Thumbnail for I got myself off antidepressants the natural way—and I’m never looking back


Photo: Stocksy/Gary Parker

It was a few months ago when I was taking my antidepressant—just as I did every night for the past five years—and realized I didn’t really want to be on it anymore.The shrink who’d prescribed it to me had never said I’d need to take it forever (though no one had said I wouldn’t). But that night, surveying my new thinking about all of this in the moment I swallowed it down, I wondered: had it become a habit, or even a crutch in my life, rather than a necessity for a serious depression? (Answer: In my case, probably.) So how would I safely get off it?

This is my brain on drugs

I think I should say that while some people might need a mood-regulator or a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) for super-solid chemical reasons, I think I needed an antidepressant for environmental ones. One reason? My situation has become entirely different than it was when I was first prescribed Lexapro, a common SSRI variant. And it’s made a big difference. Boxes have been checked, and I’m essentially where I want to be—I have a great job, a great boyfriend, great friends. My mood matches my pretty decent reality. And my reality, even when sucky things happen now, doesn’t totally steamroll my mood (or total sense of self).

I was curious: could my pretty healthy exercise and eating habits (along with my sporadic attempts at meditation) provide enough mood-boosting wind in my sails?

That’s not to say I’m not still depressed, of course. High-functioning depression is a very real thing, after all. I just feel like I’m in a better place, and more capable of not having to rely on pills to be truly happy. And more importantly, I wanted to test if this was true.

Intellectually, I’d gotten some confidence for going off the Lexapro from things I was learning on the wellness beat at work. My theory: I probably produce a really steady stream of happiness-boosting endorphins, since I’d become an avid attendee of HIIT workouts, and I also avoid enough inflammatory foods to naturally level me out—so why not reduce the number of chemicals I’m ingesting?

And after learning more about the connection between the gut and depression, I was curious as to whether my pretty healthy exercise and eating habits (along with my sporadic attempts at meditation) could provide enough mood-boosting wind in my sails.

So I set out to stop using the medication that had leveled me out for years—which honestly felt like going into battle without any armor.

depressionPIN IT
Photo: Stocksy/Brent Hill

The problem with discontinuing antidepressants

But you can’t just stop taking the pills. I’ve had occasions in which I had missed a couple of doses, and felt significant changes in my brain chemistry (some Googling produced the term “brain zaps,” which quite accurately described the weird and uncomfortable sensation you can feel after skipped doses).

So I had no illusions that the process of getting off antidepressants is complex, and not something that should be done without a doctor’s supervision. I went to see Meredith Bergman, M.D., a holistic psychiatrist, to see what I should do.

Dr. Bergman is really approachable and communicative for a shrink; not at all like the MD who gave me Lexapro, four minutes of his time, and a good-luck pat on the back. But she didn’t sugar coat this info: “Drug companies do not conduct research into how to taper off these medications, leading some physicians unprepared and without specific protocols for doing so,” she told me in her cozy New York City office. “This can lead to

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/getting-off-antidepressants-the-natural-way/slide/3/

How journal writing helped me get out of depression by Healthy Living Writer: Brent Williams

Writer: Brent Williams

I lay in bed after yet another long troubled night’s sleep—utterly exhausted, lacking all motivation. A few feet away sat a school notebook. It felt unreachable, but somehow a small spark in my brain thought it was worth trying. I reached out, picked up my pen, and started to write. I wrote how I had no energy to think, let alone express my thoughts in words.

I wrote how heavy and stuck my body felt that morning. Metaphors and descriptions followed, giving some shape to this amorphous life-draining force.

And somehow it helped. Just enough for me to distinguish between what depression wanted me to do—the urge to head back to bed was so strong—and what I needed to do to help myself that day. I got up, made myself some breakfast, and went out and sat in the sun to eat. A seagull glided effortlessly overhead. I smiled. The day was possible.

What writing did for me
• It got me out of bed in the morning, which was so important for getting me into a good wake/sleep cycle.
• I went places to write, so I felt less trapped and isolated.
• I expressed my emotions, my most private thoughts, and internal conflicts.
• I described my pain and in doing so freed myself from it a little.
• It brought depression, its characteristics, and influences into the open so I could see and work to address them.
• It gave me companionship.
• I felt a sense of purpose and achievement.
• It encouraged me to look after myself and recognize when I was not doing so.
• I identified important needs, such as the need to see a doctor and a therapist.
• It enabled me to see and express my destructive thoughts rather than act on them.
• I got practical feedback on what was working and what was not.
• It gave me a small but valuable sense of control over an illness that made me feel so powerless.

Your brain when you suffer from anxiety and depression
The brain is made up of billions of cells and connecting pathways constantly communicating with each other in a complex, finely tuned way to regulate your body and all of its functions. When going well, it is miraculous. In depression, however, the communication goes seriously awry. Your senses, thoughts, actions, and emotions are all compromised. So much so that for many, overriding the basic human need to survive becomes a very sensible option.

It’s like depression has slowly and by stealth hijacked your brain. The pathways it creates become strong, pulling more and more better functioning parts of your brain down with it. In small but important ways the simple act of expressing yourself with words enlists parts of your brain that begin to reverse this downward spiral.

Why you got depressed, how it manifests, and what is the best way to get out of it is, in part, unique to you. Observing your own particular influences through journal writing develops awareness, and this not only helps your recovery now, it better protects you against future relapses.

Expressing your thoughts and emotions, gaining little insights from your writing, feeling a sense of achievement, establishing good routines; these all change your brain chemistry in small but critical ways for the better. As you build on these, you slowly strengthen your recovery and help yourself out of depression.

Tips for writing while depressed
• Write freely, knowing it is for you only.
• If you feel too stuck to write, just write how “stuck” feels.
• Any effort is good—there is no standard.
• Be honest, but be kind to yourself, too. Don’t beat yourself up; depression is doing a good job of that.
• Write about your little successes.
• Write when you wake up

READ MORE HERE:  https://www.lakehealthyliving.com/how-journal-writing-helped-me-get-out-of-depression/