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worrywort87

Worrywort87: Help, I don't know what to do

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worrywort87

Hello, I am a 29 year old male who struggles with panic, anxiety, and depression. I've always been an anxious child (choking phobia episode in 2nd grade in which I only ate baby food for a period of time) but it did not become disabling or diagnosed a disorder until the end of high school  when I was getting panic attacks in class and not know what was happening to me. After about a year of not knowing what was going on and suffering immensely I was finally diagnosed with Panic Disorder and put on Lexapro in 2005.
 
Once on Lexapro I felt absolutely incredible, as if I was a new person. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life to quickly go from a life of intense suffering to being almost reborn into a person who was happy and able to socialize and function. This didn't last very long, however, and my dosage was increased to Lexapro's maximum of 20mg. In 2009 I told myself that my Lexapro really wasn't doing anything for me anymore and so I foolishly stopped taking it cold turkey. I was okay until two weeks later where I suddenly experienced an out of the blue severe panic attack in which 911 was called. I went back on the 20mg of Lexapro but did not start feeling decent again for about 3 months after reinstating my daily dose of Lexapro. I learned my lesson and stayed on Lexapro 20mg until I noticed in 2013 that my anxiety and depression was coming back with a vengeance. My mental state had really went downhill and I was feeling very sick, however, I had a fear and resistance to changing medications after my experience of quitting cold turkey in 2009. Eventually, though, in 2014, I could no longer accept the state I was in and saw a psychiatrist. I was put on Zoloft for a brief amount of time but felt extremely depressed on it and was then given Luvox 150mg. The Luvox appeared to bring me to a decent level of functioning and so I've been on it ever since.
 
Recently, though, I've been starting to REALLY panic and worry about what being on these drugs for so long is and has done to me... I'm still a very depressed and anxious person much of the time despite taking these medicines but I've also felt like a zombie with blunted emotions. It has become hard to cry and to laugh. I feel apathetic a lot of the time. When my parents see me they ask me if I'm tired or if I've slept; I've even been called a zombie by them in the past. This zombie-like feeling is nothing new but I've recently become very concerned by it. This emotional blunting is really worrying me and I don't know what to do. Since I still feel anxious and depressed I know that if I were to see a psychiatrist they would either up my dose of Luvox, switch my medication to another antidepressant, or just add another medication on top of what I'm taking. I've been reading some things online that claim that antidepressants can actually cause depression. And I've read about the emotional blunting zombie effect that is similar to receiving a lobotomy. Many of the sites also claim that these side effects are PERMANENT... If this is all true, I feel so victimized. I was a young kid in a very desperate position who had zero knowledge about antidepressants or anxiety disorders when I was prescribed Lexapro. I was not given the option of talk therapy or other natural solutions. I was not told that I'd have to be on these drugs forever or for the long term. I just wasn't told anything other than you have panic disorder and take this... I didn't know what I was getting into at the time and what any other options were. I was an ignorant kid desperate to feel better and I trusted the doctor...
 
Now I just don't know what to do... The fact that a website like this exists is proof that many people have the same concerns about taking antidepressants as I'm starting to realize. I so scared that my brain has been PERMANENTLY damaged and that there is no point in getting off of these drugs. I'm at a crossroads with two opposite choices in front of me... Should I try to stop taking antidepressants altogether or should I go the conventional route and see a psychiatrist who will no doubt put me on more or different antidepressants... I don't know what to do and I'm very scared that I've ruined my life forever....

Edited by scallywag
added emphasis on medication history + tags

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scallywag

Worrywart -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)
 
It's unfortunate that those of us who are taking these medications are unknowingly participating in a massive uncontrolled experiment. Virtually every one of these medications has a statement in the prescribing information similar to this: "The mechanism of action for [drug] is not known."
 
I'm sorry that the uncertainty about possible long-term effects has triggered health anxiety for you. Many, many people discontinue these medications and recover to live full lives they find rewarding and satisfying. I hope you can work your way through to finding peace with the fact that you were a kid doing what kids do -- complying with adults said was best for you.

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)
  • Please use words for the months. 9/3 could be March 9 or September 3.
  • 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

Because you've had difficult experiences after cold-turkey stops of medication, you're probably more open than many who come to the site to the idea of a slow gradual taper.  We suggest that people reduce by no more than 10% of their dose per month to minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms.
Before you begin tapering -- what you need to know
Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

Slow tapering allows time to develop non-drug coping skills that will be important to staying off medication:
Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms
Change the channel - dealing with cognitive symptoms

You may find this drug-specific discussion helpful as you think about tapering:
Tips for tapering off Luvox (fluvoxamine)
 

 

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.

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worrywort87

Has permanent and unrecoverable damage occurred as a result of my long term use of SSRI's? Should I taper off of these drugs or should I go the conventional route and up/change the dose/medication? What is the case for getting off of these antidepressants when the process is long and torturous and when the damage has already been done? I'm very confused and scared...

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nz11

Why dont you look into the Brassmonkey taper and follow in his footsteps.

He is showing tens of thousands how its done.

