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  1. 2011: I was prescribed the following: Cymbalta 60 mg (arthritis). Zoloft 100 mg (anxiety). Buprenorphine 8 mg (off label for treatment resistant depression). Over a couple of years the doctor increased it to 24 mg. September 2018: Decided I wanted to try and reduce the meds. I began a rapid taper of the Bupe and was down to 12 mg by the end of November 2018. Mid December 2018: Started having severe panic attacks daily. Each morning they started at wake and lasted between 2-6 hrs. Assuming it was because of my recent Bupe reduction I increased my dose for a while. It didn’t help so I went back down again. October 2020: I've been suffering horrid, daily panic attacks for 22 months. They start each morning before I even open my eyes (severe nausea and strong sense of doom). They quickly worsen from there and last for hours before slowly lessening. Then I go through a 1-2 hour period extremely fatigued and lethargy. My doctors have been unable to diagnose me but they have treated my symptoms with various medications (listed below). They don't help much during an episode, however it does help with later anxiety and to sleep at night. There is little fight left in me I'm so tired and losing hope. I have fallen down from exhaustion and muscle deterioration many times (once I broke off two front teeth) and am too scared to leave the house (only go to the doctor each month). I stopped eating more than fruit due to severe nausea and have lost 60 lbs. In the last six months I've gotten worse with severe leg weakness and just lately started having pain up and down my left arm (spoke with doctor). Other than that I endure horrible racing thoughts, a racing heart, heart palpitations, headaches; severe nausea, a sense of doom/worry, and a numbness and tingling of extremities. I believe that I may have finally figured out what is wrong: Serotonin/Norepinephrine overload because of the Cymbalta and Zoloft mix (perhaps brought on by stress because of menopause or my quick Bupe reduction in late 2018....I recent read that opiates block re-uptake transport or something). My doctor eliminated the cause of my illness as anti-Depressant related since I had been on them for such a long time without incident. There were many other tests to no avail. So I've researched and am attempting to reduce the Cymbalta from 60 to 30 mg on my own. I started three days ago. As of now my withdrawal symptoms are tolerable (it's difficult to discern between panic and withdrawal, so I evaluate my symptoms after the daily attack). I have headaches, nausea, cognitive difficulty, muscle weakness, and depression. It is key for me that I have had some relief from my panic syndrome though. My racing heart and palpitations were practically non existent. Unfortunately yesterday I took additional Zoloft to take the edge off and it turned out to be a big mistake. Although I still didn't panic this morning, along with some other general symptoms I became extremely fatigued and lethargic (which normally doesn't happen until after the CNS attack). Side note: I am unsure where I am headed with this Cymbalta reduction. My first goal is to stop my panic attacks and stabilize myself. However if my episodes worsen or if withdrawal becomes intolerable I will reinstate the 60 mg. Something tells me that IF I am suffering panic attacks because of neurotransmitter overloads that my withdrawal symptoms might not be as serious. Is that possible? When do the symptoms of Cymbalta reduction generally peak and how long does it last? Reminder: the 11th, 12th, and 13th I took the reduced dose. Lastly, it may be that some of the recent differing symptoms are due to a recent reduction of my Estrogen patch (I have no choice. The doctor is cutting me off). I could probably go back up but could only do so for about two weeks before I'd have to start a reduction again. Any advice or encouragement will be graciously accepted. Current Prescriptions Cymbalta: 30 mg (on October 10, 2020 I reduced it from 60 mg) Zoloft: 100 mg Buprenorphine: 8 mg Atenolol 25 mg (2 times daily). Xanax: .25 mg (take half doses of .125 mg; regularly only take about two per day). Valium: 5 mg (occasional and rare; only in half doses). HRT (out of necessity I am reducing my Estrogen patch slowly). I also take have a combo patch. OTC Mag Glycinate Mag Citrate Vit D3 Chia Seed Oil
  2. Hi, I've been tapering from Zoloft for almost 4 years now. I started at 150mg and am down to 12.7mg. I'm reducing 10% every 8 weeks. Except for minor withdrawals around week 6, so far so good. My question is - how far down is it necessary to go before you finally quit? 3mg, 1mg? Less than 1mg? Also, I'm using the Gemini 20 scale with the 10mg weight. How far can you go with this scale and be accurate enough? It seems like the scale is getting touchier the farther I go down. I saw someone on here say they bought a new scale every few years because of this. Sound like a good idea? Or should I try switching to a liquid?
  3. Hello World, I have been lurking here for a couple months now and decided it is time for me to join the discussion. After browsing through a couple dozen threads both in the introductions and success stories I hope that by tracking my progress that it may inspire hope to those that follow along. This site has validated many experiences that I encountered in my life that I brushed off as "other issues" -- whereas now I realize that these were and are related to Sertraline use. My story up to this point: As a child I was extremely anxious. There was a family dynamic that played into my development of anxiety, without getting too personal. I also had some health issues that were extremely embarrassing and discomforting as a child. By the time I reached my mid-teens the anxiety was reaching an all-time high as I was putting myself in new situations -- due to embarrassment over my health issues I never had many friends growing up. There was a crippling fear within me that everyone was judging me, criticizing me, making fun of me; I generally felt like I was never "good enough" for people. Eventually this culminated into unrelenting anxiety to which I finally confided to a family member I was experiencing; more of a plea for help. In a visit to my GP she advised my family to take me to the ER to be evaluated for hospitalization. Repeated I was asked about self harm, suicidal ideation, depression, etc. I reiterated many times that I have never harmed myself in anyway and had no intention of doing so. I was strictly pleading for help in dealing with this unrelenting anxiety being experienced. You can probably guess I was hospitalized. Sitting with the doctors and my parents I expressed I did not want to be medicated. We were hit with the famous "chemical imbalance" mumbo jumbo and that these medications were safe. Being a minor and hospitalized there was limited medical autonomy. This is where I started Sertraline 25mg. Without boring with details here I dabbled a little bit with lithium but did not last long. Eventually I ended up on Sertraline 100mg. There I stayed from about Mid-2012 through Approx. Dec 2018 / Jan 2019. During this time I was very stable. To be honest, I do not think I experienced a ton of side effects (or so I thought). I experienced manageable amounts of anxiety, although there were times the thought "my emotions seem very dull" crossed my mind. "Highs" were not always very high and "lows" were not very low. This got me through college well enough. I started my career post-college as well. Knowing it can be difficult to get off these "medications" I always put off tapering because of school... new job... the excuses. After years and years of being "stable" on Sertraline 100mg I confided to my ("new") GP that I thought it was time to come off. From about Mid-Dec 2018 to maybe Feb 2019 I tapered. Went from 100mg->50mg for a month, maybe 50mg-> 25mg for a month then a week or so of 25mg every other day. The experience was emotional. Essentially my entire adult life to that point was to take 100mg of Sertraline before bed. From 17 to about 25 that was my ritual. Then I crashed. Over the next couple of months I experienced debilitating anxiety. At first I thought "push through it, it is your body adapting" but as time kept passing eventually those thoughts dissipated. These thoughts became truly obsessive to the point I thought I had OCD. Any sort of critique would send me into an emotional rollercoaster. I doubted everything I did. Everything felt so flat, even things that used to bring me bliss, including hobbies, friends, sex, I felt so flat. At some point therapy became an option. This is who my true self is. Called a local mental health center and signed myself up. Over a few sessions I poured myself out to my therapist (who I still go to today) proclaiming that yes I have had anxiety my entire life but I have never felt like this. I felt like every day I was fighting for survival. Anything stimulating fired off extreme reactions: scary movies, which I used to love would create days long adrenaline rushes, for example. This continued for a few months which then coincided with a major health issue which took about six months to recover from. This led us into the Coronavirus pandemic which did no favors. During the early stages of intense panic I felt necessary to re-instate Sertraline. I could not function. After a few weeks of ramping up to Sertraline 100mg I began feeling "whole" again. This did not save a long lasting relationship that had been strained over the prior 14mo, partly due to coming off medication. In the middle of this year I met a knew partner. They are absolutely wonderful but for the first time I truly realized that I have not physically desired sexual contact in quite some time. I decided that it is likely due to Sertraline and wanted to taper off. Where We Are Today: I found this website after looking for information on sexual side effects of AD use. I noticed in 2019 after coming off Sertraline that my libido had significantly dropped, I assumed was due to the "real me" anxiety coming back. I tied many side effects back to the discontinuation of Sertraline which I will outline below. In early October after tapering from 100mg to 50mg for a few weeks, then tapering from 50mg to 25mg for a few weeks I tried to go to 12.5mg for a week (at the discretion of my psych) and ceasing. I did it for two weeks. After a few days I noticed intense w/d symptoms (brain in vice feeling, pressure in head, agitation/restlessness, increased emotional flatness, continued sexual dysfunction). After finding this site and realizing that I was apparently not one of the lucky few that can taper that quickly I decided to re-instate at approximately 6.25mg daily in attempt to see if I can stabilize there before doing anything else. I think this allows me to see if I need to move up in mg without completely re-instating. I did find some relief from re-instating to 6.25mg. Current Symptoms: Heavy anxiety emotional blunting low libido / ed -- I have a mental desire for sex (as I know what it "was" on Zoloft the first time, but virtually no physical desire or ability) some agitation/restlessness cortisol spikes in morning (from this site, this is what I think I am experiencing. I sometimes wake up and feel UP with some adrenaline). Very obsessive thoughts I am thankful that my sleep for the most part has not been impacted. What am I doing now? Regular use of: ~200mg magnesium omega 3 fish oil (1000mg, I think) multi-vitamin (I know I know...) regular exercise 3-4x/wk CBT therapy low dose of sildenafil as needed Remind myself that these are side effects of medication use and discontinuation. These feelings are not me. Closing thoughts After finding some relief re-instating at 6.25mg I plan on sticking out here for quite a bit of time, at least 2mo. This will allow me to determine if I need to start the taper say at 12.5mg instead of 6.25mg. If w/d symptoms get worse over this time then I know I may need to bump up. A time frame of at least 2mo allows me to see if I get any delayed onset symptoms. As this journey begins on SA I look forward to journaling my experience. Those who have documented their success (whether through a success thread or long term introductions which lead to suns) have inspired me to believe truly that these symptoms will go away. We all want them to go away today but there are many examples here of people who have suffered for a long time who are back to their full lives. I'd wager a lot of money that most who start threads here and disappear recover. So again, while I am about 8.5 years in (about 7 on Sertraline, 1.5 on/off) I am thankful for this site. Much of what I am going through and what I have gone through has been repeatedly validated by hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of other members documenting their experiences. It is such a relief that there are many others who understand the anguish these "medications" cause.
