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Nemet: SSRI cognitive impairment recovery


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Hi all,

I am quite new here but I think I really need help and support. 

I was diagnosed with OCD when I was 18 years old and I was prescribed sertraline 400mg( yes 400) and fluxetine at the same time. I was using them for couple of years and I was literally sleeping all the time. I could not keep my studies or even a normal everyday life. After a few years my OCD turned into severe depression. For which I had to keep using sertraline. Since then I have been using this medicine in at least 100 mg and I have suffered hypersomnia and cognitive impairment. 

Back in highschool I was very good studies with some nationwide medals in science. But since i have been taking antidepressants my mind is not able to learn new things or remember stuff. I have decided to stop the medicine but I feel I have lost a lot of time and I am not sure if my mind will be able to be as sharp as it used to be. Also I have heard that there a risk of dementia. Can you please help me if you have gone through a similar process?

2007-2010 Sertraline(200-400 mg) and Fluxetine 80mg for OCD

2010-2015 Changed many doctors and many medicine but it was mostly Sertraline 100mg-200mg and some tranquilizers for sleep

2015-2019 mostly Sertraline lower doses (50mg -100mg) but bunch of other medicine that I do not really remember.

August 2019 -Jan2020 Ecitalopram 10mg

Jan 2020-June 2020 Sertraline 50mg

June 2020-Oct 2020 (Cold Turkey) tried to suddenly stop Sertraline 50mg but had anxiety attacks

Oct 2020- March 2021(now) Sertraline 75mg

 

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  • Moderator
getofflex

Hello, and welcome to SA.  We are a peer owned and run forum of people who have been or are getting off of psychiatric drugs.  Yes, I have gone through the process of tapering antidepressants myself.  I congratulate you for coming here before starting your taper.  Many people go off cold turkey or taper too fast, and suffer as a result.  

 

First of all, can you please give us specific information about your drug history?  Please read the link below for instructions.  This will allow us to give you the best guidance.  

 

How to List Drug History in Signature

 

 

Tapering is best done extremely slowly, and we taper by 10% of the current dose, so that the taper becomes exponentially smaller.  This way, any withdrawal symptoms can be avoided or kept to a minimum.  

 

 Why Taper by 10% of my Dosage  

 

Also, as we are tapering, we suggest keeping things slow, simple, and stable. 

 

Keep it Simple, Slow, and Stable

 

Here is some information about how these drugs actually work.  

 

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain

 

 

When we recover, there are times of feeling OK mixed in with times of feeling bad.  This is called windows and waves.

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Here are some techniques to cope with symptoms: 

 

Non Drug Ways to Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms

 

 

We don't suggest many supplements, but 3 that many of us find helpful are magnesium, omega-3, and melatonin. Here are the links for info about those. 

Magnesium

Omega 3 Fish Oil

Melatonin

 

 

I've given you quite a bit of information here.  Please read through it, and mull it over, and we will take it from there. In the meantime, take care of yourself, and take heart.  We in this forum have been through this, and we understand.   

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10 

Trazodone.  used 50 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Xanax. used 0.5 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Benadryl 50 mg, Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, multivitamin, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 3 mg, calcium

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  • getofflex changed the title to Nemet: SSRI cognitive impairment recovery

Dear all, 

Being here and reading your messages I feel I have a new family. There has been stuff I have told doctors for years but they were not able to understand. It's so soothing to see that people in this community can understand it. 

I started with high dose of Sertraline and fluxtine when I was only 18 years old. It's been 14 years now. And I have been mostly on Sertraline. I read papers on internet about the link of antidepressants to dementia. Specailly in long term use.

We do not have dementia in the family but I am very worried because in these years my cognition has been in very low quality. Although in the last two years I have been relatively much better in focusing and learning but it's still far away than how sharp and fast my mind was. For me remembering facts is not difficult but analyzing and reasoning or drawing inferences seem to be really difficult. I am very concerned because I work in science. Is this kind of impairment drug induced? Is it something repairable? Is it related to dementia in any form? Do you have similar experience? I am really freaking out because sometimes I feel I have become very very dumb. I feel I am loosing the power of my brain. 

 

2007-2010 Sertraline(200-400 mg) and Fluxetine 80mg for OCD

2010-2015 Changed many doctors and many medicine but it was mostly Sertraline 100mg-200mg and some tranquilizers for sleep

2015-2019 mostly Sertraline lower doses (50mg -100mg) but bunch of other medicine that I do not really remember.