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worrywort87

I don't know if I want to taper yet. I'm ignorant on the subject. I'm trying to garner information on whether or not tapering is worth it or if it is the right answer or not.

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scallywag

Holding steady at your current medication(s) and dosage(s) is an excellent idea. Keep doing research until you are comfortable with the choice you make.

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worrywort87

I am so stressed out by the prospect that my life is ruined by damage these drugs may have caused. I am in a great deal of distress and panic. I have some questions I was hoping people with much more knowledge pertaining to this subject could answer. I already appreciate the welcome and replies I've been given so far; thank you.

 

Do people make full recoveries? If not, what is the justification for getting off of SSRI's?

Are there people who have withdrawn that regret withdrawing? Or alternatively, are most people happy that they stopped these medications/was it worth it? Why or why not?

Are there people who have been taking SSRI's for longer than 10 years and if so are there a lot of them? How common is it for people to take these drugs long term?

 

Thanks in advance.

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ChessieCat

Hi WW, and welcome to SA from me too.

 

You have come to the right place.  There is a wealth of information here and the members are very supportive.

 

It's really good that you are researching so that you will be able to make an informed decision.

 

These helped me to understand SA's recommended taper of 10% of previous dose followed by a holding period of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug:

 

Brain Remodelling


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

Reading the topics in this thread may help you to be positive:  success-stories-recovery-from-withdrawal

 

I have been taking an antidepressant for the last 25 years.  I am tapering from 100mg Pristiq and am now down to 35mg.  The website link in my signature gives a concise history.  As my dose got lower (even at 50mg) I started feeling more like myself and started being able to laugh and joke, which I had not been doing on the higher dose (it just felt like too much of an effort).

 

Ask any questions you have here in your Intro/Update topic.

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worrywort87

Thank you for the additional reply and welcome. I really appreciate it.

 

That feeling of it being difficult to express positive emotions is one big reason for me beginning to question my medication. I feel very suppressed when it comes to laughter and crying but sometimes far too quick to anger.

 

I have been on these medications for so long I simply didn't know if this was the real me or whether using these medications is the reason. It is also compounded by the fact that I started at the end of high school taking these medications so I'm not sure if the lack of enjoyment was a natural process of maturing and aging or whether or not it was my medication.

 

I'd love more feedback from people stating their opinions on whether it was worth it to try tapering or not. The problem is both my choices are complete opposites of each other... To increase/change medications or to stop altogether. It is a very difficult decision to make and one that may have serious and life-threatening repercussions from what I'm hearing.

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nz11

Ww

We can all empathize with you. We all have had the same thoughts and questions as you, well i know i did.

Its extremely humiliating to discover we have been totally hoodwinked by people calling black white.

 

As mentioned you would be wise spending time going over every link given to you in this thread until stuff sinks in, until you realise what is needed to be done to get off this chemical.

You need to step up and take back control of your healthcare. You need to get informed we cannot trust our doctors to do it. This is the information age we are living in so its all out there.

 

Keep this in mind, you may need to put aside several years to taper off and im talking maybe 4-5 yrs. If any doctor  thinks you can get off in a couple of months then they are misinformed about tapering people off these drugs and probably have heaps of patients who they tell they need them for life.

People do get off these drugs and get their life back. But millions are getting 'stuck' on them or have to go right back on them because they were not tapered slowly enough off the drugs to allow adequate time for their brain cells to readjust and to allow them adequate time to psychologically adjust to living without the drug.

 

 

The key here is slow tapering,  unbelievably slow for such is the potent brain altering addictive nature of these drugs. Its all been hidden. You are not flawed or have a cross wired faulty brain its the drug not you.

 

No one should be taking these for life these are not forever drugs imo they are for never drugs. Its a well documented fact that outcomes worsen on all measures the longer you stay on these drugs.

 

You might like to get the book 'Anatomy of an epidemic' by R Whitaker and also i rec 'The emperors new drugs 'by I Kirsch

 

Everything is here on this site to help you escape safely and well.

You have to decide what voice you are going to listen to the doctors who probably have never swallowed this stuff or those that have managed/ing to get off and get/ing their lives back. 

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LexAnger

Hi WW,

 

I am very impressed with your being very affirmative getting the most critical question.answered before taking any action! This is the most, not even one of the most, critical situation that you want to be 100% sure before a decision, as there is no way going back.

 

Good luck,

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Bluesjunky76

Hi, WW. Just wanted to say hello and let you know I can relate to what you're going through. We're both on fluvoxamine and both very concerned about the long term effects of this drug. Also, like me, it sounds like you're dealing with similar issues to me, mainly emotional blunting and health anxiety. This is my second time on fluvoxamine and I have to say when I previously got off the drug (for six glorious years) my regular range of feeling and emotion did return in time. Not right away, but once I sufficiently healed I felt like my old self again. It will happen, just don't expect it to happen overnight. I'm down to 25mg. on my taper and sometimes I feel a lot better but then I slip back into that blunted feeling again. I'm trying to patient and stay positive.

