Explains why you might decide to come off psychiatric medication, how to do this safely and where you can go for support. Also includes tips for friends and family wanting to support someone who is coming off medication.
Medication helps some people, but it isn't always right for others. If you don't find your medication helpful, you may wish to stop taking it. Or you may find it helps your mental health, but wish to stop for other reasons. For example:
Depending on your circumstances you may pay for your own prescriptions or you may get them for free. If you are thinking of coming off a medication because you can't afford it, there might be help available. See our page on money and mental health for more information.
The decision to come off medication is a personal one based on what feels right for you in your particular circumstances.
After weighing up the advantages and disadvantages, you might feel that now is a good time to start coming off your medication. Or that you want to come off it in future but it's not the right time just now.
Alternatively you might decide that your goal is to reduce your medication to a dosage that feels better for you rather than stopping completely, or that the medication is helping and you want to keep taking it.
It's about deciding what's best for you at the moment, and remembering that what helps may change over time.
"My current doctor is great, and has always said that it is up to me if I take the medication or not, which makes me feel a lot better about it as I feel more in control."
Before starting to come off your medication it's important to get medical advice and make a plan. For example:
It's important to get support before you start coming off. For example from your doctor, your mental health team or people with experience of coming off similar drugs. For more information see our pages on support services and useful contacts.
To come off your medication safely with less risk of relapse it is important to taper (slowly reduce) your dose. See our page on planning for withdrawal for more information, including useful tips on how to taper.
Whether to continue or stop taking medication is usually your decision. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the organisation that writes the guidelines on best practice in health care, say that:
If you've agreed to take medication in the past you also have the right to change your mind. See our pages on your right to refuse medication and being actively involved in your treatment for more information.
"For me, coming off medication really benefited me. I felt like I was more in control of my emotions, as I was better able to identify what my ‘triggers’ were. On medication it was a lot harder to realise what made me feel worse, and what helped."
This information was published in April 2021. We will revise it in 2024.
References and bibliography available on request.
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