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Hi everyone, As I've gotten better over the past 3+ years after quitting antidepressants cold turkey and having really bad problems with severe anxiety, insomnia, and other withdrawal symptoms, I've realized how important moments of happiness and contentment have been to my recovery. Of course, feeling happy or even content seemed completely impossible at first, and attaining them even now is still sometimes a challenge. But, looking back, I can see clear patterns of measurable, lasting improvement after periods during which I somehow managed to feel good. Usually, these moments involved reconnection with friends and traveling, taking time off work, and finding things to do that made me feel a sense of fulfillment, even if it was precarious and fleeting. A few months ago, I came across a fascinating article that talks about the importance of positive social connections to our health. It turns out your body turns genes off and on depending on how you subjectively experience your environment, sometimes even hours after, and this can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental health. It is a long read, but a very worthwhile one! Here's the link: The Social Life of Genes What is SO difficult in recovering from antidepressant withdrawal is that the withdrawal makes us feel so miserable. Precisely what we are desperate to recover from is overwhelming negative physical and emotional feelings. So... what can you do? In case it helps anyone, I'll describe some of the things that helped me (often tips given on this forum). Don't expect to have big results, especially at first. The important thing is that you keep trying. Try to notice and appreciate anything resembling a positive emotion (or even neutral) as much as you can, even if it only lasts a few seconds. If you fail, don't worry... This isn't about getting it right, it's about generating more positive emotions little by little. Sometimes you can fake your way through them, sometimes they'll come to you and you'll be surprised. 1. Taking magnesium salts baths to relax. Try to concentrate on the pleasant sensation of water surrounding you, on the warmth. If it doesn't feel good, don't worry. Just think that it IS good, that it will be good again someday. 2. Look at flowers and trees and nature, really observe them. 3. Spend time with animals. 4. Smell things you like or remember liking before. Don't worry if you don't get a positive response. Just observe what it brings up in you. If it is negative, don't judge it, just let it go. 5. Reach out to others, either here or in your life, as much as you can. At the end of the day, try to find anything positive about an interaction you had, even if it seems insignificant. Don't dwell on the negative stuff. 6. Take walks, trying to be present with what is around you. 7. Listen to calming, pleasant music... don't overdo it, though. I often would get things "stuck" in my head, so if you're in the worst stages of withdrawal, start small. Maybe wind chimes, or the the sound of the ocean, and just for a very little bit. 8. Do something to help someone else, however small, and then reflect on it that night. Tell yourself you should feel good about what you did, even if you don't believe it. 9. Whenever possible, enjoy food. At first you might be having severe digestion problems. I was having strange taste distortions at first, but with time I found that treating myself to something delicious really made me feel good (just make sure it's healthy and something that won't make you feel worse... excessive sugar, etc.). One of the first things that I started feeling a desire for was food and nature. I found my body asking for things it probably really needed, like dark leafy greens and celery or fruit. 10. Have a cup of tea (something you can tolerate) or a glass of water and really concentrate on the sensations of drinking it, think about the good it does your body. 11. Spend as much time as possible NOT thinking about withdrawal. Distract yourself with books or TV shows or just looking out the window. One of the first things that I was able to enjoy was the first season of Downton Abbey and Jane Austen novels. One day I realized I was looking forward to reading a new chapter or seeing another episode, and though it was a weak feeling at first, it grew into a greater desire, which was amazing after feeling completely dead for a long time. 12. Try learning something new, without expecting any results. I started taking drawing classes, and though I often get frustrated and even break down crying when I'm doing something, I later look at what I did and see small moments of success that make me feel good. Even better is when I'm able to let go and "not think" and just let my body experience what it is doing. 