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CloseToTheEdge: greetings from NY

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CloseToTheEdge

Greetings,

 

I decided to join this group, because I'm having some issues, after getting off Paxil.

 

I was on Paxil for 18 years, because of anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Started on 20mg/day, which was reduced to 10 mg/day, due to sexual dysfunction.

 

After 18 years, I got sick of feeling like an unemotional zombie and decided to get off of Paxil for good, starting on my 57th birthday. I started tapering off in late September 2018 and was completely off Paxil, by late February 2019.

 

I didn't experience any severe withdrawal symptoms, except for a 3 week period of insomnia, that popped up towards the end of the taper period.

 

However, after 3 months of being off Paxil, I'm starting to have the following problems:  Fits of rage that come out of the blue, brain fog, racing thoughts, periods of self loathing and a messed up sleep schedule, that is becoming difficult to correct. Sometimes, I feel anxiety as well, especially when out in public. There are times I feel my jaw inexplicably tighten up, for no reason, while driving, or when I'm shopping at a store. There have been several incidents, where I felt a panic attack come on, but I managed to calm myself down, by focusing on my breathing, or by splashing some cold water on my face.

 

My self loathing is probably due to the fact, that I'm ashamed at myself for becoming a moody, angry and unmotivated man, who sometimes feels sorry for himself. I have always been a hard working, pro active individual, but now, my sullen mood swings, along with my uncontrollable bouts of rage and anxiety, has turned me into a withdrawn and complacent individual. This is not fair to my wife, nor my kids, who have noticed that my moods are often unpredictable. It's hard explaining to them exactly what's going inside my head, so I keep my issues to myself. I don't direct my rage towards them, thank God, but I have directed my anger at times, towards my two dogs, who mean the world to me. The only thing that helps me, when I feel this type of anger, is by working out on my Bowflex machine, riding my bike, or cranking some music. Sometimes it helps if I play my bass guitar, or work on my Triumph Spitfire in my garage. Doing a chore, or even praying helps me, because it gets my mind off the anger and disappointment that I feel.

 

I'm confident that I can get my sleep schedule back in track. The fact that I worked nights, loading trucks for 26 years, during my 31 year career at UPS, probably has contributed to my messed up sleep schedule. What really worries me is the rage that comes out of the blue and the difficulty in getting motivated to do things around the house. I think my sleep problems are contributing to these issues. There are days that I can get a solid 6-7 hours of sleep straight, however, most times I'm only able to get 3 hours, which forces me to take a nap later in the afternoon. Perhaps this fragmented sleep pattern is causing my anger and anxiety issues, as well as fatigue, which makes it difficult for me to get motivated to do things during the day.

 

I'm not interested in seeing a psychiatrist, because there's no way I want to go back on an antidepressant. It's nice to have my emotions finally back and I realized that there would be a price to pay to get them back.

 

So, are my issues caused by my brain chemistry being altered by taking Paxil for 18 years? Am I suffering from low levels of both Serotonin and Dopamine? Could it be that my Cortisol level is out of whack too? Will my symptoms slowly fade over time? Are there any natural supplements, besides the L-Tyrosine that I'm taking, that can help me out? 

 

Thanks in advance for any advice coming my way. Your help is greatly appreciated!

 

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Gridley

Welcome to SA, CloseToTheEdge.  I'm sorry you're having these difficult symptoms.  I'm going to give you a lot of information.  Please take your time reading and don't be overwhelmed,

 

It's good that you took five months to taper, but that's quite a bit faster than what we recommend, no more than 10% of current dose every four weeks.  Psychiatrists know nothing about tapering or protracted withdrawal.  Though you're no longer tapering, the following link contains useful information to explain the situation you (and so many others on this site) find themselves in.  


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

There is often a type of honeymoon period when people go off these drugs, during which there are few withdrawal symptoms, and having them start three months out is very common.  The symptoms you describe, including rage, brain fog, sleep disturbance and anxiety are recognized antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.  Please read:

 

 
 
Basically, here is what is happening: 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.  
 
These explain it really well:

 

 

   On 8/30/2011 at 2:28 PM,  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.

To answer your questions:

 

Yes, your brain chemistry was altered by the years of Paxil, and it will take some time for it to re-alter itself.  What's causing the symptoms though is that, as Rhiannon wrote above, your brain is used to operating with the drug and is having a hard time operating without it.  The brain has a remarkable ability to heal itself but it will take time.

 

No, the symptoms are not caused by low levels of serotonin and dopamine.  The "chemical imbalance" theory has been thorough discredited.

Again, chemical imbalance is a myth. Stop the lies, please. - Read ...

Having your cortisol out of whack is a very common aspect of withdrawal.  The fight-or-flight syndrome is heightened is withdrawal.  Again, this is not causing your symptoms but rather is itself a symptom.  There is really nothing you can do to fix this.  It will correct itself in time.  I had bad cortisol spikes early in my taper but they have resolved.  I can't tell you how soon your will resolve, only that they will.  Here's a link on cortisol spikes:

Waking with panic or anxiety - Surviving Antidepressants

Yes, the symptoms will slowly fade in time.  No one can say how much time.  Please read the first post in the following link:

 

How Long Is Withdrawal Going to Take? (this post - see below)

 

Regarding supplements, please be careful with the L-tyrosine.  It can be very activating (anxiety-causing) to someone in withdrawal.

Be careful with l-tyrosine - Surviving Antidepressants

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

 

 

Please research all supplements first and only add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.
 
