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Catscandal: Questioning my diagnosis


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Hi everyone, 


I am a 30 year old woman from California. I have been on Prozac since I was 13 years old. 3 years ago I started feeling extra depressed, and my psychiatrist doubled my dosage from 20 mg to 40 mg. I felt insanely good for a couple of weeks, and then I became even more depressed. I had made a plan to OD and kill myself. I agreed to voluntary hospitalization at the suggestion of my psychiatrist. When I was released, I was taking 10 mg of Abilify, 100 mg of Lamictal, and 20 mg of Prozac. They diagnosed me as bipolar 2. 


Over the past 3 years I have been pretty stable. I am getting my Masters in Counseling Psychology. I have been in therapy and have grown a lot. I started to question my diagnosis and whether I needed to be on medication. The more I learn about therapy and family systems, the more I wonder if I was the Identified Patient in my family. I suspect my depression as a teen was the result of a dysfunctional family, and not the result of a chemical imbalance like my parents and doctor told me.


When I talked to my psychiatrist about going off meds, he lectured me about how you don't mess with bipolar and how bipolar people always want to go off their meds. I decided to see a new psychiatrist who might be more supportive of my position, so I had a couple of sessions with a new doc and he told me how to taper. In January I tapered off the Prozac. I was pretty dizzy for a few weeks, and I felt a little more sensitive/ less blunted. Nothing intolerable. Then I went off the Abilify in March. Started losing the weight I gained when I went on it. Hooray. Now I am off the Lamictal, and boy am I struggling. The last I had any was Mother's Day, 15 days ago. 


10 days ago my boyfriend of 2 years went to visit family. Now he is back, but we are social distancing for a couple of weeks to be safe. A few days into him being gone I started spiraling. I have been spending hours scrolling Reddit to distract myself. I find it hard to get off my couch. I have been having difficulty sleeping. I feel pressure in my chest, like I can't get enough air, and the only way to get it is to yawn. I feel so disconnected and isolated. I haven't talked to my boyfriend about this, but I think he knows something is up. We have been having relationship issues and are working on it. I know I need to communicate with him about this, but I feel so far away from him that I'm having difficulty asking for support.


I have a lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions. I wonder if it would be this hard if COVID wasn't happening and life was normal. Then I would have more obligations and more human interaction. Maybe this is more a result of COVID than withdrawal. Maybe if I were on the drugs, I'd be feeling this way too. I feel disappointed in myself. I thought this would be easier. Maybe I am bipolar and I need to accept my diagnosis and go back on drugs. Maybe the psychiatrist I fired was right. 


I have an interview tomorrow. If I get an offer the new position will take up a lot of time and I will be forced off Reddit. Hopefully I can get it together and nail the interview. 


I guess I'm just looking for feedback or words of encouragement. And suggestions for things to do that will get me off my couch. Thanks for reading. I'm happy to be joining this community. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to SA, catscandal.


You went off three drugs very fast, so very likely you're experiencing withdrawal.  The symptoms you describe--hard to get off the couch, difficulty sleeping, feeling disconnected--are typical withdrawal symptoms.  Psychiatrists don't believe in the existence of withdrawal and regularly misdiagnose withdrawal as "return of the underlying condition" and prescribe more drugs. You will heal and the symptoms will gradually fade.


What is withdrawal syndrome.


Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF) 


When we take psychiatric 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 the healing process really well:


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery


Brain Remodelling 


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 (glycinate is a good form) and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 


Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 


Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 


Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.


Regarding your decision to get off the drugs, the book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, by Robert Whitaker, which I recommend, makes the point that over the long run, whatever the class of drugs--antidepressants, antipsychotics, etc.--people who get off the drugs do much better than those who stay on them.



Here's a video book trailer by the author, Robert Whitaker:


As to getting off the couch, we recommend non-drug coping skills to deal with withdrawal and life.  Take a look at the links in the following link and see which techniques might be helpful to you.
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 Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium  

End 2021  year 1 of taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of taper at 2.75mg 

Current dose as of Nov. 21, 2023 1.12mg

Taper is 94% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Taper is 87% 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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