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  1. I'll try to keep this kind of short. I've finally decided to post an intro today after reading posts on this site for a few years now which has helped a lot with understanding what's going on since most doctors just told me my SSRI discontinuation/withdrawal symptoms-which were unlike anything I'd ever experienced before and physically and emotionally worse than I'd ever felt-were a return of my depression & anxiety or possibly a bipolar disorder according to one doctor. I knew for a fact that it was not my original anxiety & depression, but I had no idea what was happening in the beginning or how to explain it. I had social anxiety, depression, & general anxiety since age 12 and was not allowed to drive/take the bus/go out or do much by myself other than going to school (because everything was too dangerous) by controlling, religious parents with their own high anxiety and agoraphobia. I was never allowed to receive counseling for these issues & when I went off to college, it was an extremely difficult struggle going from not being allowed to do almost anything to suddenly being responsible for figuring everything out on my own. I was also not great with time management skills & knowing how to plan ahead. (I actually relate to a lot of symptoms of ADD & Asperger's, which both greatly affect social skills & ability to get through college and would explain a lot of problems I've had. I have learned more about them in the past year, but can't afford to get diagnosed right now so I've just been looking at support groups for days when my nausea is lessened.) I felt overwhelmed all the time and all my negative thoughts worsened severely. I didn't see the free counselor at college during this time either because I was embarrassed about everything and about asking for help. I finally decided I wanted to try to make a change and try counseling the summer after sophomore year of college at age 20 and was at rock bottom, desperate to not feel depressed. I knew someone who said their antidepressant helped them, so I asked a doctor for medicine and they prescribed sertraline. After taking the first pill, I had a surge of anxiety and racing thoughts that made it impossible to concentrate. Within the first couple days on 25 mg of sertraline, I was gagging and dry heaving over and over for at least 20 minutes as soon as I ate anything. I would also throw up multiple times in a short timespan after one snack or meal. I called my Dr & was told to skip a dose and then change the time I took the dose from morning to night. After a week of this (dry heaving & vomiting all meals) on 25 mg, and another call to the doctor, I was told that digestive issues are a possible starting symptom and to increase to 50 mg. As soon as I increased, the gagging & vomiting increased even more. After 6 days of this, I called the doctor again and was told I could stop taking it altogether since it had been such a short amount of time on it. And to come in for a different medicine Rx after the weekend. The very first day that I didn't take the sertraline, I felt the worst nausea I had ever felt in my entire life. I ended up asking a friend to drive me to the ER because I felt so sick. I told the Dr how I had just stopped sertraline. The doctor said that my pupils were dilated and my reflexes were overactive. Then, he listed off illegal drugs & asked if I had taken those. (No, I've never tried any drug before). He said "You need to tell me what else is going on because the antidepressant couldn't have caused this." And I said "I don't know" and started crying. I do know that people in my family are highly sensitive to medicines and have since found out I have a gene that causes me to metabolize slowly so things build up for longer in my system. Anyway, the Dr left the room and at one point I was given Ativan in an IV by the nurse which did ease the nausea. When the Dr came back, he told me I had SSRI discontinuation syndrome, (he didn't explain what that meant), that I could never try another SSRI, and gave me a Rx for a small bottle of Ativan. My mom said he mentioned something on the phone to her about serotonin syndrome which dilated pupils and overactive reflexes are symptoms of, but I don't remember him saying anything about it directly to me. He also mentioned reinstating a small amount might help but my mom didn't pass this on to me until much later because she didn't want me to take it. After that, I experienced: -more dry heaving which gradually lessened in frequency -random times of vomiting after eating and after exercising when I wasn't sick & the food wasn't bad (or sometimes nothing was left to vomit & only a small amount would come up) -continuing debilitating nausea & dizziness -olfactory hallucination (putrid smell that wouldn't go away, would intensify around strong scents such as soap & car exhaust) -uncontrollable crying at every tiny thing (neuro-emotion, not regular sadness) -uncontrollable rage (neuro-emotion) -intrusive thoughts & floods of bad memories which I "word vomited" in texts to my sisters -didn't want to be around people who I associated with bad memories because it would greatly intensify neuro-anxiety. (I'd guess the feeling is similar to what people mean who talk about experiencing bad drug trips and how it's important to be with people you trust) -nightmares -paranoia/suspicion/distrust (felt like my mom & sister were not really my mom and sister even though logically, I knew it was them. Things feel creepy & sinister -almost like a horror movie sometimes. A post I read here compared the sinister feeling to a bad LSD trip. I have never tried LSD, but I understood what they meant & is the closest way I found to describe it. -cognitive fog (thinking, processing speed, & reaction time is noticeably slower) (I was a slow thinker/processor before, but it feels like I have brain damage now) -memory problems (I was somewhat forgetful before, but am even more so now) -depersonalization ("it feels like the medicine changed who I am & I don't have an identity/sense of self which I still hadn't fully formed before sertraline) -derealization (feel emotionally disconnected & distant from people/atmosphere. I know things are real, but they don't feel real. Sometimes it feels like consequences won't matter or there is no sense of helpful anxiety even in a potentially dangerous situation. Logically, I know they do matter and still want to do the right thing) -anhedonia/apathy/emotionally numb (don't care about things or have the same amount of passion for interests or feel empathy for other people's emotions or feel spiritual even though I had some spiritual beliefs before. Couldn't feel hopeful about anything/future or feel love towards or from anyone. These emotions have slowly returned to a certain degree since then & levels of ability to feel them have changed at different courses of time) -blurred/cloudy vision (when DR was at most intense, vision was different. Hard to explain) -eye floaters ( random black specks & lines) Didn't notice these until a year after DC-ing -constant yawning/air hunger -stomach/digestion issues -burning, tingling, itching, numbness, redness in feet -brain zaps/"crackles" (sometimes annoying, sometimes painful, but my most tolerable symptom) -head pressure/tightness, feels like head is being squeezed -headaches There was also a period of 6 months where I thought certain symptoms were over and after that period, the dizziness returned. Those are most of the symptoms I've experienced in the past approx 3.5 years. They're not in order. I'm 24 now. A few have gone away for the most part (vomiting, olfactory hallucination, yawning) and most are less intense. I have really improved a lot, I don't mean to sound overly negative. But, I still have the issues I went on the SSRI for & I have trouble accepting where I am & worrying about where to go from here & the uncertainty of how long this lasts because it has put lots of areas of my life on hold (I wasn't able to go back to college, I hope to someday) and ended up making things harder to deal with when I was told it would make them easier. (BTW, I am now seeing a counselor). I don't understand why people say SSRI's are not technically drugs when they have this much of an effect on your mind, mood, & perceptions. Sorry if I have over shared, I might need to post a shorter version of this at some point that's easier to read. And I'm still figuring out the layout of the website & where to post about certain questions & topics. I just know that sometimes other people's explanations made me feel better because I had some understanding of what was happening & words to describe feelings I'd never had before and didn't know how to explain. I've also had other stress & health issues and a few (physical health) medicines that have affected my withdrawal progress, but I guess that's a topic for a separate forum. Any advice, similar experiences, recommendations, tips for using the site, or insight into what happened to my brain is appreciated if anyone feels so inclined :)
  2. I'm a 32 year old bipolar female. Ive been on medication since I was 15 years old. I've been on Lexapro the longest. I've been on far more medication than I can remember and I was a vegetable for about 5 years as a teenager due to being put on way too many heavy meds before my family caught on to it and we switched to a new psychiatrist. I lost my charts from age 15 to the age of about 25 when I moved about 6 years ago so I don't have information of a very good memory of my past medications. I know Topamax was very bad for me as well as Wellbutrin, which gave me very bad sleep paralysis and nightmares. I wanted to go off Abilify due to foreseen expenses at changing insurance so I brought this to the attention of my doctor. He didn't lower my Abilify but proceeded to up my dose of Lamictal quickly while halving my Lexapro and then I was pulled off after a week. He also slightly increased my Abilify from 5 to 7.5 to 10 mg. All this happening at once seemed strange and I thought i trusted someone finally with my medications management. I have an IUD as well that was recently put in after my old one was taken out after 5 years. It doesn't help that I am now getting 2 periods a month while I already have severe depression related to my cycle. I am suicidal right now, so I called my psychiatrist to get an appointment or up my Lexapro and try again but he was unreachable. The first two days of going off the lexapro I felt really good. Then I got manic and couldn't sleep for about a month. Cycling between severe anger/anxiety and the worst depression. I told my doctor in my last appointment i thought it was because I got my period during the withdrawal and I needed it fixed before my next one. He upped my Lamictal again by 50mg. He says he wants me on 200mg of Lamictal by the end of the changes. Then have my period again after one week off. I don't know what to do. I can't sleep at night and I wake up worrying immediately. Panic attacks every night. The only thing that helps me relax at night is repeating "I'll be dead soon" in my head because thoughts about the future are tearing me apart. I'm taking Buspar every night and morning and then I need sometimes two more in the day to cover up panic attacks. I have a supportive environment. I know it cannot be easy for them. I was googling information to figure out what could be going on with me. I'm extremely fatigued the last two days. I thought I might have autism my memory and attention span has decreased but it was bad before, too. It's not that I am not trying to listen but I pretty much have always only heard half of what people say. My mind wanders really badly. So I work around it with patterns and filling in between the lines so I can meet day to day functioning. But since that's something unrelated, it seems, to the Lexapro withdrawal, it's not needed. It's just something I am just realizing, so I mentioned it. I have no job right now. I really would like to work and need the money but I'm not able to "human" right now. One thing that does help, is I like to write and paint and it is not effected by the depression/mood swings/cycling/whatever and my husband and friends are being super supportive. I found a local therapist today and have set up an appointment so hopefully that will help. I am considered disabled as I was put on SSI for bipolar and I have a piddling work history. Im still trying to fix that. I am also diagnosed recently with Borderline Personality Disorder, but my therapist said, before she left the group I go to, she doesn't think I have it. I wasn't even told. I just looked at my check out sheet one day and it was added at the top as a new diagnosis in the header. I found this site and I realized that it must be the withdrawal from Lexapro causing this problem. It gives me some hope that maybe it will get better. Thank you for making this site. It must take a lot of work.
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