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Kevin42: Long Term Withdrawal Issues: Cognitive and Perceptual Changes


Kevin42

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The reason I wanted to post was to see if anyone else had experienced what I have found the most personally disturbing effects of withdrawal from the Seroquel, Celexa and Gabapentin I was on for ten years. 

 

I was on Seroquel (100 mg), Gabapentin (600 mg) and Celexa (20 mg) for just over 10 years.  Over the course of the summer, I tapered everything, but I am still on 15 mg of Celexa—I plan on dropping this once I stabilize. 

 

To be honest, the first couple of months after the taper (September and October) weren’t that bad because I knew what to expect:  the mood swings, sleep problems, itching, nausea, crying spells, and floods of both good and bad emotions.  None of these were enough to prevent me from feeling so proud that I finally was almost off all psych meds.  Regardless of the uncomfortable symptoms, it was a big rush for me. 

 

To backtrack, the main reasons I wanted to get off Seroquel and Gabapentin were a fear of the long term effects and the fact that many days of the week for those ten years, I felt like I was walking around, living my life half asleep, zoned out and “out of it.”  I got into the habit of drinking a lot of coffee as a way to cope, but no matter how much I drank, many days of the week I still felt sedated. 

 

So it was a big, horrible surprise for me when about two and half months after getting off the Seroquel and Gabapentin, that old feeling of not being fully awake returned.  It started as the days got shorter, in mid-November, about two and a half months after stopping these meds and reducing my Celexa.  I seemed to be especially sensitive to the changing light, and this feeling of not being awake was starting to happen every day, along with massive feelings of panic, doom and dread that somehow seemed to come on every afternoon as it got dark.  When it’s at its worst, I feel like I am walking around in a dark nightmare that won’t go away, asking myself, “How is it possible to be feeling this?  What has happened to my brain?”

 

Along with these feelings, I’m experiencing troubling symptoms that I would best describe as cognitive or perceptual, and I’m really curious if anyone has felt this before, especially so long after finishing a taper of Seroquel or Gabapentin.  This is how I would describe these differences in thinking and perception.  I  guess they could all be called “brain fog” of some sort: 

 

-Sudden problems with directions and orienting myself, even in familiar environments.  I get lost and then panic.  We all have mental maps that we use to get around.  I feel like I can’t fully access mine anymore.  I sometimes get confused about landmarks. 

 

-Vision problems. Issues with depth perception, especially at night.   

 

-Getting confused a lot.  Especially with regards to time.  Trouble remembering what day it is or when something recent happened.  Also getting distracted and confused when a lot is going.  Difficulty multitasking. 

 

-Lots of issues with short term and long-term memory.  Forgetting a lot.  Slower to retrieve memories. 

 

-Tons of trouble concentrating and focusing on anything that demands intense thought.  Feeling like I can’t figure stuff out, or that I can’t think deeply about complex issues.  Lots of mistakes counting change, getting confused during conversations, forgetting what I was planning to do. 

 

-A constant feeling that some parts of my brain aren’t working and that I’m having to do everything differently, like using other parts of my brain to do what I would have done easily before. 

 

-Feeling like the experience of talking and communicating with others is completely different than when I was on the meds. Like conversations are sped up and I get lost and anxious in them as I’m talking.  

 

Lots of odd experiences…I wonder if this is permanent, or even if this is normal and I just got used to being on the meds.  I think it’s most troubling because it didn’t start immediately, but took several months before it began.  When these issues happen, I usually begin to freak out and sometimes it turns into a panic attack.  Has anyone out there been through anything like this?  

Edited by scallywag
tags

Seroquel 100 mg 2005-2015; Seroquel 75mg 2016; finished taper September 2016

Gabapentin 600 mg 2005-2016; finished taper September 2016

Celexa 20 mg 2005-2016; tapered to 15 mg--this is what I am currently taking  

 

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Kevin,

 

Really glad you posted, as we can reassure you that this does happen a fair bit after a cold-turkey or too-fast taper.  Basically, you've hit your body with way more than it can handle at once.  The good news is that there are some options for trying to improve things - w/d is not permanent, but your brain definitely got used to being on those drugs.  It needs to be able to 'get back on it's feet' slowly. 

