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Shar244

I was taking 50mg Sertraline daily (prescribed for anxiety) for 2 months in 2016. I stopped taking them instantly due to various side effects; insomnia followed by extreme fatigue and when the sexual dysfunction kicked in that was the last straw for me. I suffered for roughly 3 months with vertigo and nausea. I believe I am left with PSSD and also cognitive  issues.

 

I have been anti-depressant free since December 2016

 

I have experienced two or three ‘windows’ I think they are called? The PSSD has probably improved overall 10% day to day in the last two years.

 

Recovery stories give me hope :) 

 

 

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Gridley

Welcome to SA, Shar244.

 

To give members the best information, we ask them to summarize their medication history in a signature.   Include drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements in the last 12-24 months. Also include supplements. This will help us give you the most accurate advice we can. 
  •  Any drugs and supplements 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. 
  • This is a direct link to your signature:  Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.

Google "SurvivingAntidepressants.org Zoloft success stories" for some Zoloft recovery stories.  It's a very good sign you are experiencing some improvement.

 

To help you understand the symptoms you are experiencing, here is some information on withdrawal.  T
 
 
 
 
This is your Introduction thread where you can ask questions and give updates.

 

 

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Carmie

Hi Shar, 

 

I wanted to welcome you to SA as well. I’m sorry that you’re in the predicament you’re in. Everyone on this site can relate to you. We have all gone through withdrawals, or are still going through the. I’m still going through them myself. 

 

Gridley gave you some great links to check out. 

 

Wishing yiu you all the best in your recovery. Sending hugs🤗

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Shar244

Thank you both! I’m grateful that I found this site full of (mainly) lovely people, it helps! Sorry if I haven’t done what’s requested I’m still trying to work out how to navigate this site! Will try and add my signature now :) can I ask you, do you think two years with not much improvement is quite common (after only 2 months of use)? I realise everyone is different but most of the stories I read are after prolonged SSRI use! Thanks :) 

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Gridley
The withdrawal time doesn't necessarily correlate with the time you were on the drug.  These drugs alter the architecture of the brain, and the time necessary to heal the brain and return to homeostasis is, unfortunately, impossible to predict.  But you will heal.
 

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Shar244
On 1/12/2019 at 10:57 PM, Gridley said:
The withdrawal time doesn't necessarily correlate with the time you were on the drug.  These drugs alter the architecture of the brain, and the time necessary to heal the brain and return to homeostasis is, unfortunately, impossible to predict.  But you will heal.
 

 

I always try to be positive.. but how do you know for sure? No one really does do they :( that’s the most difficult part of this situation 

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Gridley

When you are in the middle of it (as we both are) it's hard to know anything for sure.  You are right to try to be positive, since stress over the future makes withdrawal more difficult.  From what I've read on this site, people do heal, though it takes much longer than anyone would like.   Assuming you are going to heal is a big help to healing.

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Shar244
22 hours ago, Gridley said:

When you are in the middle of it (as we both are) it's hard to know anything for sure.  You are right to try to be positive, since stress over the future makes withdrawal more difficult.  From what I've read on this site, people do heal, though it takes much longer than anyone would like.   Assuming you are going to heal is a big help to healing.

 

I sometimes wish I was more scientifically minded - as I don’t have the slightest idea how these horrific drugs have done this to us.. or the process of healing! If this journey will teach me anything it will be to be more PATIENT :) if you don’t mind me asking, what symptoms are you having to deal with at the moment? Have they improved? Thanks 

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Gridley

Probably the worst symptom is anhedonia--lack of pleasure in life and lack of energy or motivation to do much.  Emotions are blunted or numb, also sense of humor, also spiritual feelings.   Not much appetite, so I've lost a good bit of weight.  My sleep is only fair, some nights 4 or 5  hours, other 7 or 8, but broken and not very deep. Even so, that is an improvement over a year ago.   Things that have improved quite a bit over the last year are anxious cortisol spikes in the early morning and general anxiety.  I used to have a very stiff painful neck that has improved significantly in the past several months.

 

I'm not scientifically minded either. I do understand the the drugs have chemically unbalanced my central nervous system and it will take a while to get it back to factory settings.   

 

These two links are good explanations of the healing process.

