At Free Range, we specialize in helping patients safely stop their psychiatric medications by using a root cause/holistic approach. We have had a lot of patients tell us horror stories about their previous attempts and failures to stop their psych meds. It’s our mission to help support people during this process so that they are successful. Here are 5 tips that we have found increase the chances of success with stopping psych meds:
1) Get support. It’s critical for success to have as much support as you can get. Ideally, find a supportive doctor to help (holistic, functional and naturopathic docs tend to be the most knowledgable). Also, find friends or family who can support you. As much as possible, surround yourself with people who understand and want to help. If you’re looking for additional support, check out our virtual support group, Psych Med Warriors. (It’s open to anyone age 18 and older.)
2) Don’t listen to your doctor. We don’t enjoy saying that but the problem is that 99% of doctors do NOT have enough knowledge or experience to support you during your taper. It’s not their fault, this is simply not something they are taught. We have seen many doctors give horrible advice to patients who ended up very sick. If you do have a knowledgable doctor, then it’s okay to have their guidance. But please keep in mind that many doctors have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to tapering.
3) Start healing before you taper. This is SO important. This is what we have seen make or break this process. We recommend starting at least one month before you begin tapering. Start all the things you need to holistically heal your body such as vitamins/supplements, changing your diet, stopping caffeine and alcohol, starting meditation and exercise, etc. (Check out our many free resources on holistic healing here.)
4) Go slow. This is where you probably don’t want to listen to your doctor’s advice. Most docs recommend a taper that takes a few days or weeks. You will more likely need to taper over months or years, depending upon the dose of your med, how long you’ve taken it, and whether or not you’re taking multiple meds. Keep in mind the speed will vary for each person. Our rule of thumb is to never decrease by more than 25% and to only make one reduction per month. For many people, a 10% reduction is a good amount, but keep in mind some people need to go as slow as 1%.
5) Use vitamins and natural supplements. As you taper your med, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety. Your doctor might try and recommend that you start a new drug to treat these symptoms. We recommend that you do not do this! We have seen people trying to taper one med end up on two more by doing this. Instead, only use safe, natural, non addictive vitamins and supplements to support your body during your taper.
Looking for more tips on safely stoping your psych meds? Download our free, cheat sheet, Stopping Psych Drugs.
If you are interested in getting individualized support from our holistic psychiatrist to safely stop your psych meds, you can book a free, exploratory phone call with us to see if we can help.