When is it time to stop treatment for depression?
After a positive diagnosis of depression, a person is usually given three options for treatment: psychotherapy, medication, and at times a combination of both. When either of these options is exercised appropriately, under the care of a competent psychologist or psychiatrist, there may come a time when the patient may ask herself "Is it time to stop treatment?"
How do I know if I'm ready?
Firstly, you have to ensure that your depression really has improved. If your eating or sleeping was disturbed because of your depression, make sure that you have improved substantially in both those areas. Have you returned to a normal diet without under eating or overeating? Are you sleeping enough, and not suffering from insomnia or over sleeping? Have your moods been generally upbeat? How are your relationships with family and friends? If everything is looking up, and things in life are progressing positively, it may be time to discuss a plan of moving forward with your therapist.
How do I stop taking medication?
Any cessation of mood altering medications should be done under the care of a competent healthcare professional. Ceasing to take medications abruptly can cause the development of Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome, which is characterized by symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headache, lethargy and depression. This syndrome occurs most commonly when the person stops taking the drugs Paxil and Zoloft too quickly, but it can happen with any antidepressant. Your doctor will probably wean you off of your medication by lowering the dosage gradually, over a period of a few weeks or months. Even if you're feeling better, and don't feel the effects of depression, it is important that you listen to your doctor's guidance regarding the dosage of your medication.
When should I stop therapy?
Just as it is unwise to stop medication abruptly, it is also unwise to stop therapy abruptly. Therapy should be utilized as a tool to help you achieve a specific goal, and it should not drag on endlessly. Your therapist is there to help you recognize your goals of ridding yourself of depression, or the elements in your life that contribute to your depression. Once you have accomplished these goals and feel confident with the direction in which your life is headed, it is time to wean yourself off therapy in a gradual manner. Speak openly with your therapist to determine if the time has come to end your therapy process.