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AlasLlama's recovery with the help of neurofeedback

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AlasLlama posted this in December 2014, in her Intro topic http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4236-alasllama-and-her-discontents/ :

Dear Everyone, Here is an update of my long history... unlike many, it has a comparatively happy ending!

Beginning: In 1996, I started on Zoloft. At first it was great. Over time, I needed larger doses to get the same effect. Eventually, I tapered myself off of it. However, my depression and anxiety came back, so I started again. Zoloft became less effective, and I was started on Serzone, Buspar, and Wellbutrin. When these diminished in effectiveness, I was started on a low dose of Effexor. I was in conventional talk therapy throughout this period, but it did not seem to be doing much.

Middle: In 2003, when I became pregnant, I tapered myself off of the medication. I was told that the medications were safe to take while pregnant (a theory that I would now question) but I was taking no chances. In 2004, a few weeks before my son was born, I was concerned about the return of my depression, and I started again on Zoloft. (It was around this time that my new psychiatrist mentioned to me that the long term effects of these medications were not well understood, and that I should try to get off them. Because I has been assured that they were safe so often, I did not then listen to her). Between 2004 and 2006, I took Zoloft, but it no longer seemed effective. I was switched to Effexor. A couple other things were going on: I was not sleeping well at all, and I was under a lot of stress due to family and job problems. I was still in talk therapy; again, it did not seem helpful.

During 2006, my depression took a turn for the worse. Nightmares started... at first, these could be dismissed with "oh, just a bad dream" but over time they became so vivid and intense that the effect of them began to spill over into daytime. In early 2007, I crashed and burned. I could not sleep more than two or three hours a night. I cried often. I was intensely suicidal. I became anorexic; I lost 20 pounds in one month. I had to force myself to eat. I was so sad that I felt as if I were in physical pain. My dosages of Effexor were increased again and again, but it no longer helped. After this had gone on for several month, my psychiatrist mentioned that she was considering having me admitted to a psychiatric hospital and/or adding antipsychotics to my medication. She thought that sleep deprivation was driving my depression, but sleeping pills did not work for me.

End: At this point, I realized that conventional psychiatry had failed me. I was far, far sicker than I had ever been before I placed myself in the care of psychiatrists. It was time for me to get off this bus. I began to research alternatives...looking desperately for similar case histories. I finally found alternatives, first, a book called the Grief Recovery Handbook. Then, something called EMDR, a technology-aided scripted talk therapy that gave me rapid relief of the worst of my symptoms. After a year of EMDR, my depression was in remission, and my social anxiety went away and has never come back. A neurotherapy machine called a "sound and light" system helped me to sleep. Exercise and some nutritional supplements (Vitamin D, Omega 3s, and so on) also helped.

The problem was, I was still taking Effexor. My EMDR therapist told me that to successfully complete the EMDR therapy, the word on the street at the EMDR research conferences was that patients needed to be off medications. When I told my psychiatrist this (a different one), he fussed. So I never saw him again. I went to my regular doctor and told him that I might need his help tapering off the medication. I began to reduce my dosage of Effexor slowly. The last few months, I took apart the pills so that I could reduce the dosage grain by grain.

Aftermath: Finally I stopped the Effexor completely in 2009. Ugh. It was awful. But I did it. The problem was, I was left with SERIOUS memory problems. I could not remember my own phone number, my mom's number, my own social security number. I could not remember what was on page one of a document when I was reading page two, and I had to quit my job. I had no idea what caused this; finally, I ran across the research linking memory loss to Effexor. Something like 40% of patients get memory loss, and when Effexor is used to treat severe depression, the effect is enhanced. Great.

The answer was neurofeedback training, another type of technology-aided biofeedback therapy that helps one enter a deep meditative state. With neurofeedback, I began to recover my memory. Today I am able to work again! My memory is not back where it was, and I've lost the ability I once had to write poetry... but it is much, much better. And I can again feel joy and contentment--this was slower to come back and has returned only in the last few months. This recovery has taken YEARS, and a great deal of money, time, and attention. But it can be done

Best of luck to all on this forum.


This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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Hi, congrats..many congrats :)


How long did it take you to recover from the depression? And what, if anything helped?


Thank you

2000 - sertraline for job anxiety low confidence (17 years old) ..which turned the next 16 years into nightmare!


On/off sertraline severe withdrawals every time. 2014 - felt better as reduced dose of sertraline no more inner restlessness. Doctor rushed off again. Hit severe withdrawal. Lost the little I had in life. Couldn't get stable again on 12.5mg. Was switched to prozac. Had severe reaction to prozac..came off in November 2015 at 6mg as felt more confused and damaged on it..Even more withdrawal ..rage, depression, dyphoria, near constant suicidal ideation, self harm impulses, doom, concrete block in head, unable to do much of anything with this feeling in head..went back on 6mg of sertraline to see if would alleviate anything. It didn't..reduced from December to June 2016 came off at 2.5mg sertraline as was hospitalised for the severe rage, suicidal impulses, and put on 50mg lofepramine which in 2nd week reduced all symptoms but gave insomnia which still have..psych stopped lofepramine cold turkey..no increased withdrawal symptoms new symptoms from lofepramine except persistant insomnia which has as side effect.


Taking Ativan for 8 months for the severe rage self harm impulses 1-3 times a week (mostly 2 times a week) at .5mg. Two months (I'm unsure exactly when the interdose started to happen) ago interdose withdrawal seemed to happen..2 days I think after the Ativan.



Nightmare that could have been avoided!

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  • 2 years later...



i know now this is an old thread but I wanted to say that I too have had a lot of success with neurofeedback. I am by no means 'recovered' but neurofeedback has helped me regain cognitive function, some self control and motivation. I've had 60 sessions and plan to have more. I feel like neurofeedback kickstarted me into taking better care of myself.

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  • 3 years later...
On 12/16/2017 at 11:57 AM, 89abc123 said:



i know now this is an old thread but I wanted to say that I too have had a lot of success with neurofeedback. I am by no means 'recovered' but neurofeedback has helped me regain cognitive function, some self control and motivation. I've had 60 sessions and plan to have more. I feel like neurofeedback kickstarted me into taking better care of myself.

Hi, thanks! Did you wait until you were off meds to start the neurofeedback? How many sessions in did you start to notice a difference? 

I had 3 sessions of emdr/neuro feedback last month, but I instinctively thought I might not get as good results while on meds, so I stopped for now. Part of the reason I want to get off so quickly.

May 2019 started lexapro 2.5 mg

2020 went to every other day

2021 beginning of Mar, tried to stop but had insomnia

Mar 30, 2021 reinstated 1.25 ev other day, WD symptoms, not enough

April 19, 2021 started liquid, .85 mg/day

May 1, 2021 .8 mg/day


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