 

The troublesome thing with SSRIs is that they don't just stop working once they are out of your system.  They have changed the way your brain works, and that takes much longer to heal.  Suddenly stopping the drug or tapering too quickly puts your brain and Central Nervous System into shock.  It's like yanking a trellis out of a garden instead of gently untangling the plants and slowly removing the wood – it’s too much trauma for the plants/your brain.  (For the source of that simile, plus further discussion, see http://survivinganti...el-your-brain/)  You might find it reassuring to read about neuro-plasticity and brain restoration.  It gave me a lot of hope when I first came here.

 

We have a thread that discusses reinstatement, which would be good for you to consider:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/7562-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms/  If you decided to reinstate, it would be of a small amount and once you were stable again you could taper off according to our 10% monthly guide.

 

We recommend a gentle taper, reducing by no more than 10% of your current dose each month.  This allows your brain time to adjust as you go, and lessens any withdrawal.  

 

Tips for tapering Seroquel

Tips for tapering Gabapentin

 

Non-Drug Techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

Many people find Fish oil and Magnesium useful during withdrawal.   

 

Have a read of those and then you can come back to this thread to discuss things further.  This can be your journal to record your tapering and healing progress, and to ask questions. 

 

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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Kevin,

 i took myself off celexa  (citalopram) over 12 months ago, and guess what?  The worst withdrawal effects started AFTER my last dose - i didnt do it slowly enough apparently, and the side effects are still there but have diminished in intensity.  Too bad we cant get any help from our doctors.

 

 

 

Retired in  May, 2010, still working part time  as Occupational Therapist in North Toronto Community Health Clinic - 6 family practice docs + vrs allied health professionals. I was resp. for  home or clinic "Barrier-free" patient population, i.e. CP/MS/MD/spinal cord inj/disease pts.- independent living but requiring Attendant Care - power wheelchair dependent people/; also Seniors' Advisory Ctte./Advocacy staff liaison to Board; [received good evaluation on mandatory College of OT's practice review].   Otherwise, stayed active in bicycling,  gym,  yoga, walking, theatre volunteering.  Enjoyed eating out in mid-level restaurants, liked my city on Lake Ontario. Enjoyed travel to Stratford, ON, time spent with friends and on farm.    I was not on any Rx drugs, no health problems, but took lots of health food dietary vitamins and supplements - stupid me [same corporations, same profit motive, no regulation of product by governmental or other oversight body.

  • I think dietary supplement SAMe either triggered or contributed to sudden and accelerating deterioration into Parkinsonism, esp. late in 2011- I have  since found several scientific journal articles to support my opinion - all of my 5 doctors (family doc and 4 neurologists ignored it.)
  • Diagnosed at two major Toronto hospitals with "Idiopathic Parkinsonism" in early 2012.
  • Primary sympt. at that time:  rigidity, spasticity, slowness, deteriorating cursive writing, shaking arms/hands, severe burning pain in feet/knees/back, severe insomnia - no tremor at that time.
  • First Rx drug: generic sinemet [Apo-levocarb] 100/25  (3x/day) April 21, 2012. This drug was never very effective; only had ~ 1 hr ''ON" time, no matter the dose./timing. Sometimes sinemet seemed to make things worse rather than better, i.e. more muscle tone./cogwheeling/severe night sweats/low blood pressure.  
  • Next Rx drug; Zopiclone; neuro said it was NOt a  benzo., but worked on same receptors, therefore she never warned me re withdrawal problems. Took it for ~ 3 years nearly every night. Seemed to work well.
  • Third RX drug: Lorazepam. I asked Neuro for it as it seemed to make the levocarb work better and helped wth anxiety.  Neuro advised it was addictive, but never explained about tolerance, withdrawal, down-regulation of receptors. I took 0.25 mg once or twice a WEEK at first and that tiny amound helped for a day at least.
  • Fourth RX drug: Mirapex. i was still plagued by mostly "down" time with rigidity and non-movement disorders, so agreed to try Mirapex.  i never got up to the therapeutic dose (near threshold) because it made me so sick and it seemed to make things worse, i.e. more muscle tone, problems with balance, severe nausea.  Read manufacturer's monograph updated to 2012 and decided the risk was worth it, benefit unlikely.

My self-initiated withdrawals.  Every time i've changed one drug, i've had to make changes in the others too, e.g. at 20 mg Citalopram i had too much sinemet (dyskinesias) so i lowered sinemet to ~1000 mg and that was better.  Also, as Citalopram has gone down, Lorazepam has had to increase 'cause it seem not to last as long or work as well.

