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Julz82

Hi everybody!  :)

 

I am Julz, a 33 year-old female - polydrugged to my eye-balls  :wacko:

 

Ten years ago, I fell into anorexia and depression, soon unveiling terrible anxiety. I was referred to a psychiatrist (in France) who prescribed me medication and also gave me psychotherapy. Regarding the medication, different combinations and doses where tried and I eventually found myself on a prescription which seemed to suit my troubled mind (Escitalopram, venlafaxine, clonazepam and diazepam) - did it ever do anything? I still haven't got a clue. I trusted this doctor.

 

This is my initial prescription:

 

Escitalopram:           20mg               20mg                 20mg            -                     (yes, that is 60mg...!!!)
Venlafaxine(MR):        -                       -                      75mg            -
Clonazepam:               -                    2mg                 -                   2mg
Diazepam:                 -                   -                   -                         10mg  
 
Time passed and psychologically, a lot changed. I moved away from where I used to live, totally changed my environment, and went for a fresh start. But I was still taking my medication as prescribed. My General Practitioner (in charge of my prescription in my new environment) convinced me to lower the Escitalopram (on the grounds that it was "bad for my heart") and I managed, between 2011 and 2013, to come from 60mg/day to 15mg. How? By jumping 5mg at a time every now and again. I had no idea... again, I more or less trusted this doctor who was willing to prescribe me the drugs I was clearly physically dependent on.
 
The withdrawals I experienced were uneventful. I did feel something was happening but within a few days, I always felt the same as before the drop.
 
Between 2010 and 2014, a LOT had changed as I finally got an MSc BUT I had fallen into terrible exhaustion and had no life. How did I get my degree? A struggle every day.
 
I then began to question this cocktail of drugs, I'd been on them for 10 years and was still taking them as prescribed because I was physically dependent. That was clear enough!
 
It then hit me: my meds were probably incapacitating me rather than providing any help!
 
The realisation came as in January 2013, after I managed to lower my Escitalopram intake from 20 to 15mg/day in a single 5mg step (...), I began to feel even more tired during the day, exhausted - I simply had to nap every single day.
 
After some personal research, I went to my GP and told him I didn't believe in keeping our focus on the Escitalopram because it seemed that the more I decreased it, the more sleepy I'd get during the day, considering my benzo intake (at that point, I was taking 3 hours' naps), and I could not live like that!
 
Fortunately, before I was able to drop a pill here and there as instructed by my GP, I found the BenzoBuddy website and managed to find a taper method to gradually come off clonazepam. From December 2014 to July 2015, I came from 4mg to 2mg and am now below 1.9mg and still tapering off successfully. 
 
I decided to join Surviving Antidepressants as I want off ALL any medication which alters who I am.
 
I believe in other ways to manage my weaknesses - I am not ill, I have a tendency to be anxious and this is not new, I was an anxious child but I had emotions too. I'd like my emotions and my whole life back...
 
I realise I know NOTHING about anti-depressants, I surely did not know about Escitalopram's potency and am still in shock from the news.
 
My initial plans (supported by a psychiatrist I saw in February 2015) were to come off clonazepam (bz), then diazepam (bz), then Escitalopram, then Venlafaxine. In the light of what I read on this wonderful site, I wonder whether I should stay of Valium (diazepam) while at least tapering off Escitalopram, when I am done with clonazepam...
 
I realise I need knowledge myself because sadly, doctors haven't been helpful at all... so far...
 
Thanks for welcoming me on your wonderful Forum!
 
Julz xxx

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Julz82

Hi again  :)

 

I'm not quite sure where to post this, I have many questions about the meds I talk about in my introduction...

 

First of all, Escitalopram being an AD, it should be "activating", right?

But side effects still include drowsiness/fatigue, etc... so... is it more likely to make me feel lethargic?

 

As I said previously, I found that while dropping from 60mg to 15mg - whether this is linked or not - I got more and more exhausted.

At first I thought that my benzos were the reason for my lack of energy.

But now I am also wondering whether this is Escitalopram withdrawal, perhaps protracted?...

 

My problem right now is that I hardly have the energy to go through a day and this is independent from my benzo withdrawal journey. 

 

I know there is no "quick fix" but I just want my life back... I need to be able to work soon, else I'll have to find different living arrangements which will not go well psychologically... I need to take the right decisions.

 

...thank you for your help!

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nz11

Welcome Julz82   Interactions between your selected drugs

Major venlafaxine escitalopram

Applies to: venlafaxine, escitalopram

Using escitalopram together with venlafaxine can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms during treatment. In addition, combining these medications can increase the risk of an irregular heart rhythm that may be serious and potentially life-threatening, although it is a relatively rare side effect. You may be more susceptible if you have a heart condition called congenital long QT syndrome, other cardiac diseases, conduction abnormalities, or electrolyte disturbances (for example, magnesium or potassium loss due to severe or prolonged diarrhea or vomiting). Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. Your doctor may already be aware of the risks, but has determined that this is the best course of treatment for you and has taken appropriate precautions and is monitoring you closely for any potential complications. You should seek immediate medical attention if you develop sudden dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations during treatment with these medications, whether together or alone. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Moderate diazepam venlafaxine

Applies to: diazepam, venlafaxine

Using diazepam together with venlafaxine may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience some impairment in thinking and judgment. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with these medications. Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications affect you. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Moderate clonazepam venlafaxine

Applies to: clonazepam, venlafaxine

Using clonazePAM together with venlafaxine may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience some impairment in thinking and judgment. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with these medications. Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications affect you. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Moderate diazepam escitalopram

Applies to: diazepam, escitalopram

Using diazepam together with escitalopram may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience some impairment in thinking and judgment. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with these medications. Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications affect you. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Moderate clonazepam escitalopram

Applies to: clonazepam, escitalopram

Using clonazePAM together with escitalopram may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Some people may also experience some impairment in thinking and judgment. You should avoid or limit the use of alcohol while being treated with these medications. Avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how the medications affect you. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

No other interactions were found between your selected drugs.

