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Slartibartfastlost: 10 Years of ADs

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Slartibartfastlost

Hey everyone. 

 

10 years ago in 2008 I was diagnosed with depression and put on 40mg of Celexa while I was in the army.

 

6 years ago after I had left the army for 2 years I was diagnosed with depression again and was switched to 150mg of Zoloft.

 

I've tried tapering off of my medications in the past, but either the withdrawal symptoms were too strong or I assumed that I was having a relapse.

 

I started tapering March of this year (2018). I saw my doctor for support on dealing with the symptoms of tapering in September. They put me on 1g of folic acid and 500mg of tryptophan and had me alternate my doses when going to a new dose.

 

In november they had me alternating one day of 12.5mg of Zoloft and one day of nothing for a week before telling me to stop Zoloft.

 

As y'all can imagine it didn't go well and my head was spinning for a week. They had me go back to one day on one day off of 12.5mg, but by this point my body was consistently agitated in the mornings, I had become hypersensitive to caffeine and anxiety had crawled itself all over me.

 

After reading all of the information in the site I've decided to heed the advice here and assume that my doctor knows literally nothing about getting off of antidepressants.

 

I am currently taking 8.75mg of Zoloft dissolved in water, 2g of omega 3 and 800mg of ashwagandha. I will be tapering the Zoloft by 1.25mg each time as I've diluted the drug 2:1 and my oral syringe's smallest measurement is 2.5ml.

 

Since I stopped the tryptophan and folic acid and started taking the drug daily again my body seems to have stabilized and my physical symptoms abated, though the general anxiety is still present. I am currently seeing a therapist whom has given me a lot of tools to work with and help stabilize myself when my brain is trying to feed me the anxiety. During my tapering journey I have also experienced: dizziness, brain zaps, mood swings, flu like symptoms, depression, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and paranoia.

 

I hadn't ever thought that it could be the drugs but before I went into the army learning and reading were some of my favorite past times. After I left the army both of the activities were much more difficult for me to do. I had assumed it was a result of me getting older, but after my taper was down to 50-25mg suddenly I was able to think much more clearly. I started experiencing the full breadth of emotions instead of what I had thought was normal for the past ten years which turned out to be the equivalent of black and white tv. I'm really happy that I finally decided to push through the withdrawal symptoms and come back to reality (or at least what feels like it).

 

I want to thank everyone on the site for being essentially the only place to have actual information for getting of of these drugs. Without it I'd still be struggling while my doctor waits for me to "relapse" and tell me they told me so. My hope is that by adding my story here it may help someone going through a similar situation find this place and get the information they need.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added space and bolded relevant info

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Shep

Hi, Slartibartfastlost.

 

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants.

 

I like your analogy that being on these drugs is "equivalent of black and white tv." I also found that to be very true. 

 

On 12/30/2018 at 10:19 PM, Slartibartfastlost said:

During my tapering journey I have also experienced: dizziness, brain zaps, mood swings, flu like symptoms, depression, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and paranoia.

 

On 12/30/2018 at 10:19 PM, Slartibartfastlost said:

I am currently taking 8.75mg of Zoloft dissolved in water, 2g of omega 3 and 800mg of ashwagandha. I will be tapering the Zoloft by 1.25mg each time as I've diluted the drug 2:1 and my oral syringe's smallest measurement is 2.5ml.

 

You've come down from 150 mg Zoloft to 8.75 mg since March, which is a very quick taper. We recommend only 10% a month, so if you had tapered at a 10% rate, you would only be down to about 47 mg.

 

Going down by 1.25 mg from 8.75 mg is a 14.3% reduction. And since you listed some severe symptoms, slowing your taper down may help. You may even want to take a long hold and see if you can stabilize a bit more. 

 

A good reason to taper slower going forward is because some members find the lower doses more difficult to taper than the higher doses. This thread provides some insight as to why:

 

Why taper? SERT transporter occupancy studies show importance of gradual change in plasma concentration

 

You may want to get a syringe that will allow you to taper slower. Please see this thread for more information: 

 

Using an oral syringe and other tapering techniques

 

Antidepressants are notorious for delayed withdrawal, so the slower you go, the less likely you'll get hit with symptoms later on. A good thread that explores the journey is here:

 

Are We There Yet? How Long is Withdrawal Going to Take?

 

On 12/30/2018 at 10:19 PM, Slartibartfastlost said:

My hope is that by adding my story here it may help someone going through a similar situation find this place and get the information they need.

 

 

Yes, please do continue to post and let us know how you're doing.  Your story does make a difference in getting this information out there.

 

Please continue to use this thread to document your taper and to ask plenty of questions. 

 

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Slartibartfastlost

Thanks for the welcome Shep! I will have to do those things you mentioned and start taking things slower. It's really interesting how much harder it is to stabilize off of the smaller doses. Also thank you ChessieCat for prettying up my post, it looks way better now.

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Slartibartfastlost

Hey  @Shep I've got some smaller syringes coming in the mail to make the doses taper at a 10% rate. I noticed that you mentioned if I had done a regular taper I'd be at 47mg currently. Is it recommended to go back to that point if I'm having symptoms or just do a longer hold at the dose I'm currently at?