  4. Hi there 😀 I was on 150mg Zoloft for 8 months in 2017, then on 20mg Paxil for 6 months in 2018, then 60mg Buspirone for 6 months in 2018, and then back on 150mg Zoloft in 2019- all for PTSD. I came off of the Zoloft over the course of a month as recommended by my GP (way too fast I know now!) and had horrible withdrawals for a few months so my GP prescribed me Paxil for a month. I did not want to go back on Zoloft because it was making me so tired. I finished my month of Paxil in June 2020. I’ve had horrible hot flashes and chills since then. I’ve read the temperature dysregulation thread on here and am comforted in knowing this is a common withdrawal effect, especially since I was worried that I potentially had COVID. The thing that surprised me, however, is that I was extremely tired on Paxil and that 5 months after I discontinued it, I still am. With Zoloft, I wasn’t tired anymore a few days after going off it. With Zoloft, I was confused as to why I was so tired so I got bloodwork done and my hematocrit was low. I would get bloodwork done now except every time I do it makes my withdrawals much worse (has anyone else experienced this?). Has anyone had fatigue last this long post-SSRI discontinuation? If so, did it slowly go away? I am graduating as a veterinarian in June and do not see how I can practice feeling like this, which is very sad considering how hard I worked to get here. Thanks in advanced!
  5. Hello all, long time reader first time poster. Firstly I just wanted to say how awesome it is to have such a place to go and receive help for what can only be described as a nightmare that thousands of people seem to go through. So here is my story which I will end with a few questions I have. As you can see from my signature, I was placed on 50mg of Sertraline (Zoloft) in September 2009. This is when my life was turned upside down. I was originally placed on this drug because I visited my local doctor comlaining about some anxiety that I was getting after I drank alcohol. I must say that for a period of about 8 years I was a heavy binge drinker. I was a typical 18 year old who went out every weekend and got blind drunk with his mates. This was obviously starting to take its toll on me once I hit 25 years of age and that is why I visited my doctor. Well I was in there for a total of about 10 minutes before he prescribed me 50mg of Zoloft telling me this would help with taking the edge off of my anxiety. I did what he suggested and this was the worst mistake of my life. I returned to the doctor within 10 days of starting 50mg complaining of the worst symptoms (severe agitation, anxiety and now depression). Unfortunatley I could not see the original doctor so I saw another doctor there at the time. He said I must need a higher dose and that 100mg was the normal dose he puts his patients on. He also prescribed valium to me (which I took a couple of times). The next 3 months of my life was like a horror film. I became suicidal with severe symptoms that I had never experienced before going on the drug. I seem to settle after about 3 months, but it must be said I never was without symptoms, but they were less severe. Around 12 months after starting the drug, I began to get more severe symtoms. I returned to the doctor and he once again up'd my dosage to 150mg. The next 3 months were a nightmare again, severe agitation etc. For the next 6 years I floated between 100mg and 150mg. I spent thousands of dollars on therapy to treat an apparent panic disorder; although I didn't mind the therapist, the information we went through just didn't seem to apply to me i.e. I wasn't thinking any of the ways he was suggesting was causing my symptoms. It wasn't until I started looking into more natural ways and researching antidepressants that I realised that maybe the drug could be the problem! Lightbulb moment! I have read a lot of books from authors like Peter Breggin, Joseph Glenmullen, etc. which I am sure most of you have read. I also have been doing a lot of work with a nutritionist. I had a 23andme test done and found out a couple of interesting points. I have a COMT gene mutation which means I break down adrenaline and dopamine slower and I also have a mutation in another gene which I can't remember the name of which means I break down serotonin slower. What this actually suggests to me and my nutritionist agrees is that I may have been quite toxic with levels of serotonin which was causing serotonin syndrome. Alot of my symptoms were a mirror image of serotonin syndrome (agitation etc.). So as you can see from my signature, I began tapering in February 2016. My problem now is that I seem to have hit a huge brick wall. I may have tapered a little fast and was hit with severe withdrawal symptoms which have not gone away. I have been holding at my current dose of 60mg for almost 4 months now. This past 4 months has been the worst 4 months of my life. It started with severe symptoms like pounding headaches, vomitting, insomnia, not being able to sit still (severe agitation) as well as some depression. It has progressed from there to now being just severe depression. I am not depressed about anything in particular other than the way I feel. It is like I am completely numb with emotions aside from being really upset. I have no appetite and really struggle to get through each day. I am very fatigued and lack motivation to do the most basic of things. I am pushing through it as best I can still working fulltime and excercising a couple of times a week plus playing golf on the weekend. I must say that I have a great life. I love my job, I have a beautiful wife and young son (8 months) and honestly have everything to live for. It is just these horrendous symptoms are ruining it all. So finally to my questions and looking for advice from some veterans on here. What should I do next? Should I continue to hold at 60mg until things get better, or should I continue at a 10% taper and see if things get worse or perhaps better? From previous drops, I seem to have a period of improvement on symptoms for about 2-4 weeks, and then it begins to decline until I drop again. I am not sure whether that means I should keep reducing or slow down. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks all.
  6. Hello community, So glad to have found this site!! I've been reading, reading, reading for almost two months. Unfortunately I did not find y'all and Dr. Glenmullen's book until after eight months of thinking I was doing a gradual taper per my GP's advice. Without proper information I tapered too fast, alternated doses, and failed to recognize that the difficult symptoms I was having could be coming from antidepressant withdrawal. I'm currently trying to stabilize before embarking on the 10% taper, starting with sertraline. The symptoms I currently have are: rapid heartbeat and resulting fatigue, anxiety and agitation, including:dizziness and fainting upon standing up (orthostatic hypotension) inability to alter heart rate with exercise (exercise intolerance) ears ringing morning depression heat intolerance (like hot flashes only longer) intense dreams and nightmares head tremor Once I realized I was tapering too fast, I stabilized/increased to 25 mg sertraline and 0.75 mg lorazepam. In the two months since then, some other symptoms I had went away and the above symptoms have seemed to improve, except for heartbeat and head tremor. I had a normal EKG. All blood tests normal except cholesterol (and I consider high cholesterol a good thing for me as a post-menopausal woman). Starting in 2013 or 2014, my antidepressant was increased and I started regularly taking lorazepam due to several years of extreme emotional stress (caring for my physically and mentally declining spouse). I also experienced severe disrupton of my sleep cycle and used alcohol at night. During and before this time, I had many years of blood sugar fluctuations. So I imagine my HPA axis was already severely out of whack even before my mis-guided fast taper. I stopped alcohol 15 months ago, after my husband died. (My symptoms are complicated by the effects of my grief process.) I've been gradually removing stressors from my life. I have recently addressed my blood sugar via a low-carb unprocessed way-of-eating. Am also phasing out caffeine. I am addressing my sleep cycle by using amber glasses to counter the effects of evening screen time. (Hope to reduce the screen time too). Anyway, I am frustrated that my heart palpitations make me unable to exercise, but I understand that all the nervous system problems can be slow to resolve. Trying to be super patient. Appreciate hearing everyone else's stories, questions, and answers. This site is a wonderful resource.