Note: this does not necessarily mean no interactions exist. ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other drugs that your selected drugs interact with Interactions between your selected drugs and food
Moderate diazepam food

Applies to: diazepam

Consumer information for this interaction is not currently available.

GENERALLY AVOID: Acute alcohol ingestion may potentiate the CNS depression and other CNS effects of many benzodiazepines. Tolerance may develop with chronic ethanol use. The mechanism may be decreased clearance of the benzodiazepines because of CYP450 hepatic enzyme inhibition. Also, it has been suggested that the cognitive deficits induced by benzodiazepines may be increased in patients who chronically consume large amounts of alcohol.

 

MONITOR: Grapefruit juice may increase the plasma concentrations of orally administered drugs that are substrates of the CYP450 3A4 isoenzyme. However, the interaction seems to affect primarily those drugs that undergo significant presystemic metabolism by CYP450 3A4 (i.e., drugs with low oral bioavailability), presumably due to the fact that grapefruit juice inhibits intestinal rather than hepatic CYP450 3A4. Because pharmacokinetic interactions involving grapefruit juice are often subject to a high degree of interpatient variability, the extent to which a given patient may be affected is difficult to predict.

 

MANAGEMENT: Patients should be advised to avoid alcohol during benzodiazepine therapy. Patients who regularly consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice should be monitored for adverse effects and altered plasma concentrations of drugs that undergo significant presystemic metabolism by CYP450 3A4. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice should be avoided if an interaction is suspected. Orange juice is not expected to interact with these drugs.

Moderate venlafaxine food

Applies to: venlafaxine

Consumer information for this interaction is not currently available.

GENERALLY AVOID: Alcohol may potentiate some of the pharmacologic effects of CNS-active agents. Use in combination may result in additive central nervous system depression and/or impairment of judgment, thinking, and psychomotor skills.

 

MANAGEMENT: Patients receiving CNS-active agents should be warned of this interaction and advised to avoid or limit consumption of alcohol. Ambulatory patients should be counseled to avoid hazardous activities requiring complete mental alertness and motor coordination until they know how these agents affect them, and to notify their physician if they experience excessive or prolonged CNS effects that interfere with their normal activities.

Moderate escitalopram food

Applies to: escitalopram

Consumer information for this interaction is not currently available.

GENERALLY AVOID: Alcohol may potentiate some of the pharmacologic effects of CNS-active agents. Use in combination may result in additive central nervous system depression and/or impairment of judgment, thinking, and psychomotor skills.

 

MANAGEMENT: Patients receiving CNS-active agents should be warned of this interaction and advised to avoid or limit consumption of alcohol. Ambulatory patients should be counseled to avoid hazardous activities requiring complete mental alertness and motor coordination until they know how these agents affect them, and to notify their physician if they experience excessive or prolonged CNS effects that interfere with their normal activities.

Therapeutic duplication warnings

Therapeutic duplication is the use of more than one medicine from the same drug category or therapeutic class to treat the same condition. This can be intentional in cases where drugs with similar actions are used together for demonstrated therapeutic benefit. It can also be unintentional in cases where a patient has been treated by more than one doctor, or had prescriptions filled at more than one pharmacy, and can have potentially adverse consequences.

Duplication Tranquilizers

Therapeutic duplication

The recommended maximum number of medicines in the 'tranquilizers' category to be taken concurrently is usually one. Your list includes two medicines belonging to the 'tranquilizers' category:

  • clonazepam
  • diazepam

Note: The benefits of taking this combination of medicines may outweigh any risks associated with therapeutic duplication. This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor. Always check with your healthcare provider to determine if any adjustments to your medications are needed.

Duplication Benzodiazepine anticonvulsant agents

Therapeutic duplication

The recommended maximum number of medicines in the 'benzodiazepine anticonvulsant agents' category to be taken concurrently is usually one. Your list includes two medicines belonging to the 'benzodiazepine anticonvulsant agents' category:

  • clonazepam
  • diazepam

Note: The benefits of taking this combination of medicines may outweigh any risks associated with therapeutic duplication. This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor. Always check with your healthcare provider to determine if any adjustments to your medications are needed.

Duplication Benzodiazepines

Therapeutic duplication

The recommended maximum number of medicines in the 'benzodiazepines' category to be taken concurrently is usually one. Your list includes two medicines belonging to the 'benzodiazepines' category:

  • clonazepam
  • diazepam

Note: The benefits of taking this combination of medicines may outweigh any risks associated with therapeutic duplication. This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor. Always check with your healthcare provider to determine if any adjustments to your medications are needed.

