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Abilifyvictim: Abilify discontinuation syndrome anxiety

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Abilifyvictim

Good morning.  I will start by saying that I am a healthy, sober, active woman in a happy supportive marriage and mom to 2 (mostly) wonderfuI teenage boys.  Here's my story.

 

I started taking Zoloft 17 years ago to help with postpartum depression and seasonal affect disorder that seemed to be worsening with age.  I learned that I could get by with 100 mg in the summer and increase to 150 mg in the winter.

 

A couple of years ago-during the summer- I noticed an increase in my depression.  I was lacking joy, lacking motivation and energy, having difficulty focusing on tasks and was often weepy.  I was intrigued by the commercials I saw for Abilify which promised to give me the boost I needed to get through the day. I tried talk therapy for a couple of months, but finding no relief, I asked to be prescribed Abilify. I experienced an immediate improvement in my mood and motivation.

 

About a year in, I was discouraged by the inability to make it through the day without napping.  Sometimes, I napped all afternoon.  My Dr. prescribed Adderall to boost my mood and energy.   The cocktail of Zoloft, Abilify and Adderall did seem to help for a while.  The symptoms of lacking joy and motivation returned and I eventually concluded that the effect of the Zoloft had petered out.

 

I came to believe over the years that I suffered from a chemical imbalance that would always need medication-it was the only logical explanation for depression considering my otherwise fulfilling life. So rather than increasing the Zoloft, I spoke with my Dr. about switching to a different antidepressant.  I had come to believe that the Abilify really wasn't helping my symptoms and was perhaps contributing to the lack of motivation, so in an effort to wean from current medications in order to switch to a new one, Abilify was the first to go.

 

I was running low on the prescription, so rather than refilling, I decided that I could taper with the remaining tablets since I was "only" on 5 mg.  I don't know exactly how long that taper was-2 weeks or so.  At first, there was no problem.  Then about 3 weeks in, all hell broke loose with diarrhea, lack of appetite, crying jags and anxiety.  Over the course of 3 weeks the only persistent symptom was debilitating anxiety.  I tried eating better, exercising more, yoga, meditation, breathing, vitamin supplements to no avail.

 

Although I suspected the anxiety was related to the Abilify discontinuation, my Dr. made no reference to this and seemed as mystified as me. After 2 months of trying holistic approaches, I conceded to trying new drugs. First she prescribed Gabapentin, 300 mg.  With no improvement after 2 weeks, I discontinued.  She then prescribed 75 mg of Welbutrin which I also discontinued after 2 weeks.  She switched me to 30 mg of Adderall which seems to help boost my mood and energy without ironically, increasing my anxiety. Tired and depressed from the constant anxiety I was prescribed .5 mg of xanax 2 times per day.  This does alleviate most of the anxiety.

 

Curious about the root problem and concerned with taking Xanax, I started doing some research and eventually was directed to this site which affirms to me that I am suffering from prolonged discontinuation syndrome (4 months) resulting from my rapid discontinuation of Abilify.  I am now more concerned than ever about using even a small amount of Xanax to calm my overactive nervous system, don't know if the Xanax may be prolonging the healing from the original Abilify discontinuation, wondering if reintroducing Abilify at a low dose and doing a 10% taper will work at this point and wondering how long this will last if I just suck it up and suffer the anxiety until it goes away.  My ultimate goal was to stop taking everything so I could switch to a different antidepressant to deal with my "faulty chemistry".

 

Now I don't know what to do and it is clear that my Dr. has no idea either.

Edited by ChessieCat
added paragraphs

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scallywag

Abilifyvictim -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)
 
Thank you for posting an introduction (with tags! :D) and a medication history signature.
 
First piece of business, please update your signature so that it has dates (month/year or "mid-2014", "fall 2016") of when you started and stopped medications, rather than relative time frames. The approximate date of your last dose of Abilify is probably most important. Your signature will be easier to scan and understand with each drug on its own line, as well as putting your current medications on its own line.
 
Once we have dates, we will probably come with an idea or two for you to consider as possible next steps.

When a someone is taking multiple medications, we ask that that you post an interactions report. Follow the link below to get your report. Just select the text, copy it and paste it in a post here.
Drugs-dot-com Drugs Interactions Checker.

 
Some links for you about withdrawal symptoms:

 

What is withdrawal syndrome.
Glenmullen’s withdrawal symptom list.
Important topics about symptoms including sleep problems.

