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Gizmo: planning my taper


gizmo

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Hi everyone, 

 

I recently came upon this website after becoming skeptical of psychiatry due to my own experience of being on and off meds since the age of 17 (I just turned 29) and experiencing really debilitating experiences with side effects and now what i see were withdrawal symptoms. I'm meeting with my current psychiatrist next week to discuss my decision to taper off meds completely. It's important to me to experience my life med-free as I've felt flatlined and disconnected, and a tremendous amount of brain fog and cognitive dysfunction and memory issues since I began taking these meds. Thankfully I work in mental health myself as a therapist in private practice and have contacts with holistic practitioners who I'm working with to connect me to a psychiatrist I can work with on a slow taper if my psychiatrist responds poorly to my decision. Below is my history, and my primary concern is my cognitive decline, which a past psychiatrist told me was ADHD and my current one is convinced is depression. Currently I'm on 20mg of cymbalta after going on and off prozac, wellbutrin, and zoloft very quickly, and i can't tell if the current feeling of low mood, apathy, fatigue, and brain fog are from cymbalta or withdrawal symptoms from the other meds. Anyway, I feel like a total mess and I'm just so sick of it, and it's so difficult to communicate and hold a conversation, it's so concerning, and I'm terrified I won't feel cognitively functional again - I'm good at faking it but that's not ideal. 

 

History: I began SSRI's when I was 17 for anxiety, I was prescribed lexapro. I got off of lexapro at the age of 19. At that time I was medication free for just over one year before getting onto prozac for anxiety. I was then switched to effexor, and then there is a few year period where i can't remember if i was on prozac again or off, but a few years later i got onto wellbutrin, then prozac, then off prozac over the course of a few years. Then there was a period of time i was on and off of prozac. At the time i believed i always had to go back on because i was going through a relapse. Now I see that I was experiencing withdrawal. There were two instances where I got off prozac 40mg cold turkey, which resulted in my having to go back on due to thinking I relapsed and needed meds for life. Then I was prescribed amphetamines in addition to the prozac for a year, then went off amphetamines. Then within this past year I was taken off the prozac and put onto wellbutrin, then added zoloft, then got off both and tried the zoloft alone, then got off that and went on wellbutrin and prozac, then off both of those and put onto cymbalta, then off all of those and put back on wellbutrin, and then off wellbutrin and back on cymbalta, all at different dosages and various XL/SR/etc. 

 

I'm happy to be here and to have found you all!

 

Gizmo

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Gizmo: Planning my taper
  • Moderator

Welcome to SA, Gizmo.

 

With all the drugs they've put you on, it's impossible to untangle what's causing what, but your symptoms sound like withdrawal from some or all the drugs you've been on.

 

What is withdrawal syndrome.

 

Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF) 

 

Brain Remodelling 

 

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.  

 

You will heal from this withdrawal, but unfortunately we can't predict how long it will take.

 

To get to the matter at hand, your Cymbalta taper, you need to be aware that the vast majority of psychiatrists know nothing about withdrawal (they don't believe it exists) or safe tapering and invariably try to taper their patients too fast.  We recommend tapering by no more than 10% of your current dose every 4 weeks.

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

The following link is specifically about tapering Cymbalta.  Does your Cymbalta capsule contain hundred of tiny beads or 4 to 12 little tabs?  For both versions, this link explains how to get the nonstandard doses you'll need for your 10% taper.

 

Tips for tapering off Cymbalta (duloxetine)

 

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. 

 

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.

 

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.  Current Valium dose as of Feb 22, 2022: 4.8mg 

March 22, 2022: hold at 4.8 and shift to Imipramine taper

Taper is 74% complete.

 

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

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

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper.  Current dose as of May 17: 10.5mg 

Taper is 86% 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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Hi Gridley! Thank you so much for the warm introduction and the information. I really appreciate it! I forgot to mention I've also been on and off trazodone. May I ask, how do you go through a slow taper if most psychiatrists don't believe that it's necessary? I'm hoping to find a psychiatrist to help but its likely I may not find one who understands..

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • Administrator

Welcome, gizmo.

 

17 hours ago, gizmo said:

May I ask, how do you go through a slow taper if most psychiatrists don't believe that it's necessary?

 

Good question. Don't ask permission from a psychiatrist. Any doctor can prescribe these drugs, it doesn't have to be a psychiatrist. As few doctors of any kind grasp tapering or withdrawal symptoms, patients need to direct their own tapers. We offer Tips for tapering off Cymbalta (duloxetine) as a starting point for productive discussion with a cooperative doctor.

