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Phop: First post, planning withdrawal from Prozac, Zyprexa, and lithium


Phop

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Hi all,

 

This is my first post, so please bear with me.  I hope it is okay to discuss tapering off from other psychiatric drugs besides just antidepressants.  I am currently taking 20 mg of Prozac, 2.5 mg of Zyprexa, and 1,200 mg of lithium.  I am in the research phase and in the process of planning my withdrawal, which is why I decided to join this site.  My goal is to eventually taper off of all psychiatric drugs.  I have attempted to do this several times in the past, but have ultimately failed and found myself reaching for psych meds again.

 

I first sought "professional help" back in high school when I was around 16 and my parents brought me to a psychologist, and upon his recommendation, also a psychiatrist.  I was originally diagnosed with major depression which turned into treatment-resistant major depression and then years later turned into a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in my early twenties.  I am now 29 and once again looking to taper off of the drugs that I'm taking.  My primary motivation for this is that I believe the drugs are to blame for my inability to think and feel emotions.  I always seem to find myself in this sort of state after taking psych drugs for awhile.  I turn into a zombie.  I'm flat all the time.  I have no interest in anything, no motivation for anything, no up, no down, just an unceasing flatness.  I have this constant sort of absent-mindedness that never improves.  I am stuck in a sort of thoughtless "running through the motions" type of existence.  My state is difficult to describe as it's like nothing I have ever experienced before taking psych meds.  It may be a sort of dissociation (perhaps depersonalization?).

 

However, when I have tapered off of whatever psych drugs I was taking in the past, my mind comes back.  It's truly a night and day difference.  The experience is like coming back from the dead!  The problem I have faced in the past was sustaining the return to wellness.  I think most times in the past I was withdrawn way too quickly, as the psychiatrists seem to think cutting your dose in half every week or two and then stopping the drug you may have been on for months to years in about one month is completely okay.  This, coupled with the fact that I was taking multiple drugs was really a recipe for failure.  My most recent attempt to withdraw was also my longest lasting.  I was drug free for about a year, and doing very well.  

 

So here I am, once again preparing to taper off the drugs that I'm taking in hopes of healing from them and my mind returning to life.  My main concerns at this point have to do with coming up with a reasonable and safe taper schedule.  I am very discouraged to learn that the suggested taper rate is 5-10% reduction per month from the previous month's dosage.  I have seen this number on several different websites and it is cited as being the rate generally suggested by the withdrawal community.  If that is the case, it would take me over 7 years to taper off the three drugs I'm taking.  This seems ridiculous.  I want to withdraw with a harm reduction approach in mind, and of course the goal is to be successful, but I can't stomach taking that many years to taper off.

 

How does one determine their taper schedule?  I want to be off of these drugs as soon as possible, but I also want to give myself the best chance possible to succeed.  How does one find a middle ground?  I suppose this is a very individual question, and that at least part of the answer lies in how well one tolerates an initial reduction.  Can anyone provide any suggestions or resources to learn more about tapering off?  What are some guidelines to help determine how to taper?

 

Alright, sorry if this was too long, it wasn't my original intention to write so much.  Please let me know if there are any questions or if I did not do this correctly,

 

Thank you!

Prozac:  20 mg

Zyprexa:  2.5 mg

lithium:  1,200 mg

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  • Moderator

Welcome to SA, Phop.  It's very good you came here before beginning your taper so as to avoid mistakes that invariably lengthen the tapering period.  I know it seems ridiculous to take years to taper but we have found that to be the reality.  Doing a safe, slow taper ends up being the shorter route that going too fast and having to updose, then wait to stabilize, then begin the taper anew.

 

Of course, you are free to taper at whatever rate you wish, but we can give you our guidelines and you can make your own decision. The fact  I know it was hard to wrap my mind around how long it was going to take me to taper my three drugs.  I'm looking at another year to get off Lexapro, two more years for Ativan and probably another four years for Imipramine.  

 

As you might already know, we recommend tapering by no more than 10% of current dose every four weeks, and some have to go more slowly.  The following link makes the argument for the 10% taper better than I could.  It also contains a discussion of the things to look at to determine if you can go faster.  I've not seen a more well-rounded and thorough discussion about how to determine your taper rate.

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

The 10% taper is recommended by the following;

There are two other taper methods that we recommend that may not interest you, as they are slower than the 10% taper, but I'm including these links for your information:

 

A micro-taper is the gentlest way to come off these drugs. 

 

Micro-taper instead of 10% or 5% decreases

 

The Brassmonkey Slide is a way of making micro-taper reductions weekly, as opposed to a larger reduction once a month. 

The Brassmonkey Slide Method of Micro-tapering

 

You mention that part of the answer as to taper rate may lie in how one does with an initial reduction.  This is addressed in the link, but the problem with that approach lies in the fact that often withdrawal symptoms are delayed by three months or more.  By the time they hit, you're far down the road on a too-fast taper, looking at an updose to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and facing the substantial delays in your taper that an updose entails.

 

We recommend tapering only one drug at a time.  Otherwise, if problems arise, you won't know which drug taper is the cause.  We recommend tapering the more activating drug first, in your case Prozac, leaving the more sedating drugs (Zyprexa and Lithium) to act as a buffer to be tapered later.

 

Taking multiple psych drugs? Which drug to taper first?

 

This link is specifically about tapering Lexapro.

 

Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

 

These links illustrate what we're working to avoid with the 10% taper.

 

What is withdrawal syndrome.

 

Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF)

 

This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg 

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper.  Current dose as of Oct 13: 8.1 mg 

Taper is 56.8% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 16mg.  

Held until Aug 2021, tapered for 4 weeks to 14.4mg and holding.  

Taper is 80% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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  • 5 months later...
  • Moderator

@Phop

 

Phop,

 

I just noticed I gave you the link for tapering off Lexapro when I should've posted the link to tapering off Prozac.  Here it is:

 

Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

 

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg 

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper.  Current dose as of Oct 13: 8.1 mg 

Taper is 56.8% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 16mg.  

Held until Aug 2021, tapered for 4 weeks to 14.4mg and holding.  

Taper is 80% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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