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Greene: withdrawal after 23 years.


Greene

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Hello.

I am attempting to come off antidepressants after 23 years. Seroxat, fluoxeteine, sertraline. I have always taken the lowest daily dosage of between 30 and 50mg.

I have reduced very slowly over a year, after numerous aborted attempts. 6 months every other day, 3 months every 3rd day, 2 months half a pill every third day and the last month just a pill popped if desperate.

I hoped I had gotten away with it, but it seems not. My side effects are horrendous and I worry that I will not survive this long battle to come off and see who I am now.

The side effects in order of severity are ; rage, insomnia, anxiety,restless legs, pgad (hating admitting this, couldnt do it face to face).

I saw my gp who said these things (didnt dare mention pgad) were not related to withdrawal from anti depressants, and withdrawal symptoms are usually gone after 3 weeks..

She said it was probably menopause (im 53) and I accept that it may be a contributing factor, however ive going through menopause for several years and its only after withdrawing from antidepressants that my life lays in shreds.

She recommended staying on ssri for life, but I was feeling increasingly disconnected. I seemed to be drifting sadly away.

I cant talk to anyone here, my husband thinks " its all in my head" (which I suppose it is :-)....he wants me to take the pills (im nicer and the foods better) I'm beginning to hate him...

I need advice,  should I stick with my attemp to be free from antidepressants? Or take the pills and shut up about it.

I dont want to be melodramatic, but it seems like a life r death issue to me.

Thank you , just for letting me say what ive said for the first time.

 

 

Hello.

I started on ssri,s in 1995 after having my child.

I was prescribed seroxat. That was discontinued and I was put on 20mg fuoexeteine?. After approx 12 years it was changed to 50 mg of sertraline. (I believe 50mg sertraline is equivalent to 20mg of fluoxeteine)

I have been tapering my dose for a year with the intention of stopping altogether. I took my last half a pill approx 6weeks ago. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Greene, so glad you've found this site - and so sorry for what has led you here.  I think it's great you have been able to say these things - it's a big step, and hopefully the first of the rest of your healing steps. 

 

As you've discovered, alternating doses is actually a very harsh way to reduce your amount.  They say it's like playing ping-pong with your brain - ouch!  Your Central Nervous System gets really destabilised.  This is why things are so rough for you now.  Hopefully once you've read some of the information we have, you'll see that it's possible to make a plan:

 

1.  To get stabilised again and then

2.   To slowly and safely taper.  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.   

 

Can you tell tell us the dates of when you did the tapering and when you took your last pill?  Also, Please put your withdrawal history in your signature – all drugs/dates/dosages etc - so we can see your situation easily whenever you post, and help you more accurately.  Thanks.

 

Depending on how long you've been off for, it may be possible for you to reinstate part of your dose in order to stabilise.  We have a thread that discusses it here:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/7562-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms/  

 

The troublesome thing with SSRIs is that you can't just flush their effects out of your system.  They change the way your brain works, and that takes much longer to heal.  Alternating doses or tapering too fast is 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/)

 

It is also common to mistake withdrawal symptoms for ‘relapse’ and at this point that many people get drawn back into using drugs, believing they are not healed.  This is probably what your doctor thinks.    

 

Anyway, have a read of those links, and come back here to ask any questions or discuss your options further.  This can be your journal to record your tapering and healing progress, and to ask questions.  In the mean time, many people find Fish oil and Magnesium useful during withdrawal. 

 

Keeping things simple is your best bet:  Keep it Simple; Keep it Slow; Keep it Stable

Non-Drug Techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

 

Also - what we see here on SA is that the hardest place is where you are right now.  Soon, with information and a plan and support you'll start to move into a better space.  With time and care, healing does happen. 


Welcome to SA,

Karen

Edited by KarenB

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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  • scallywag changed the title to Greene: withdrawal after 23 years.

Hello Greene,

On 2017-06-11 at 1:52 AM, Greene said:

Hello.