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ChessieCat

Hi Slartibartfastlost and welcome from me too,

 

Some members find that a supplement works for a while and then stops working or turns on them.  Please check out

ashwagandha-herb-for-anxiety-stress-and-toxic-overload

 

If your current symptoms are bearable it is better to stay at the dose you are on and hold until things stabilise.  This might be 3 months because you have reduced so quickly.  If they are unbearable then you could make a small updose.  You might find that increase by 1mg might help take the edge off your symptoms.  It is better to increase by a small amount that to risk taking too much.  The lower the dose you can stabilise on the less drug you will need to taper off.  The idea of updosing isn't to get rid of withdrawal symptoms completely but to bring them to a bearable level.  Please see Post #1 of this topic which relates to updosing as well:  About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

You may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms which you haven't connected with reducing your drug too quickly.

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

 

And other helpful links:

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Withdrawal Normal Description

 

Keep it Simple, Slow and Stable


The only supplements which SA recommends are Magnesium and Omega-3 Fish Oil.  Try a small amount one at a time to see how your react.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?


What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?

 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

On 8/31/2011 at 5:28 AM, Rhiannon said:

 

When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.

 

 

AND

 

On 12/4/2015 at 2:41 AM, apace41 said:

 

Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  

 

 

 

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Slartibartfastlost

Thank you very much for the advice @ChessieCat. I will say that my current symptoms are very much bearable so I'll just hold where I'm at currently. I'll also be sure to pick up some magnesium.

I think the most eye opening thing I've read so far is the "CTs and Fast Tapers" section of brassmonkey's Are We There Yet post. It made me feel much better about tapering slowly. EDIT: Also the post about how a small dose of ssri still increases serotonin in the brain exponentially helped really spell out why the smaller doses are the hardest to taper.

I also made sure to create a symptom spreadsheet to update daily and track my progress. It was really eye opening seeing all the possible symptoms on the list. 

I started practicing mindfulness much more consistently this week and I feel like it's been really helping me tolerate the anxiety as well as feeling healthier mentally overall.

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ChessieCat

You're very welcome.  I'm glad you found the information helpful.

 

49 minutes ago, Slartibartfastlost said:

Are We There Yet post. It made me feel much better about tapering slowly

 

Yes, there are things that have helped me to remain patient (the Rubik's cube in the video).  However, please be aware that impatience can crop up at any time during a taper.  I recently started thinking that I might try jumping off at 5mg and this was not long after I had got my next batch of compound capsules which cost me $75!  And I've been a mod for almost 3 years now so I've seen many members taking risks and paying for it.  I think that part of it is that we start to feel as if we don't need the drug anymore, when in fact it is the brain that still needs the drug.  I've been tapering for 3 years and still got about 2 years to go so you also get to the point of being over it as well.  It's also helpful to think about how much you have reduced by and not how much you still have left to go.

 

54 minutes ago, Slartibartfastlost said:

Also the post about how a small dose of ssri still increases serotonin in the brain exponentially helped really spell out why the smaller doses are the hardest to taper.

 

This is very interesting, but you may be referring to this one:  Why taper paper: dose-occupancy curves

 

1 hour ago, Slartibartfastlost said:

I also made sure to create a symptom spreadsheet to update daily and track my progress.

 

I think many people get withdrawal symptoms that they don't connect with reducing their drug.  Especially if they have major symptoms they may miss the minor ones because they feel so bad.

 

There are printable and computer monthly symptoms logs here as well as blank ones with a Key to rating your symptoms: 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

 

I've had two completely different experiences.  I CTed citalopram and felt great for a few months then got hit with the withdrawal flu and was bedridden for 2.5 weeks and lost 8kgs.  It wasn't until I joined SA that I made the connection that it was withdrawal.  I ended up on Pristiq.

 

I reduced my Pristiq from 100mg to 50mg and for 2 weeks I experienced severe cog fog, and even walking took my whole concentration.  I joined SA but didn't updose as suggested because I was trying, through the brain fog, to learn about what was happening.  A couple of days after joining I got to the stage that I was unable to type.  Having been a typist for 40+ years I knew that something was really wrong.  I was very thankful for SA's suggestion.  I went and took extra Pristiq.  Astoundingly after only about 4 hours I was able to type again and the brain fog was lifting.  Because I had a benchmark I knew that it was because of the drug.  After stabilising I've been following SA's protocol and only experience mild withdrawal symptoms.  Sometimes they increase if I'm unwell or there is extra stress in my life.  Even good stress (having a helicopter flying lesson for my 60th birthday - yes it was fun, it was a once off thing but I would have loved to have had a couple more) increased my anxiety for a couple of weeks.

_____________________________________________________________________

 

During any taper, there will be times of discomfort.  We strongly encourage members to learn and use non drug coping techniques to help get through tough times.

 

Understanding what is happening helps us to not get caught up with the second fear, or fear of the fear.  This happens when we experience sensations in our body and because we don't understand them we are scared of them and then start to panic.