 

 

Yes, patience is the key.  After I finish my Lexapro taper, I will taper the Imipramine and the Lorazepam, but I try to just focus on one day at a time.

Edited by Gridley

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Shar244

Would you class immediate side effects such as insomnia after taking the first pill as an adverse reaction? I was young and naive (probably still am) and continued to take them every day for weeks whilst suffering with insomnia - as the doctor told me I would ‘feel worse before I felt better’

 

The doctor then upped my dose from 25 to 50mg after 6 weeks and I experienced extreme fatigue, all emotions disappeared and the sexual side effects began (which led me to stop taking the pills) 

 

Is my brain completely fried? :( 

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ChessieCat

No your brain is not completely fried.

 

Here's some additional information which might help you to understand what is happening:

 

Recovery isn't linear it happens in a Windows and Waves Pattern

 

Withdrawal Normal Description


When we take a psychiatric drug, we are adding chemical/s to the brain.  The brain then has to change to adapt to getting the chemical/s.  It might have to change something to do with A and then once that change has been made it affects B so another change has to be made and so on down the line.  It is a chain reaction, a domino effect.

 

The same thing happens when we take the drug away.  That's why it's possible to experience such a vast array of withdrawal symptoms, and they can change, and be of different intensity.

 

are-we-there-yet-how-long-is-withdrawal-going-to-take

 

These explain it really well:

 

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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ChessieCat

We strongly encourage members to learn and use non drug coping techniques to help get through discomfort and 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.

 

Acceptance

 

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

 

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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Shar244

Thank you both. ❤️ 

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Shar244

Topic title:

 

So somehow, during my barely existent sex life I have fallen pregnant. I understand that this may sound really stupid to some people.. but does anyone for anyone reason think the withdrawal experience could affect an unborn child? Also, am I right in thinking the rise in natural hormones COULD speed up the process of healing? The PSSD is my main concern! (Again I understand that this might sound silly, I’m not very scientifically minded so no rude comments please) 

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added topic title

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Peachy

I am wondering the same...

I'm not pregnant, but want to become pregnant, and running out of time...

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Gridley
On 3/27/2019 at 3:42 PM, Shar244 said:

 

 

 but does anyone for anyone reason think the withdrawal experience could affect an unborn child? 

 

 

Certainly not  stupid question.  Please Google "SurvivingAntidepressants.org. pregnancy"  There are several threads devoted to the subject of AD's and pregnancy.  Here is one:

 

Antidepressants / withdrawal during pregnancy - Symptoms and self ...

 

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Shar244
On 4/13/2019 at 12:19 AM, Gridley said:

 

Certainly not  stupid question.  Please Google "SurvivingAntidepressants.org. pregnancy"  There are several threads devoted to the subject of AD's and pregnancy.  Here is one:

 

Antidepressants / withdrawal during pregnancy - Symptoms and self ...

 

  

Thank you! I have been completely off the drug since December 2016 but worried as I’m nowhere near back to ‘normal’.. will have a read through :)

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Shar244
On 4/12/2019 at 11:58 PM, Peachy said:

I am wondering the same...

I'm not pregnant, but want to become pregnant, and running out of time...

 

Bless you, I didn’t even think I could fall pregnant again as I don’t feel like a woman anymore :( the past few years have been awful - but I feel as though the new baby will give me a positive focus for the future. Are you still taking AD? 

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Peachy

@Shar244 yes, I’m still on 4.5mg Lexapro. Have been tapering for 3 yrs. horrible the entire time, to varying degrees. Did u cold turkey? What are your remaining symptoms. 

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Shar244
On 4/17/2019 at 11:49 PM, Peachy said:

@Shar244 yes, I’m still on 4.5mg Lexapro. Have been tapering for 3 yrs. horrible the entire time, to varying degrees. Did u cold turkey? What are your remaining symptoms. 

That is a long time.. but the sensible way to do it. Yeah naively I just stopped. My doctor didn’t ever tell me it was dangerous to stop taking them and the side effects freaked me out so that’s what I did. It’s been 28 months since and my memory is AWFUL (I always had a really good memory before taking them). I find it hard to concentrate and often forget what I’m saying halfway through a sentence. I have broken sleep - waking up every 2-3 hours. My main concern is the PSSD. The other symptoms I could live with but if I never go back to normal in that sense I honestly don’t know how I’d cope. What symptoms are you dealing with? 

