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  1. Expected810 Hello all! I have been reading a lot of posts on SA, and they have been very helpful and encouraging! I am grateful for finding this forum and am seeking help regarding my current mental health situation. I am somewhat stuck on what to do and would really appreciate any advice. So, on January 27th, 2020, I had my first ever panic attack, went to the ER, thought it was a heart attack and it took them over 2 hours to calm my heart rate down with intravenous Ativan. This was the first time I had taken a benzo drug or any anxiety drug. After that first episode, I went a full 3 weeks of having panic attacks and just bad anxiety (mainly at night), so I was taking one 0.5 mg Ativan nightly during those times, and during the day time I was taking my daily vitamins (vitamin d, centrum) along with omega 3 fish oil and GABA 250 mg supplement twice a day to keep me calm. I was convinced my body had become dependent on Ativan and it was just making my anxiety worse, so I decided to get off of it by cutting it in half for a few days after three weeks of use. After the three weeks, I had about one week of intense physical anxiety (stomach cramps, churning, agitiation, depression) after stopping. Then the following 3 weeks after the first week off, I had lots of dizziness after eating meals, and lots of nights with insomnia, where I would have to take hydroxyizine 25 mg for. But in that 1 full month after stopping Ativan, I had not had a real panic attack like my first one. Then my 2nd month off Ativan started and I started getting really bad churning in my stomach, and it led to a full blown panic attack which forced me to take hydroxyzine 25 mg as I didn't want to start Ativan again. After that I had full week of these panic attacks which lasted 5-6 hours daily becoming rolling panic attacks, with almost every physical symptom with numbing of my arms, choking sensation, churning stomach, dizziness, lightheadedness, high heart rate, and diffculty breathing. After my panic attacks returned, I went to a psychiatrist, and they diagnosed me with panic disorder and prescribed me Sertraline 25 mg. I started taking it daily on March 22, 2020. After a week my panic attacks subsided and haven't had one since the almost seven weeks I have been on it. However, while I am thankful my panic attacks are gone for now, I cannot handle the daily side Sertraline side effects from stomach pain, dizziness, tiredness, lack of motivation, lack of focus, mood swings, and bouts of depressive thoughts. Most of these I never had, especially the depressive thoughts. Its like I'm just waking up to wake up, I really can't function like a normal human. My psychiatrist has recommended I go up in dosage, but I have politely refused, because my goal was to only treat my panic disorder, which it has been and I don't want to go higher because I fear it might become more difficult to get off. So thats my story, I really need advice on how I should proceed, I want to stop the Sertraline and try to treat my panic disorder other ways, but I'm somewhat fearful of the withdrawal and unsure how to taper off a low dose like this. Thank you!
  2. 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.
  3. I have been here before. I had my first manic episode after a steroid psychosis while withdrawing from Zoloft. After going off meds I had one again about a year later. I was medicated but always following an episode comes a great depression, a great worry about life and a disappearance of personality. Has anyone experienced this? I was manic and had to be medicated. I have a energy healer that works with me and says for now I must be on them. Its the path. I am totally unstable. But I would love some support from others that have gone through this pattern. I feel so alone.
