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lavenderburning: sertraline and recovery side effects, tapering down with support


lavenderburning

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Hi all! 

 

I was introduced to this forum by a mental health newsletter, Sluggish (I highly recommend!), at a very opportune time. I have been taking 100mg sertraline for a little over two years now, after moving away from self medicating with diphenhydramine (DPH), an antihistamine that comes as anti-allergy medication (most notably Benadryl) and as over-the-counter sleep-aids, which is how I got them. I'm happy to talk to people about the effects of DPH and how I eventually got off it. I was a minor at the time and was experiencing medical neglect so I can also speak to this topic a bit. I feel like it's often overlooked in conversations about medications of all kinds for minors. I eventually was able to connect with a prescriber and got on sertraline and pretty soon after was taking 100mg. Around the same time I was finally able to get on the birth control pill and that was a miracle drug for me, I was so happy to finally stop suffering through intense and draining menstrual cycles and that in itself really improved my mental health.

 

Now, two years later, I've started thinking of going off my meds for a while, which makes everyone around me nervous. I feel so much better though, now that I'm living at college and I'm out of my home situation. I've had really bad fatigue for the past six month, with no explanation that my doctor could find. Eventually, after reconnecting with my former therapist, we figured out that I was probably experiencing side effects from the sertraline after "outgrowing" it, which was really validating to hear. I'm supposed to see my prescriber to talk about tapering off soon, although I've already started reducing my dose myself because now that I know what's causing my fatigue and emotional numbness, I can't keep taking my full dose and knowingly making myself miserable. 

 

Anyway, I'm happy to have found you all and looking forward to talking!

 

-Lavender

Leaving sertraline after (mostly) healing!

 

2019-2020: unprescribed use of diphenhydramine (DPH) (an over-the-counter antihistamine, used in Benadryl and sleep-aids) usually 25 or 50 mgs as needed

2020-22: 100mg sertraline

2020-now: birth control pill (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), started taking it with no break in 2021

May 2022: tapered down to 50mg sertraline

 

My intro topic

 

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Just to clarify on the tapering I'm doing, I started snapping my 100mg tablets in half a few days ago, so I'm getting about 50mg. Currently feeling kind of sleepy and nauseous, but mostly okay. 

Leaving sertraline after (mostly) healing!

 

2019-2020: unprescribed use of diphenhydramine (DPH) (an over-the-counter antihistamine, used in Benadryl and sleep-aids) usually 25 or 50 mgs as needed

2020-22: 100mg sertraline

2020-now: birth control pill (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), started taking it with no break in 2021

May 2022: tapered down to 50mg sertraline

 

My intro topic

 

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  • Moderator

Hi @lavenderburning,

 

Welcome to SA. Great to hear that you are feeling well enough to come off your meds. I don't think people around you should be nervous about you coming off. What most people don't know about these drugs is that they are not really tested for efficacy or safety beyond a few months. The trials for drug approval typically only last 2 or 3 months and then that is it. There really isn't much evidence to say you would be better off continuing to take them longer than that vs someone taking a placebo. That is excellent that your therapist recognized the fatigue could be caused by the drug! They sound like a better than average therapist if they have that kind of knowledge. 

 

Tapering and withdrawal can cause quite a few problems, and that is why we recommend tapering quite slowly, usually by 10% per month (see this topic: Why Taper By 10% for an explanation). If you have already reduced 50%, I would recommend increasing the dosage back up to 60 or 70% if you start to feel worse. Sometimes the effects of withdrawal can be delayed for a few weeks as blood levels of the drug decrease and our system tries to adjust to life without the drug. Here are some tips for tapering sertraline specifically.

 

Here is some info about updosing to stabilize, if you feel you need to do that. This is recommended if symptoms get too severe, since tolerating severe symptoms doesn't seem to have much benefit and may even be counterproductive. Otherwise, I would just hold the dose you are currently at until your withdrawal symptoms disappear and you feel more stable. 

 

Tapering slowly helps minimize both symptoms and symptom severity, ensuring you can remain functional while you get off the drug. Reducing more quickly than 10% can be too fast for many people, and as you get to lower doses you may want to slow the reduction even further, since receptor occupancy of these drugs tends to decrease more rapidly at lower doses. 

