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potato: Journey quitting Paroxetine (and psychiatry)


potato

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Hi everyone, thanks for this very helpful forum, which I have been consulting here and there for some time, and which ultimately helped me to start my newest tapering process and regain hope that I can one day not take a pill every morning.

 

Following a tumultuous 2013 full of panic attacks and somatic symptoms which were never confirmed as "physical" diseases, I have tried a number of drugs (I don't remember them, but there was also one antipsychotic, which really made me vulnerable) before I was put on 20 mg Paroxetine in Dec 2013. I was also taking 1 or 2 mg Lorazepam daily for the first 1,5 months of Paroxetine, until it would have really kicked in. After these initial 6 weeks, I stopped daily Lorazepam and would only take it circumstantially later on (when panic was too much to bear). Ultimately, I managed to have some sort of life (maybe thanks to it?) that was not as horrible as 2013.

 

Due to improved well-being and in collaboration with my former psychotherapist, I tried reducing Paroxetine twice according to psychiatrists'  stupid advice (sth like cutting down 5 mg every few weeks) around 2015-16, and both times plunged into the pit of despair, cold and hot flashes, shivers, non-stop crying and non-stop suicidal ideation on days 3-4. Both times I returned to the initial dose (20 mg), supplemented by the use of Lorazepam to stabilize in the moment. Those were by far the most horrible psychic experiences in my life. It is maybe also important to say that in 2013 and still in these years I was smoking weed daily, which really contributed to mood swings and made it hard for me to tell what is affecting me.

 

Nevertheless, I continued to want to cut the Paroxetine. The year I went on it I started gaining weight, in 2020 I was getting heart palpitations (possibly from the effect of the weight too). Thanks to the therapist I started with in 2017, I was able to tackle some old **** and also found the ground to not consult psychiatrists anymore. I began mentioning to my therapist that I want to reduce the drug, because I felt that it was preventing me from accessing some deeper feelings about the events that led to being prescribed it. With their encouragement, I spent about half a year planning how I would go about this, downloading taper calculators, and waiting for the moment of security (I was offered a new professional role that allowed me not to worry about how I would live in the next couple of years).

 

Thanks to doing better overall, I was able to reduce the amount of weed I was smoking to zero. And, after a few months in my new professional role (and indeed feeling more secure thanks to it), I started my third (current) Paroxetine reduction in January 2021, using advice from this site. My initial reduction was 8% a month from the last dose, made my cutting the pill myself and weighing it with a small scale.

 

So far, the highlights:

 

*It was very important for me to overcome the initial fear of tapering and the anxiety that the worst would repeat. This was the hardest bit about the first few months.

 

*Quitting weed before this helped me isolate this Paroxetine experiment and feel like I was more or less in control of what what happening, or, at least, could more or less respond to what was worrying me. I am back to smoking recreationally this summer, but I make breaks whenever it feels like it's not helpful at all.

 

*I am peaking with withdrawal on weeks 2-3 (get really anxious mostly, had a few panic attacks, baseline impatient and insecure, some flu-like symptoms and lowkey dizzy), but it has always gotten better by week 4. This lead me to believe that this could as well be my menstrual cycle. Actually, I still cannot tell. But what I can tell is that knowing to expect this helps survive those worst weeks.

 

*There have been a few times when in week 3 I have questioned the entire process, fearing that I will get worse or that this will make me much more vulnerable to the world which I wont survive, and all this work will be in vain. I needed to acknowledge that 1). i WAS making myself way more vulnerable by this process, and 2). that it will probably get better; but if it does not, I can always not reduce next month to stabilize.

 

*Since summer is nice and I do more exercise and have less responsibilities where I must be super presentable, I am trying -10% this month. The anxiety started hitting in the end of week 2, which was the day before yesterday. Holding strong and hoping a bike trip will help go through this.

 

If anyone read until here, thank you and nice to meet you! :)

 

 

20 mg Paroxetine since 2013

two bad attempts to quit ended up in crashes around 2015-16

began tapering in 2021

13,5 mg Paroxetine / Aug 2021

 

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  • getofflex changed the title to potato: Journey quitting Paroxetine (and psychiatry)
  • Moderator

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.  Congratulations for doing such a careful and well thought out taper off Paroxetine!  It sounds like you are being very proactive, cautious, and intelligent about your taper.  It's great that you are tapering properly.  

Are you altogether off the Lorazepam now?  What specific type of flu like symptoms are you having?  

 

We at SA suggest that when people are tapering, they avoid alcohol and any other type of mind altering substance like weed.  This can interfere with tapering, because it affects the nervous system.  Our nervous systems tend to be fragile and sensitive while tapering, and adding another psychoactive substance can further destabilize it.  If you have symptoms, you won't know if its caused by the weed or the paroxetine.  Please read https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/18698-cannabis-marijuana-hashish-thc-cbd-cannabidiol-or-hemp-oil/?do=findComment&comment=510680

 

 

 

Here is some information about how these drugs actually work.  

 

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain

 

 

This helps you understand what withdrawal syndrome is: 

 

 Video on Recovery from Psych Drugs

 

What is Withdrawal Syndrome?

 

Tapering is best done extremely slowly, and we taper by 10% of the current dose no more than once every 4 weeks, so that the taper becomes exponentially smaller.

 

 Why Taper by 10% of my Dosage  

 

Tips for Tapering Paroxetine

 

 

Also, as we are recovering, we suggest keeping things slow, simple, and stable. This is extremely important. 

 

Considerations About Stability Stop Jumping Around

 

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. 


Magnesium

 

Omega 3 Fish Oil

 

I hope the information given here is helpful.  Keep in touch, and let us know how you are doing. 

