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HopeR

HopeR: Cold turkey survival

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HopeR

I have two experiences of taking and stopping antidepressants. 

 

The first time was in 2003. I was in graduate school, we had just moved into a new house that needed lots of work, we had a 3 year old, and my best friend was given 5 months to a year to live. It was a horrible time in my life. I knew that I had to get through this time without completely shutting down. I went to my doctor and told her I needed anything that would help. She set me up for counseling twice a week and a prescription for Prozac 10 mg, increasing to 20 mg. The Prozac was a miracle for me.  I took it for 1 year and had little issues. I did have some strange side effects like greater risk taking (spontaneously bought a new car without consulting my spouse). The car was the biggest thing. I had sexual side effects that are considered normal. When the worst of it was over I knew I didn't need it anymore. I told my MD and we made a tapering plan that I followed. There were some possible issues that I realize, looking back. More intense feelings of anger, disappointment, and sadness. But it was mixed with a difficult time in life so I couldn't really see the possible symptoms. 

 

Fast forward 15 years. I hit another part of my life that I felt I could benefit from an antianxiety or antidepressant. After being married for 19 years and having three kids my wife was diagnosed with bipolar disorder II. She had been treated for depression for several years but the meds and antidepressants never seemed to be a good fit. So my life was consistently up and down for years. At this time though, I was experience some early menopause symptoms (perimenopause) and my own emotions were on a roller coaster. Being our family's stability anchor I knew that I needed help to get through this. I found myself yelling at my kids for very small issues then apologizing over and over. That was not typically me. Since I had a good experience with Prozac I talked to my MD about it. She agreed but prescribed me Celexa (citalopram) 10 mg with increasing to 20 mg over time. At first she told me to take it prior to my cycle 5 days before, but my cycles became so irregular that was not possible. I ended up taking it daily for 5 years. 

 

Then I did something really stupid. I was not taking it regularly (on 3 days off 4) over and over due to a very hectic travel schedule for work. After one of my week long work trips in Nov 2017 I discovered that I had not taken it in 10+ days and I decided that I didn't need it anymore....so I stopped, cold turkey. 

 

For about 4 weeks I was fine...then on a long flight home from another trip, I broke down. I started crying about all the issues in my life, my kids life, life in general. I am mostly a positive and strong person but I could only see the futility in things. The cycle of climbing a hill only for gravity to pull us down. The pointlessness of all our real efforts. I came home feeling dead inside. I was an emotional zombie. 

 

After a couple of days I decided to lay this all out to my wife. She was surprised but decided that I was exhausted emotionally and physically and needed a rest. She took over most of the responsibilities with the house and kids that I had. She let me rest. But rest did not make it better. 

 

She checks in often and ask me how my day was going, my text answers are something like, dead inside, vacant, empty, I miss myself, I feel nothing, I have no desire to do anything, I don't care about anything, etc.Outwardly though, I am tense, easily angered, overwhelmed, discontent, agitated, nervous, and obsessive about stupid stuff, etc. I have never suffered from depression and my life was better than it has ever been, but it often seemed like depression. That's when I started looking for answers. That's when I found SA. Everything started making sense. The pains I have, the insomnia, the depression, all of it. 

 

It's been 3 1/2 months and I don't think that taking them again and tapering down is going to be a better option for me. I've been going through the HELL OF IT and I don't want to do it again for any reason. I have to get through this. I have to get better.

 

I have not gone back to my doctor to tell her this story. I don't know what it would matter but to prove how stupid I was. Afterall, she DID tell me that I would need to taper and I didn't. I justified it thinking inconsistency WAS tapering...it is NOT.

 

Now what? Everyday I feel miserable. Every.day. But it's inconsistent. Sometimes it lifts for a while and doesn't come back as severe. I call that progress. I'm hanging on to that. I regret not tapering but I'm in too deep at this point and I will suffer it out as long as I am able. Having a BP wife has helped because REALLY understands.

 

Thanks for the read. I'm so glad I found this community. I'm in here somewhere trapped in the neurochemical eclipse and you probably are too. Stay strong.

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Gridley

Hello, HopeR, and welcome to SA.

 

I am sorry you are having these withdrawal difficulties.  Before we can help or advise you we need to have a bit more information.

 

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.
At Surviving Antidepressants, it is recommended that a person taper by no more than 10% of their current dose with at least a four week hold in-between decreases.  The 10% taper recommendation is a harm reduction approach to going off psychiatric drugs.  Some people may have to taper at a more conservative rate as they are sensitive to even the smallest drops.
Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

These links on withdrawal will help you understand what you are going through:

 

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:
 
Please be aware that sometime withdrawal symptoms don't appear immediately after a too-fast taper.

