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Will stimulant medication interfere with PAWS recovery?


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Hi everyone

It’s great to be here. I hope y’all don’t mind if I post a request for feedback from other psychiatric survivors. I am a survivor of psychiatric abuse/brain injury subsequent to a polypharmacy situation (to clarify, my former doctors tried several different brands of psychiatric drugs with me without allowing for tapering down or ramping up (off the top of my head: strattera, paxil, wellbutrin, mirtazapine, concerta, vyvanse, viibryd, celexa, plus others I can’t remember in addition to a handful of ketamine infusions and then Lamictal, which immediately preceded the noticeable-onset of my withdrawal symptoms). As a a result, today I deal with post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). I have been off of all psychiatric meds for nearly three years, but remain disabled to the point of not being able to drive a car, as well as experiencing severe brain fog. 

Recently I started seeing a doctor who has recommended stimulants (Adderall) to help me manage ADHD symptoms. I am interested in and open to pursuing this option if it might help me with my mental health, however I am hesitant given my history with psychiatric drugs.

I would love to hear from others who have dealt with psychiatric-induced PAWs who have tried stimulants for ADHD - how did it work out for you?

Thank you in advance for your help. 

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2 hours ago, mammalpod said:

Recently I started seeing a doctor who has recommended stimulants (Adderall) to help me manage ADHD symptoms. I am interested in and open to pursuing this option if it might help me with my mental health, however I am hesitant given my history with psychiatric drugs.

I think you are right to be hesitant about going on stimulants.  In PAWS our nervous systems tend to be overly activated already, and Adderall is a nervous system stimulant.  This activation manifests itself in symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, ruminating thoughts, etc.  If it were me, I would not go on any type of stimulant, or any other psychoactive substance for that matter, especially after being on the various drugs you were on in the past.  Your brain is still trying to heal and sort itself out, and adding another psychoactive drug could very possibly worsen your PAWS by further throwing off your equilibrium.  


You can go to google, and do a search "survivingantidepressants.org Adderall" and see if there are others in this situation, or try using ADHD instead of Adderall in the search term.  


Can you please give us specific information about your drug history for all drugs you are on and have been on, especially for the past 18-24 months?  It would be especially helpful to have the details of your drugs in a concise list (no symptoms), only drug names, specific dates (as best you can say for example early March if you don't recall the day) and dosages of each medication decrease or increase.  Please read the link below for instructions.  This will allow us to give you the best guidance.  


How to List Drug History in Signature



Here is some information about psych med withdrawal and PAWS:  


How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain



This helps you understand what withdrawal syndrome is: 


 Video on Recovery from Psych Drugs


What is Withdrawal Syndrome?


Keep it Simple, Slow, and Stable



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 2 that many of us find helpful are magnesium and omega-3 fish oil. Here are the links for info about those. It is suggested to add one at a time, and start with a low dose to see how it affects you. 



Omega 3 Fish Oil


Please hang in there, and be patient.  Our nervous systems take a very long time to heal due to how complex they are, and the more drugs we were on the longer it can take.  I'm proud of you for staying off the psych meds these past 3 years.  Keep us posted. 

Edited by getofflex

Please do not private message me or tag me.


***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 2010 - 10 mg;  started taper August 2017, recent taper info: 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, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, 3 PM, before bed

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

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2 mg


Paxil 2002 - 2010, switched to Lexapro 2010 

Trazodone 50 mg. 2002 - 2019, fast tapered in 2019 

Xanax 0.5 mg as needed 2002 - 2019, up to 3x weekly 

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