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StillHopeful: In Dire Need of Advice


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Hello Everyone,


This is my first time ever in a forum of any kind and I have decided to post here because I just don't know what to do anymore. I wasn't sure where to post, so if I'm in the wrong place, my sincere apologies.


I will try to keep this as short as possible. I am a 27 year old female and I have been off of antidepressants for about nine months now. I started going to therapy when I was finishing a Master's degree and saw a psychologist for about six months before being put (reluctantly) on medication. I decided to go on medication because I felt as if I was going off the rails (mentally). I had just started a full time job and my anxiety (which I have always had) began to manifest itself in many different ways.


My anxiety was causing issues in different areas of my life overall (including my family and relationship with my boyfriend). After trying the best that I could to not resort to medication, I finally gave in. The psychiatrist that I consulted with first put me on Lexapro. I was on Lexapro from August to January (2014-2015). I became numb and slightly socially awkward (I had never had a problem in social settings prior to this). I also gained 30 pounds (not exaggerating) in about three months after starting Lexapro.


After five and a half months on Lexapro I wasn't feeling the "positive" effects of the medication anymore and so my psychiatrist (WITHOUT ANY WARNING) presented me with the option of taking Effexor. This is where the beginning of my hell begins. After five months of being on Effexor I had gained an extra 15 pounds and decided that I needed to do something about it. Everytime I met with my psychiatrist, he upped my dose. I was originally on 75 milligrams, then on 150, then finally on 225 milligrams of Effexor XR.


I was numb, careless, and I had a lack of empathy or regard for anyone or anything. I took myself off of the medication cold turkey at the end of June and I am still paying for it. I didn't like who I became on Effexor and so I wanted to get back to normal. When I started antidepressants I was 140 pounds. I am now 185 pounds and more screwed up in the head than I was before I went on them. The initial withdrawal was absolutely horrific. Two weeks of constant anger, brainzaps, sadness, ceaseless crying or ceaseless laughter, blurry vision, imbalance (could not walk or stand for more than 30 seconds). I was vomiting, could not stand the slightest of noises and absolutely no sunlight. I couldn't sleep because of the peculiar, horrid nightmares and woke up completely soaked from the sweats. Everyday I woke up and cried wishing it would end. My boyfriend helped me through this time and pretty much did everything for me. He fed me and helped me out of bed and emotionally supported me. I don't know what I would've done without him.


After that ended (about two weeks) I became extremely depressed, which I was not before, and began to think of ways to harm myself. I couldn't drive because I was extremely antsy and was paranoid even going to the grocery store. I finally understood what depersonalization was after the second phase of my withdrawal kicked in. I think I'm still in this phase because nine months later, here I am on this forum, desperate for advice. Antidepressants have ruined my life to the point where I am afraid to take pain medication at times. I gave 85% of my clothes away because I look completely different, and I am unable to lose weight. Prior to these medications, I could lose weight by eating salad all week for dinner. Now, nothing helps. I am constantly annoyed, looking for purpose in my life, wondering when the world is going to end, extremely moody, cranky, and I find no fun in anything anymore. I feel like I'm on the outside looking in and only reminiscing on what my life used to be like. I have lost my ability to articulate my words and at times feel like a complete idiot when trying to have an intellectual conversation. I am constantly sick with nausea or hot flashes, and after stopping the medication my knees all of a sudden are very weak and I have bursitis in one.


My state of mind is affecting my boyfriend of six years, and my family. There is no possible or right way to explain this to anyone. You can only understand it if you are living it. I am very angry at the course that my life has taken. I still have hope but I am afraid that I will stay in this mental and physical state permanently. I have read many horror stories about people who, many years later, are still experiencing depersonalization and bouts of depression. Please help. I guess what I am asking is, will this ever subside? Thank you in advance for your replies and my apologies about the long post.

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  • Administrator

Hi StillHopeful,


Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants.  I'm very sorry for all you've gone through.


You ask "will this every subside?"  The answer is yes, but no one knows how long it will take for each individual.  Over time, these drugs change your nervous system. Their effects on your nervous system change as well.  These changes are temporary, but the CNS does take quite a while to right itself after the drugs are out of the body. 