 

It is understandable that you want to be drug-free as soon as possible.  I do want to present an option should the withdrawal become too difficult to bear.  I urge not to dismiss this suggestion out of hand.  Nor should feeling stupid telling this to your doctor be a factor.  You made a mistake.  All of us on the forum have.  The important thing is healing with as little discomfort as possible.
 
Cold turkey can produce some harsh symptoms that can last quite some time. At this time, reinstatement of a very small dose of the original drug is the only known way to help alleviate withdrawal syndrome.  The only other alternative is to try and wait out the symptoms and manage as best you can until your central nervous system returns to homeostasis.  Unfortunately no one can give you an exact timeline as to when you will start feeling better and while some do recover relatively easily, for others it can take many months or longer.  
 
Reinstatement isn't a guarantee of diminished symptoms for everyone but it's the best tactic available.  You're only two weeks outside  the time period where reinstatement predictably works, up to 3 months after last dose.  It is best to reinstate as soon as possible after withdrawal symptoms occur. We usually suggest a much smaller reinstatement dose than your last dose.  Then, once you've stabilized on that dosage, you can begin a 10% per month taper down to zero.   
 
It is suggested that when a person tapered and the last dose was 1-3 months ago, go back to a very low dose, maybe 2mg-5mg to start with, increase after a week if it helped but isn't enough.   Try a very small dose (in case of hypersensitivity), such as 2mg.  If that helps but isn't enough, increase. If it doesn't help or makes symptoms worse, stop immediately.  Ultimately the decision is yours, but thought I should bring this to your attention so that you can make the best decision regarding your health and well-being.  
 
Please read the first few post of this topic on reinstatement.:
 
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.  Began taper using Brassmonkey slide 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  

Current from Oct. 21, 2020 at 0.025mg

Taper is 99.875% complete.

 

Lorazepam 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, resumed a few months later. CT 2000.  1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept, 2016 increased to 0.5 X 3 in split dose. Sept. 2019 increased to 0.625 X 3 after crossover to new brand

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 15mg.  Aug 2016, discovered SA, updosed to 25mg and holding.  Taper is 66% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, 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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coldturkmama

I find it interesting that your wife had depression and when antidepressants didn’t work so well she was diagnosed with bipolar (which is what happens to so many people on the drug merry go round)...

im really sorry you are suffering so. 

I cold turkeyed after 14-15 years use and it’s been hell on earth, so I understand.


Paxil 20mg from 1998-2011 

Paxil 40mg from 2011-2012 while experiencing poopout

October 2013 quit cold turkey

Oct-mid Nov 2013 great window

Late November WD nightmare 

Windows and waves pattern 

Now: 28 months cold turkey...doing decent learning to deal with the windows/waves pattern fighting it every step of the way. 

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myndfull

HopeR -- You're feeling withdrawal. It's not you, it's the drug wanting more of itself. That's one of the first things you need to understand. Knowing that is a way to objectify your pain and suffering.

 

Read carefully the wealth of information here. The mods are smart and have a great deal of wisdom to share. 

 

You WILL get better.

 

My best,

 

Myndfull


 

I had tried and failed to stop Paxil several times (though never using a long, slow taper) and thought Celexa might be easier, so I shifted to Celexa in 2012. In August of 2014 I began a serious tapered withdrawal from Celexa (20 mg.), making monthly drops, mostly 10% of the last dose, sometimes more, sometimes less.  In July of 2016 I took an early retirement at 59 in large part because of my intense withdrawal  symptoms.

 

Three years and eight months after beginning my taper, I stopped taking Celexa on 5/12/18.

 

I am currently in recovery and I am very slowly getting better. I still have waves and some are quite bad. But overall the trend is toward healing.

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Rosetta

 

Hi Hope,

 

Welcome.  I'm sorry you are suffering so.  I have been there.  It is a good sign that you are having a lift of your symptoms sometimes.  Hopefully, you are all ready on your way.

 

You have children at home?  I have one, too.  She's 6.  When I found SA my brain was so foggy it took me a very long time to understand all the theories and recommendations.  I didn't join.  I simply tried to read, and my husband read here, too.  Because I didn't join, I didn't get links sent to me by Moderators.  I'm glad you have a supportive wife!  Maybe your wife will (or has) read the materials here and can help you get a clear picture?  My husband's help has been very important to my recovery.

 

Please consider that telling your doctor what you are experiencing will probably result in his/her recommendation that you reinstate a higher dose than SA considers safe and doing so can have serious consequences.  Even worse a lot of doctors tell patients to try a different drug.  That is possibly more dangerous.  