  7. I would like to say hello and thank this website for giving me hope. I have spent the last few days reading a lot of the posts and have found them to be full of information and great advice. The success stories are wonderful to read. I have never been in a medical situation like this and I was feeling lost and alone until I found Surviving Antidepressants. I was put on Zoloft (50 mg then upped to 100mg) in February 2016 due to depression over a long-term illness that at that time was still un-diagnosed. I got a diagnosis for my illness in April of 2016. I was hospitalized for that illness both in April and March and it was eventually brought under control. Once I got home from the hospital (both times) I was very weak and I had very confused thinking. I had multiple at-home treatments and medications to keep track of. Somewhere in there I messed up my Zoloft and either went cold turkey or was only taking it intermittently, but did not realize it at the time. Starting in May and ramping up in June I had all sorts of symptoms, which nobody in the medical field could figure out, including me. I was put on Gabapentin (600mg then upped to 900mg) to help with the symptoms. My symptoms included headaches, nausea, feeling hot and sweating but having a low body temperature, as well as the feeling of internal tremors in arms and legs, and actual external tremors. I also had jerky arm movements. I had what I call “vertigo light”, the whole room didn’t spin, just the floor moved when I tried to walk; I felt like I was drunk. I had brain zaps, motion sickness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, and pressure in the ears like when flying on a plane. My memory was also bad. After endless nights of searching the Internet with my symptoms I realized I had withdrawal. Counting the actual amount of pills in the bottle and looking at the day it was prescribed confirmed that I had not been taking my medication. Once I realized what was going on I contacted my psychiatrist and I went back on at 50mg, which was twelve days ago. A dosage that high might be a mistake after reading about “reinstating” here on this sight, I don’t know yet. Since reinstating the brain zaps and vertigo have disappeared, and the other symptoms have gone down in intensity, however I am getting them more frequently. I’m now getting them every day, for at least a few hours and sometimes all day. Before going back on Zoloft they were really brutal but only for a few hours at a time, none of this all day stuff. Klonopin seems to help however my psychiatrist has suggested that I use it sparingly, he said that the Gabapentin should be helping with the symptoms. By the way, I feel I have an excellent psychiatrist. He did warn me when he put me on Zoloft not to go off of it without talking to him first and that there was tapering involved. He also responds to my frequent and desperate e-mails on a timely basis. I do recognize though that I need to be proactive when it comes to my health. This is my first time with a drug in the SSRI class. At this moment my goal is to stabilize. Eventually I would like to get off, but right now I just want the physical symptoms to go away. By the way, the depression, which was acute in February, seems to have disappeared, both while on and off the Zoloft. I am open to opinions, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
  8. Hi, I am 31 years old, and been taking Sertraline 50mg since 2005, for generalised anxiety disorder. I attempted to taper several times in the past, all unsuccessful. In January 2018, I thought I was mentally in a good place to try and reduce the dose again. I started tapering by taking 25 mg 1 day a week(50 mg 6 days) for one month, then 25 mg for 2 days a week for another month etc. I have now been on 25mg everyday since June 2018. Initially I had occasional, mild withdrawal symptoms like vertigo and sensory sensitivities. But I had major, unexpected negative life changes and multiple bad news over the summer of 2018, and have been (understandably) more and more emotional. My anxiety has been getting more, and now it has become unbearable for me. I keep randomly crying, and feel extremely worried All. The. Time. I cannot relax or calm down, and feel a shortness of breath most of the time. Random anxiety attacks followed by diarrhea have become a regular thing. I am worried about leaving the house on my own. I am thinking about increasing the dose again, as I just can't cope with the debilitating fear and worry anymore, but then I will have suffered all these months for nothing. I thought I was in a stable point in my life when I started the taper, but now, after having dealt with a very difficult year(unrelated to the taper), I feel like now is actually the worst time for this. I have no support as all my family live abroad(and my parents&close relatives themselves could do with emotional support right now), my kids are very young and they constantly need me(and nursing a toddler is draining as it is...), we are in the process of selling our house and moving (not sure where to yet), I haven't had therapy or counselling in years and don't really have anyone to confide into... Should I just give up, go up to 50mg and try again when my life is stable? Has anybody had life events interfering with their taper like this?
  9. Hey all, From original topic title: 8 months of hypomania, increasing irritability, two major manic episodes, then CT Wish I found this site before. Prescribed 50 mg in October 2018, reported immediate response, eventually asked to cut the dose to 25 mg when symptoms were arising more frequently. Doc said go up to 100 mg, thankfully I disagreed and we went down instead. Kept having increasing symptoms and eventually started taking 12.5 mg twice a day thinking I was a fast metabolizer. Then: suicidal ideation and one hell-ish manic episode (with a good 50 mini-episodes over a months time). Quit CT once I learned what was happening. BP2 diagnosis came, but now a month removed from sertraline, I don’t see it. I’m dealing with some crazy withdrawal symptoms... mostly headaches and irritability. I sometimes blink really hard, kind of like a brain zap. I’m on intermittent leave from work, and didn’t burn all the bridges I have, but came damn close. now I’m learning healing takes months/years. Why is this a drug prescribed so frequently? What a nightmare it has been.
  10. Hello. I have been on zoloft (200mg) and buspar (15mg) daily for 8 years to manage anxiety. A couple of months ago I took a round of metronidazole and ciprofloxacin for 10 days for a gut infection. Soon afterwards I developed very severe akathisia (mental and physical), and it has been the worst thing I have ever felt in my life. Luckily I have been getting short windows since then and the akathisia isn't always present anymore, so I feel like I will most likely recover. Before this I had planned on microtapering my meds down at like 2-5% of current dose per month. But now I am afraid. I am afraid of staying on the meds and perhaps developing akathisia from them down the line. I am afraid of tapering and developing withdrawal akathisia. And I am afraid of getting off and maybe developing tardive akathisia... I know everyone heals eventually. But I honestly don't think I could take feeling like that for years. I really don't know what I should do...
  11. Hello, I am new to the world of antidepressants but it has been a bad time. I was started on Zoloft in July and had a very bad reaction to the medicine. I was told to take 25mg daily for a week, then 50mg daily onward. Around the time I hit 50mg I started to lose my mind. I was basically set back several years mental health wise and have yet to recover. I had luckily had the foresight to have my dad take my gun before I started the medicine, because I would have killed myself if I hadn't. After explaining this to my psychiatrist, they relented and had me "taper off" the medicine by dropping to 25mg for 4 days then off it entirely. It's been about 2.5 weeks since then, and I have not been doing much better. I still have awful, dark thoughts and intrusive ones that are upsetting as well. My anxiety, which was annoying before, is now completely out of control. My personality has completely shifted. I am not the same person I was and it sucks. I can't enjoy movies, shows, video games, or anything. Every waking second is a new hell of emotional instability. Prior to the medicine, I had issues dealing with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. They would come and go and I was relatively alright. Since then, I can not relax even slightly. I have tried everything that normally works, and I am just lost. I even tried getting a medical marijuana card and the marijuana didn't help even slightly. My current life situation isn't helping, but I am unable to change it in the short and long term. Highlights include: -Being treated like dogshit in the military (out now) because my wife was an immigrant and I wasn't reenlisting, and had physical issues -Have to continually get surgery, can barely walk. Can't sit down almost at all, have to stand or lay down. Spend most of my day on my feet. -Wife borderline abusive (started my MH issues), not currently living together for a variety of reasons -Fired from job because my entire department wanted COVID-19 safety things and I was considered "the ringleader." -Denied unemployment (was owed $20,000) -Unable to live on my own due to income being too low (disability check helps but not enough). -FBI had to come and take some of my HDDs that I discovered had govt files on them that I didn't know about -Constant guilt/shame complex All that being said, I was managing things okay for the most part until Zoloft. My psychiatrist basically told me I was being dramatic because I was on it for such a short amount of time and for such a low dose, but it has completely and fundamentally destroyed me as a person. I am still experiencing things like clenching my jaw, nausea, extreme anxiety/depressive states, obsessive thoughts that loop, feelings of guilt / shame, etc. Many of these things did not exist prior to taking the Zoloft. It is supposedly "out of my system" by now, but I can still taste the metallic taste in my mouth and my jaw is in constant pain from clenching. TL;Dr I tried Zoloft for a few weeks and it has destroyed me. Looking for advice, support, and anything anyone is willing to offer. I have not been able to find where to update my signature but I will as soon as I do. Thank you!
