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OutsideGirl: my battle so far


OutsideGirl

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I have always been a person that dealt with anxiety, and in college it was really starting to get in the way. I went to my primary care physician around 2014-2015 and was prescribed 20 mg of paroxetine. There was never any discussion of being active or eating a healthy diet. She did say that therapy was more helpful when taking these meds.

 

For the first couple of weeks I remember feeling somewhat "wild," and I wasn't sure what was happening to me. But once that leveled off and I felt somewhat the same, my doctor bumped up my dose to 40 mg. It really did feel like the skies opened up for me. My anxiety was basically 0. I was debating in class and excelling. I was sociable. Everything my old self would have hoped for. But along with that came the side effects. I experienced emotional blunting, sexual dysfunction, insomnia and no "high highs" or "low lows" in terms of my emotional range. It was fine. It was better than dealing with crippling anxiety. Until I decided I didn't want to live that way anymore.

 

In 2022 (age 26) I felt like the side effects of paroxetine outweighed my need for them. I was feeling pretty good. I had moved across the country a few years back and my new PCP mentioned she saw so many people on these medications for life and we came to the conclusion that it was best for me to start a taper. There was no talk of withdrawal or what would ensue. We started to bump down 10 mg every two weeks from my 40 mg pills. We met a couple of times throughout the process and the last time was supposed to be when I went from 10 mg to 0. Everything was going fine until that phase. I felt awful. Vertigo, dizziness, irritability, insane thoughts (senses of doom) and brain zaps were just some of my symptoms. I'm not sure how I even made it to work most days.

 

I had to search Google to figure out what was going on with me. I had a hard time reaching my doctor, but when I finally did, she said this was normal and to reinstate if I needed to. She then prescribed me nausea medications that only made things worse. I did my own research and learned that it is sometimes suggested to taper off at the end with fluoxetine. So, when I was around 2.5 mg of paroxetine, I brought it up to my doctor and I switched over and started my taper from 10 mg of fluoxetine.

 

Around that time I found this website and finally had some names to associate with what I was going through. It gave me hope. Things weren't much different, but after about 2 and a half months of physical withdrawal symptoms, I felt like I had made it through. It's hard to put the torture that going through that felt like, so I won't really bother trying. It truly was hell. After that subsided, I had a really great month. I thought that was the end of my story. I distanced myself from this site and what had happened to me.

 

My last dose of antidepressants was February 28, 2022.

 

Fast forward to June. I'm nearing four months off and for the better part of it have been spiraling. I have fallen into a deep depression, which is relentless. I cry every morning. I cry at work. I cry on the phone to my partner. I have anhedonia. I'm doing the things I used to love, and sit there and ask myself why I feel nothing or have a sort of sadness attached to it. Most things feel hopeless and/or pointless. I have an extreme sadness, to which I can't really pinpoint on anything. I didn't really struggle with depression before medications, so how could this be relapse? After diving deeper into this site, I find I might be dealing with protracted withdrawal symptoms. 

 

I started seeing a therapist. Yesterday was my second appointment and I told her carefully about the site and what I think I am going through. She asked me what I was "healing" from now that the meds are out of my system and that I should be back to normal. That this is my "normal." She said now that I'm off my medications, it might be easier to see how they were actually helping me. And that meds can actually bring up my mood and balance it in order for therapy to help. She thinks I have a stigma towards them and that actually a lot of people are on them long-term. In the best way I knew how, I told her I'd like to try and stay off of them for at least around 1 year to see if I'd made any progress. I told her I'm not against reinstating if things don't gradually start getting better. But I'm not ready yet. Not after what I've learned and what I've been through.

 

I am lost. I am so, so lost. In a lot of ways, the emotional symptoms months out are just as bad as the acute physical withdrawals. I find myself constantly wondering if I will ever feel "normal" again.

 

I'd love to hear if anyone has an experience similar to mine or if there's any advice out there. Sometimes I do better when advice or support is directed towards me, though reading through countless threads here of others' accounts did help me. I used to be so positive that time was all it took after reading every success story I could get my hands on, but now I'm shaken and worried. I am feeling low.

 

2014 or 2015 – Started paroxetine at 20 mg, soon increased to 40 mg

February 2022 – Began to taper paroxetine, went down 10 mg every two weeks

                            Severe acute withdrawal symptoms around the 2.5 mg mark from paroxetine
                            Made the decision to begin fluoxetine and taper from 10 mg (fluoxetine masked paroxetine withdrawal, I cut the pills and went down a half every two weeks I believe)

March 28 2022 – Ended taper from fluoxetine. Endured around two and a half months of acute withdrawal symptoms.