  4. Hey there! So I'm now 19 and my life has been hell for over a year now. I have a bit of a history with antidepressants. I started Zoloft at age 12 and ended up quitting after a year or so, no issues (below is my med list after starting Zoloft again at age 14). For 3 years until completely stopping drugs, I was on Lexapro, propranolol, and gabapentin. These drugs were used for depression and migraines. Through things like therapy, I was able to overcome depression and mild-to-moderate anxiety. I was tired of being medicated and wanted off. Unfortunately, my GP took me off of things wayyyy too fast. I went from 20mg of Lexapro to none in the span of 4 weeks (subtracting 5mg per week). I then got off the other two in four weeks each. I experienced intense withdrawals from these but figured it was just part of the process. One of these symptoms was anxiety, panic attacks, and hot flashes/sweating. After a few weeks of WDs, things seemed pretty good. However, I quickly began getting panic attacks and experienced intense anxiety--especially physical symptoms such as hot flashes, pounding heartbeat, etc. Anxiety had always been a mental thing for me, but now it's extremely physical. I got back on all the original drugs after 6 months off them. But now, even almost a year later, I'm still experiencing intense physical symptoms (I hate hot flashes). Getting back on the meds helped, but I'm not the confident person I used to be. I've been homebound and an anxious/depressed wreck for the past year. It's almost as if those withdrawals unlocked something in me. Now I don't know what to do. Is it possible for this to happen? Did I just develop anxiety or are these longterm withdrawal effects that are there even with reinstating? I'm sorry it's a lot to read, but I'm feeling very lost right now and don't know what to do or what caused this to happen. Life was so good and it depresses me to see the state that I'm now in. I wasted my entire 18th year of life being anxious beyond belief. Thanks so much. Starting Started Zoloft 100mg October 2014 (age 14), 50mg -> 100mg Switched from Zoloft 100mg to Lexapro 10mg May 2017 (age 15) Bumped up to Lexapro 20mg June 2017 (age 15) Started Gabapentin 1600mg/day October 2017 (age 15) Started Propranolol 40mg/day May 2018 (age 16) Stopping Stopped Lexapro 20mg October 2019 (age 17), tapered down 5mg/week until stopped completely Stopped Propranolol 40mg/day October 2019 (age 17), tapered down 10mg/week until stopped completely Stopped Gabapentin 1600mg/day November 2019 (age 18), tapered 400mg/week until stopped completely Drug free for 6 months Starting Again Started Lexapro 20mg May 2020 (age 18), 10mg -> 20mg Started Propranolol ER 120mg June 2020 (age 18), 60mg -> 80mg -> 120mg Started Gabapentin 1600mg/day July 2020 (age 18) Started Buspirone 60mg/day November 2020 (age 19)
  5. I’m new to this website/forum, but I’ve been researching and finding great information about people getting off their psychiatric medication. I’m 46, and I was 20 years old in college when I experienced my first full blown panic attack (official diagnosis, panic disorder without agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, depression). Looking back (after lots of therapy), I can now understand the stress I was under at that time. But the main point is that I was put on zoloft and lorazepam which, combined with lots of “social drinking” seemed to put a lockdown on the panic attacks (though I would still wake up with some varying degrees of anxiety most mornings). I put my head down and just sort of pushed my way through life, graduating from college with honors, holding a job doing community education / organizing / speaking, shifting gears and going back to school, and then starting my own successful business. Jump to about 4 years ago, 2012 and things just seemed to begin falling apart. The successful company I had created was now failing, a relationship I actually felt invested in was failing, and the hangovers from drinking had become really intense. In short, I ran out of steam. I gave up drinking in the spring of 2014, and that summer decided I was going to get off the damn meds. I did it the “right way,” tapering off the benzos first, and then the SSRI. And though the anxiety would increase while tapering and it was tough, by the end of the summer (early September) I was actually med free! Unfortunately, mid-October the panic attacks returned full force. Again, I can see now that this was a particularly stressful period of my life, but of course I was really disappointed when I decided I just had to get back on the meds (the panic attacks were relentless and excruciating). The problem was that the meds no longer seemed to work like they did before. And now I’m on MORE meds (add in remeron and extra 50 mg of zoloft). I have made some changes, doing lots of therapy, ACA support groups (and looking at childhood issues generally), exercising again regularly, EMDR, meditation, etc. And I want OFF the meds! I know I need to do this slowly, and at this point, I cut the remeron from 15 mg to 7.5 (about 1.5 months ago) and I’ve cut the benzo (now clonazepam) from 2 mg to 1.5 per day (just started that 3 days ago). My thought is to cut the benzos first, then the last of the remeron. I know with the relatively long half-life of the clonazepam, I need to take it slowly. I’m thinking .5 mg every 2 weeks. From the information I've come across, it seems like some taper off even more slowly than that? I'm looking for others to share their experiences with their own clonazepam withdrawal schedules (for panic disorder, preferably). I just don’t know what to do about the SSRI (zoloft). I realize this website is about benzo withdrawal, but I’m hoping to find others with experience on panic disorder and SSRI withdrawal too (as well as benzo withdrawal support). I hope this is OK on this forum? I’ve been “working with the anxiety” (trying to “make friends” with it as they say in the meditation circles). I know I’m less scared of it now, but I'm also not experiencing the full blown panic attacks. My concern is that I would get off everything (including the SSRI/zoloft) and then the panic attacks return, and it takes SO LONG for the SSRI to build up in one’s system. Do I just prepare myself to weather that storm? Will that storm really pass eventually without the meds? After years of trying to make my physiology match the lifestyle I felt I should lead, I’m now accepting the idea that I need to make my lifestyle match my physiology. The panic attacks are just so damn awful when they hit relentlessly all day long, day after day. I’m scared. Is there anyone out there that has had any experience with the meds and panic attacks along the lines that I have had? Are there other resources out there I should know about? Is it really possible that I can live a purposeful (and perhaps at least semi-peaceful) life without meds after 25 years of being on them? Much gratitude . . .