 

It would be very helpful if you could create a drug history in your signature like this one. This link will take you directly to the signature. Signatures generally look like this: 

 

Example:

2001–2002 paroxetine 
2003  citalopram 
2004  paroxetine
2008  paroxetine slow taper down to 2016 Aug off paroxetine
2016  citalopram May 20mg  Oct slow taper down
2018  citalopram 13 Feb 4.6mg 15 Mar 4.4mg 29 Apr 4.2mg

 

This will allow any moderator or member to quickly see your history and where you are in your taper, and thus be able to help more easily without too much reading (most people here are volunteers and have other jobs).

 

Glad you found us before anything major happened. You are in a great spot when it comes to tapering off your drug. Much better than most people when they get here. Hope we can help you get off without much trouble so you can see if being off helps your fatigue. Really appreciate you sharing your story :)

Remeron - 2004-2005 (bad withdrawal)

Clonazepam - 2005-2018 (jumped around March)

Olanzapine - 2014- late 2017

Domperidone - 2008-2018

Many drugs in between including Lexapro, other benzos and z-drugs.

Still suffering post-withdrawal from Clonazepam (Klonopin), Olanzapine and Domperidone. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, I have a mostly positive update! I spoke to my psychiatrist, and although she seemed kind of reluctant at first, she approved 25mg pills for me with the idea that I would use the smaller dose to eventually taper down to nothing. Oddly, she didn't give me any instructions, so I'm working on figuring out how to taper myself in a way that works for me. So far, having made the jump from 100mg to 50mg, I seem to be fairly resilient to changes in dose but I want to be careful still.

 

I've noticed, after the couple days of mild nausea subsided, that the biggest side effect is that I am kind of irritable, which my therapist told me is usually because of a sudden drop in serotonin. I'm also more aware of my anxious moments, which, despite its challenges, is a good sign for me. I wanted to go off my meds because I felt like I was a point where I could handle challenging feelings myself and I wanted to be able to build some mental resiliency. I wanted more practice dealing with my feelings head on. I felt so disconnected from my feelings and my body that it just felt like it was keeping me back from healing instead of helping me. So I'm pretty excited to be welcoming my feelings back into my body, even if it can be hard at times. 

 

I will say, I'm lucky to be able to do this at a time when I don't have many responsibilities. I'm on my summer break from college right now and I'm still looking for a job, so it's a really good time to let myself slowly ease back into stressful situations. I've been really trying to get myself back into a healthy routine and I've been having productive conversations with my therapist about preventing burnout and fatigue, which has been a massive issue for me. I'm hopeful that being more in touch with how I'm feeling will help me notice signs that I'm overworking myself.

 

Anyway, I'm feeling hopeful about this next step in tapering. I'll probably start on the smaller dose in a couple days, after a job interview - don't want to mess with that :)

Leaving sertraline after (mostly) healing!

 

2019-2020: unprescribed use of diphenhydramine (DPH) (an over-the-counter antihistamine, used in Benadryl and sleep-aids) usually 25 or 50 mgs as needed

2020-22: 100mg sertraline

2020-now: birth control pill (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), started taking it with no break in 2021

May 2022: tapered down to 50mg sertraline

 

My intro topic

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus
On 5/20/2022 at 9:34 AM, lavenderburning said:

Just to clarify on the tapering I'm doing, I started snapping my 100mg tablets in half a few days ago, so I'm getting about 50mg. Currently feeling kind of sleepy and nauseous, but mostly okay. 

 

You've jumped from 100mg to 50mg sertraline only about 1-2 week ago.  And you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.  If they are unbearable you could make a small updose, to 60mg sertraline.

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist

 

Because you made such a large reduction, 50%, you might need to stay on 50mg (or more if you updose) for at least 3 months.  the next reduction you make after stabilising should be no more than 10% of the current dose (50mg) so 50mg x 0.9 = 45mg.

 

This topic helps to explain why it is easier to make a large reduction when you are taking a high dose of a drug:

 

The video clip link at the top of Post #1 is very helpful:

 

Why taper paper: dose-occupancy curves

 

Post #1 of this topic explains how to get non standard doses:

 

Tips for tapering off sertraline (Zoloft)

 

 

It is very important to listen to your body/symptoms and not reduce again until you are stable:

 

Stability

 

WDnormal

 

And Brassmonkey talks more about it here:

 

tao-of-the-brassmonkey

 * * * * * *   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO   * * * * * *

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

Woohoo!!!  Finally off Pristiq    Post 0 updates start here

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 from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

My full 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. 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you.

