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Rob66

Rob66: happy to have found this site :)

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Rob66

Hi everyone!

 

Just found this site weeks ago while browsing the net regarding AD withdrawal.  Sounds like you all have more insight to AD's then any doctor I've ever seen.  It's reassuring there are others like me who have had many years of AD use.  I'll be 47 years young next month and have been taking Zoloft/Sertraline since the early 90's.  It's been a looooong time!  22 years I believe.  Matter of fact, there wasn't even a generic available for Zoloft when I started taking it, it's been so long.  I've been on 100mg/day since the beginning.  I've tried 50mg/day for a while and been as high as 150mg/day but only for a short period.  Currently still on 100mg/day, seems to be my sweet spot.  Anyway, like many people out there, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia in my 20's and was promptly put on Zoloft while having a major depressive episode.  I sought therapy during that time and they thought Zoloft would be an excellent option for me during that gloomy year.  Fast forward 20+ years and I think it was the worst option they could have suggested during that time.  Hindsight is always 20/20 they say.  It is what it is now.  I was an excellent responder to Zoloft.  After a small adjustment to the med life was really excellent for a long long time.  I had probably 15 good years on this AD with very few side effects.  Things like emotional blunting, mild anorgasmia, foggy head syndrome were just a few sides that have persisted thoughout the years.  As I get older, these side effects have seemed to get worse despite living a very healthy lifestyle.  Many of the doctors I've seen over the years all have said that I could expect to be on Zoloft for the rest of my life and that it's ok that I am.  Not so sure I agree with that.  

 

I've been married for 19 years to the same wonderful supportive woman.  I've been at my same job for 25 years, make a decent income and have very few external stressors.  I have nothing to complain about in my life.  So I keep asking myself why am I still on an AD?  I think some of it has been complacency.  If zoloft is working so good then why quit taking it, right?  It did work wonders for a long long time, so basically for a while I wrote it off as something I would be on forever and just live with the side effects until the day I die.  I guess I could live with that and go on with my life.  But what happens when the same drug you have been taking for 22 years starts to lose it's effectiveness?  That's what seems to be happening over the last few years now.  Many years ago I tried to wean of zoloft without any luck.  Back then I had no idea what I was doing and neither did the doctor I was seeing.  I look back and think about the 50% weaning schedule my doctor had suggested and just shake my head.  No wonder it was so horrible.  Needless to say I quickly reinstated and went on with my life.  From all the reading I've been doing I now know that was the worst thing I could have done.  A few months ago I found a really excellent doctor that specializes in integrative health.  Although he doesn't specialize in Psychiatry, he really "gets it"  compared to other doctors that simply want to push pills on you.  He really understands how weaning works and also suggested the 10% weaning schedule you all advocate as well.  I think I'm a pivotal point in my life regarding my AD.  I don't think it's working very good anymore.  I can detect very small withdrawal symptoms while on the same dose I've had for years.  I think this tells me it's pooping out on me.  My life circumstances are as stable as they will ever be so I feel this is a good time to start my journey.  I know it will be really difficult and I'm willing to accept the fact that there is no deadline to finish my taper.  I'll take it one day at a time.  Hopefully with your support I can some day successfully be free from AD's forever.  I Hope to get to know some of you on the forum.  My intro was a little long so if you made it to the bottom thanks for listening :)

All the best,

Rob

Edited by scallywag
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ChessieCat

Hi Rob and welcome to SA,

 

I'm really pleased that you have found this site.  It sounds like you know a fair bit about tapering etc but I'll give you some links which you might not have seen and you might find helpful.

