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Rhiannon

How psychiatric drugs remodel your brain

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Rhiannon

This is something I posted somewhere else and then saved. I know it's all stuff I've said before, but it bears repeating and further discussion. A lot of people, including healthcare practitioners; in fact, I guess, most people-- are operating from entirely the wrong paradigm, or way of thinking, about these meds. They're thinking of them like aspirin--as something that has an effect when it's in your system, and then when it gets out of your system the effect goes away.

 

That's not what happens with medications that alter neurotransmitter function, we are learning. What happens when you change the chemistry of the brain is, the brain adjusts its chemistry and structure to try to return to homeostasis, or biochemical and functional balance. It tries to restabilize the chemistry. For example: SSRI antidepressants work as "serotonin reuptake inhibitors." That is, they cause serotonin to remain in the space between neurons, rather than being taken back up into the cells to be re-used, like it would be in a normal healthy nondrugged brain. So the brain, which wants to re-establish normal signaling and function, adapts to the higher level of serotonin between neurons (in the "synapse", the space between neurons where signals get passed along).

 

It does this by removing serotonin receptors, so that the signal is reduced and changed to something closer to normal. It also decreases the amount of serotonin it produces overall. To do that, genes have to be turned on and off; new proteins have to be made; whole cascades of chemical reactions have to be changed, which means turning on and off OTHER genes; cells are destroyed, new cells are made; in other words, a complex physiologic remodeling takes place. This takes place over time. The brain does not grow and change rapidly. This is a vast oversimplification of the amount of adaptation that takes place in the brain when we change its normal chemistry, but that's the principle.

 

When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.

 

With multiple drugs and a history of drug changes and cold turkeys, all of this becomes even more complicated. And if a person is started on these kinds of drugs at an early age before the brain has ever completely established normal mature functioning--well, it can't be good. (All of which is why I recommend an extremely slow taper particularly to anyone with a multiple drug history, a history of many years on meds, a history of past cold turkeys or frequent med changes, and a history of being put on drugs at a young age.)

 

This isn't intended to scare people, but hopefully to give you some idea of what's happening, and to help you respect and understand the process so you can work with it; ALSO, because you are likely to encounter many, many people who still believe these drugs work kind of like aspirin, or a glass of wine, and all you need to do is stop and get it out of your system. Now you can explain to them that no, getting it out of your system is not the issue; the issue is, you need to regrow or at least remodel your brain. This is a long, slow, very poorly understood process, and it needs to be respected.


Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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Dinah

So how do you start to do that? Your post makes absolute sense. But what can be done - once the drugs have been completely stopped - to help the brain return to something like normal?

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Altostrata

Good post, Rhi.

 

A knowledgeable doctor describes this as the drugs leaving a footprint. The footprint does eventually fade as the nervous system goes back to its factory settings.

 

Dinah, we have many topics about neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. The brain grows new neurons all the time (but not as fast as we'd like) and adapts to present conditions. What we want to do is use our understanding to create good conditions to train those newborn neurons -- taking care of ourselves, good nutrition, calming activities, learning to manage neuro-emotions (those exaggerated emotions generated by our hypersensitive recovering nervous systems).


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

All postings © copyrighted.

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Nadia

That's a really helpful explanation. Even knowing most of it already, it helped me to read it. Thanks!

 

I'm wondering if there might be a relationship between the time it takes for a drug to lose its effect or poop out, and the time it takes to recover from withdrawal. I noticed taking Zoloft that almost always after two years of taking it I would not longer feel the benefit. I suppose that was my brain compensating. So maybe it will take two years or so for my brain to compensate back. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking... it's probably a lot more complicated than that.


'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.

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Gem

It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay.

 

 

I like the comparison!

 

Thanks a lot for this Rhi. Good post. Makes a lot of sense to me.

 

Yeah, it seems to be a common misconception that we just need to get these drugs out of our systems.

 

It sounds a bit daft but I am really proud of my brain for healing as much as it has done! I was put on drugs at a young age, have been on several drugs (Seroxat, Prozac and a Benzo) and also spent quite a lot of years on drugs.