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  • Moderator

From our experience a 50% reduction is much too large and will more than likely cause you a lot of grief. If at all possible, I would try to take at least 3/4 of a tablet and stabilize on that dose for several months before trying to taper further. We have found a very familiar pattern for members who do very large initial reductions; they feel great for a few weeks and then a bit off for a while. About the three-month mark, just about the time you will be going back to school, ADWD hits with full force and makes their life miserable. Please consider going back up in dose and stabilizing there, then let us talk you through how to do the type of taper that we have had good success with.

20 years on Paxil starting at 20mg and working up to 40mg. Sept 2011 started 10% every 6 weeks taper (2.5% every week for 4 weeks then hold for 2 additional weeks), currently at 7.9mg. Oct 2011 CTed 15oz vodka a night, to only drinking 2 beers most nights, totally sober Feb 2013.

Since I wrote this I have continued to decrease my dose by 10% every 6 weeks (2.5% every week for 4 weeks and then hold for an additional 2 weeks). I added in an extra 6 week hold when I hit 10mg to let things settle out even more. When I hit 3mgpw it became hard to split the drop into 4 parts so I switched to dropping 1mgpw (pill weight) every week for 3 weeks and then holding for another 3 weeks.  The 3 + 3 schedule turned out to be too harsh so I cut back to dropping 1mgpw every 4 weeks which is working better.

Final Dose 0.016mg.     Current dose 0.000mg 04-15-2017

 

"It's also important not to become angry, no matter how difficult life is, because you can loose all hope if you can't laugh at yourself and at life in general."  Stephen Hawking

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Hi @lavenderburning,

 

I just read your story and see that you are also tapering sertraline!   I'm also tapering sertraline.  I've been on it for quite a long time, and I'm glad you are tapering sooner than later.

 

Nice to meet you, and good luck with your current dose reduction.

 

 

Zoloft 50 mg since 2019.   2022. January-February 45 mg. March 40.5 mg April-May 40 mg  June 37.5 mg

Supplements: Fish oil, Vitamin D3, magnesium, melatonin 

Lifestyle: Swimming 3x/week, gluten-free diet

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On 5/19/2022 at 6:13 PM, lavenderburning said:

Hi all! 

 

I was introduced to this forum by a mental health newsletter, Sluggish (I highly recommend!), at a very opportune time. I have been taking 100mg sertraline for a little over two years now, after moving away from self medicating with diphenhydramine (DPH), an antihistamine that comes as anti-allergy medication (most notably Benadryl) and as over-the-counter sleep-aids, which is how I got them. I'm happy to talk to people about the effects of DPH and how I eventually got off it. I was a minor at the time and was experiencing medical neglect so I can also speak to this topic a bit. I feel like it's often overlooked in conversations about medications of all kinds for minors. I eventually was able to connect with a prescriber and got on sertraline and pretty soon after was taking 100mg. Around the same time I was finally able to get on the birth control pill and that was a miracle drug for me, I was so happy to finally stop suffering through intense and draining menstrual cycles and that in itself really improved my mental health.

 

Now, two years later, I've started thinking of going off my meds for a while, which makes everyone around me nervous. I feel so much better though, now that I'm living at college and I'm out of my home situation. I've had really bad fatigue for the past six month, with no explanation that my doctor could find. Eventually, after reconnecting with my former therapist, we figured out that I was probably experiencing side effects from the sertraline after "outgrowing" it, which was really validating to hear. I'm supposed to see my prescriber to talk about tapering off soon, although I've already started reducing my dose myself because now that I know what's causing my fatigue and emotional numbness, I can't keep taking my full dose and knowingly making myself miserable. 

 

Anyway, I'm happy to have found you all and looking forward to talking!