  6. Nickneedshelp


    Me and my doc. have been discussing medication for my GAD, severe panic disorder and social anxiety. I have been on and off benzo's for years with hellish withdrawal syndrome each time. SSRI has been suggested to treat my anxiety, sertraline or paroxetine. I know you guys are all suffering from SSRI withdrawal, just like i did with benzo's. I do want to try an SSRI though, my anxiety is out of control and talk-therapy doesn't work! My anxiety is mainly genetic. sertraline and paroxetine have been suggested, but i could use any other SSRI. So again, according to users of this forum, which SSRI is the easiest to taper? And which one works best for overall anxiety? Edit: What do you guys think about TCA's? Like mirtazepine?
  7. Hi, where do I start? I am in desperate need of help with tapering my Mom off of a variety of meds. So here is our story... We are originally from London, we now live in South Africa. I mam 46 and Mom is 66, I have a son who is 14 and we now share a rented house. My Dad died March 2016. This caused huge emotional trauma for my Mom as you can imagine. My Gran in the UK then became sick so Mom flew over to help (not ideal when you are going through grief and already not coping on a day to day basis, her world had been crushed in one night) So, she went to the UK and it was hard to cope with my Gran being so ill, my Mom had a breakdown, she ended up in a Psychiatric unit (admitted herself) after becoming addicted to Alzam (benzo). She originally was prescribed these here in SA years ago to manage anxiety and panic attacks. Once the emotional stress hit she started taking them more and more each day until she tried to stop, cut them down on her own and that is when the trouble and side effects started. She then went into the Psych unit in the UK. They then put her on to another type of benzo Diazepam, Olanzapine, Mirtazpine and she is also on heart and blood thinners. Once she came out she was not much better, I managed to get her on a flight and back to SA. 2 month later she just got worse, the local Dr and team tried to taper her off of the Diazepam but she is not good with the withdrawal symptoms. After many Drs, therapists, advice, research and suffering alot at home (for all of us) I checked her into a very expensive rehab here. 28 day program. She is now on: Circadin, Trepiline, Rivotril, Solian and heart and blood thinners. The program did not work, the rehab and getting her off the benzos and antipsychotics did not work. What I need advice, help with from anyone is what now? The cost of the rehab was thousands.... Her current state is anxiety all the time, her eyes are large and she looks constantly in fear or amazement, delayed speech, confusion, short term memory is bad, long term not great either, no energy, out of breath, so her quality of life is dismal. She does not go out and has a 'cannot be bothered attitude towards much of life, she lost 17 kg and looks anorexic, she eats but does not put on weight. I would love to look at tapering but just do not know which one to start with? How much and obviously with her it would need to be slow. Can one start to reduce the antipsychotic first? I know Benzos are highly addictive and Rivotril is one! Can anyone help?
