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Josh

Josh: 1 month off sertraline - repeating words and earworms

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Josh

Hello, this is my first post and I’m really looking for some help

 

Here is my story, so for the past three years I have been on 50mg Sertraline/ Zoloft for Panic Attacks, Anxiety and Depression. I decided to come off of them from the beginning of this year and then had a delayed withdrawal symptoms three weeks from my last dose. I then reinstated on the same medication and for 2 weeks and 5 days experiences awful side effects even worse compared to the first time I went on it, the main cause for concern it making me have suicidal thoughts and feelings, which led me to CT with the advice of my doctor. From what I have found is that the medication may have exasperated my discontinuation symptoms.

 

For a month after I experienced discontinuation symtpoms including 

 

Acute anxiety and dread

Waking up anxious

Low mood

Depression

Feeling extreme weariness (the worst)

Nightmares 

Decreased appetite

Mild insomnia - waking up several times throughout the night and early morning wake ups 

Confusion

Brain fog - words and sentences seeming jumbled or muddled

Intrusive suicidal thoughts 

Suicidal feelings

Crying spells 

Mood swings

Irritibility

Racing thoughts 

Anhedonia

Poor concentration - unable to read or listen to music 

Mild memory loss

Derealisation / Depersonalisation 

Flu-symptoms 

Mild vertigo 

Tingling sensations

Smelling things that aren’t there

Diarrhoea 

Lack of labido 

Light sensitivity 

Eye floaters

 

5 weeks later and most of these are gone, I had a streak of 6 days where I felt fantastic, I felt like I could manage my anxiety and depression and I was just left with what I’m usually used to. However, I feel awful again, but I am unsure if this is a “relapse” to what my natural mental state is or if I’m still experiencing mild withdrawal. 

 

I noticed yesterday that I kept repeating a words that I was reading from signs I walked past, I have quite bad health anxiety and seeing as this is unrelated to anxiety and more OCD, it’s freaking me out thinking I might be developing it. But, when I read about OCD it doesn’t entirely relate to what I’m like, I’ve always been more anxious and depressed, I don’t perform rituals in my mind or physically. I do have worries about losing control and horrible instrusive  thoughts but I always assumed that it suited my anxiety rather than OCD.

 

I have had repetitive words happen to me a few times even while I was on the meds, but to a point that it didn’t concern me, probably a total of 5 days out of the three years. I also remember right at the beginning of my experiences with mental health that I did sometimes count things but could easily stop. But im unable to remember if this is when I started the sertraline or before. Now I’m off of them I’m unsure if this is a diagnosis that has been unnnoticed (as I did go onto AD fairly quickly) or if this is an effect of SSRI meds and the withdrawal? 

 

I also had about a 5 day bout when I recently reinstated my meds experiencing a compulsion to touch my nose over and over, however I resisted it to the point that it went quickly and figured that it was my brain confused coming off and on the medication and the effects on my nervous system, and that I had read somewhere that the end of someone’s nose also felt quite strange coming off medication and that it can be anxiety related.

 

I do feel that as a person my anxiety fixates on health problems and then acts them out in hypothetical situations, so I used to worry about schizophrenia so when my anxiety was bad I would imagine voices talking to me, even though I was not psychotic. I think the same thing happens with my current worry of OCD, that my brain is acting it out playing on my worries, rather than the typical sense of OCD using those thoughts to neutralise worries. If that makes sense. 

 

Im also beginning to experience Earworms, parts of songs annoyingly repeating in my head.

 

Has as anyone got some incite to how I’m feeling or if they have had similar experiences?

Is it because of the medication, the discontinuation, or should I have something to worry about in terms of OCD? 

And most importantly, can people experience mild symptoms of OCD but mainly have anxiety? I.e can anxiety borrow tendencies from OCD without it being OCD. 

 

I feel a lot better without all the nasty discontinuation symptoms, but now I just feel awfully trapped between coming off medication or having to one day maybe reinstate because I’d be unable to deal with what I’m like off of them and this mental discomfort. All the stories on here scare the life out of me, however both options appear terrifying-  being off medication and going back on them. I don’t ever want to experience being suicidal again, but I don’t want to be crippled with anxiety and new symptoms that seem scary to manage.

 

So confusing. Hopefully I’ve been as informative and concise as possible. 

 

Would love to hear from you all! 

 

 

 

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Songbird

Hi Josh, welcome to SA!

 

It would be helpful if you could create a signature with your med history, listing drugs, doses and dates (starting and stopping).  You can edit your signature under your Account Settings. 

 

See this topic for more info: Please put your withdrawal history in your signature

 

All the symptoms you've listed can be from SSRI withdrawal, including the earworms.  The OCD-like thoughts can also be from withdrawal, it doesn't necessarily mean you now have OCD.  If you usually have health anxiety, it could be exacerbated by withdrawal.  The six days of feeling good are what we call a "window" and the relapse to feeling rotten we call a "wave". 

 

Here is some more info about windows and waves:  The windows and waves pattern of stabilization

 

It may be that after three weeks off sertraline, your system had become very sensitive and your reinstatement dose may have been too high for it to handle.  If your withdrawal symptoms become more severe and hard to bear, there's an option to try reinstating at a very low dose which might be better tolerated.  If you continue feeling a lot better, then it's probably better to stay off.

 

Please keep us updated with how you are feeling - what symptoms you are experiencing.  You can post your updates and questions here in your intro topic.

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Josh

Thank you for your help! Had a bit of a cry reading it 

 

It is incredibly relieving hearing that these OCD like symptoms can be related to withdrawal, and that they could pass. however I do have my doubts as to whether I have been experiencing these mildly while on medication before I experienced withdrawals. I have had sexual intrusive thoughts while on medication but in a controllable way - but just assumed it was more anxiety. 