 

 

I came off Seroxat in August 2005 after a 4 month taper. I was initially prescibed a benzo for several months and then Prozac for 5 years and after that, Seroxat for 3 years and 9 months.

 

"It's like in the great stories Mr.Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer."  Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers

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Altostrata

Hmmm....that trellis simile....very familiar!

 

Good image, Rhi.


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

All postings © copyrighted.

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stan

hi RHI,

 

i agree all you explain,

 

what is your theory about why brain remodels with very nasty waves and not linear; and also why all is not remodelt in spite of years;

 

for me we overestimate the capacity of brain to do a well homeostasis (he has not been create to build a new homeostasis, he has not the tools), the brain can think a bad homeostasis is ok ; so at a time, improvements seem to stabilize, in spite all is not repaired, or i will say better, sometimes bad repaired and some areas worse than 2 years off (for example);

and we have only one solution: wait if this damn brain will understand we are bad and there is work he has not do well

hopefully it is often one or two ares only, the rest has been well repaired


for anxiety 

12 years paxil - cold turkey 1,5 month - switch celexa 1 year taper; total 13 years on brain meds 

67 years old - 9 years  med free

 

in protracted withdrawal

rigidity standing and walking, dryness gougerot-szoegren, sleep deteriorate,

function as have a lack of nerves, improving have been very little 

 

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Altostrata

As I understand it, the nervous system can't fix itself all at once; it fixes itself in small patches. When there are enough small patches fixed, you feel it as a lurch forward. The bad homeostasis may try to reassert itself, you feel that as a lurch backward -- but not as far backward as before. So healing is a series of small improvements, some so small you can't feel them.

 

Rhi, what are your thoughts on this?


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

All postings © copyrighted.

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Maybe

Another question is, what happens when you have a bad reaction?

 

Some, like me, have only a small amount of pills, still face wave and windows for months. Do the drugs work so fast, that even one pill might bring a change? It seems so.


End of 2008: Remeron 15mg for around 2 months. Unorthodox taper, no problems.
End of August 2009: Lexapro 10mg for only 4 days. Panic attack after 3 pills. Severe gastro problems in the morning for 3 days after last pill. 2 weeks later strong w/d symptoms set in.

Acute WD lasted around 3.5 years. I am feeling much better today, 5.5 years out, but still have some symptoms left.

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Altostrata

Maybe, I think I might have mentioned this before. A small percentage of the population is genetically hypersensitive to increases in serotonin and will have severe adverse reactions after only a few pills. This is the same population that is driven to a psychotic reaction by exposure to LSD.


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

All postings © copyrighted.

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Maybe

Yes, Alto, I remember. The question though is, what happens after the reaction? The symptoms seem to be very similar to "normal" wd symptoms. The only category that I did not experience were, besides anxiety, mental problems like depression and mania.


End of 2008: Remeron 15mg for around 2 months. Unorthodox taper, no problems.
End of August 2009: Lexapro 10mg for only 4 days. Panic attack after 3 pills. Severe gastro problems in the morning for 3 days after last pill. 2 weeks later strong w/d symptoms set in.

Acute WD lasted around 3.5 years. I am feeling much better today, 5.5 years out, but still have some symptoms left.

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Altostrata

Right, they are "normal" withdrawal symptoms. Your nervous system has taken a jolt.


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

All postings © copyrighted.

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stan

Yes, Alto, I remember. The question though is, what happens after the reaction? The symptoms seem to be very similar to "normal" wd symptoms. The only category that I did not experience were, besides anxiety, mental problems like depression and mania.

