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Ty123: I beat Effexor and depression


Ty123

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I beat withdrawal and in the process I beat a depression that had been plaguing me for half my life. I’ve been meaning to share my story for sometime now but have failed to take the time to do so. When I was in the thick of it back in 2016 I heavily utilized this site for answers, for comfort, and for inspiration. Unfortunately there don’t seem to be a lot of success stories but I am proud to say I am one. It was quite a daunting task writing this all down, I swear I could write a novel based on my experience with depression and antidepressants. Irregardless I hope my story can help encourage those currently in the midst of withdrawal just as stories I had read on this site encouraged me during my withdrawal.  

 

I am a 27 year old man and I took antidepressants from 2010 to early 2016. My first year was on Zoloft and the next five years were on Effexor 150mg. Depression entered my life around the age of 13 and it more or less stayed there up until recently. Sure there were periods of time where it subsided but eventually I would always return to my depressed default state. When I was about 13 my father died unexpectedly, a few years later my grandfather was murdered. My teenage years were very lonely. Affected by the deaths and trying to understand my sexuality pushed me into a state of isolation, it was during this time where I developed a very strong pornograghy addiction. Rather than talk about my issues through friends and therapy I chose to keep them hidden and use medication to do the work for me. Soon after starting college I got on Zoloft. It suited me, I felt calm and content but I craved something more stimulating. I had previously been prescribed adderall, but I recognized the ill effects it had on my personality so I stopped taking it. The campus doctor recommended Effexor, he said I might find it to be more stimulating. Therefore without question I took the prescription and worked my way up to 150mg where I would remain the next 5 years. During this time I was also taking ambien nightly, and between these two drugs I was able block out any of the persistent issues that were bothering me. I was numb.

 

Years later I was living in a house with two very supportive roommates. These two guys would become my best friends and for the first time in my life I actually opened up about the things that truly bothered me. I also finally decided to get into therapy. In retrospect I could see that I was not actually happy on the antidepressants. I was just going through the motions, numb to the good and numb to the bad. I could see my growing disconnect from people. Up until those roommates I didn’t have close friends, I wasn't dating, and I certainly wasn’t having sex. I was almost 25 and still a virgin. The antidepressants removed the desire to be intimate with people, I was living in perpetual loneliness. So in January of 2016 I made the decision I was getting off Effexor and that was that.

 

As with most doctors, my doctor had no idea how to get me off. There are no established plans to get people off of antidepressants, once your on them your expected to stay on them. So every two weeks I would half the dosage, and at the lowest dosage I was to take it every other day. That was completely idiotic as Effexor only has a 12 hour half life, essentially I would be playing ping pong with my brain chemistry. Fortunately I did not follow that last part of the plan but I did get off too quickly. After five years on the drug, six weeks is not long enough to get completely off. My first day off of Effexor was also my first day on a one month solo trip through South America which was during my birthday month when I would be turning 25. The trip was fantastic but it gave me a false sense of security as to what life would be like without the drug. While traveling you are processing so much new information and your brain is naturally producing tons of dopamine through all these new experiences therefore I was not accurately feeling what real withdrawal would feel like. I had some minor headaches the first week of the trip but that was really it. By the time the trip ended I thought life without antidepressants was going to be a piece of cake, boy was I wrong.

 

When I came back it was time to face reality, and I had to do so without relying on Effexor. We were moving from our house, my two awesome roommates were going their separate ways and I was on my own. On top of that I had a very important all consuming project at work to figure out. My anxiety was through the roof. I had a prescription for Ativan that I used very sparingly to get me through, but the anxiety was so bad I thought I needed a more permanent solution. I had to do whatever it took to get through this move and this project so I went back to the doctor to try a different antidepressant. He put me on Lexapro, I believe it was only 5mg but I could feel it instantly. I was finding I was hypersensitive to everything now. I was only able to tolerate Lexapro for 5 days because on the fifth day I was contemplating suicide. Whatever fire I had inside me that had always gotten me through the tough **** felt extinguished and I just wanted to die. I ended up going back to Effexor only taking 10 or so beads from the capsule, just that small amount made a tremendous difference in my anxiety. I did this until I had settled into a new place and my project was complete. While my anxiety was calmed my emotions were neutralized and my libido was extinguished. These were the exact reasons I got off in the first place so I knew I had to stick with the plan of staying off for good.

 

Things were calming down but I was very depressed and had a complete lack of motivation. I was trying a lot of things like B-vitamins, Magnesium, L-theanine, and Fish Oil. I could feel some benefit from each of them but after a few days I would be back in my depression. I had very low energy and I was sensitive to everything. Just eating bread would make me feel terrible even though I had no apparent gluten intolerance previously. It was around this time a good friend of mine talked me into doing Improv. I thought it was crazy but I had nothing left to lose. So even at my worst I did Improv and I also continued training in the martial art Krav Maga. No matter how bad I felt I would show up and make a fool of myself in Improv or hit the **** out of something in Krav. I always felt much relief whenever I did either and I credit both of those activities to helping me beat my depression in the long run. I opened up a lot to my friends and family about what was going on in my head, and whenever my anxiety felt high I would challenge myself into doing something that made me uncomfortable. I performed on stage, I did sparring at my gym, I went on dates with guys, and I opened up to my Mom about my sexuality. My motto was “oh you think you’re anxious now? Wait till you do this!” While all these lifestyle changes helped build up my confidence I still struggled to find relief from my depression. I thoroughly researched the neurotransmitters and what vitamins and supplements help support what. I determined that my issues seemed to lie with Dopamine.

