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koko714: 10 years on AD's, Now one month off


koko714

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My story :

 

I have be off and on AD's since I was in my teens as a treatment for mild depression. I was never suicidal or anything extreme. It was more or less to even me out. I always rejected the idea of counseling b/c I felt I am a pretty level headed individual and I don’t have any (obvious) trauma to work through. As I have gotten older, I realized that not only did AD's mellow me out, I was numb. I never really got upset about…anything! But on the same coin, my happy times weren’t as bright as they should be. I also had zero sex drive. I am now 30 and in a really good place. I got married and moved into our first home this past year. My life is more than stable and I felt this was a good time to try to ween off my meds. I also want to eliminate AD'sas we are taking steps towards starting a family and one doctor tells me they are safe for pregnancy and the other says absolutely not! I truly wanted to be 100% AD free for my future pregnancy. I tried to come off AD’s last year and after about a week and a half, I went back. What I have learned from that attempt was that the withdrawal from AD’s mimicks depression ie – low mood, fatigue, headaches. It takes a while for your brain to reset and work without the drug. My psychiatrist said it takes about 2-3 months for true symptoms of depression to return/relapse, not one week following withdrawal.

 

So this time I did the slow taper over about 2.5 months based on my doc’s advice. I started at 75mg and worked my way down to 50mg, then started halving , then quartering my pills (my own doing as I realized my psychiatrist’s obvious advice was not worth the hassle of the office visit). I have been completely off for almost a month and am very proud. I refuse to go back after coming this far. I think it took a good week from the last tiny quarter pill that I took for me to sorta crash. However, I was prepared for that and ready to deal with it. I anticipated that in the beginning it would be tough emotionally but I still have some very bad moments a month off. I notice that I’m very “edgy” and my husband (poor guy!) has become the enemy. I take things very seriously and have been told I need to “lighten up” on more than a few occasions. I WANT to lighten up, but I just feel very raw and exposed. It is frustrating dealing with this b/c less of telling the whole drawn out explanation, I don’t know what to say to get those around me to help them understand why I’m acting this way. So, lately I’ve been quite the social hermit. Fortunately my husband has been very understanding and will be receiving the husband of the year award if I have anything to do with it. I have not been can’t-get-out-of-bed- depressed, rather just uneasy and cranky. The holidays stressed me a lot and my confidence is wavering. My (irrational) thought is that every time I over-react, I’m failing. This causes me to be really down on myself. In hindsight I know it’s silly but that’s just been my experience. So a few times I have looked to the internet for reassurance as to what others experienced in the weeks and months after withdrawing and when (if?!) they noticed an upswing in the process. Unfortunately, it seems that if people do get through this, they never return to a forum to let the rest of us know what the light at the end of the tunnel looks like. Most posts are about 1-3 weeks off meds. I was thrilled when I stumbled onto this forum tonight! I am just curious how long it took for others to get to a good point after withdrawing. I would also like to know how long it took for your sex drive to return, something I miss greatly!

 

So, for now I am taking it day by day. I have started exercising more and I go for walks with the dog daily. I started taking fish oil supplements twice a day just because I read they could help and hey, they are good for the brain and heart. I try to eat better, but we all know how the holidays throw that out the window. I discuss my feelings often with my husband which helps. I know he can’t fully understand all this but it helps to know he is trying. I have been on the fence about starting counseling because I feel that this is a temporary state of mind I’m in and my past experience with counselors have been disappointing. I find they are always trying to stir up some hidden locked secret as to where my depression/anxiety stems from and they never tell me anything I haven’t already thought. Maybe I just never found the right therapist? I truly feel like there was maybe two points in my teens and early 20's that I justifiably was clinically depressed. The rest of the time was just my primary docs keeping me on meds for no reason besides their lack of expertise. I never even questioned if I needed them until a year ago and that's when I went to a psychiatrist specializing in psychopharmacology. Anyway, I figure if a month from now, I’m still edgy/cranky/down on myself, then I will try counseling again. But right now, I can’t help but feel that all of this is just a side effect of withdrawal and my brain “re-wiring” itself after 10 years of anti-depressants.

