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  1. Hey, everyone. Here's my introduction (I hope it's not too long): In 1994, at 19, I suffered panic attacks from being bullied in school and having cognitive errors in my thinking (perfectionism, negative self talk, etc.) My parents took me to a psychiatrist who told me I had a "chemical imbalance in my brain," prescribed me 80 mg of Prozac a day, and kicked me out the door. I received no therapy and from that day forward saw myself as a mental health patient. This diagnosis changed the course of my entire life. My Prozac took six weeks to kick in, and it brought with it a slew of side effects: generalized anxiety, hypervigilance (constant surveying the world and my body for signs of panic), stomach cramps, and irritable bowel syndrome. Like the proverbial boiling frog who doesn't notice the raising temperature, the side effects eased in to my life so slowly I thought they were a part of me and my "chemical imbalance." In essence I had a paradoxical reaction to the drug: it amplified my existing struggles but I had no idea my medication was the source. I was never told this was possible, nor was I told about the danger of trying to come off. The side effects made work outside the home, socializing, and dating extremely difficult because I was always afraid of the next wave of anxiety that would send me racing to the washroom. I watched my friends grow up and have careers, partners, and families, while I tried to buoy what was left of my self-esteem with self-help books and different therapists, none of who ever questioned the drug or the dosage. After two years of cognitive behavioral therapy to untwist the errors in my thinking, I tried coming off the drug under the supervision of my doctor in 2006 but the initial reduction of 20 mg every two weeks proved to be far too steep. When I reached zero I had a few days of bliss, then an absolute mental collapse. I developed akathisia and was unable to sit still and paced relentlessly and lost control of my emotions. I felt completely hollow and cried for no reason, all the while suffering from unspeakable anxiety. My parents debated admitting me to a hospital but was told that the doctors would check my medication levels then ask me to leave as there would be nothing they could do. I went to my psychiatrist who misdiagnosed my condition not as withdrawal but as depression and anxiety that the Prozac had been treating. Desperate not to lose my mind, I restarted the drug and lost another ten years to side effects. Two years ago I lowered my dose from 40 mg to 30 mg. Three days later I was to meet friends for dinner for as long as my anxiety would allow. I braced myself during the meal for the inevitable tsunami of mental anguish but what I felt instead was a mere ripple. I was stunned, then perplexed. When I realized what was happening and that the drug had been the cause, I burst into tears. Instead of racing home after the meal as I so often had in the past, my friends and I went to a movie. Over the past few months I've been easing off Prozac at 5 mg every six weeks. My quality of life improves with each reduction. My hypervigilance and anxiety all but vanished at 20 mg. At 15 mg I have become more social than I have ever been, and at 10 mg I feel like myself again - sort of. I've been on 10 mg of Prozac since May 9th, and I'm also on 50 mg of Seroquel. I want to get off the Prozac completely but I'm going to stay at 10 mg for at least three months until I know I'm stable. Though most of my anxiety is gone, I had a panic attack last week. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday over how much I've missed out on from the medication and cried through the whole thing. Naturally she was concerned that this might be a relapse of depression/anxiety, but I honestly feel better now than I ever did on the higher dose. So...that's me!
