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Forodo: Stopped antidepressants, but at what cost?


Forodo

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I was given Prozac when 15 after fatigue from mono and social anxiety. I didn't have any friends outside of school and spent most of my time in my bedroom. The Prozac made me feel full of energy for the first couple of weeks and gave me insomnia, but didn't help as I needed therapy and practical support. I couldn't talk to my parents and they were unable to help due to their own anxiety and depression.
I went to university, and used alcohol to overcome social anxiety, often to the point of vomiting or passing out. I was given Restoril by a doctor and I started using marijuana to help me get to sleep .
I was changed from Prozac to Elavil as it was more sedating. I was still tired a lot and attended the course irregularly, I had another positive blood test for mono and failed some exams and dropped out.
After a while unemployed I found a job in another city, but struggled with depression, and was changed to Celexa, it was not helping so the dose was increased to 60mg.
I found another job that I enjoyed for a while, but then it changed and the depression came back. I left the job and moved again to another city, where I was unemployed for a while and I struggled to get out of bed for a while and did not know anyone, I was told I had dysthymia.
After taking Celexa for about 15 years, over the last few years I gradually reduced from 60mg and stopped about 2 years ago due to side effects including feeling tired, insomnia, weight gain, high cholesterol and raised blood sugar. I found the withdrawal effects very difficult, especially below 5mg, the physical zaps, nausea, dizzyness and headaches were unpleasant, but the emotional effects - anxiety, anger and crying were worse.
I was still going to work, but could not concentrate and was not really getting anything done and became withdrawn. Some colleagues turned against me and thought I was lazy and became aggressive towards me which resulted in one (who I know was also coming off antidepressants) assaulting me. I was unable to return to work as the management were not supportive and wanted me to return to work with the person. This made things so much worse and I was very depressed for months and my anxiety worse than it has ever been. I have been taking Ativan but reluctant to take the antidepressants that I have been offered as it feels like a step back and I don't want to go through the withdrawal again (obviously the withdrawal effects were dismissed by the doctor).
Some days I feel OK and try and exercise, but then I feel exhausted. My moods are very up and down. As I am not working and don't feel well enough to start looking for a new job yet, I have ended up looking after my young children, while my wife is at work, which is very hard and I don't feel capable of. I feel very isolated and my wife is not supportive and losing patience with me. I have been drinking quite a bit at night to feel better (which I know is bad, but still do it). I have been seeing a therapist but it is not really helping and I don't know what to do, sometimes I am tempted to give the antidepressants a try again. I don't know if it is still withdrawal effects of the antidepressants after 2 years and maybe I have swapped one problem for another (antidepressants to Ativan and alcohol), but I don't know what to think any more, maybe if I was in a different situation I would feel better, but I feel trapped and stuck in a hole I don't know how to get out of.
 

Prozac 20mg for 3 years with Restoril 15mg for insomnia

Elavil 75mg for 2 years

Celexa 60mg for 15 years, reduced slowly over 3 years, stopped 2014

Currently Ativan 1mg as needed

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Hi Forodo.  Welcome.  I'm sorry for your distress, though. It is indeed possible that  you're still suffering the effects of withdrawal . Two years is quite a while  but there are many here, who are still suffering the side effects after so long. In  fact it's not unusual , at all.  I'm not sure about  Ativan . I know it helps sleep and anxiety . I'm thinking 1mg as needed, sounds destabilizing for the C.N.S. , but someone with more experience with this particular drug, should be able to help you, very soon.

Thanks for filling out your drug history signature.

This is your thread for asking questions and keeping track of your progress. 

Best wishes,

Ali

Many SSRI's and SSNRI's over 20 years. Zoloft for 7 years followed by Effexor, Lexapro, Prozac, Cymbalta, Celexa, Pristiq, Valdoxan, Mianserin and more - on and off. No tapering. Cold turkey off Valdoxan - end of May 2014

 

                                                  Psych Drug - free since May 2014
.
         

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Just wanted to say welcome to the forum, and good luck! You've come to the right place.