Duplication Antidepressants

Therapeutic duplication

The recommended maximum number of medicines in the 'antidepressants' category to be taken concurrently is usually one. Your list includes two medicines belonging to the 'antidepressants' category:

  • escitalopram
  • venlafaxine

Note: The benefits of taking this combination of medicines may outweigh any risks associated with therapeutic duplication. This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor. Always check with your healthcare provider to determine if any adjustments to your medications are needed.

Duplication Psychotherapeutic agents

Therapeutic duplication

The recommended maximum number of medicines in the 'psychotherapeutic agents' category to be taken concurrently is usually three. Your list includes six medicines belonging to the 'psychotherapeutic agents' category:

  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • escitalopram
  • venlafaxine

Note: The benefits of taking this combination of medicines may outweigh any risks associated with therapeutic duplication. This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor. Always check with your healthcare provider to determine if any adjustments to your medications are needed.

Duplication CNS drugs

Therapeutic duplication

The recommended maximum number of medicines in the 'CNS drugs' category to be taken concurrently is usually three. Your list includes eight medicines belonging to the 'CNS drugs' category:

  • clonazepam
  • diazepam
  • escitalopram
  • venlafaxine

Note: The benefits of taking this combination of medicines may outweigh any risks associated with therapeutic duplication. This information does not take the place of talking to your doctor. Always check with your healthcare provider to determine if any adjustments to your medications are needed.

................................//.............................................................................

 

Your thought processes and realizations subsequent sense of humiliation and conclusions pretty well sums it up for this whole site.

Welcome...gee its amazing you can even start the day let alone get through the day on that cocktail.

Sorry you are in this difficult place.

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MollyN

I'm so glad you're here Julz xxxxxx It's a terrible thing, but you've 100% come to the right place to continue to make sense of your situation and make some beautiful progress back to health xxx

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Julz82

Thank you SO MUCH for your warm welcome! 

 

I had indeed already run this cocktail through the interactions checker and... it speaks for itself, doesn't it?  :wacko:

 

I am however VERY hopeful and will not give up, I want my life back. We all deserve it, thank goodness for such a Community!!! 

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nz11

I am however VERY hopeful and will not give up, I want my life back. We all deserve it, thank goodness for such a Community!!!

Its a long journey but i think with this attitude and desire to get informed and take action/control you will get your life back.

 

Here is a thread on tapering multiple drugs its very informative i am sure you may have already read it. but in case you havent here it is.

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2207-taking-multiple-psych-drugs-which-drug-to-taper-first/

 

The idea is to taper the ad first then the benzo. But i think it was a good idea to get off the clonazepam first as it is 20 times as potent as valium. You could consider remaining on the valium until tapered off the ven and escit.

There are some tricky decisions to make. "We are in the disgusting situation of always having to evaluate the least bad choice."

 

Nice avatar by the way.

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apace41

The idea is to taper the ad first then the benzo. But i think it was a good idea to get off the clonazepam first as it is 20 times as potent as valium. You could consider remaining on the valium until tapered off the ven and escit.

There are some tricky decisions to make. "We are in the disgusting situation of always having to evaluate the least bad choice."

 

Great post, NZ and welcome to SA, Julz.

 

For not the first time I'm forced to say that what the doctors have done to you is absolutely criminal.  I can think of no earthly reason that any doctor would put a patient on both clonazepam and valium.  As NZ said, with clonazepam being 20x the strength of Valium you were effectively on 90mg of Valium.  That's probably enough to serve the purpose if it were loaded into an elephant stun gun.  It's not a surprise you were exhausted all the time.

 

I think NZ has given excellent advice.  While we would normally suggest tapering the AD first, in this case I would concur and suggest a clonazepam taper as the starting point.  Tapering both benzos first is probably what you heard on BB where they usually suggest ALWAYS tapering the benzo first (they don't think ADs are as bad but, alas, they are not correct on that point).  I think the valium could serve as a little bit of a buffer for your system as you come down on the other drugs so I would agree with keeping that in place.

 

As far as whether you are in Esc withdrawal, it's hard to say.  Definitely possible, but there's not much to do about that given it is almost 3 years later.  How are you planning to taper the clonazepam?  Having done it myself (albeit from a much lower starting point) I can suggest that a microtaper of clonazepam in a milk solution can be a very effective approach.

 

It will be a long and challenging process but your attitude certainly says you can get this done.

 

Best of luck.  We are here to support you!

 

Andy

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Julz82

Good Morning to All  :)

 

Thank you for your support NZ! 

I also love your avatar  :D

"We are in the disgusting situation of always having to evaluate the least bad choice." - Sadly I agree 100%, but yes I believe it can only get better.

 

Hi ANDY and many thanks for you warm welcome.

I can only imagine that this doctor wanted me zombified so that I'd stop being anorexic. It didn't even work!... but anyway here I am now.

K is indeed tricky to taper off but I've found that a dry daily microtaper has treated me well so far. I might resort to milk titration when I get to lower doses. I believe having past the "half-way" mark and now at 1.87mg K, I have seen some improvement in energy (staying awake for an entire film is an achievement LOL....) but this is still a ridiculous dose.

I'm glad you agree starting with K was a sensible decision.

I was referred to SA by one of the moderators over on BB because of my Ven + Esc issue but also because I believe I am truly what we can call "polydrugged" :wacko:  :angry:  

Regarding Esc., it was news to me that 15mg was still a high dose...  :(

Do people usually taper off Esc then Ven? I am not sure which one is more "activating"...

