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insanepenguin: My introduction


insanepenguin

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Hi everyone,

 

My story is similar to most you will find here.

 

Prescribed 20mg seroxat (paxil) at about 24 years of age for generalised (maybe some social) anxiety. I'm 32 now so 8 years.

 

I have to admit, the drug did do a lot for me in the first few years. I went from a dead end low paying job with no prospects to earning a first class degree and starting a great career (and meeting my current partner!). I wasn't a totally different person but I was much more confident, happy and the anxiety was considerably diminished.

 

After I'd finished university and was stable in my career I attempted to stop taking the drug, I had no idea about protracted withdrawal, that you had to taper, that there were any serious withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping, how wrong was I :D

 

I stopped cold turkey and the first couple of weeks were fine, then I got the brain zaps, nausea, insomnia etc etc. I could grind through these issues but the following anxiety and depression (which I hadn't really suffered with before) where unbearable. I ruined a holiday due to my withdrawal symptoms and nearly drove hours home to try and get a doctor's appointment - I felt like an 'addict'

 

I went back on the drug and life continued but when I started paying attention to life on the SSRI I noticed what it was doing to me - always tired and yawning regardless of sleep amount, grinding/tight jaw, ear ache and more alarming was how numb my emotions had become.

 

A close family member went through a cancer ordeal and while I did feel emotions they were super restricted. I didn't feel great joy or sadness in anything, just a flat line emotional state.

 

Other attempts at quitting involved tapering (rather quickly) but again I ended up back on the medication as I nearly had breakdowns at work. I would literally be in a state of panic / high anxiety for the full 8 hours and find myself plotting ways to leave and never return.

 

I'm trying to quit again and tapered down to nothing over the course of about two months (I know probably too fast but we'll see).

 

What prompted me this time was constant recurring neck / muscle spasms. I didn't make the connection but this had been plaguing me off and on for a few years and would stop me exercising and training martial arts - I wouldn't be able to turn my head to one side for days. After doing some digging (and talking to my chiropractor) I found evidence that SSRI's could and do cause this in some people. I also had constant swollen glands and very sore jaw muscles. I still find myself clenching my jaw all the time.

 

I'm currently 6.5 weeks completely off and I'm getting all the anxiety and depression again.

 

I've taken two months off work (Oct - Dec start back soon but only part time) to give myself the best chance of recovery. 

 

I'm taking fish oil, l trytophan, st johns, turmeric, vitamins etc. trying to exercise as much as possible and practising mindfulness daily - It's difficult to stay motivated (depression symptoms I guess) but I'm clinging on!

 

One thing that I'm finding really hard is persistent recurring anxiety about a martial arts class I (pre withdrawal) enjoy going to. I'll go to a class on a Tuesday for example (and feel good afterwards) then could spend most of Wednesday being anxious about Thursday's class and for no specific reason I can think of!

 

I'm actually seeing my GP tomorrow and I may enquire about non SSRI drugs that may help me get through the darkest part of withdrawal. I've read promising things about Pregabalin and even the antihistamine hydroxyzine in regards to shorter term anxiety relief. Has anyone tried these?

 

Thanks for reading!

On 20mg Paroxetine (Paxil / Seroxat) for 8+ years

Cold turkey quit attempts in 2013 and 2015 - nightmare withdrawals had to restart mainly due to work

2016 fast taper (7 weeks 20mg to zero) less than three months later reinstated at 10mg (tried pregabalin to help with symptoms - did not work for me)

2017 - 10mg trying to stabilise.

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Hi insanepegnuin (great name by the way:)), 

 

you sound like a true fighter, thats good. I know how hard it is to go to training classes (even martial arts as well:)) and I was well can go to a class sometimes without any troubles and two days later totally freak out before. Just a weird feeling of "oh my god I can´t go in there, talk to people..and I can´t leave any time I want etc.." Anyway. It seems to me that you are motivated to go through with this and - like everybody else - want to get it over with as soon as possible:) 

 

First of all: Please don´t get discouraged by anything your doctor might tell you tomorrow and don´t start taking any medication without informing yourself in detail before. You tapered way too fast and you´re only 6.5 weeks off - that´s not a long time at all. I know this "time topic" is the hardest because nobody wants to suffer this way, from anxiety, panic or whatever for ANY MINUTE OF ANY DAY. I don´t know you in person of course but just from the what I think I read between your lines is that it would be best for you to take out as much pressure and stress of "needing to be healed" as possible and be aware that WD can throw a lot of stuff at you for a while.