 

-Lavender

Hello there! And welcome! If I may share my experience really quick and you rake whatever part you want, or nothing (up to you of course) :)

 

After almost 20 years trying different antidepressants, stimulants, lamotrigine and having withdrawn from meds twice (this is my third and last time), I came to this site and didn’t read all the material recommended such as the 10% reduction as I was crazy busy at work. Long story short, I tapered off cymbalta wheb it stopped working about 6 years ago in a matter of a year and felt depressed again. Not sure if you’ve heard about protracted withdrawal- highly suggest searching the, or a, thread on that. I suffered from that thinking it was a “relapse”. Anyways, after I unknowingly damaged my nervous system so much my going on/off drugs trying to find a good one and tapering too fast, I really need to be VERY careful as I taper to allow my systems to recover after extensive legal drug use. 
 

I also wanted to ask you about Benadryl… whatever you feel comfortable sharing. I have taken OTC antihistamines and asthma meds everyday for several years, including hydroxyzine on/off and recently learned they are precursors to antidepressants. I know Benadryl is a 1st class antihistamine and the newer ones are different, but I am still curious. How did you feel while tapering off Benadryl? 
 

I took half of my Zyrtec 10mg yesterday and the day before and felt irritable and down today. Im close to PMDD days so I am not sure if maybe that’s the cause but also wondering if its the zyrtec. This hormone cycles sure add another level of difficulty in knowing what to attribute to what 😆!

 

Glad to read you found relief and healing. 

2002-2021: 19 years on/off different psychotropics  

3/22: Wellbutrin 150mg xl, Lexapro 10mg
4/22: Wellbutrin 150xl, Lexapro 5mg (hadn’t read how to properly taper yet)

4/15/22: reinstate Lexa to 7.5mg total, Wellb 150mg

5/22: Wellb 112.5, Lexa 7.5

6/22: Welb 111, Lexa 6.8  -  Doing ok

Other Daily Meds: Singulair 10mg, Zyrtec 10mg, 1-2 puffs Spiriva Respimat inhaler. 

As Needed: removed Hydroxyzine, omeprazole, Clonazepam .5mg. Rarely taking OTC pain relievers, Albuterol, Diclofenac, Cyclobenzaprine, anti acids

Supplements: Removed L-theanine 400mg & Vit D on 5/22 to avoid activation. Blood levels ok. Fish oil 2600mg, Mag Glycinate 400mg, Probiotics 5-10 billion, 1/5 dose prenatals, Melatonin .38-3mg, Lactium, powder collagen, Adenosyl/Hydroxy B12 400mcg.

Genetics: MTHFR heterogeneous, Higher activity COMT 

(My signature may change as my cognitive status allow me to so it reflects what I take in the present.)

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Forgot to add… there’s a member here @GiaK who has A LOT of information on how to start prepping our body and systems for taper/withdrawal. I personally have read several things there and highly recommend it… here is the website if you are interested…

www.beyondmeds.com 

2002-2021: 19 years on/off different psychotropics  

3/22: Wellbutrin 150mg xl, Lexapro 10mg
4/22: Wellbutrin 150xl, Lexapro 5mg (hadn’t read how to properly taper yet)

4/15/22: reinstate Lexa to 7.5mg total, Wellb 150mg

5/22: Wellb 112.5, Lexa 7.5

6/22: Welb 111, Lexa 6.8  -  Doing ok

Other Daily Meds: Singulair 10mg, Zyrtec 10mg, 1-2 puffs Spiriva Respimat inhaler. 

As Needed: removed Hydroxyzine, omeprazole, Clonazepam .5mg. Rarely taking OTC pain relievers, Albuterol, Diclofenac, Cyclobenzaprine, anti acids

Supplements: Removed L-theanine 400mg & Vit D on 5/22 to avoid activation. Blood levels ok. Fish oil 2600mg, Mag Glycinate 400mg, Probiotics 5-10 billion, 1/5 dose prenatals, Melatonin .38-3mg, Lactium, powder collagen, Adenosyl/Hydroxy B12 400mcg.

Genetics: MTHFR heterogeneous, Higher activity COMT 

(My signature may change as my cognitive status allow me to so it reflects what I take in the present.)