May 2022 – Felt good for around one month after stopping meds and withdrawal ended

May 2022 – Unmedicated. Overwhelming depression/anxiety + anhedonia symptoms 
January 2023 – Taking fish oil, multivitamin, St. John's Wort and vitamin D, no improvement in depression/anxiety symptoms

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to OutsideGirl: My battle so far
  • Administrator

Welcome, @OutsideGirl

 

Paroxetine can be an extraordinarily difficult drug to go off. We have many people here with similar protracted antidepressant withdrawal symptoms. We see these usually very gradually go away over months -- this can be many months, so you'll have to be patient. Four months is only the beginning.

 

If withdrawal is very severe, we sometime suggest very low-dose reinstatement for a while before tapering off again. How has your symptom pattern changed in the last month? When did you take fluoxetine and how did you feel while you were taking it? How did you go off? Please add this to your signature.

 

Your therapist is wrong. If you cannot come to an understanding with this person, you need a new therapist, someone who knows about withdrawal syndrome.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to OutsideGirl: my battle so far

Hi @OutsideGirl

 

i wish I had better advice but I wanted to stop in and say I am also tapering Paxil. I’m so sorry you have endured the pain this medication has caused. I’m rooting for you 🤍

Medicated at age 7. Many med changes (over 20). Tapered off Xanax in 2018. 
 

PAXIL TAPER:  
2021: Feb. dropped from 20mg to 15mg Paxil. Terrible. Bedridden for 8 months.  Oct. - 14.6mg  Oct. 27 - 14.2 mg Nov. 14 - 14mg  Feb. 28 - 13.6mg March. 28 - 13.4mg April 5 - 13.4mg but introducing liquid (bad reaction)  2022:  November 14 - 13.2mg  2023:  January 4 - 13mg March 7 - 12.7mg (2.3%) April 20 - 12.4mg (2.4%) May 16 - 12.1mg (2.4%)  Aug. 30 - 12mg (.8%) Oct. 19 - switched from tablet to liquid from compounding pharmacy Nov. 12. 11.65mg (2.9%)  Nov. 30 - 11.3mg (3%)  Dec. 18 - 10.95 (3%)  2024 Jan. 4 - 10.75 (1.8%)   Feb. 10 - 10.4 (3.3%) Feb28 - 10MG!!!!!! (3.8%)  April 9 - 9.95 (.5%) May 24 - 9.7(2.5%) June-July - micro taper to 9.55

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Reinstatement works better sooner than later, if you are considering it.   Much love, many of us in same place

 

 

Recent 2018 Zoloft 150mg  (20 years taking at various times, no real issues before stopping)

2019 Risperdal one month low dose (forget amount) stopped bad reaction

2019 Remeron 7.5 mg sleep  (discontinued in mid 2019) on for six months (tapered for a few weeks)

Zoloft 100 mg Summer 2020/Zoloft 75 mg Summer 2021

Zoloft 50 mg November 2021/ Zoloft 25 mg First two weeks January 2022: Reinstated 50 mgJanuary Last week)

Crash in February - on and off doses as doctors conflicted over serotonin syndrome/withdrawal - stopped all for two week & resumed:\

Other drugs tried in hospitals (Abilify, 1mg, 1 dose, Zyprexa 1 dose 1mg, Klonopin .25 4 doses in 2 hospitalizations)

March 1 titrated Zoloft up from 0 to 65 from February to Early May

Severe vision problems at 65 mg (improved depression)

Taper to 55 6/15, 45mg 7/15/ 35mg 8/1, 25mg 8/15, 10 mg, 8/31 OFF 9/2022 Omg  Improved with drops from August to September - November crash ONE dose Zoloft 3mg 11/17 - worsened symptoms - Remain off Zoloft

Mirtazapine -3.5 mg six weeks mid march to end april, occasionally for sleep

Supplements: Fish oil, magnesium, lions mane, cytokine suppress, MCT Oil

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@OutsideGirl I have a story similar to yours.  I didn’t really have symptoms before taking Paxil but over 18 years I’ve tried to come off of it but had terrible symptoms when I tried.  I finally did back in November but 2.5 weeks of hell and I was thrown on Zoloft which has not covered up the Paxil withdrawal.  We will recover.  You will get yourself back even though it feels so far away.  Acceptance has really helped me.  Acceptance that this may take awhile and that as scary as it is, I will make it through it.  Life will be so beautiful on the other side of this. ❤️

-Paxil 25 mg 18 years with a few unsuccessful switches

-Paxil 12.5 mg 9/30/21 to 11/12/21 completely stopped

-Zoloft 12.5 mg 11/28/21 bc Paxil withdrawal was so severe, the 25 mg Zoloft 12/15/21, upped to 50 mg Zoloft, 3/17/22 upped to Zoloft 75 mg

-supplements Omegas, Magnesium Glycinate, Vitamin D

-IUD out 12/22/22

-5/1/23-switched to 25 mg liquid Zoloft

2023-75 mg to 47.5 mg

2024-

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  • 6 months later...