 

Firstly, as encouragement, I would like to tell you my story.  I'm now 59 and have been on an AD for about 25 or so years:

 

I attempted to drop my Pristiq dose by 50% - I went from 100mg to 50mg.  I got an upset stomach for about 3 days which I thought was a stomach bug.  I now know it was caused by withdrawal.  I had a very foggy head for 2 1/2 weeks and when I researched AD withdrawal I found SA.  By 3 weeks at the lower dose I couldn't type.  I am a professional typist so genuinely not being able to type alerted me to the fact that something was wrong.  When I joined SA it had been suggested that I updose.  After not being able to type I took additional Pristiq and within 4 hours my foggy head was clearing and I was able to type.  I had a benchmark so I know that it was not placebo.

 

After stabilising for a couple of months on 75mg I started tapering as per SA's recommendations.  I found that once my dose got lower the side effects lessened and I started to feel more like my old self.  I have since been tapering successfully with only very mild withdrawal symptoms.  I am now down to 25mg!!!  Tapering has faded into the background of my life.

 

Please create a drug signature Create Your Signature.  Please include details for the last 12-18 months of  all drugs, dates, doses and discontinuations & reinstatements.  If you can't remember dates, please write it as "early March" or "mid-August".  Please provide a summary of any drugs prior to that which can just be listed with start and stop years. Please include all prescription, non-prescription drugs and supplements you are currently taking. Phone Instructions:  Withdrawal History Signature. Please also remember to update it with date and dose whenever make a change so that it remains current. Thank you.

 

Anyway here are the links:

 

Before you begin tapering what you need to know

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

 

I found these helped me to understand SA's recommended taper of 10% of the previous dose with a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  they have also helped me to remain patient, especially the Rubik's cube analogy.

 

Brain Remodelling


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

It's also a good idea to learn Non-drug techniques to cope

 

This is your own Intro topic where you can ask questions you have about your own situation and also journal your progress.  If you click "Follow" top right you will be notified when someone responds.

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Rob66

Thank you Chessie!  I've read the links you posted.  Very good info!  I especially like the link regarding brain remodeling and what happens during withdrawal.  It answers some questions about the brain that nobody has ever been able to answer for me.  good stuff!

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Rob66

I've been on 100mg Zoloft for 22 years. I almost forget what life was like before it. I want to start a proper slow taper but after reading all the threads on this site I'm really afraid and apprehensive. Is all the pain and suffering Worth it in the end? Zoloft has actually worked pretty darn good all these years despite the side effects I've had. The side effects haven't made life miserable for me but rather just annoying. I feel like life is really stable and good for me at the moment. I've really been in "the zone" as far as physical health is concerned. I feel like I'll be giving all that up in order to wean off this drug. I hate to regress into a dark cave and waste years of my life for something that doesn't pay a big enough reward at the finish line. Is staying on it just to remain stable a cop-out? I'm really afraid to give up my security blanket to see if I can improve my brain. I dread the thought of going through a long stormy cloud and not making things better. This decision would be easier if Zoloft was a really horrible thing for me, but it hasn't been like that. I guess I just need some reassurance I'm going to be doing the right thing.

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ChessieCat

Hi Rob,

 

I've moved your new post here to your Intro topic because it is about your own situation and will keep your history in one place.

 

As previously requested please create a drug signature Create Your Signature.  Doing this allows members to see your drug history whenever you post.

 

I, for one, would say yes, it is worth it.  Once my dose started getting lower I started feeling like my old self.  However, I hadn't realised until this happened how numb I had been for so many years.  One of my daughters is on an AD and I can see changes in her which I believe are caused by the drug.

 

I can understand your apprehension.  However, staying on the drug risks it pooping out on you.  And psychiatric drugs can cause things that they are meant to "cure".

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Rob66

Today is day one of my taper!  I was anxiously waiting for my scale to arrive in the mail today so I could get started.  Low and behold it was in the mailbox this afternoon.  The scale seems to work quite well for my purposes.  No issues out of the box.  I also down loaded the 10% reduction excel spead sheet from this forum to keep track of my weights.  Looks like I'm good to go.  I used a nail file to reduce my zoloft pill size according to weight.  If there is an easier method I'm open to suggestions.

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Gridley

Sounds like you are doing all the right things.  Good to go!