Effexor XR:

July 2008: 150mg | June 24 2015: 145mg | July 28 2015: 130.5mg | Sept 4 2015: 117mg

Nov 10 2015: 105mg | Jan 24 2016: 94.5mg | Feb 28 2016: 85mg | Mar 27 2016: 76.5mg

Apr 28 2016: 69mg | Aug 14 2016: 62mg | Jan 19 2017: 56mg | Feb 21 2017: 50mg

Mar 30 2017: 36mg | Apr 2 2017: 45mg | Sep 1 2019: 27.5mg | April 9 2020: 25.2mg

Oct 30 2021 | 16.875mg

 

Vitamins & Supplements:

MegaFood Women's One Daily | Metagenix D3 5000 IU | Barlean's High Potency Omega 3 1500mg (Liquid)
Thorne Deproloft-HF (during weans)

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome Forodo,

 

After such a long time on SSRIs and SNRIs it is possible to still experience w/d syndrome.  Especially if you reduced the Celexa too fast (more than 10% each month).  The reason is that fast changes destabilise the brain and Central Nervous System.  A brain changed by drugs (especially over a long period of time) needs a long time to recover.  It will be healing and getting itself back to normal, but slowly. 

 

Alcohol is one thing that can really slow down recovery.  This is the same for anyone with a brain injury, drug-induced or not.  My mother-in-law got a brain injury from falling through a ceiling, and she wasn't allowed alcohol for 5 years afterwards.  I understand how it provides immediate relief, but ultimately it's going to cause you to suffer for longer.  (I guess you know that already, but just in case...). 

 

Also, alcohol is not meant to be taken with ativan (according to drugs.com).  Ativan is a benzo and as AliG said, it's not something to mess around with.  In an already unstable system it can make things worse. 

 

Here are some useful links for understanding what is happening to you: 

Brain Remodeling

What is withdrawal syndrome?

 

Trying antidepressants again on a destabilised CNS is unlikely to work.  You'll quickly end up experiencing side-effects and needing to taper.  Each time we add another round of drugs they add an extra layer of stress.  The effects are cumulative, so you might in fact end up in a worse place than last time.  So many of us wish we got out sooner, instead of trying new meds.  Regrets! 

 

You talk about feeling stuck.  It's horrible, I know.  I was in that place for a long time and believed I'd never get out of it.  But I have.  It took a combination self-care tools, time, and starting to taper off SSRIs, but I am now happier than I had been for most of my life.  Have a look in the Symptoms and Self-Care forum for more ideas and keep trying things.  Things can change. 

 

Have any w/d symptoms improved over these two years?  How is your sleep?

 

I think with support and information you can get through this.  Please have a read of those links and then come back to this thread to discuss further.  We really want to support you to be okay. 

 

Karen

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to the site Forado.

 

Please read The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/82-the-windows-and-waves-pattern-of-stabilization/

1987-1997 pertofran , prothiaden , Prozac 1997-2002 Zoloft 2002-2004 effexor 2004-2010 Lexapro 40mg

2010-2012Cymbalta 120mg

Sept. 2012 -decreased 90mg in 6months. Care taken over by Dr Lucire in March 2013 , decreased last 30mg at 2mg per week over 3 months. July 21 , 2013- last dose of Cymbalta

Protracted withdrawal syndrome kicked in badly Jan.2014 Unrelenting akathisia until May 2014. Voluntary hosp. admission. Cocktail of Seroquel, Ativan and mirtazapine and I was well enough to go home after 14 days. Stopped all hosp. meds in next few months.

July 2014 felt v.depressed - couldn't stop crying. Started pristiq 50mg. Felt improvement within days and continued to improve, so stayed on 50mg for 8 months.

Began taper 28 Feb. 2015. Pristiq 50mg down to 45mg. Had one month of w/d symptoms. Started CES therapy in March. No w/d symptoms down to 30mg.

October 2015 , taking 25mg Pristiq. Capsules compounded with slow-release additive.

March 2016 , 21mg

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Thanks for the replies. I know that alcohol doesn't help, but it is hard to cope with the feelings and I think that being on antidepressants for so long sends a message that it is OK to take something to relieve the distress. Now my head is clearer much of the anxiety and depression is from knowing how many years I have wasted and about the future with the loss of my job. Over the years I have become more isolated and the only social contact I had was with work colleagues.

I was eating more healthily and exercising more about a year ago, but has not been so easy recently. I have always had problems over winter with depression. I was taking St. John's wort for a while which did seem to help for a few weeks, but I have reduced and stopped it as it was becoming less effective and I don't think it is a good idea overall.

