Can You Go Back on Antidepressants After Stopping?

Katelyn Hagerty

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Updated 01/26/2023

Antidepressants are medications used to treat depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health issues.

Several types of antidepressants are widely prescribed, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and SSRI alternatives, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants. 

If you’ve been treated for depression or a similar disorder, you may have used antidepressants — either on their own or in combination with treatment options like psychotherapy — to help you make progress toward recovery.

Sometimes, depression can come back. This leads some people to think about going back on their old medications to help deal with the symptoms.

Can you go back on antidepressants after stopping? Simply put, yes. And in many cases, going back on your medication under the supervision of your healthcare provider is the most effective way to manage the symptoms and make progress toward recovering again. 

Ahead, we’ll explain how and why depression can make an unwanted comeback in your life, as well as how going back on antidepressants after stopping is both common and normal.

We’ll also discuss what you should be aware of if you start using antidepressants again after a period without medication. 

Antidepressants are prescription medications generally used to treat depression. They work by changing the levels of certain naturally occurring chemicals throughout the brain and body, including some involved in regulating your moods, stress levels and behaviors.

Experts believe that by changing levels of these chemicals, antidepressants can help reduce the severity of depressive symptoms and make recovery easier.

There are numerous types of antidepressant medications, with some better for certain types of depression or individuals than others. 

Common types of antidepressant drugs include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

  • Atypical antidepressants

Our guide to depression medications goes into more detail about the specific medications used to treat depression, as well as how they work. 

As the name suggests, antidepressants are mostly used to treat major depression and similar depressive disorders. However, they’re also prescribed to treat other conditions, including:

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Chronic pain syndromes

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

  • Sleep issues, such as insomnia

If you have a mental illness, your healthcare provider may recommend using an antidepressant on its own, in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or while you make certain changes to your habits and lifestyle.

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Antidepressants work, but their effects aren’t immediate. If you’re prescribed an antidepressant to treat depression, anxiety symptoms or a related issue, you might need to take your medication for several weeks before you feel any improvements. 

Your healthcare provider may advise you to continue taking your antidepressant even after you start to feel better.

As your depression symptoms begin to fade and you make progress toward recovery, you might feel like it’s OK to stop taking your antidepressant. This is something you should discuss with your healthcare provider, as it’s important to gradually taper drugs like antidepressants to avoid antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.

It’s far from uncommon to experience depression symptoms again after you stop antidepressant treatment. In fact, research suggests at least half of all people who recover from depression experience one or more depressive episodes later in life. 

Among those who experience two or more depressive episodes, the rate of recurrence is even higher, with 80 percent having another recurrence of clinical depression.

In other words, it’s very normal for depression symptoms to make a comeback, even after you stop taking your normal antidepressant dose or participating in therapy. 

When you start to experience the symptoms of depression again, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If they think you’re at risk of relapse, they may suggest going back on antidepressants.

Going back on antidepressants isn’t just OK — it’s often the best thing you can do, especially if you had a positive experience while using antidepressants in the past. 

It’s common, normal and often recommended to use antidepressants for several months at a time, particularly if you have episodes of depression that come back.

When you’re prescribed an antidepressant for use after your depression symptoms improve, it’s referred to as continuation therapy or maintenance therapy. The goal of this type of treatment is to prevent you from experiencing another relapse of depression in the future.

Many people continue using antidepressants for months, even after their physical and emotional symptoms of depression improve. In fact, research shows that taking antidepressants for up to a year as part of continuation therapy can help to prevent depression from coming back again.

In other words, it’s absolutely fine to go back on antidepressants if you start to notice symptoms of depression again, especially if you have severe symptoms that have a negative effect on your quality of life and general well-being.

It’s also OK to continue antidepressant therapy after your depression symptoms improve, even when you feel like you’re physically and emotionally “normal” again.

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For some people, depression is a one-off mood disorder that goes away in the long run with a mix of antidepressants and therapy. For others, chronic depression is an ongoing issue that can appear, disappear and appear again, often at the worst possible times in life.

If you’ve successfully treated depression before with antidepressants but notice your symptoms coming back after stopping your medication, it’s important to get help.

You can do this by talking to your healthcare provider or using our online psychiatry service to connect with a provider online. 

If appropriate, you may be prescribed antidepressants again to help you control your symptoms and manage your depression for the long term.

We also offer a range of other mental health services, including online therapy and anonymous support groups, allowing you to access multiple types of help for depression and other mental health conditions.

Going back on antidepressants is fine, and it doesn’t mean you’ve “failed” to properly deal with depression. In fact, the reality is the opposite — with long-term treatment, you’ll gain more control over your symptoms and be better equipped to achieve remission.

Interested in learning more about depression? We’re here to help.

Our guide to the major signs of depression in women explains what to look out for, while our guide to dealing with depression goes into more detail about medication, therapy and other evidence-based treatments. Explore your options today.

5 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Antidepressants. (2022, January 26). Retrieved from
  2. Sheffler, Z.M., Patel, P. & Abdijadid, S. (2022, November 24). Antidepressants. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  3. Depression. (2022, September). Retrieved from
  4. Burcusa, S.L. & Iacono, W.G. (2007, December). Risk for Recurrence in Depression. Clinical Psychology Review. 27 (8), 959-985. Retrieved from
  5. Paykel, E.S. (2001, March). Continuation and maintenance therapy in depression. British Medical Bulletin. 57 (1), 145-159. Retrieved from

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.

She received her undergraduate degree in nursing from the University of Delaware and her master's degree from Thomas Jefferson University. You can find Katelyn on Doximity for more information.

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