What withdrawal effects can Antidepressants cause?

All antidepressants can cause withdrawal effects. These are symptoms that can happen when you  reduce your dose or stop taking the drug. 

This page lists some of the possible withdrawal effects for different types of antidepressant. You  won’t necessarily get any of these symptoms, but many people do experience some of them:

SSRIs and SNRIs withdrawal effects 

Symptoms that may feel new to you 

  • dizziness or vertigo 
  • electric shock sensations in head 
  • flu-like symptoms 
  • problems with movement, such as problems with balance or walking, or involuntary  movements 
  • sensory disturbance, such as smelling something that isn’t there 
  • stomach cramps 
  • strange dreams 
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ears). 

Symptoms that may feel like your original problem 

  • anxiety 
  • crying spells 
  • depersonalisation (feeling detached from your surroundings) 
  • depression 
  • disturbed sleep
  • fatigue (feeling very weary) 
  • mania 
  • mood swings 
  • poor concentration and memory 
  • suicidal thoughts. 

Tricyclics and tricyclic-related drugs withdrawal effects 

  • anxiety 
  • fast or irregular heartbeat 
  • flu-like symptoms, such as aching muscles, chills, headaches, nausea (feeling sick) and  sweating 
  • insomnia (inability to sleep) 
  • low blood pressure 
  • problems with movement, such as problems with balance or walking, or involuntary  movements 
  • restlessness 
  • spontaneous orgasm
  • strange dreams.

MAOIs withdrawal effects 

  • agitation 
  • difficulty thinking 
  • disturbed sleep 
  • extreme sleepiness 
  • hallucinations 
  • irritability 
  • psychotic experiences, such as paranoid delusions 
  • problems with movement 
  • strange dreams 
  • unsteadiness.

“I was worried about not being able to come off them… My doctor helped me to come off them in a  controlled way, and apart from one dip just after I stopped taking them, I’ve been pretty OK since.” 

Can switching antidepressants help with withdrawal? 

If you’ve been taking a drug with a short half-life, you may experience problems with withdrawal  symptoms. In this case, it might be possible for you to switch to a similar drug, but with a longer half life. You may find this drug easier to come off. For example, this may be switching from an SSRI with  a short half-life to another SSRI with a longer half-life. 

“[When] I thought I should try to manage without the antidepressant, I did not manage to come off  them, which I was incredibly harsh on myself about… I was then on [an antidepressant] until I had  been well for a number of years, and then, with the help of my GP, I reduced and stopped the  medication.” 

More information about withdrawal effects 

You can speak to your doctor or pharmacist with any questions  or concerns you have about the withdrawal effects of antidepressants. 

Our pages on coming off psychiatric medication have more information about withdrawing from  your medication. This includes help with making the decision whether to come off, and how to come  off your medication safely. If you decide to come off your medication, our page on alternatives to  antidepressants has ideas on managing your mental health without medication. 

Remember: whether to continue or stop taking medication is your decision, and you have the  right to change your mind.


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