If we start taking medication for my mental health, does that mean we have to take it forever?
I understand it can be intimidating to start a mental health medication, especially if you’re worried about being dependent on it for the rest of your life. But, in many cases, medication isn’t actually needed forever. It depends on a lot of factors, but the most important ones are the condition you’re experiencing and the frequency and severity of its episodes.
Some mental health conditions are episodic (meaning your symptoms seem to come and go in distinct episodes rather than all the time) and we use medication to treat the symptoms. Once your symptoms have improved and remained under control for a while, your provider might suggest tapering you off the meds.
Just remember that episodes can pop back up and may require treatment again, so if your symptoms come back or get worse after you stop medication, we may recommend starting it up again or staying on it for the foreseeable future.
Other mental health conditions are chronic and require lifelong treatment. In these cases, medications are used for maintenance—to keep your symptoms stable and avoid a crisis or another episode.