 

This document has a diagram of the body explaining what happens in the body when we become anxious:

 

https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/AnxietySelfHelp.pdf

 

 

Audio FEMALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)

 

Audio MALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

dealing-with-emotional-spirals

 

Acceptance

 

Dr Claire Weekes suffered from anxiety and learned and taught ways of coping.  There are videos available on YouTube.

 

Claire Weekes' Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System

 

Audio:  How to Recover from Anxiety - Dr Claire Weekes

 

 
Resources:  Centre for Clinical Interventions (PDF modules that you can work through, eg:  Depression, Distress Intolerance, Health Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Social Anxiety, Worrying)

 

On 4/28/2017 at 4:03 AM, brassmonkey said:

 

AAF: Acknowledge, Accept, Float.  It's what you have to do when nothing else works, and can be a very powerful tool in coping with anxiety.  The neuroemotional anxiety many of us feel during WD is directly caused by the drugs and their chemical reactions in the brain.  Making it so there is nothing we can do about them.  They won't respond to other drugs, relaxation techniques and the like.  They do, however, react very well to being ignored.  That's the concept behind AAF.  Acknowledge, get to know the feeling involved, explore them.  Accept, These feelings are a part of you and they aren't going anywhere fast. Float, let the feeling float off as you get on with your life as best as you can.  It's a well documented fact that the more you feed in to anxiety the worse it gets.  What starts as generalized neuroemotinal anxiety can be easily blown into a full fledged panic attack just by thinking about it.

 

I often liken it to an unwanted house guest.  At first you talk to them, have conversations, communicate with them.  After a while you figure out that they aren't leaving and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them.  So you go on about your day, working around them until they get bored and leave.

 

It can take some practice, but AAF really does work.  I hope you give it a try.

 

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Slartibartfastlost
On 1/4/2019 at 1:01 AM, ChessieCat said:

This is very interesting, but you may be referring to this one:  Why taper paper: dose-occupancy curves

Yes, that's exactly what I was referring to. Absolutely fascinating. 

 

It's been almost a month since I made my post and my progress is like night and day. Really working on rooting out the errors in my thinking that were causing anxiety in general, as well as practicing mindfulness, regular meditation, and positive affirmations have made all the difference in making me a much healthier person mentally. I had some real issues with emotional dependence and self-esteem, but they're doing much better with the actions that I've been taking!

 

One thing I've learned in all of this is how if my brain/body are feeling a certain way (anxious), my mind will come up with thoughts to match how I feel. I think that has something to do with the neuro-emotions mentioned here. My body tries to be anxious pretty consistently in the mornings and I just have to remember that I don't feel that way because of my thoughts, rather my thoughts are that way because of how I feel. Luckily it's not too hard to quiet the thoughts down and wait out the anxiety.

 

I feel like I've really stabilized and am looking forward to continuing this journey. Also my supplements currently are just 1,000mg omega-3 and 100mg magnesium citrate.

 

One question I have is in regards to my dissolving the medicine, though I haven't checked the thread for answers yet. I notice a lot of the medicine seems to cement to the bottom if there is any left over for the next day. I wonder if there's anything I can do to prevent that? Might be that I'm using a glass container.

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marconyc
10 minutes ago, Slartibartfastlost said:

 

 

One thing I've learned in all of this is how if my brain/body are feeling a certain way (anxious), my mind will come up with thoughts to match how I feel.

 

This is a very powerful insight. Most psychologists focus on the reverse, which is the way thoughts create emotions. The basis of CBT is changing irrational thoughts to improve mood. But thoughts don't just create emotions; emotions also generate thoughts, as you point out. Knowing that the mind will generate thoughts to match one's emotions or bodily state can help you take those thoughts less seriously. The acronym HALT, which is often used for helping people with addictions, can also be used to combat negative thoughts that arise from antidepressant withdrawal. HALT stands for "Hungry, Angry, Tired, Lonely." When I hear a loop of negative thoughts, I try to ask myself, "Am I hungry? Angry? Tired? Lonely?" Sometimes, if I take care of those underlying bodily states or emotions, the loop of negative thoughts will diminish. 

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ChessieCat
3 hours ago, Slartibartfastlost said:

One question I have is in regards to my dissolving the medicine, though I haven't checked the thread for answers yet. I notice a lot of the medicine seems to cement to the bottom if there is any left over for the next day. I wonder if there's anything I can do to prevent that?

 

What dose of tablet are you using?  How much water are you dissolving it in?

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ChessieCat
5 hours ago, Slartibartfastlost said:

I notice a lot of the medicine seems to cement to the bottom if there is any left over for the next day.

 

I've checked with the other mods, and it is the fillers.  Just make sure that you stir the solution before measuring your dose.

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Slartibartfastlost
7 minutes ago, ChessieCat said:

 

I've checked with the other mods, and it is the fillers.  Just make sure that you stir the solution before measuring your dose.

Well thank you very much!

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Slartibartfastlost

I think I've discovered the wave that is mentioned on these forums. I was definitely living in a beautiful window until I got the flu. Ever since I recovered my nervous system has been all out of whack. But all I can do is wait while my brain sorts itself out. 

 

I'll definitely be getting the flu shot next season though xD

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