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  1. I was put on 20mg of Seroxat in May 1996 (directly after two weeks of Valium). I was 19 years old. Prescription was for Panic Disorder, GAD and Mild Depression (although I had never felt depressed and explained that many times over the years to my doctor(s)). As were many, I was told I had a chemical balance which, just like a diabetic needs insulin, I needed seroxat. Since then, I have tried approximately 5 times to come off the medication (with taper of sorts - usually 10mg for a few weeks and then to zero). Each time, the anxiety came back, always with new symptoms (extreme nausea, vertigo, increased anxiety, obsessive dark thoughts). I also developed irrational fears (fear of driving on highways and over bridges, fear of ski lifts, fear of heights, fear of flying, fear of business meetings. In fact, pretty much fear of everything.). Each time I visited a doctor, I was told the same thing: you have a chemical imbalance and need to go back on Seroxat. Sure enough, a single tablet would have me feeling back to “normal” within a matter of hours. I used to joke about it with doctors “wow, what a placebo effect. This should take weeks to work?”. Now I realise I was (probably) in withdrawal. Two years ago, after being in a protracted depression for the best part of 10 years (something I hadn’t realised as it had become my baseline state), I had got myself down to approximately 7mg a day. The reason I was trying to come off was two fold: firstly, my wife and I wanted to start a family and I was concerned about both my fertility and damage to any baby I conceive. Secondly, I had made a huge effort to get fit, was running 40km a week and had dropped from 92kg to 78kg-I’m 178cm. This gave me the confidence that I was in the best physical place to achieve it. Soon after, I suffered what I considered to be a mental breakdown. I was ready to leave my loving wife and had developed a clinical apathy to everything. I became petrified I would commit suicide (I never felt this was realistic but the thought of it gave me panic attacks). Furthermore, I started wondering such thoughts as “will I jump off the balcony whilst sleep walking”. I had been seeing a psychologist for some time but talking about things seemed to make the situation worse. I also started seeing a CBT therapist. I would feel better during a session but on leaving, my mood would severely crash, like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. I knew I was in a bad place. The psychologist recommended me to a psychiatrist who was the most uncaring person I have ever met. How she medically practices, I have no idea. She wasn’t interested in my drug history, offered me barely five minutes of her time, and prescribed 50mg Trittico to be taken before bed. I took it for a few nights but decided that it was not right for me. She then offered me several other kinds of SSRIs. I declined them all and went back to 20mg of Seroxat. However, this time felt different. I was sure that seroxat was nothing more than the placebo (how could you explain the fact I got better after taking a single favor each time I had a “relapse”. As suspected, i had lost belief in the drug, and it did not bring the immediate relief like it had every time previously. I was petrified. To me, this confirmed my worse fears. It had been a placebo all this time, and now, because I was sure it wasn’t going to work, it didn’t. I was a lost case. This created severe anxiety and panic. All I could think was that I had been on a placebo for 20 + years and now I had uncovered this fact, ADs would never work for me again. I was destined to suffer dibilitating anxiety and depression for the rest of my life. Things improved slightly after being back on 20mg for a few weeks. But I was still anxious and depressed, and the mood swings were unbareable. During this time, i had had a medical for my work which showed I had very high cholesterol (7.99 in European measures) and the doctor put me on Crestor. At the time, the cardiologist told me “this is not the first time I have seen somebody at the surgery who has unusually high cholesterol following a long period of exposure to SSRIs”. This was the first time I considered what the meds had been doing to me over the years. My dark moods seemed to get worse during this period of being on Crestor. My cholesterol dropped by 50% in this time, but I could now barely function. I did some research into the link between statins and depression and decided to quit the Crestor cold turkey. My moods improved somewhat (at least I could hold a