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Thank you all for your advice on tapering more slowly - I wish more was out there because my prescriber essentially just gave me a new prescription and set me free, but I've been reading through what's here and I'm really grateful for it! I'm thinking that perhaps I'll go back up to 75mg or so and then work on tapering from there. Since I haven't been on sertraline for very long in the grand scheme of things, about 2.5 years, and since I don't use any other psychoactive substances very regularly, I feel more comfortable tapering a bit faster than is recommended here, but I think you all are right that 50% is quite a lot to take away all at once. 

 

On the plus side, I got the job I was going for (yay!) so I should be able to create more of a routine for myself, which was one of my planned steps towards caring for myself while tapering. I've discovered how helpful having a little stability can be for my mental health and it feels especially important to focus on keeping my lifestyle consistent when I'm messing with my drugs like this. I've also been getting back into journaling because I've found that it can be a good way for me to keep track of long term patterns in my mood that might otherwise get lost in the busyness of everyday life. I'm hoping that will help me catch long-term withdrawal if it does affect me, instead of panicking that I'm relapsing. That sounds like something I might do!

 

Finally, about the Benadryl/DPH @DazzlingCold - I was taking it "as needed," which ended up being once or twice a day, often when I felt a panic attack coming on or at night if I was having intrusive thoughts and couldn't sleep. I took either 25 or 50mg depending on what I felt like I needed at the time. I knew it wasn't good for me, but it was all I had at the time so I just put up with the awful side effects. The main thing was that it made me very sleepy, it didn't even calm my anxiety, just dulled it and made it harder for my brain to process. If most drugs are like a lobotomy, this was like having my skull smashed with a rock. I just felt sooo empty most of the time, which back then was preferable to the alternative, although now my goals have changed! I actually took the drug, DPH, in its form as a sleep-aid, not as allergy relief, but it's all the same thing, they just charged more for the kind marketed towards allergies. The effects lasted a really long time (if I took it in the afternoon I would wake up extra groggy the next day) and gave me horrible brain fog. It was really hard to concentrate on anything and my reaction time was horrible (I should not have been driving).

 

I finally decided to quit when I read that taking too much DPH was linked to early onset dementia. Although it's non addictive, I had kind of an emotional dependence on it since at that point I was stuck in a really difficult environment that I had no control over, and DPH was an easy way to mentally escape that. It got easier to stop using after I started talk therapy and got better at calming myself, combatting intrusive thoughts, and preventing SH episodes. It was hard to give it up, but now I don't touch it, don't even take Benadryl for allergies, which is probably overkill but I sometimes catch myself being tempted to take some again and then I'm glad I don't keep it around. My memory is still not what it was before I started taking DPH, which makes me so sad, but I'm glad I stopped as soon as I could. My prescriber and therapist both recommended that I try an antihistamine instead of an SSRI when I told them that I had been taking DPH because they assumed that meant it was working for me, but I insisted on avoiding them. I just hate the way they make me feel and never want to touch them again. I do think it's fascinating that antihistamines can work as antidepressants and antianxiety meds, and it wasn't an accident that I was taking them that way - I did my research when looking for otc drugs to take in place of prescription drugs and that seemed like the best option. I'm just lucky that I didn't go for cough syrup with DXM or codeine because that could have been a lot worse. 

 

As far as PMDD goes, I totally know where you're coming from! I still have some off days that I can tie back to that, but at least for me, birth control has been amazing. I take it without a break and it has been amazing. That's one drug I'm actually happy to be on!

Leaving sertraline after (mostly) healing!

 

2019-2020: unprescribed use of diphenhydramine (DPH) (an over-the-counter antihistamine, used in Benadryl and sleep-aids) usually 25 or 50 mgs as needed

2020-22: 100mg sertraline

2020-now: birth control pill (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), started taking it with no break in 2021

May 2022: tapered down to 50mg sertraline

 

My intro topic

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Did you watch the video clip that I linked to above?

 

The whole video is worth watching:

 

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

 * * * * * *   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO   * * * * * *

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

Woohoo!!!  Finally off Pristiq    Post 0 updates start here

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 from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

My full 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. 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you.

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@ChessieCat I have now - I'm kind of confused though because at one point they recommended a tapering plan that went down by half every month or so which is what I have been trying to do. Most people here have said I should slow down so I'm not sure what to do. Maybe I should start tapering by 10% once I get into smaller doses? From what I've been reading here, it sounds like the effects of larger amounts of sertraline are smaller compared to small doses.

