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Ballardbeer: Zoloft / sertraline - 8 months of hypomania, irritability, manic episodes, then CT

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Ballardbeer

Hey all,

 

From original topic title:  8 months of hypomania, increasing irritability, two major manic episodes, then CT

 

Wish I found this site before. Prescribed 50 mg in October 2018, reported immediate response, eventually asked to cut the dose to 25 mg when symptoms were arising more frequently. Doc said go up to 100 mg, thankfully I disagreed and we went down instead. Kept having increasing symptoms and eventually started taking 12.5 mg twice a day thinking I was a fast metabolizer.

 

Then: suicidal ideation and one hell-ish manic episode (with a good 50 mini-episodes over a months time). Quit CT once I learned what was happening.

 

BP2 diagnosis came, but now a month removed from sertraline, I don’t see it. I’m dealing with some crazy withdrawal symptoms... mostly headaches and irritability. I sometimes blink really hard, kind of like a brain zap. I’m on intermittent leave from work, and didn’t burn all the bridges I have, but came damn close.

 

now I’m learning healing takes months/years. Why is this a drug prescribed so frequently? What a nightmare it has been.  

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added extra info, deleted obscenity

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Gridley

Welcome to SA, Ballardbeer.

 

It sounds like you had an adverse reaction to the Zoloft, combined with withdrawal symptoms from the cold turkey.  Hypomania is a recognized side effect (i'd call it adverse reaction) to Zoloft.


Sertraline-induced hypomania: a genuine side-effect. - NCBI
 

Here is some information on withdrawal, so you'll have a better idea of what you're experiencing.  The symptoms you describe are typical withdrawal symptoms.   

 

 
 
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.  
 
We don't pay a lot of attention to diagnoses here.  They're often quite arbitrary.
 
Yes, it can take quite a lot of time to recover from these drugs.  The vast majority of doctors are completely unaware of this and think they are innocuous and that recovery from them is short and easy.  This site exists to help those who have found that recovery for many (most? it's impossible to say) of us who have found it is neither brief nor easy.  I can't tell you how long withdrawal symptoms are going to persist for you.  It varies according to the individual.  It is realistic to think in terms of months and, yes, years.  I'm going to suggest a couple of things to help you, but time is the cure.
 
First. we strongly recommend using non-drug coping techniques to deal with these symptoms.  Please look at the following link and read those links that you feel might help you.
 
 
Second, 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.
 
This is your Introductory topic, where you can ask questions, post updates and connect with other members.  Please don't hesitate to ask questions.  We're glad you found your ways here. 

 

 

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Ballardbeer

Thanks all. I’ve read through everything I could. Hypomania as a real symptom of Zoloft makes sense. Was it underlying and did it surface? Who knows. I’m not hypomanic now. I wasn’t before.

 

i do have a question on lamotrigine. I’m on 50 mg now and it isn’t helping. Or at least I don’t think it’s doing anything. What’s a typical course for this drug in my situation? I’d like to get clean and sober for an extended time. The windows and waves have made life hell.

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Ballardbeer

A brief update on my case: successfully tapered of lamotrigine, not on any current meds but the pdoc is suggesting I try prazosin in the morning. Tried it today and it didn’t prevent any of my symptoms. Pdoc also suggested considering gabapentin as needed. Thinking about cancelling my pdoc lol

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Ballardbeer

An update, as this is quickly becoming a nice journal of my experiences.

 

Working through some self harm issues, which likely are a result of early childhood trauma. My brain feels like a blank slate sometimes... unable to remember any history and only able to focus on present condition. Sobriety from alcohol and marijuana has helped, but initially was difficult as it activated my brain and led me to have some extremely uncomfortable days. Thinking I will find a DO here in seattle and get a fresh opinion on my condition. Windows and waves still occurring but the windows are longer and better. The waves continue to be unpredictable.

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Ballardbeer

Feeling great for the last week. still experiencing bad waves but the severity of the symptoms appear to be fading. Mornings are still incredibly slow and I still have this really short temper that can explode. I’m doing my best to control those issues by practicing love and positivity (ie think of three positives after noticing a negative thought). 