conversation now). I had also started to suffer from eczema on my arms, forehead and legs (first time in my life). Furthermore, I suffered from a bout of Diverticulitis (the doctor told me the main risk factor was constipaiton) and also blood in the urine (which after every test, scan, x-ray known to man, a cause could not be found). Further research made me realise that not only could all of these problems be linked to seroxat, so could my unexplained depression and mood swings. I made the decision to come off seroxat for good. That was in October of last year. I found a new psychiatrist who was supportive of my decision and recognized the importance of taper. However, he didn’t believe that my problems could be caused by seroxat, and thought taper over a month was perfectly acceptable. By this time, I had been on seroxat 22 years. I decided to taper for longer. I immediately dropped to 10mg per day as this is something that I had down many times throughout the years without too many problems. I would get the usual brain zaps but nothing I couldn’t handle. As I started to reduce mg by mg (1mg per week) using liquid, I could actually feel my constant depressive mood lifting somewhat (perhaps only by 10%, but there was something ). This encouraged me to go on. I sped up towards the end to 1mg per week as I just wanted to be off it. I took my last dose in the second week of January. Since then, I have been going through withdrawal. The first couple of weeks were ok (brain zaps I have suffered since 1996 so they don’t scare me). My general depressive level definitely improved. The hardest part for me was (and still is) the rapid onset of change in mood. One minute I am fine, the next my mood crashes. During every crash, I immediately think “the only reason I feel better is the placebo effect. The depression and anxiety is going to come back and get me”. CBT has helped with this catestrophic thinking and the moods seem to only last for a few hours (rather than days or weeks as previously). Every week, as a whole, I am seeing huge improvements. I have cried a lot (and it feels great). I am starting to look forward to things again. The apathy has lifted by 75%. I had a few days of panic and GAD earlier on that would seem to come out of nowhere. I would just wake up and feel down and have fear. I also started to wake during the night in a panic. But I stayed with it. A few weeks ago, I started waking more often during the night. 3 or 4 times. That developed into full blown insomnia for a few days. Last night, I slept without waking once for the first time in a month. The anxiety is now 75% better. Two days ago, I feel I had my best day for years and years. I am generally excited but scared. Since January, I have dropped from 86kg to 78kg. My skin condition has totally cleared up. What if me feeling better is a coincidence? Or the placebo effect? I have read that it can feel you are through the withdrawal, only for it to come back even harder in the future. How will I cope with that!? Now that I’ve felt well, I don’t want to go back where I was. I currently live in Zurich, Switzerland. I can find almost no support here. No doctor, psychologists, psychiatrist or therapist seems to have any idea about withdrawal. They are all desperate to tell me I have relapsed. I so truly want to believe they are wrong, that this whole thing is a drug induced nightmare, and that I will continue to get better. However, the devil on my shoulder is still there. During any period of weakness, he reminds me that the recovery is all in my head and it’s only a matter of time before I relapse. And so here I am. Hoping to be part of a support group that can help me with my withdrawal and keep me believeing. Even more importantly, I want to help others.
  2. Hi all. Below is a chart of mood vs energy vs intellect waves I found helpful in understanding what was going on during a previous taper. Many may have seen it before since it is originally intended to explain the various types of depression. I found it helpful in understanding what was going on with my weird moods and cognition that I had never experienced prior to taper, either on or off rx, and were very confusing to me. The way I see it, as we taper these waves can be in various states (even other than those show) from day to day or even hour to hour until they find their, your particular body's own, individual natural state of homeostasis. From months to years. Maybe that state isn't ideal, but we can work on modifying it by safer, more natural means. I hope some of you find this helpful. Would love to hear your thoughts.