 

Physical exercise is usually always good but as WD is all about our nervous system recovering - it can be contra productive. I quit training for a long time and I notices that my symptoms always got worse after a day of intense training. Maybe that´s not the case for you but you could try skipping training for a week or two, see if your symptoms get a little lighter. And then you can try how you feel after a day of training. If you don´t want to skip training at all you could try some lighter exercise - I know, martial arts is fun, but it´s very intense;) 

 

So that´s just from my personal experience but I have also read some very helpful books hinting that intense sport can worsen the symptoms. 

 

Everything you are describing is "normal" in WD and everyone here knows one if not all of the symptoms. 

Do you have people around you who you can talk to about this? Who you can call any time of the day? 

Edited by scallywag
add lines at paragaph breaks

2005-2006: Cipralex 5 mg

2009-2010: Cipralex 5 mg

2012-2015: Cipralex 5mg, 10mg 

tapered 10mg-7.5mg-5mg-2,5-0 (I always waited for a few weeks on the current dosage until I felt stable. Steps were too big I realized too late)

Completely drug free since August 2015

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  • Moderator Emeritus

insanepenguin -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

I hope you'll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation. I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but am glad that you found us.

 

A few links for your meeting with your doctor tomorrow:

How do you talk to your doctor about tapering and withdrawal

What to expect from your doctor about withdrawal symptoms

 

About your symptoms and possible next steps to deal with them:

The symptoms you are experiencing are your CNS (central nervous system) adjusting to the absence of paroxetine (Paxil/Seropxat). When we take an SSRI, the CNS makes modifications to itself to maintain an equilibrium or "homeostasis." When the drug is discontinued or dose is decreased, the CNS has to adjust to the absence or new lower level of the drug. The larger the dose reduction, the more changes the CNS makes, the more severe the symptoms. Conversely, the smaller the dose reduction, the fewer changes, the lighter the symptoms.

 

Adding new neuroactive medications, such as pregabalin and hydroxyzine, when your CNS is destabilized are more likely to further destabilize you than provide relief.

 

The only known effective ways to reduce symptoms of withdrawal are

  • waiting them out over time, which could be many weeks or months
  • reinstating a very small dose (possibly ≤ 1 mg) of the medication that was discontinued
Please read this topic on reinstating, its benefits and risks:

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms  

 

Reinstatement has a higher likelihood of being effective the sooner after last dose it is started. At 6 weeks since your last dose, you are still inside the most predictable window for reinstatement.

 

You may be reluctant or resistant to even consider putting Paxil in your mouth and body again. Many people are; many members here have had the same thoughts. Common sense would suggest that the presence of a drug causes symptoms; it seems illogical that the absence of the drug is what is causing symptoms.  Unfortunately this "logic" and "common sense" isn't based on physiological reality of the CNS.  It can be difficult to take in that "the hair of the dog that bit you" can ease your symptoms, but it does for many people.

 

I strongly urge you to consider reinstating.  Please let us know if you wish to discuss testing a reinstatement dose by posting again in this topic.

 

 

A request: Would you summarize your history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-18 months particularly?

  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
  • Any drugs prior to 18 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
  • You don't need to include symptoms or diagnoses other than the initial condition that led to prescribing the first drug.
  • We ask for this information in your signature so that we can see it at a glance. A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs.
  • You can find instructions in this topic: Please put your withdrawal history in signature
  • If you are using a phone or mobile device, you need to switch to the "full" or desktop version of the site. Instructions are

    in Post #8 and Post #9

Should you choose to reinstate paroxetine or to introduce another medication, at some point you may want to taper off it. Here are links to likely relevant topics on this site:

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

Tips for tapering off Paxil (paroxetine)

 

This is YOUR introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community.