Here is the link to our symptoms and self care section, you may find some useful ideas to help manage symptoms as you recover.  Especially read the topics pinned at the top.  Many people find fish oil and magnesium helpful, see King of Supplements: Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) and Magnesium, Nature's Calcium Channel Blocker.


Have you tried any supplements to help with your withdrawal symptoms?


It would be great if you would put your drug and withdrawal history in your signature. Doing this helps people understand your context, it appears below each of your posts. Here are instructions for how to do it:



This is your topic to post in, to ask questions and to keep us posted on your progress.  Others will be along soon to provide additional support and suggestions.



2007 @ 375 mg Effexor - 11/29/2011 - 43.75 mg Effexor (regular) & .625 mg Xanax

200 mg Gabapentin 2/27/21 - 194.5 mg, 5/28/21 - 183 mg, 8/2/21 - 170 mg, 11/28/21 - 150 mg, 4/19/22 - 122 mg; 8//7/22 - 100 mg; 12/17 - 75mg
Xanax taper: 3/11/12 - 0.9375 mg, 3/25/12 - 0.875 mg, 4/6/12 - 0.8125 mg, 4/18/12 - 0.75 mg; 1/16 0.6875 mg; at some point 0.625 mg
Effexor taper: 1/29/12 - 40.625 mg, 4/29/12 - 39.875 mg, 5/11/12 - Switched to liquid Effexor, 5/25/12 - 38 mg, 7/6/12 - 35 mg, 8/17/12 - 32 mg, 9/14/12 - 30 mg, 10/19/12 - 28 mg, 11/9/12 - 26 mg, 11/30/12 - 24 mg, 01/14/13 - 22 mg. 02/25/13 - 20.8 mg, 03/18/13 - 19.2 mg, 4/15/13 - 17.6 mg, 8/10/13 - 16.4 mg, 9/7/13 - 15.2 mg, 10/19/13 - 14 mg, 1/15/14 - 13.2 mg, 3/1/2014 - 12.6 mg, 5/4/14 - 12 mg, 8/1/14 - 11.4 mg, 8/29/14 - 10.8 mg; 10/14/14 - 10.2 mg; 12/15/14 - 10 mg, 1/11/15 - 9.5 mg, 2/8/15 - 9 mg, 3/21/15 - 8.5 mg, 5/1/15 - 8 mg, 6/9/15 - 7.5 mg, 7/8/15 - 7 mg, 8/22/15 - 6.5 mg, 10/4/15 - 6 mg; 1/1/16 - 5.6 mg; 2/6/16 - 5.2 mg; 4/9 - 4.8 mg; 7/7 4.5 mg; 10/7 4.25 mg; 11/4 4.0 mg; 11/25 3.8 mg; 4/24 3.6 mg; 5/27 3.4 mg; 7/8 3.2 mg ... 10/18 2.8 mg; 1/18 2.6 mg; 4/7 2.4 mg; 5/26 2.15mg; 8/18 1.85 mg; 10/7 1.7 mg; 12/1 1.45 mg; 3/2 1.2 mg; 5/4 0.90 mg; 6/1 0.80 mg; 6/22 0.65 mg; 08/03 0.50 mg, 08/10 0.45 mg, 10/05 0.325 mg, 11/23 0.2 mg, 12/14 0.15 mg, 12/21 0.125 mg, 02/28 0.03125 mg, 2/15 0.015625 mg, 2/29/20 0.00 mg - OFF Effexor

I am not a medical professional - this is not medical advice. My suggestions are based on personal experience, reading, observation and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers

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Thanks for sharing your story, which if you look around on this site, is all too familiar.  I had similar results as you only on different meds.  15 years of Zoloft/zyprexa which saw me go from a slender 6' 160 to around 230 lbs with most of the weight gain in my belly and thighs.   I quit cold turkey in feb 2014.  During the initial wd, I went  6 days without sleep constantly throwing up all over my apt.  I still have huge stains all over my living room carpet to this day.  I had the brain zaps which eventually subsided.  I was able to lose 45 lbs initially going for brisk nightly walks of 4-8 miles for the first several months after wd, but I developed arthritis in my big toe from pounding the pavement so much and have put back 25 lbs.  Success stories seemed to be mixed as regards pill withdrawal .  I went from being a shut-in and sleeping all the time on the pills (12-20 hrs a day) to not being able to sleep at all.  I am much happier and more active being off the sedatives, but constant insomnia/sleep deprivation can be quite debilitating/maddening/depressing/etc.  I, at times, have insomnia to the point of resembling a zombie.  I call my condition, Inzombia.   I sometimes stumble into walls and often am in a mental daze due to lack of sleep.  For a while my fly would more often than not be down when I left my apt.  I also have huge horrid bags under my eyes now from 2+ years of poor sleep.   I can totally understand what you mean when all you have are memories of a healthy/normal life.  It's a quite tantalizing and maddening feeling to remember how  normality and peace of mind felt now that it has gone away.  I try not to think back on it too much, but sometimes those memories of how I used to feel come back and make me feel pretty helpless and sad. 