  3. Hi all, I'm a 24-year-old female who has been on some kind of antidepressant since I was 17. 1. Zoloft, 1 year (2011) 2. Wellbutrin, 2-3 months (end of 2011 in conjunction with Zoloft) 3. Viibryd, 6 months (2012) 4. Buspar, 2-3 months (2012) 5. Lexapro, 1 year (late 2012 to late 2013) 5. Prozac, 3ish years (late 2013 to mid 2017) I started tapering off of Prozac this April, going down by 10mg a month for 7 months. I was on an 80mg per day dose for at least 2.5 years. I finished tapering at the end of October 2017. I didn't have any particularly bothersome symptoms until the last 10mg and these have persisted or gotten worse in the last two months. My biggest issue right now seems to be irritability. I feel like I go through multiple mood swings per day and sometimes I can't even describe how I'm feeling. My anxiety has also increased - fears about my loved ones dying or that I'm going to get into a car accident on the highway, that kind of thing. I know it's still soon, being only 2 months since I completely stopped taking Prozac, but are these all withdrawal symptoms and if so, how long can I expect them to last? Sometimes I wonder if I even remember was normal feels like anymore, since I've been on antidepressants since before I was even an adult. I felt pretty good on Prozac moodwise, but disliked the weight gain that resulted (65 pounds!) and I worried about the long term effects on being on it.
  4. Hi SA, Good to be here. I've been reading some of the stories on here with interest. Kinda makes my problems seem pretty small in comparison to others! I'm more and more horrified by what I'm discovering about discontinuation syndrome. As a postgraduate scientist, I've read a few of the papers associated with SSRI withdrawal and I can't believe how little real information is out there for patients and doctors. I think I've been depressed since I was a teenager, but I was essentially snubbed by psychiatrists at the time (apparently, cutting yourself counts as ‘teenage angst’ in the UK) and didn't get into the mental healthcare system until I was around 25 when I started having really severe panic attacks and anxiety. I'd taken a minor in psychology as an undergrad and, armed with quite a lot of information, was determined not to use drugs unless I felt I really needed to. The anxiety ebbed and flowed, but I generally did OK. After moving to the US for grad school (and embarking on a very long distance relationship), I had a nervous breakdown due to burn out and relationship anxiety at the end of 2013. I moved back home and spiraled further, and eventually my friend took me to the doctor and I decided to try medication, with a lot of skepticism. I tried propranolol (a beta blocker) for about a month or so, which just made me feel ill and didn't really help as a chronic medication. Then I I tried Mirtazipine, which left me with a completely blunted affect, incapable of feeling anything at all and making me too tired to function anyway. I quickly got off that and went on Citalopram, which I tapered up on, through some really horrible side effects (talk about red flags!). I remember the first day when the Citalopram really kicked in because I was hypomanic for about a week. It was like being on MDMA, a drug I had used heavily for about 8 years before. I also lost my sex drive entirely, got restless leg syndrome and started putting on weight. I went back to grad school in 2015 and after an initial period of motivation, and a short period of hypomania (2ish months), I gradually ended up back in a pit of despair and anxiety. I managed to stave off doctors’ attempts to put up my dosage and remained on 20mg until May last year (2016) when I decided to try and taper off as I didn’t feel like the medication was really helping with my symptoms and I’ve been sick of the sexual side effects since I started. I managed to get from 20mg down to 10mg before the withdrawal symptoms got too bad. I now realise that I tapered too rapidly . Either way, I stayed on 10mg deciding grad school wasn’t the time or place to be tapering. Just after that, I decided to Master out of my PhD program and enjoyed a 3-4 month period of hypomania where I felt completely amazing, extremely creative, was eating books and information and felt on top of the world…I even saw a slight return of my sex drive. This came crashing down again in October following another really sudden bout of relationship anxiety. Now I’m done with university, and have been unemployed for a bit, I wanted to get off the meds ASAP so that I could get on with my life. Rookie error! I tapered from 10mg to 5mg in about a month around the end of February with no real issue, but now I’m a complete mess again. I’ve struggled to get beyond 5mg, with bouts of extreme depression, mood swings and suicidal ideation. I’m currently taking 5mg/2.5mg every other day but I’m right on the verge of going back to 5mg for a second time because I’m suffering bad. I’ve been sick as a dog for 2 weeks, I think I do have genuine sinusitis and a terrible head cold, but perhaps the symptoms have been amplified due to the medication? Hard to say really. This past week I’ve had terrible depression, suicidal thoughts, crying spells and violent mood swings. I really feel like everything is crushingly pointless, that I am worthless and hopeless. I feel like my life is falling apart and that I’m going to destroy the remaining good parts because I can’t be around people most of the time, including my long-suffering partner. I feel like a complete burden on everyone. Apologies for the pity party, but this is where I am right now. I hope that this post might help someone else coming off this medication. I’m really stunned at how difficult it has been to get off it and do wonder a lot whether my continuing problems have been due to the medication rather than a continuing mental health problems.