 

Finally, let me also say this: I am upset that anti-depressants are prescribed as non-chalantly as vitamins these days. Everyone is on them. The fact that for years my primary doctor prescribed AD's all willy-nilly just pisses me off (Me: “this one doesn’t seem to be doing it anymore, can we try this one I saw a commercial for instead? Dr: “Sure!”). No one ever thinks about the long term effects and I never ever heard anyone warn me about how difficult they are to come off of. If I would’ve knew then what I know now….

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  • Administrator

Hello, koko. Thanks for adding your voice to our community.

 

What antidepressant were you taking? Some have higher risk than others for withdrawal symptoms.

 

Your doctor who's against antidepressants during pregnancy sounds like a keeper to me!

 

The rest of the time was just my primary docs keeping me on meds for no reason besides their lack of expertise.

Isn't this awful? So many people are in the same situation. Good for you that you realized it.

 

It really does sound like there was no good reason to put you on medication from the very first. Being sad sometimes is a normal human experience.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I think it's safe to say that all the stuff you're experiencing now is withdrawal. I wouldn't assume there's something else wrong or even consider getting therapy or whatever for a full year. Like you said, your brain is rewiring itself after 10 years of being remodeled and changed by these drugs. Also, you started at 20, at which time your brain was not fully mature, and in my experience that's another risk factor for tougher withdrawal. You're growing a new brain. That doesn't happen overnight.

 

Meanwhile get yourself a copy of Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker and a copy of The Emperor's New Drugs by Irving Kirsch. You'll find them both very informative. And continue to take care of yourself. Exercise is good although you probably need to stick to the gentle exercise; many people find daily gentle walks to be beneficial.

 

You're in withdrawal. It takes a while. Good luck to you!

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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Thanks for the responses. After writing all that last night , I immediately felt much lighter. It felt good to unload a little. @Altostrata - I was on Zoloft for the past year. Before that I was on Pristiq and struggled to come off that last year. So my doctor switched me to Zoloft b/c she said it was easier to come off of (BS!) and baby friendly. Of course, 6 months ago, she told me it is NOT safe for pregnancy, but you know how studies are always contradicting what was last reported. And before Pristiq, I was on a handful of others throughout the years - Paxil, Lexapro, Effexor. @ Rhi - Thanks for the advice against rushing into counseling. I definately don't want to do it if it isn't absolutely neccesary. Today has been a great day and proves to me that more good days are coming. I wonder how long it takes for the brain to rewire? I should try to google that!

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Hey Koko, welcome to the forum!

 

Your story sounds familiar...

 

I have the same feelings about counselors, as well. I think there may be the right one for me out there somewhere, but so hard to find. Maybe in the end it won't solve anything to see a counselor, but sometimes it can help to "unload". But at least unloading here is free!

 

I hope you get through this rough patch soon and I'm glad to hear you are doing fairly well. As for the "rewiring" thing... every person is different. It can be scary to read the stories of people on sites like this because, like you say, you are only really active on these forums when you're not doing well, and some of us are taking a while to heal. That's why I promise I'll be on here telling everyone when I'm totally well!

 

In any case, I wouldn't worry too much about trying to figure out when you'll be out of the tunnel entirely. Just cut yourself some slack while you go through this, and trust that in time your brain will find its balance. (I'm giving this advice to myself, really!) It's totally normal to have more exaggerated emotional reactions while you're going through this. That happened to me as well. If it helps at all to hear it, I'm doing quite a bit better as far as that goes now.

'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.

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Hi Nadia. Looking at your history I see we have much in common. If I am reading it right, you have been off meds since November 2010 which is quite impressive. Congrats! How was your pregnancy without meds? I'm wondering if all the hormones kinda take over in their place. Some women say pregnancy makes them really happy. I can only hope that when it's my turn that will happen.

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Hi Koko!