 

Tomorrow im getting an fMRI. A number of severe concussions has me concerned about my brains physical health. I’ve also started to see a DO, who is going to refer me to a neuro-pdoc. 

 

I’ve started to do magnesium and fish oil. Sleep has been great, and my brain function is starting to improve. My social skills are returning too! I know another wave is likely around the corner but the last one wasn’t so bad and I’m starting to feel safer and more optimistic about life.

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Ballardbeer

Returned to my original prescribing doctor today. More of a procedural thing if anything... the STD claim got denied because of course it did. Appealing it and had to button up some history and play catch up with current state of affairs.

 

I thought I was going to say a million awful things, but instead we had a pleasant but sad conversation. She was truly sorry, which I truly appreciated, but also dumbfounded. 20 years... never saw a reaction so severe. Has to be something else going on, she contemplates. Probably not, but I’m not ruling that out, I say. We come to agreement the evidence points to an adverse reaction, which I struggle to describe with certainty other than explaining that there’s this online forum with thousands of people with similar symptoms. It occurs to me a number of times that it’s hard to grasp what’s real and what I perceived to be real in the last 8 months. I find myself using the terms psychosis to describe myself at my worst. 
 

I’ve been doing really, really well, but last night I had my first set back in 20 days. What struck me as different about this time was the shorter period it took to find guilt in my actions. Last night sucked but at least all signs continue to point to improvement.

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Ballardbeer

Had a bad blow up in a toxic fight with my significant other. I’ve moved out and can no longer take the city noise and tiny living corridors. Really ugly turn in my recovery... just a bad series of events that pushed me over the edge on irritability. 
 

I’m living on my own now, making sure to take care of myself and not overstimulate. Today was a weird one... I made it to work at 5am and energized the crew. And the minute I left, I was back to reckless behavior and impatience and irritability. I had the worst thoughts about everything. Does that make sense to anyone? I wish I could better counteract the heavy waves of anger and unpleasantness.

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Ballardbeer

A discovery today... sertraline seems to have wiped out a lot of childhood trauma defense mechanisms. For instance, I’ve always been a people pleaser. Kind of weasel like. Now, I’m more direct. I don’t like how it feels when I upset people, because I never have had a track record of upsetting people. It’s quite a revelation in therapy, and seems to be adding context to why I am different. It’s less about waves and windows and more about life after sertraline. It’s  a new world, with new understanding, and that’s okay. But it’s also terrifying.

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Ballardbeer

Another recognition in emotion: empathy now plays a large party in my emotional brain. Never really was the case before. 
 

My heart is set on somatic experiencing for treatment. Obviously there’s a lot going on in my body that I have very little awareness of, and it’s keeping me from self-regulating myself. The Body Keeps the Score has been a fantastic read. I’m also hoping to welcom Buddhism into my practice, and looking to learn how to play the drums. I’m unable And not desiring to socialize, so it’s all about finding ways to get better with intention here

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Ballardbeer

Okay one other thing, because really I’m only talking to myself and it’s starting to feel like maybe there aren’t many folks who relate to my story....

 

I keep going through the pictures and timeline of my experience, and there’s a notable expression on my face that just screams something is wrong. I took probably 50 selfies over the last year, and some of them I look truly sick, and others so high and hypomanic that it seems obvious that I was struggling with something.

 

another aspect of the timeline... I went all the way back to the first week of the drug, and I realized I was biking dangerously as early as the first week. Risk taking was immediately onset for me. I always had felt like I had no anxiety whatsoever, so there was never a risk calculation. 

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Ballardbeer

Hi. things have gotten significantly worse in the last few weeks. I’ve either been lying to myself on progress or the breakup with my ex has significantly impacted my recovery. Not sure what, but let me get into my new symptom patterns. 
 