 

Before you taper: How long have you been taking Cymbalta? Do you feel any adverse effects from it? When was the last time you made a dosage change?

 

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.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

You might find this topic helpful:  how-to-talk-to-a-doctor-about-tapering-and-withdrawal-what-to-expect

 

Something that I suggest to members when they need something from their doctor is to write down what you want to say and rehearse it.  You need to be assertive without being arrogant.  Saying something like I would like to try this or I'd prefer to do it this way.  If they suggest something different (eg adding or changing a drug) you can say something like I would like to think about that before I make a decision.

 

If a doctor wants you to taper faster you can say something like I realise that many people can probably get off their drug quickly but I'd prefer to be cautious and do it slowly because I don't want to risk getting withdrawal symptoms.

 

In Post #1 of the topic I linked above there is a link to the DSM-5 - Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome DSM-5 995.29 (T43.205A) which you could take note of the details and give to the doctor.

 

We need to advocate for ourselves.  We are the customer and it is our body and lives which are being affected, not theirs.  Doctors are human and, just like the rest of us, they do not know everything.

 * * * * * *   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO   * * * * * *

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

Woohoo!!!  Finally off Pristiq    Post 0 updates start here

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

My full tapering program     My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)    My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you.

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  • 5 months later...

Hi everyone, thank you all for your feedback. It's been really helpful. I've been off all my meds since mid June and I've been feeling terribly. I know that there are folks who take off work to focus on recovery from withdrawal but I can't do that. The worst part is I am a psychotherapist and have to do a lot of intellectual and emotional labor all day, and frankly I can't function and feel like it's really hard to work like this. A part of me is considering going back onto wellbutrin because I know that was helpful and I wasn't on it for too long. The drug I was on for the longest was prozac. I recently watched an interview with you, Alto, in which you said that once we get off of meds the target receptor is adjusting in withdrawal. I believe that the target receptor thats adjusting most is my serotonin receptor due to being on prozac the longest. My question is this - if i were to go onto wellbutrin, which doesn't work on serotonin, would my serotonin receptor continue to adjust and recover since it's not being engaged with by the wellbutrin? My brain is screaming to be put back on meds. My cognitive functioning is really impacting my work and personal life. Please help! Thank you in advance. I'm also really afraid I won't recover since I cold turkeyed twice and might be better off just being on an antidepressant like wellbutrin for life vs suffering and struggling so much, especially with a job with such huge responsibility. 

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Gizmo: planning my taper

Is there any hope for me getting better? I feel really afraid

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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Is there any hope at all? Does anyone know of stories from folks who have cold turkey'd twice???

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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I feel like calling up a psychiatrist and going back on meds :( i can't function

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • Moderator
5 hours ago, gizmo said:

Does anyone know of stories from folks who have cold turkey'd twice???

Shep, one of our administrators, cold turkeyed (or fast tapered which amounts to the same thing) not only twice but somewhere around five different drugs and is doing extremely well and just wrote her success story.   She had been on just about every variety of psychiatric drug for around 30 years.  IHere's a link which also links to her history.  I think it would be worth your while to read it.

 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

 

 

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.  Current Valium dose as of Feb 22, 2022: 4.8mg 

March 22, 2022: hold at 4.8 and shift to Imipramine taper

Taper is 74% complete.

 

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

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

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper.  Current dose as of May 17: 10.5mg 

Taper is 86% 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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Thank you Gridley. Shep's story is really inspirational. I'm at a really difficult point in my career and my job is really demanding. Would it set me back tremendously to reinstate a low dose of wellbutrin to get me through this period? Since I had mostly been on prozac, i believe my serotonin receptors are the receptors that are most damaged, though i can't be sure. Would taking wellbutrin, which doesn't act on serotonin, impact the healing of my serotonin receptors? 

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • Moderator
35 minutes ago, gizmo said:

reinstate a low dose of wellbutrin

 

You're five months off the Wellbutrin.  Reinstatement works most predictably within 3 months after your last dose.  So it might work or it might make things worse.  Please read: About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms. -- at least the first page of the topic

 

35 minutes ago, gizmo said:

i believe my serotonin receptors are the receptors that are most damaged, though i can't be sure. Would taking wellbutrin, which doesn't act on serotonin, impact the healing of my serotonin receptors? 

 

Withdrawal is a complicated process.  What's happening to your serotonin receptors is only one factor of what's happening in your brain, some of which is known and others not and all of which are interconnected.  So there's no way to pinpoint what's happening or to try to bulls-eye a fix.  From our experience, the two things that help toward healing are time and, only when appropriate, reinstatement.

 

What was the date of your last Wellbutrin dose, how much was that dose nd what type of Wellbutrin were you taking?