  8. Hi! This is my story: At the age of 23 I was taken with panic disorder. I had no previous experience with mental illness and went through hell experiencing this for the first time - saw myself locked up or not being able to take care of myself or live a "normal" live (whatever that is) ever again. This was during my last year at teacher training college. I was prescribed Anafranil (TCA) and also got Sobril (benzo) to cope with the anxiety during the first weeks of medication. After a couple of months with medication, therapy and breathing technique training I started feeling quite OK and somehow managed to complete my education. But this was only the beginning of many years of experience of mental disorders. Living with panic disorder was a struggle working as a middle school teacher, even though medication and calm breathing helped. Eventually I reduced and quit medicating - only to develop depressions. So I was prescribed some new medicine. And when I tried to quit that medication later, I went straight down into a depression again. During almost 30 years now I've been on antidepressants. I've struggled to cope with the ups and downs of life, along with my mental "illness". I married and got three wonderful children that I love more than life. Then my husband was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Our first born son started showing signs of not feeling good when he started school. He didn't like school, had a feeling of not belonging and struggled to fit in. We reached out for help from everywhere, but noone seemed to be able to help. In his teens he couldn't cope anymore and got depressed. He couldn't finish high school and we've been trying to get him help ever since. He is now 23... A young man with very little hope and sense of meaning. And still living with his mom and dag. He was just diagnosed with ADHD, but he himself (and we) is pretty sure that's not the whole story. People living with relatives with autism/asperger tend to take for granted that he has that kind of diagnosis - including himself. But not the psychiatrists. Whatever. (Help him with his PROBLEMS maybe? "No - because our tests show that he doesn't have that diagnosis - so he doesn't have those problems!" Hmm...) Our two years younger son was happy, bright and full of joy during his childhood. Growing up, he and his big brother were the best of friends. But they started drifting apart as the older son got increasingly more depressed. And then suddenly, just a couple of months before his fifteenth birthday, he started to feel sad. When we understood that he needed professional help we took him to a psychiatrist specialized in children and teens. Me and my husband both accompanied him. He was very quiet and had a hard time speaking and interacting with other people. And as the psychiatrist struggled to make him talk she suddenly asks him "Do you really think you are so pitiable? I've worked with children who have cancer. THEY are pitiable!" We were shocked by her words and immidiately took our son out of there and explained to him that he should not care about what she said. That is was unprofessional, evil and not fair to say such things! But the damage was already made. The next day we all - family and best friends - got a personal sms from him, telling us how much he loved us... It was the day before his 15:th birthday. We got there in time to save him. And the psychiatrist were denounced - from that one clinic... After this, our youngest son suffered from a bad depression for a long time. And wasn't able to complete high school properly. It took some years. He is now 21 and have just recently been able to take up his studies again. He is a gifted musician and actor and is determined to follow his dreams. Our daughter is the twin-sister of our youngest son. She used to be the happiest little girl in the world. And then she grew up. She started feeling anxious. About everything. To the point that she couldn't eat because of nausea and lack of apetite. So - eventually, when she was 12, we took her to the psychiatrist. To get help with her anxiety. They took a look at her and then immidiately tried to make her "amit" that she was starving herself on purpose...and gave her some more anxiety! (Thanks!) It didn't matter that we assured them that that was not the case. I myself have been "accused" of being anorexic for the first 25 years of my life - which hurt a great deal, since I had a huge complex for being so thin. And so does my daughter. Since then her anxiety has slowly increased. A couple of years ago she was diagnosed with GAD - General Anxiety Disorder - and was prescribed Sertraline. About a year ago we started to suspect that she had developed bipolar disorder. She seemed to be slightly hypomanic to us. My husband followed her to her psychiatrist and told him about these thoughts. But he dismissed it and sait it was only "mood swings". In the beginning of last summer she started to seem slightly euphoric. One day she called me and cried and laughed and spoke jibberish. She posted live videos on facebook where she acted strange, talking about some kind of mission. And here was her first (and hopefully last) psychosis. With help from a doctor, some paramedics and a couple of police officers we managed to make her open the door to her apartment. At the psychiatric hospital they found out that she tested positive for cannabis, that she hadn't been sleeping for 4 days and that she was severly manic and suffered from delusions. She was taken to a psychiatric inpatient care facility, taken off Sertralin (since we told them about her predisposition for bipolar disorder - and Sertralin might cause mania and psychosis to bipolar people..) and put on Olanzapine to deal with the psychosis. This was 3 months ago. She is no longer psycotic, but suffers from a depression. And here we are now. Worrying about and trying to help my children has made it difficult for me to work for the last couple of years. This last summer with my daughters psychosis pushed me further down. I now try to manage to work 25% (10 hours a week), digitalising teaching books. This summer I suddenly got sick of taking antidepressants and started to slowly decrease my dosis of Venlafaxin. But last friday my doctor wanted me to try another medicine, since I have such difficulties coping with even 25% of work. He wanted me to try out Voxra and told me to simply switch from one day of 175 mg Venlafaxin to 150 mg of Voxra the day after. I asked if I really should switch straight off like that, without slowly decreasing the amount of Venlafaxin - and he said yes. I wish I didn't listen... Two days after quitting with Venlafaxin and starting with Voxra I got all the withdrawal symptoms in the book - and I really didn't need this right now. Huge dizziness, nausea, panic anxiety, sleeplessness, night mares, electrical shock feelings in my brain, fast heartbeats. After 3 days of this hell I added Venlafaxin to my Voxra dosis. But - I actually want to get rid of the medicines. Examine who I really am - because I forgot. Sorry about the long story. But this is my life. And I shed some tears writing it all down. Thanks for reading.
  9. Kevroeques


    Hello, all! I've been a lurker for about two months, and I want to start by stating that I'm very thankful for this forum, it's moderators, everybody who posts and the wealth of information and experience within that helps so many people, including myself, through this dizzying inferno of medically induced purgatory. I'll second by stating that I'm not an avid user of social media or discussion forums, so I apologize in advance if I seem not to reply timely or anything- I've discovered this site through mostly google results and decided it's time to enter the discussion. A bit about me: I had my first major panic attack in August 2013. I was with friends awaiting a party in Manhattan sipping wine, just biding time by stating at my phone. I had been offered a few bumps of cocaine- nothing I had ever done habitually, but was no stranger to on the odd Friday or Saturday night. I suddenly noticed my phone looked bizarre and my heart was racing. I was instantly swept into a mode that has changed my life in a terrible, recurring way. I had subsequent attacks that sent me to the ER and doctor's offices. After an EKG and blood tests, it was decided that I was indeed suffering from recurring panic attacks. I was offered buspirone which I took briefly- for only 3 weeks- before deciding I was better off just learning to control it. And control it I did, for two years. It caused unneeded strain and some avoidance, but I was usually good enough hiding in a bathroom stall or what have you for five minutes or so, and I'd be right as rain. I apologize if I'm talking more about my disorder here than my meds, but I feel it's important being that we often need to relate to eachother completely in why we took antidepressants as much as when we came off of them. Anyway, this past summer of 2015, I noticed changes. I had started a new seasonal job in November 2014 and the season ended early in late spring 2015, leaving me stagnant on unemployment until the next season started. I decided in the summer to visit friends in Virginia. The second I stepped off the train, I was greeted by a slow, almost aura-like startup of a panic attack. It was so bad I had to sit on a couch and close my eyes for a bit while my friends just waited for me to re-emerge. I did so, and we all went out for a beer and a bite- and it happened again! I quieted myself in a bathroom and finally calmed fully. I thought it was just the excitement of the trip and sauntered on. Well, I continued having strings of long-lasting panic attacks multiple times a day. If I was out in the summer heat, it was definite. If we went out in a group of friends, it was definite. One night it was so bad, I ran out of my friend's house and walked in the pitch dark of rural VA for almost two hours, calling my mother to calm me down (as she had suffered from panic induced anxiety in the 80's and still does, but always managed it without therapy or meds). We decided it was time to seek medical help. For brevity, I ended up seeking a therapist and psychiatrist who could help me. It was becoming chronic and debilitating, and I feared I wouldn't be able to return to work. And indeed, shortly before my first appointment, I had started work and had 2 weeks of constant panic attacks which led to a spectacular breakdown that would affect my cognition and coordination in such a way that a leave of absence was necessary. My pdoc prescribed escitalopram without hesitation. He issued no warnings about the difficulty of onset, and warned me of "minor" side effects. His only poignant statement was that it could take a few weeks to reach therapeutic effect. I went through over a month of complete mental discomfort and constant panic and fatigue before I got any relief at all- but it's not what I thought it would be. I was still getting panic attacks, but with less frequency- only now I also had lethargy, apathy, drunken vision, fatigue, depression with suicidal ideation, and the list goes on. It was horrible. Not only was I disappointed, but I was much worse off than I was a month prior, and I was now stuck on medication without an easy way out. At the doctor's request, I stayed on for an additional two months without any relief. I was becoming further agitated, addled, and depressed. I was now in a state of hopeless despair. I told him I refused to be on the medication for even one more month and requested a taper plan. He requested 10mg Prozac to mitigate the withdrawal for a month, which I abided. I felt A TICK better on the low dose of Prozac, but still far from functional. After a month of it, I asked my pdoc for a taper and he assured me I could come off it without any problems. Well, here I am. The first few weeks were riddled with sudden worsening of panic, dizziness, tension, uncomfortable fatigue and depression just to name a few. I had steeled myself for it, but my inner soliloquy couldn't save me from the enduring horror. Time stands still when your senses are all tied up in agonizing disarray. Within the few weeks, I saw a few windows, but was mostly engulfed in waves. Last week (around 5/16/16) I started to notice I wasn't paying attention to myself as much- as though I didn't need to. I was having some anxiety and panic, but the horror wasn't on me 24 hours like before. It was hope, and it felt great- but it didn't last. About three days later, I had sudden and very new symptoms. My ears feel pressured and full. My eyes feel pressured and crooked. My vision feels dim, and contrasting shades and colors look overwhelming (like a psychedelic effect without the fun or the consent of actually causing it with a substance). I'm lightheaded all day, yet still get brain zaps that amplify the dizziness momentarily- sometimes while still, sometimes with head or eye movement. I'm unbalanced and clumsy. It almost feels like a silent migraine without the light bursts. I living with my parents right now (bless them, they're selfless) and have woken one of them or the other almost every night this week because it's too scary to be alone- and I've never feared being solitary- but my symptoms are constant now without letup, but seem to erupt in intensity very late at night, being compounded by my insomnia and jilted internal clock. The other day I woke my mother at 2am. I was starting to cry- not the sad or confused kind, but the desperate, fearful kind. I haven't cried from fear or pain since I was 12. I decided I wanted to go to the hospital and try to get a brain scan, but all I got was an EKG and blood testing (which is all perfect). I'm now awaiting hearing from Medicaid, because I'm generally unemployed and my insurance ran out. I was partway past a consultation and psych test with a neuropsychologist when my insurance ran out. Now I have no course. I'm in limbo with my symptoms. I guess I just want answers. I can't "oh well" these symptoms. Part of me knows they're likely withdrawal in their newness and sudden, intense onset- but my cognition can't keep up when they hit hard. It's hard enough to keep a logical head throughout the day, when they're present but lower in intensity. But the sudden nature has me frightened. If I look back, nothing has gotten better at any point. In fact, I've gotten worse at almost any point and I'm fully disabled now. I don't feel good enough to see my friends- some I haven't seen in months- or my own brother who lives a bit over a mile away. Driving is scary and feels dangerous because my vision feels drunk, so I never do it anymore. And my head gets overwhelmed so fiercely so often with both physical and cognitive pressures and disarray that sometimes I can't speak and I collapse to my knees in absolute confusion and terror. I can't even find words meaningful enough to describe it, but I'm sure you're all familiar. I'm not a hypochondriac. In fact, before I had my first panic attack I rarely sought medical help and would go years without it. But now, I'm convinced I have a neurological disorder. The visual disturbances, the pressures, the mixed up senses, the cognition halting, the physical coordination problems and twitches that seem to favor the left side of my body almost exclusively. I'm terrified and won't likely be satisfied unless A) I suddenly recover in the near future to at least the state of only having anxiety and panic attacks or I get scanned by a neuro and optometrist for nervous malfunction in my brain and eyes and vet a clean bill of nervous health. It's hard to explain, but my symptoms are that sudden and that intense. Worth mention, I don't get random panic attacks anymore, but if my symptoms become inbearable I can be thrown into one. But chances are, I'm suffering from everything with a steady heart rate and a lack of epinephrine coursing my system- so I can't entirely blame momentary anxiety symptoms for a constant string of other symptoms I'm going through. I know this was lengthy and I thank anybody who took the time to read it. I guess my hopes here are to have somebody relate to me with what I'm going through and tell me what I'm experiencing is normal and I will eventually be okay. You read so much about the problem but people often stop writing at a point, so you never know if they feel better or got better. I also have a supportive family, but none save for my mother have suffered anxiety, and she never took meds so she can't understand what I'm currently going through. Some of my symptoms are hard to find specifically through searches, and this get linked to things like MS more than anxiety or SSRI withdrawal, which is scary- and we're all familiar with how little a doc knows or is willing to admit about these types of meds. It has calmed me a bit just getting this out, and I look forward to discussing anything about it with all of you. I promise I'll do my best to keep up and share any light or hope that I experience on this twisted journey! -Kevro
