would like. Our page on support for coming off psychiatric drugs has information about other ways to find support.
Kat from Mind's information team gives five tips for when you want to come off your medication.
"I took myself off and found I could feel emotions again, which was scary, but worth it."
There's no perfect time to try coming off antipsychotics. Everyone is different, and there are many factors that might affect your experience of coming off.
If you are considering when to stop your medication, it might help to think about the following:
Whenever you decide to try coming off, it is best to withdraw slowly and safely. It might take a long time, or you might find that you become comfortable on a lower dose and decide not to come off completely. The main thing is that you find a way to manage your symptoms that works for you.
"I came off them too fast and I wasn't physically or mentally ready for that. [I think] it's really important to make sure you come off them really slowly and under the watchful eye of a professional."
Medication can help to stabilise your symptoms, so it's possible that your psychotic symptoms may return if you stop taking it. But it's not certain that this will happen. There are several factors that can affect whether you will become ill again. For example:
Some psychiatrists believe that people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who take antipsychotics for several years are less likely to relapse than those who don’t take antipsychotics. But not all psychiatrists agree with this view. And a lot people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia also don’t find this to be true.
"Trying to come off was exhausting – my mood swings came back with a vengeance. Felt like I'd totally lost it again."
The main withdrawal symptoms associated with antipsychotics are:
Unfortunately there is no evidence on how common these withdrawal symptoms are, so there's no way to know how likely you are to get any of them.
"I was on a very small dose so I found it easy to stop – no side effects. My energy levels are back, but I have noticed I'm not sleeping as much and I'm a bit edgy, so I'm monitoring myself closely using a sleep and mood journal."
This information was published in September 2020. We will revise it in 2023.
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