     Well, just wanted to let you know I can relate and to try to stay positive. I don't think you're permanently damaged. It's been shown, through neuroplasticity, that the mind is capable of amazing healing and change. Take care  :)

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worrywort87

Wow, thank you greatly for all the kind responses. I feel very welcome already.

 

Nz11, you said above that I "may need to put aside several years to taper off and I'm talking maybe 4-5 yrs." What exactly do you mean by that? Will I be a vegetable for many years? Will I be nonfunctional? What exactly would I have to endure during this time period? It sounds extremely intimidating...

 

LexAnger, thank you for the reply and welcome.

 

Bluesjunky76, in your experience would you say it is worth it to get off of these drugs? May I ask why you restarted them after stopping for six years? Also why do you refer to those six years as "glorious?" Is it because you felt a lot better when off of these drugs? Thank you so much for the information and for taking the time to reply to me.

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nz11

The whole idea of slow tapering is that you dont have to endure anything (wdl is kept manageable) you actually get to have a life and 'sneak' (a Jancarol-ism) out from under these drugs without disturbing the brain or cns at the same time.

Remember you need a whole big mind shift on the meaning of 'slow'.

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ChessieCat

"Remember you need a whole big mind shift on the meaning of 'slow'."

 

AKA being patient, accepting, listening to your body and throwing out the calendar.

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worrywort87

Wait, you mean it is possible to get off of these drugs with very little/no symptoms if done slowly enough?

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ChessieCat

That's what I'm doing and it's been working for me.  I found SA after trying to drop from 100mg Pristiq to 50mg and ended up with bad brain fog.  After 3 weeks I couldn't type, and I am a professional typist so I had a benchmark.  Once I realised that it was because of halving my dose, I updosed and within about 4 hours I was able to type again.

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Bluesjunky76

Wow, thank you greatly for all the kind responses. I feel very welcome already.

 

Nz11, you said above that I "may need to put aside several years to taper off and I'm talking maybe 4-5 yrs." What exactly do you mean by that? Will I be a vegetable for many years? Will I be nonfunctional? What exactly would I have to endure during this time period? It sounds extremely intimidating...

 

LexAnger, thank you for the reply and welcome.

 

Bluesjunky76, in your experience would you say it is worth it to get off of these drugs? May I ask why you restarted them after stopping for six years? Also why do you refer to those six years as "glorious?" Is it because you felt a lot better when off of these drugs? Thank you so much for the information and for taking the time to reply to me.

WW, I'd say it's worth getting off these drugs but the time has to be right for you. For instance, had I tried to begin the taper a year ago, when I was much more emotionally vulnerable and anxious, I doubt things would be going as relatively smoothly as they have been. As for why I had to get back on: I was being treated for hypogonadism (low T) and I used to have an overzealous doctor who was prescribing TWICE the recommended dosage of testosterone and my hormones not surprisingly got out of whack and I started getting anxious and depressed and didn't put two and two together until much later when I found a specialist who actually knew how to treat these kind of issues. 'Glorious' may be a bit too strong a word here (speaks to my desire to be off this drug), but after a while of being off fluvoxamine there was just so much more color in my life again: I could cry when I needed to, my sex drive improved and I just generally felt much more emotionally present. You better believe I was seriously conflicted about getting back on, but at that point I was starting to have daily panic attacks and I had stopped seeing a therapist and I just didn't know what to do so I went to my GP and had him put me back on fluvoxamine. But yes, I did feel a lot better off this drug, but I also realize I've always tended to worry and have dark moods and maybe the situation will arise again where I'll have to get back on another drug after I get off this one (will not be another ssri, though!). I sure hope not--that's why I'm slowing down my taper to get successfully get off this stuff and increase the chances I'll be able to stay off. Hopefully for good this time :) Take care and reach out anytime you want. 

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worrywort87

Hello friends, I had another question if some folks would be kind enough to answer.

 

As you know I'm taking Luvox which has a short half-life. I know that it is bad but sometimes I miss/skip doses. I missed my previous two doses and now I feel really weird and bad. My stomach hurts and I feel a bit nauseous. My head feels extremely weird. It doesn't really hurt, it just feels totally off... It is hard to explain. The last scary and bothersome symptom are electric shock zaps that I feel not only in my head but throughout my entire body.

 

My questions are: 1) are these common symptoms of discontinuation? 2) are these symptoms dangerous/life-threatening? 3) does the fact that I feel symptoms so strong and fast after missing only two doses indicate or suggest that I would have a very difficult time stopping these medications even through a slow taper?

 

I just took my regular dose in hopes these symptoms would stop. This isn't the first time I've skipped a couple doses at a time and I always seem to get similar scary and uncomfortable symptoms when I do. 

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ChessieCat

Yes it is common.  Several years ago I missed taking my Pristiq 100mg 2 mornings in a row.  Once I realised I took my dose in the middle of the 2nd day.  I experienced extremely bad brain zaps and had to lie down for several hours until the drug took effect.  If I moved my eyes (even when closed) I would get zaps.

 

I have survived.

 

Since finding SA just over 1 year ago I have been successfully tapering off my 100mg of Pristiq and I am now down to 32.5mg.  My website, link in my signature, has a concise explanation of my tapering experience.

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