 

hi Maybe,

 

some people say you have had a "mild" serotonin syndrome (with the real we can death)= adverse reaction


for anxiety 

12 years paxil - cold turkey 1,5 month - switch celexa 1 year taper; total 13 years on brain meds 

67 years old - 9 years  med free

 

in protracted withdrawal

rigidity standing and walking, dryness gougerot-szoegren, sleep deteriorate,

function as have a lack of nerves, improving have been very little 

 

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Maybe

Hi Stan,

 

Ah well, I guess it doesn't help to know as we cannot do anything about it :(


End of 2008: Remeron 15mg for around 2 months. Unorthodox taper, no problems.
End of August 2009: Lexapro 10mg for only 4 days. Panic attack after 3 pills. Severe gastro problems in the morning for 3 days after last pill. 2 weeks later strong w/d symptoms set in.

Acute WD lasted around 3.5 years. I am feeling much better today, 5.5 years out, but still have some symptoms left.

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mammaP

Brilliant explanation  from Rhianna, bumping to the top for newbies.


**I am not a medical professional, if in doubt please consult a doctor with withdrawal knowledge.

 

 

Different drugs occasionally (mostly benzos) 1976 - 1981 (no problem)

1993 - 2002 in and out of hospital. every type of drug + ECT. Staring with seroxat

2002  effexor. 

Tapered  March 2012 to March 2013, ending with 5 beads.

Withdrawal April 2013 . Reinstated 5 beads reduced to 4 beads May 2013

Restarted taper  Nov 2013  

OFF EFFEXOR Feb 2015    :D 

Tapered atenolol and omeprazole Dec 2013 - May 2014

 

Tapering tramadol, Feb 2015 100mg , March 2015 50mg  

 July 2017 30mg.  May 15 2018 25mg

Taking fish oil, magnesium, B12, folic acid, bilberry eyebright for eye pressure. 

 

My story http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4199-hello-mammap-checking-in/page-33

 

Lesson learned, slow down taper at lower doses. Taper no more than 10% of CURRENT dose if possible

 

 

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DLB

So true, my doc looks at me like i have 3 heads when i told him it is not about just getting it out of your body. He also said noone ever complained about coming off paxil.


Paxil start September 2003 due to Fluoroquinolone adverse reaction that I wish doc. knew what it was. 10mg. most of the time with a few short runs of 20mg. FAST tapered 3 times and finally hit poop out or a reaction to nsaid's in Nov.2013. Started a 10% taper Jan. 2014 and have been ok until Sept 14 and went through a short hell. Now plodding through and looking for the light with unrelenting insomnia and pain, fog, loss of interests....<p>12/20/14 - .8mg.

1/01/15 - .75 mg.

1/15/15 - .42 mg. better sleep now, hope it continues...

2/11-15 - .25 mg. doing really good!! 2 weeks feel 85% of old me!

3/17/15 .14 mg. Knee pain bad!

4/07/15 .05 mg. this is so small now that I am estimating and just licking it off palm small as a "." 

4/13/15 NOTHING !!!! Took my last little micro dose on 4/12/15. ????????????????

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Altostrata

The body does not inhibit reuptake. Reuptake is one of the ways it is designed to work, and usually works well.

 

Reuptake inhibitors are a human invention -- unless they exist in naturally occurring poisons.

 

You may be thinking of the sympathetic (excitatory) nervous system vs the parasympathetic (regulating or calming) nervous system. Please use Google to read about these.


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

All postings © copyrighted.

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Coopergirl1

Hi guys. I have been on Prozac for 6 months and then Lexapro for 1 year and am off 2 months now. My friend is telling me that I am not normal for crying and doubting things and being unhappy since I was only on the meds 1.5 years. It takes time for the brain to heal right?


Started Prozac 20 MG March 2014-Sept 2014

New doctor switched me to Lexapro 10 MG and it helped from Sept 2014-Feb 2015 and then I felt the Lexapro wasn't helping as much so he changed the dose to 20 MG and I took that from Feb 2015-July 2015 when I decided to get off pills completely.I had to reinstate as I was feeling so bad and very pressured to go back on pills. My Dr put me on 50 MG zoloft and I took it for about a week..made me feel brain dead. Went down to 25 before I really learned the trouble of fast tapering..finally got a jewelry scale to properly weigh out my pills. Looking to just feel OK. Unsure where to go next.

