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Mad in America - Surviving Antidepressants: An Interview with Alto

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Great interview with Alto:


Mad in America - Surviving Antidepressants: An Interview with Alto


This podcast is an interview with Altostrata (SA's founder) and she talks about her own research and withdrawal experience and why she started this website after she was unable to get help from the medical professionals for her Paxil withdrawal symptoms.


Edited by ChessieCat
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Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 


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


And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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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There is an audio (42 minutes) and also transcript.



Edited by ChessieCat

NEW!!!     INTERVIEW with Altostrata, SA's founder    NEW!!! 


Plodding along inch by inch:  12" = 1',  3' =  36 " or 1 yard,  1760 yards  = 63,360" or 1 mile

Current from 6 Feb 2021:  Pristiq 0.365 mg

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 Oct 2015 

My 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.

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Shep I'm listening to your interview very good interview..  Thanks for this.




250mg trazodone

250mg   Aug 21, 2017  tapering before I found SA

200mg -  Aug 21, 2017 to Aug 25, 2017 tapering before found SA

225mg -  Aug 26, 2017  updose holding

November 26, 2017. I reinstated my original dose of 250mg  trazodone..planning on holding for a very long time. No more withdrawal

June 14, 2020  at 10% 507  My first start of my trazodone 250mg  taper

6/16/20  90 mgai    7/26/20   81 mgai    9/6/20  72 mg ai 10/17/20- updose to 77 mgai  11/11/20- updose to 81 mgai  



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Oh, Bravo!!!!

Thank you Alto!!


Started with psycho meds/psychiatric care circa 1988.  In retrospect, and on contemplation, situational overwhelm.

Rounding up to 30 years of medications(30 medication trials, poly-pharmacy maximum was 3 at one time).

5/28/2015-off Adderal salts 2.5mg. (I had been on that since hospital 10/2014)

12/2015---just holding, holding, holding, with trileptal/oxcarb at 75 mg. 1/2 tab at hs.  My last psycho med ever!  Tapered @ 10% every 4 weeks, sometimes 2 weeks to

2016 Dec 16 medication free!!

Longer signature post here, with current supplements.

Herb and alcohol free since 5/15/2016. 

None of my posts are intended as medical advice.  Please discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical provider. manymoretodays


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Dear Alto--Thank you so much for this interview.  And for all that you do.  I feel fortunate to have such an articulate spokesperson willing to inform and speak up on behalf of what so many people on, and coming off of, antidepressants, are having to endure.


Zoloft: 1995 - 2015

Prozac: 2015 - 2018 (tapered from 40mg x day on July 31 to 30mg on August 31 to 20mg on September 31 to 10mg October 31 to 0mg on  December 15, 2018

Gabapentin: 2016 to 2019  (tapered from 300mg x day to 150mg on August 31, 2019 to 75mg on September 15 to 50mg on September 31 to 25ishmg on October 15 to 0mg on December 1, 2019

Enalapril: 2010 - 2019

Lipitor: 2017 -2017

Metformin: 2000 - 2020

Liothyronine: 2007 - 2019

Levothyroxine: 2000 - 

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Hiya, thanks for this interview. 


I'm familiar with the term "relapse" regarding drug abuse like narcotics but not anti depressants (the negative connotation associated with drug relapse usually suggests abuse).  The first time I noticed it used referring to AD use was yesterday and the second was in this interview.  I cannot wrap my head around the context it was being used by Altostrata's doctors.  At first it seemed like an insult, as if to indicate she had failed and it was wrong of her to want reinstatement of the medication to find relief. 


Of course we know the symptoms are related to a reaction of the meds and/or discontinuation of them.  However from the doctor's perspective: if they believed it was an actual relapse (the return of her original symptoms and reason the AD was original prescribed), why would they refuse to reinstate the medication and help alleviate the symptoms?


It's soo angering and frustrating to hear of this abandonment of the doctors.  It seems to me that if they honestly believed it was a relapse in the true sense of the word they would have happily given her a prescription.  What the doctors actually seemed to be doing was punishing her for thinking her problems were caused by the medication.  


Am I correct in my perception?  

Cymbalta:  Currently 48.5 mg.  Previously 60 mg, 2011-Oct 2020.  