  2. Hi everyone, My name is Weemie. Nice to meet you all! I hope you'll take the time to read this. I'm in really rough shape right now. a little bit of personal history; I'm 20 years old and have been on and off of sertraline a total of three times since the age of 14. Each discontinuation period has been hellish for me because my tapering instructions were to basically just skip a dose every second day and keep increasing days in between doses until I felt better. I'd usually stop after about two weeks. my most recent taper had started and ended in the month of October 2020. I was pretty seriously depressed in late 2021 which resulted in a full blown insomnia induced breakdown in December. In my desperation for anxiety relief I (regrettably) promised myself I'd start sertraline again. December 9th I took a 25mg dose of sertraline and didn't sleep that entire night which prompted me to take a half a dose of zopiclone that next day as instructed by my doctor. Something went awfully awry in my mind this week of December 9th. I became withdrawn and angry, started having racing thoughts and awful agitation/restlessness; which I now know to be symptoms of akathisia or an akathisia adjacent affliction known as activation syndrome. I ended up taking 4 more doses of sertraline sporadically throughout that month (this was me trying to work up the nerve to take it more regularly, stupid I know). On December 24th I had the most traumatic depersonalization experience of my life, so I took another sertraline that night, followed by one more dose on December 25th. I woke up the 26th feeling totally gone, severed from myself. Seven months after this experience, I do not feel like the same person I was prior to December 9th. I suffer from constant brain chatter that is almost subconscious. Looping and racing at a mile a minute. I can't distinguish my conscious thoughts from the unconscious. Its like an intersection between OCD and ADHD, constantly obsessing over thoughts but cant process them. I'm like a broken record. just an urge to keep thinking. on top of this everything just feels sinister and "off". words, songs and certain consonants are constantly stuck in my head. It makes me agitated, I haven't been able to relax for 7 months. I feel trapped inside of myself. I don't feel depressed or anxious exactly, but another third thing. dysphoric, sick and angry. On top of this I have anhedonia and dp/dr. I've seen very little improvement over these last seven months. these symptoms just scratch the surface of how difficult this adjustment has been for me. I have sort of habituated but recently its been difficult since coming to terms with my symptoms. I'm wondering, where do I go from here? I fear this could be Tardive akathisia, brought on by my attempt to reinstate in December. Or maybe some form of extended withdrawal. Whatever it is, it appears to be chronic. I'm seriously considering reinstating again and eventually doing a micro taper, but I fear this could ruin my recovery progress, if there is any being made. I risk my condition becoming much worse if I reinstate. Should I continue? give it a year? does the longer you wait to reinstate make it more difficult to do so? its just a gamble either way I suppose. To everyone on this website, I'm sending so much love and resilience to you! I would so appreciate any advice or sharing of similar experiences. it would brighten my life so much. Any direction or encouragement would mean the world. Thank you kindly
  3. Hi everyone! My background is that in the summer of 2020 I was still a normal, functioning person - I enjoyed time with my family and friends, was often jogging in the forest, swimming, doing daily yoga, gardening etc. besides my work. I did not have any special health issues that needed attention or medication. Then I got sleeping problems in Oct 2020 mainly because of stress at work and physical injuries in my back, which prevented me from sleeping well. In Nov 2020 I was prescribed Imovane (zopiclone) for my sleep, but I still slept only 3 hours a night due to pain in my back and was very exhausted. I was diagnosed with fatigue syndrome in Dec 2020. In the middle of Dec 2020 I began having fever and could not sleep at all. I also got symptoms such as breathing problems and a feeling of "burning legs" and I quickly got anxiety due to the frightening symptoms. My normal doctor did not know what to do and sent me on to a psychiatrist, who prescribed Mirtazapin for my sleep, declaring I had general anxiety disorder. I was also advised to take fast walks outdoors for my anxiety. I started out on a high dose (30 mg). The drug did not help me sleep more than 5-6 hours per night at most. My breathing problems got worse and the fever came back. I was extremely fatigued and the walks outdoors made me extremely sick, but the psychiatrist still advised me to exercise "to keep my anxiety down". Eventually the tests for covid-19 finally returned (after more than a week) and I realized I had been sick all along in covid-19. I was now instead prescribed to rest and not exercise. However, my breathing problems got worse and I was eventually hospitalized for a while. Also, after two weeks on Mirtazapine I developed severe tinnitus (which I had not had before in my life) and immense sensitivity to all sounds inlcuding my own internal sounds (like swallowing). In the beginning of Jan 2021 I got a new doctor (while my doctor was on leave), who took me off Mirtazapine cold turkey ("this is not a problem after just a few weeks"). After 3 days I got severe anxiety. The good news was that my tinnitus disappeared and I was very happy about that part. However, the anxiety was not like anything I had ever before experienced in my life so I returned to the doctor after 5 days. The doctor now diagnosed me with depression and prescribed Sertraline. For my sleep I was prescribed Olanzapine 5 mg. After two days I got back tinnitus, but now much worse than before. After 3 days I got numbness in my arms and strange feelings in my skin. Also after 3 days I felt as if I were "drugged" and outside of my body. After 4 days I got permanent dizziness, that has not got away ever since then. My doctor advised me to "keep pushing through". At least I slept well now and was slowly recovering, but I was extremely foggy and tired all the time. I could hardly chew my food. After 1 week I discovered that my eye sight had changed, I had trouble focusing and I had got very light sensitive. The symptoms described above did not vanish, so my doctor let me quit olanzapine after a few weeks. Cold turkey was not a problem, she said, because you have only taken it for a few weeks. After 4 days of stopping olanzapine the dizziness got much