 

Im experiencing more somatic OCD / anxiety today, I have this awful repetitive image of my finger nail scraping against the inner septum cartilage of my nose, causing a real physical discomfort - the same sensation as people get when fingernails scrape against a chalkboard, but over and over. Again I did experience this briefly while on meds but very controlled. 

 

Aswell, this wave is only displaying these symptoms of ocd and anxiety, which makes me doubt it’s legitimacy as wave or what I’m like off of medication. Is this normal to have a lessened symptoms in a wave? 

 

I really just hope this goes away I prefer having anxiety and depression to this uncomfortable feeling. 

 

Any more insight that this could be down to my medication and withdrawals! I really don’t want to believe this. 

 

 

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Songbird

If you didn't have these symptoms before you started meds, then it's highly likely they are related to the med.

 

Have a look in this topic for more information and links to other useful topics: non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

I find the best tool for dealing with upsetting thoughts is mindfulness.  You are the observer in your mind and just watch what is going on - kind of like you're a scientist studying some phenomenon.  The idea is that the observer is objective and does not get involved in the drama or pass any judgment on it.  Your goal is not to try to stop the thoughts from happening, but just let them happen and accept them instead of getting upset by them.  When a thought comes, you stand back in your mind and observe it, like the way you would watch a train going past, or a cloud floating by - accepting the occurrence of the thought, but not giving it any importance.  It is only a thought, after all.  This technique can be used for worries, anxious thoughts, intrusive thoughts, repetitive thoughts, and so on.  You could even describe to yourself what is going on as if you are a neutral observer, like a scientist (maybe pretend you're David Attenborough narrating a documentary).

 

I named the negative voice in my mind the "Doomcloud", and by giving it a name it helped me to feel that this negative voice was not "me".  It's just the mind going in circles ruminating on negative thoughts.  When the Doomcloud started doing its thing, I could just observe it happening and say to myself "oh, there goes the Doomcloud again".  This helped immensely to step back from all the negative thoughts and emotions, to be less involved in them, and by getting some distance from them, they felt less intense and not nearly as upsetting or frightening.  Other people come up with their own names for this voice ("Chatterbox", "monkey mind," "demon", or whatever), so you could try making up your own name to help with the mindfulness.

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Josh

Thank you that’s been really helpful. I’m going to try and distance myself from my

thoughts. 

 

I really just hope his doesn’t stick. I’m trying to comfort myself and find people’s stories like mine but I feel like my brain is adopting all the symptoms that they experience as my own 

 

Feeling obsessive compulsive is extremely  unnerving, wow 

 

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Josh

So I have pretty much deduced that what I am experiencing are a variety of intrusive thoughts and images, or "obsessions". My anxiety has definitely been imitating OCD symptoms playing on my health anxiety.

 

This is the only withdrawal symptom that I have left, besides early morning wake ups accompanied with racing thoughts and mild occassional depression and anxiety. Is this normal to experience a heightened amount of intrusive thoughts as withdrawal? and especially as a symptom on its own? Or, is this my natural state of mind?

 

I had a solid week of thinking of reinstating, I even have the prozac 20mg next to my bed. But there is something that is telling me that even if this is what I am like that with therapy and meditation I will be able to reduce my intrusive thoughts and get better without medication

 

If anyone could help that would be fantastic, thanks.

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SkyBlue

I'm not sure I could offer much better advice than Songbird's excellent recommendations above. You said that those ideas were helpful -- have you been able to keep practicing them at all? 

 

I would say yes, intrusive thoughts can definitely be part of withdrawal. It's doubtful that it's your natural state of mind. 

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Josh

Yeah I’ve felt that distancing myself from them definitely helps especially when I give them no reaction and let them do what they want. However I’m just finding that the moments of me being distracted from them are so short and I’m reminded of them so frequently that I just hope that they get easier to manage and the moments of distraction get longer 

 

The suicidal obsessional thoughts have come back, which I find he hardest to deal with as it taps into a big fear of mine. And I find it hard to keep reminding myself that I’m not suicidal that it’s just an obsession 

 

hopefully they do get easier to manage I have noticed an improvement, I just don’t want to have to start Prozac 20mg and find a way of dealing with this properly. 

 

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SkyBlue
7 hours ago, Josh said:

hopefully they do get easier to manage I have noticed an improvement, I just don’t want to have to start Prozac 20mg and find a way of dealing with this properly. 

 

An improvement is good. Take a look around the site for non-drug ways of coping with symptoms, starting with the Symptoms and Self-Care area and especially this thread: 

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/1112-non-drug-techniques-to-cope-with-emotional-symptoms/

 

We won't be advising you to start Prozac here. You mentioned 20mg Prozac--is it something you've taken before? 

 

 

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Josh

No it’s not something I’ve taken before. However my doctor said that it would help with the obsessive thought patterns and that it was less aggressive than the Sertraline to start it off. I don’t want to start it I’m really scared of antidepressants however I don’t feel completely fantastic off of them, but it has only been a month and a half 

 

Ill have a look at other coping methods! Thank you so much 

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Daisygirlsk
On 5/25/2018 at 12:47 AM, Josh said:

No it’s not something I’ve taken before. However my doctor said that it would help with the obsessive thought patterns and that it was less aggressive than the Sertraline to start it off. I don’t want to start it I’m really scared of antidepressants however I don’t feel completely fantastic off of them, but it has only been a month and a half 

 

Ill have a look at other coping methods! Thank you so much 

Your symptoms sound a lot like mine.

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