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  1. Hello everybody, First, I aprpeciate this resource! I started with panic disorder 5 years ago. I was started on Zanax in the hospital, and I am still angry about it, or at least about having zero information about what I was getting myself into. Thankfully I quit after a few months on it. The insomnia was terrible but my sleep recovered to a tolerable pattern after a couple of weeks. I also started Lexapro at 10 mg while I was still taking Zanax. And I started running and exercising three times a day for an hour each. I am still convinced that the exercise made it possible for the panic attacks to completely resolve after a few months. but then I had a new panic attack after months of not having any. My doctor increased my Lexapro dose to 20 mg and stayed there. I have also been getting very good treatment for my C-PTSD/developmental trauma (Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems/parts work) and a I am doing much much better. I want to quit Lexapro because I think I no longer need it since my anxiety/panic has resolved, and because it has the side effect of giving me GERD which I also have to manage with medication. And also because my sleep patterns could never recover to a fully normal pattern. I now learned that SSRIs interact with the circadian rhythm, and Lexapro in particular does so negatively. So, I blame my sleep problems on Lexapro. I started using the sleep app RISE, and realized that my circadian rhythm, isn't much of a rythm at all. I feel like I will only get back my normal sleep after quitting Lexapro. All the more reason to get off of it. I am super upset at the doctors for increasing my dose to such a high amount, now that I read that lexapro is so much more potent than other drugs at similar dosages. 20 mg is called "hefty"! a 5 mg increase would have been much more prudent and I am not even a doctor! I started by shaving off a small amount from the 20 mg a few months ago. I used a roughened glass nail file, that I could be very precise and gradual with. I finally reached a 25% reduction, and since I started having insomnia symptoms, I started looking for more information and found this forum. I read some of the posts and just asked my doctor today to switch me to the liquid version, so I can continue a more smooth and precise tapering process. I referred her to this website so she can also benefit from this information. I plan to increase my dosage a little bit again to see if the insomnia resolves and then I will stay there for a couple of months. I also started having stomach pain, and now I wonder if it is caused by the taper. That is hard to tell given my food sensitivities. I have gone back to exercising more again, since it was so helpful a few years ago. I am following the RISE app which makes working with the circadian rhythm very easy. I plan on being very patient with myself otherwise, and this website resource is incredibly encouraging and reassuring. I also take Melatonin for that. What I learned from this website so far that is an eye opener is the 3KIS principle, and is how incredibly important it is to be stable in all aspects of health. I didn't realize that before. So, I will make sure that my exercise and supplement and med schedules as well as sleep (or time in dark and in bed, at least) are totally consistent. Which is hard when sleep is hard to come by, but now I am that much more motivated to actually lean into it with trust and patience. Given that I am struggling with sleep, I wonder about CBD. I have never tried any form of cannabis before. It may be a bad idea to combine a tapering with CBD which is new to my system and it violates the 3KIS principles, but I thought I'd ask to see what experience people have, if any. Thank you all!!
  2. I have had the good fortune to confer with some of the top brain researchers in the world this past 4 years. Michael M. Merzenich who has had several PBS brain specials, Robert Sapolsky at Stanford, Daniel Amen (also many PBS brain specials) Malcom Lader in the UK and many others. Off the subject of exercise but Dr. Merzenich is considered the father of neuroplasticity research and he told me to study primates brain ability to heal they give them SSRI's then stop them. OK Exercise - none of these experts had a clue on how to heal a drug damaged brain. The one common theme was aerobic exercise. There is a great book out on this called SPARK on this. There is also the work of the Cooper Center on the benefits of aerobic exercise for anxiety and depression being better than medications. For the first 3 years I could not do any more than walk - any strenuous activity made me critically ill. I still walk a lot and more if I am in a wave (which seems to be continual) but now I have been able to do some 10 mile bike rides. Has anyone else found benefit/determent to exercise??