 

Some links relevant to your current medications:
 

Taking multiple drugs? Which to taper first.
Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline).
Tips for tapering off Adderall.
Members-only benzo forum -- start a 2nd intro here when you're preparing to taper Xanax

 

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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Abilifyvictim

Thank you scallywag.  I have updated my signature and checked drug interactions based on your link.  Below is the result.  I should note that despite the warning, I did not experience anxiety while using adderall and zoloft.  It seemed to provide a mood boost and counteract the symptoms of lacking focus and motivation.  I look forward to hearing more from you.

amphetamine  sertraline

Applies to: Adderall (amphetamine / dextroamphetamine), Zoloft (sertraline)

Talk to your doctor before using sertraline together with amphetamine. Sertraline may increase the effects of amphetamine, and side effects such as jitteriness, nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, and racing thoughts have been reported. Combining these medications can also increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms while taking the medications. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

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scallywag

AV: please run the interactions report again and include Xanax this time. Thanks!

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Abilifyvictim

Interactions between your selected drugs

Major amphetamine  sertraline

Applies to: Adderall (amphetamine / dextroamphetamine), Zoloft (sertraline)

Talk to your doctor before using sertraline together with amphetamine. Sertraline may increase the effects of amphetamine, and side effects such as jitteriness, nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, and racing thoughts have been reported. Combining these medications can also increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms while taking the medications. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Major dextroamphetamine  sertraline

Applies to: Adderall (amphetamine / dextroamphetamine), Zoloft (sertraline)

Talk to your doctor before using sertraline together with dextroamphetamine. Sertraline may increase the effects of dextroamphetamine, and side effects such as jitteriness, nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, and racing thoughts have been reported. Combining these medications can also increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms while taking the medications. It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Switch to professional interaction data

Minor alprazolam  sertraline

Applies to: Xanax (alprazolam), Zoloft (sertraline)

Consumer information for this minor interaction is not currently available. Some minor drug interactions may not be clinically relevant in all patients. Minor drug interactions do not usually cause harm or require a change in therapy. However, your healthcare provider can determine if adjustments to your medications are needed. 

 

For clinical details see professional interaction data.

No other interactions were found between your selected drugs.

Note: this does not necessarily mean no interactions exist. Always consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

 

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scallywag

AV: Do you feel that you are experiencing any of the listed interaction effects?

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Abilifyvictim

Good morning, I had been taking adderall, Zoloft and abilify together for about a year without experiencing any of the side effects listed. The addition of adderall seemed to help with the lethargy, lack of motivation and mental focus which in turn made my overall mood brighter. I have experienced no side effects from the inclusion is xanax. The timing of the anxiety which is my primary concern at this point is consistent with my rapid discontinuation of the Abilify.

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AliG

 My ultimate goal was to stop taking everything so I could switch to a different antidepressant to deal with my "faulty chemistry".

 

Now I don't know what to do and it is clear that my Dr. has no idea either.

 

Do you still feel that way ? Many of us come to this with the idea that we have a " faulty chemistry " and then we realize we don't - it's the Doctors/ Big Pharma who have it wrong.

 

You have had a lot of changes in a short amount of time.

 

How are you feeling now with symptoms ?  What are they ? 

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Abilifyvictim

Thank you for following up with me.  I have been lead to believe by medical professionals that I just have a chemical imbalance and need medication like a diabetic needs his insulin.  I am not so convinced of that any more, but know that despite taking good care of myself mentally, physically and spiritually, I have suffered with depression for many years-especially in the winter.  I don't really recall a time when I wasn't.  When the babies came along, that really tipped the scales and worsened the depression and it was at that time that I started taking zoloft. So I don't know overall if I have a defective mental chemistry or if that is even a thing anymore.  This recent withdrawal from abilify experience has me scared to death to take the next step to discontinue zoloft.

 

I have had a lot of changes in a short time and some new stressors have been added to my life recently as well.  I have set up an appointment with a therapist to work through some of those new stressors.

 

But I truely believe this horrible anxiety I am feeling is a result of rapid discontinuation of the Abilify.  I have always felt some level of depression, but never anxiety until about a month after rapidly discontinuing Abilify.

 

So my current symptom is really all about the anxiety.  There is still a level of depression present which is common for me, especially this time of year. But the depression is not new or unfamiliar.  The anxiety is.  It is there when I wake up- a deep tightness in my chest.  It doesn't let up and I have slept away days just to escape it.  I am not having panic attacks, just extreme physical discomfort and mental fatigue from fighting the anxiety.  In addition to the med trials, I also tried weekly acupuncture for 2 months to no avail.  The only that alleviates the anxiety is the xanax, which I take as little of as posssible.  With the Xanax, I am able to function somewhat normally.  Without it, I am paralyzed, unproductive and isolated.  I have a wonderful support system in my family, husband and friends, I work out when I can motivate, I eat well, I meditate...

 

How long will this last-am I making things worse with the Xanx-is it too late to try the reintroduction method.  I am growing weary and scared.