I’m a CPTSD sufferer where symptoms have gotten progressively worse over the last decade. I took sertraline to curb anger/irritability issues. I ended up having an adverse reaction to sertraline and for 8 months, I was hypomanic.


I’m 6 months removed from the medication and now I appear to be re-living my trauma daily. Getting in a car often triggers me. Seeing my ex absolutely triggers me. Someone cutting me in a check out line makes me seeth with rage. I’ve had a lot of violence and tragedy surround my life, and my symptoms before sertraline were classic PTSD w/ hyper awareness, flashbacks, etc..
 

I’ve been in a lot of pain lately working with self control, and I’m trying to make all the right steps towards recovery, but this realization about how often I fall back into my trauma is absolutely terrifying and exhausting. I’m spending most of my days focusing on keeping my **** together and searching for answers. I’ve been dealing with other symptoms like eye floaties, tunnel vision, obsessing, feelings of abandonment, “always right”, depersonalization, etc..

 

I’ve got two major questions about my path to recovery. 

 

Has anyone else experienced something like this with trauma? Where every waking interaction seems to be triggering? Was it always like this, and I’m just now noticing?


And, well, what are my options? EMDR seems like a smart option now. I’m doing Somatic Experiencing, which has been successful in the past, but a lot of other tools I have used lately are not so successful in curbing my extreme moods. 

 

Last, I tried to incorporate L-theanine into my supplement rotation in addition to fish oil and magnesium. It didn’t do much. I cut out coffee, or at least limited it severely, and I only drink beer occasionally now (down from 30/week on sertraline... yeah, that was a problem). Marijuana has always been my go-to, but I’m realizing how active it makes my mind so I’ve been abstaining more and more.

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Ballardbeer

Found the right dose of L-thealine which has made work and other interactions much more pleasurable. Also bringing awareness to my ability to choice how to react. Back on prazosin at night to hopefully help with sleep. Had a crazy symptom where I woke up shaking and didn’t stop for 8 hours. Face twitches and other weird symptoms. Doing my best, trying to laugh at the symptoms rather then cry.

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Ballardbeer

33 today. Finding out how severe my life has been put on hold. While dealing with a breakup and other life obstacles has been a challenge, I continue to be shocked at the ways SSRI withdrawal continues to interfere with my life. Sleep has been a struggle, diet has been a struggle, and I’m just now starting to exercise regularly. Work has been demanding, but it occupies my time and has been rewarding. Social life has taken the biggest hit, but an honest assessment of what it was like before wasn’t so healthy, either. Hopelessness returns into my days every now and then, typically accompanied by loneliness. I’m now 6 months out from my last sertraline dose. My CNS is still wildly unpredictable, but i at least can manage the feelings better.

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herod
On 1/3/2020 at 5:00 PM, Ballardbeer said:

Has anyone else experienced something like this with trauma? Where every waking interaction seems to be triggering? Was it always like this, and I’m just now noticing?

Not every waking moment but it has happened. Some sounds can be triggering, it's called misophonia. One person I know on this forum experiences it to the extreme and can sometimes not go outside because of it. However, they have had great progress with their condition, and you will, too. We have all been on Sertraline, I don't think that's a coincidence.

 

On 1/3/2020 at 5:00 PM, Ballardbeer said:

And, well, what are my options? EMDR seems like a smart option now. I’m doing Somatic Experiencing, which has been successful in the past, but a lot of other tools I have used lately are not so successful in curbing my extreme moods. 

Don't start taking other neurochemistry medication to handle the trigger episodes, if you can at all help it. Patience is best, this may take longer than you expect. I stopped Sertraline in November 2018, I am a lot better now and can live a functional life. Caffeine made my symptoms worse.

 

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Ballardbeer
On 1/12/2020 at 3:46 PM, herod said:

Not every waking moment but it has happened. Some sounds can be triggering, it's called misophonia. One person I know on this forum experiences it to the extreme and can sometimes not go outside because of it. However, they have had great progress with their condition, and you will, too. We have all been on Sertraline, I don't think that's a coincidence.