 

I also.think that it also safe to say that your are in WD. I realize you are confused about what you are "feeling". Here are two reasons why it stands to reason you are:

 

1. You have been on AD'a for 10 years - your 20's - the years that you take emotional risks, feel insecure and experience emotional ups and downs.  You cry hard over boyfriends who reject you, scream in happiness over a future social event, you feel nervous and inadequate at times. Hopefully, when you go through this you get to 30 much wiser and less rattled by things.

 

If ADs made you numb through this period of life, while they may have saved you from some pain, they may have prevented you from understanding what you feel and why.

 

2. The whole Mental Health field rejects anything as a common human experience. Sadness, extreme happiness, anxiety, insecurity (all of which are common human reactions to live events) are categorized as disorders, catalogued into the DSM and fixed, but really "stopped" by a drug that shuts down your emotions and cognitive functioning.

 

If you sought out help at this point, especially given your history, you are just going to be diagnosed and fixed.

 

I encourage you to take a year and just live in your own body and mind. It may feel odd at times, the WD may feel horrible at times, but at the end of the rainbow is a clear head and the ability to actually feel. 

 

To get through it exercise is great. Meditation is great. Find a hobby or two that you can focus on. And READ the books endorsed above. It will inform you while exercising your brain.

 

FYI. I have been off ADs for 10 years. I am here to prevent people from going through the horrific things I went through.

 

You are going to be fine.

Withdrew cold turkey from six medications: Celexa, Zyprexa, Depakote, Ativan, Ambien and Phentermine in 2002. It has been 10 years since I told polypharmacy to take a hike and have joined this forum to let others know that success is possible and to hopefully save people from experiencing the suffering that I did under psychiatric "care".

 

MY STORY

 

"TENSION is when we try to be who we think we should be, RELAXATION is when we are who we really are."

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Hi Nadia. Looking at your history I see we have much in common. If I am reading it right, you have been off meds since November 2010 which is quite impressive. Congrats! How was your pregnancy without meds? I'm wondering if all the hormones kinda take over in their place. Some women say pregnancy makes them really happy. I can only hope that when it's my turn that will happen.

 

Thanks! About the pregnancy, I can only hope as well! I'm still trying to get pregnant (really started trying in March, and unfortunately was separated from my partner for two months because of work near the end of last year). I'm almost 42 and my cortisol is a bit high, so it might take me a while... I have my fingers crossed.

'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.

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FYI. I have been off ADs for 10 years. I am here to prevent people from going through the horrific things I went through.

 

Whatever: You don't know how grateful I am you are here to share your experiences with us! We are in real need of some success stories.

'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@ whatever: I am very very grateful that you are here also. (:

Dec 2004 - Put on Zoloft after having a panic attack from the Birth Control Ortho Evra Patch (the doctors thought I was completely insane when I told them I think the Birth Control Patch is giving me anxiety/panic. Funny how they tell you NOW that Birth Control can indeed cause anxiety) Started at 25mg, increased to 50 mg and 100 mg in 2007. They made me too sleepy so decreased back to 50mg until 2009. Reduced to 25 mg in 2010.

Oct 2010 - Decided to come off Zoloft to try and have children. Didn't know anything about tapering because apparently, my doctor didn't know about it either. WDs included heart palpitations, dizziness, tinnitus etc. Decided to go back on Zoloft within 2 weeks of stopping.

January 2011 - Knowing a little more about tapering, I decided to stop taking taking Zoloft with my doctors help again. She told me to hurry and taper in 4 weeks because the tinnitus could become permanent. I thought this was too fast so I took another month to taper.

March 30, 2011 - Last Zoloft pill.

Had a little dizziness & sadness, but felt fine until Aug 2011 after a relative died.

Since then symptoms include brain shivers, migraine headaches on right side of head, warm/hot sensations on right side of head and ears, internal vibrations, tremor, muscle twitches, strange sensations in right side of head, anxiety, nervousness, sadness, disconnected, depersonalization, numbness on left side of body at times, neck pain, muscle/rib cage pains,  just don't feel like myself :(

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  • 6 years later...
  • Moderator Emeritus

For anyone reading this topic, I have been tapering Pristiq using compounded capsules with slow release formula.

 

tips-for-tapering-off-pristiq-desvenlafaxine

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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