That's what I had been advised to do by a psychiatrist I saw, but he also told me to get off Valium before the ADs and I am here to gain as much insight as possible and exactly as NZ says "take the least bad decision". 

We really need knowledge as we are left on our own once in that mess!   

 

Thanks to all for your great support

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AliG

Hi Julz,

Welcome.

I'm so pleased that you found your way here and you will get lots of support and encouragement.  These drugs do incapacitate and change who you are. Sad but true. I'm so very  sorry that you have had to go through this, but you will come out the other side , in time. I think you have done so well, to come as far as you have and I hope it goes smoothly for the rest of your taper.

Ali.

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Julz82

Thank you Ali.

What eludes me is the number of people across forums, desperate to get off psychotropic drugs. It is so disheartening to see how easily they are prescribed around the World and that we end up seeking help and support from one another. 

Your signature is impressive... I remember I was first tried on drug after drug before landing on the cocktail I describe. Each time it was a cold turkey as well... let's put the past back to where it belongs and now is time to taper off for those who can/have to, and heal for everyone.

I hope you see more windows than waves, and that they are opening up larger and larger each time revealing a little bit more of "the real Ali".

Julz xxx 

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ChessieCat

Hi Julz,

 

Just wanted to drop by and say hi (and welcome to another kitty - I have a 17 yo burmilla).

 

I'd also like to wish you well.  And feel free to ask questions in your intro/update thread and use it as a journal of your withdrawal.

 

There is lots of great information on this site.  The members and staff here are really helpful.

 

Wishing you all the best.

 

CC

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Julz82

Hello ChessieCat  :)

I hope you are doing better today. Thank you for your warm welcome!

There seems to be many kitties around, not a bad thing in my opinion  ;)

 

I have been searching for explanations, ideas to make my situation a little more "manageable". And here are two questions.

 

1. Switching/bridging from Escitalopram to Fluoxetine?

~ I am NOT looking to take more drugs or to rely on another AD for depression ~

Admittedly I am not yet withdrawing from Esc. as I am tapering off clonazepam (bz), here is a recap of my current meds:

 

Escitalopram:        15mg/day

Venlafaxine MR:    75mg/day

Diazepam:              10mg/day

Clonazepam:          1.87mg ~

 

Regarding the benzos, the equivalent potency is just under 50mg Valium. I have been suffering physically and psychologically from exhaustion (such a situation is bound to make anyone feel depressed and anxious, how does one live like that?)

 

This exhaustion is making me desperate to find a "solution"... I am so tired of being tired! And this is NOT all benzo wd, it was that way long before and got worse as I decreased Esc - especially from 20mg to 15mg.

 

Despite all the warnings on this website, I'd still like to raise the question in my situation. Would switching to a more "activating" AD help restore some kind of "balance" in my crashed energy levels?... This sounds desperate... but that is how I feel. And yet I am adamant that I do not have a mental illness LOL I believe I am reacting in a healthy way to a terribly "unfair" situation...

 

Anyway, thank you for your opinion!!!

 

2. Venlafaxine or Escitalopram first?

My second question is much more simple: which one should I tackle first? (and I have read the thread about multiple drugs... still confused :unsure: )

 

Julia xxx 

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JanCarol

Hey Julz, I think you are ahead of the game.  You've greatly reduced a highly addictive benzo as well as a challenging AD - congratulations on your determined, and yet gentle approach, and success so far!  I agree with Andy and NZ - any doctor that puts you on more than one drug in the same class - much less 2 each in 2 classes - RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE - should be subjected to same.  And then, after a year on them, have them removed CT to make him understand the consequences of his actions.  Sadly, that is just a vengeance fantasy.  But I can dream, can't I?

 

I agree with Apace that to continue tapering the K until it is gone, then tackle an AD next.  When I look at my handy chart of "how hard is it," I see that Venlafaxine has only a slightly higher "difficulty rating" than Escitalopram.  They are both challenging (and really, any psych drug can knock one for a loop!).  Normally, I would tell you to taper the easier one first.  Or I would suggest that you should taper the newest one first.  But you were given this mess all at the same time.

 

My suggestion is, since the GP seems to think that the Escitalopram has cardio risks (well, heck, they all do, but still), start with that one.  You've really, already started a taper with that one, albeit a "fast taper" that's almost like a CT!  However, make sure that all the benzo(K withdrawal) rattling is finished with you before you start tapering again.  I know - those major interactions are scary - but you've already reduced the risk significantly.

 

Leave the Valium in place (as Apace and NZ suggest) to cushion the blows, because both drugs are known to be challenging.  That said, I came off venlafaxine about 10 years ago with no problem at all (also a doctor-supervised "fast taper").  So it is possible to walk away from it.  I was only on it about 5 years, and never more than 75 mg (they were paranoid that I would "flip" into manic episodes).

 

As for bridging to Prozac, in your case I would suggest no.  I think it's too complicated.  It is my believe that Prozac wont' quite cover the same territory as the drugs you are on.  I'm guessing you may have read this topic - but it is a risky crap shoot, and you are on two ADs not one.  It would be nice to taper off of one drug, but it might be a heckuva shock to switch.  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1463-the-prozac-switch-or-bridging-with-prozac/

 

As for what happened to you - http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1718-severe-fatigue/  is a common symptom. 