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Nomoreheadmeds

'coopergirl1' Its normal to cry and doubt things in Ad withdrawal .yes it takes time for the brain to heal


Sertraline 100mg amytrip 60mg diazepam 4mg (and when needed) since late 90's.Reduced all meds over 6 wks (too short) last doses 13 wks ago.Still having withdrawals.I would have done it differently

5th august 2015 reinstated 5mg amytripiline.increased to 10mg amtrip 9th sept 2015.

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Hopefull

DLB,

I totally agree.

It is not just about the drug being out of your body within a certain period of time.

It is frustrating when I hear Doctors say that .


DRUG HISTORY:

 

November 2013- Zoloft, ( Bad reaction).

January 2014 - March 2014 Seroquel.( Quit Cold Turkey).

January2014- Mirtazapine, I was taking 15mg at one stage, reduced to 7.5mg, Pgad reactions to Mirtazapine. Doctor kept increasing it to 37.5mg, until July 2014. No improvement, experiencing panic attacks, on 37.5 mg. I had enough by October 2014. Began tapering.

October 2014- Started tapering Mirtazapine from 37.5mg.

September 2015- Down to 4mg of Mirtazapine. Crashed.

September 16th- Up dosed to 5mg. Held this dose for almost 5 months. Stabilised.

February 2016- Began tapering again. From 5mg to 4.5mg of Mirtazapine. (Rocking the boat, again)! Lol. :(

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SarahLeo

Great post


I was on 75mg of Effexor for over 10 years - I slowly tapered down to 0 & have been off since the last week of October 2015. I have used several holistic approaches along my journey: Naturopath, Neurofeedback, massage therapy, chiropractor, teas, supplements, exercise, nutrition to name a few

 

My introduction post:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10478-sarahleo-my-story-on-coming-off-of-effexor/

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Bridgetini

Rhiannon, thanks for the post - that makes sense and now I can see why a slooowww taper is neccessary, albeit frustrating.

Growing new cells has got to take time!

And it explains why it makes sense to only taper one drug at a time, if possible.

 

Thank you. 


1st August 2020:  Start tapering Lorazepam (1.25 mg, 16% reduction) while holding Venlafaxine at 150 mg.

March 2019 - March 2020: Venlafaxine  XR tapered from  337.5 mg  to 150 mg (60% reduction), while continuing 1.5 mg Lorazepam.

March 2016 - January 2019: Mirtazapine taptered to 0, while continuing on 1.5 mg Lorazepam and 375 mg Venlafaxine XR.

Feb. 2015: 7.5 mg Mirtazapine + 1.5 mg Lorazepam + 375 mg Venlafaxine.

 

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sottovoce

> It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain.

 

Wow; thank you for that image. With this in mind, and having started Effexor at the age of 16, tapering slowly makes a great deal of sense to me.


Luvox 2002-2006

Effexor 75mg, XR:  2006-Nov 2014

Effexor 225mg XR: October 2015-present

 

I've tried to discontinue twice, May 2011- Jan. 2012 and November 2014-June 2015.

In both instances I experienced brain zaps and other initial withdrawal challenges.

Most difficult was a longer-term sense of decreased mental energy and waves of anxiety that grew into depression over the next 3-6 months.

 

Important and valuable to me in this process has been vigorous exercise (running, racquetball, biking), yoga, and especially a daily mindfulness practice (2009-present).                                    

My Intro Topic

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Reflex

Hi

Great. Post especially the comparison with a plant and trellis.

 

How long do you think it takes to grow a new brain or retrain your existing one.

 

I suppose that's like asking how long is a piece of string.

 

Suppose it depends on so many factors.

 

I would just like some reassurance.

 

I've been doing a slow taper now for 15 months. I'm down to .7. Ml of Prozac . Reducing 5% every three weeks.

Am I going to fast for my brain? I so want yo be AD free for my 50th birthday in August. But reading your post I think I need to go slower?