 

Please let us know your questions and how things go for you tomorrow.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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Thanks for the in depth responses guys really appreciate it.

 

I went to my GP today (and had to make it count as they are understaffed, appointments can take 8 weeks!).

 

I went through the reasons for stopping the paroxetine and instead of re introducing I'm going to try the lowest dose of pregabalin (an anti convulsant that is reported to treat anxiety disorders well). My reasoning is if it helps me through the worst months of ssri withdrawal, from what I've read it doesn't have anything like the same withdrawal nightmares as paroxetine.

 

I'll continue my regimen of exercise, meditation, nutrition and anything else I think may assist recovery (maybe CBT but the waiting lists are insane and private is pricey - has this worked for you?) then sensibly taper from the new drug and see where I'm at.

 

Pregabalin may do nothing for me but I'm hopeful it may take the edge off my symptoms. I feel remaining on nothing at all is going to give me an extremely difficult winter and start affecting my employment and hobbies - I can feel that urge to withdraw from everything you get from (WD) depression.

 

I'll keep you updated!

On 20mg Paroxetine (Paxil / Seroxat) for 8+ years

Cold turkey quit attempts in 2013 and 2015 - nightmare withdrawals had to restart mainly due to work

2016 fast taper (7 weeks 20mg to zero) less than three months later reinstated at 10mg (tried pregabalin to help with symptoms - did not work for me)

2017 - 10mg trying to stabilise.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello penguin,

 

I'm concerned that pregabalin could turn out to be activating in a negative way for you, rather than helpful or neutral.  We have a thread about withdrawing from it precisely because people find it difficult.  I hope you will consider what Scallywag wrote above about reinstating. 

 

There are free CBT courses, and lots of discussion here

 

I know it's a daunting thing, making decisions about your brain and being able to function etc, so feel free to keep asking questions here. 

 

Welcome to SA,

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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Hello penguin,

 

I'm concerned that pregabalin could turn out to be activating in a negative way for you, rather than helpful or neutral.  We have a thread about withdrawing from it precisely because people find it difficult.  I hope you will consider what Scallywag wrote above about reinstating. 

 

There are free CBT courses, and lots of discussion here

 

I know it's a daunting thing, making decisions about your brain and being able to function etc, so feel free to keep asking questions here. 

 

Welcome to SA,

Karen

 

Hi Karen,

 

I do appreciate your concern, but I would like to try and completely eradicate any SSRI based drug.

 

I'm not naive to the fact any drug of this nature could have withdrawal issues but reading through that thread (and elsewhere) people do appear to taper off successfully if done properly.

 

I won't ever increase dosage either, (and I'm on minimum) one thing I am happy about regarding seroxat is that I never upped the dosage even when it pooped out.

 

I plan to work hard on nutrition, meditation, CBT any everything else this winter - And if after a week or so pregabalin does nothing, I'll get off of it. I'll keep updating this thread :)

On 20mg Paroxetine (Paxil / Seroxat) for 8+ years

Cold turkey quit attempts in 2013 and 2015 - nightmare withdrawals had to restart mainly due to work

2016 fast taper (7 weeks 20mg to zero) less than three months later reinstated at 10mg (tried pregabalin to help with symptoms - did not work for me)

2017 - 10mg trying to stabilise.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Since you have a prescription and are consider taking (or have already taken) pregabalin, you may wish to fully inform yourself by reading these links:
 
Patient information on pregabalin at drugs-dot-com .
Prescribing information on pregabalin at drugs-dot com .

Tips for tapering off Neurontin (gabapentin) .

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just a quick update, over the last month I've been building up the pregabalin dosage to a level therapeutic for anxiety disorders, it's done pretty much nothing so far to alleviate my symptoms but now I'm at a level that may help I'm going to give it a chance for a couple of weeks (over Christmas).

 

I'm also paying for CBT and have done a few sessions. They are helpful, I just wish my depression would lift so I can get the motivation to really work at it.