worse and I felt numbness in my face and my scalp in addition to all the other problems. The doctor explained that it was impossible to be related to olanzapine. Another doctor examined me and declared that the dizziness and eye problems came from taking Sertraline. He decided that I was to immediately quit Sertraline cold turkey. After a few days I got really sick - more dizzy, paresthesia etc. The doctor explained that it was impossible to be due to taking the prescribed medications. Instead the doctor suggested that I suffered from post covid symptoms. For two months I was taken on and off olanzapine a few times by different doctors. For example one doctor thought it was a great sleep aid medication to take, while another thought I should quit because it was not suitable for someone with my problems. Every time I quit I would feel great for two days and then develop severe anxiety, paresthesia, chills, insomnia and severe dizziness. I was eventually referred to a doctor specialized in post covid symptoms (neurologist), who made a very thorough examination. But she declared that my symptoms were not at all typical of post covid. She instead suggested that my symptoms were due to fatigue and anxiety problems, but also said that she was not an expert on this. She had not idea whether my symptoms could be caused by medication and did not comment on that. My normal doctor was now back from his leave and said that he belived all my symptoms to be related to fatigue. He prescribed Escitalopram and I started taking it on 30 March 2021. At the same time I took olanzapine for another two weeks. I felt relatively OK on 5 mg escitalopram, although I had some side effects with cramps, insomnia and tight jaws. After two weeks I was taken off olanzapine and at the same time the Escitalopram dose was increased to 10 mg (which according to my doctor is the lowest therapeutic dose). My anxiety returned with vengeance, the dizziness got much worse and I felt thoroughly sick. This lasted for a couple of weeks. I got some new side effect: hand tremor, different parts of the body would shake involuntarily when I wanted to sleep, my eyes did not function properly anymore (extremely hard to focus), very light sensitive and the colours were all "wrong" (a yellowish kind of colour). So my doctor decided to up the dose to 15 mg, because in his experience this would help. However, it did not. I felt more foggy, the tremor in my hands was so bad I could not hold a fork, I was extremely dizzy and barely managed going to the bathroom - and I had horrible anxiety. After 3 weeks the dose was decreased to 10 mg and I felt somewhat better. My doctor advised me to stay on this dose for at least 6 weeks, but after a couple of weeks I decrease my dose to 7.5 mg and I felt even better. However, "better" is a relative term - I still had permanent dizziness, light sensitiveness, eye problems, tinnitus, tremor and involuntary shakes. But the anxiety was much better, which my doctor thought was very strange. Also, I could take walks and enjoy a little bit of things in my daily life again. My doctor now belived that I am very sensitive to all kinds of medication and we agreed to try to stop taking escitalopram. However, when going down to 5 mg I developed severe physical withdrawal symptoms - paresthesia, chills, headaches, worse eye problems, worse tinnitus, and severe dizziness. According to the guidelines my doctor was following, withdrawal only lasts for 1-2 weeks (at most 6 weeks). I got a new doctor, because my previous doctor quit his job. My new doctor told me that it was obvious the medication never gave me any positive effects, which I agreed on. So I stopped the medication from 5 mg and after two days experienced extreme symptoms. I was entirely incapable of anything at all for weeks. My family was and is taking care of me. Now it has been more than 6 weeks. To be specific it has been 9 weeks and 2 days. My doctor tells me it is impossible to have withdrawal symptoms after 6 weeks so I really feel I am on my own here. I strongly belive I have been having withdrawal symptoms and side effects all along. Being fatigued (and also covid-19) has probably made my whole system more sensitive to all kinds of medication in the first place. I have now finally found this great forum. Unfortunately, a bit late. My withdrawal symptoms are the following: Constant dizziness (like being on a rocking boat), cramps in the scalp, pressure over the temples (which I associate with cramps in the head muscles), paresthesia (numbness/tingling) in my face, scalp, hands and feet, eye problems (extremely sensitive to lights, difficulties with focusing, floaters), feeling foggy in my head, memory problems, extreme fatigue, severe tinnitus, feeling "swollen" in my body and limbs and ears, occasional "brain zap" (although this symptom has got much better lately). Also after I quit Escitalopram I cannot eat anything with sugar, I cannot drink coffee or tea, because these all make me much more sich within minutes. A few times a week I also experience bouts of anxiety, but they usually last for only around 30 minutes at a time. My main problems are the physical symptoms. I do feel rather worried about my physical symptoms, which is understandable. Will they pass? Did I "destroy" my nervous system by quitting from 5 mg to 0 mg? I realize that my nervous system is over-sensitized now. Since my withdrawal symptoms are still severe I wonder if I should reinstate medication? My doctor suggests taking 5 mg again (although he does not acknowledge that I should experience these symptoms at all after 6 weeks), but reading through some of the information in this forum makes me believe that 5 mg may be much too high for me. Also, I understand from your information that after 1 month of quitting (I am currently at more than 9 weeks after quitting) there are no guarantees that my system will react well to reinstatement. I also understand from the information here that reinstatement may even make me more sick. But I also understand that there IS a chance that I might feel somewhat better with reinstatement at a low dose. To sum things up, I would happily receive some experienced thoughts about different options in my situation. My days are extremely limited right now and I am entirely taken care of by my family. I manage some meditation, qigong breathing exercises, a short outdoor walk per day and making my own breakfast - that is more or less all due to the physical withdrawal symptoms. If I want to attempt a reinstatement - how much and how should I do it? Is it the same drug (escitalopram) or should I try to get citalopram instead and why so? Many thanks in advance! I am so glad I eventually found this forum!