Fatigue is one of the things that I suffer, as well.  Years of it.  You say it hit while you were reducing escitalopram and never got better.  There may be some nutrients that you have depleted in your years on psych drugs.  Common ones are Magnesium, Vitamin D, Zinc, and B12.  Omega 3's also help smooth the neurons of the brain, give the brain enough fatty acid to heal and operate properly.  See:  Magnesium and Omega-3 fish oil.  

 

But - don't just go out an buy a bunch of supplements - they can be activating and cause problems.  Start with fish oil, build it up slowly, then do the same with magnesium before you consider any other supplements.  LexAnger here at SA wisely said,  

 Change, is the biggest harm in this process to success. 

  

So make sure that you make any nutritional changes gradually, one at a time, so that you know what you are sensitive to.  For example, we have people here who are severely depleted in Vitamin D, but cannot take it without going into akathisia.  So you need to be careful when adding new supplements.  It helps if you have a naturopath working with you, who can order tests to give you information to find out where your deficiencies lie (especially with D and B12), and what co-factors may help the fatigue.  To see what others have tried, look here:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/606-important-topics-about-tests-supplements-treatments-diet/

 

Lastly, as anxiety and anorexia were your survival mechanisms, you might consider some of the practices at:  

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1112-non-drug-techniques-to-cope-with-emotional-symptoms/

 

Welcome to SA!  I hope you see the sun today!

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nz11

wow JC great post ..hey..what are you doing up at 2am in the morning then??

 

Would love to see that difficulty chart. Is it on sa?

 

"We are in the disgusting situation of always having to evaluate the least bad choice."  - Alto-ism.

Wishing you strength J82

 

nz11

4am

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AliG

NZ,

 

It's only 1.30 am ! LOL .   :)  ( Oz time) .  4 am there ! You're in worse shape , than J.C &  I.   :wacko:  

 

Ali

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Julz82

Thank you so much JanCarol!!!

 

And everybody for your support  :) 

 

I get bouts of realisation, those drugs I've been taking without even thinking...  :( 

Then my head goes round and round in circles, if I'm not going to "save myself" no doctor will... I do apologise for getting ahead of myself.

 

I will edit this post tomorrow - re-read your wonderful advice.

 

I have been taking magnesium citrate to support my CNS in benzo withdrawal... and I eat healthily. Anorexia is far behind. Whole foods, plenty fruit, vegge, oily fish, avocado, nuts... plenty water, no alcohol.

 

Good night from frosty England  ;) 

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apace41

Yes, good post, JC.

 

Agree on all counts and would only expand on what you said by advising Julz take at least 2-3 months after the clonazepam taper is over before starting the AD taper.

I went back to back with no break and I think that has given me more problems than I would have had otherwise.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Julz82

Thanks Andy!

 

I'm quite sure I will leave more than 2 to 3 months in between getting off K and starting another taper... even in the benzo micro-taper I held for about 4 months to "live a little" LOL...however symptoms came back and I thought that was my cue to get back on the saddle.

 

My worse (most scary) symptom is sleep paralysis - is that something people also experience with AD withdrawal?

 

Have a nice day and I'll reply below to JanCarol's wonderful post, seems I can't edit my previous one anymore   :)

 

Julz xxx

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Altostrata

Hello, Julz. What do you mean by sleep paralysis? When did this start?

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KarenB

Hello Julz,

 

Just read your thread and wanted to say I really loved reading such hopeful and positive things :), especially in the face of such difficulties. 

 

Also interested in 'sleep paralysis.' - haven't heard of that one before but since I've been in w/d I have this weird thing where I don't know where my hands are when I first wake up.  Too strange.  But paralysis sounds a bit different.  

 

Glad you are here getting good support,

Hugs,

KarenB 

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Julz82

Good Morning  :)

 

Hello, Julz. What do you mean by sleep paralysis? When did this start?

 

I believe Wikipedia has a rather good explanation of this strange phenomenon:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis

 

It happens to me a lot during my benzo withdrawal and usually when I am taking "a nap" (sleeping during the day), I begin to wake up during my dream I am more or less aware that I am neither awake nor 100% sleeping, I sometimes know where I physically am but not always.

I regain some level of consciousness while still in the dream-state. In REM, our bodies are "paralysed" as to prevent us for acting out our dreams, and hurting ourselves for instance... which makes sense.

Drugs simply puts everything out of synch, and it is scary. Nothing serious or to worry about, just like a "bad trip".

 

In my experience, just relaxing into it when it happens is the best way to cope. I know what is happening. Some people try to struggle out of the paralysis but it just raises anxiety...

 

The very first time I ever experienced SP was long before I saw a psychiatrist and long before I had any reason to see one (happy days LOL), I was simply exhausted and had to take a nap. It felt like an out of body experience, I felt myself lift out of bed and float around my bed-room LOL. Now I got really scared! Anyway that was just a one-time thing, luckily!

 

When I was put on psychiatric medication... sleep paralysis became so scary (dreaming I was being raped...) I dreaded trying to sleep altogether... unfortunately I cannot remember the exact drug(s) I had started which had put me in this mess - but do remember telling my psychiatrist about it.

I would hazard a guess saying that I was starting benzos... it eventually went away but always came back in the few instances when I had run out of clonazepam (long story of getting my meds via my mum in France when no GP wanted to take me in as a patient, can you blame them?... :huh: ), with this short half-life stuff after a missed dose or two, I was shot into a CT-like withdrawal right away.  

