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Pedro: Long road home


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Hi; I’ve been off benzos and antidepressants for 10 years now, and still have symptoms. It’s a long story. In summary I was prescribed Effexor, Ativan, Xanax, Wellbutrin for stress and anxiety over a period of about a year. Did an Ashton Valium taper at one point after cold turkeying benzos. Nightmare. I remember horrible reactions to Effexor dosage increases. After I was off everything it took 4 years for all withdrawal symptoms to leave. Then in 2015 the syndrome returned after a period of high stress and other factors.

I always thought the benzos were responsible for my protracted illness, now I’m wondering if the antidepressants also played a role.

This ‘treatment’ from a psychiatrist 10 years ago damaged my brain. I’m presently functional but still suffer from severe anxiety and depression type symptoms, as well as some physical stuff. Thought I’d join and compare notes.

Effexor, Ativan, Xanax, Buspar, Wellbutrin, Valium 2006 - 2008. 

- Took 4 years to feel recovered. 

- Withdrawal syndrome returned in 2015. 

- 10 years free from all meds.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Pedro: Long road home

The symptoms which I am still left with, that I never experienced before the drugs:

-Anxiety, agitation.

-Disturbing intrusive thoughts.

-Intrusive memories.

-Moderate depression.

-Cold/numb/painful feet and toes.

-Tight throat, clicking when swallowing.

- Popping in ears.

- Numb, tingling patches.

- Unable to cope with stressful situations.


It has improved a lot since it came back in 2015, initially it was almost as bad as a it was in the beginning.


Mindfulness and meditation, as well as distraction, have been a big help.


I’ll be 10 years off all drugs on Feb.12th. 


I’m wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an element of ptsd involved; I sometimes have flashbacks to the early days of withdrawal, the hallucinations etc. Hopefully things will keep improving over time.

Effexor, Ativan, Xanax, Buspar, Wellbutrin, Valium 2006 - 2008. 

- Took 4 years to feel recovered. 

- Withdrawal syndrome returned in 2015. 

- 10 years free from all meds.

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  • Moderator

Hello, Pedro, and welcome to SA.  I am sorry you are having these difficulties.  I'm glad you've seen some improvement since 2015.


To give members the best information, we ask them to summarize their medication history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly?
  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years. 
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago) 
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016. 
  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses. 
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
  • Link to Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.
Your symptoms are known and acknowledged as common in withdrawal from SSRI medications and other neuro-psycho-active substances. Please read:


When we take medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  Some people have found the information and explanations at these links helpful:
Many members dealing with withdrawal have benefitted from the techniques described in these links.  The first is helpful for anxiety.
We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 


Please research all supplements first and only add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems. 


This is your introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community. 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 I am glad that you found us.

Gridley Introduction


Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.


Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium  

End 2021  year 1 of taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of taper at 2.75mg 

Current dose as of Sept. 22, 2023 1.4mg

Taper is 92% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Taper is 87% complete.  


Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg

I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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Wow Pedro congratulations on being 10yrs drug free.

And you are still reporting improvements even at 10years.

Gee that makes my 7 years drug free look like early days! 


Thought for the day: Lets stand up, and let’s speak out , together. G Olsen

We have until the 14th. Feb 2018. 

URGENT REQUEST Please consider submitting  for the petition on Prescribed Drug Dependence and Withdrawal currently awaiting its third consideration at the Scottish Parliament. You don't even have to be from Scotland. By clicking on the link below you can read some of the previous submissions but be warned many of them are quite harrowing.


Please tell them about your problems taking and withdrawing from antidepressants and/or benzos.

Send by email to petitions@parliament.scot and quote PE01651 in the subject heading. Keep to a maximum of 3 sides of A4 and you can't name for legal reasons any doctor you have consulted. Tell them if you wish to remain anonymous. We need the numbers to help convince the committee members we are not isolated cases. You have until mid February. Thank you

Recovering paxil addict

None of the published articles shed light on what ssri's ... actually do or what their hazards might be. Healy 2013. 

This is so true, with anything you get on these drugs, dependance, tapering, withdrawal symptoms, side effects, just silent. And if there is something mentioned then their is a serious disconnect between what is said and reality! 

  "Every time I read of a multi-person shooting, I always presume that person had just started a SSRI or had just stopped."  Dr Mosher. Me too! 

Over two decades later, the number of antidepressant prescriptions a year is slightly more than the number of people in the Western world. Most (nine out of 10) prescriptions are for patients who faced difficulties on stopping, equating to about a tenth of the population. These patients are often advised to continue treatment because their difficulties indicate they need ongoing treatment, just as a person with diabetes needs insulin. Healy 2015

I believe the ssri era will soon stand as one of the most shameful in the history of medicine. Healy 2015

Let people help people ... in a natural, kind, non-addictive (and non-big pharma) way. J Broadley 2017



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My gosh! So heartbreaken to hear your long struggling ! 

Hope 10 yr is all you have to fight for full recover!

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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On 2018-02-07 at 1:03 PM, nz11 said:

Wow Pedro congratulations on being 10yrs drug free.

And you are still reporting improvements even at 10years.

Gee that makes my 7 years drug free look like early days! 


Hi, thanks. 10 years free tomorrow.  Yes, I’m seeing slow improvements. Had a partial window yesterday. I’m hoping for complete recovery; I felt recovered, with very few symptoms, from 2012 to 2015, so I know it’s possible. 

Effexor, Ativan, Xanax, Buspar, Wellbutrin, Valium 2006 - 2008. 

- Took 4 years to feel recovered. 

- Withdrawal syndrome returned in 2015. 

- 10 years free from all meds.

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On 2/7/2018 at 5:15 AM, Pedro said:

Cold/numb/painful feet and toes.

This is a symptom that I often have. It's hard to ignore!

I'm sorry to hear you are still having some WD symptoms.

Wishing you continued improvement!

Dalalea's Introduction

Off All SSRI Medications: Effexor 2010 one month
Sertraline 50 mg. but only took 25 mg. daily because of dizziness. 2010 to July 2017

Tapered over 2 months beginning the 1st of June 2017 -- Off Sertraline by July 30, 2017

Current Medication: Losartan (blood pressure), Albuterol (for asthma- only as needed)
Current Symptoms: tinnitus, hearing loss in one ear, allergies

My Plan: Prayer, Scripture, Walk, Yoga, Encourage Others, Healthy Eating
Generic SSRI Withdrawal Symptom and Plan Checklists and Graph.xlsx

Current Supplements: Magnesium Threonate, Fish Oil, probiotic, B-12, C, D-3

Current Essential Oils: Frankincense, Bergamot, Orange, Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, Clove
Current Essential Oil Blends: Brain Power, Clarity, Stress Away

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  • 2 weeks later...

Is there anyone else out there who still has symptoms at 10 years out? I felt recovered for 3 years, then a wave started in late 2015 that I’m still in. I know this happens in the benzo community, but is rare to have it happen this far out. I was poly drugged and had severe prolonged symptoms initially. 

Effexor, Ativan, Xanax, Buspar, Wellbutrin, Valium 2006 - 2008. 

- Took 4 years to feel recovered. 

- Withdrawal syndrome returned in 2015. 

- 10 years free from all meds.

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