Taper Oct 11-13 (three day reduction of 30 mg relieved many Serotonin Toxicity symptoms but WD became too harsh). Oct 14- 24 (eleven day reduction of 10%, 54 mg).  Oct 25  (began second reduction of 10%, 48.5 mg; holding to stabilize and work on schedule).  

Zoloft  100 mg. 1993-2000 Stopped CT for pregnancy twice, then it pooped out.  Reinstated 2011-2020.    

Taper attempt:  Oct 17-24 (seven days at 87.5 mg was discontinued; reinstated to 100 mg). 


Buprenorphine: 8 mg (4 mg 2x day @ 4pm and 1am)  Atenolol: 25 mg (max 2x day; prn).  Xanax: .125 mg (max 3x day; prn; average 2x).  HRT: Transdermal weekly patch.  Melatonin OTC:  2.5 mg, sleep.  Magnesium Citrate OTC: 125 mg, dinner.

Oct-Nov 2020:  Discontinued Simvastatin 20 mg, Magnesium Glycinate, Vitamin D, and Chia Seed Extract. Growing sensitivities.

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Great job, Alto. 

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 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  


Supplements: omega, 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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Reason for Medication

Anxiety (money problems, future, lack of physical safety, dangerous environment) causing mild insomnia.



2010 - Lexapro - (took one tablet (vomiting, tremors, high anxiety) stopped without any issues)

2013 - Cymbalta - (60mg daily for 7 months - cold turkey without any major issues aside from nausea/vomiting, "brain zaps" and dizziness)

2013 - Seroquel - (a low dose for roughly 1 month - weight gain of 20kg, cold turkey because of rapid weight gain without any issues)

2018 - September 4th - (Cymbalta 20mg for two days, stopped due to tremors & anxiety)

2018 - September 9th - (Olanzapine 2.5mg until October 3rd, then 5mg once, then back to 2.5mg once, then took random varying doses every day for a week from 2.5mg up to 5.0mg due to panic caused by the drug, then I attempted withdrawal Cold Turkey (recommenced at lower dose after 4 days of trying to withdraw Cold Turkey - I took 0.625mg every night until I finally successfully stopped cold turkey roughly one week later).

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Bravo Alto!

My taper visualised as a graph   |   My intro thread

I am not a health professional - your actions are your own


Backdrop:  10mg olanzapine 2003-06.  3mg risperidone 2006-2014.  Abortive x-taper to aripiprazole Dec 2014, back to 10mg olanzapine after 3 weeks.

2015:  10 -> 7 1/2 -> 6 2/3 -> 5mg olanzapine using pill cutter

2018:  Finer taper liquid suspension 5mg to 2.5 Mar-Aug and hold

2019: Jan 2.5 | Eostre EMDR@2.1mg | Jul 1.625 | Oct 1.3

2020: Jan 1.214 | Apr 0.88 | July 0.69 | Oct 0.525

2021: Jan EMDR@0.44 | Feb 0.39

"Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country did to you"  -- KMFDM

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Thanks so much for all your hard work Alto!



Listening right now.....

- 2016 - Okt 2017 citalopram some months 15 mg some months 20 mg

- Nov 2017- Apr 2018 citalopram 25 mg

- April 2018 -  June 2018 citalopram 3 month TAPER too fast  from 25mg to 16.5 mg (0.1 mg per day decrease, felt horrible and crashed)

- June 2018 - Aug13th 2018 citalopram trying to stabilize at 16.5 mg for 5 weeks, felt absolutely awful.

- August 14th 2018 - April 29th 2019  citalopram 18 mg (1.5 mg updose). Try to stabilize.-

START TAPER 29 apr 2019 @ 18 mg,    29th Jun 16.4 mg / 19th aug 15.4 mg / 25th Aug 15.2 mg / 30th sep 14.0 mg / 4th dec 13.1 mg- 

2020 citalopram taper approx 1 % per week: 03rd Jan 12.75 mg / 28 Jan 12.29 mg / 18th Feb 11.83 mg, 25th Feb 11.68 mg hold../7th May 11.33 mg hold, 4th Aug 10.98 mg, 5th Dec 10.0 mg holding for a while.



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Thank you so much Alto for being our voice. You are doing a great job! 

Cymbalta 30 mg- 60 mg 

June 2016- October 2018 ( Cold Turkey) 

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Thank you for the great job you are doing! 