  12. Hi, all-- I am so grateful to have found this site. It is helpful to know that I'm not alone. This is my first post, I will try my best to be succinct. I'm a 42 y/o female. I've been on Zoloft for 12 years, anywhere from 50mg daily to 175mg. I'd say my average over the years is probably around 125mg daily. My signature has a breakdown of my history. I've also taken klonopin during this time, but I take it PRN as I have never agreed with the doc suggestions to take this med multiple times daily. So in terms of my average klonopin dosing, during acute anxiety or hospitalization I take it multiple times daily but otherwise I take it maybe once or twice a month (more or less). My pills are 0.5, but I have a sensitive system so I take one quarter of that or maybe a half. A full pill usually means I am heading into a major depressive episode or something pretty difficult is going on. I smoked marijuana for about 7 years, but had to stop that in July 2020 due to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). Lastly, I began a magnesium supplement around July 2020, and it has greatly helped with daily anxiety. The difference has been pronounced for me. For the past five/six years or so, I noticed that I occasionally got facial tics when I wake up in the morning. They were small, brief, and random, usually my jaw jiggling or shutting, or my eyes shutting closed due to my cheeks lifting. I thought it might be the Zoloft, but I didn't look into it too much. Well, now I've looked into it and I'm terrified. For the past 6 months, I'd say, the tics have started to happen during the course of the day and not just when I wake up in the morning. A couple of days ago, I was lying in bed and my throat/esophagus just started twitching up and down a few times-- that one was scary. I have an HMO, so I am in the process of seeking out a holistic psychiatrist on my own. I've seen the list on this site, that's been very helpful! I have a few questions for anyone that can help: In your experience, is it okay to have a long-distance psych? Does it make a difference? I'd rather see someone who knows what they're doing and is far, far away than someone close by who doesn't know or believe in patient-centered care. How might this hamper care? Do the TD symptoms indicate that I should follow a quicker taper? Or is this a matter of doing the 10% and then waiting/hoping that TD symptoms don't get worse? Can klonopin cause TD? I haven't seen anything about this, but I'd love to hear others' experiences. I will ask my psych the same thing, but are there any supplements that folks here recommend to help with the taper? I've tried tapering once before back in 2011-2013 (I thought I was tapering slowly, but given the info we have now I can see I was most definitely not going slowly. I was also following bad advice about taking my SSRI "every other day" to even out the amount of med in my bloodstream), and had what I now recognize to be an acute and quickly-manifesting depressive episode as a result of withdrawal. I understand that everyone's body is different, but any experiences with supplements is very welcome. Of course I am impatient to get off of this drug which could now be causing me a lot of harm. I have done loads and loads of work with therapists on my PTSD and depression, but the Zoloft did help me with that at the beginning, very much. I have so many conflicting feelings, but fear overrides them all because I would very much love to retain my ability to swallow and chew voluntarily (the cosmetic fears are also there, but to a lesser degree). I am a Buddhist and humanist and practice daily in one way or another, but as I'm sure many of us know a strong depression can and will obliterate reason, faith, belief, you name it. Thankfully I have a wife who shares my beliefs, and she is a rock. Thank you so much for any help. I am terrified of this journey, but I am very heartened that at least I have others to share it with.
  13. Hello everyone,❤️ I am a 36 year old male. Today I will be sharing my journey through withdrawing my over 20 years use of Effexor xr 150mg. I was first giving Effexor for depression caused by a separation anxiety. This was during my high school years wile I struggled with feelings of social phobia. Effexor seemed to blunt just about any fears and anxiety I had for a number of years but as time went on more and more side effects emerged some very scary. I tollirated most of sides just from the fear of withdrawal. I had previously had failed at least 3 failed attempts and one cold turkey in 2003 for 6 months unaware of what was happening to me both physically and mentally. Doctors were clueless and just represcibed the Effexor after that 6 month ordeal indefinitely. Fast foward 2016 a had gone under a few surgical procedures for a lumbar disc herniation with the last two resulting in a fusion. Around that time 2017 2018 I was having more and more increasing side effects from effexor and felt it was no longer working. I would have exercise intolerance,moments of narcolepsy type episode's, increased nerve pain. Visual snow, poor circulation diagnosed as Reynolds syndrome and more. I decided to seek help in disscontinuing effexor and was given an option to try to reduce from 150mg to 115.5mg immediately regretted as I could not drive my vision was on a rolorcoaster and I was having moments of just needing to pass out. So I went back to 150mg. Fast forward a few weeks my physciatrist introduced zoloft at a low dose and had me try again. At this time I was determined to muscle through. During a six month cross taper to zoloft max 100mg dose. My Final dose 37.5mg of effexor was February 20, 2020 and the withdrawl have been dibilitating waves and windows ever since. Lost job, home and hoping to keep my family around. Things seemed to have gone terribly wrong on July 12, 2020. On June 13, 2020 i dropped the zoloft to 50mg. One month later I was hit with an inability to walk or maintain any strength. I decided that day to updose back to 100mg zoloft. The days that followed were complete hell and multiple ER visits. Parkasins symptoms bobbing head neck weakness studdering speech spastic gait, spine spasticity, calf muscle cramp and faciculationts just a nightmare. One of the last ER visits left me with a diagnosis of post lateral sclerosis to be determined I guess because most my weakness was in my left side. New medications added since July included 5mg Valium twice per day and 2mg tizanadine or Zanaflex 3x a day I reduced two weeks later to only 2 times a day for the sake of staying awake. I have been bedridden since July after that episode. Waves and windows still apparent but very much less because of all the other medications. Psychiatrist is continuing the withdrawal plan keeping the other medication to reduce symptoms. She feels I may have had an adverse reaction or serotonin syndrome. Holding on to hope and my faith you guys are not alone 🙏 ❤ Present Dosing Regimen: Oct 9 [v] 7am 50mg Zoloft 5mg Valium [v] 12pm 5mg Valium (v] 3pm 1mg Zanaflex( mod. note- tizanidine, muscle relaxant) [v] 8pm 2mg Zanaflex Effexor Xr 150mg for 22years, discontinued from 37.5 mg February 2020 Discontinued because of Increasing side effects - Anhedonia. Blurry vision, exercise intolerance, weird adrenal fatigue episodes, increased anxiety, left sided weakness extending to feet, increased nerve pain, weird zoom Out episodes.
