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Depression

Trying to wean off anti-depressants

11/30/2009

Question:

Hello, I have been on antidepressants (Wellbutrin and Celexa) for many years. I have since quit drinking all alcohol for more than 2 years. I do believe much of my depression was from my heavy drinking. How can I slowly wean off my meds. to see if my depression is finally at bay without meds.?

Answer:

Your risk for a recurrence off medications should be lower without alcohol, so that's a helpful step. Whether you should stop your medications altogether depends on what other risk factors may contribute to a recurrence, such as:
 
a) other medical illnesses,
b) other psychiatric illnesses,
c) the number of previous episodes of major depression,
d) your family history of depression, 
e) current stressors.

If you do decide to taper meds, do it gradually, one med at a time, with regular monitoring by your prescribing physician of depression symptoms during the taper and for 6 months after. Psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, can reduce the risk for recurrence. Other non-pharmacologic treatments, such as exercise and light therapy, may also reduce the risk.

For more information:

Go to the Depression health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lawson  Wulsin, MD Lawson Wulsin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Training Director of the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati