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  1. Dear withdrawees ... I hope i find you all well... Or at least amidst a window rather than a wave . I've been scouring SA for some time now, picking up whatever bits of helpful and positive information i can about this horrific ordeal. I now feel its time to introduce myself and my history on AD's to the community with the hope of being provided with additional support and a view helping others in the future when this experience is more of a bad memory rather than a living hell . I have been taking Sertraline on and off for the last 6 years since 2013 after a series of horrific circumstances happened one after another. Despite the drugs having good effect, I've always been uncomfortable with masking what are obviously important emotions using a daily consumption of a drug. This has led me to unwittingly withdraw multiple times across the 6 year period which lead me to believe i was confined to a life of drug taking, this was until June this year when I first found SA and became aware of SSRI withdrawal . Of course I was left somewhat shocked but not surprised after feeling neglected previously on multiple occasions by the medical sector. Despite that though i found a new sense of hope knowing that a life beyond drugs was not only possible, but likely. Recent Drug History OCT 2016 - I quit Sertraline 50 mg CT after a family bereavement had turned my life upside down .. as a result it felt the drug was totally ineffective. MAY 2017- After what had been an appalling 6 months (which i thought was horrific grief but now realise it is likely withdrawal is the more likely culprit) I reinstated Sertraline at 50 mg before raising the dose to 100 mg due to not feeling any effect (again this is something that makes sense now). In time i had started to feel normal again and presumed it was because I had worked my way through my prolonged grief. FEB 2019 - Life was now back on track and decided it was time to try and rid myself of the shameful daily pill pop that is AD's. I quit Sertraline Via a fast taper... but may aswell have been a CT. JUN 2019 - I found SA . .. realised i was withdrawing .. and had inadvertently made multiple mistakes along the way. NOV 2019 - I'm roughly 8-9 months into withdrawal & STRUGGLING MY SYMPTOMS: A thick brain fog Anxiety an inability to feel emotions / make connections with people Loss of communication skills & wit muscle weakness Fatigue As I've said previously.... i am currently at the 9 month mark and I'm coping okay (I ThinkšŸ¤” ) when i compare my battles to that of others.. but i am beginning to really struggle with the isolation that seems to be a natural part of the process. I have always naturally been an extroverted person who loves talking to people and being at the centre of attention although currently this couldn't be further from the truth and is taking a huge toll on my daily life. Every time I am confronted with some form of social situation my brain draws a blank. Its as if the lights are on but nobody's home. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY CHARM AND CHARISMA? I wanted to ask for advice from anyone whose been in a similar situation: What can i do right here and now to aid myself when dealing with these symptoms? If you've surpassed the 9 month point of withdrawal with these symptoms still rearing their ugly head, at what stage did you notice a marked improvement? Has anyone any advice on how to work towards improving other areas of my life, such as love or working life and learning new skills whilst withdrawing? If you've made it this far thanks for reading and i look forward to any replies? Cheers
  2. I'll try to keep this kind of short. I've finally decided to post an intro today after reading posts on this site for a few years now which has helped a lot with understanding what's going on since most doctors just told me my SSRI discontinuation/withdrawal symptoms-which were unlike anything I'd ever experienced before and physically and emotionally worse than I'd ever felt-were a return of my depression & anxiety or possibly a bipolar disorder according to one doctor. I knew for a fact that it was not my original anxiety & depression, but I had no idea what was happening in the beginning or how to explain it. I had social anxiety, depression, & general anxiety since age 12 and was not allowed to drive/take the bus/go out or do much by myself other than going to school (because everything was too dangerous) by controlling, religious parents with their own high anxiety and agoraphobia. I was never allowed to receive counseling for these issues & when I went off to college, it was an extremely difficult struggle going from not being allowed to do almost anything to suddenly being responsible for figuring everything out on my own. I was also not great with time management skills & knowing how to plan ahead. (I actually relate to a lot of symptoms of ADD & Asperger's, which both greatly affect social skills & ability to get through college and would explain a lot of problems I've had. I have learned more about them in the past year, but can't afford to get diagnosed right now so I've just been looking at support groups for days when my nausea is lessened.) I felt overwhelmed all the time and all my negative thoughts worsened severely. I didn't see the free counselor at college during this time either because I was embarrassed about everything and about asking for help. I finally decided I wanted to try to make a change and try counseling the summer after sophomore year of college at age 20 and was at rock bottom, desperate to not feel depressed. I knew someone who said their antidepressant helped them, so I asked a doctor for medicine and they prescribed sertraline. After taking the first pill, I had a surge of anxiety and racing thoughts that made it impossible to concentrate. Within the first couple days on 25 mg of sertraline, I was gagging and dry heaving over and over for at least 20 minutes as soon as I ate anything. I would also throw up multiple times in a short timespan after one snack or meal. I called my Dr & was told to skip a dose and then change the time I took the dose from morning to night. After a week of this (dry heaving & vomiting all meals) on 25 mg, and another call to the doctor, I was told that digestive issues are a possible starting symptom and to increase to 50 mg. As soon as I increased, the gagging & vomiting increased even more. After 6 days of this, I called the doctor again and was told I could stop taking it altogether since it had been such a short amount of time on it. And to come in for a different medicine Rx after the weekend. The very first day that I didn't take the sertraline, I felt the worst nausea I had ever felt in my entire life. I ended up asking a friend to drive me to the ER because I felt so sick. I told the Dr how I had just stopped sertraline. The doctor said that my pupils were dilated and my reflexes were overactive. Then, he listed off illegal drugs & asked if I had taken those. (No, I've never tried any drug before). He said "You need to tell me what else is going on because the antidepressant couldn't have caused this." And I said "I don't know" and started crying. I do know that people in my family are highly sensitive to medicines and have since found out I have a gene that causes me to metabolize slowly so things build up for longer in my system. Anyway, the Dr left the room and at one point I was given Ativan in an IV by the nurse which did ease the nausea. When the Dr came back, he told me I had SSRI discontinuation syndrome, (he didn't explain what that meant), that I could never try another SSRI, and gave me a Rx for a small bottle of Ativan. My mom said he mentioned something on the phone to her about serotonin syndrome which dilated pupils and overactive reflexes are symptoms of, but I don't remember him saying anything about it directly to me. He also mentioned reinstating a small amount might help but my mom didn't pass this on to me until much later because she didn't want me to take it. After that, I experienced: -more dry heaving which gradually lessened in frequency -random times of vomiting after eating and after exercising when I wasn't sick & the food wasn't bad (or sometimes nothing was left to vomit & only a small amount would come up) -continuing debilitating nausea & dizziness -olfactory hallucination (putrid smell that wouldn't go away, would intensify around strong scents such as soap & car exhaust) -uncontrollable crying at every tiny thing (neuro-emotion, not regular sadness) -uncontrollable rage (neuro-emotion) -intrusive thoughts & floods of bad memories which I "word vomited" in texts to my sisters -didn't want to be around people who I associated with bad memories because it would greatly intensify neuro-anxiety. (I'd guess the feeling is similar to what people mean who talk about experiencing bad drug trips and how it's important to be with people you trust) -nightmares -paranoia/suspicion/distrust (felt like my mom & sister were not really my mom and sister even though logically, I knew it was them. Things feel creepy & sinister -almost like a horror movie sometimes. A post I read here compared the sinister feeling to a bad LSD trip. I have never tried LSD, but I understood what they meant & is the closest way I found to describe it. -cognitive fog (thinking, processing speed, & reaction time is noticeably slower) (I was a slow thinker/processor before, but it feels like I have brain damage now) -memory problems (I was somewhat forgetful before, but am even more so now) -depersonalization ("it feels like the medicine changed who I am & I don't have an identity/sense of self which I still hadn't fully formed before sertraline) -derealization (feel emotionally disconnected & distant from people/atmosphere. I know things are real, but they don't feel real. Sometimes it feels like consequences won't matter or there is no sense of helpful anxiety even in a potentially dangerous situation. Logically, I know they do matter and still want to do the right thing) -anhedonia/apathy/emotionally numb (don't care about things or have the same amount of passion for interests or feel empathy for other people's emotions or feel spiritual even though I had some spiritual beliefs before. Couldn't feel hopeful about anything/future or feel love towards or from anyone. These emotions have slowly returned to a certain degree since then & levels of ability to feel them have changed at different courses of time) -blurred/cloudy vision (when DR was at most intense, vision was different. Hard to explain) -eye floaters ( random black specks & lines) Didn't notice these until a year after DC-ing -constant yawning/air hunger -stomach/digestion issues -burning, tingling, itching, numbness, redness in feet -brain zaps/"crackles" (sometimes annoying, sometimes painful, but my most tolerable symptom) -head pressure/tightness, feels like head is being squeezed -headaches There was also a period of 6 months where I thought certain symptoms were over and after that period, the dizziness returned. Those are most of the symptoms I've experienced in the past approx 3.5 years. They're not in order. I'm 24 now. A few have gone away for the most part (vomiting, olfactory hallucination, yawning) and most are less intense. I have really improved a lot, I don't mean to sound overly negative. But, I still have the issues I went on the SSRI for & I have trouble accepting where I am & worrying about where to go from here & the uncertainty of how long this lasts because it has put lots of areas of my life on hold (I wasn't able to go back to college, I hope to someday) and ended up making things harder to deal with when I was told it would make them easier. (BTW, I am now seeing a counselor). I don't understand why people say SSRI's are not technically drugs when they have this much of an effect on your mind, mood, & perceptions. Sorry if I have over shared, I might need to post a shorter version of this at some point that's easier to read. And I'm still figuring out the layout of the website & where to post about certain questions & topics. I just know that sometimes other people's explanations made me feel better because I had some understanding of what was happening & words to describe feelings I'd never had before and didn't know how to explain. I've also had other stress & health issues and a few (physical health) medicines that have affected my withdrawal progress, but I guess that's a topic for a separate forum. Any advice, similar experiences, recommendations, tips for using the site, or insight into what happened to my brain is appreciated if anyone feels so inclined :)
  3. Nickneedshelp

    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?
  4. Hi fellow victims, I have now been off Effexor (and all antidepressants) for 10 months, although I do OCCASIONALLY take Ativan to relieve me of my sheer panic and anxiety. Let me tell you my story: I have been taking antidepressants on and off for 21 years (since age 18). I went on it for debilitating depression and self hatred. The meds worked. I definitely felt better. However, over the years, each antidepressant would lose its effectiveness, sending me to the doctor to get a new one to try. The one I went on that worked the best was Effexor. I started at the lowest dose, 37.5 mg after suffering severe post partum depression. The Effexor was a life saver, or so I thought. I did not have the dark cloud handing over me, was not as anxious, and enjoyed life for a while. Fast forward five years. Now I felt withdrawn from my family, an outsider. I had extreme irritation, couldn't stand my kids touching me or sounds. I blew my lid around my family when the stress level got too high. It is at this point that I decided to eliminate antidepressants from my life. I tried and was off them for a couple months and could NOT deal with life. Back on again. Only this time, I started to do research, learning about withdrawal from Effexor from people who have experienced it, not doctors who prescribed it. I read some heart wrenching blogs and realized that this would be a commitment of at least a year. I armed myself with amino acids and vitamins, ate serotonin boosting foods, eliminated my beloved coffee, and got more exercise. I did EVERYTHING I could possibly do to succeed in withdrawal this time. Well it's been 10 months. Let me recap what it has been like. The physical withdrawal symptoms, although they seemed bad, were nothing compared to the emotional. I got the dizziness and uncontrollable crying for a few months. Then, I started realizing what the waves and windows were. Waves-bad times, windows, not so bad. My research told me that eventually the waves would be shorter, less intense, and less frequent. And so it seemed. I tracked my waves on a calendar and at one time they were coming every few days ( 4-5 days of wave, then two days of window), then they were every couple of weeks. I thought I had turned a corner. It was around month 5 off meds that I felt that maybe I could conquer this. However, I DID have a few angry moments when I totally scared my three children and felt like I went off the deep end during this time. Then January hit, the SADD months. I got my next "phase" of withdrawal: intrusive thoughts. Dark, awful, debilitating thoughts that made me want to crawl into a hole and die. I ALMOST went back on meds, but persevered thinking I only needed to get through the SADD months. During this time I also developed severe social anxiety, and I no longer hang out in groups and rarely hang out with anyone except my husband and children even now. Now I am in a new "phase" of extreme agitation, super low self esteem, and self hatred. I have begun cutting myself and punching myself when I am angry at myself for "losing it" with my family. My stomach currently looks like a bruised mess of red hash tags. My self esteem is zilch and I am paranoid that everyone hates me and/or is talking about me. I feel I keep encountering new phases of this debilitating withdrawal. I don't know if this will ever end. I am at the point where I sometimes think suicidal thoughts because it is too tough to live like this. I cry all the time and analyze every feeling I have. When I get mad at my kids and my blood is boiling, I retreat to the bathroom to self harm. My husband is supportive but even HE doesn't know what to do anymore. I DO NOT want to go back on medication. I truly feel it was the meds that made me this way in the first place. If anyone could offer some advice, some hope, I'd appreciate it. Thank you all for reading.
  5. Not sure if anyone will be able to help with this, as I know meds affect everyone differently, I started being depressed and anxious around 3 years ago. The last year of school it came about. The anxiety has stopped me from doing much of the things I used to love doing like Horse Riding (which I am scared of now but also miss incredibly). What I experience is anxiety leading up to events such as going out to a friend's place (I never do anymore for this reason), as well as thoughts of not wanting to do something as soon as I have made the decision I will do it (such as organising a riding lesson or photographing a horse competition). The depression makes me feel like not leaving the house and some times I cry at night because I feel like a failure to my parents esp. my mum. I hate feeling like I am doing nothing with my life but don't want to even get a job right now. I suffer terrible home sickness when not on any medication and I'm out somewhere 9-5. I've got my work provider on my back, and they don't seem to know how to deal with my mental problems. I also have stomach problems such as pain and an uncomfortable feeling which can last for hours every day for a few weeks, then subsides, then it starts up again, and it goes round in circles of on and off. I've had every test the doctors can think of, bloods, endoscopy, xrays, cat scan, ultrasound, breath test, etc etc. None have turned up anything at all. Drs have attributed the pain to anxiety. I can't understand though as to why I have periods of remission then relapse. I have a feeling about where it came from as I used to abuse Panafen Plus; ever since then I cannot take pain meds stronger than panadol without getting an uncomfortable stomach. I've been on Paxil, Pristiq, Prozac, Avanza, and more recently Zoloft. Paxil has been the ONLY medication that made me feel better without any side effects apart from feeling a little dopey and my stomach being sensitive, aching, and feeling generally sick/uncomfortable. I stopped it to try Pristiq which didn't do much for me, made my stomach gurgle all the time. I took this for 2 weeks. Then I tried Prozac, which absolutely killed my stomach and throat. Lasted 1 day on it. Avanza was the next, which although gave me a great sleep every night and didn't mess with my stomach, made me CRAVE bread. And other food. ALL the time!. It also made me agitated and pissed off very easily. I am already putting on weight due to sitting at home all the time so I really don't want to go onto something that will put on even more weight. I stayed on for 3 weeks before quitting as I didn't feel relief from depression or anxiety. I actually felt a little worse. Dose- 30mg. This week I tried Zoloft and I had it at night the first time, horse show in the morning so needed to sleep. I ended up sleeping 2-3 hours. And that was with the aid of Temtabs. I also woke up abruptly with strange thoughts. Like I was still half asleep. I am literally amazed I managed to go to the show and stay awake from 7am to 11pm doing photos. It messes with my stomach. I tried it again last night and my sleep was broken. I woke up again with weird thoughts AND sore teeth from clenching my jaw. I was in a daze when I woke, sat up in bed and ran my tongue across my teeth because they felt strange. It's sore to eat food today. The dose is 50mg. I am unsure of what to do right now. Drs say my stomach pain is from anxiety, but I still got pain and sickness while taking Paxil, which made me feel so much better and lessened my anxiety. I'm going back to the doctor but want to hear some of your experiences. I've read that if you stick with Zoloft, it works very well, but I can't deal with the jaw clenching or broken sleep and stomach discomfort. I also yawned quite a bit on it. Avanza works well to get to sleep, and didn't screw my stomach up, but I can't put on any more weight if I want to get back to riding. I started walking every night with my mum this week so maybe that might help. What's everyone's thoughts? Should I just try something completely different? Or persist with one? Anyone had stomach problems which were due to anxiety? How did you combat it?
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