 

Don't start taking other neurochemistry medication to handle the trigger episodes, if you can at all help it. Patience is best, this may take longer than you expect. I stopped Sertraline in November 2018, I am a lot better now and can live a functional life. Caffeine made my symptoms worse.

 


good advice. I have seemed to notice that sound itself is a trigger. I’ve been walking the dog lately and if I hear irritating sounds (other barking dogs) I tend to react negatively to my dog. Very strange to bring awareness to something like that.

 

i have no plans on doing any other meds. I seem to have found the right supplement mix to keep my days even keel, but sleep continues to be an issue. I’ve been cutting my caffeine and alcohol intake. Not to zero, but it’s lower then it has been in years.

 

thanks for the reply. Good to hear from someone who has seen a similar timeline of events. I’m still waiting to “wake up” but I am doing remarkably better. And I’m managing my life again in a healthy way. Still requiring a ton of isolation though.

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Katy398

Wow @Ballardbeer, I’m sorry you’ve not had much support on here. You’ve been amazing to go through all you have. Hold onto the good moments remember them as often as you can and hopefully there will become more of them. 

This is such a challenge we need to be there for each other’s. 

take care 

Kx

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Ballardbeer
1 hour ago, Katy398 said:

Wow @Ballardbeer, I’m sorry you’ve not had much support on here. You’ve been amazing to go through all you have. Hold onto the good moments remember them as often as you can and hopefully there will become more of them. 

This is such a challenge we need to be there for each other’s. 

take care 

Kx


Hi @Katy398 it is strange that no one replied but oh boy am I happy I kept posting. I’m rocking the weirdest window right now... I have been working extraordinarily hard at work and just lost a colleague/mentor type. Untimely death, timely window. The grievance process seems to have weighed heavy on me, allowing me to move past my constant compartmentalization of symptoms and onto just feeling all the feels. Trying to check in with the body more and more. Still have weird symptoms but they bother me less because they aren’t so surprising and I know they’ll slowly go away as my CNS cools.

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Katy398

Good on you. You sound so brave and actually together. What a window. Keep posting highs and lows. We are all here for each other. I’m out of routine and really struggling so it gives me hope when I see that those who were struggling last week are going through amazing windows this week. Maybe there is hope for me too. 

So sorry to hear about your colleague we never know what’s round the corner. I hope one day my time on here will be purely to support others, rather than relying on  it to help me get through each day. 

Take care @Ballardbeer, enjoy that window and breathe in all the energy and hope it offers. 

Kx

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Ballardbeer

Just received a letter from my pharmacist. The 100mg lamotrigine I was prescribed had a recall notice due to cross contamination with a heart drug. Cooooooool. At this point, nothing surprises me.

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Ballardbeer
On 1/23/2020 at 9:53 PM, Katy398 said:

Good on you. You sound so brave and actually together. What a window. Keep posting highs and lows. We are all here for each other. I’m out of routine and really struggling so it gives me hope when I see that those who were struggling last week are going through amazing windows this week. Maybe there is hope for me too. 

So sorry to hear about your colleague we never know what’s round the corner. I hope one day my time on here will be purely to support others, rather than relying on  it to help me get through each day. 

Take care @Ballardbeer, enjoy that window and breathe in all the energy and hope it offers. 

Kx


thanks @Katy398 brave is a choice word. Sometimes I can be so brave that it ultimately hurts me, and so selfless that it hurts me. It’s survivors guilt, surely. Sometimes it’s nice to let enough anxiety set in to set healthy boundaries and assess risk. I had another great week and hopefully I can keep riding high. 

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smketdie

Hello Ballard It is so nice of you to share your story and keep track of it. How was your fMRI results ?

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Ballardbeer
20 minutes ago, smketdie said:

Hello Ballard It is so nice of you to share your story and keep track of it. How was your fMRI results ?


it was uneventful. Nothing to report, which is to say no frightening things such tumors or whatnot. I thought it would’ve told me more, and I thought following up with a neurologist would be helpful, but unfortunately it was mostly wasted time and money. @Altostrata had mentioned in a thread somewhere that countless money has been wasted on fMRIs for those of us suffering from withdrawal. I remember my doctor referring me and thinking we needed to rule all this out... I’m 33 and healthy. Everything connects to sertraline and the meds prescribed after. I reckon they cannot even fathom how influential and strong these drugs they prescribe are. 