When taking the Celexa I had real trouble getting to sleep and often awake til 3AM, the sleep has improved since stopping them and I take melatonin which helps.

I know it is not good to take the Ativan but it allows me to get out and do things (shopping/exercise), other days the anxiety and thoughts just spiral round and round and I spend hours on the internet and can't focus or get started on anything. I am aware there is rebound anxiety but I don't want to take it every day and become more reliant on it. I feel I need more time and space alone, but it is not possible which is stressful and I need to keep going, which is probably delaying recovery.

I have actually got an appointment with a psychiatrist next month, but have mixed feelings about it and considering cancelling, I was desperate for some help but realise it is probably in the wrong place, and they are basically drug pushers, I would never take any SSRI antidepressant ever again.

Prozac 20mg for 3 years with Restoril 15mg for insomnia

Elavil 75mg for 2 years

Celexa 60mg for 15 years, reduced slowly over 3 years, stopped 2014

Currently Ativan 1mg as needed

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Glad you're having second thoughts about seeing the psychiatrist. 

 

I'm thinking of things for starting to break that cycle of anxiety and spiraling thoughts.  Emotional Freedom Technique and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can both be learned at home.  Perhaps seeing a counselor whom you could start to talk things through with? 

 

I see what you mean about having been on antidepressants so long that it's hard to find a new way.  I imagine you'd do best by choosing one thing, and taking a small step towards learning that.  Then, when you've achieved that, take another small step, and so on.  It's too hard to change everything at once, but you can align yourself on a path which will move you in a good direction. Slowly these small changes will build together and you will find you are living in a more supported life.

 

It's a very positive thing that your sleep has improved.  The depression and anxiety will gradually improve also.  It wouldn't be surprising if you are in a bit of a grieving period for those 'lost' years.  As with everything, that will eventually fade away and you'll start to focus more on what you can do. 

 

I remember a mod saying to me, when I first came to this site, that I'd find myself again and it would be delightful.  I've never forgotten that, and it has turned out to be true.  You'll start to find more of yourself too.

 

Karen

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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  • Mentor

Hello Forodo and welcome  :)  First, you took other drugs, ie St Johns Wort, could you  add ALL YOUR DRUGS  to your signature.   Anything, a stop smoking drug, antibiotics? Statins?   anything..............not all drugs are as innocent as the doctor makes out.

 

I take SJW and if I cut, it is just as bad as cutting the nasty stuff. Anyone taking SJW  still needs to do the 10% only cuts, believe me!!!   My sister actually said to me, cheaper to get ADs than buy herbal stuff, so she went Psych route, and took me with her.................             In hindsight, take the herbal route!

 

If you use alcohol, add it to the damn list!  It is a drug like any other..............none of us want to be on Citalopram, or effexor, or whatever, but we do what we need to do to survive,   dont see why alcohol cant fit in the 10% cut either.  I like my drop, and I also need to add it to my list................................   so why do we feel the guilt thing?  Alcohol is yet another drug in the mix.

 

Anyhow, hang in there!  Took me 12 months to have two weeks of heaven, running on 80%. IT IS WORTH IT!!!  In  dive now, but in the dives, just remember the good days, they do return. And maybe I am most creative while in my misery, there is a reason,,,,,,,,,, just look for it, look for the positives.

 

My Alcohol intake was in direct proportion to my SSRI intake, yes this **** makes us crave alcohol. Pre ADs, I never drank anything, my blood sugar level was stable!!!!

 

You are fulfilling a need, even without working........... you have to care for your kids.........

 

If you have been off two years, well done!  Every day is a bonus, off the stuff,  and a bit late now to reinstate  (I tried that, didnt work)..........

 

As for your wife?  Encourage her to read this site................... this is a journey you do together................

 

Best wishes  

Ang

1992 Dothiepin 375mg 8 weeks, exhaustion/depression.  Serotonin syndrome, oh yes!  seizures . Fell pregnant, 3rd baby, Nitrous Oxide, 3 weeks mental hospital pp psychosis. zoloft tegretol.