  4. Hi you all! I am Athena. So my tough journey begins in 2001, when I am diagnosed with depression. I am then prescribed Effexor, which instantly gives me huge side effects: vomiting, tremors, sweats... But I am a tough warrior and I put up with them, for a year and a half. In 2005, depression comes back, and here starts the trial-and-error of many, many AD's: Celexa, Zoloft, Effexor, desipramin, Wellbutrin, mirtazepin, Lamictal, Remeron, Abilify, nortriptylin, Cipralex, Cymbalta, and others I don't remember. They all give me side effects that are almost as bad as the disease in itself. When I would try to stop them, I would have really bad symptoms of depression, so I began to believe that that was going to be my life, which is quite depressing in itself! Last summer (2012), while being on Cymbalta, I developped really bad sleeping problems: I would sleep maximum 3 hours per night, and only with a med called Imovane. So I started to be addicted to that in order to sleep. But I was so tired that I decided to stop the Cymbalta, so my doctor prescribed me Paxil. I was already on Wellbutrin as well. Paxil made me SO sleepy, that I tried to quit in Sept. 2012, first from 20mg to 10mg, which went well, and then 2 weeks later from 10mg to 0. Outch. That's when I found out about withdrawal symptoms, which I had never heard of before for AD's. It was awful, but it might have been my revelation, because they were really PHYSICAL symptoms. I started to read a lot about the subject on the internet. I have learned a lot, and I have started to think that the depression symptoms I have been having when I tried many times to stop my meds were maybe in fact WITHDRAWAL symptoms. My doctor didn't think so. Even so, I started to taper slowly from Paxil and to take good care of myself in other natural ways. So here I am now, on 7mg Paxil, 100mg Wellbutrin and 2.5mg Imovane. My doctor keeps telling me to try and taper Paxil faster than I am now... so he can be able to prescribe me something else... a MAOI (?).I am not really interested in trying a 20th (?) medication. All of the previous ones have given me really bad side effects that have put my life on hold for 10 years... Why would this one be different? He claims that I am going to have a depression relapse if I don't take any medication... So here is my first question: do you guys think what I have experienced as "depression relapse" when I was trying to stop the AD's many times in the last 10 years, might have been in fact withdrawal symptoms? And that if I taper them a lot more gradually, I might not have those "depression symptoms" forever? And therefore, I wouldn't have to take the so-called MAOI? My second question is: which one do you think I should taper first? Paxil or Wellbutrin? I wanted to get off Paxil as fast as possible because it was making me so sleepy, but right now, it seems like the side effects from Wellbutrin are more disturbing. It has always affected my breathing, like I have to make an effort to breath completely, and it has given me some joint pain. But right now these seem to be worse, breathing is more difficult and it makes the breathing muscles become too contracted and sore. Plus I know that breathing right is important during recovery... Also, the problem with Wellbutrin is that you're not supposed to cut the pill, since the covering is doing the "slow-release" job... Well this was my story! I know it's a looong and boring story but it's mine... If anyone would have any input or advice on one or both of my questions, I would be SO grateful!! Also, please forgive my English mistakes, it is not my mother tongue. I really wish a full physical and mental health to everyone here, and I am looking forward to know and discuss with you all!! All the best. -Athena
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