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Altostrata

Hello, Ballard.

 

Have you been taking lamotrigine?

 

How much magnesium and fish oil have you been taking, at what times of day? What's your current symptom pattern? How's your sleep?

 

To help us out, follow these instructions Please put your drug and withdrawal history in your signature You may need to use a computer to do this.

 

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Ballardbeer
12 minutes ago, Altostrata said:

Hello, Ballard.

 

Have you been taking lamotrigine?

 

How much magnesium and fish oil have you been taking, at what times of day? What's your current symptom pattern? How's your sleep?

 

To help us out, follow these instructions Please put your drug and withdrawal history in your signature You may need to use a computer to do this.

 


I’ll have to log in on my laptop to update my current meds... i take 1000mg of fish oil and 400mg of magnesium daily. 200mg Theanine has been added to the mix and has worked wonders on irritability. 
 

I tapered off lamotrigine in September. It did nothing for me besides ruin my daily rhythm. 

 

symptoms have been less severe lately... twitchy face, restlessness, racing thoughts, and depersonalization all have been present on/off for the last two weeks. But I’m in a very good window, and I’ve been sleeping 8-10 hrs a night. For a while I was struggling to sleep through the night but that issue has been disappearing.

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Altostrata

Good to hear.

 

Did you feel any effects from fish oil or magnesium?

 

A good amount of fish oil is 3000mg-4000mg EPA + DHA per day. This is often 6 capsules per day, 2 capsules at each meal. Magnesium is best taken in small doses throughout the day.

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RachelSusan

@Ballardbeer

 

Hi Ballardbeer,

 

I just discovered your thread.  So sorry you got no replies for such a long while, but boy am I happy you kept posting. I can relate to a lot of what you say.  I am a Sertraline survivor myself.  I am down to 1.75mg after being on 150mg.  I went cold turkey at one point so I know what it feels like to hit the wall.  I am now following you so I should see your posts.

 

Rachel

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Ballardbeer
8 hours ago, Altostrata said:

Good to hear.

 

Did you feel any effects from fish oil or magnesium?

 

A good amount of fish oil is 3000mg-4000mg EPA + DHA per day. This is often 6 capsules per day, 2 capsules at each meal. Magnesium is best taken in small doses throughout the day.

 

I took a second 1000mg pill at lunch... was calm as could be today. I'll continue to ramp up the concentration and doses and see if more improvement exists.

 

To answer your question about the effects... nothing with magnesium, but fish oil seems to have a definite correlation with brain power. If i miss my dose I'm often groggy, forgetful, and symptomatic.

 

I updated my sig with medicine history. I'm wondering what to do about this recall notice for the pills. I'm thinking I submit an adverse report to the FDA and not think about it? Just like many on this site, I feel the need to hold others accountable. I haven't had much success with that during withdrawal, though.

 

21 minutes ago, RachelSusan said:

@Ballardbeer

 

Hi Ballardbeer,

 

I just discovered your thread.  So sorry you got no replies for such a long while, but boy am I happy you kept posting. I can relate to a lot of what you say.  I am a Sertraline survivor myself.  I am down to 1.75mg after being on 150mg.  I went cold turkey at one point so I know what it feels like to hit the wall.  I am now following you so I should see your posts.

 

Rachel

 

You know... I think I came across your story when I was trying to decide whether Gabapentin was a good idea or not. i ultimately decided not to try any more meds, and so far I'm happy with that decision. 

 

congrats on being so close to zero!!! when i started my fast taper (50 to 25), my life got flipped upside down. if i was on a taper plan, i'd be somewhere closer to you, and would have saved all the trouble that was caused in the last 8 months. i'm just happy it's been 8 months, and symptoms are at least bearable lately.