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Rob66

This forum along with many of Dr Peter Briggen's videos have totally opened my eyes to the cause & effect relationship of AD'S. I can't believe how wrong I've been viewing this over the years. In my forties I've struggled to find answers to certain issues and never once thought about my AD being the core issue. I didn't have these issues in my 20's while on Zoloft so why would I have these issues in my 40's while taking Zoloft? For years I've looked hard at reasons for my changes and one by one eliminated what I thought was the culprit. Not until recently did it occur to me that this darn AD could be the whole issue right along. I feel so fleeced and brainwashed about these meds. Also feel sort of angry at our medical establishment and Big Pharma. Just wish I could've had this revelation years ago, things might have been different. Oh well, dwelling in the past gets you nowhere. Onward to better things I hope.

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ChessieCat

Rob, you, me and I think most, if not all, members here feel the same way.  Finding out the truth is overwhelming as well as lots of other various emotions.  At least now you know the truth and can do something about it.  We can't change the past but we can be thankful that we don't have to be beholden to the drugs longer than is necessary to get off them.

 

Need to take them for life like a diabetic needs insulin - PIFFLE!!!  I'm down to 25mg of Pristiq and feeling more like my old self than I have for a very long time.  Better late than never.

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Rob66

Thank you Chessie! Your very kind! I didn't expect such a quick reply, I forget you live in Sydney, lol. It's 2:25am here when most are fast asleep. I'm a night shift worker and had some idle time on the job. I browse the forum from time to time when things get boring. Take care :)

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Rob66

I have a quick question. My 100mg Sertraline pills actually weigh 300mg. I'm assuming that 100mg is the active ingredient dose and the rest is just filler? Correct me if I'm wrong but I've been reducing 10% of the total pill weight. Is this right? Just making sure I'm doing it right. Thanks.

Rob.

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ChessieCat

See Post #7 in this topic:  using-a-digital-scale-to-measure-doses

 

To find this I searched using Google and typed in survivingantidepressants.org filler.  I then did Ctrl + F (find) and typed in filler to find it on the page.

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Rob66

Thanks for the reply. I guess I've been calculating wrong for the past 4 days. For my first 10% cut I've been simply filing off 10% of my total pill weight..Oops. I see that my calculation actually comes out 1 to 2 mgs on the conservative side compared to your aforementioned post. Better to error on the side of caution I guess.

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Rob66

5 days into my first reduction and I can now fully feel some effects kicking in. Nothing serious or bad, just very weird. No negative mood to report, just feeling sorta "high"and out of it. A little more anxiety and nervousness. My head feels off kilter and a little less stable. Similar to being over stimulated. My ability to concentrate is getting a little more difficult also. No other negative ailments at this time. I feared having brain zaps which has occurred in the past when I reduced to rapidly. This isn't the case at the moment, thank god.

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Pepita

hi Rob! congratulations on starting your journey! It's very very good that you are so well informed beforehand!! so many people go cold turkey or taper way too fast (which I did too). So you have all the best starters to have a way to recovery that might be more controllable than without all

this very helpful background information!

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Rob66

hi Rob! congratulations on starting your journey! It's very very good that you are so well informed beforehand!! so many people go cold turkey or taper way too fast (which I did too). So you have all the best starters to have a way to recovery that might be more controllable than without all

this very helpful background information!

Thank you Pepita! I'm learning lots as I go along. Everyone has been very helpful on this forum. Congratulations to you on being drug free! Something to be very proud of :)

Best regards,

Rob

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ChessieCat

I have found Magnesium helps take the edge off my anxiety.  If you want to try it, I would suggest that you wait for at least another week because you shouldn't make more than 1 change at a time because you won't know what is causing what.  Also, start with a low dose first and if that is okay build up.

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Rob66

I have found Magnesium helps take the edge off my anxiety.  If you want to try it, I would suggest that you wait for at least another week because you shouldn't make more than 1 change at a time because you won't know what is causing what.  Also, start with a low dose first and if that is okay build up.