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IHadPassion

  My ultimate goal was to stop taking everything so I could switch to a different antidepressant to deal with my "faulty chemistry".

 

AV, as you're searching for a different antidepressant, I would spend some time researching the 'chemical imbalance' model of mental health.  You'll find that there is no supporting evidence for the theory. More importantly, you'll find dissenting opinions among mental health professionals, some admitting that chemical imbalance was just a analogy to 'help the patient understand the need for a medication,' while others will openly admit it was nothing more than a catchy marketing ploy from pharmaceutical companies.

 

If that doesn't convince you to think twice about continuing to use psychotropics, I would ask yourself if you feel healthier,mentally and physically, now than before you began using psychotropics and whether you think continuing to ingest mind altering drugs is the solution.

 

For me, the use of psychotropics, a combination similar to what you were on, has gutted who I was emotionally,cognitively and physically and after a year and a half off all drugs, little of it has returned.

 

Also, be very careful with Xanax. Even irregular use at prescribed doses can cause significant rebound effects and exacerbate anxiety.

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Abilifyvictim

Thank you. I appreciate your input. I really do want to be prescription free and free of big pharma propaganda and control.

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PatriciaVP

Are you still taking the Adderall? I took it for years. I seemed to need a very high dose every day (40 mgs if you can believe it) to be even semi-conscious. Once I started tapering off my antidepressant, I noticed my anxiety and agitation go through the roof every time I swallowed an Adderall. I ended up having to take a break from the antidepressant taper to get off the Adderall. I just couldn't stand what it was doing to me anymore. Now I have been off it for about 10 months and most days I am perfectly awake and alert.

 

Learned the hard way that anxiety, agitation and Adderall don't mix.

 

Peace, love and healing.

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PatriciaVP

Wanted to mention - your signature indicates that you are taking the quick acting Adderall. Adderall itself is merely an extended release version of amphetamines. So if you are taking "quick acting" Adderall what you're really taking is plain old amphetamines. You can see from my signature that I also took these ON TOP OF regular Adderall. Now that all seems so crazy to me. (No pun intended)

 

Anyway, I'm no doctor, but it would seem as if giving someone with anxiety amphetamines is at the very least somewhat counterintuitive.

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Abilifyvictim

Thank you for this!  I am definitely in a place where I could taper from the the Adderall.  Your taper schedule worked for you?  I have noticed if I don't take it for a couple of days, I am fine, perhaps a little tired.  But I know better than to come off it quickly or worse yet, cold turkey.  I will try this.  It certainly makes a lot of sense.

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Roxy3

Hi,

I'm coming off of abilify too... it's horrible! I was on "only" 5 mg too! I have gone down from 5 to 1 1/2 mg. in several months! Now I'm struggling with extreme anxiety and nausea! I hate these meds!

I was doing really well on 2 mg, got stable! I just did a cut from 2 to 1 1/2 last Saturday!

Anyway... I feel for you!

How are you doing now?

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PatriciaVP

Thank you for this!  I am definitely in a place where I could taper from the the Adderall.  Your taper schedule worked for you?  I have noticed if I don't take it for a couple of days, I am fine, perhaps a little tired.  But I know better than to come off it quickly or worse yet, cold turkey.  I will try this.  It certainly makes a lot of sense.

My taper schedule which you can see in my signature did work for me. However keep in mind that this was a very aggressive taper made necessary by the fact that reducing the antidepressant had turned the Adderall against me. Got to the point where I was getting heart palpitations every time I took one. The speed of my taper would definitely NOT be endorsed by SA.

 

If you are thinking about holding the Abilify and tapering the Adderall, you might want to pose that as a possibility here on your thread and ask the moderators for their input. Following my lead may not be in your best interest. I was sharing my experience because I wasn't sure if the effect of the Adderall was something you were taking into consideration.

 

As for my experience with tapering, I really don't remember having much of a problem with it until I dropped the last 5 mgs. Then the fatigue hit. I could barely stay awake for close to a week. Compared to all the disturbing symptoms I've gotten while tapering my antidepressant, however, that was nothing.

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Abilifyvictim

Roxy3 I am sorry to hear you are going through this too. At this point my anxiety has still not diminished. It's been 4 months. Ughhh

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shinrinyoku

Hi. If you're still suffering from anxiety, google NAC - cysteine. I cannot recommend it enough, it basically saved my brain from electroshocks. I had crippling anxiety and depression. I also take it with my antidepressants.

 

I write it everywhere I go, so that more people know, so sorry if I sound annoying to some users. 

 

It may or may not work, every case is individual, of course.

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shinrinyoku

Btw, I have also heard it is beneficial to add fish oil and D3 vitamin. Maybe even Inositol - but with Inositol you should consult with your pdoc, because it influences amount of serotonine and dopamine. 

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