I am attempting to come off antidepressants after 23 years. Seroxat, fluoxeteine, sertraline. I have always taken the lowest daily dosage of between 30 and 50mg.

I have reduced very slowly over a year, after numerous aborted attempts. 6 months every other day, 3 months every 3rd day, 2 months half a pill every third day and the last month just a pill popped if desperate.

I hoped I had gotten away with it, but it seems not. My side effects are horrendous and I worry that I will not survive this long battle to come off and see who I am now.

The side effects in order of severity are ; rage, insomnia, anxiety,restless legs, pgad (hating admitting this, couldnt do it face to face).

I saw my gp who said these things (didnt dare mention pgad) were not related to withdrawal from anti depressants, and withdrawal symptoms are usually gone after 3 weeks..

She said it was probably menopause (im 53) and I accept that it may be a contributing factor, however ive going through menopause for several years and its only after withdrawing from antidepressants that my life lays in shreds.

...

 

I'm sorry to hear you're having a rough time getting off the SSRI.  I went through that 3 years ago after being on Prozac and then Lexapro for 15 years. I agree that your taper needs to be very slow, and i did 10% reduction per month using liquid titration over 10 months. I had very little in the way of withdrawal symptoms, but a few weeks after my last dose i developed tardive akathisia, with symptoms very much like you describe. I was miserable. Most pdocs that I've encountered aren't familiar with this syndrome that can occur after being on an SSRI for years and then going off, even if the taper is very slow.

 

 There is a website, Mad in America, written by Stuart Shipko, MD, that addresses the issues around going off SSRIs. 

 

Www.madinamerica.com/author/sshipko/

 

He calls it "The real mental illness epidemic: Withdrawal from antidepressants"

 

After reading many research articles on the topic and people's posts about their experiences going off SSRIs (some taking 5-7 years or longer to heal), I decided to reinstate. Even after being off for 6 months it took me over a year to heal from the effects of the tardive akathisia. (Google it and read Shipko's articles to become better familiar with this condition associated with SSRI discontinuation.) I am well again, and at 63 living life, and no longer bedridden. For me, being on the medication makes all the difference in the quality of my life.  

 

I wish you all the best on your journey.

 

Take care,

Chickadee

 

Edited by scallywag
added quotation of post that prompted this reply in case post is split or merged.
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Thank you chickadee.

I have come off severall times and always gone back. The longest for a year... every day of that year was a battle, that I ultimately lost.

If I didnt take the antidepressants 23 years ago, I wouldn't be here now... They gave me back my life.

I dont want to dismiss the drug, but I feel after so long, I've forgotten who I am.

What made you reinstate?, were you suffering from ghastly withdrawal symptoms?.

I have probably not chosen the best time to come off ssri,s as I'm menopausal, but somehow it seemed right.

Can I ask you a very personal question? (Do feel free to ignore it)... Did you , on withdrawal, suffer from unwanted arousal?.

I have been and like  the restless leg thing, its hard to ignore. I googled it, and although I can find reference to returning libido,

I have only found one site that openly acknowledged pgad (persistent genital arousal disorder) and there it was linked to uncontrollable movement

As in  tardiva akathisia. I wondered if anyone else has had this, as I'm feeling a little isolated and unwilling to bring it up with my gp.

Anyway, I'm grateful for your response and support chickadee.. xx

 

 

Hello.

I started on ssri,s in 1995 after having my child.

I was prescribed seroxat. That was discontinued and I was put on 20mg fuoexeteine?. After approx 12 years it was changed to 50 mg of sertraline. (I believe 50mg sertraline is equivalent to 20mg of fluoxeteine)

I have been tapering my dose for a year with the intention of stopping altogether. I took my last half a pill approx 6weeks ago. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Greene,

 

We have a thread on PGAD.

 

Since your last pill was only 6 weeks ago, there is a reasonable chance that reinstatement of a small amount of sertraline would help you to stabilise.  If, after reading that thread, you are interested we can help you work out what dose to try.  The idea is that you would be able to taper off gently once you'd stabilised.  Let us know what you think.  

 

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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