 

Many of my Benzo-Buddies have experienced SP in withdrawal, especially in the early stages, but it keeps happening in mine... oh well.

 

I hope my attempt at explaining this helps, Alto, thanks for your great work on SA :)  :)  :) 

 

Hi Karen  :) 

Thank you for visiting a leaving me such kind words! Being positive is something we have control over... and I believe it's much better to adopt this kind of outlook on life, whatever is going on.

A lot of adversity yet we have made it through, we are building resilience and keep getting stronger every day - especially in hard times.

Sleep is a very intriguing state of our brains, quite fascinating actually - for those lucky people like us who do get some.

I'm not sure I have ever really experienced what you describe, is it as if the transition between sleep and wakening up was not smooth enough? 

 

About sleep, in benzo withdrawal, I go from sleeping like a log to sleeping very lightly with heavy dreaming / vivid dreaming. Dreams seem to follow a narrative LOL...

Memories have also come back to me in dreams... I once woke up being able to sing a song I'd learnt 15 years ago when I was in performing arts, a song I hadn't heard nor thought about in years... quite incredible!!!

 

The Mind is wonderful in the sense that it does heal - all the tools we need to get passed traumas and the like are built-in, that is my opinion, and getting drug free is enabling the brain to do its thing. I will not trust doctors anymore but I will trust the power of our Mind & Bodies :)  

 

Never seize to believe...  :)

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Julz82

 

Thanks Alto  :)

 

I have been taking 400mg Magnesium Citrate daily and will look into fish oils.

 

I do remember that my crazy psych doc had me on vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol / Toco 500) and ... omega-3 fish oils? I wish this was the only thing he'd prescribed... apparently he had one thing right... 

 

But my GP here didn't want to prescribe fat soluble supplements. "Too risky". I love the irony! ... 

 

Wishing windows to all...!

 

Julz xx

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Julz82

Hello SA World  :)
 
I have to start with a rant...
 
I feel quite disheartened today as I received an email from a friend of a friend who's a psychiatrist in the UK. 
 
Regarding Escitalopram:
 
"As far as a gradual reduction regimen is concerned, J's GP has pretty much done what most GPs would do. In fact it has been a much smoother reduction than many, or even most, I have seen. 
Antidepressant withdrawal programs are normally much swifter than benzodiazepine withdrawal, and stopping over a month or two is very common and normally goes without mishap. Given that Escitalopram is such a potent inhibitor of Seritonin re-uptake, even at low doses, it will fall into the law of diminishing returns. I don't know the numbers for EsCTP, but they are normally roughly as follows for psychoactive medications: treatment dose normally blocks around 90% of the available receptors. Doubling the dose may change that to 94%. Doubling again 96%, double again to 97%, etc. Thus, as you go into very high dose treatment, the added benefit is not normally very significant. Given that the treatment dose for Escitalopram is 10mg-20mg, J's dose reduction from 60mg to 15mg probably didn't have a massive effect on the amount of receptor blockade. The drop from 15mg to zero is probably a bigger challenge than that from 60mg to 15mg (At least, on paper!)"
 
This is the World I live in, "real life". 
 
Doctors seem to follow protocols which vary from country to country... what do you do once you are stuck on medication?
What do you do when you end up with "unexplained" debilitating symptoms?
Plagued by exhaustion, all I want is to be myself, get up, go to work, enjoy time with friends, have a chance a having my own family... 
Sorry this is a rant-post more than anything ... that is how I feel.
 
Desperate because there is no "real life" support or even acknowledgement of iatrogenic illnesses due to psychotropic medication, protracted withdrawal syndrome... or far too little. 
 
I'm quite sure you and me are everywhere, only we are hidden behind closed doors, too ill or too exhausted to show ourselves. Disregarded by doctors.
 
I want to be a "normal" citizen. I just want to blend in, be part of this World but no one sees the hurdles I keep bumping into. 
 
It has now been over 11 years of a daily battle. I have been very ill with anorexia nervosa and depression - something was definitely wrong with me. I needed help. In spite of winning the battle against anorexia and depression, I know have to fight again to withdraw from drugs. When does it ever stop? I'm 33 and that's over a third of my life I describe as a daily battle... 
 
I know wallowing over all this leads to nothing but I had to let it out, apologies...

 

...End of rant...

 

 

Updates:

 

I have increased my D3 intake to 15 micrograms (taking all supplements into account), I live in the Northern Hemisphere where daylight gets scarce between October and April.

 

I will look into fish oils and omega 3, I'm just wary of the financial costs... and as I've increased vitamin D, it might be wiser to leave everything just as it is for now.

 

I am still on my K taper of course, sleep is rather light and I still do not wake up refreshed. It comes and go, similarly to waves.

 

In spite of the exhaustion and the unknown of tomorrows from withdrawal, I need structure and a financial income... I need to push myself at least to get a part-time job. It is very frustrating to have a degree I can't work with because I simply am "too ill" to take on long hours and high levels of stress... 

 

Days seem to go by without me managing to get anything done apart from sorting out what to eat... so far it's a day of feeling angry and low-ish at the same time. I know I am being hard on myself, I am physically holding my breath which should be my cue for some yoga moves.