Today I have decided to come back to this site. My last dose of Paxil was on February 28, 2022 and with it now being January 2023 and nearing my one year of being SSRI free, I've been reflecting.

 

My symptoms have not improved since my introductory post. The depression and anxiety that ensued after stopping my medication has not gone away. I keep telling myself, "One more month. Keep going at least one more month and see if you feel better." 

 

I've been taking a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and St. John's Wort daily. I stopped seeing my therapist last year after 6 sessions because she kept pushing me to get back on an antidepressant when I wasn't ready.

 

Last week I went to the doctor to get a referral for a new therapist and during the appointment, she also prescribed me Zoloft (Sertraline) to take at 25mg and then bump up to 50mg. I have not gone to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription yet. But I'm starting to think this is my only option at this point. I don't need to explain the torment and pain one feels from the minute you wake up everyday while struggling with depression and anxiety here. It's exhausting, and at this point, I'm wondering if this really is just who I am off of medication. I can't tell if it's rose-colored glasses, but I feel like I am a shell of who I was when taking Paxil.

 

Apart from the depression and anxiety, I've found I'm not as eloquent and can't form sentences as well as before when speaking in person. I literally feel stupid. I can barely focus. My thoughts feel fragmented. I can't remember facts I used to be able to recall. I'm not outgoing. I can't stop comparing my life to others. I'm extremely hard on myself and feel like a loser. My libido never returned. I have an amazing partner, but feel lonely and want a community that is understanding of what I'm going through.

 

If I felt good on my former SSRI, despite the side effects, maybe it was beneficial to me to be on it. 

 

I feel very scared and ashamed. It was incredibly hard to get past the immediate withdrawal stage. I could barely work. It took two months and now it feels like a waste. I'm afraid of what this community will think if I decide to get back on my SSRI. I don't think there is much information out there on people who stop taking it, wait a year and then make the decision to start up again.

 

I'm on a tangent now, but my other fears include:

How do I know Zoloft will be the right medication for me?

What if I take it and regret not holding out for two years instead of one?
What if it doesn't work this time around?
Depression already makes me feel numb, but what if Zoloft makes me more numb, like from what I read and hear about?
What if taking a medication means I'm not living an authentic life and it's "fake?"
What if I decide to take it and I'm on it for the rest of my life?

 

Anything must be better than this, I'd hope... 

 

I truly wished I'd be here with different news. I'm not sure what to do.

2014 or 2015 – Started paroxetine at 20 mg, soon increased to 40 mg

February 2022 – Began to taper paroxetine, went down 10 mg every two weeks

                            Severe acute withdrawal symptoms around the 2.5 mg mark from paroxetine
                            Made the decision to begin fluoxetine and taper from 10 mg (fluoxetine masked paroxetine withdrawal, I cut the pills and went down a half every two weeks I believe)

March 28 2022 – Ended taper from fluoxetine. Endured around two and a half months of acute withdrawal symptoms.

May 2022 – Felt good for around one month after stopping meds and withdrawal ended

May 2022 – Unmedicated. Overwhelming depression/anxiety + anhedonia symptoms 
January 2023 – Taking fish oil, multivitamin, St. John's Wort and vitamin D, no improvement in depression/anxiety symptoms

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I'm sorry you are experiencing anxiety and depression 9 months after going off of fluoxetine.  Are you having any other symptoms?  You did a very fast taper, and it is quite possible you are still having withdrawal effects from this.  This is why we suggest the very slow tapering methods here.  

 

How Long is Withdrawal Going to Take?

 

Also see 

 

Neuro Emotions

 

What non drug techniques are you using to help you with your depression and anxiety?  

 

As this is a forum for getting off drugs, we won't answer your questions about going on Zoloft.  The staff here believe that these drugs do not cure these things.  I personally believe that these drugs just numb the pain, much like taking oxycodone for cancer.  It covers up the pain, but doesn't cure the underlying problem.  

 

I personally had a lot of grief and emotional pain from a childhood of neglect and abuse.  I've had to learn express this pain, and learn how to grieve properly, and this has cured my depression.  In my case the depression was caused by a lot of bottled up repressed painful emotions.  A therapist can help you to get to the root of your depression.  

 

There are many non drug ways of dealing with anxiety.  CBT techniques can help a lot with this.  Check out CBT therapy on YouTube.  Also, try this book which has CBT techniques for depression and anxiety.  

