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Alton2022: Brief History, Current Struggles and Desperate Plea for any Help or Information


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10 years ago I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and began taking antidepressants. A year later I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and a year after that ADHD. In 10 years I have taken almost 50 different medications, the only ones that ever helped were a stimulant for ADHD and benzos for insomnia. Working with a new psychiatrist and discussing DSM 5 criteria for Bipolar we concluded it was a misdiagnosis and that ADHD symptoms and issues were actually the source of my problems, including the depression and anxiety because there is not enough for a separate diagnosis but rather triggered by ADHD issues, particularly rejection sensitivity, and childhood traumas. So after a decade of unnecessary psychotropic drugs I stopped suddenly in May of 2021 after insurance issues made getting my meds impossible. The two that were stopped abruptly were Abilify (Aririprazole) and Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine). I have always been very sensitive to withdrawal and experienced some level of symptoms with every discontinuation over the years. Beginning in May I went through withdrawal, including early wake insomnia (waking at 3am no matter what time I went to sleep, something never before experienced in my life), constant dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, constant watery running nose, eyes itchy and either dry or watering constantly, concentration issues, working memory problems, unable to focus (stimulant medication went from very effective to intermittently helpful depending on the day), and severe fatigue that has continued to worsen. As of now, almost a year later, my biggest struggles are with the fatigue that continues to worsen, making an ice coffee at home is too much work and the energy required too much as an example, trouble concentrating, unable to focus and get engaged, working memory problems, cognitive impairment, irritability, and impulsive decisions. A lack of worsening depression or anxiety along with these symptoms I believe confirms that they were related to ADHD and trauma (I was treated for the trauma with EMDR, which was incredibly effective and ever since have not had the relationship (or lack thereof) issues that I had previously experienced).


I work in the mental health field, would rather not say specifics, so I am well versed in doing appropriate research and using scholarly peer reviewed articles and looking directly at clinical studies and I am usually able to find information that is helpful. But PAWS has me completely stumped. I brought it up to my new psychiatrist and he seemed dismissive of my suggestion that PAWS is causing my issues, even though all other variables have been evaluated and discounted and the Sleep Specialist I saw for adjusting my sleep schedule with the early wake insomnia agreed that withdrawal from those medications was the only possible cause of the new insomnia, went over every other variable and almost all had been static or actually improving. While he seemed dismissive, he did firmly state that there is not enough literature or studies to show any efficacy of any treatment method for PAWS, regardless of if he agreed with me or not. I could not disagree with him because I have looked exhaustively and only been able to find vague references to possible treatments, such as an anti-convulsant like Lamotrigine. The only journal articles I can find that could possibly shed any light on this are on sites that only academic researchers can access so I cannot read them.


Currently what I am going through is making me so miserable that I can't put it into words and it is ruining my life. It takes every bit of physical and mental energy I have just to function in my job, other than that I can't do much of anything other than sit on my couch and watch TV. I can't do my hobbies that I am super passionate about, something as simple as playing in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, because I don't have the energy to even talk on discord for 3 hours while sitting on my couch. I am constantly miserable, if its a day where my stimulants work somewhat then I am still miserable, just slightly less so. The fatigue and cognitive issues have ups and downs but the average continues to go down and if this pattern continues I will be unable to think well enough to do my job, which ethically I am then required to not do my job, and I'd rather not think about what will happen after that.


I am extremely frustrated, mainly because this has been a known issues for decades, yet the only real research conducted seems to be related to substance abuse with alcohol, benzos, and opioids, even though a clinically significant percentage of people experience PAWS from antidepressants and/or antipsychotics, but also because this could potentially go on for years or forever, no way to know, or I could miraculously feel better one day.


Thanks for reading this far if you have haha, I appreciate the opportunity to share my story and vent a little to people who could understand what I am going through finally, but also would love to know if anyone can share any scholarly, peer reviewed research on any possible treatments or any other information that could be helpful. Its been impossible to find much of anything, and what I do find is not only not very helpful but paints a potentially dark future as well.


Thanks for your time and any help that can be offered.




Edited by ChessieCat
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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Alton2022: Brief History, Current Struggles and Desperate Plea for any Help or Information
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Hi Alton and welcome to SA.


Sorry to hear you've had such a tough run.  You sound like you may actually be doing better than many people who go cold turkey off these drugs, if that's something to take heart in.  Cold turkey is a massive problem that most people put on or even prescribing these drugs aren't well informed about.  Marc Horowitz has written some great papers you might find helpful in your field.

It is usually risky to reinstate after as long as you've been off - in your position I would favour looking at a lot of self care as you wait out your recovery.  Yoga, exercise, nature, epsom salts baths and omega 3 from fish oil (or hemp powder) are just a few things I find helpful. 



Good to hear you found EMDR helpful, it changed everything for me.



Please create a drug history in your signature so we can get a picture of your situation.




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

Please do not seek tapering support via private message - "Any reason to hold is a good one"

My taper visualised as a graph   |   My intro thread

Backdrop:  2003 10mg olanzapine | 2004 2-3mg risperidone | end 2014 3wks aripiprazole

2015: olanzapine  10 -> 7½ -> 6⅔ -> 5mg  by crude pill cutter

2018:  Mar 5.00mg -> water titrated taper -> Aug2.5mg tablet and hold

Jan 2019 2.50mg water titration -> Jan 2020 1.214  -> Jan 2021 0.44 -> 2 Oct 0.205 ->3 Oct ZERO🥂

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

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