Reflex


Dec 2005 prozac following period of bullying by collegue 2006 changed to Citalapram 20- increased to 40mg

April 2014 decision to come off A.D. Gp appointment swapped to seralatine (lustral)50 as a means of getting off A.D .

raised to 100. 14.7.14 5 weeks taper on doctors recommendation.28th July finished reduction. 4.8.14- 9.9.14 severe withdrawal effects. 13.10.14 reinstatement of 20mg Prozac.dec 2014 started gradual taper 10% every 3 weeks. 14.9.15 1.6 ml currently. Some minor withdrawal effects but holding firm. 10% reduction every 3 weeks. Reached .8 experienced withdrawal symptoms held for longer . 7.4.16 currently on .7ml Prozac. More difficult the lower you go. 25.7.16 holding at .57 ml for a while as period of stress and withdrawal.

2.9.16 Hip operation prescribed codeine and paracetamol for the pain. Stopped after three weeks for fear of addiction. following period of instability and withdrawal symptoms updosed to 1. Ml 28.10.16.

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SkyBlue

Hi Reflex,

 

Frustratingly, no one really knows how long it takes. 

 

However, I believe this site can offer you reassurance that MANY people have completely healed. 

 

Your question about whether you are going too fast, I have two thoughts: 

1. Goals can be useful, but as advocate Will Hall says, they can set us up for not being as flexible when we need to be flexible. 

(For me, having a "timeline" goal is one of the things that made me listen to my doctor when he rec'd tapering off 18 years of Paxil in one month.) 

 

2. How are your symptoms? I would think 5% is admirably conservative. What are your brain and body telling you? 

 

(I am better at trying to help others be patient than I am to myself!! lol) 

 

It sounds like you are doing a well-informed taper, and I wish you the best of luck.  :)


Current: 2019: 0.04 mg Paxil!! This is real. Soon, after taking Paxil my entire adult life, I will be free.

Long story short: After 18 years on Paxil, "tapered" almost completely off over a month, at doctor's advice in July 2015.

Self-care includes magnesium, reasonable exercise, mindfulness, this forum and nutrition/eating enough food.

Also on 100 mg Zoloft unfortunately!! (which I now will have the knowledge to taper properly)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Longer version: On Paxil since 1996--anxiety & depression caused by (undiagnosed) under-eating / eating disorder.

Doctor kept increasing dose, up to 60 mg; it never really helped but said it really was the best "med" for me.

Rapid doctor-led "taper" July 2015, down to 5 mg, with Zoloft as a "cross-taper" = Essentially a cold turkey. 

Severe withdrawal but didn't know it; believed it was my "underlying condition," and kept tapering, 5mg to 4 to 3  to 2 to 1.  

Feb 2016: Found SA! As of June 2016, tapering from 1mg at rate of 5-10% per month, Brassmonkey Slide! 

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savinggrace
"true, my doc looks at me like i have 3 heads when i told him it is not about just getting it out of your body.."  DLB March 2015

Just read this whole thread for the first time. This quote about having 3 heads struck me, as there is more and more research out there on our "second brain" which is our gut. Currently suffering from nearly total GI dysfunction, I am painfully aware of the effect these meds have on our guts, as many here suffer with. I wonder if the same concept of brain remodeling has to go on in our gut as well. The saying "go with your gut" was never so poignant to me before I became aware of this connection. My GI doctor wants me to take a potent motility drug. When  I balked, he said. "It doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier. It goes right to your gut." I did not even respond. Our gut is called our enteric nervous system. It WILL affect my brain when it communicates w/ my gut. I thought this was an excellent article explaining our second brain, further  helping us understand the neuro-physiology of our w/d symptoms.
 

amitriptyline from 1980-2002, along wi/ intermittent, infrequent use of benzos over 2 decades

2002-2010 Klonopin 1-2 mg., ambien 10--20, mg, remeron 4 mg. and  trileptal 300 mg

2011 Stopped ambien and crossed over to valium 17.5 mg. (updosing 2.5 mg. to cover ambien C/T )

Micro-tapered valium from 2011-2015. Hit a wall at 12.84. mg.  