  5. Hello everyone, I've been on 20mg of Lexapro for aprox 24 months now with no breaks. It's been great for me but since I'm leaving USA after living here for more than 15 years, and returning to my homeland of New Zealand, I decided to just quit taking my Meds and see how I handle life "drug free" so to say. I've seen my doctor a couple of times and she thought it was a great idea also. Two weeks ago I stopped taking them. I'd done all of my reaserch so knew what to expect. The first week of not taking them I felt no change at all. The beginning of the second week the insomnia, disturbing dreams, return of sex drive and night sweats started. There was no gradual build-up easing me into the withdrawals, it was like - BAM, this is happening! My initial withdrawals were wicked insomnia - cured by taking one or two doctor prescribed10mg Zolpidem sleeping pills. I was first precribed the sleeping pill TraZODone 100mg but these made things so much worse. My night sweats seemed worse when I didn't knock myself out with the doctor precribed sleeping pills but the horrible frightening dreams continued. The first two nights of the symptoms were the worst. I would wake up soaking wet and cold, and my dreams were so frightening I really didn't want to go back to sleep. But like I said, that level of withdrawal just lasted 2 nights then it subsided a little. Also feeling sexually aroused. I could handle all of that ok, but then yesterday the extreme "pinging" introduced itself to me!! I'm glad I researched the withdrawal symptoms beforehand as I would have no way of trying to explain this "feeling" to a doctor if needed. It's the weirdest feeling I've every had and Id like it go away please, lol! I have to laugh as staying positive is what I do best. Most things i've read relates the pinging sensation to feeling like a tiny electric shock or "zaps" in the brain. I don't feel anything in my brain or head but I do feel that sensation in EVERY other cell throughout my body. Earlier on today when I made the terrible mistake of going to the pub for a beer, after just a few sips I honstly thought my body was going to "ping and "zap" out of control. I had a pretty serious anxiety attack and my disability dog and I peaced out of there and got home ASAP! Lesson learnt - no drinking alcohol until the withdrawals subside and best to just stay in my home!! Also my body odor is horrible no matter how much I shower and then cover myself with a nice smelling lotion ... within an hour I smell terrible again. I don't feel like eating or ( as discovered today) drinking alcohol - YEA, time to loose weight and detox! Oh, and I'm avoiding contact with anyone due to uncontrollable mood swings ( which was my reason for taking the Lexapro to start off with). I'm trying to stay busy doing yard work to keep my mind busy and focused and that has helped. Thankfully my energy is great. I'm super glad to have found this page, even if it's to vent a little. Thanks for being here ????
  6. I've been on anti-depressants for 10 years. Most recently 200mg of Zoloft, trazodone, klonopin. I've been experiencing mood swings the last 9 months that keep getting worse. Assuming it was a side effect of my medication I asked my doctor if it was a good idea to taper off. I did as he directed and ended up barely sleeping for three weeks which culminated with a serious episode where I was violent threw my husband out of the house and barricaded myself in my bedroom which ended in self-mutilation (cutting). I'm 32 years old. I thought cutting was something teenagers did. I've never had mood swings before. I called my doctor and all he told me was to go back on zoloft. Needless to say I'm looking for a better doctor. I'm very confused. Did I not taper off correctly? Will I have to be on anti-depressants for the rest of my life? Was I in withdrawal? I'm back on my meds but I'm feeling all the reasons I wanted to come off them: I'm sleepy all the time, I have trouble with my memory, I have muscle spasms to name a few. I have felt clear headed maybe 8 times this year. This is no way to live! But I'm very afraid of what coming off my meds might do now. It was terrifying. I don't know what to do next. I have mild depression and insomnia. I shouldn't have gotten so wildly out of character.
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