 

All the best,

Julz xxx

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nz11

Thanks for sharing that J82

It sounds like the pdoc is aware of this study

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6036-why-taper-paper-demonstrates-importance-of-gradual-change-in-plasma-concentration/

 

and stopping over a month or two is very common and normally goes without mishap.

Well i dont know so much about this . It was not correct in my case and i put it to him that an epidemic of people in the UK  cant get off these drugs is proof that he is not correct in saying this.

http://cepuk.org/2015/04/10/latest-prescription-data-shows-consumption-psychiatric-drugs-continues-soar/

....the UK is in the midst of a psychiatric drug epidemic......
Dr. James Davies, co-founder of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry (CEP) and author of Cracked: Why Psychiatry is doing more Harm than Good, says, “More people are taking antidepressants for longer because these drugs cause dependency and people cannot get off.  Withdrawal support charities report increasing numbers of people who are unable to withdraw without suffering severe symptoms which can sometimes last for months or even years after coming off.  Urgent action is needed to reduce prescribing levels and to provide proper services for those who wish to come off.”

I would posit that having a 'mishap' getting off these drugs is more the norm than the exception...here is a person who just joined this morning...could have written this myself...true figures are hidden cos the patient is blamed and not the poison.

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10671-anger-from-paxil-withdrawal/

 

the drop from 15mg to zero is probably a bigger challenge than that from 60mg to 15mg (At least, on paper!)"

Well if he is aware of this why isnt it reflected in their tapering  advice??

In fact to acknowledge this is to be inconsistent with the view that withdrawal 'normally goes without mishap'

 

 

"Days seem to go by without me managing to get anything done apart from sorting out what to eat.."

You are not alone.

 

nz11

I dont think that the fact i am posting at 4.30 am is a non mishap.

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apace41

First, off, NZ11, always appreciate your posts.  Hard-hitting, to the point, and always a twist of sardonic humor to close.

 

Julz,

 

You are, of course, understandably upset about where the psychiatric profession sits on these issues and leaves us, the iatrogenically poisoned, to deal with this on our own.  It can be attributed to many things, among them ignorance, apathy, persuasion of pharma, financial interests, etc.  At the end of the day, we are where we are and they are where they are or, to quote Dickens, "East is East and West is West..."  So, what to do?  We can continue to scream into the night and tilt at windmills in the hope that things change.  My guess is they will but it will take a long time and many, many more sacrificial lambs.  This is the sad but true reality.

 

In the meantime, we can go forward and do the best thing we can do to fight the fight -- HEAL.  You are doing that.  You are taking care of yourself and taking steps toward recovery.  It will take time and effort and there will be a lot of ups and downs but you will get there.  Keeping the faith about the process is hard but necessary and you will do it.  You are 33 and while you have been fighting this fight in one way or another for a third of your life, the good news is you have many more years that will be so much better after you heal.

 

Conserve your energy to care for yourself.  Fight the fight to the extent you are able and, once healed, continue the fight.  But don't lose sight of the fact that your number one job right now is to heal.  If you need to make money I get that and many of us do.  You can do that and while it creates greater stress and may theoretically slow the healing process, it can be done and you will do that.

 

Just keep the positive attitude you have espoused and you will weather the storm.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Mort81

Hey Julz glad you found the site. I am a fellow Escitalopram user myself. 30 mg tapered in 3 months. Last 20 mg tapered in 3-4 weeks. The lack of facts and knowledge that the mainstream doctor has in regards to medications is dangerously ignored. The epidemic is only gonna get worse. People are being medicated more and more and at younger ages. So many adds on what medication to take for any specific problem. All these meds are peddled by these docs who claim its safety. Your not alone on here and , anybody whos on this site has likley been suckerpuched by medicine and is trying to reclaim their life. Very few doctors can offer any support. I saw 10 in total and consulted with 3 or 4 on the internet before finding one that had knowledge about this. I can imagine the odds are probably more like 1/100 doctors have knowledge about withdrawal .

 

Your rant rings clearly with me . All I want is to get up go to work , play sports and continue to buld my life , im 34 by the way. I had just been promoted at a Job I loved before this happened . I had anxiety and panic attacks before drugs likely due to trying to figure out my life and not being successful as quickly as I wanted. However the WD from this medication is 100x worse than the reason I went on the medication. For 12 months physically I was destroyed. I am very fit and active but I couldnt walk more than 3 houses down my street at one point the weakness was so bad. So I know your struggle.  About a month ago the weakness has slowly started to get better. I think I am working with 50% of my normal strength and energy right now compared to 0 before. Reading the recovery stories is what keeps me going . Everyone recovers on their own time but everyone does recover.It just takes much longer than any of us want. All the best 

 

Mort

 

I think your going to be okay and your life will return to normal . It wont be easy and might be a long road but you will get there. Taper slow and be gentile. The people on this website have more experience knowledge and resources than anywhere else. 

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Julz82

Hi NZ, Apache, Mort and all  :)

 

Thank you for your support and again - I do apologise for this rant...

 

Yes Apache, I realise my focus should be on healing and that getting upset over how/why/how I got into this situation is not going to help me in any way... I get days when those thoughts simply get the better of me... moving on, getting better is my mission, a mission to live not a mission to rant!

 

NZ, I agree with Apache, love the touch of humor in your comment. Such a powerful skill in Life! ...and yep, those were my thoughts when I read this doc's email. Never mind, you are absolutely right, as is Apache of course, enough with wasting my energy finding people to understand and/or support when we have this great community!