3/2012 - sertralin 50 mg, no major side effects

1/2014 - ct sertralin 50 mg (tappered 3 weeks as doctor ordered)

7/2014 - back to sertalin 50 mg, no issues

4/2016 - ct sertralin 50 mg (tappered 3 weeks, my decision)

12/2016 - back to sertalin, major side effects from the first pill and the begginning of hell

2/2017 - mirtazepine 15 mg added for insomnia

6/2017 - stopped sertralin (2 months tapper)

9/2017 - stopped mirtazepine (3 weeks taper)

waves and windows

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Thank you Alto mam. 


Was on 5mg of olanzapine since 4yrs and was trying to withdraw at the rate of 10% of the current dose per month when things went very bad mainly due to insomnia for many days. Was given 6.25mg of olanzapine. 


On 15th June 2020 ,Started to taper olanzapine at the rate of 2.5% of the previous dose every 2 weeks, that amounts to 5% of the previous dose per month.

13th Nov 2020 - 5mg of olanzapine, 900mg of sodium valproate, 0.25 mg of clonazepam 

2020 Dec - 5mg olanzapine, 900mg sodium valproate, 5 mg valium. 

Dec 15th - 5mg olanzapine, 800mg sodium valproate, 4mg valium. 

Dec 25th - 5mg olanzapine, 800 mg sodium valproate, 3mg valium. 

Jan 1 - 5mg olanzapine, 800 mg sodium valproate, 2 mg valium. 

Jan 11th - 5mg olanzapine, 800mg sodium valproate, 1 mg valium. 

Feb 2nd - 4.88mg olanzapine, 800mg sodium valproate, 0mg valium. 

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Alto has saved so many lives, as have all the moderators.  I am so grateful to be here still because of them.


2001-2011 Celexa 10 mg raised to 40 mg then 60 mg over this time period

May 2011 OB Doctor's Cold switch Celexa 60 mg to 10 mg Zoloft sertraline (baby born)

2012-2016 - Doctors raised dose of Zoloft up to 150 mg

2016 - Xanax prescribed - as needed - 0.5 mg about every 3 days (bad reaction)

2016 - Stopped Xanax

Late 2016- Began (too fast) taper of Zoloft

Early 2017 - Trazodone prescribed for bedtime (doseage unknown)

Feb 2017 - Completed taper/stopped Trazodone

Drug free since Feb 2017

2017 - Unisom otc very rarely for sleep

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shep, Thank you for posting.


I loved when Alto mentioned that once someone is labeled with a mental illness the doctors tend to discount their opinions. I also liked it when she suggested that we hold our doctor's feet to the fire with giving us answers, but while doing so we must appear extremely and calm and never raise our voices so they don't assume we have have relapsed.  I also loved the last question, what gives you hope?


Over all an excellent interview. I loved every single second of it.


Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Find my story here:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12649-rachelsusan-my-zoloft-story-on-off-reinstated-in-trouble/?hl=rachelsusan


Feb. 2016 to June 2016  - Was on 100mg to 150mg Zoloft. 

Quit Zoloft (Sertraline) June  2016,  reinstated 50mg of Zoloft July 2016.  From July 2016  to October 2016 went from 50 mg down 2.3 mg. I up-dosed in November 2016 to 12.5 mg. Held there until January 2017 when I started a much slower taper.


Dec. 10 2016  - switched to Liquid Zoloft (Sertraline) @ 12.5 mg.   Jan. 4, 2020 1.875 mg (6.3%). Jan. 25, 2020 1.75 mgFeb. 29, 2020 1.625mg (7.10%).  Apr. 4, 2020 1.5 mg. May 9, 2020 1.375 mg. June 6, 2020 1.25 mg. (9.10%). July 4, 2020 1.125 mg. (10%).  August 15, 2020 1.0 mg.  Oct 24, 2020 .875 mg.  Nov. 28, 2020 .75mgJan 16, 2021 .685mg (8.7%).

OTHER MEDICATION Gabapentin 900mg a day since July 2016, Prednisone 5mg a day and Qvar Inhalant since 2016. Vitamin D and fish oil.







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Great interview, amazing lady!

To learn that Alto took 11years to recover from Paxil 10mg withdrawal really puts things in perspective for me. There are so many sad stories on SA that mine seems trivial in comparison, however, listening to Alto, her situation is not that dissimilar to my own, withdrawing from one ssri that is and on a low dose. 

