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CassidyC

Cassidy: 8 years of antidepressants

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CassidyC

Hi, I'm Cassidy and I've been prescribed more psychoactive drugs than I can remember over the past 8 years since I was 18. Mind you I'm only diagnosed with depression and social anxiety, but I'd have to say I've been on close to 20 different medications since. After finding this website and reading about withdrawal I feel like these past 8 years make so much more sense now. It seems as though I must've been in perpetual withdrawal from all of the drugs I've been on I don't even know where to start. I read about tapering, but none of my doctors ever suggested anything near the recommendations of slow tapering outlined here on this site. They would taper me off meds in weeks and start new ones immediately after. I'm talking about Prozac, lexapro, seroquel, wellbutrin, abilify, zoloft, brintellix, risperdal, buspar, klonopin, propranolol, gabapentin, lamictal, adderall and I'm not kidding I've been on all of those and I think I'm forgetting some. This is absolutely unconscionable given what I'm reading about these drugs. Is it really any wonder at all that I survived 3 suicide attempts over the years? Mind you, I never had any suicidal ideation or tendencies prior to starting any medications. Oh, and what was the solution for being hospitalized for attempted suicide you ask? MORE MEDS! I even told my doctors that I thought the medications were causing these suicidal thoughts and not one of them I've seen ever entertained the idea that I might be right. I really do feel such a weight has been lifted now that I see I'm not alone. 

I've tried getting off of my medications 3 or 4 times with two periods reaching a length of about a year or so. The first time I made it a year of being off of all psychoactive drugs at about 10 months in I experienced the most intense depression and anxiety I've ever experienced before, completely uncharacteristic of me. It was living hell and I was paranoid with fear. At the time I had no idea it was withdrawal because I had no idea withdrawal could last such a long time and come out of nowhere. I thought there was something wrong with me so I got back on meds again for a couple years before quitting again for another year. During this second year long stretch of being off my meds my withdrawal came back at about 10 months again, albeit it wasn't as bad this time but still enough to force me back onto meds. It was at this time in 2014 that I was prescribed prozac for obsessive intrusive thoughts which I thought were signs of OCD. I was put all the way up to 60mg and it pretty much completely numbed me. This is when I attempted suicide 3 times within 6 months (hospitalized each time) and was the single most difficult time of my life. Luckily, and I mean by the grace of God, I survived. Since August 2014 I haven't been suicidal and Since June 2015 I've been on Wellbutrin 150mg,  Lexapro 20mg, and Adderall XR 25mg (since late 2016). For personal reasons I decided to quit wellbutrin about 6 months ago and my PCP told me I could quit cold turkey with no problems. Then just recently I decided to quit Lexapro/ Adderall and was tapered off both in 6 weeks. Now I'm starting to feel withdrawal and that lead me to search for the effects of lexapro withdrawal, and boy am I surprised.

 

Side note, I feel I should say that from 2013-2018 I suffered from alcohol addiction (Having never drank prior to 2013, and having been sober since January 2018). However, all throughout my struggle I was in group therapy, individual therapy with a psychologist, and was seeing a psychiatrist as well. They were all very aware of my addiction, yet my psychiatrist was still prescribing me many medications during this time (including klonopin which is also addictive), most of which interact badly with alcohol. While I do realize alcohol exacerbates depression and I accept responsibility for my drinking, I don't think my psychiatrist should have in good conscious been prescribing me these medications.

 

I do have some big questions now which I signed up here in hopes of finding answers to.
What in the world am I supposed to do now? I didn't properly taper off of any of these drugs. From what I've read here I can't even imagine what my brain and body must be going through trying to repair itself. Should I get back on wellbutrin and lexapro and do a proper taper? Or should I just wait out the withdrawal since I've already been off of wellbutrin for 6 months and lexapro for 6 weeks? Am I just **** out of luck with all those other medications too?