 

There are so many topics here at SA you can find someone's experience with almost anything.  Very few doctors know about the risks for people in WD.  They should because it happens with WD from alcohol addiction.  It's called PAWS.  Please consider looking at the information about "kindling" on this site.  Now that we are in withdrawal we are ultra sensitive to everything, even alcohol and the novocaine at the dentist's office, and we have to be prepared to consider medical advice in light of that.  Most doctors won't even consider that WD from ADs lasts more than 8 weeks.  They pile the drugs on us hoping that something will help in complete ignorance that they are causing further destabilization of our central nervous systems.  (The dentist has a non-adrenaline numbing agent that is safer.)

 

Most of all I want you to know that you are not bipolar!! I could have been diagnosed with that based on my symptoms when I was very ill last year, but once my CNS regained some control those symptoms did not return.  I understand now how ADs can make patients appear as if they are bi-polar.  There are even studies about AD induced bi-polar illness.  There seems to be no end to the side effects of ADs as well as the symptoms of WD and the lack of knowledge thereof.

 

As for your feelings of being "stupid" you have joined the right club in order to have kindred souls.  We have all felt stupid for trusting our medical system in regard to these drugs.  That does not change the fact that it was our doctor's responsibility to keep us safe, not ours.  The responsibility falls on us because no one else accepts it.  We are not, however, stupid for trusting the "experts."  I tapered at the rate the pharmaceutical cies tell the doctors is safe.  It's not safe. 

 

It's doubtful you could have changed your outcome by following a doctor's advice.  I suspect that your doctor would have told you to taper as I did and you would be in the same boat you are in now.  That seems to be the experience of a lot of people on this board.  In fact, it's precisely why many people end up here in pain.  So, don't kick yourself for quitting the drug too fast.  In fact, some doctors tell people to alternate days taking the drug in order to quit!  That's insanity based on the theory of "kindling" here on the site.  Maybe you can be somewhat relieved that you have found the information here before your wife made a similar mistake.  

 

May I suggest that you and your wife abstain from alcohol and take the time to read about "kindling" before you go for any medical care again?  Because of these drugs we must avoid any additional psych drugs, anesthesia, alcohol, adrenaline containing numbing agents at the dentist, and all supplements except the two that are recommended on SA.  The use of these substances can cause WD symptoms even in people who are stable on their psych drugs. I was very lucky that I did not go back to the doctor when I was feeling my worst in Nov of 2017.  The doctor had added Xanax when I was suffering from the side effects of a high dose of Zoloft in 2016 and then Trazodone after my "taper" in early 2017.  Both of these caused everything to get worse for me.  I'm glad I didn't go back to the doctor again before I found this site.

 

Hoping for the best for you,

Rosetta

 

 


https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/16629-rosetta-ct-may-2011-too-fast-taper-feb-2017/?page=25

2001-2011 Celexa 10 mg raised to 40 mg then 60 mg over this time period

May 2011 OB Doctor's Cold switch Celexa 60 mg to 10 mg Zoloft sertraline (baby born)

2012-2016 - Doctors raised dose of Zoloft up to 150 mg

2016 - Xanax prescribed - as needed - 0.5 mg about every 3 days (bad reaction)

2016 - Stopped Xanax

Late 2016- Began (too fast) taper of Zoloft

Early 2017 - Trazodone prescribed for bedtime (doseage unknown)

Feb 2017 - Completed taper/stopped Trazodone

Drug free since Feb 2017

2017 - Unisom otc very rarely for sleep

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Gridley

If you decide to reinstate and need to see your doctor to get drugs, the tips in these two links on how to handle the visit are helpful:

 

How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?
 
What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?
 


Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Began taper using Brassmonkey slide 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  

Current from Oct. 21, 2020 at 0.025mg

Taper is 99.875% complete.

 

Lorazepam 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, resumed a few months later. CT 2000.  1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept, 2016 increased to 0.5 X 3 in split dose. Sept. 2019 increased to 0.625 X 3 after crossover to new brand

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 15mg.  Aug 2016, discovered SA, updosed to 25mg and holding.  Taper is 66% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, 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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HopeR

Wow! Thank you for the support. I have a lot more reading to do based on some of the replies to my last post. I do have kids Rosetta. I have an 18, 15, and 8 year old. Two days ago we sat down our teens and told them what I was going through and why. It was important for them to know that my mood changes have nothing to do with them and that we all need to be gentle with each other. They were very understanding and it opened lots of conversations which I think we will very productive. 

 

The support here is amazing and much needed. 

 

Peace, 

HopeR 

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