 

So I went back to my doctor to get on Wellbutrin. I was not happy about throwing in the towel again but I also wasn’t ultimately finding relief. I was open to Wellbutrin because it supposedly did not have as severe of sexual side effects. I started taking it and I actually felt pretty damn good. Unfortunately I also broke out in hives. So it was back to the drawing board. I tried

St. John’s wort and SAM-e, neither of those did anything. Finally I tried L-Tyrosine, this seemed to make the biggest difference. Like I hypothesized, my problem stemmed from dopamine and L-Tyrosine is a precursor in the creation of dopamine. While I found some relief, it was very finicky. Taking too much made me feel like I was going to have a heart attack, too little of course did nothing at all. It was also very easily influenced by the digestive process so it was hard to find consistency and consistency was what I needed as I was about to hop on a very stressful 6 week project.

 

I threw in the towel again this time looking at Cymbalta. I had read that it was less likely to cause the sexual side effects that Effexor does. It was true, I found my libido did not seem to suffer as badly however I downright felt badly. I felt achy, my head hurt, I felt dehydrated, and I was terrified to force my body to adjust to this seemingly toxic drug. I knew that I had no intentions of staying on antidepressants my whole life therefore if Cymbalta feels this harsh to adjust to in the beginning then I can only imagine what it would feel like to get off of. This whole withdrawal process shook me to my core. While I was desperate to find relief so that I could function at work I also knew that I never wanted to withdrawal from an antidepressant again. I tossed the Cymbalta and I went back to taking a few beads of the Effexor. Once again I felt relief but once again my libido vanished as did my emotions. The most striking difference I noticed once I was back on the Effexor had to do with a coworker. I had a thing for one of the girls I was working with and I knew she felt similarly. Whenever she smiled at me I could feel an electricity rush through my body. When I got back on Effexor and she smiled at me, I felt nothing. That was it, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I could be depressed, anxious, and barely able to function but I was not going to lose the feeling of being human. I was not going to lose feeling a connection with someone, caring about someone, and I sure as hell was not going to lose my libido, not at 25. Antidepressants were out, I had to find another way. That’s when I discovered a different form of L-Tyrosine called N-Actetyl-L-Tyrosine, this form is less affected by digestion and crosses the blood brain barrier more easily.

 

It took a lot of experimentation with how to dose the N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine. It caused a lot of headaches but it was relieving my depression and anxiety. Finally I developed a regimen that included several of the vitamins I had previously tried that offered relief but couldn’t fix the problem as a whole. My regimen consisted of a B-complex, Fish oil, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D during the day; at night I would take Magnesium, melatonin, and every other night 150mg of N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine. After 6 months of suffering and countless experimentation I finally found stability again with my own personal regimine. I more or less stayed on this particular plan for a year, and the extreme depression and anxiety stayed away. I had never felt better because I was actually feeling everything like a human being should. I was also very in tune with my emotions, as soon as I felt depressing thoughts creeping in I would identify them and root out what may be causing them. I continued challenging myself with the improv, krav maga, and anything else that my old self would swear I could never do. I also continued therapy and being open and honest with those around me. I beat the depression that had been plaguing me the majority of my life.

 

I didn’t stay on that particular set of vitamins and supplements indefinitely, I started dropping things along the way. After about a year the N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine started acting finicky again, I was suffering headaches similar to when I first got on it. I ended up dropping the Tyrosine several months ago and instead started experimenting with Rhodiola Rosea. So far it has been working well. If the Rhodiola Rosea stops working I’ll try something else, the important thing is that my mindset has changed. I’m extremely self aware, I’ve accomplished so many things I thought I could never do, and I know that I no longer need antidepressants to function. Depression will always be something I will battle but I’m finally now in the driver's seat and I am not going to give up my spot so easily this time. Withdrawal is horrible but its an important process in forming a new and better self. Just because L-Tyrosine and Rhodiola Rosea have helped me doesn’t mean they will help everyone. It took a lot of trial and error to find what seemed to click. Ultimately it was challenging myself, being honest and open with those around me, and learning mindfulness that truly brought me into the light. I hope my story can provide some ray of hope for all of you out there in the thick of it. It can be done. It’s not the end of the world to reinstate just know what your ultimate goals are and stick to them.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
Unbolded

Zoloft 100mg- 1 year

Effexor 150mg - 5 years

Ambien 10mg - 6 years

Adderall intermittently 10 years

6 week taper from Effexor

last dose March 2016 

6 month withdrawal period

briefly tried lexapro, wellbutrin, and cymbalta during that time

Completely prescription drug free October 2016

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Ty123: I beat Effexor and depression
  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome Ty!

 

Thanks for taking time to post and to share what worked for you.  I've moved your post to the introductions forum for now.

 

I want to emphasize a very responsible statement in your last paragraph:

On 2/5/2018 at 5:08 PM, Ty123 said:

Just because L-Tyrosine and Rhodiola Rosea have helped me doesn’t mean they will help everyone.

 

Please let us know how things go for you as you continue along the meds-free path.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you so much! This story has restored some hope for me. Today was a hard day in my withdrawal! Thank you so much!

currently taking Celexa 5mg daily 

Started in 2008 at 20mg

Taper: 

September 1st 2017 down to 15mg

October 1st 2017 down to 10mg

November 1st 2017 down to 5 mg

December 1st completely off 

REINSTATED at 5mg at the end of December 

 

 

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