13. Enlist someone to cheer you on. When you're in withdrawal, people can be incredibly critical and frustrated with your lack of progress. If you have a good friend or family member who is willing, ask them to help you. My mother forced me to go on walks and just kept repeating I was going to beat this and I was going to be OK... she really helped me survive the first few months of hell! 14. Enlist other people to help you with basic tasks or back you up with work when you're in deep crisis. I kept working at first, and I was making a lot of mistakes, so I would have someone "check my work" before I turned it in. Especially during the months I was getting very little sleep, it was a life-saver to have this support. 15. If you can, take time off work, and try to get out of your usual environment... seek out people and places that make you feel better in ANY way. 16. Allow yourself to be distracted. I got really worked up about eating, sleeping, getting better... to the point I was holding up my own progress. Somehow sometimes I would break out of that and become distracted and afterward I'd realize I had forgotten about my pain and suffering for a moment! Do not underestimate the power of distraction! Sometimes what really helped me was being around people I could not talk to about what was going on with me. It forced me to be in the moment. 17. On the flip side, also allow yourself to complain about how awful you feel with someone safe once in a while. Just let it out, and then move on. Tell the other person you don't need feedback or opinions, that you just need to vent and need a sympathetic ear. 18. At the end of the day, review your day and think of anything that was positive, however small. If there was nothing positive, congratulate yourself for having gotten through it. 19. Allow yourself small moments of giving up. Rest for a moment. Cry, think that's it, you can't take it any more. Then un-give up and keep going. Even the tiniest steps will add up to something. It's going to take time, but you're going to get better. Nadia
Hello, I am new to this site. I have come here to hear of success stories and\or advice regarding recovery from Antipsychotics and SSRI's. At the beginning of July I took Risperidone 0.5mg and Prozac 20mg for 10 days and ceased it's use due to side effects such as Tachycardia, Emotional Blunting, Anxiety, blankouts and lowered cognition. The withdrawal was not extreme, if I remember correctly, I had a period of severe depression which resolved itself over a few days. Followed by a slightly manic phase which stabilized itself. For the next 2 weeks after the initial withdrawal I had periods of anger and agitation. But now, at present times. There appears to be no withdrawal symptoms. But lasting damage and effects. I now have hyperprolactinemia with no sign of a prolactinoma gathered from my MRI results. This is causing gynecomastia and other effects such aa fatigue and a lowered sex drive. This was not present prior to the drug combination. Ever since taking those two drugs, I now have these effects. I have read that Risperidone can cause hyperprolactinemia for 54 weeks which is 1 year and a month 1\2. Do you I truly have to wait that long to recover? Can I actually recover at all? My GP sent a referral to an Endocrinologist and I am awaiting an appointment. Through the endo I can be treated with Cabergoline and Clomid to lower the Prolactin but I have my doubts that it will work.
Everyone that has followed my case, knows how much I have struggled over the past 5 years. Withdrawal has greatly improved, but I am left with an adequate memory impairment and some brain fog and anxiety and minor depression and probably some derealization etc. Well one month ago I was talking to some nutritionalists and dieticians and I watched "what the health" and this decision came to me like the perfect storm, kinda like when withdrawal hit. I went plant based one month ago and have already felt more energy, a touch of clarity and anxiety has gone down too. I just started ! Eating this way will detox the body, brain and soul. Cutting out meat and dairy , cut out so many toxins and chemicals that our bodies cannot process. When you go plant based, you eat lots of fruits, and a lot of veggies , and you get to create so many yummy meals. Facebook and the net have tons of groups and recipes to get started. If you can go "Raw Vegan" it really opens up the detox ports. You will really heal a lot of disease and disorders. The research speaks for itself. When you eat clean, you thrive. This may just help out on your withdrawal journey. Pm if you need any help~ everyone here was great and helpful in my recovery. Cheers
I've been thinking about this a lot: Will my body be able to cope with anxiety symptoms in the long term when I'm off meds? Will it withstand the physical stress from the prolonged periods of anxiety, or is this likely going to lead to stroke or heart attack or some other health problems? What I'm asking is: Are people with anxiety disorder likely to have a normal lifespan if they don't take meds? See, I don't want to put my health at risk, but at the same time I know what ADs did to me and I'll do my best to avoid them. It's a tough one. I'm ready to use techniques like meditation and CBT, and maybe some herbs/supplements if my CNS hypersensitivity normalizes. But is it going to be enough? I guess nobody can really answer this, but I'd like to know your opinion. Thank you!