  • So on my own, I decided to taper off Mirapex, not knowing a thing about withdrawal problems. Whew!  Thanks to zopiclone and increased frequency and dose of Lorazepam, i got off Mirapex in March 2013.
  • Next I took myself off Zopiclone after reading very negative things about its' long-term use.  I was doing this without guidance or help from MD's. I increased sinemet and lorazepam to cope with the withdrawal effects of Zopiclone. Going off Zopiclone made PD symptoms worse; neuro wanted to put me on Entacapone, but i declined it.

More MD's/more problems with Rx drugs.

  • Zopiclone withdrawal + Incr. levocarb and incr. lorazepam landed me in the ER at CAMH, where there is a priscription drug withdrawal program, so I thought they could help me. The doctor took me off Zopiclone and Lorazepam and substituted Clonazepam alone.  From the first day Clonazepam caused frightening and serious side effects, like periods of amnesia, loss of balance, dizziness, memory problems, mental processing problems, serious nausea - worst was interdose withdrawal every 4 hours resulting in 'panic attacks' - i was jumping out of my skin!
  • Another RX drug: My own neuro gave me Citalopram to help me withdraw from Clonazepam.  Didnt work; after 2-3 weeks the Citalopram became a bigger problem with side effects than the Clonazepam. Neuro switched Lorazepam to replace the Clonazepam, but left me on the Citalopram. 
  • Rapid loss of 40 lbs of body weight into undernourished zone.
  • I ended up in ER with my forehead bashed down to the bone as a result of 'syncope'; unconscious for unknown lenght of time, probably only a few minutes. Neuro threw me under the bus - now said i needed the Citalopram for depression and Lorazepam for anxiety disorder - said there was an emotional component to my complaints and made a referral to a psychiatrist. I didnt go to him, but tried to get into a addictions/withdrawal program at that hospital, did see a 5th year psych. MD there. 
  • i got copies of last few neuro/psych reports to my family doctor - I was shocked.  I think the neuro/family doc were afraid i'd sue them or complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, so; they set up a 'defense' with psychiatric diagnosis to explain drug side effects and head injury, even suggested i might have 'psyhogenic' Parkinsonism.

More self-initiated withdrawal.

  • I decided to get off most dangerous drug first - Citalopram; it never made me feel anything other than sick and near invalid from side-effects.
  • Have reduced dose from 20 mgs to, recently, 5 mg.  Having a terrible time - every day seems new problem - today it was akathisia coming out of nowhere - took Benadryl - it helps.
  • Nearly house-bound now. 

Current drugs:  Citalopram (taper: 20 mg to 15 mg to 12.5 to 10 to  5 to 2.5, then zero.)  44 days at zero, getting worse side effects now than when I was 'ON' it.  Apo-Levocarb, immediate release (recent dose =1500mg) =~1250mg in 10 doses/day;/2-3 levo-carb CR/day;/Lorazepam (from 1.0 mg to 2.5 or 3, or more mg/day. Benadryl as needed. Tylenol as needed to reduce 'fever' feeling in head and/or headache. Occasional Advil.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The reason I wanted to post was to see if anyone else had experienced what I have found the most personally disturbing effects of withdrawal from the Seroquel, Celexa and Gabapentin I was on for ten years. 

 

I was on Seroquel (100 mg), Gabapentin (600 mg) and Celexa (20 mg) for just over 10 years.  Over the course of the summer, I tapered everything, but I am still on 15 mg of Celexa—I plan on dropping this once I stabilize. 

 

To be honest, the first couple of months after the taper (September and October) weren’t that bad because I knew what to expect:  the mood swings, sleep problems, itching, nausea, crying spells, and floods of both good and bad emotions.  None of these were enough to prevent me from feeling so proud that I finally was almost off all psych meds.  Regardless of the uncomfortable symptoms, it was a big rush for me. 

 

To backtrack, the main reasons I wanted to get off Seroquel and Gabapentin were a fear of the long term effects and the fact that many days of the week for those ten years, I felt like I was walking around, living my life half asleep, zoned out and “out of it.”  I got into the habit of drinking a lot of coffee as a way to cope, but no matter how much I drank, many days of the week I still felt sedated. 