  10. Hello everyone! I'm PanickedPathfinder (PanickedPat). I came across this wonderful website after discovering Paxil Progress had been foreclosed, but from what I've read and seen thus far, this community is a strong and supportive one, too. I'm excited to share my story and journey away from antidepressant use with other likeminded members! I'll attempt to be brief about why I'm here, just to give fellow members the highlights of my experiences with antidepressants. If you have any other questions for/about me, please feel free to message From the top: About a year and a half ago (summer 2013), I experienced a severe panic attack. I didn't know what it was at the time. I believed I had pushed myself too far physically (I was unloading a bus at work at the time) and proceeded to solidify that false connection in my mind. For the next month, I tried to "take it easy," which of course meant performing hyper-vigilant body/pulse/fever checks in an effort to stave off whatever "it" was from happening again. This backfired. I had more and more attacks at work, still unknowing what my condition was. I was beginning my senior year at college that fall, and decided, after experiencing upwards of 2 or 3 attacks a day a times, to seek out my campus's mental health clinic. With my therapist, I learned (as well as on my own research) that I was definitely a candidate for panic disorder. School pressures mounted (I know now my real "trigger" wasn't exercise or work, but the prospect of ending/transitioning from school) and, after debating for a month, I decided (no lightly) to begin taking an antidepressant. I saw a new doctor, who, during our first 15-minute consultation, prescribed me 25mg of Prozac and tablets of clonazopan. Needless to say, I was immediately red-flagging. I had hoped to talk about the options and risks, but he jumped straight to the medication. After simmering down from his offhand prescription, I owned up to the fact that I wanted something after all. I took Prozac--and had a terrible reaction. My heart rate soared. I made it to his office, where he immediately took me off of it and brought up Zoloft (sertraline) as a "gentler" antidepressant. I started taking it. 25mg became 50mg pretty quickly. Each new dosage brought about 3-4 days of a unmitigated joy--an emotion I have honestly rarely experienced in life (depression and such throughout most of it). The effects always leveled out. I'd continued working through some minor CBT work with my therapist, but these quickly fell to the wayside with my school work. I continued having panic attacks at work and while playing music. There were stretched of time where so many thing triggered my panic (taking a shower, brushing my teeth) that I was genuinely terrified to leave my little apartment complex. All during this time I was researching on my own, and discovering the world of antidepressant side-effects and discontinuation syndromes that likely awaited me once I finished school. (My goal was to finish school and get off the stuff. Hasn't happened yet :/ ). During this time (and still to this day) I kept equating physical exercise with my panic. Although I'd experienced the physical sensations of rapid heartbeat and hyperventaliation earlier (my earlier years of school I was nearly agoraphobic, and sweat buckets doing everyday social things) I found/find it extremely difficult to detach the sensations of exercise with the sensations of panic (higher heart rate, breathing irregularity, etc.). I am currently making this a top priority, and will keep updating on this front. Anyway, my attacks kept coming, school kept coming, I eventually faded from my therapist/group therapy to finally finish school (it's been a 7-year endeavor). I kept the same doctor (something I still regret, as he is still my GP) and was brought up to 75mg. This was when my anhedhonia started. I felt like I was living behind Saran wrap. I saw the world, I knew I was supposed to feel things--but I couldn't. I was a living ghost behind my own eyes. That voided feeling was worse than any panic I had experienced, and I was brave enough, after nearly a month of this, to come down to 50mg, and later 37.5mg. I stayed at 37.5mg upon graduation, and have only recently (last month or two) been at 25mg. I made this 12.5mg drop without any major reactions, but have learned since that weaning lower and lower requires considerable more conscientiousness. I am endeavoring to integrate my music playing/exercise into my recovery and break those false trigger connections I made when I didn't know what was fully happening to me. I also aim to rekindle the secular mindfulness practices I've let slip away again, as they were really very beneficial. Ideally, I want to be off sertraline before my 2-year anniversary of first taking it (October 2015). I was always meant to be a short-term use--to get through school--but I have become steadily more apprehensive about coming off completely (withdrawal stories, etc.). So--where am I at right this second? I'm at 25mg. I'm graduated. I'm willing to work with a community of other people I can relate to for an extended period of time. I'm more knowledgeable about the options and risks I've engaged with during my sertraline experience. I'm still panicky, but less so. Most importantly, I'm ready to be off sertraline and find, in big part through a community like this one, the kindred support, advice, and stories I'll need to find my way off these drugs and reclaim my life without it. Thanks very much for reading my story. I hope to get to know many of you in the coming months, and to share our recovery stories together. My best to one and all PanickedPat