Feb 1996 ct tegretol, tapered Zoloft 8 weeks. as (unexpectedly)  pregnant. Steven died after 3 days.(Zolft HLHS baby).  98 had run in with Paxil, 2 tablets, 3 weeks taper, survived.
2005..menopause? exhausted again. Zyprexa, mad in three days, fallout....  Seroquel, Effexor, tegretol,   and 8 years of self destruction. Failed taper.
Damn 1/4 valium... nuts again! .fallout, zoloft 100mg  seroquol 400mg mirtazapine 45 mg  tegretol 400mg.  Mid 14 3 month taper. Nov 14 CRASH.
Mid 15 ....   75mg  seroquel,  3 x 1800mg SJW  2 week window end of December followed by 6 week wave
5/2 68mg seroquel, 2.5 x 1800mg SJW::::20/2 61mg seroquel, 2.5 x  SJW::: 26/2 54mg seroquel, 2 x SJW::::21/3 43mg seroquel, 1 x 2700SJW :::: 23/4 36mg seroquel 1 x 1800 SJW
15/5 33mg seroquel, 1 x SJW::::   28/5 30mg seroquel, 1 x SJW::::;  18/6 25mg seroquel 1/2 SJW::::, 11/7 21mg seroquel 1/2 SJW::, 26/7 18mg seroquel 1/2 SJW:::, 9/8 12mg seroquel :::, 16/8 6mg seroquel ;;;;, 12/9 0 jump.

23/9  3mg.....,  27/9 0mg.  Reinstated, 6mg, then 12mg.............  LIGHTBULB MOMENT,  I have  MTHFR 2x mutations.  CFS and issues with MOULD in my home. So I left home, and working 150km away during week, loving it.

Oh was hard, panic attacks first week, gone now, along with the mould issues.

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  • Mentor

Also!   I got depressed once, (mildly, non medicated), being confined to home with kids............Previously,  I was a working woman, had a life, work companions, freedom, ...............   all of a sudden, my image of being a mother, at home the glory was gone!!!!          bored, no companionship, no workmates,              was horrific.

 

I went and joined a gym.........................  gyms usually have a creche.......................    

 

Honestly, if you can, join clubs,  (the ones with a creche),              go to the mothers groups, go to the bushwalking club things with the kids.............

 

if you can, make this effort,  put all your energy into clubs.................... with your kids................  how old are your kids?  I found when they started school, I suddenly had all the parental support groups I needed.............     the hard bit is babies, till school..................                    what do you like doing, what are your hobbies?  Nuture them, nuture your health and your recovery.

1992 Dothiepin 375mg 8 weeks, exhaustion/depression.  Serotonin syndrome, oh yes!  seizures . Fell pregnant, 3rd baby, Nitrous Oxide, 3 weeks mental hospital pp psychosis. zoloft tegretol.

Feb 1996 ct tegretol, tapered Zoloft 8 weeks. as (unexpectedly)  pregnant. Steven died after 3 days.(Zolft HLHS baby).  98 had run in with Paxil, 2 tablets, 3 weeks taper, survived.
2005..menopause? exhausted again. Zyprexa, mad in three days, fallout....  Seroquel, Effexor, tegretol,   and 8 years of self destruction. Failed taper.
Damn 1/4 valium... nuts again! .fallout, zoloft 100mg  seroquol 400mg mirtazapine 45 mg  tegretol 400mg.  Mid 14 3 month taper. Nov 14 CRASH.
Mid 15 ....   75mg  seroquel,  3 x 1800mg SJW  2 week window end of December followed by 6 week wave
5/2 68mg seroquel, 2.5 x 1800mg SJW::::20/2 61mg seroquel, 2.5 x  SJW::: 26/2 54mg seroquel, 2 x SJW::::21/3 43mg seroquel, 1 x 2700SJW :::: 23/4 36mg seroquel 1 x 1800 SJW
15/5 33mg seroquel, 1 x SJW::::   28/5 30mg seroquel, 1 x SJW::::;  18/6 25mg seroquel 1/2 SJW::::, 11/7 21mg seroquel 1/2 SJW::, 26/7 18mg seroquel 1/2 SJW:::, 9/8 12mg seroquel :::, 16/8 6mg seroquel ;;;;, 12/9 0 jump.

23/9  3mg.....,  27/9 0mg.  Reinstated, 6mg, then 12mg.............  LIGHTBULB MOMENT,  I have  MTHFR 2x mutations.  CFS and issues with MOULD in my home. So I left home, and working 150km away during week, loving it.

Oh was hard, panic attacks first week, gone now, along with the mould issues.

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