  14. Hi--I'm so glad this site exists. I took my last dose of Prozac on December 15, 2018. 3 days later, what I call the Horror, began. I had been on ssri's for over 20 years during which time I had become constantly sick. It never occurred to any doctor that my illnesses were medication related. Eventually I began to link studies of the ssri's to my problems. I tapered over a 6 month span, and now realize with the discovery of SA that it was probably too quick. I'm frightened because I still don't sleep well, suffer from akinesia, bone-crunching depression, suicidal ideation, especially in the night and mornings, tinnitus, extreme weight loss, blurred vision, and obsessive ruminations. This mental state is a million times worse than anything I experienced before starting on Zoloft. At that time, my husband had been diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, and during the first 2 years Zoloft did seem to help me cope. After that, it never worked the same, though the dose was consistently increased. Eventually my doctor had read that Zoloft was associated with an increased risk of stroke in those over 60, and he switched me to Prozac. Over these years I lost my hair, had an oophorectomy for cysts on my ovaries, had appendix removed, two heart attacks, and was put on Enalapril for HBP, Metformin for diabetes. I always had digestive problems during this time--including hiccups! And terrible sweating-- Three days after my last dose of Prozac, I was admitted to ER with BP of 250/150ish. Administered clonidine. Back to ER again about a week later with same high BP which had never gone down. My urine was pink. My body and mind could barely function. I was given a diagnosis of Serotonin Syndrome by the ER toxicologist. Since then I have tapered off the Ace inhibitor in 2019, and Metformin, the last dose being in March 2020. About 8 months in, it seemed I might be improving somewhat, but the final withdrawal from Metformin has set me back again. A couple of months ago, the mental nightmare had become so unrelenting I considered reinstating, but haven't. I still can't watch movies, read novels, or enjoy music the way I did. But the good news is that my blood pressure is now normal. This month I've slowly returned to my job part time after nearly a year away. Thank you for all that you all contribute here. I hope I can offer support as well. Your journeys mean a ton to me--life rafts, in fact. Zoloft: 1995 - 2015 Prozac: 2015 - 2018 (tapered from July to December) Gabapentin: 2016 to 2019 Enalapril: 2010 - 2019 Lipitor: 2017 -2017 Metformin: 2000 - 2020 Liothyronine: 2007 - 2019 Levothyroxine: 2000 - Happy to be here, Arbor
  15. Free from Zoloft and Benzos After 25+ Years of Use One-year post taper “success story” – http://survivingantidepressants.org Elbee (male) - August 27, 2020 At the time of this success story post, I have passed the one-year mark (15+ months) living drug-free. I am speaking to you from “the other side” of hell to let you know I made it through the nightmare of psychiatric drug withdrawal -- and so can you. I want to start by saying that everyone’s withdrawal from psychiatric drugs is going to differ – no two paths are the same. While there will be commonalities in what we each experience, there will also be differences. I also believe that none of us are uniquely or irreparably “broken,” and that each of us can find a path to living much fuller, healthier lives in greater freedom. To be clear, I had doubts throughout this process . . . believing that somehow, I was MORE “broken,” and that I wouldn’t find my way out of the darkness. But the natural, innate healing power we each possess is profoundly AWESOME, and it quietly, patiently works in the background in each of our lives. . . even if we can’t see it, and even if we don’t trust it. For me, the psychiatric drug withdrawal / tapering process turned out to be an invitation to learn how to live my life differently. It became clear to me in this journey that I could never go back to some idealized place I vaguely imagined myself clinging to . . . I could only move forward to somewhere I had not yet been. I need to be honest: It is still hard to revisit and write about just how painful this drug withdrawal process was. Now that I’m feeling so much better, a part of me wants to forget the whole ordeal . . . as if looking in a rear-view mirror, driving ever-further away. And the reality is that this rear-view mirror perspective is very much real -- I’m SO grateful not to be suffocating in such intense pain anymore! But it is also true I will carry the scars of this experience with me for the rest of my life. It is clear to me now that some of me died through this drug withdrawal process. It is also true that the most precious parts of me came back to life. And I am still healing. I was very much disabled through the most intensive parts of the drug taper. I was on these psych drugs for panic attacks, anxiety, and depression my entire adult life, over 25 years. Additionally, I was drinking alcohol abusively, and relying on multiple pots of coffee and a pack of cigarettes to get me through each day. Even before I had decided to get off the meds, I was utterly exhausted most of the time, barely functional, and unconsciously stumbling through life like a zombie. I knew I had to fundamentally change how I was living. The first step in my detox efforts was to quit alcohol in April of 2014, 30 years after taking my first drink as a kid. Thankfully, I was able to release alcohol from my life relatively easily. Whatever boost alcohol had given me previously was gone, and it was clear to me as a 44 year old man that the devastating hangovers I experienced were getting more difficult. Then, over that following summer and under doctor supervision, I “tapered” entirely off both the Lorazepam and Zoloft that I had been taking for 24 years. I experienced tons of anxiety in the process, but I did it, and after the 4-month ordeal, I thought I was in the clear. Unfortunately, about six weeks after taking my last dose of Zoloft, what I now know to be protracted withdrawal hit, and my life spun into a depth of hell that words cannot describe. Instead of re-instating the same drugs I had been taking, the doctors took me on an 8-month “trial-and-error” roller coaster ride of psychiatric drug experimentation. I finally ended up on higher doses of the drugs I had originally quit, plus Remeron added in for good measure. Through all of this, I landed in a very bad place – exhausted, functionally disabled, unable to work, and unsure what to do next. I had some savings in the bank I could live on for a few years, so I decided to “hole up” to do a new taper, following the much slower tapering protocol of the SurvivingAntidepressants.org website. But my savings were limited, so I used the 10% reduction protocol as a baseline, and pushed the taper as fast as I could without killing myself in the process. I’m not sure I would suggest this approach to anyone else, but in my situation, that’s what I did. Note: I’m going to refrain from listing out all the symptomatic horrors I experienced (there were many) as I write this success story. Here is the link, if you’re interested, to my introductory thread which details my four-year psychiatric drug withdrawal process: https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/11862-%E2%98%BC-elbee-25-years-of-meds/ And I want to take a moment here to say how incredibly grateful I am to @Altostrata, @Shep @brassmonkey, @bubble, @apace41, @Gridley, @Rhiannon (her writings), @JanCarol, @KarenB, @ChessieCat, @Petunia, @scallywag and all the folks at SurvivingAntidepressants.org who helped save my life. I also came across Robert Whitaker’s book, Anatomy of an Epidemic around the same time I found this site, and from these resources, I knew I had stumbled into truth. It became clear to me that so much of what the mainstream medical establishment had told me about these drugs, and about my so-called “chemical imbalance,” was false -- I had been lied to. SurvivingAntidepressants.org helped me anchor into this truth and set me on a new course. THANK YOU! With these new resources, I came to understand that getting off the drugs wasn’t just a simple matter of refraining from ingesting chemicals, or even about waiting for those chemicals to dissipate out of my body. I learned that my brain had restructured itself around the presence of the drugs all these years and that by removing the drugs, my brain would have to, very slowly, restructure itself again to a healthy state. The metaphor of a plant (my brain) growing on a trellis (the drugs) for support is so profound to me. How can I expect to abruptly rip out the trellis and think that it won’t damage the plant in devastating ways? This metaphor was such a clear illustration to me of how a neuroplastic human brain builds tolerance, and how we can so easily become entangled in the physiological mechanisms of addiction. And to be very clear, our brains develop tolerance to psychiatric drugs just like they do street drugs, and the mechanics of addiction and withdrawal in each are the same. Gaining this knowledge and allowing it to sink in was probably one of the most important early milestones in my healing process. In preparing for writing this success story, I re-read my entire introductory thread. Several pivotal posts stood out to me as other milestones in my healing process, and while this testimonial might go long, I think it could be useful to touch on some of them . . . In my very first post, I am already talking about the value of meditation. Sitting with myself quietly and focusing on my breath helped me slow down my mind and learn to relax. As I continued with the practice, though, I began experiencing periods of discomfort. I had initially taken the psychiatric drugs to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings, and as I practiced meditating space was again created for those feelings to arise. Learning to slowly sit with and tolerate whatever thoughts and feelings arose began to nullify my need to run away, and therefore, lesson my urge to drug the discomfort. Meditation became a cornerstone of my self-care practice, and self-care is what I ultimately found to replace the drugs. Next milestone -- about a year later, I wrote an entry about a decision I was struggling with on whether to consult with a renowned psychiatrist. A relative was able to get me an appointment for a psychiatric medication evaluation from a “leader in the field” (at the bargain price of $2,000). Looking back, it was then I decided I no longer believed in the efficacy of psychiatric drugs, nor the system that deals in them. I wrote: Next, in the summer of 2016, still early in my tapering and recovery process, I went on a 111-day, 9,000-mile solo road trip across the U.S. In retrospect, I was probably looking for something “out there” that was missing “in here.” I did a four-day vision fast in the wilderness, hiked a 14,000-foot mountain, roamed Death Valley, did a week-long silent meditation retreat, camped under redwoods, hiked numerous National Parks, etc. Was it really a good idea to take this pilgrimage in such a compromised state? I can’t say for sure, but it’s what I did, and I think it cracked through defenses that needed to open. In the Hoh Forest of Olympic National Park in Washington state, I experienced a release of emotions like I had never felt before. It was in that moment I finally realized that releasing stored emotional blockages could ease my anxiety: Another