Thanks for the tip. Been already taking Magnesium for the last couple years. Supps are in my signature. My mood really took a turn for the worse late today. Super irritable and crabby. Not brought on by any obvious reason, just a unrelenting irrational bad mood. Had a hard time letting issues go. Had the urge to pick fights with my wife over stupid things. I've had this same issue in the past few years while on 100mgs Zoloft. Last year my therapist suggested I increase my dose to 150mgs but I knew this wasn't the answer. I was suspecting signs of tolerance even back then.

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divegrl

Hi Rob!

 

I've been experiencing extreme irritation and anxiety too! I was taking magnesium supplements since the beginning of my taper as well.

 

A couple of days ago I started epsom salt baths, and I could feel the stress melt away. Not sure if my body is able to absorb the magnesium better this way, but I've noticed a huge improvement in my mood!

 

Just a thought..... good luck to you my friend!!!!!

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Cheeky

Hey Rob Welcome,

 

I too was like yourself , long time user of an antidepressant and you have come to the right place to start this journey. Just take it slow would be my advice, Take care and keep us posted.

 

Cheeky

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bubble

Hi Rob.

 

I just wanted to give you some reassurance as you are beginning your taper. The stories of us here are the stories of people who stopped taking our drugs abruptly (many times). My doctor would tell me: ADs are not addictive, you can just stop taking them. The horror that ensued a few weeks or months later was conveniently ascribed to the worsening of my depression.

 

People who start so well informed and from a stable situation have a totally different experience. My husband has been tapering for 3 years now and is only taking 1/5 th of his starting 'therapeutic' dose. He is working full time (which he didn't do for years) and his symptoms are minimal.He actually feels and functions a lot better!

 

He was so scared of WD that he actually went even slower than 10 % , 5 % and he would sometimes hold for months. His aim hasn't been so much to stop taking the drug but reduce the drug burden (and rebuild and remodel his brain).

 

So this is an idea for you: if you find 10 % cuts too distuptive, you can try 5 %. It might not be necessary. That first cut can be most pronounced until the brain settles into the routine.

 

We are both doing a liquid taper. Just dissolving the tablet in water and drawing the required amount with the syringe. It proved to be very accurate for me.

 

Good luck! You will do well :)

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Rob66

Hi Rob.

I just wanted to give you some reassurance as you are beginning your taper. The stories of us here are the stories of people who stopped taking our drugs abruptly (many times). My doctor would tell me: ADs are not addictive, you can just stop taking them. The horror that ensued a few weeks or months later was conveniently ascribed to the worsening of my depression.

People who start so well informed and from a stable situation have a totally different experience. My husband has been tapering for 3 years now and is only taking 1/5 th of his starting 'therapeutic' dose. He is working full time (which he didn't do for years) and his symptoms are minimal.He actually feels and functions a lot better!

He was so scared of WD that he actually went even slower than 10 % , 5 % and he would sometimes hold for months. His aim hasn't been so much to stop taking the drug but reduce the drug burden (and rebuild and remodel his brain).

So this is an idea for you: if you find 10 % cuts too distuptive, you can try 5 %. It might not be necessary. That first cut can be most pronounced until the brain settles into the routine.

We are both doing a liquid taper. Just dissolving the tablet in water and drawing the required amount with the syringe. It proved to be very accurate for me.

Good luck! You will do well :)

Thank you bubble for the encouragement! Since starting May 8th, I've only had one bad day on the 12th where my mood was terrible. Things have been really great since then. No bad WD symptoms so far although I can feel a difference. I seem to have a general spacey feeling all the time. I find myself forgetting to do little things now. I find my sense of urgency has backed down, as pre taper I would typically be uptight if a chore didn't get done. Hard to put a finger on it. Knowing that it isn't causing any grief in my life I'm just fine with that.