As for the specific withdrawal effects I'm feeling, I feel lethargic during the day sometimes taking naps, unable to fall asleep some nights but then sleeping 12+ hours a day sometimes. I feel very much emotionally unstable, I do think it comes in waves and windows but they're hard to tell and the waves have been getting worse. When I'm in a wave I feel very anxious and depressed. The anxiety is a specific type, one of fear and mistrust (not actually something I've felt in a long time). Also I get agitated very easily, and recently I had an outburst of rage like I've never felt before directed at my dad which didn't last very long and left me feeling deeply ashamed and depressed shortly afterward and into the next few days. Mind you I am a very patient person and I don't even get angry when I'm drunk, so this for me was deeply unsettling. I've also been having digestive problems. All of this has been really difficult for me because I have been doing quite good for myself for the past 2 years, I finally managed to save up money to go to college but I had to take this semester off because I just can't cope with anything really. I think the hardest part is that I can't predict how I'm going to feel from day to day, I just don't know what to expect.

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Altostrata

Welcome, Cassidy.

 

Very sorry to hear you've been caught up in the drug merry-go-round for so long from such a young age.

 

On 10/6/2018 at 12:12 AM, CassidyC said:

Then just recently I decided to quit Lexapro/ Adderall and was tapered off both in 6 weeks. Now I'm starting to feel withdrawal and that lead me to search for the effects of lexapro withdrawal, and boy am I surprised.

 

When was the last time you took these drugs? What were the last dosages? How is your sleep?

 

To help us out, follow these instructions Please put your drug and withdrawal history in your signature You only have to cover the last couple of years.

 

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CassidyC

Since I first posted this thread I have been doing more thinking into my history and I remember that I was being prescribed all kinds of different stimulants for ADHD starting in 3rd grade (2000) and lasted until 2008. Some of the drugs I remember from this time were Adderall, Strattera, Ritalin, & Vyvanse. I never liked any of them and I was forced to take them. Part of the reason I was on so many different drugs was because I kept telling my parents I didn't like any of them. This just lead the doctors to keep trying different ones. I feel like I was a guinea pig now that I think about it. Remembering back my depression started in 4th and 5th grade and progressively got worse. I'm beginning to wonder how my life would've turned out had I never gotten on any medications to begin with. I may have never needed anti-depressants had I never been prescribed stimulants. 

 

As per your questions, the last time I took Lexapro & Adderall was on Sept 5th, and Wellbutrin sometime around April 2018.

My sleep is outrageous, I've been sleeping 12+ hours and 2 nights ago I slept 17 hours. It's so hard to get up and to top that off I just have no motivation to do anything. I recognized that I have periods where nothing can make me happy, and I recognize it's not for any reason, it's weird. Thankfully though I'm able to see that it's because of the drugs and not something inherently wrong with me and that makes it a bit easier to cope with. Luckily I haven't had any nausea or brain zaps which I was afraid of coming off of lexapro. I decided that I'm going to start journaling so I can see if I can find any patterns in my mood.

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AbbyElfie

Hey @CassidyC, just wanted to say hello and I'm sorry you're going through this. Our stories are similar, 8 years of all sorts of meds since age 18. 2014 was one of the roughest years too, suicide attempts, addiction, hospitalizations.

I was originally put on meds for severe ocd/obsessional fears, but now I wonder how much of the crazy ill person was me and how much was all the drugging. I guess we'll never know now, but I have found myself having to reevaluate everything I thought to be true, about myself, the Healthcare system, mental illness, identity. I've been weaning for just over 1.5 years and I know big changes are happening, for better or worse. Finding out who you are after being medicated your entire adult life is terrifying. But you aren't alone, I'm glad you found this place. 

Be sure to complete the signature details alto asked for, as this can help the admins advise you what to do and how things are progressing. The information here is invaluable. 

At 28 I feel about 50, but I try to remember that youth can be an advantage in withdrawal too. More time to recover. Keep us updated and take care x

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CassidyC

@AbbyElfie Thanks for the support, it really helps to know there's people out there who can understand what I'm going through, for the longest time I felt alone in this struggle.

On another note, I have some questions for anyone who can answer. 