 

@brassmonkey I'm also curious to learn more about late-onset withdrawal. What I heard in the video made it sound like if your brain understands and gets used to the new dose and you're not having withdrawal symptoms, you should be okay to keep tapering. I don't want to set myself up for problems later on, but so far I haven't run into any major issues with withdrawal symptoms. 

 

The one thing I'm certain of is that I need to call my prescriber tomorrow and ask for a liquid medication! Sounds like the best way to do really exact doses.

Leaving sertraline after (mostly) healing!

 

2019-2020: unprescribed use of diphenhydramine (DPH) (an over-the-counter antihistamine, used in Benadryl and sleep-aids) usually 25 or 50 mgs as needed

2020-22: 100mg sertraline

2020-now: birth control pill (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol), started taking it with no break in 2021

May 2022: tapered down to 50mg sertraline

 

My intro topic

 

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

SA's recommended taper rate for the whole taper is no more than 10% of current dose with a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  Some people try to calculate larger dose reductions based on the SERT occupancy, and it might work for some people but it might not work for others.  SA's taper rate is a guide; some people might be able to go a little bit faster but some might need to go slower.  It is important to listen to body/symptoms and only taper again when stable/WDnormal.  It is better to go slower than to risk going too fast.  The withdrawal symptoms are a sign that your brain is busy trying to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  The idea is to sneak the drug away a little at a time to keep withdrawal symptoms to a minimum.

 

I reduced from 100mg to 50mg Pristiq and then went back to 75mg after 2 weeks.  I then held for 2.5 months and tried to reduce by 10% of 75mg but got withdrawal symptoms so I had to updose a small amount which relieved the bad symptoms, so I had tried to reduce too much/too soon.  I then tapered more conservatively and did a couple of long holds.  It took 6 years but it worked and I've now been off successfully for 6 months.

 

My full tapering program

 * * * * * *   PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO   * * * * * *

Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

Woohoo!!!  Finally off Pristiq    Post 0 updates start here

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 from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

My full 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. 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you.

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  • Moderator

Here is a quote from my article "Managing the Endgame Taper" that will help explaine things 

 

"

The human body is an amazing creation with several billion tiny parts all working together to make it function. When things are working correctly this is referred to as homeostasis. It is the natural balance of all the systems of the body working in harmony. When one part of the system gets outside of its normal band of function, the entire body tries to bring things back to center by making adjustments to it and all the other systems. This is what is happening when we feel side effects of psychiatric drugs or withdrawal symptoms while tapering.

 

If psychotropics such as psychiatric drugs are taken on a regular basis, over time the body will adapt to their presence. The drugs will have changed the inter-relationship of all your hormonal systems, the functioning of your digestive system, your sleep pattern, and eventually affected every system in your body. Your body then will require a certain amount of the drug to maintain the new homeostasis built around the drug. As you go down in dosage, your body must adjust to the loss of the drug. If these adjustments can’t keep pace with the decreases Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome might occur.

https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/392-one-theory-of-antidepressant-withdrawal-syndrome/?tab=comments#comment-4010"ych drug

 

Tapering any psych drug is not just about getting the drug out of your system and letting your brain adjust. It is about restructuring the entire body. Because that is such a big project and involves so many small, interrelated adjustments it has to be done slowly and carefully. If not, the body gets confused and causes WD symptoms. Once those get out of control it is very hard to regain stability.

 

When a person tapers too fast it really confuses the body. At first the body says wonderful I'm drug free and loving it. It soon realizes that it needs the drug to function properly but tries to get along without it. This usually causes a blah feeling, anxiety and mild depression. After about three months the body just runs out of steam and can't cope anymore and is thrown int chaos. That chaos manifests as severe WD symptoms, severe as in many people can get out of bed, function, feed themselves, stand up etc. It is very awful to experience, takes many months to stabilize and leaves the body in s sensitized state that makes any future changes harder to make.

20 years on Paxil starting at 20mg and working up to 40mg. Sept 2011 started 10% every 6 weeks taper (2.5% every week for 4 weeks then hold for 2 additional weeks), currently at 7.9mg. Oct 2011 CTed 15oz vodka a night, to only drinking 2 beers most nights, totally sober Feb 2013.