 

So it was a big, horrible surprise for me when about two and half months after getting off the Seroquel and Gabapentin, that old feeling of not being fully awake returned.  It started as the days got shorter, in mid-November, about two and a half months after stopping these meds and reducing my Celexa.  I seemed to be especially sensitive to the changing light, and this feeling of not being awake was starting to happen every day, along with massive feelings of panic, doom and dread that somehow seemed to come on every afternoon as it got dark.  When it’s at its worst, I feel like I am walking around in a dark nightmare that won’t go away, asking myself, “How is it possible to be feeling this?  What has happened to my brain?”

 

Along with these feelings, I’m experiencing troubling symptoms that I would best describe as cognitive or perceptual, and I’m really curious if anyone has felt this before, especially so long after finishing a taper of Seroquel or Gabapentin.  This is how I would describe these differences in thinking and perception.  I  guess they could all be called “brain fog” of some sort: 

 

-Sudden problems with directions and orienting myself, even in familiar environments.  I get lost and then panic.  We all have mental maps that we use to get around.  I feel like I can’t fully access mine anymore.  I sometimes get confused about landmarks. 

 

-Vision problems. Issues with depth perception, especially at night.   

 

-Getting confused a lot.  Especially with regards to time.  Trouble remembering what day it is or when something recent happened.  Also getting distracted and confused when a lot is going.  Difficulty multitasking. 

 

-Lots of issues with short term and long-term memory.  Forgetting a lot.  Slower to retrieve memories. 

 

-Tons of trouble concentrating and focusing on anything that demands intense thought.  Feeling like I can’t figure stuff out, or that I can’t think deeply about complex issues.  Lots of mistakes counting change, getting confused during conversations, forgetting what I was planning to do. 

 

-A constant feeling that some parts of my brain aren’t working and that I’m having to do everything differently, like using other parts of my brain to do what I would have done easily before. 

 

-Feeling like the experience of talking and communicating with others is completely different than when I was on the meds. Like conversations are sped up and I get lost and anxious in them as I’m talking.  

 

Lots of odd experiences…I wonder if this is permanent, or even if this is normal and I just got used to being on the meds.  I think it’s most troubling because it didn’t start immediately, but took several months before it began.  When these issues happen, I usually begin to freak out and sometimes it turns into a panic attack.  Has anyone out there been through anything like this?  

 

 

I read your post and it is amazing how similar our symptoms are.  i stopped seroquel  eight months ago and my last taper og celexa was over two months ago and I am experiencing all of what you so excellently describe.  I hope you find some relief.  

July Medications: Started taking antidepressants in 1981, also benzos off and on; antiphychotics , anti-seizure for years.   Trazodone, Lamotrigine, Klonopin for over 10 years   all at maximum dosages,:Disconcontinued Klonopin in month of February 2011,  discontinued Trazodone and Lamotrigine   in month of March 2011 while in hosptial.  Given Seroquel to "help" go off Klonopin  gradually increased to 600 mg ; doctor took me off 600 mg. Seroquel in two weeks, and switched to Resperidal  because of weight gain on Seroquel, went off Resperidal quickly,   then gradually reinstated  Seroquel to 600 mg. at my request.   Went off Seroquel by myself at 25mg. per month in 2014.     Last medication Seroquel completely off since May 2016. Also went off Morphine at the same time as last 25 mg. of Seroquel in May 2016. Started tapering Celexa 40mg. to 35mg.  on 11 Aug. 2016  ; 16 Oct. Celexa 32.5 mg.; 6 Nov. 2016:  30mg. , 50 mg abt. Feb 26 with occasional 30mg.  , : May 10, 2017 began tapering rapidly because of adverse reaction to Celexa;, 40 mg. Celexa;   May 24, 2017: 35mg Celexa.;  June 8, 2017, 30 mg. Celexa, June 22, 2017 25mg.Celexa,; July 6,2017 20mg. CELEXA, July 20: 15mg.; August 10: Sep 29 2017: 10mg. Celexa + 10mg. Prozac, 5 Oct, 2017:  5mg. Celexa + 10mg. Prozac.; Oct. 14 Celexa 0., Prozac 10mg.Took last Prozac on November 22, 2017, Jan. 31 30mg. Cymbalta........ May Cymbalta 90mg.

 

Supplements Cal/Mag , Potassium, , Multi Vitamin.  digestive aid, antioxidant

Medications presently taking:    Lyrica 150mg. 2x day  , Synthroid 175mcg, Nasonex 2 sprays each nostril, once a day ,     Tylenol  1,000 mg. 2x day., , Restasis eye drops 2x day,  Trazodone 100 mg, Cymbalta 90 mg. Arthrotec 50 mg., Plavix

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