You may want to check out the facebook page that about 40 members from this site have started.  I think you go under off-topics on the forum page and there is a link. 


Poetjester (Derek)

Court committed to take Prozac, Paxci, and Respiradol from 8/95 to 3/96.   developed severe akithisia and brain damage.  Was unable to speak and walking in circles 15 hours a day.  Went in for 5 sessions of ECT during a 10 day period in March of '96 and my forced medication was discontinued at that time.  My akithisia and brain damage cleared up within a few days of stopping the meds.


On Zoloft (200 mg) and Zyprexa (17.5 mg) March 1998- Feb 2014

In between was placed on Effexor 200 mg and Abilify for six months in 2004.  Developed mild akithisia which went away once I stopped the Abilify.  Developed severe GI issues in Dec 2001 and from that time on suffered from fatigue and hypersomnia where I would sleep between 12 and 20 hours a day and rarely ever left my apartment. 


Had tapered to 100 mg of Zoloft and 7.5 mg of Zyprexa at the time of going cold turkey Feb. 2014

Went 5 days without sleep at the beginning while vomiting all over my apt.  Had brain zaps for a number of weeks and also lightheadedness which both eventually went away.  However 2 1/2 yrs later I still struggle with insomnia, depression, and fatigue.





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I say nay to the facebook page no privacy is what I am told you must use your real name ect.. I won't do it. 


I have seen people heal they say completely and I have to believe them.  How long it will take is anyones guess really but many people seem to be doing well at 3-4 years some earlier.  Others don't fit that timeline.  There are a few things going in your favour that having me thinking your one of the ones who will heal... these are the things... 

your young it seems to me age may have something to do with a longer healing time ( just my own idea)

Short term use of the drugs tho taking one drug would be better than two ... even two is not too bad short term use only two drugs 

Support... you have at least one person who will hold your head while you hurl that is a huge plus


Now that your here there are things you can do to help yourself and most of them are in self care... some links have been handed to you already check them out. 


Though what you feeling is rough and nine months is a long time for most things it is not that long for this and wd can take a long time when your just waiting and worrying all the time. State of mind does affect healing and I would suggest you start with meditation asap there is a thread about it and you can find it by searching above. A deep state of relaxation from meditating brought me to the first bit of sound healing I had... I think it remains top of the list throughout wd. 


Not sure why our bones hurt in wd but they do ... Glenmullen has something in an old book about this prozac backlash is the name of the book if you like to read. ... whatever it is epson salt baths really helped me with the pain. 


There is no sense thinking long term as wd goes just yet you may just be done with all this in a couple of years and tho that sounds like a life time now ... I am sure it is about the best case scenario. 

I wish you peace

Had a car accident in 85
Codeine was the pain med when I was release from hosp continuous use till 89
Given PROZAC by a specialist to help with nerve pain in my leg 89-90 not sure which year
Was not told a thing about it being a psych med thought it was a pain killer no info about psych side effects I went nuts had hallucinations. As I had a head injury and was diagnosed with a concussion in 85 I was sent to a head injury clinic in 1990 five years after the accident. I don't think they knew I had been on prozac I did not think it a big deal and never did finish the bottle of pills. I had tests of course lots of them. Was put into a pain clinic and given amitriptyline which stopped the withdrawal but had many side effects. But I could sleep something I had not done in a very long time the pain lessened. My mother got cancer in 94 they switched my meds to Zoloft to help deal with this pressure as I was her main care giver she died in 96. I stopped zoloft in 96 had withdrawal was put on paxil went nutty quit it ct put on resperidol quit it ct had withdrawal was put on Effexor... 2years later celexa was added 20mg then increased to 40mg huge personality change went wild. Did too fast taper off Celexa 05 as I felt unwell for a long time prior... quit Effexor 150mg ct 07 found ****** 8 months into withdrawal learned some things was banned from there in 08 have kept learning since. there is really not enough room here to put my history but I have a lot of opinions about a lot of things especially any of the drugs mentioned above.
One thing I would like to add here is this tidbit ALL OPIATES INCREASE SEROTONIN it is not a huge jump to being in chronic pain to being put on an ssri/snri and opiates will affect your antidepressants and your thinking.