The young Royals have brought anxiety and depression to the forefront recently, having experienced some issues themselves which has been great for the cause and has given hope to many. Like Alto said, Britain is starting to take notice but it takes time to filter down to GP's themselves. I agree that we all need to play our part when speaking to our GP about how we are affected by withdrawal. I have tried with two GP's but got nowhere but, if we all speak up they would have to listen to us.

Citalopram 10 mgs 2010

Bendroflumethiazide (diuretic) 2.5 mgs 2010

Citalopram reduced to 7.5 mgs May 2019

Citalopram reduced to 5 mgs July 2019 (current dose)until

Citalopram increased to 5.25 mgs October 2020 

Citalopram reduced to 5 mgs January 2021

Citalopram increased back to 5.20 mgs January 2021 after three days

Citalopram changed to making own solution with water 5.20 mgs (29/1/21)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you Altostrata for creating this website. I've found the information here helpful and insightful, the community caring, and just knowing others are going through the same thing is comforting. Great interview. You deserve an award and a big hug!

2004 - 2020: Olanzapine 40mg for schizophrenia (Started to taper in 2016, completely off December 2020, still have withdrawals)

2004 - present: Lorazepam/Clonazepam 1mg as needed, rarely use them

2004 - 2012: Venlafaxine 75mg for depression

2008 - present: Metformin 2000mg for diabetes

2008 - 2013: Lipitor 40mg for high cholesterol

2008 - 2018: Bezalip 400mg for high triglycerides

2013 - present: Crestor 40mg, 20mg and now 10mg for high cholesterol

2016 - present: Forxiga 10mg for diabetes

2020 - present: Lurasidone 60mg for schizophrenia

2020 - present: Various supplements (100mg 5-HTP, 100mg l-theanine, 500mg GABA, Jamieson Herbal Complex (Relax and Sleep), 500mg Vitamin C, 400 IU Vitamin D, 12.5mg Zinc picolinate , 5mg Melatonin, CalmAid, 10mg CBD, 100mg l-theanine)


I've tried some other drugs short term but discontinued them early due to side effects. I can't remember all their names, antidepressants and antipsychotics, was only on them for a week or so.

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Thanks, Bobblehead and everyone.

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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I'm not sure if this is the best place for this post (I looked for a more directly relevant thread), but I wanted to thank @Altostrataonce again. I'm currently watching the webinar "Introducing the Withdrawal Series and Setting the Scene." It's the second time I've seen you speak on a panel, and once again I am wildly impressed with your clear-mindedness and eloquence. It feels incredibly therapeutic for me to hear you speak so directly and completely about this topic that I usually feel like I am dealing with alone. I wish I would've encountered even just one medical professional in the last few years who was at all familiar with this.


Luke's description of experience with CBT also completely resonated with me. It took me two years to realize that I wasn't making progress because the issues were stemming from the medication.


I also appreciated Swapnil pointing out that there is an extra social risk for some people - for example young black men who may be going through symptoms  may face disproportionate consequences in our society.


Since going through my own withdrawal experience (discontinuation, whatever the best word for it is), I look around at others differently. I can't help but wonder how much of our current societal issues stem directly from people having adverse experiences with SSRIs or similar classes of medications.


Wishing everyone good health, courage, hope, and tenacity.

2005-2009 18mg concerta on and off

2009-2013 ritalin and buproprion on and off; 2010 nortryptyline & amitriptyline for back pain following car accident

2014 Apr - lamictal for 2 weeks until breaking out in hives

2016 Mar-Sep -  st. john's wort, rhodiola, other supplements tried

2016 Nov - began citalopram (4 months)

2017 Mar  - reached dose of 30mg citalopram (11 months)

2018 Feb - began taper, ~2.5mg/month, cutting tablets (3 months)

2018 May - 20mg, tried ~17.5mg but symptoms too strong, held at 20 (11 months)

2018 Nov - tried bupropion again, stopped within a couple months

2019 Apr - began ~5%/month taper from 20mg using dissolve in water and measure with syringe method

2020 Jan - stopped lorazepam; 0.5mg lorazepam average 3x/month since began citalopram; at most 3x/week

2021 Feb - holding at 10.35mg since Oct-9, ~0.5mg lorazepam/8days since Dec-12

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