A few years ago, I found myself temporarily without health insurance. I’d been on an anti-depressant for awhile and I felt really good. I was productive and I no longer felt depressed or anxious. So, as my medication ran out, I figured I didn’t need it anymore, and since I didn’t have insurance, it would be one less thing I’d have to worry about paying for once I stopped taking it.
That was a mistake I’ll never make again. About a month after my prescription had fully run out, all of my symptoms were back and worse than ever. I could barely get out of bed in the mornings, and I felt like crying all the time. I was ready to tough it out and wait for my body’s hormones to readjust, but by then, I had a new health insurance and a loved one pointed out that quitting an anti-depressant “cold turkey” had probably made my depression worse.
As difficult of a lesson as this was to learn, it turns out I’m not alone. Many people on medication for mental health issues will quit their meds for a variety of reasons, ranging from cost to weight gain and other side effects, to – like me – thinking they must be cured because their symptoms have improved. Schizophrenic patients in particular are at risk of quitting their meds because the side effects can be unpleasant.
“People with schizophrenia may also find it difficult to continue taking their medications due to financial or living problems; some people with schizophrenia are homeless due to the severity of their illness, or otherwise lack medical care,” Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD told sharecare.com. “Some people with schizophrenia begin feeling better and conclude that they no longer need to take their medication, but then become much more likely to have their symptoms reoccur. Community programs and resources may provide assistance to people who lack the funds or support to continue taking their medication.”
If you are struggling to pay for your medication or dealing with another issue that has you considering quitting your meds, the best thing you can do for yourself is talk with your doctor. He or she will be able to provide the best guidance for your body and individual needs.