 

i'm peaking on a window now, and i need to do my best to remember that window crashes shut with no notice and often no self realization. maybe there is no wave around the corner... but that simply has not been true any of the other times i've hoped and prayed for that to be reality. 

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Ballardbeer

are we there yet... and how long will this take... great questions. i'm thrown into a pickle lately with coronavirus fear at an all time high, and it's been this way for weeks in Seattle. i finally crashed into a wave, presumably from the horrible bandaid ripped off at a recent brainspotting therapy session. it's been super helpful, but traumtic and terrorizing and oh it all makes so much sense. i feel like a pile of garbage, quite honestly. i had been doing very good with drinking, coffee, pot, diet, and now I either feel absolutely dreadful sober or mildly sedated with any of these other vices. the magic supplements once brought has faded... maybe i'll try some st johns wort or more theanine to curb my turmoil. everything sounds louder... more uncomfortable... not for me... it's just got to be withdrawal, right? 

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CoolheadLuke
On 3/13/2020 at 11:47 AM, Ballardbeer said:

are we there yet... and how long will this take... great questions. i'm thrown into a pickle lately with coronavirus fear at an all time high, and it's been this way for weeks in Seattle. i finally crashed into a wave, presumably from the horrible bandaid ripped off at a recent brainspotting therapy session. it's been super helpful, but traumtic and terrorizing and oh it all makes so much sense. i feel like a pile of garbage, quite honestly. i had been doing very good with drinking, coffee, pot, diet, and now I either feel absolutely dreadful sober or mildly sedated with any of these other vices. the magic supplements once brought has faded... maybe i'll try some st johns wort or more theanine to curb my turmoil. everything sounds louder... more uncomfortable... not for me... it's just got to be withdrawal, right? 

 

It's for sure a rough time for many of us living in the Seattle area right now ... I've been trying to limit my exposure to the news / twitter / reddit, etc, but I'm not always successful.  I'd say you're definitely not alone in feeling anxiety, fear and or discomfort.  Hang in there - spring is still coming!

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RachelSusan
On 3/13/2020 at 11:47 AM, Ballardbeer said:

maybe i'll try some st johns wort or more

Hi Ballardbeer,

 

Before you try the St. John's Wort you may want to check out this website.  I know there is information here because I read it.  However I can't remember what it said, a lot of good that does you.  I do know there was some sort of caution attached to it.

 

As for how you feel, very possibly withdrawal. For me the feelings went on for months and months and months.  Luckily it wasn't all the time but rather it was intermittent. I too felt like a pile of garbage,  steamy smelly garbage. It's OK if you want to laugh at the last line, I did. But that is how I felt. Hang in there.

 

RS

 

 

 

 

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Ballardbeer
On 3/16/2020 at 12:48 PM, RachelSusan said:

Hi Ballardbeer,

 

Before you try the St. John's Wort you may want to check out this website.  I know there is information here because I read it.  However I can't remember what it said, a lot of good that does you.  I do know there was some sort of caution attached to it.

 

As for how you feel, very possibly withdrawal. For me the feelings went on for months and months and months.  Luckily it wasn't all the time but rather it was intermittent. I too felt like a pile of garbage,  steamy smelly garbage. It's OK if you want to laugh at the last line, I did. But that is how I felt. Hang in there.

 

RS

 

you know, i used it that day, not like i noticed any effect or even looked for it. sometimes creature comforts sound too good to be true.

 

i've been pretty sure withdrawal, my new therapy treatment (brainspotting), and COVID19 have reeked havoc on my CNS and recovery. nothing I can control. almost out of this, i can feel the end of suffering coming and it feels so good and freeing. but with society shutting down, and a lot of my healthy, active routines curbed or on hold, well shoot. i must persist... carrying on with the plan and not letting the small things get to me. 

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RachelSusan

I am glad you are feeling that improvement is coming.  It is very nice once you recover from this.  I am wishing you the very best and speedy recovery.

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