August 2019 -Jan2020 Ecitalopram 10mg

Jan 2020-June 2020 Sertraline 50mg

June 2020-Oct 2020 (Cold Turkey) tried to suddenly stop Sertraline 50mg but had anxiety attacks

Oct 2020- March 2021(now) Sertraline 75mg

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus
ChessieCat
Posted (edited)

Getofflex responded to your first post in your Introduction topic.  Each member has 1 Introduction topic which is the best place to ask questions and journal your progress.  This keeps your history in one place and means that you do not have to repeat your story.

 

Your topic is here:

 

nemet-ssri-cognitive-impairment-recovery

Edited by getofflex
merged to original topic

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 17 Apr 2021:  Pristiq 0.2665mg  now holding each dose for 3 weeks

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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  • Moderator
getofflex

It looks from your drug signature like you cold turkeyed off all your meds sometime between Jun and Oct 2020?  Can you possibly be more specific about which month you specifically stopped taking them, and which specific drug?  Please put this in your signature.  And now you are on Sertraline.  Yes, the cold turkeys could cause you to have some brain fog.  Please read this link: 

 

Cold Turkey

 

Your thinking difficulties can be classic signs of withdrawal, and also can be a side effect of the drugs themselves.  This thread talks about that:  

 

Brain Fog/Cog Fog

 

Yes, this is repairable, but it takes time.  Please refer to my previous post for more information. Also check this link: 

 

What is Withdrawal Syndrome

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10 

Trazodone.  used 50 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Xanax. used 0.5 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Benadryl 50 mg, Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, multivitamin, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 3 mg, calcium

Link to post
18 hours ago, getofflex said:

It looks from your drug signature like you cold turkeyed off all your meds sometime between Jun and Oct 2020?  Can you possibly be more specific about which month you specifically stopped taking them, and which specific drug?  Please put this in your signature.  And now you are on Sertraline.  Yes, the cold turkeys could cause you to have some brain fog.  Please read this link: 

 

Cold Turkey

 

Your thinking difficulties can be classic signs of withdrawal, and also can be a side effect of the drugs themselves.  This thread talks about that:  

 

Brain Fog/Cog Fog

 

Yes, this is repairable, but it takes time.  Please refer to my previous post for more information. Also check this link: 

 

What is Withdrawal Syndrome

Thank you for your response. I edited my signature. I was on 75mg of Sertraline. And I suddenly stopped because I was working on a project that required advanced analysis and creative solution. But I could feel that I am not able to think and it has been like this for more than a decade. 

I have done cold turkey quitting 3 times in 15years and each time I have got anxiety attacks after a while and gone back to the doctor. I am surprised they have never mentioned anything about withdrawal symptoms.then They have put me on higher doses. I hqve lost my skills of problem solving and analysis that sometimes I wonder how people can do it. I feel really sad and I am so disappointed that I can not believe it will come back one day. 

Two months ago I told my doctor that I can not learn anything. And I asked if he knows the possible reasons...he said it's because I am aging. I thought this is dementia and I felt so down...

2007-2010 Sertraline(200-400 mg) and Fluxetine 80mg for OCD

2010-2015 Changed many doctors and many medicine but it was mostly Sertraline 100mg-200mg and some tranquilizers for sleep

2015-2019 mostly Sertraline lower doses (50mg -100mg) but bunch of other medicine that I do not really remember.

August 2019 -Jan2020 Ecitalopram 10mg

Jan 2020-June 2020 Sertraline 50mg

June 2020-Oct 2020 (Cold Turkey) tried to suddenly stop Sertraline 50mg but had anxiety attacks

Oct 2020- March 2021(now) Sertraline 75mg

 

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  • Moderator
getofflex

Unfortunately, most doctors know little about withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.  These drugs are a huge cash cow for the drug manufacturers, and the drug companies have marketed heavily to doctors about how wonderful and necessary these drugs are, but say very little about the down side of them.  

 

So from your drug signature, it looks like you are no longer on any psych meds.  You quit Sertraline cold turkey between June and October of 2020, but then went back on 75mg, and then cold turkeyed that in Oct 2020?  I'm confused because you put "Oct 2020 - 2021" which doesn't make sense to me.  We are only in March 2021.  What specific date did you quit Sertraline most recently?  Please put that in your drug signature. 