Jan. 2015 Tapered 75 mg. trileptal  first year. 6 month hold.  Resumed micro--tapering trileptal 2-10% every few months

January 2020  12.74 valium, 4 mg. remeron. Resumed micro-tapering trileptal 5 mg. down to 138 mg. 1/21/20; long hold; cut trileptal to 133 mg. 

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SG08

Hi all,

 

I am new (long time reader though) and this post was very interesting to me (and worrying). I'm currently in withdrawal, on 5mg at the moment, have been on that for months now, but I am getting pulsing head aches, tingling in my hands and feet and sometimes weakness/pain in my hands - could this be a side/withdrawal effect? I've had a brain scan that showed a 3 milligram calcification on my brain but the dr didn't think that would cause the headaches and seemed very blase about that. I am extremely worried about what these side effects could mean, which is of course stressing me out even more than withdrawal. I worry I'll never recover or be the same again. The dr of course said, oh no it wouldn't be withdrawal, because I've been on the same dose for ages but I of course don't trust dr's anymore at all. Any help or advise would be much appreciated, I'm looking at getting an MRI next as I'm stressing about this a lot.

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Prohealer

Really good post Rhiannon,

 

I didn't exactly taper as slow as I could have, partly because the symptoms on the drugs were unbearable and scary, and partly because I was guided a taper which lasted no more than a few weeks.

 

Iv'e been told its not too late to reinstate the drugs for me at the moment but Iv'e thrown them away and don't plan on going to ask for more. Am I still likely to recover fully and "grow my new brain", albeit more slowly?


2009: Put on Fluoxetine (20mg) and Risperdal (0.5mg) for OCD. Dose was increased a few weeks later to 40mg Fluoxetine and 1mg Risperdal.

2011: Began experiencing Depersonalisation and Visual Snow, general loss of energy and breast growth. Was kept on 40mg Fluoxetine until Late Dec 2015. Risperdal dosage varied and was kept on 0.5mg for a long while before Nov 2015.

Early Sep 2015: Began having symptoms of extreme anxiety, psychosis and hot flushes due to mixing illegal drugs.

Late Nov 2015: Psych doc raised Risperdal to 8mg. Began having severe and hellish Akathisia. Was kept being given Diazepam to cope.

Early Dec 2015: Began seeing a new psych doc who tapered me off Risperdal over a period of a few weeks and put me onto Quetiapine.

Late Dec 2015: Quick tapered off of everything due to little guidance.

Mid March 2016: Reinstated Fluoxetine (5mg), dose was increased to 10mg a couple of weeks later. Gave me restless legs and stopped taking immediately (RLS was unbearable).

10 May 2016: Unsuccessful Fluoxetine reinstatement at 1mg. Drug free since May 2016.

 

Diet (When Able): Low carb and sugar, high fat & dark greens. medium protein and fruit. Taking 100mg magnesium, 1000mg omega 3, 0.25mg Melatonin daily,. Drinking at least one mug of chamomile a day. Weekly Light exercise. Meditating daily and practising mindfulness.

 

"Come back to square one, just the minimum bare bones. Relaxing with the present moment, relaxing with hopelessness, relaxing with death, not resisting the fact that things end, that things pass, that things have no lasting substance, that everything is changing all the time—that is the basic message." – Pema Chodron

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MissSerene

Just found this brilliant post, whose explanation is so true to my experience. I now know that fluoxetine does cause w/d symptoms in some people. I'm near end of three-year, painstaking taper off 20 mg, which I'd been taking since early 1990s. Have had many problems discussed extensively here: flu-like symptoms, paresthesia, neuroemotions (intense anger, irritability, sadness, crying, etc.). Am also newly menopausal and on estrogen blocker after breast cancer, so hormone changes have complicated my picture.

 

Like many people, I've wondered whether I was imagining these symptoms, especially since my SSRI has a long half-life, and maintenance dose was moderate, not high. But several days ago, on making most recent cut, I immediately experienced intense anger and irritability...mean, critical thoughts, worry, etc., and tingling and numbness in extremities. I remember the (wonderful) moderators here telling me a couple of years ago that symptoms could be more marked near end of w/d, getting closer to zero.

