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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is it common to relapse when coming off of anti-depressants?

    I had worked myself down in my anti depressant doses but then I hit the wall and relapsed.

    Is this common?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Alison Tennant

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I have worked as a Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist since 1986, arriving in Australia from South Africa in 2008. I have worked with a wide … View Profile

    Yes, this is common. Sometimes patient's depression is worse after the cessation of an SSRI, especially if it has been taken for a long time. The latest neuropsychological research is suggesting that there are irreversible structural changes to the neurons in the brain with long term use of SSRI's. You need to come off them very gradually and under your doctor's supervision but I would also suggest that you get psychotherapy while you try to do this as you will need that support and therapy can teach you strategies to manage your depression without medication. The latest research supports the view that getting therapy or counselling while you are on the antidepressant leads to the best treatment outcome. I strongly suggest you get some psychotherapy while try to get through this phase. Your GP can refer you to a psychologist on a Mental health care Plan which allows you to claim a rebate from Medicare for the first 10 sessions. Psychotherapy is not a quick fix however and depending on your circumstances, you should be prepared to see someone for longer than that. I hope your journey into mental health and wellbeing goes well.

  • 1


    I am a registered psychologist with many years of counselling experience in the field of relationships and fertility issues. In particular my focus is on … View Profile

    Hi there
    Certainly there is a risk of relapse but this depends on other factors. It is important to slowly come off antidepressants so it should be under medical advice. Also important to attend psychotherapy or CBT to learn strategies and behaviours that can alleviate depression. Explore other things in your lifestyle that help with depression like exercise, breathing relaxation techniques as well as meditation. Then with the help of a psychotherapist discuss what other major stressors you have or might have and how you cope with these. If you do relapse at least you will know how to get help and how to start the tablets again if necessary. Some people do mange to come off antidepressants it just depends on the biology of your brain. Like some people need insulin for diabetes, some people might need antidepressants to maintain their level of neurotransmitters necessary for a fulfilling life. Best advice is to consult your GP or psychiatrist before coming off any medication
    All the best

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