Explains what antipsychotics are used for, how the medication works, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.
Some doctors may suggest that once you’re on these drugs, you need to stay on them for some time – or indefinitely. Many people do remain on them for a long time, and you might feel that this is the right choice for you. However, if you have been taking antipsychotics for some time and have been well, you may want to stop and see if you can cope successfully in other ways.
"I feel so much better being off – less drugged up and more alive."
If you have been taking antipsychotics for some time (a year or more), it can be quite difficult to come off them. Some people may be able to stop without problems but others can have great difficulty. As a rule:
"I took myself off and found I could feel emotions again, which was scary, but worth it."
There's no universal 'best time' to try coming off antipsychotics – everyone's different, and there are all sorts of different factors that might affect your chance of success. But when considering when would be best for you, it might be helpful to think about the following:
"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. There are many other factors that can influence your chance of becoming ill again besides taking medication. For example:
Some psychiatrists believe that people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who remain on antipsychotics for a number of years have fewer relapses than those who are not on antipsychotics. However, not all psychiatrists agree with this – and a lot people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia don't find it to be true for them personally.
"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's 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.
For information on withdrawal symptoms of a particular drug, you can look it up in our antipsychotics A-Z.
"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."
Kat from Mind's information team gives five tips for when you want to come off your medication.
This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
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