As with anything health related, I think it’s important I preface this with a big, fat disclaimer. I’m not a doctor, and any advice given in this article should never trump an actual medical professional’s advice. They know what they’re doing; I am simply providing you with information from my personal experiences and research.
Prescription drugs are something many of us are familiar with. Be it antibiotics or antidepressants, chances are you’ve taken a prescription before. When taking antibiotics specifically, it’s important to finish your prescription, which is something that is always stressed by doctors. Otherwise, you risk the infection returning or the bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotics. When bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, they create strains called “superbugs” that cannot be fought with the typical antibiotic prescription. Naturally, this makes it incredibly important to finish your prescription.
What I don’t think is talked about enough is how you really shouldn’t be quitting other prescription medications. Maybe you’ve been on antidepressants for a while, and you don’t feel as depressed. You shouldn’t stop taking them because of that. Not having the same symptoms is proof that the medication is working and doing its job. If you decide to quit your prescription because you simply don’t need it, you run the risk of symptoms returning, which defeats the whole purpose. Without doctor permission and supervision, quitting your prescription because you don’t think you need it anymore can cause health complications. It’s like if you were washing your face with a specific soap to prevent acne. If you continue using that soap, chances are you’ll continue to prevent acne. If at some point you decide to stop using the soap because you no longer have acne, the chances your acne will come back once you quit are higher.
There are, however, instances where you should be quitting your medication immediately. These are typically outlined by your doctor and have to do with side effects. With most medications there are side effects and depending on the severity, your doctor may tell you to stop taking them if you experience them. In this case, quitting your medication cold turkey is fine because you’ve already been told that is what you should do.
Another thing to consider is withdrawal. Some prescriptions are strong enough to cause withdrawal syndrome if you don’t stop taking them properly. In these scenarios, you’re typically supposed to lower your dosage in increments over a period of time to prevent withdrawal symptoms. In fact, with many medications, you want to slowly ween off them when you’ve decided to stop taking them.
Ultimately, you want to follow a medical professional’s advice when it comes to quitting a prescription. Sometimes, just finishing the prescription is enough, but other times it’s important to slowly decrease the amount you’re taking until you can stop taking them altogether.