Discontinuing antidepressant medications in adults
- Michael Hirsch, MD
Michael Hirsch, MD
- Instructor in Psychiatry
- Harvard Medical School
- Robert J Birnbaum, MD, PhD
Robert J Birnbaum, MD, PhD
- Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
- Harvard Medical School
Patients who discontinue their antidepressants after a therapeutic course are at risk for discontinuation symptoms, especially if they are not starting a new antidepressant with a similar pharmacodynamic profile.
Discontinuing antidepressants without switching to another drug is discussed in this topic. Switching antidepressants is discussed separately. (See "Switching antidepressant medications in adults".)
Abruptly stopping or rapidly tapering antidepressants often causes adverse effects, especially if a new drug with overlapping pharmacodynamic activity is not started. The constellation of discontinuation effects, sometimes referred to as a "discontinuation syndrome," has been best characterized in patients who abruptly stop selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The most common discontinuation symptoms include [1-4]:
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