 

Mort, I am very sorry you had to get through this as well. I am however delighted to read that your weakness is subsiding and really wish you a smooth recovery, one day at a time.

 

Positivism and Humor and wonderful to get us through this, thanks for getting me back on track, making me smile tonight and simply reminding me that I'm not alone in this. 

 

I've fought during all those years and I will continue to fight no matter what. Challenge results in strength, we are all discovering extremely powerful resources within ourselves as we keep walking towards drug-free health.

 

I am not thankful for such an ordeal, but I will probably find that, in hindsight, I will have become a better person because of it.

 

Keep well, healing hugs from the UK  :)

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Mort81

Thanks Julz ! one day at a time we will all get through this 

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Julz82

Thanks Julz ! one day at a time we will all get through this 

 

Absolutely Mort, we are always moving forward. Time is a healer.

 

Today I have a new questions... 

 

1. In my clonazepam taper, I decided to hold at the 2 mg point - it was convenient, no pill cutting, and I felt I needed a break after months of micro-tapering. From July to September, all went as well as it could have - possibly better than expected.

In October, 3 months into "holding" symptoms appeared again and I took this as my cue to resume my taper.

 

Now I am thinking of this crazy Escitalopram descent... I am trying to make sense of "poop-outs", this is all new to me.

Could being on 15 mg for nearly 2 years now after having seen the heights of 60 mg for 6 years put me in a similar position?

Admittedly this was no taper, just a crazy descent as directed by my GP...  

 

I will not start tapering off multiple drugs at a time, I am just so full of questions... I know I need other distractions!!!  :blush:

 

2. After my Esc. decent (I was taking 3x20mg) I have landed on a 5 mg in the morning and 10 mg in the evening. It doesn't seem to be problematic but I do know that the usual way to take Esc. is in a single dose in the morning.

As said previously, I've been taking Esc this way for nearly two years now, what do you guys think?

 

Many Many thanks!!!

 

Best wishes to all!

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KarenB

I always think that having different doses a.m. and p.m. is going to cause instability for your CNS.  Better to even them out and give yourself as much stability as possible.  Every little bit counts :).

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Julz82

I always think that having different doses a.m. and p.m. is going to cause instability for your CNS.  Better to even them out and give yourself as much stability as possible.  Every little bit counts :).

 

Hi Karen,

 

Thank you for your input  :)

 

I do agree... it makes pure sense to keep plasmic concentration as stable as possible - especially through withdrawal.

I also see that usual recommendations are to take it in a single dose (out of withdrawal context).

 

Trying to understand different drugs in the mix  :wacko:

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ang

Hello dear friend, how are you?a month now no posts,  anyhow I wish you the most wonderful Christmas....... we all heal, eventually.

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Julz82

Hi Ang,

 

Thanks for your messages and checking on me! 

 

I am still on my klonopin taper, passed 1.75mg on the 13th of December.

This time of the year is tough, family expectations/tensions... the Holidays are rarely very happy I'm afraid. I feel my nervous system in over-drive: I am startled by noisy neighbours, I just about jump when I wake up and I get annoyed very very very easily!! On the other hand, I am exhausted and fall into deep sleep every afternoon.

 

I guess that I'm still very "tranquilized" at some level on the benzodiazepines (??) even though I am withdrawing from this first one. It's been a year-long taper so far and will take much more time to get off klonopin if I want to be somewhat "functioning" through this.

 

I do realise that I used to be able to get all my worries "brushed under the rug" when I went to bed at night. Drugs. Now I get distressing thoughts, not suicidal - but understandable thoughts. My life is as boring as anything. Of course it is, so much has been put off limit because of the polydrug mess I'm in, the lack of "real life" support. I am on my own in this - although so thankful to online support - it's tough, sometimes I'd need a comforting hug but I just have to accept that it is not how it is. 

 

Wishing lots of Healing!

Julz xx

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Julz82

Hi Fellow Survivors!!

 

I'd like to address the "fatigue" issue here. For over two years now, I have been constantly fatigued as in "sleepy tired" leading to napping every day. There is no muscle weakness, nothing like that. I feel I follow the "normal" pattern for cortisol release throughout the day, waking up anywhere between 6 and 8 a.m., around 2 or 3 p.m. my eyes sting, I feel cold... I simply need to sleep. It is not a psychological escape, it feels like a physiological need!

...so I will read for a while, my eyelids will shut and I'll sleep for at least an hour and a half.

 

Since 2014, I have decreased Klonopin from 4mg to 1mg (clonazepam, that's a benzo). Admittedly I have reached 1mg only 12 days ago with a daily-micro taper which can explain that I'm still tired!! But I can't seem to see any difference in terms of sedation.

 

Prior to that, I'd lowered Escitalopram in 5mg cuts (I didn't know any better, GP's instructions...) and coincidentally or not, shortly after the 20 to 15mg step, my fatigue increased quite significantly.

 

I had no idea what was happening.

 

Now I know that taking those psych meds for so long must have really screwed up my physiology. Being polydrugged, I don't know what causes what and can only go with my best guess... off the whole lot but tapering safely. Is it long-term use? "Imbalance" between ADs and benzos? Withdrawal? A combination? ...

 

If you have any insight into this debilitating situation... please share...

 

Thank you!!

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