How2Quit : Antidepressants

Use the following guidelines alongside our How to Quit Action Plan in Part 4 of the How to Quit book.

Please note all page and chapter references in this article are from How to Quit.

Much of what we recommend in our How to Quit Action Plan in the How to Quit book you can do for yourself or with the guidance and support of a nutritional therapist. However, the process of weaning yourself off antidepressants is something you must do with the support and guidance of your doctor. Ask your doctor to wean you off gradually.

  1. A week before you begin reducing your antidepressant, start taking the Basic Supplements.
  2. Increase your intake of essential fats, both by eating oily fish three times a week and supplementing 1,000mg of omega-3 fish oil twice a day as recommended in the Mood Prescription (see p. 416). For some people, fish oil can be miraculous.
  3. Supplement tryptophan or 5-HTP, (included in the Mood Prescription(see p. 416). However, we recommend that 5-HTP not be taken in significant amounts, above 50mg, if you are on an antidepressant. 5-HTP helps the body make serotonin whereas SSRI antidepressants stop it being broken down. If your doctor is willing to wean you off antidepressants, it helps if you are weaned onto 5-HTP at the same time, gradually building the daily amount up to a maximum of 300mg, but no more than 100mg before you are completely off the antidepressant. In our experience, this minimises and shortens the withdrawal effects that many people experience when coming off antidepressants. Alternatively, don’t take any 5-HTP until you have stopped the antidepressant drug completely. Then take 200mg a day. Two of the hardest to come off are the SSRI, Seroxat, and the new SNRI drug, Efexor. The withdrawal symptoms are longer lasting and the drugs are best tapered off gradually over at least three months. Other antidepressants, such as Zoloft and Prozac, can be tapered off over a week or two.
  4. Supplement with B vitamins, including vitamin B6 50mg daily with meals. There are several medical conditions associated with depression where B6 plays a pivotal role. Supplement with folic acid 800mcg per day. Thirty-eight per cent of depressed patients have low blood levels of folate. These B vitamins are also included in the Mood Prescription(see p. 416).
  5. Make sure you are on a low-GL diet by following our How to Quit Diet strictly.
  6. The mineral chromium (included in the Mood Prescription(see p. 416), taken at a level of 400mcg a day (200mcg twice a day) helps relieve depression in those with carb cravings who are suffering with excessive sleepiness and grogginess at the same time.
  7. Faulty methylation (the process that makes the brain’s neurotransmitters from amino acids) is very strongly linked with depression. Do check your blood homocysteine level, which can be done using a home test kit and if it is raised above 9 units, supplement the recommended level of B vitamins, along with the amino acid TMG, in Chapter 9. Also, eat more greens, beans, nuts and seeds, as these are rich sources of folate.
  8. If you are also low in motivation and energy, additional tyrosine and/or L-phenylalanine can give you a boost. All of these nutrients are in the Mood Prescription(see p. 416).
  9. Exercise is a proven...
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