This section presents research and personal experiences relating to the use of and withdrawal from antidepressant drugs. You can use this page to:

  • Learn about research on antidepressants and withdrawal effects.
  • Read blogs and listen to podcasts related to withdrawal from antidepressants.
  • Access other resources related to withdrawal from antidepressants.

Click here to select another drug type.


Frequently Asked Questions

What causes withdrawal symptoms? The exact mechanism is unknown, but a proposed theory is that, over time, the body adapts to the presence of the drug by altering the number or sensitivity of neurotransmitter receptors. When the drug is reduced or stopped, these adaptations are uncompensated for by the drug and the result is withdrawal symptoms. This adaptation is known as oppositional tolerance and is proposed as the reason that withdrawal can persist long after the drug is ‘out of the body’. Click here to read a more detailed account of how psychotropic drugs act on the brain.

Are antidepressants addictive? Doctors will sometimes reject any suggestion that psychiatric drugs can be addictive. As far as the technical distinction between dependence and addiction is concerned, this is correct. However, it would be misleading if the assertion that psychiatric drugs ‘are not addictive’ was used to imply either that the drugs are without risk, or that they cannot lead to dependence. For some people, dependence can be a result of using antidepressant drugs exactly as prescribed.

How many people will suffer withdrawal effects when coming off antidepressants? There have been only a small number of research projects looking at the number of people reporting withdrawal when coming off antidepressants. In a recent UK survey undertaken by Professor John Read and Doctor James Davies, 56% of people experienced withdrawal effects, with 46% of those describing the effects as severe. Many factors influence the likelihood of withdrawal including the length of time on the drugs, the dosage taken, the age of the person taking them and whether other prescribed or street drugs are also involved. A wide range of experiences are reported between those who can come off relatively easily with mild, short-lived symptoms, to those who experience protracted withdrawal lasting many months or sometimes years.

What are recommended tapering speeds? The time taken to taper from psychiatric drugs is highly variable and dependent upon many factors and personal preference. Professional groups often recommend very short tapers, in the range of four to six weeks, but feedback from those with lived experience is that longer, more gradual tapers are preferable when aiming to minimise withdrawal effects. Recent research is providing evidence that tapering will often need to be months to years rather than days to weeks. You can read more in our withdrawal protocols document.

Research Findings

  • A review of the evidence for antidepressants in short-term use, their adverse effects, and their impact on long-term outcomes.
  • Reviews of the scientific literature on antidepressant withdrawal including discontinuation syndrome.
  • An examination of the available guidance on antidepressant withdrawal from both professional and lived experience perspectives.

Recording Adverse Effects

Göran Högberg has developed a useful checklist for suspected side effects of psychiatric drugs. Open a PDF copy or download in Microsoft Word format.


Blogs and Personal Stories

quitting antidepressantsLingering Side Effects of Quitting Antidepressants by Jane Tholen

After quitting antidepressants four years ago, I finally have my life back after enduring their debilitating side effects for thirty years. It’s a whole new world: I wake up feeling bright and rested and take pleasure in everyday tasks — I’m functioning again.

Nobody told me what it would be like when I first stopped taking them. My psychiatrist cut me off because she wasn’t prescribing anymore, and I couldn’t find a primary care physician who knew anything about what I was going through. I quickly learned that I was on my own.

How to Avoid Severe SSRI Withdrawal Symptoms? by Stuart Shipko

As more and more people are on SSRIs for longer and longer periods of time, there are increasing numbers of people withdrawing from SSRIs who have taken them for 10–20 years of cumulative exposure. Some are stopping because they lost their insurance benefits. Some have felt well for years and assume that they are cured. Some retirees looking to cut down on expenses think that this is a good place to start.

Particularly after long-term use, the resulting akathisia can be severe and disabling. It is excruciating, and patients are so visibly anguished. Sometimes reinstatement or trying other medications helps a lot, and sometimes any medication seems to make things incrementally worse.

Two Years Tapering an Antidepressant – A Life-Changing Experience That I Didn’t Want by James Moore

I started my antidepressant taper on May 12, 2017. Just over two years later I have managed through grim determination to get down to 25% of my starting dose. The last 755 days represent an almost constant battle with a range of physical and psychological challenges. I wake in the morning feeling utterly exhausted and so fatigued that I can’t think straight, and the day generally goes downhill from that point.


Holly Higgins: Becoming a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

Holly shares her experiences of the psychiatric system and psychiatric drugs, how she approached withdrawal from the drugs and talks about how she became a nutritional therapy practitioner.

Antidepressant tapering rollPeter Groot: Tapering Strips and Shared Decision-Making

In a recent study, published in the journal Psychosis, Dr. Groot, together with Jim van Os, reported on the results of their trial which recorded the experiences of people using Tapering Strips to withdraw from antidepressant drugs.

Wendy Dolin – Making Akathisia a Household Word Wendy Dolin is founder of the MISSD foundation. MISSD stands for Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin.


Antidepressant Withdrawal Resources

General Resources

Rxisk – maintains a searchable database of adverse effects of prescription drugs that have been reported to the FDA in the United States, Health Canada, and to RxISK.

Surviving Antidepressants – Volunteer-led peer-support for tapering off psychiatric drugs and for withdrawal syndrome and tips about coping with symptoms.

Inner Compass Initiative – provides information, resources, tools, and connecting platforms ​to facilitate more informed choices regarding all things “mental health”.

Will Hall’s Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs. Tapering Strips – an innovative option for gradual reduction of prescribed psychiatric drugs.


Facebook Groups

Paroxetine Paxil Seroxat SSRI Withdrawal – formed to help and support those in need of help coming off of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) known by the name of PAXIL, SEROXAT or generically as PAROXETINE.

Mirtazapine (Remeron) – Withdrawal + Support Group – created as an extra form of support (other than that of your own personal medical health care team) to help make you feel better whilst on your experience with Mirtazapine (also known as Remeron).

Sertraline, side-effects and withdrawal symptoms – Following some very distressing personal experiences we have decided to form this group so that people who are prescribed this medication can discuss how it has affected them both on and withdrawing from this drug.