milestone: Upon returning home to Florida later that fall, I dove more deeply into my involvement with the Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families (ACA) 12-Step program. In conjunction with doing EMDR with a skilled, compassionate trauma therapist, ACA helped me crack through layers of protective childhood denial that I had carried into adulthood. Some people advise NOT deliberately digging into the unconscious too much while going through psychiatric drug withdrawal, but my path has been that of heavy digging. I accepted living in a disabled state for a period of time and felt that if I was going to get off these drugs, I needed to address what drove me to take them in the first place. By early summer of 2017, my commitment to this recovery approach had strengthened. Along with addressing the trauma associated with childhood family dysfunction, I opened another door . . . into the shame and terror I experienced hiding as a closeted young gay boy and gay teen. I had initially come out 25 years earlier at age 20 (the same time I started taking the psych drugs), but that was only part of my truth I was hiding. The secrets of my sexual orientation were built upon the secrets of having grown up in family dysfunction: Homophobia turned out to be compounding trauma, and I had been living in a closet within a closet. I had more inner work to do. Perhaps one of my most significant milestones was realizing how important it was for me to take the lead in my healing, and how easily I had deferred to the “expertise of authorities” in my life. By June of 2017, I had navigated my way off the benzos completely, and I recognized the importance of building an internal sense of trust – connecting with my more authentic self to discover a new inner compass. Despite appearing outwardly confident most of my life, inner trust was something I lacked. By allowing myself to fully feel, I had opened to recognizing my own authentic needs, to directly and respectfully communicating my needs, and to setting healthy limits and boundaries. By learning these important skills that I had missed earlier in life, I discovered greater internal trust with myself, and greater discernment in trusting others. By January of 2018, I had another important insight: I more fully recognized I was going through an internal chemical withdrawal process in addition to detoxing from the drugs I was ingesting. Behavioral (or process) compulsions and addictions all have physiological and neurological correlates, and I had been heavily “dosing” throughout my life using my own “internal drug store.” This realization profoundly shifted my perspective on my psychiatric drug withdrawal process, seeing it in a more comprehensive context. A lot of my recovery has involved working with an “inner critic” that had been driving me most of my life, born and sustained from a lack of unconditional love. Ironically, this harshness was so pervasive that I had never consciously known it was there. My inner critic constantly pushed me into the extremes of all-nothing thinking. Again, meditative practices more than anything helped me identify this was going on, and ACA reparenting (inner child work) has allowed me to soften it. By the end of 2018, I started discovering something that had evaded me my whole life – moderation, and a general sense of “OK-ness.” By April 2019, I had found a new pace in life to accompany my new inner compass, and I was nearing the full completion of my psychiatric drug taper. I was one-year benzo-free at this point, and at times, I was overwhelmed with heights of new sensations and emotions. I was feeling things I hadn’t experienced since I was a teenager because I had been drugged my entire adult life. It was overpowering in many ways, but I was so grateful to be “awakening” to a much more fully human life. On April 28, 2019, I was finally free from Zoloft, and my psychiatric drug taper was complete. I had found a way out of the darkness, and I had survived. I couldn’t remember having ever felt so alive. So, while this isn’t my entire recovery story, I’m fulfilling my promise to report back and share my continuing journey with others. Where do things stand today, 15 months after taking a psychiatric drug for the last time ever? No need to panic. I’m not experiencing depersonalization, derealization (DP/DR), or panic attacks in frightening ways. I do still feel what I might call different states of consciousness, but often there is a positive, expansive quality to these experiences. Perhaps some might call this bliss? I haven’t really found ways to talk about it yet clearly, but I don’t experience panic attacks in the ways I used to. I still have fears of them returning, but less so with time. I also get “eerie” feelings now and again, but I have found ways to work with that when it happens, and it doesn’t usually last long. Scariest weirdness has ceased. Most of the “unexplainable” adverse reactions I experienced don’t happen anymore. I would get terrible flu-like symptoms for days at a time . . . hot flashes and chills, body aches, cramps, twitches, headaches, fogginess and disorientation, exhaustion, etc. Sometimes my heart would start racing for no apparent reason, or I would have trouble breathing. I had chronic digestion issues. I had intense agoraphobia, even paranoia at times. I had problems making the simplest decisions. All of this, for the most part, has subsided. Consistent rest. My sleep has changed dramatically, and I’m so grateful. I have struggled with sleep my entire life . . . unable to fall asleep at night and feeling anxious and “hungover” with crippling anxiety each morning. For as long as I can remember, I wanted nothing more than to sleep “normally” from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and wake-up feeling well-rested. Today, more times than not, my sleep resembles very much what I used to wish for. I wrote an entry summarizing what I’ve done to address my sleep issues here. Keep gently working with triggers. I still have intense anxiety at times and find myself in hypervigilant states. I’ve come to understand this as a trauma response, and I can usually identify what has triggered me and/or how my inner critic has become activated. I’ve developed self-care routines that help to reduce these reactions, and that help me come out of this state much more quickly and easily. Some old wounds have healed permanently – some things that used to trigger me no longer do. AND I want to emphasize there are days now, thankfully, I live virtually anxiety-free. Self-care (reparenting) is my new drug. I had SO much resistance to doing self-care my whole life (for many reasons I won’t get into here). And by self-care, I don’t mean treating myself to a spa day (though that probably doesn’t hurt). I mean the day-in and day-out routines of physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually tending to myself like I’m the most precious being in the world. Self-care is what got me to where I am today, and it will be the practice of my lifetime. Don’t overdo it. As my life continues to get fuller, I can easily start “checking-out” again. If I stay dissociated for too long, I will pay for it. If I overcommit while on autopilot, I will have adverse reactions when I reconnect with myself. If I try to shortcut too much on the self-care, I will most definitely feel it, and I will struggle. Moving forward, I have to be very careful not to take on too much too quickly, and simply take next best steps. The worst is over. I’ve come to accept that I will never know how much of the excruciating symptoms I experienced these past years were due directly to the psychiatric drug withdrawal, versus how much was due to all the “inner work” I was doing. What I can say is that the symptoms from folks going through psychiatric drug withdrawal and folks doing inner transformative (trauma) work tend to be very much the same. It’s uncanny really, and I can’t explain it. But these two processes seem to very much mirror each other. What I can say is that while there will still be “windows and waves” as my brain keeps healing, and while I still have more “inner work” to do, I’m confident the heaviest lifting for me is done now. Perhaps most indicative of the healing I’ve experienced, I’m feeling well enough now that I’m back in school earning a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) – I’m going to become a therapist. While I’m a bit uneasy stepping towards healthcare systems that betrayed me so deeply, I also feel this is how I can be of most benefit. I’ve come to fully believe that my wounds are intrinsically linked to my gifts, and as I continue to heal my wounds, my gifts will become increasingly available. I’ve been doing volunteer work for some time now, which has helped me to “move back out into the world,” and I hope to transition into paid work soon. I’ve been meeting with people in support capacities, and I envision “coaching” people at some point until I more formally earn my credentials. I plan to be very open about my history with psychiatric drugs, as well as my recovery process. I journaled extensively all throughout my recovery process, and perhaps I will share the “long version” of my story in the future (yes, this is the short version). For now, writing this success story is an important next step in my “coming out.” Thank you for witnessing my healing. Elbee-Success-Story_Free from Zoloft and Benzos After 25 years on them.pdf
  16. Hi Everyone - Just found this forum, and thankful that I did. I've been on SSRIs since about 1996 when I was 16 years old. Had typical adolescent depression/anxiety w/ a bit of OCD on the side. Tried a variety of SSRIs for a few years. They put me on Zoloft around 2002, and I've pretty much been on it ever since. Discovered that I had a mild case of Tourette's as well a couple of years later, and added .5mg Haldol to the mix in 2005. I realized about a year ago that these things were doing me more harm than good. Followed my doctor's directions for tapering in fall/winter of last year (skipping doses, going down 25% at a time). Finally got off of the Zoloft. But then after a few months of anxiety, I couldn't take it anymore. My doctor said that it was the original illness coming back, even though I never had that kind of anxiety back in my teens before I went on the meds. She put me back on 100mg of Zoloft. Now, I'm trying it again. I was trying to follow the same plan, dropping 25% at a time. I'm down to 75mg now, and doing fine on it. Trying to drop from 75 to 50 has been a nightmare though, and the problems were what led me to this forum. I now understand that I've been trying to go too fast. Going to try the 10% per month plan. Plan is to get down to 25mg of Zoloft and then try to taper off of Haldol and see how that goes. I'm on such a low dose at .5mg, I'm going to have to make a liquid out of it and use the instructions here on the forum to go down in tenths or hundredths of mg at a time with that. Without giving away any identifying info, here's a little more about me personally: From Michigan, as you can probably tell from my screen name. I live in a housing co-op (kind of an urban commune). I'm married, with one child. Work from home for a startup doing tech support. Trying to start my own business right now as well, which the "too fast" withdrawal has been impeding. We spend winters in the tropics - usually Mexico or Costa Rica - where I usually rent a house to work from. Looking forward to posting my progress and supporting everyone in theirs!