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Rob66

Had a nice chat with my Integrative Health Doctor today :) He is totally on board with me slowly weaning off Zoloft. I'm so relieved we share the same philosophy about AD'S. Finally a doctor that understands that these drugs are poison. He understands that these drugs physically alter the brain and that they work no better than placebo. I wish all doctors thought this way. I'm lucky to have found him. It's unfortunate my insurance won't pay for his services so it's a little expensive to see him.

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Rob66

Day 16 of my first cut and I feel super good! Days #4 to 7 I had a couple minor withdrawal symptoms but this second week is like nothing even happened. Almost feel like doing another 10% drop, but I'll be patient and wait it out until the month is over. It's so tempting to drop again when feeling really stable. Still new to this weaning so have to be careful. How does everyone keep their patience? Weaning days are very different than normal days...ugh.

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LostInTheWoods

I've been married for 19 years to the same wonderful supportive woman.  I've been at my same job for 25 years, make a decent income and have very few external stressors.  I have nothing to complain about in my life. 

 

Dude I envy you! Wish to be able to say the same someday. At least the decent income has been accomplished and can't complain about that.

 

Anyway, nice to see you are hanging around in a pretty well shape, so along others I ask you to stick with the slow tapering and don't mind if that means years of weaning. Being well is what matters and "being off" should only be the long term goal that is going to be fulfilled anyway.

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Rob66

I realize it's only been a month but so far weaning has been a breeze. I can feel some slight effects but barely noticeable. Things have been extremely stable. I'm assuming that the first part of tapering is the easiest until you get to the minimum effective dose? I say it's easy now but fear getting hit with delayed symptoms down the road. Who knows right? I pray every day I'm one of the minority that can wean without major issues. So many horror stories out there.

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bubble

Very few people start their taper from a stable position and in an informed way. Most of us found our way here following a CT. Hence the horror story.

 

It seems you've been on a steady dose of one drug and no bouncing around. That should also make for smoother sailing. Just stick with the plan and exercise the patience muscle. It's well worth it. Your brain needs time to reverse 22 years of change.

 

Keep us posted.

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Rob66

Just a positive update on my progress and a quick question.  Is it wrong that I made my second reduction at 20 days instead of the month that is recommended?  I haven't noticed any negative side effects so far.  Even after my second cut at 20 days I haven't noticed any difference.  Zero anxiety, no bad mood, very stable emotions and no signs of physical issues that I can tell.  Even my mental cognition has been excellent.  Everything seems to be going extremely smooth.  Would it be safe to make my third cut at 40 days if things are going really well up to this point?  I understand that I probably won't be able to go this fast as I get lower, but right now it seems to be working fantastic.  Am I setting myself up for issues later?

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scallywag

Rob,

 

When you re-read the topic on tapering by 10%, you'll see a suggestion for people wanting to find out if they can tolerate going faster: Try several months with 10% decreases every 4 weeks, then test a 10% decrease every 3 weeks.

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Rob66

3 months into my taper and things are still going really well.  Had my first bonified "wave" Over the weekend.  Only lasted about 3 days and was very manageable.  Mainly some irrational moodiness, anger and irritability over nothing.  Yesterday and today I feel back to my old self.  Seems like I still haven't found any sort of window and waves pattern up to this point.  Up until now there haven't been any distinct waves that I could detect.  Over the weekend was the first sudden change I could feel since I started tapering.  There has been a baseline subtle feeling of weirdness that has been there since I started tapering.  Not bad at all but just always there in the background.  Hard to explain.   Anyway, thought I'd just check in to say hi and wish everyone a speedy recovery.  God bless!