Here are some tips to help you with you.
 
Tips to help sleep - so many of us have that awful withdrawal insomnia
 
 
 
Some members have found Melatonin helps..
 
 
The 5mg you're taking might be too much.  A too-high dose of Melatonin can have a paradoxical effect (keep you awake).  I know it did with me.   It's best to start at a very low dosage, such as .25mg, and gradually increase if needed to the lowest effective dose.  
 
I understand and respect that you don't want to go back on any dosage of the Paxil.  I did want you to be aware that the only known way to reduce withdrawal symptoms (other than the passage of time) is reinstatement of a VERY small dosage of the original.  The alternative is to wait it out until your system regains homeostasis.  Again, we don't know how long that will take.   If you change your mind, we can recommend a dosage for reinstatement.
 
About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms. -- at least the first page of the topic
 
We strongly recommend using non-drug techniques to copy with withdrawal.. Scroll down the topic in this link to see which topic might be helpful to you.
 
 
Please don't hate yourself for feeling rage and your other symptoms.  It is not you: it's the effects of the drug.  Please read this link on neuroemotions--false emotions caused by drug withdrawal.
 
 
Here are links containing discussion by other members who experienced rage in withdrawal.  It is very common.  The first link contains a post by someone who began feeling rage for the first time 4 months after stopping Paxil.
 
Please add 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.

This is your Introduction topic, the place for you to ask questions, post updates and connect with other members.  I'm glad you found your way here.

 

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CloseToTheEdge

Thanks for all the information! I appreciate it greatly and will take the time to read it more thoroughly later today.

 

I thought that a 5 to 6 month taper period would be reasonable and not cause me any difficulties, due to my extreme low dose (10mg/day). I browsed through this site before joining and saw that many people were taking  lot higher doses, before weaning off of their antidepressants. I was initially encouraged that my withdrawal symptoms were minimal, except for the 3 week insomnia period, but I should have also considered that withdrawal symptoms would pop up once I was totally weaned off the drug.

 

I think that being diagnosed with CMT Disease, while tapering off Paxil, might have contributed to my bouts of self loathing. I experienced two herniated discs, while loading trucks for UPS, but persevered due to stubbornness and the fact that I was within 10 years of retirement and a pension check. I bought an inversion bed (which helps me to this day) and started an exercise program that focused on building up my core muscles. After retirement, back in September 2016, I stayed active, but slowed down on my exercise program and ended up gaining over 20 pounds. Back in November 2018, I saw a neurologist to discuss the muscle wasting on my right calf, as well as my foot drop, that seemed to be getting worse. I always thought that these symptoms were caused by nerve damage from the disc herniations. To make a long story short, both my sister and I have tested positive for CMT Disease. My back injuries had probably exacerbated the problem, which has resulted in walking and balance issues. Soon after being diagnosed, I was determined to get back in shape, figuring it would be good for my mental health and could possibly slow the progression of this disease. I started working out again right after last Christmas and have now lost over 20 pounds, getting back to 175 lbs.

 

Perhaps I'm feeling low because of my withdrawal symptoms, coupled with my diagnoses of CMT.  I thought retirement would be fantastic, but as of now, I'm not exactly enjoying all my free time. Every time I get up, I think to myself, "what's going to go wrong next?" I really hate myself for thinking that, because I realize that there are many people who are suffering a lot more than me.  I should feel blessed that I still can get around and have the support from my loving family, but can't shake off this feeling of inadequacy, which isn't helped with my bouts of anger and rage.

 

Without the love of my family and fur babies, I would feel a lot worse than I already do. Thankfully, working out, playing bass and forcing myself to do yard work has been very therapeutic. I feel very overwhelmed at times, due to so many projects that I have to do this summer. Not having a normal sleep schedule has increased my stress level and I feel once I develop a normal and consistent sleep pattern, my stress level will decrease.

 

Currently I'm taking lecithin, magnesium and alpha lipoic acid in order to help with my CMT. In addition, I'm taking a multi vitamin supplement, vitamin D, a probiotic and a vitamin that contains fish and grape seed oil, green tea extract, lycopene and garlic oil.

 

Thanks again for your kind and quick response. Later tonight, I will read the links that you included in your message to me. Take care.

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laydefish

Hi @CloseToTheEdge & Welcome to the Group! Congratulations on getting off at these awful drugs! Although you're still struggling now it really is a very short time during your whole withdrawal Journey. please take the time to read all the informational links that Gridley left for you they really will help you to understand what's going on and maybe you can stop beating yourself up for some of the emotions that you're feeling it's all very normal during the healing process. And please keep on being grateful for the family support and also for being able to do your yard work and to be able to work out these are things that a lot of people can't do during your withdrawal so you're ahead of the game in that sense already! just wanted to stop by and say hi and to tell you to hang in there stay strong it does get better with time sincerely laydefish

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CloseToTheEdge

Thanks for the kind words laydefish. I know that I'm lucky, because so many people are suffering more than me, as they battle to get off these nasty antidepressants. There are people who benefit from them, but for must of us, there was no information given concerning the long term consequences of being on such medications. My doctor was quick when it came to writing the prescription, but offered no insight on possible side effects. I should've taken the time to do some research before taking the Paxil prescription, but I thought my doctor had my back. I was wrong.  There were other treatments that could've been used for my anxiety and panic attacks, but my doctor never mentioned them. Starting an exercise program, concentrating on better nutrition, taking specific supplements and being part of a social support group, would've probably benefited me greatly. Oh, well...live and learn!

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