  17. Hello Everyone! I feel like I am joining this community as part of the "last mile" of my journey to finally kick these SSRI in the teeth and I am excited to share and interact with everyone. At the same time, I'm incredibly scared as my support system (excluding my wife) doesn't believe that I should be off meds. I am from a family of physicians and my psychiatrist is very stuck in the "chemical imbalance" theory, as is my family. Yup... just like everyone else I started getting medicated as a kid as part of the ADHD brigade, and then I was diagnosed with OCD (while taking ritalin of course). I am sure I took a bunch of SSRI as part of my regiment, but I don't remember specifics. ADHD faded away (or wasn't really there to start with) as I stopped believing it was a problem. And at about 21, anxiety started to fade in. Over the past 15 years (36 now), I've been on viibryd, zoloft , lexapro, and now trintelix. Interestingly, I never did truly feel like I had the anxiety kicked. The biggest problem for me with the SSRIs has been anhedonia, lack of emotion, and loss of libido. After a time, these became untenable in my marriage -- and life just was not that fun... and at the time I was on 200Mg of Zoloft. I figured it was time to look for a change. I never really tried to change the underlying behaviors causing anxiety -- I mean I did CBT, Meditation, etc, but really never got into the deeper stuff. I never really realized that meds might not be a long term fix. So my psychiatrist thought we would taper off and switch to something else. And so I tapered off of 200Mg of Zoloft successfully, and said no more SSRIs. It took 8 months to get off of Zoloft, and I was doing really well for about 5 months with really no issues. And then COVID hit. And then I had to move. Then my job became incredibly lonely. Specifically my wife and I are both starting businesses so there is a ton of stress there. So I started panicking, and not sleeping, and just having general anxiety. But at that point, I had made a choice to never be reliant on the SSRI, and I still have that resolve. This time I starred taking a dose of Trintelix with the purpose of learning how to deal with my anxiety. That was about 4.5 months ago. Of course my psych has tried to push it up and up. Which I went along with and made me miserable. At one point I was at 15mg. So I've dropped it down to 5mg which is the minimum dose. And here I am for the last 1.5 months. At the same time I've been on Trintelix, I've been working through a program called "Unwinding Anxiety" which is a program by a MD/PHD psychiatrist named Judson Brewer and have had tremendous results. After all 5Mg of Trintellix is supposed to be subclinical, right? I've had 3, 4, and 5 day windows -- and many days I have windows of many hours. This while things really haven't resolved that completely --- - wife still starting her business and pre-revenue - savings is going down - getting my business on track - COVID - US election craziness So here I am on that last 5Mg of Trintellix. Sex drive is gone. I do have emotions and feelings. Couple things I could use some thoughts on if anyone would be so kind to weigh in: 1. I've been in a bit of a panic the past few days. I've been sick (physically) and anxiety kicks up then. I've read part of Unhinged and a few chapters of Anatomy of an Epidemic. One of the scariest idea is that these SSRI's do actually work. What if they do, and I have altered my brain chemistry enough that I can't do more than 5-6 moths without them anymore. The Anatomy book might refute this idea or I might missed a central point. But anyone else been scared by that too? 2. Has anyone felt like Anxiety and self improvement has become a major part of their identity? As my mind quiets down, I get really scared and don't know where to go with it. Almost don't know who I am without the anxiety/meds. Thanks! -paradine7
  18. Dear withdrawees ... I hope i find you all well... Or at least amidst a window rather than a wave . I've been scouring SA for some time now, picking up whatever bits of helpful and positive information i can about this horrific ordeal. I now feel its time to introduce myself and my history on AD's to the community with the hope of being provided with additional support and a view helping others in the future when this experience is more of a bad memory rather than a living hell . I have been taking Sertraline on and off for the last 6 years since 2013 after a series of horrific circumstances happened one after another. Despite the drugs having good effect, I've always been uncomfortable with masking what are obviously important emotions using a daily consumption of a drug. This has led me to unwittingly withdraw multiple times across the 6 year period which lead me to believe i was confined to a life of drug taking, this was until June this year when I first found SA and became aware of SSRI withdrawal . Of course I was left somewhat shocked but not surprised after feeling neglected previously on multiple occasions by the medical sector. Despite that though i found a new sense of hope knowing that a life beyond drugs was not only possible, but likely. Recent Drug History OCT 2016 - I quit Sertraline 50 mg CT after a family bereavement had turned my life upside down .. as a result it felt the drug was totally ineffective. MAY 2017- After what had been an appalling 6 months (which i thought was horrific grief but now realise it is likely withdrawal is the more likely culprit) I reinstated Sertraline at 50 mg before raising the dose to 100 mg due to not feeling any effect (again this is something that makes sense now). In time i had started to feel normal again and presumed it was because I had worked my way through my prolonged grief. FEB 2019 - Life was now back on track and decided it was time to try and rid myself of the shameful daily pill pop that is AD's. I quit Sertraline Via a fast taper... but may aswell have been a CT. JUN 2019 - I found SA . .. realised i was withdrawing .. and had inadvertently made multiple mistakes along the way. NOV 2019 - I'm roughly 8-9 months into withdrawal & STRUGGLING MY SYMPTOMS: A thick brain fog Anxiety an inability to feel emotions / make connections with people Loss of communication skills & wit muscle weakness Fatigue As I've said previously.... i am currently at the 9 month mark and I'm coping okay (I Think🤔 ) when i compare my battles to that of others.. but i am beginning to really struggle with the isolation that seems to be a natural part of the process. I have always naturally been an extroverted person who loves talking to people and being at the centre of attention although currently this couldn't be further from the truth and is taking a huge toll on my daily life. Every time I am confronted with some form of social situation my brain draws a blank. Its as if the lights are on but nobody's home. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY CHARM AND CHARISMA? I wanted to ask for advice from anyone whose been in a similar situation: What can i do right here and now to aid myself when dealing with these symptoms? If you've surpassed the 9 month point of withdrawal with these symptoms still rearing their ugly head, at what stage did you notice a marked improvement? Has anyone any advice on how to work towards improving other areas of my life, such as love or working life and learning new skills whilst withdrawing? If you've made it this far thanks for reading and i look forward to any replies? Cheers
  19. After 2 weeks on escitalopram and then 4 weeks on sertrilene, I can't say I've ever stabilized. I decreased the sertrilene 10 days ago and symptoms seem overall slightly better. I'm trying to decide whether to stay at my current dose or continue to taper.
  20. I hope this post is not too long, but I have been through the pharmaceutical wringer and I'm not being heard, believed or helped by my doctors: 2 years ago around May 2016, I had my first panic attack. ER doc rx'd Ativan .5mg 3x a day. Never said a word about dependence. After 3 weeks the script ran out and so I just stopped, and of course, all hell broke loose. Went to my PCP who dx'd me with anxiety and rx'd xanax and Effexor. After 1 night of throwing up, I stopped the Effexor. What I didn't know at the time was that the dose of xanax he prescribed was HALF the equivalent of the ativan I had been taking. He obviously knew nothing about dosage equivalencies. I could not understand why I was so very sick. I found a Pdoc who I thought was very understanding and said she could help me. She switched me to Klonopin and rx'd 25mg Zoloft, and upped the dosage to 50 mg after two weeks. After stabilizing on a whopping 3mg Klonopin, I started to cut, taking 50 mg Zoloft all the while. All during this time I was very weak and shaky, which I attributed to the benzo, but now I'm not so sure. I finished my benzo taper in Nov of last year, and really suffered very little, if any, acute, but still felt a little shaky. I then decided to come off the zoloft, as the Pdoc stated it was "very gentle" and I could just quit. Being gun shy after the benzo fiasco, I did do a short taper and came off with no issues in January of this year. Shortly after that, my leg shakiness and hand tremor went away, but I still did not connect them to Zoloft, because all the emphasis was on benzo withdrawal and how "gentle" zoloft was. In May of this year, it was clear that my mother, who had been very, very sick for very, very long, was dying. By this time, I had a new PCP and no Pdoc. Since I was extremely stressed and grieving, my PCP suggested I go back on zoloft, and I didn't see why not, so I restarted 50 mg. Immediately, I had weakness and tremor again. In August 2018, two months after my Mom died, I decided to come off the Zoloft. Still believing it was a benign drug, I once again did a fast taper of about 3 weeks. I felt fantastic off of it - no more weakness or tremor, TONS more energy - until 31 days later when it all came back full force. The trembling, weakness, and anxiety just all of a sudden came back. Finally, the penny dropped for me, and I found this site and realized it was withdrawal. I went back to my old Pdoc who laughed in my face and said withdrawal is impossible after 1 month. She told me to face the fact that I needed to be medicated and gave me the smallest dose of Lexapro. I took it for a week, but was feeling progressively worse, and I knew I didn't want her to treat me anymore. I went to my PCP and told her the whole story. She does believe me and is trying to help, but I think she's out of ideas. She did give me a DNA test for drug sensitivities, which shows me to be a slow metabolizer of most SSRIs and SNRIs, and an "intermediate" metabolizer of one SSRI, Prozac. For lack of a better answer, she put me back on 25 mg of Zoloft to attempt stabilization, but its been 3 weeks and I just keep getting worse. I now have insomnia, very high chemical anxiety, muscle twitches, no appetite, cold feet, temp changes, diarrhea and morning cortisol spikes along with the weakness and tremor. I am effectively bedridden. As of today, I have upped my dose to 37.5, but knowing that I retain high concentrations of zoloft for longer than normal, I worry about serotonin syndrome. My PCP wants to switch me to Buspirone, since my DNA test indicates I would tolerate that well, but she wants me to find a Pdoc to help with the switch, so here we go again!! I just want to stablize on something so that I can function, and then down the road a couple or few months, start the long taper that should be done. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I'm really struggling. Thanks for reading this long post.