  3. Hi there! I'm rather new to the community and have not posted yet since starting my withdrawal from Effexor. It's been a little over a month from when I went from 75mg down to 9.375mg a day (one quarter of 37.5mg pill). The initial decrease was not too bad with the occasional lightheaded-ness and night sweats. At this point, my symptoms are gone and I intend to decrease again very shortly once I figure out how that can be done smoothly. The only symptom that still seems to be prevalent is my intolerance to exercise. I'm used to exercising regularly (3-4x/week, an hour at a time) and now can barely stand 15 minutes of normal exercise. I'll get very dizzy, cold sweats, and have vomited on occasion. I assume this is due to the withdrawal as nothing else has changed. There's a lot of info out there and I know many people have found supplements that help in certain situations and was wondering if anyone has had similar symptoms and found relief in some way. I've gained about 10 lbs since starting Effexor in January, 2017 and want to get this unneeded weight off as soon as I can as it impedes my ability to continue practicing aerial silks. Any help would be much appreciated! Thank you, Brenna
  4. Hi friends, I'm grateful that this community exists. I'm now 29 years old, and feel that life has offered me a precious opportunity to try again: to live in the ways that are most meaningful to me, and to reduce my dependence on a synthetic molecule and anything else that doesn't nourish me. I was first prescribed Luvox at age 16 during what was later diagnosed as a long, recurrent viral illness (mononucleosis). At age 20 (2006), I switched to Effexor, at a dose of 75 mg XR. I've long recognized that very little is known about the effects of long-term antidepressant use, and I have aspired to take care of my body and mind as naturally and as gently as possible. I have tried twice now to discontinue Effexor. In both instances, I tapered over ~6 weeks and experienced significant withdrawal symptoms including 'brain zaps', but felt that I had the resources and momentum to weather these initial waves of difficulty. Over the course of the next 3-6 months, however, I found myself becoming increasingly depressed, sliding down a slope without the resources to gain a foothold; and experiencing waves of anxiety that often felt overpowering. After the most recent effort (November 2014-June 2015), I restarted Effexor, and found that this time 225 mg was necessary to re-establish balance. Given the history of relapses, my most recent doctor has recommended that I remain on the current dose at least 9 months (or 6 months longer) before beginning to taper. I see wisdom in that approach, as I am still finding my strength week by week, and I will be driving across the country in 4 days to relocate from Indiana, where I grew up, to the SF Bay Area. I hope also to begin work at a start-up that I regard as likely to be meaningful and challenging ("I hope", because I am told to expect an offer in the next couple days), and I want to take the long view on this, only taking each next step when I feel strong, steady, and ready. During both of my previous attempts to discontinue Effexor, I lacked professional guidance or a community walking this path with me. I know that reducing and eventually ending my dependence on Effexor will require all of my resources, and many which I have yet to develop; and I have learned how vitally important it is both to lend support to others and to accept and receive it. Sometimes it is clear to me that each of these actions, each direction of giving and receiving support, contains the other. When I am able to clearly, I know also that every breath, every step, and every action taken with awareness is an opportunity to develop the internal resources necessary to walk this path myself and to support others. There are very few things of which I feel certain; actually, if there is one, it is probably this: nothing is of greater value to me or to the world this path of healing and transformation. Thank you for sharing with me what has been most powerful, meaningful, and effective for you in this journey. Please let me know, also, how I can support you. In allowing me to listen and perhaps to share what this life is teaching me, you give me a great gift. I am happy that we are walking this path together. In gratitude, Michael * * * I initially included this in my signature; I'll include it here, and link to it from the signature. Incredibly important and valuable to me in this process has been vigorous exercise (running, racquetball, biking), yoga, and especially a daily mindfulness practice (2009-present). My intention is to bring it into every part of my daily life, so that I may act from a real understanding of what brings happiness and pain to myself and others. I regard this practice, cultivating this intention and capacity, as the basis of the solidity, clarity, and capacity to generate joy which will make it possible to rely less and less on Effexor, and to live as I wish to live. I also know that this will likely be a long path, and that I will have to grow a great deal along it. My practice has been inspired and sustained by the writings and life of Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) and the Plum Village community. So often I am lost in my intellect and my thinking struggle to return with a physical and whole-hearted presence to life in this moment. I have been moved by the simplicity and power of Thay's teachings on cultivating a joyful awareness of the body, and mind learning to sit, stand, walk, eat, and do the tasks of life in awareness. During my last attempt to discontinue Effexor, I was an aspirant to be a monk at PV, but was unable to continue for the time being. My deepest wish is to live each day guided by the intention shared by the monastics, and some day to be strong enough to join them.
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