Edited by getofflex

Please do not tag me, unless it is an urgent question about tapering or reinstatement. 

 

***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, 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!!!

Ibuprofen 800 mg, Tylenol 1000 mg, Benadryl 50 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone on occasion, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

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

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

suppl noon: calcium

suppl supper: calcium

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2 mg

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Thanks, getofflex! Many helpful links here, I will be looking into this.

 

I am not totally off Lorazepam. I take it (0,5 and sometime 1 mg if it does not work) when I am really unwell or cannot sleep. But this is rare/irregular.

 

With flu-like symptoms I really cannot tell if it is pms or withdrawal. I seem to get some kind of a cold every month now. It last a few days around the 3rd week of my tapering schedule. Some sniffles and general reduced energy/ feeling fragile and sensitive to the cold (which otherwise I am not). Sometimes a wave of heat/sweat will brush over me (which feels hormonal).

 

So, right now I am in the middle of week 3 of the tapering cycle (4-week tact) and I have a cold and also still feel atrocious emotionally. The bike trip did take the edge off the crazy anxiety I was feeling some days ago, but, being back in the city I am now I am at what I call the anhedonic plateau: things that I tend to enjoy work just well enough to get me to feel "less bad," but overall I am having lots of worries and cannot really get into work long enough to become distracted or excited by it.

 

Maybe doing -10% this month was a mistake. I thought August will be less busy and I will have more opportunities to focus on stress reduction. But I do have a number of deadlines and travel plans now, which are keeping me too alert and disappointed with my level of ability, which surely makes the suffering worse. I guess I will be back to my -8% scheme next month, if I continue the reduction at this time. 

 

But I am hopeful. If the last half a year is any indication, everything will get better within the next 3-5 days. Just a matter of bearing with it.

 

 

 

 

20 mg Paroxetine since 2013

two bad attempts to quit ended up in crashes around 2015-16

began tapering in 2021

13,5 mg Paroxetine / Aug 2021

 

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  • Moderator

PMS and hormones will definitely mess with us.  I'm menopausal myself, and hot flashes sometimes keep me up at night.  Hormones can cause high emotions, irritability, fatigue, and other stuff. I'm glad the bike trip helped with anxiety.  🙂  Anhedonia is very common in WD - I know I've had that a lot myself. 

 

It might be a good idea to hold for a longer period this time around.  Perhaps give yourself an extra week to a month to let things settle in your nervous system.  One key concept we stress here at SA is to listen to your body.  Wait until you feel stable to do another dose reduction instead of sticking to a calendar.  Here are some links that will help you know what stability is.  Also, just a heads up, intense exercise can also exacerbate WD symptoms.  

 

Stability

 

https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/17647-tao-of-the-brassmonkey/page/4/?tab=comments#comment-392566

 

Please do not tag me, unless it is an urgent question about tapering or reinstatement. 

 

***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, 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!!!

Ibuprofen 800 mg, Tylenol 1000 mg, Benadryl 50 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone on occasion, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

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

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

suppl noon: calcium

suppl supper: calcium

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2 mg

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  • 1 month later...
On 8/6/2021 at 4:12 PM, getofflex said:

PMS and hormones will definitely mess with us.  I'm menopausal myself, and hot flashes sometimes keep me up at night.  Hormones can cause high emotions, irritability, fatigue, and other stuff. I'm glad the bike trip helped with anxiety.  🙂  Anhedonia is very common in WD - I know I've had that a lot myself. 

 

It might be a good idea to hold for a longer period this time around.  Perhaps give yourself an extra week to a month to let things settle in your nervous system.  One key concept we stress here at SA is to listen to your body.  Wait until you feel stable to do another dose reduction instead of sticking to a calendar.  Here are some links that will help you know what stability is.  Also, just a heads up, intense exercise can also exacerbate WD symptoms.  

 

Stability

 

https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/17647-tao-of-the-brassmonkey/page/4/?tab=comments#comment-392566

 

Thanks for this. With hormonal changes: do you try to figure out what it is exactly, or just get by with acceptance?

 

I figured it doesn't *really* matter for me what the cause is (pms, withdrawal hangover) - so long that I feel really crappy, I need to slow down and get back to basics: sleep, eat, move, work (but not pushing), play. Basically, stop the (over)achievement script which is kinda at the background for me constantly. It's hard when external things are pushing (deadlines or other responsibilities), but I just tell myself that in the short term the goal for me is to survive, so I try to get by on base minimum.

 

In August-September, I had a wonderful tapering experience for exactly one month during and following some mostly-leisure trips. But then I started smoking weed again, and, fast forward to now, beginning of week 3 after the dose change event: collapsing. Today is a bad day, I am just bursting into tears all day, feeling really lonely, devastated, catastrophizing. Managed to start doing something quite repetitive and exhausting (cleaning out my closet) to work off the annoying energy.

20 mg Paroxetine since 2013

two bad attempts to quit ended up in crashes around 2015-16

began tapering in 2021

13,5 mg Paroxetine / Aug 2021

 

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  • Moderator

Please do not smoke weed or use any other mind altering substances while you’re in withdrawal. That can really mess with you with your nervous system becoming more Destabilized.  Anything that messes with your nervous system can cause a lot of symptoms.  
 

As far as the hormonal stuff I get by with acceptance. Not always easy there’s times when my husband listens to me bellyache about it.  

Please do not tag me, unless it is an urgent question about tapering or reinstatement. 

 

***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, 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!!!

Ibuprofen 800 mg, Tylenol 1000 mg, Benadryl 50 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone on occasion, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

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

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

suppl noon: calcium

suppl supper: calcium

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2 mg

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