Since I wrote this I have continued to decrease my dose by 10% every 6 weeks (2.5% every week for 4 weeks and then hold for an additional 2 weeks). I added in an extra 6 week hold when I hit 10mg to let things settle out even more. When I hit 3mgpw it became hard to split the drop into 4 parts so I switched to dropping 1mgpw (pill weight) every week for 3 weeks and then holding for another 3 weeks.  The 3 + 3 schedule turned out to be too harsh so I cut back to dropping 1mgpw every 4 weeks which is working better.

Final Dose 0.016mg.     Current dose 0.000mg 04-15-2017

 

"It's also important not to become angry, no matter how difficult life is, because you can loose all hope if you can't laugh at yourself and at life in general."  Stephen Hawking

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On 6/2/2022 at 9:33 PM, lavenderburning said:

Thank you all for your advice on tapering more slowly - I wish more was out there because my prescriber essentially just gave me a new prescription and set me free, but I've been reading through what's here and I'm really grateful for it! I'm thinking that perhaps I'll go back up to 75mg or so and then work on tapering from there. Since I haven't been on sertraline for very long in the grand scheme of things, about 2.5 years, and since I don't use any other psychoactive substances very regularly, I feel more comfortable tapering a bit faster than is recommended here, but I think you all are right that 50% is quite a lot to take away all at once. 

 

On the plus side, I got the job I was going for (yay!) so I should be able to create more of a routine for myself, which was one of my planned steps towards caring for myself while tapering. I've discovered how helpful having a little stability can be for my mental health and it feels especially important to focus on keeping my lifestyle consistent when I'm messing with my drugs like this. I've also been getting back into journaling because I've found that it can be a good way for me to keep track of long term patterns in my mood that might otherwise get lost in the busyness of everyday life. I'm hoping that will help me catch long-term withdrawal if it does affect me, instead of panicking that I'm relapsing. That sounds like something I might do!

 

Finally, about the Benadryl/DPH @DazzlingCold - I was taking it "as needed," which ended up being once or twice a day, often when I felt a panic attack coming on or at night if I was having intrusive thoughts and couldn't sleep. I took either 25 or 50mg depending on what I felt like I needed at the time. I knew it wasn't good for me, but it was all I had at the time so I just put up with the awful side effects. The main thing was that it made me very sleepy, it didn't even calm my anxiety, just dulled it and made it harder for my brain to process. If most drugs are like a lobotomy, this was like having my skull smashed with a rock. I just felt sooo empty most of the time, which back then was preferable to the alternative, although now my goals have changed! I actually took the drug, DPH, in its form as a sleep-aid, not as allergy relief, but it's all the same thing, they just charged more for the kind marketed towards allergies. The effects lasted a really long time (if I took it in the afternoon I would wake up extra groggy the next day) and gave me horrible brain fog. It was really hard to concentrate on anything and my reaction time was horrible (I should not have been driving).

 

I finally decided to quit when I read that taking too much DPH was linked to early onset dementia. Although it's non addictive, I had kind of an emotional dependence on it since at that point I was stuck in a really difficult environment that I had no control over, and DPH was an easy way to mentally escape that. It got easier to stop using after I started talk therapy and got better at calming myself, combatting intrusive thoughts, and preventing SH episodes. It was hard to give it up, but now I don't touch it, don't even take Benadryl for allergies, which is probably overkill but I sometimes catch myself being tempted to take some again and then I'm glad I don't keep it around. My memory is still not what it was before I started taking DPH, which makes me so sad, but I'm glad I stopped as soon as I could. My prescriber and therapist both recommended that I try an antihistamine instead of an SSRI when I told them that I had been taking DPH because they assumed that meant it was working for me, but I insisted on avoiding them. I just hate the way they make me feel and never want to touch them again. I do think it's fascinating that antihistamines can work as antidepressants and antianxiety meds, and it wasn't an accident that I was taking them that way - I did my research when looking for otc drugs to take in place of prescription drugs and that seemed like the best option. I'm just lucky that I didn't go for cough syrup with DXM or codeine because that could have been a lot worse. 

 

As far as PMDD goes, I totally know where you're coming from! I still have some off days that I can tie back to that, but at least for me, birth control has been amazing. I take it without a break and it has been amazing. That's one drug I'm actually happy to be on!