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Shar244

Titled:  Any words of encouragement are welcome

 

Feeling really low. I try and try and try to be positive and encourage positivity in others but I feel like I’m running out of energy and can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been over 3 years now and I have short periods of improvement but ALWAYS end up back at square one. I just don’t know where to turn or what to do anymore 

Edited by manymoretodays
merged 2nd intro topic with 1st, title added

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manymoretodays

Hi Shar, @Shar244

How long do your windows, or short periods of improvement last? 

And I think that's a good sign that windows do occur.  No reason not to expect a full recovery.

 

What kind of symptoms are you having now?

 

Sometimes, I have to change my self talk a bit and be kinder to myself.  Be my own hero and all.  I've hit a really good stride now, in my healing and recovery after many many years of these meds.  If I can do it.....or get there.......so can you?

Do you keep journals, or records, or a calendar at all?  That's one way I've used to notice my own progress and improvement over time.

 

(I popped your most recent post back here to your main introduction, only one introduction topic per member)

And my fingers are crossed that you see really good progress and recovery soon.  And ugh, how unfortunate, that only 2 mos. usage of an AD, and then WDsyndrome, lasting so long.

We do see others with similar stories here.  Maybe that provides some encouragement and comfort?  Finding others who relate, and sharing coping strategies?

 

Looks like you've gotten around the site some, and found the success stories.  I wonder if some of those might help again.

 

And hoping others will chime in with hope and encouragement too.

 

Best, L, P, H, and G,

mmt

 

 

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Shar244

Thank you for your reply. I’m feeling better today.. some days are worse than others mentally as I’m sure you know & sorry, I’m still not great at using this site!

 

I’m still experiencing cognitive issues such as difficult concentrating, I have an awful memory and also going completely blank whilst trying to think of words! Although this is annoying I can live with it. My main concern is the PSSD as it’s majorly affecting my relationship and mental health. 90% of the time I have 0 libido, genital numbness etc etc. My partner and I have had relationship breaks during the last 3 years & he’s been with other women which absolutely destroys me. I know him and I probably aren’t right for eachother anymore but I’m in no position to meet anyone else.. potentially for years, if not forever and I don’t want to be a lonely single mother.. that is the sad reality! 

 

The windows can last from a day upto around a week. I’ve had periods where I’ve felt nearly ‘normal’ for a week and thought wow, this is it.. but then I’m right back to the beginning. These are few and far between though - once a year if that. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I was able to fall pregnant last year - and now have another lovely daughter. The first couple of months after she was born I felt ok in regards to the PSSD, things were around 30-40% ‘normal’ but are now are awful again. The thing that worries me the most is that there’s been no obvious improvement over time, as in windows haven’t got stronger or longer. It’s just all very random! Do you think there’s still hope of a full recovery, even if in 10 years time!?

 

Thanks so much for your reply & I hope you’re doing well

 

Shar

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1Day
9 hours ago, Shar244 said:

The windows can last from a day upto around a week. I’ve had periods where I’ve felt nearly ‘normal’ for a week and thought wow, this is it.. but then I’m right back to the beginning. These are few and far between though - once a year if that. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I was able to fall pregnant last year - and now have another lovely daughter. The first couple of months after she was born I felt ok in regards to the PSSD, things were around 30-40% ‘normal’ but are now are awful again. The thing that worries me the most is that there’s been no obvious improvement over time, as in windows haven’t got stronger or longer. It’s just all very random! Do you think there’s still hope of a full recovery, even if in 10 years time!?

 

Please do some research on the PSSD recovery stories on this site and you will find the answer to your question i.e. yes there is a lot of hope (and many of the people that recover do so in less than 10 years).

 

Having said that, I know a story (not on this site) of somebody who recovered between the 11th and 12th years off the drugs.  And like you, he had the odd occasions here and there where he had improvement, but ultimately did not 'turn the corner' until after a decade off the drugs.

 

Some people at three years off have had no improvements at all.  So within the context of PSSD, I would consider yourself lucky that you have had periods where you have felt nearly normal.  You are doing better than many.

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