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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Zoloft - Abilify how long will it take for them to work?

 love2loveyou23 - Sun Feb 24, 2008 5:52 pm

Hi. I am 16 and on a generic Zoloft (100mg) and Abilify (10mg). I was just wondering, how long will it take for them to change my brain so that I won't have to take them anymore? I have been on them since the end of April 2007 for OCD, social anxiety disorder, and depression.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:38 am

User avatar Hello,
I am not the doctor you are requesting, but the truth is that these medications do not cure in the way that antibiotics do. They change the neurotransmitters in the brain so that things function normally but in most cases long-term use is needed to maintain. When you discontinue the medication it is quite likely your symptoms will return. This is similar to a diabetic needing insulin for the rest of their lives. Chances are you may need help in this way too. That's OK but don't expect to be able to be "cured" by these medications and to be able to live without them completely and be well. Some people are able to stop the medications after a time and do well, sometimes with psychotherapy and/or other alternative treatments but this should only be done under a doctor's care. Abrupt cessation of these medications can result in a rebound and serious depression.

Know that it is OK to need medications to function. There are many disorders that require long-term treatment such as thyroid disorder, diabetes, and other endocrine disorders. Something is missing in the body's chemistry that must be provided artificially. It is OK and we are glad to have alternatives to make up for what our body needs in order to be healthy.

Best wishes.
 Dr. E. Seigle - Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:51 pm

You have asked an excellent question that is often asked, and should me asked, by most people taking medications that affect your mood and thinking. The amount of time that people take the kind of medications that you are taking depends widely upon many factors, including your diagnoses, the target symptoms that the medications are for, what supports and stresses there are in your life, how you are doing, how much the medicines have helped, and other factors as well. Ultimately, it is important to have open, direct conversations with your psychiatrist regularly about whether the medicines are still necessary, and if there is an anticipated time frame for their use for you. Often, you have to "play it by ear". You should never stop medications suddenly, and without talking with your doctor. Some patients use these medications for a few to 6-9 months, some for a year or two, some for several years, and some for many years. This is all highly individualized, and most of the time making the decision to taper one or more medications for a trial period off of the medications involves pros and cons which should be carefully discussed by you and your psychiatrist.

Again, it's good that you have the foresight to be asking this question and not blindly be taking the medications forever, nor do you want to rigidly stop the medications at an arbitrary point. The decision is based on what is in your best interest, as determined by you and your psychiatric provider. The reasons for continuing or stopping your medications should be explained and discussed and should make sense to you. Good luck!

-Dr. Seigle

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