 

I would like to reassure you that your chances of a recovery are very high.  Try reading some of the success stories on this website.  I'm almost 60, and my cognitive function is slowly getting better.  Here is a thread with some ideas about improving cognition: 

 

Improving Cognition During Healing

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10 

Trazodone.  used 50 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Xanax. used 0.5 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Benadryl 50 mg, Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, multivitamin, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 3 mg, calcium

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  • Moderator
getofflex
Posted (edited)

@Nemetcognitive brain function can be affected both by being on these drugs, and also by withdrawing off of them.  I still suffer from cog fog myself.  If it were me, I would wait until I stabilize on my current drug regimen (75 mg Sertraline).  Then, I would begin very gradual and cautious tapering program to get off - 10% every 4 weeks, if not slower, depending upon how I felt as per the link I gave you above.  

 

Please keep us posted and hang in there. 

Edited by getofflex

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10 

Trazodone.  used 50 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Xanax. used 0.5 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Benadryl 50 mg, Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, multivitamin, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 3 mg, calcium

Link to post

Dear Getofflax,

Thank you so much for your response.

I have recently moved to Portugal, I went to meet psychiatrist today to start my tapering under his supervision. But it was a horrible meeting. He told me to stop my medicine cold turkey and he prescribed an Opioid called Vicodin.I told him I would prefer supplements and I do not want other medicine but it was useless. I told him the reason to go off medicine is the cognition problems because I am in science and I need my mind to be tact. But he told me maybe I am not trying hard enough otherwise the medicine has nothing to do with cognition. That was the time I decided to leave that room.

I am really tired of being called tired or lazy for more than a decade.This made me cry today. I did not buy the medicine he prescribed. But I do not have access to another psychiatrist for supervision of my tapering. I am in a small town where he is the only psychiatrist.

What can I do? Can I start reducing the doses without a psychiatrist?

The only thing that scares me is that using antidepressants for this long without being cautious, Have I made a permanent damage to my brain?

I feel very guilty and ignorant.

2007-2010 Sertraline(200-400 mg) and Fluxetine 80mg for OCD

2010-2015 Changed many doctors and many medicine but it was mostly Sertraline 100mg-200mg and some tranquilizers for sleep

2015-2019 mostly Sertraline lower doses (50mg -100mg) but bunch of other medicine that I do not really remember.

August 2019 -Jan2020 Ecitalopram 10mg

Jan 2020-June 2020 Sertraline 50mg

June 2020-Oct 2020 (Cold Turkey) tried to suddenly stop Sertraline 50mg but had anxiety attacks

Oct 2020- March 2021(now) Sertraline 75mg

 

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Hi again. 

I went through the whole thread of Brain fog discussions and read all the messages. 

I was wondering if there is any way to check for the damage in the brain. I recently had an MRI because of a problem in my neck. The results show "non-specific" white matter change in subcortical region. I was wondering if anyone knows if this can be the result of drugs I used over the years. I am not even sure what it indicates. Neurosurgeon did not say anything about it. 

 

2007-2010 Sertraline(200-400 mg) and Fluxetine 80mg for OCD

2010-2015 Changed many doctors and many medicine but it was mostly Sertraline 100mg-200mg and some tranquilizers for sleep

2015-2019 mostly Sertraline lower doses (50mg -100mg) but bunch of other medicine that I do not really remember.

August 2019 -Jan2020 Ecitalopram 10mg

Jan 2020-June 2020 Sertraline 50mg

June 2020-Oct 2020 (Cold Turkey) tried to suddenly stop Sertraline 50mg but had anxiety attacks

Oct 2020- March 2021(now) Sertraline 75mg

 

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  • Moderator

Hello @Nemet  There are studies associating use of AD's with changes in white matter in the brain which I believe you can find at Pubmed.org online.  The good news is that there also appear to be studies showing that neuroplasticity is possible, especially when one includes good diet and exercise in one's daily routine.  (Wheeoo--perhaps damage doesn't need to be permanent.)

 

I'm really sorry you had such a bad time with your doctor.  I've also had discouraging conversations with doctors.  In the meantime, I hope you are doing ok.

Best wishes to you,

Arbor

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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  • Moderator
Gridley
On 3/30/2021 at 5:56 PM, Nemet said:

Can I start reducing the doses without a psychiatrist?

The vast majority of psychiatrists know nothing about tapering and don't believe in the existence of withdrawal.  The advice given to you by your psychiatrist is proof of this.

 

Getofflex gave you good advice on March 26.  

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 March 22: 14.4mgai.

 

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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