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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!!! 


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  Current from 14 Nov 2020:  Pristiq 0.50 mg

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

My website - includes my brief history + links to videos & information on the web

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


REMINDER TO SELF:  I don't need the drug now, but my still brain does.

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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 circa 1988 I think 27 or 28 total.

AD's, antpsychotics, antiseizure mood stabilizers. Lithium, lamictal ,benzos, and stimulants. Some med. for narcolepsy once(Provigil,) Gabapentin........probably more.  Ask me?......I probably was on it.  Haphazard W/D's by Dr. recommend or uneducated self.

10/2014- off Lexapro--had been on highest dose 10 mg. then 5 mg. for a couple of years, went from 5 mg. to 3 mg. liquid and then CT in hospital(voluntary).  I got out of the hospital on a combination of low dose adderal salts x1/day and trileptal 150mg. x2/day.

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!


3/21/2016---I did some unwise updosing of trileptal/oxcarbazepine with some stressful stuff......doubled the above dose x2 during this last wave but began liquifying again and on approximately 68mg. starting today.  11/12//2016 24 mg. oxcarbazepine  12/9/2016 off oxcarbazepine/trileptal!!!! :) optimistic  2016 December 9- completely off all medications!!!!!

Omega3's,EPA +DHA= 1800 mg/day. Magnesium complex, orally, diluted in a liter of H2O(that I can shake up.....it usually dissolves more completely as the water gets down to room temperature) and/or Epsom salt baths prn.   Vit. C, D3, and E.  B12, melatonin tapered to 1mg., and bioidentical hormones sublingually.  Trace mineral drops.  L-lysine.  L-methylfolate=400 mcg plus daily spinach. Totally ready for a good long window to hit soon and getting better strings of full days and partial days along the way.  Definite improvement overall since I first arrived on the SA survivor ship.  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.


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

Nov.27, 2020 Begin 6-week Ativan-Valium crossover.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 15mg.  Aug 2016, discovered SA, updosed to 25mg and holding.  Taper is 66% complete.  


Supplements: omega, vitamins E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, 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!

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


My taper visualised as a graph   |   My intro thread


10mg olanzapine 2003-06.  3mg risperidone 2006-2014 gave slight weight loss but mediocre sleep.  Abrupt x-taper to try aripiprazole Dec 2014 increasingly restless (Freddy the blind man could've seen that coming, shame about the pdoc) then back onto 10mg olanzapine after 3 weeks.

Round 1:  2015   10 -> 7 1/2 -> 6 2/3 -> 5mg olanzapine.   Hadn't researched, just decided to try it myself with pill cutter.  Easy enough.  Next cut to 3 1/3mg for 2 weeks had me struggling to function.  Reverted to 5mg, thought that was as far as I could go.

Round 2:  Given Breggin to read, found SA.  Taper from 5 to 2.5mg over five months.  Titrate liquid suspension using Rhi's method.  Cuts and holds all done by feel.  All samples at start of month in mg:

2018:  Feb 5.0 | Mar 4.5 | Apr 4.25 | May 3.7 | Jun 3.3 | Jul 3.1 | Aug 2.9 | Sep 2.5 and six month hold

Round 3:  2.5mg and below.  EMDR work unearthed and resolved root trauma at around 2.1mg

2019:  Jan 2.5 | Feb 2.3 | Mar 2.215 / EMDR / Apr 1.976 | May 1.875 | Jun 1.825 | Jul 1.625 | Aug 1.525 | Sep 1.46 | Oct 1.3 | Nov 1.225 | Dec 1.25

2020:  Jan 1.214 | Feb 1.1 | Mar 1.0 🙂 | Apr 0.88 | May 0.82 | June 0.74 | July 0.69 | Aug 0.61 | Sep 0.59 | Oct 0.525 | Nov 0.5 | Dec 0.485

‘If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.’  -- Ram Dass

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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 mg2020 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. Holding because of not feeling well.



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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. 

1st march 2020 ;Tab olanzepine 6.5mg ; Tab sodium valproate 1500mg ; Tab valium 5mg


Withdrawn from sodium valproate in2019 dec

Withdrawn from clonazepam in September 2019

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 nights.

And so was back on all of the above mentioned medications. 


Currently on 6.25mg of olanzapine: 1400mg of sodium valproate and 2.5mg of diazepam as and when needed. 


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.I am on 6.1mg of olanzapine currently from 6.25mg.Also on 900 mg of sodium valproate currently. 

1st July 2020 5.95mg of olanzapine and 900mg of sodium valproate. 

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

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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 19, 2017 reduced to 12.0 mg (4%).   Feb 9 2017 reduced to 11.0 mg (8%). March 1 2017 to 10.0 mg (9 %).  March 21 2017  to 9.5 mg (5%). April 1 2017  to 9.0 mg (5.3%). April 10 2017 to 8.5 mg (5.6%). April 22 2017  8.25 mg (2.9%). April 29 2017  8.0 (3.0%). May 6 2017  7.75 mg (3.1%).  May 14 2017  7.5 mg (3.2%). May 20 2017 to 7.25 mg (3.3%). May 27 2017 reduced to 7.0 mg (3.4%). June 10 2017  to 6.75 mg (3.6%). June 17 2017 to 6.5 mg (3.7%). June 24 2017 6.25 mg (3.8%). July 1 2017 reduced to 6.0 mg. July 8 2017 5.75 mg. July 15 2017 5.5 mg. July 22 2017 5.25 mg.  Aug 5 2017  5.0 mg.  Dec. 9, 2017  4.75 mg (5%).  Feb. 10, 2018 4.50 mg.   March 15, 2018 4.375 mg (2.8% decrease). April 3, 2018 4.25 mg (2.9%). May 14, 2018 4.125% (2.9%). June 16, 2018 4.0 mg (3.0%).  July 21, 2018 3.875mg. August 11, 2018 3.75mg (3.2%). Sept. 12, 2018 3.62mg (3.3%).  Oct. 13, 2018 3.5mg (3.4% decrease). Nov. 29, 2018 3.375mg (3.6% decrease). Jan. 20, 2019 3.25 mgFeb 16, 2019 3.125mg (3.8%). April 7, 2019 3.0mg (4.0%).  May 18, 2019 2.875mg (4.2%). June 22, 2019 2.75mg (4.3%)July 27, 2019 2.62mg (4.5%). August 18, 2019 2.5mg (4.8%). Sept. 14, 2019 2.375mg (5.0%) Oct.19, 2019 2.25mg.  Nov. 16, 2019 2.12mgDec. 7, 2019 2.00mg (5.9%). 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 .75mg.

OTHER MEDICATIONS: Gabapentin - 900 mg since July 2016, Prednisone  5mg.  QVAR Inhalant,  Supplements: Vitamin D, Probiotic, and Fish Oil.





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