 

I recognize these symptoms. Just want to add my voice to testimony of those who know that even fluoxetine can cause them in some people. 

 

Tapered off a benzo several years ago. Am moving forward day by day, taking care of myself and looking to time when my system is healed. This feels like a long and winding road! Thank you again for this helpful post.


Prozac 20 mg/daily since 1995

July 19, 2013, initial cut to 15 mg; Aug. 2 updosed to 18 mg; Aug. 19, to 16.2 mg
Held at 2.52 ml/day Jan. 11-April 16, 2014
April 16, 2014, cut to 2.40 ml/day
Dec. 29, 2014, 1.84 ml/day, and held there almost six months
June 23, 2015, 1.75ml/day; July 21, 2015, 1.70 ml/day
Aug. 13, 2015, 1.60 ml/day

Feb. 7, 2016, .7 ml/day; April 26, 2016, .6 ml/day

 

Taking anastrozole (estrogen blocker)
 
Successfully completed long, slow Klonopin taper November 2011. :ph34r:

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dowdaller

great post, I am currently 8 months off Effexor I tapered off it for about 18 months, I understand that my brain has to get used to doing things that cause me stress, without the crutch of the medication, I am going through the horrors right now but reading these posts has put things into perspective.


I am off all meds 16 months I had been on olanzapine, Effexor zanex and assorted sleeping meds for approx 2 years.

Weaned off 375 mg effexor over two years, I had previously come off xanax, rivotrill and olazapine. Reinstated 75mg of effexor on the 22/12/16

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kalika

With multiple drugs and a history of drug changes and cold turkeys, all of this becomes even more complicated. And if a person is started on these kinds of drugs at an early age before the brain has ever completely established normal mature functioning--well, it can't be good. (All of which is why I recommend an extremely slow taper particularly to anyone with a multiple drug history, a history of many years on meds, a history of past cold turkeys or frequent med changes, and a history of being put on drugs at a young age.)

 

This is a really great post, thank you for sharing. 

I'm concerned because I seem to meet all of the criteria for "well, it can't be good"... I was put on medication at 8 years old, and switched between a few different ones before finally going cold turkey 20 years later. If only a forum like this existed back then, what a wonderful support system this is!

 

It's been 8 years since I took my last pill, and have been really noticing some degradation in my cognitive function. I'm not sure if it's related to my past med experience, but after browsing through this forum am starting to really lean in that direction.

 

I've been looking for information on how I might be able to remodel my brain.. or even how I might go about finding a professional someone who can help me with this (not even sure what type of doctor would specialize in this).


at this point I can't recall dates or doses, but it goes something like this:

- put on Ritalin around 1990 @8years old

- direct switch (no taper) to Paxil around 2000 @18 years old

- direct switch (no taper) to Effexor around 2004 @22 years old 

- maxed dose on Effexor and added Wellbutrin and Clonazepam around 2006 @24 years old

- taken off Wellbutrin within the year (no taper)

- decreased Effexor incrementally over a year or two down to 37.5mg, and would have to go back up to 75mg due to withdrawal symptoms

- cold turkey off Effexor (either 37.5 or 75mg) December 22nd 2008 @26 years old

 

medication free for 8 years - grateful to finally have a chance to learn who I really am  

beginning to notice degrading cognitive function, challenged by memory loss, personality expression, devoid libido, decision making, socialization

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hacilar

Come onnnn, brain!  I must have suffered a lot of damage, or my brain is exceptionally large...(joke)

 

Wonderful post.


21 years of various psych meds.

Currently experiencing 'withdrawal syndrome' from 14 years of 0.5mg Klonopin: 1 q hs

Tapered over a year and a half dry cutting.

Hx of Imipramine (nightmare) (1992) Zoloft,(1992) Paxil (difficult to d/c)(2000) Effexor(2004-5) (also very difficult to d/c) Lamictal(2004-6), Neurontin(2004-6), Depakote(2006-2012), Remeron(2007) Various sleeping pills at different times...