 

https://www.amazon.com/Feeling-Good-Handbook-David-Burns/dp/0452281326/ref=sr_1_1?crid=T7DY4VHNMO7V&keywords=the+feeling+good+handbook+by+david+burns&qid=1672867034&sprefix=The+feeling+good%2Caps%2C108&sr=8-1

 

Here is a link that explains about how the chemical imbalance in your brain theory is a myth.  In the long run, SSRI drugs tend to make depression worse, not better.  

 

Chemical Imbalance is a Myth

 

We live in a world that wants instant gratification, and a quick fix.  But in many cases, there is no quick fix, and we must do a lot of hard work to overcome issues like anxiety and depression.  Good luck, and let us know how you are doing.  

Please do not private message me.  Only tag me for urgent questions about tapering and reinstating - thank you.  

 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

 

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 2010 - 10 mg;  started taper August 2017, recent taper info: Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, before bed

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, multivitamin, zinc

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, extended release vitamin C, melatonin 2 mg

 

Paxil 2002 - 2010, switched to Lexapro 2010 

Trazodone 50 mg. 2002 - 2019, fast tapered in 2019 

Xanax 0.5 mg as needed 2002 - 2019, up to 3x weekly 

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  • Mentor

Hi @OutsideGirl

I am truly sorry to hear about your struggles and suffering. This journey is so hard, we should all get medals for this. 
My story is a lot like yours, that is switching from Paxil to fluoxetine to help with withdrawals. I unfortunately did a very fast taper from the fluoxetine also which made me crash hard being almost 9 months drug free. 
I wanted to drop by your thread and let you know that there is no shame in this. You are not going to be judged or looked down on here by this community. You are in the drivers  seat of your own life, and believe me we all understand how painful this is.

On the other hand I think you are courageous and strong. Don’t compare your life to others. There is no use in that. 
Getofflex has given you some links to reading materials which I would recommend you read through. You see when we have been medicated it takes for some of us a while for the brain chemistry to get back to normal. And without the drug in our system we need to work at changing our thinking, use coping skills and look out for ourselves with kindness and patience. Yes it sucks, takes time and a lot of effort, it’s not a waste of time, and I truly believe it’s sooo worth it. Otherwise there would not be such a big community around getting off of this.

You are not alone, we are here to support and help each other.

You have come along way, you should focus on your accomplishment, which is huge. 
I am rooting for you💪

 


1999-2020  20 mg Paxil

Bridged with Fluoxetine to help me get off Paxil.

2022 Fluoxetine 15 mg 12/12 14mg 27/12  13mg jan 12mg feb 11mg mars 10mg, 9 mg 8,5 mg 7.6mg 7.0 mg 6,3 mg 5,6 mg 5,0 mg 4,5 mg 4,0 mg 3.6mg 3,2 mg 2,9 mg 2,6 mg 2,3 mg 2,0 mg 1.8 mg 1,6mg 1,4 mg 1,2 mg, 1,0mg 0,9mg 0.8mg 0.7 mg 0.6mg 0.5 mg ( holding) everything is going smoothly!


I am not a medical professional nor is this a medical advice. I only talk from my own experience.

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  • Moderator Emeritus
5 hours ago, OutsideGirl said:

I've been taking a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and St. John's Wort daily.

 

Since you're still taking St. John's Wort, I wouldn't add in another drug, especially one that effects serotonin. Please see:

 

St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

 

Some of your current symptoms may be side effects of this supplement. Please see:

 

St. john's wort Side Effects

 

Common side effects may include:

  • sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams;
  • feeling anxious, irritable, or restless;
  • dry mouth, upset stomach, diarrhea;
  • skin rash, tingly feeling;
  • headache, dizziness; or
  • tired feeling.

Please note: when you're ready to get off of St. John's Wort, it's important to taper it slowly. 

 

 

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  • Administrator

Paroxetine is a particularly difficult drug to go off. Withdrawal effects lasting 9 months are not unusual.

 

What is your current symptom pattern, including what you've called depression and anxiety? How does this depression feel? How has your sleep pattern changed in the last 6 months?

 

It's possible St. John's wort is causing those symptoms of anxiety.

 

Please note this response when you first joined the site:

 

On 6/19/2022 at 12:29 PM, Altostrata said:

If withdrawal is very severe, we sometime suggest very low-dose reinstatement for a while before tapering off again.

 

Ordinarily for withdrawal syndrome, we suggest low-dose reinstatement of the original drug, but paroxetine is so difficult to go off, substitution of citalopram or fluoxetine may be preferable. "Low dose" means starting at 1mg. Many people find this is enough. They stabilize for a good while, then taper off by minute amounts later.

 

Your prescriber probably dose not have a clue about tapering or withdrawal syndrome. She thinks you need a "normal" dose of Zoloft. We cannot tell you how this would effect you.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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