  11. I have finally decided to start a journal to set some goals for the New Year and to hopefully find some hope in any progress I make. Long first post, but I think I need to get it all out there to get some perspective back in my life. I started having panic attacks in 1999 and spent the next five years barely leaving the house. I chose to suffer in silence, being too scared to go to a doctor and too ashamed and embarrassed to look elsewhere for help. During that time I gave birth to my two daughters and was married to my ex-husband, who seemed easily to ignore the fact there was clearing something wrong with me. Finally in December 2003 I visited my GP for help. My sister was getting married at the other end of the country in 6 weeks time and I knew it was going to be a huge problem having to fly there. The doctor prescribed me 20mg Aropax (Paxil) and referred me to a therapist nearby. Within a couple of weeks I felt a huge improvement in my panic attacks and was extremely grateful to my new friend Paxil. I saw the therapist three times before the wedding and felt it was a waste of time. He gave me a sheet of positive affirmations and kept asking why I wasn't very close to my family. Over the next 9 years I was taking the same dose and felt I completely had my life back. I had no side-effects physical or psychological but looking back I was still using the avoidance strategies and was not really getting out much. Two young children and no money seemed to explain that away at the time. There were several different doctors at the practice and a couple of them suggested I came off the meds, while others assured me I could stay on for life since it was working so well. The first time I tried to come off I gave up after 3 months because I couldn't get past the dizziness and vertigo. The doctor changed me to Prozac and suggested that would make it easier to come off the paxil. It worked and I was off quickly and without side-effects. The only problem was the first panic attack that came along and I raced back for a new prescription. During the 9 years I came off for 3,5 and 9 months only to go back on as soon as the panic attacks started again. Finally at the end of 2012 the doctor thought putting me straight onto Prozac would be short cut so I didn't need to change again if I wanted to come off. I had a bad reaction to it this time and the activating effects gave me intense panic attacks that seemed to go on for hours. When I went back she told me to persevere and things would settle down. They didn't and after one night with a 6 hour panic attack I was pretty much resigned to telling my new husband that I was a mental case and taking my own life. Yes even though I was now happily married again after ditching the first loser I had not told my husband about my anxiety or that I was taking medication. I rang the local hospital mental health service and made an appointment to see my first psychiatrist. He promptly put me on 40mg Paxil and told me the GPs were idiots, although in all fairness he referred me to the CBT team there and I learnt a lot from the psychologist. The increase to 40mg gave me a lot of side effects and I suddenly realised from the mania and alcoholism it produced that these were very powerful and scarey drugs. I dropped straight back to 20mgs and I found Paxil Progress and started to taper steadily over the next 12 months using the 10% method (for the most part). So here I am 8 months after finally reaching 0mg. The panic attacks started again by the time I got down to 5mg so I have been using all the CBT I have learnt to fight them off for the last 12 months. I'm just not feeling like I am winning at this point. A couple of weeks ago I had a setback and reacted really poorly when I had to go to a workshop for work to a large city an hour away, through the morning peak hour traffic. Instead of calming myself down when I hit the bumper to bumper traffic I took an off-ramp and drove around lost for an hour in a right state! I drove all the way back to where I had gotten on the motorway and drove again into the city, by now the traffic had cleared a bit and I embarrassingly snuck into the workshop very late. Now the anxiety/agoraphobia is triggering off all the time and I feel so disappointed and exhausted from battling it. I am writing this journal to set myself the goal of staying med free for the next 12 months and to beat this terrible cycle of the panic. Some days I don't know what is the original condition and what is still remnants of my years on the drugs. I'm scared and anxious and only just hanging in there! I hope this journal works to show me I am making progress and to give me hope!
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