  21. I’m hoping someone here can give me some advice, I had severe Zoloft WD after stopping cold turkey and then later trying to reinstate. My symptoms included seizure like and stroke like activity, hyperthermia, chills, shaking, visual disturbance, vomiting, trouble swallowing, hair thinning/loss and more. This happened about 2.5 years ago. I have significantly improved since then but I still notice some mild symptoms when I take anything serotogenic. Unfortunately, I need some dental work now that requires anesthesia and I’m terrified. I have seen on here not to use anything with epinephrine but are there any other tips? I have a feeling full sedation will be needed/encouraged and am hoping for some specific guidance on what to use, what to avoid for anesthesia, pain relief, antibiotics, and anything else you can suggest. Thank you so much for your help! (I guess I should also add no anesthesia isn’t an option either.)
  22. Hi, I found this site a couple of weeks ago and have slowly been starting to wonder if what I’ve been going through the past 18 months is related to SSRI withdrawal. I managed to successfully withdraw from Lexapro at the end of 2010, after over 13 years of AD use. I had various fluctuating symptoms for a couple of months, but then apart from constant ringing in my ears and a return of occasional anxiety, I seemed to be ok. I was studying to be a chi-ball instructor, was exercising regularly, was eating healthy and was generally quite happy. After getting off Lexapro, I had been diagnosed with adult ADD and been put on medication for that. It worked well for a couple of weeks and seemed to completely cure what remained of my anxiety, but then I started to get extreme restlessness, OCD like symptoms, irritability and an increase in my sensitivity, to sounds and lights. I assumed it was a bad reaction to the stimulant medication. My life has been a confusing nightmare since the end of 2010 really, but until I found this site a couple of weeks ago, it really didn’t occur to me that my ongoing problems were being caused by a medication I stopped taking over 2 years ago. I’ve had a lot of stress in my life starting from an early age and have always been sensitive and anxious. There has been some violent crime and sexual abuse, but I seemed to be ok until I got myself into a psychologically abusive marriage. That’s when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and started on Zoloft. For a couple of years it took the edge off my anxiety, but I never thought I had depression, but the Zoloft just made me feel generally numb, so I endured my marriage, for several more years until it became unbearable, tried to communicate with my ex-husband so that things would improve, but he wasn’t interested in change, he was already in his next relationship and had been for a while, I didn’t know that at the time though. Then I went through about 4 years of extremely frightening separation/divorce and ongoing court proceedings. . There were other extremely stressful things I’ve had to deal with over the last 10 years, but I’m not going to go into details. I have been thinking that what I’m going through is a combination of long term stress, anxiety/depression, a ‘dark night of the soul’, menopause and/or some kind of spiritual transformation like kundalini, because I have engaged in various spiritual practises through my life. At times its felt like my CNS is completely burned out or that I have some kind of serious hormonal imbalance, but I gave up trusting the medical profession, including psychologists after years of not being able to get any help from any of them and only ending up feeling worse and that its all my fault for not trying hard enough. I’ve had lots therapy, counselling and done various support groups over the last 15 years, nothing has been any significant help. I went back to college to study psychology and started a business, but that all fell apart when the marital abuse became worse and the divorce proceedings began. Since finding this site, I’ve stopped taking all psychotropic medication, realizing that anything which effects my brain is having an exaggerated negative effect on my recovery. For a long time I’ve noticed that even small amounts of caffeine, half a glass of wine or even an anti-histamine will have a very bad effect on me, but I was thinking it was my imagination. I can’t even eat chocolate any more without suffering the next day. I’m exhausted all the time, but it’s a weird kind of fatigue, its like a combination mental/emotional tiredness, not like anything I’ve ever felt before. I spend most of my time at home, on the internet on my bed, just doing the things I need to do to take care of myself and my teenage daughter. Its very difficult just getting out to buy a few groceries, but when I do go out, I function perfectly in a kind of dissociated way, like I’m not even in my own body, I’m watching myself like from a distance, wondering who it is that’s behaving so ‘normally’ when I’m feeling so awful. Waves of negative emotions seem to get triggered by almost everything around me and almost every thought, I try not to think about things or do much of anything so I can avoid the emotional pain that thoughts or experiences bring, its like a kind of forced meditation. This symptom was at its worst from November 2011 – August 2012, but its not as bad now, seems to be settling down, I think its improved by about 50%. Please would someone take a look at the details in my signature and give me an opinion if protracted anti-depressant withdrawal might be a factor in my current health problems which include: Waking at 5am with racing thoughts Feeling like I haven’t slept at all Nausea, shaking, dizziness, body pressure, muscle twitches Waves of negative emotion Hot/cold flashes, sweating Constant ringing in my ears Sensitive to sound, light and smells Can’t watch TV or listen to the radio because its too stimulating Most things are too stimulating now, including being around other people too long Loss of appetite and loss of weight Hair falling out Agoraphobia, mostly during the day, I’m able to go out easier late afternoon towards evening Memory problems and mental confusion Loss of confidence. Loss of interest in doing anything or going anywhere Can’t get any pleasure out of things any more Loss of hope I needed to put more detail in my signature, but that’s all that would fit. From about 2006 – 2008 I was also taking duramine (a prescription stimulant weight loss med) to try and lose all the weight I’d put on from being on SSRI meds. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to try and provide a clear picture of my situation. Thank you Petu
  23. hey everyone! how can i put this mildly. mom of 2 handsome boys and a wife to a husband who has stood by me through helllllllllll. life evaporated. in a heartbeat. off the offending meds now for 1.5yrs but Jesus. my symptoms are long and probably some of the worst youve ever heard. did wayyyyy too much reaching for help that is for sure and it bit me like a snake. ooof. lost my loved career and my motherhood and marriage as i had it has been ripped away. went to the behavioral help hospitals a few times. we all still live together but ive been sick so long and done so many unforgettable things. in a nut shell. not the mom i set out to be. anyway im going to take a peek around and probably just camp out in the success stories. maybe one day i can be one! i feel like ive touched the 40% healing line. maybe? symptoms that have fallen away or are fading: psychosis (gone) paranoia fading terror gone akathisia fading nightmares are rare intrusive thoughts somewhat better but how could i know for sure whem the memories are so fresh? emotional lability ehhhhh better burning feeling (now having huge windows) not being able to recognize family is getting better i can cook again (dang it lol) i can drive yay connection to family is getting better but it all feels like its been through a hail storm. feel less than (not really a symptom) constantly think (everyone knows im mentally ill) wasnt before this though sometimes it feels like someone is pulling a rubberband from the right side temple area. feel evil is getting better but still there looping words names thoughts i am missing a ton of symptoms i know but they all blur together. oh and ocd symptoms agoraphobia cannot look at myself in the mirror which is weird dp/dr hard to say bc im in so much shock for lack of better words. not sure that life will ever be ok again but im willing to find out. still struggling hard most days. my support system sucks. thanks yall! off to take the kids to soccer and other assorted Thursday activities. doing my best to ignore my symptoms problems and bad memories. i have aged 15yrs i bet any tips, chatting, and love from those who have been this bad and are better would be great...if there is a better. my brain is healing but will my broken heart? love ya- K
  24. Hi anything would help. i was prescribed Zoloft, prestiuq,rexulti, lamotragene,Paxil during a 14 month period all at separate times and tapered off in 8 days. Also experiencing black mold toxicity. I’ve been off meds for almost 3 months. And out of the apartment for a month. Very desperate. I’m experiencing derealazation , massive depression and anxiety. I have no idea where to start to address these things. Psychiatrist wants to put me on Prozac and and taper in 3-4 months. Symptoms from both are conditions are similar and again don’t know where to start.
  25. Hi all, my name is Matt, I am a 36 year old husband and father of three whose life has been turned upside down by these drugs. Although after reading the wealth of information on this site, I feel I finally understand what is happening to me, though it doesn’t make going through it any easier. I reinstated Zoloft on May 1st and I know I probably reinstated at much too high a dose, but I unfortunately was following “doctors orders.” It has been a tough four months to say the least, and at times I feel I will be stuck this way forever. However I have gone on vacation twice in the last 4 months. The 1st one was over the Fourth of July, during that time I would say I was 50-60% of my normal self. Only to come back, get to work, and get slammed by waves again. Last week I went on an end of summer vacation with my family, this time I would say I was closer to 75-80% of normal, and hopeful this was finally the beginning of the end for me and I was stabilizing and could in a few months begin a slow taper the proper way. However this past week back home and back to work have been unbearable. Unrelentingly anxiety and akathisia from the second I wake, that eventually calms a bit at night, but sometimes not til like 8-9PM. My question would be, can being on vacation really make that big of a difference in withdrawal? I would think it was just a fluke, but it has happened twice now. But it is like, almost feeling back to normal, vs not being able to fathom making it through another day. The difference is astounding. Any thoughts would be appreciated, also should I be getting worried that I am 4 months into reinstatement and holding and not stabilizing? Thanks, this site is amazing and all these people are amazing SURVIVORS!
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