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Rob66

Just wanted to say that things are still going well with my taper.  I've continued to cut 10% of my previous dose every 20 days and haven't noticed any serious side effects up to this point.  What I HAVE noticed is a very gradual "dumbing" down of my brain.  I don't feel as sharp anymore.  My general ability to concentrate and remember have gotten worse over the last couple months.  I don't seem to have any sense of urgency about anything.  If the house doesn't get cleaned, I don't care.  If the lawn is long and needs cutting, it can wait.  It doesn't seem to bother me anymore.  This was NEVER me prior to weaning.  I have very little motivation to do anything lately.  Even the fun things don't seem as appealing right now.  Just a constant bogged down feeling in my thought process.  The rest of me is very stable and life is easy to manage, so nothing else to complain about.  I don't have any anxiety at all, so this is really good.  I'm fortunate to have a stress free boring life right now.  I used to complain that my life was very non eventful.  Now I realize it's probably a good thing while weaning from Zoloft. The question I often ask myself is if this is too fast of a weaning schedule?  I would like to get to 50% of my dose and then do a long hold before cutting again. Half my original dose would be a very convenient place to do a long hold since Zoloft comes in 50mg tablets.  No weighing needed.  Then when the time is right I can resume weaning.

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baroquep

Hi Robb66, Just read through your intro and happy that you found SA so that you were able to start your taper off right.  I can totally relate to feeling like the wait in-between holds seems life forever.  I'm not try to put the fear of God into you, well, maybe just a little, but all of the symptoms you are describing are little red flags being held up saying that you should slow down.  At the beginning of my taper, I was feeling so confident that I thought I was someone that could go a lot faster and it eventually caught up to me and the withdrawal hit me like a ton of bricks.  Not saying that this is going to happen to you particularly, but have a feeling that the little changes you are experiencing, lack of concentration, not caring, etc. are clues that you might be going a little too fast.  If I were you, I'd do a good hold before your next reduction just to make sure that your brain has caught up with all that changes that are being made in your central nervous system.  It's best to be cautious rather than sorry as the waves can get pretty intense.  It took me destabilizing twice during my taper to finally learn the lesson that it's best to go slow and to pay attention to our emotions as well as physical symptoms.  So glad you found SA before you started and wishing you a symptom free journey, no matter how long that takes.    

Edited by baroquep

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Rob66

Thank you baroque for your reply :)  I've never been the gambling type so I've decided to hold where I'm at until my symptoms improve.  If you think these are red flags, then I'm apt to believe you.  Don't want to rock the boat too much and end up having to reinstate.  Thanks for the help!  

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ChessieCat

Hi Rob,

 

Just posting to say that I agree with baroquep that you reduction every 20 days appears to be catching up with you.  I can understand you wanting to get to 50mg because I was in the same situation with Pristiq only being available as 100mg & 50mg.

 

If you had reduced by 10% every 4 weeks you wouldn't even be at 65.6mg until the start of September so you might want to consider holding at your current dose until at least the beginning of October (depending on your symptoms) and then follow SA's recommendation of tapering 10% of the previous dose every 4 weeks.

 

The other option would be doing a smaller reduction (ie <10%) every 3 weeks.

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Rob66
6 hours ago, ChessieCat said:

Hi Rob,

 

Just posting to say that I agree with baroquep that you reduction every 20 days appears to be catching up with you.  I can understand you wanting to get to 50mg because I was in the same situation with Pristiq only being available as 100mg & 50mg.

 

If you had reduced by 10% every 4 weeks you wouldn't even be at 65.6mg until the start of September so you might want to consider holding at your current dose until at least the beginning of October (depending on your symptoms) and then follow SA's recommendation of tapering 10% of the previous dose every 4 weeks.

 

The other option would be doing a smaller reduction (ie <10%) every 3 weeks.

Thank you Chessie!  I'm def going to hold for a while and go from there.  It's sort of a pain to file off almost half a pill and weigh each one but it is what it is.  Gets much more time consuming at this point.  I tend to periodically sit down and make 20 to 30 pills at a time instead of one a day.  Just a personal preference.  

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baroquep

Hi Rob66, you might want to see if you have a compounding pharmacy in your area.  I have Effexor compounded every month and it sure helps not having to prepare my own pills.  It takes all of the guesswork and stress out of the equation and they are very precise.  

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