Is the withdrawal that's talked about on this site specific to anti-depressants? Some of the medications I've taken in the past were used to treat depression & anxiety but weren't necessarily anti-depressants. Such as Klonopin (benzodiazepine), Gabapentin (GABA Analogue), Buspar (Anxiolytic), Abilify (Anti-psychotic), Adderall (Stimulant)

 

Of particular interest, does Adderall need to be tapered slowly, and does it have prolonged withdrawal symptoms?

I am considering reinstating Adderall 5mg twice daily because it's not an anti-depressant and it helps keep me awake and focused. I simply can't maintain any sort of stability when I'm sleeping 12+ hours a day. I'm hoping maybe the Adderall can help me power through the withdrawal from Lexapro & Wellbutrin until I can eventually taper off of it when I'm in a more stable place in my life. 

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AbbyElfie

I believe this site has many members dealing with withdrawal issues from those drugs too, and it's not necessarily ssri specific. But I'll wait for admin to give you the right info in that regard, and what needs to be tapered first. 

I was on antipsychs too as well as some older drugs, there's a variety of experiences with those on here. Glad you don't feel so alone and hope you find some balance soon. I know how tough it is not to know how you're going to feel each day. 

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Altostrata

Cassidy, it's a good thing you're sleeping so well. It could be the way your nervous system is fixing itself.

 

Since you've been on drugs for so long, you probably don't know what your normal sleep pattern is. If I were you, I'd cope as best as possible for the next few months, see if your sleep pattern gradually changes to maybe 8-10 hours a night. I'd avoid taking an amphetamine analog to get right, wouldn't you rather not be dependent on a drug?

 

Emotional anesthesia is a common after-effect of psychiatric drugs. Like other post-acute withdrawal symptoms, it will go away very gradually. Do what you can to keep busy and enjoy life to the extent you can enjoy it. See Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Many people do better with fish oil and magnesium supplements, see http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/
http://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/15483-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

 

A lot of people find them helpful. Try a little bit of one at a time to see how it affects you.

 

On 10/9/2018 at 8:01 PM, CassidyC said:

I never liked any of them and I was forced to take them. Part of the reason I was on so many different drugs was because I kept telling my parents I didn't like any of them. This just lead the doctors to keep trying different ones.

 

Do you think your family situation might have contributed to your feeling "depressed" as a child?

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CassidyC

@Altostrata I thought that might be the case, the sleeping thing, but I've actually always overslept. Before I was prescribed Adderall I would sleep 10-12 hours a night and take 2-3 hour naps during the day if I slept less than that at night. It's hard to tell if that's just my default state or if any of the medications I've taken in the past contributed to it.

As for not being dependent on any drugs, absolutely I would rather not feel the need to depend on it. However, I'm in college right now and I'm unemployed and really need to get a job to pay for my medical bills and tuition. I don't know if I can realistically manage doing the things I need to be doing without Adderall. I've been thinking a lot about it lately and I even considered getting back on Lexapro & Wellbutrin, but I figured if I just took a low dose of Adderall I wouldn't need to.

As for my family situation and me being depressed as a child, yes it most certainly contributed. Both of my parents are alcoholics, I have a severely mentally disabled brother, my other brother died from heroin addiction two years ago and I watched his addiction grow since I was 10, my sister was healthy but moved out as soon as she could and I hardly got to see her growing up. Worst of all I was sexually abused by my cousin for 13 years from 6 to 19. So honestly, I really don't know how much of all this is from my history or from my medications, but I do truly believe that I could've been better off with just therapy rather than anti-depressants. I never got a chance to find that out though because I started therapy and medication at the same time when I was 18.

 

*Side note, I just realized I forgot to mention I was also diagnosed with PTSD from the sexual abuse I suffered.

 

The most frustrating thing for me is, I've been in therapy for 8 years now and I was finally feeling like I had put my depression and anxiety behind me. I've felt the best I'd ever felt this year and partially because of that, I decided to come off of my medications and sober up from alcohol. I finally felt confident in who I am and what I wanted to do with my life and I was just on the cusp of attaining it. Now with this withdrawal I've spiraled completely out of control. I really can not afford to let everything I've worked so hard for just crumble in front of me like this.

 

As for the supplements I'll try those and see if it helps.

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