Happy to hear about all the success :) Thank you for sharing your story on benadryl. Marketing is a sneaky little b**ch isn’t it? Also, I completely hear you on taking something “as needed” snd next thing you k ow it becomes part of your routine. 

2002-2021: 19 years on/off different psychotropics  

3/22: Wellbutrin 150mg xl, Lexapro 10mg
4/22: Wellbutrin 150xl, Lexapro 5mg (hadn’t read how to properly taper yet)

4/15/22: reinstate Lexa to 7.5mg total, Wellb 150mg

5/22: Wellb 112.5, Lexa 7.5

6/22: Welb 111, Lexa 6.8  -  Doing ok

Other Daily Meds: Singulair 10mg, Zyrtec 10mg, 1-2 puffs Spiriva Respimat inhaler. 

As Needed: removed Hydroxyzine, omeprazole, Clonazepam .5mg. Rarely taking OTC pain relievers, Albuterol, Diclofenac, Cyclobenzaprine, anti acids

Supplements: Removed L-theanine 400mg & Vit D on 5/22 to avoid activation. Blood levels ok. Fish oil 2600mg, Mag Glycinate 400mg, Probiotics 5-10 billion, 1/5 dose prenatals, Melatonin .38-3mg, Lactium, powder collagen, Adenosyl/Hydroxy B12 400mcg.

Genetics: MTHFR heterogeneous, Higher activity COMT 

(My signature may change as my cognitive status allow me to so it reflects what I take in the present.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

@lavenderburning

Hi, and a belated welcome to SA. 

Just wanted to reach out and say thank you and well done on this beautiful post.

It's very moving to read and a valuable contribution.

You've clearly got a lot going for you and a bright future ahead.  

I trust you will come off these meds, heal well, and grow on to thrive. 

In solidarity and support,

A.

1996-2018 - misc. polypharmacy, incl. SSRIs, SNRIs, neuroleptics, lithium, benzos, stimulants, antihistamines, etc. (approx. 30+ drugs)

2012-2018 - 10mg lexapro/escitalopram (20mg?)    Jan. 2018 - 10mg -> 5mg, then from 5mg -> 2.5mg, then 0mg  -->  July 2018 - 0mg

2017(?)-2020 - vyvanse/lisdexamfetamine 60-70mg    2020-2021 - 70mg down to 0mg  -->  July 2021 - 0mg

March-April 2021 - vortioxetine 5-10mg (approx. 7 weeks total; CT)  -->  April 28th, 2021 - 0mg

supplements: magnesium powder (dissolved in water) as needed throughout the day; 1 tsp fish oil w/ morning meal; 2mg melatonin 9pm 

 

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.  - Karle Wilson Baker

love and justice are not two. without inner change, there can be no outer change; without collective change, no change matters.  - Rev. angel Kyodo williams

Holding multiple truths. Knowing that everyone has their own accurate view of the way things are.  - text on homemade banner at Afiya house

 

I am not a medical professional; this is not medical advice. 

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@lavenderburning

Thinking of you <3

1996-2018 - misc. polypharmacy, incl. SSRIs, SNRIs, neuroleptics, lithium, benzos, stimulants, antihistamines, etc. (approx. 30+ drugs)

2012-2018 - 10mg lexapro/escitalopram (20mg?)    Jan. 2018 - 10mg -> 5mg, then from 5mg -> 2.5mg, then 0mg  -->  July 2018 - 0mg

2017(?)-2020 - vyvanse/lisdexamfetamine 60-70mg    2020-2021 - 70mg down to 0mg  -->  July 2021 - 0mg

March-April 2021 - vortioxetine 5-10mg (approx. 7 weeks total; CT)  -->  April 28th, 2021 - 0mg

supplements: magnesium powder (dissolved in water) as needed throughout the day; 1 tsp fish oil w/ morning meal; 2mg melatonin 9pm 

 

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.  - Karle Wilson Baker

love and justice are not two. without inner change, there can be no outer change; without collective change, no change matters.  - Rev. angel Kyodo williams

Holding multiple truths. Knowing that everyone has their own accurate view of the way things are.  - text on homemade banner at Afiya house

 

I am not a medical professional; this is not medical advice. 

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