 

UPDATE

Month 40 post Benzo taper

 

there have been windows, sometimes weeks of feeling 'almost normal' and the BLAM

 

windows and waves, indeed

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ShakeyJerr

Does anybody have any links to studies that support this? I believe it is true - heck, I'm living it right now. But my wife gets her moments of doubt - especially when I get sudden symptom surges. She has been asking to see studies that show that taking these drugs causes synapses to die.

Is there some hard evidence I can use to show her that we know this to be true beyond anecdotal life experience?

SJ


Main thread: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/14472-shakeyjerr-say-hello/

History: Prozac & Lithium from 1999 to 2003. Ended up back on after 4 months because taking a beta-blocker caused immediate depression (just 2 doses - turned out I didn't even need it; I had no other withdrawal symptoms - I might have ended up med and withdrawal-free otherwise :(). - Switched to Effexor (75mg 3/day) and Seroquel (50mg 3/day) in 2010. - Did a self-taper during 2016. - Developed Discontinuation Syndrome 02/17.

Supplements: Magnesium-Glycinate 400mg split into 4 100mg doses throughout the day. Vitamin C 500mg - once per day. Fish Oil 1360 mg (950 mg Active Omega-3) - twice per day.

I'm not a doctor. I use the internet, experience, and trial & error. Seek medical advice if necessary.

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Gumtree

Thanks so much for this clear explanation of the brain and receptors. I had some vague idea of what happened in the brain but couldn't quite put it all together.  Really helpful for me to read this and now I can explain to others why the taper/withdrawal is so difficult.  My fear is that I started on antidepressants at age 19 and have been on one type or another every day for 28 years.  I don't think my brain is going to grow back - well maybe a little, but not much and definitely not quickly.  


History - Female, now 48 with 29 years of taking antidepressants daily from age 19.

1988 - severe depression, anxiety and agoraphobia Prothiaden (Dothiapen) Tricyclic antidepressants.

1989 - Diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy (after EEGs). Prescribed Tegretol (Carbamazepine) for Complex Partial Seizures

1995 - changed antidepressant to a newer drug - Zoloft 50mg then up to 100mg

2006 - Tegretol caused me to be total zombie. Weaned for 3 months then went on to Keppra 500mg daily (Levitaceram)

2010 - diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. Prescribed Methotrexate 20mg weekly and changed from Zoloft to Cymbalta (for depression / FM)

2014 - weaned myself off Methotrexate - condition stable

2016 - started taper off Cymbalta 1 Dec 2016, dropping 5% hold 2 weeks via bead counting. Liquid fish oil daily, Magnesium daily, plus very clean gluten free, paleo diet. Daily exercise and 15 minutes meditation.

2017 - June update now 365 beads per dose (down from 577). 2.5% hold 3 weeks

1Jan2019 - on 350 beads per dose. Not much progress in dropping. Has been hellish with each drop sending me into a flurry of very difficult withdrawal symptoms. Feel stuck.

<p>

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RainbowDbc
On 8/30/2011 at 7:37 PM, Altostrata said:

Good post, Rhi.

 

A knowledgeable doctor describes this as the drugs leaving a footprint. The footprint does eventually fade as the nervous system goes back to its factory settings.

 

Dinah, we have many topics about neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. The brain grows new neurons all the time (but not as fast as we'd like) and adapts to present conditions. What we want to do is use our understanding to create good conditions to train those newborn neurons -- taking care of ourselves, good nutrition, calming activities, learning to manage neuro-emotions (those exaggerated emotions generated by our hypersensitive recovering nervous systems).

Can u direct me to topics related to neurogenesis?? Please


Hi. New signature...Sept 4

I am currently on 450 mgs of lithium and I take it three times a day after meals. I take 1 mg of klonopin as well before sleep. Im not changing or tapering for atleast 2 months. 

I cold turkeyed respirodone that I took between April and June due to psychosis. Having signs of involuntary movement or signs of tardive dis. every afternoon since I tapered lithium..

 

 

 

 

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