 

If pregabalin does not work for me and my symptoms aren't improving I'm starting to really consider reinstating. As I was on 20mg, what would you start on, 10mg and go down super slow from there? 

 

Also, is there anyone who has been in a similar situation i.e tried cold turkey / fast taper and then switched to reinstate + slow taper - was life more bearable? 

 

Many thanks

On 20mg Paroxetine (Paxil / Seroxat) for 8+ years

Cold turkey quit attempts in 2013 and 2015 - nightmare withdrawals had to restart mainly due to work

2016 fast taper (7 weeks 20mg to zero) less than three months later reinstated at 10mg (tried pregabalin to help with symptoms - did not work for me)

2017 - 10mg trying to stabilise.

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Do you mean Paxil ?  I assume. How long has it been ?

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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Do you mean Paxil ?  I assume. How long has it been ?

Yes paxil, it's been just over 10 weeks since I was at zero (I tapered fast over 6 / 7 weeks from 20mg)

On 20mg Paroxetine (Paxil / Seroxat) for 8+ years

Cold turkey quit attempts in 2013 and 2015 - nightmare withdrawals had to restart mainly due to work

2016 fast taper (7 weeks 20mg to zero) less than three months later reinstated at 10mg (tried pregabalin to help with symptoms - did not work for me)

2017 - 10mg trying to stabilise.

Link to comment

I would think about reinstating. It's better done sooner than later and there are no guarantees : but it could be worth a go .

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

Tips for tapering off Paxil (paroxetine)

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
.
         

Link to comment

I would think about reinstating. It's better done sooner than later and there are no guarantees : but it could be worth a go .

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

Tips for tapering off Paxil (paroxetine)

 

I'm going to give the pregabalin at least a week now I've built up to a therapeutic dose but if that doesn't help reinstating will be next

On 20mg Paroxetine (Paxil / Seroxat) for 8+ years

Cold turkey quit attempts in 2013 and 2015 - nightmare withdrawals had to restart mainly due to work

2016 fast taper (7 weeks 20mg to zero) less than three months later reinstated at 10mg (tried pregabalin to help with symptoms - did not work for me)

2017 - 10mg trying to stabilise.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Please read the topic about reinstating before doing so. Because a number of weeks have passed since your last dose, it's possible that reinstatement of a typical dose will destabilize you further. When people are considering reinstatement we suggest very small doses. Please feel free to ask any and all questions you have here in your introduction topic.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

'Happy' new year!

 

I decided to reinstate on 27th December. I've been coming off of the pregabalin also, the reductions don't seem to be worsening my symptoms (was on just over a month at mostly low doses).

 

I worked out from when I started tapering if I used the 10% method I'd be on approx 12 - 11mg, so reinstated at 10mg.

 

I plan to (hopefully) stabilise at 10mg for a good while before I even consider tapering again. Hell, I may even try to find a happy medium of stability and minimal side effects.

 

I got to the point (after reading others experiences) that if this went on for a year or years, there would be no way I could work, pay the mortgage or have any kind of life. It's a bitter pill to swallow (see what I did there) after the months of misery but it's not worth losing everything over.

 

All I can do now is sit it out and hope I get some relief. Reinstating has 'worked' for me before. 

 

While I'm thinking about it, has anyone experienced muscle tension from WD? my chest muscles are ridiculously tight and I feel a burning sensation.

 

Take care

On 20mg Paroxetine (Paxil / Seroxat) for 8+ years

Cold turkey quit attempts in 2013 and 2015 - nightmare withdrawals had to restart mainly due to work

2016 fast taper (7 weeks 20mg to zero) less than three months later reinstated at 10mg (tried pregabalin to help with symptoms - did not work for me)

2017 - 10mg trying to stabilise.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Please be sure to take your reinstated dose at the same time every day and to keep notes on paper of your symptoms and the times of your dose(s). This post has a useful format for a daily log:

Take notes of doses and symptoms.

 

Other members have reported having chest tightness and feelings of constriction. Have you searched the site using a web search engine (e.g. google, bing) for "chest tightness". Results from this site will be at the top of the list if you include as a search term

site:survivingantidepressants.org

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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