 

 

 

 

Edited by Gridley

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.  Current Valium dose as of Feb 22, 2022: 4.8mg 

March 22, 2022: hold at 4.8 and shift to Imipramine taper

Taper is 74% complete.

 

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

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

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper.  Current dose as of May 17: 10.5mg 

Taper is 86% 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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  • 2 weeks later...

@Gridley thank you so much. I honestly don't even remember when my last wellbutrin dose was. I was put on and off so many different drugs so fast. I should have kept a list.

 

@Altostrata i'd really like to get your thoughts on something. I'm a therapist and am taking care of a lot of people right now. I wonder if it's ethical for me to be without medication if this is how it makes me feel. My functioning with work is really suffering, and I really worry that I'm going to cause harm. And for possibly 2.5+ years?! I wonder if it would be better for me to just commit to a life of antidepressants since I know that, while I feel emotionally numb on them, my brain is at least accustomed to them to the point where i can think and process information more easily, and have a conversation

 

I am really scared that I am doomed to feeling this way forever, especially since i cold turkey'd twice, and that in trying to move through withdrawal, my whole career that i've worked so hard to build will crumble to pieces 

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • Administrator

gizmo, withdrawal syndrome is not depression. Maybe your receptors are adapting, but the rest of your nervous system and body need to adjust, too.

 

What are your main symptoms now? It sounds like you have brain fog? How's your sleep?

 

Many people find fish oil and magnesium supplements helpful, see
https://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/
https://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/15483-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

 

You might try a little bit of one at a time to see how it affects you.

 

What were the last drugs you were on before you went off all of them June 2020, and how long were you on each of them?

 

You said you went through a lot of drug switches, did you ever feel withdrawal symptoms after a drug switch?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Thank you @Altostrata My symptoms are physical, cognitive, and emotional. In a wave I have really bad anhedonia, emotional blunting, and depression. Generally, I have bad anxiety and cortisol spikes, especially in the mornings, as well as insomnia. My worst symptoms are cognitive. I feel stupid. Like I can't hold a thought, and can't properly communicate with anyone or process what they're saying. My brain is blank and when I try to have a thought I can't sustain it without tremendous effort. 

 

HOWEVER, I must be in a window currently because since last posting December 2nd (it's now Dec 9), I feel SO much better. My work is coming more easily to me, conversations aren't as difficult, I'm able to sleep more easily and my mood isn't as low. Something I'm doing is helping and I'm not sure what but here's my daily routine re supplements, etc - fish oil and vitamin e in the morning along with Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee which has chaga and lions main mushroom, which is good for the brain, and in the evenings I take more fish oil, melatonin, and 50mg of magnesium

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • Administrator

That sounds like classic withdrawal syndrome, including the improvement.

 

You can strengthen your sleep by working with your natural daily biological rhythm. Your natural melatonin production is triggered by darkness. Lowering the lights at night, keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule, and blocking the light in your bedroom with blackout shades and curtains will help. Also, avoid exposure to bright computer or phone screens for several hours before bed.

 

Tips to help sleep -- so many of us have that awful withdrawal insomnia

 

Path to Better Sleep FREE online for everyone from the US Veterans Administration

 

Music for self-care: Calms hyperalertness, anxiety, aids relaxation and sleep

 

TV or computer use in evening can disrupt sleep: Bright light signals the brain that it's daytime

 

 

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Back in a wave. It's wild. I'm having windows and waves in the same week now. Maybe thats a good sign since its not just a wave for weeks on end. @Altostrata does that indicate healing, when there are more frequent windows? 

Off all meds since mid June 2020

November 2020 - feeling really sick, cognitive delays, memory issues, difficulty focusing, low mood, apathy, anxiety

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  • Moderator Emeritus
8 hours ago, gizmo said:

does that indicate healing, when there are more frequent windows? 

 

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

 

 

 

 * * * * * *   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO   * * * * * *

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

Woohoo!!!  Finally off Pristiq    Post 0 updates start here

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

My full tapering program     My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)    My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Any improvement is a good sign that recovery is happening.  However the brain is busy working on different areas so symptoms can come and go and change.

 

the-windows-and-waves-pattern-of-stabilization

 

I really like the Rubik's cube analogy.  I've solved a cube following along to a Youtube video and there are times when you think it will get messed up and you will have to start again, and then all of a sudden a couple more twists and turns and it is solved:

 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 * * * * * *   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO   * * * * * *

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

Woohoo!!!  Finally off Pristiq    Post 0 updates start here

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

My full tapering program     My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)    My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you.

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  • Administrator

More frequent windows are good.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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