As I do not update much I will put my quit date Nov. 17 2007 I quit Effexor cold turkey. 


There is a crack in everything ..That's how the light gets in :)

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi StillHopeful, and welcome to SA,


This might help you understand what you are going through.  Introduction to AD Withdrawal Syndrome


When going through withdrawal it is a good idea not to drink alcohol, coffee or cola drinks.  You also need to careful of supplements, especially Vitamin B6 as it can be activating.


It's also a good idea to learn coping techniques.



Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)

Resources:  Centre for Clinical Interventions (PDF modules that you can work through, eg:  Depression, Distress Intolerance, Health Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Social Anxiety, Worrying)

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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Hello Everyone!


I am so surprised at all of the responses that I have received. I did not expect too see anything at all when I logged into my email this morning!


First, I want to say thank you all so so much for taking time out of your lives to respond to a stranger who is in need of help. It brings me great relief to know that I am not alone and that there are others who relate. I have read other people's stories on the forums, but there is definitely something different about receiving a reply to your own post.



thank you so much for including the resources in your post. I will definitely make it a point to check out those links. Thank you for replying so quickly and for being encouraging. When I first came off of the drugs cold turkey, I was taking supplements. But then I began to hear that maybe it isn't okay to take so many supplements so quickly after coming off of the antidepressants and so I stopped. I didn't really feel that they were helping anyway. I took Omega3 fish oil, Magnesium, and Bcomplex. Thank you for your suggestion about my signature, I read the instructions before, but I didn't know how to do it. Thank you so much!


Poet Jester,

I appreciate you sharing your story. I can definitely empathize with your experiences. I am happy to hear that things are better for you whIle off of the medications. I still have hope that I can get back what I had before I took these medications. I understand do what you mean about feeling like a zombie and feeling that you are going mad. I have tried time and again to explain this to my boyfriend and my family but I could never seem to find the right words and it is difficult for them to understand. My podiatrist also told me that I have developed arthritis atop my foot, so I understand how you feel about your sudden arthritis. I still have hope and, although it is scary, I feel that we will all get through this in due time. Thanks k you so much for sharing your experiences with me!



I want to thank you for such a positive response to my post. It is nice to hear that based on my post you feel that there is hope. I am always worrying about when and how this will end. I sometimes dabble in meditation but then I fall off and take a long time to start it again. I also wonder whether or not I'm doing it right! Thank you for taking the time out to point out the factors that you feel will help my healing time. 3 to 4 years does sound like a long time, but I would rather it take me four years to heal than 14 years to heal. People have reprimanded me for going off the drugs cold turkey and have said that I would not heal because I didn't taper. Maybe I should have tapered, but it is too late for that now and I have no intention of going back on that stuff ever again! I guess what I am afraid of is that because I didn't taper, I will not heal like others have. I definitely feel different after 9 months off so that's why I still have hope. It's been a long road. Thank you so much for posting! Your positive thoughts have greatly helped!



Thank you so much for sending me your resources. You could never have too many of those. My anxiety has gone through the roof and I have been trying to manage it on my own. My boyfriend has been extremely supportive of my rollercoaster-like emotions. I will definitely take a look at the links that you posted. I drink a lot of coffee! That will be difficultto stop but there's no pain in trying! Thank you so much for your post!

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Hopeful.   Welcome.     How are you doing , now ?  Are you taking fish oil and magnesium ?   Just a bit more reading , for you . If you can understand what is happening , it  is often easier to deal with . You have landed in a good place for the best  support /  encouragement  & information .  This is not permanent . It will subside, in time .


The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization


Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms


Neuro emotions



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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