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TruthSeeker91: My story


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Hi, I'm new here. I'm glad to have finally found a community that is aware of the harm that antidepressants can cause and that withdrawal is a real thing.


I am a young man and have been on psychiatric medication for several years. I have always been very introverted and have had difficulty socializing and making friends, in addition to having a broad intellectual interest. These peculiarities led my parents to take me to mental health professionals at a very early age. Once, when I was very young, a neurologist assured them that I had Asperger's Syndrome, which they strongly rejected and never followed up on, and to this day I don't know if it's true or not. Even some of my classmates have asked me about it.


As I grew older, my personality became more pronounced. As expected, I was taken to a psychiatrist who put me on medication without a second thought. I don't remember the specific drug, but I was on it for a year. After that time, my mother took me off the medication of her own will, and I experienced nothing abnormal. Certainly, the way I lived my childhood might be considered "abnormal" by some, but I had a social life in my own way and it was functional. The only disturbing event I remember from that time is a scary image I saw on a cell phone that prevented me from using those devices for several years.


I went to a junior high school that instilled in me an extreme moral rigidity, which in the long run caused me a kind of "conscience scruples" that were so burdensome that I sometimes became dysfunctional. I was also bullied at school because of my intelligence, so much so that I had to change schools. This led me back to the psychiatrist who prescribed Pristiq. The only thing this drug did was to increase my symptoms to the maximum and give me some kind of OCD (I guess that's what it is because the psychiatrist never told me). After a few weeks, I was switched to sertraline, which I have been taking since 2015, except for a small interruption that I will describe later.


Sertraline didn't give me the immediate side effects that Pristiq did, although it didn't work wonders either. My introverted personality remained the same, although the change in school helped me improve the social aspect. Even though I never hung out with friends, my classmates respected me and came up to me to ask for help with homework or to talk about interesting topics. This made me feel very comfortable. As time went on, I made a lot of progress in this regard, until in 2019 I had the most rewarding life I've ever had. I was at the top of my class, and both teachers and classmates were very fond of me. Of course, my peculiarities always attracted the attention of the school authorities, who more than once sent me to a "psychologist" to talk to me. But there was nothing to tell them (except the fact that I never found a therapist I took seriously), and I felt better than ever.


The maximum dose of sertraline I ever received was 50 mg/day. On several occasions, the psychiatrist wanted to use any excuse to increase it, no matter how absurd and ridiculous it was (it sounded to me like the "soma" that Aldous Huxley mentions in his book "Brave New World"), but fortunately I never listened to them, and my parents did not force me to. During that time, the only event that managed to destabilize me was a severe scolding from a very respected man in my community, whom I admired very much, who scolded me for having intellectual interests and being "lucubrating" instead of living together and playing the things that other children did (which always seemed ridiculous to me). He even "forbade" me to read the kind of intellectual books I liked because they were "not for me. This is one of the most shocking and painful experiences I have ever had, and it triggered my anxiety.


However, I managed to get through it to some extent, and I was doing so well that I was able to reduce the dosage to ~12 mg/day (a quarter of the pill) without any side effects. Unfortunately, during this time the pandemic hit and I was also faced with the crucial decision of what major to study. I was discouraged by my family to study a science (those careers have a bad reputation and little support in my country, they say you will starve to death), so without any really convincing reason I went into engineering. The whole time I was doing this degree was online, otherwise I would have realized how much I hated it much earlier. It got to the point where it became unbearable and I dropped out.


Despite all these inconveniences and others caused by the pandemic, I was relatively well and in September 2021 the psychiatrist "discharged" me. I abruptly went from ¼ pill to 0, but had no immediate withdrawal symptoms. But having to decide what to do with my life and reading so many opinions about the outcome from scientists in my country caused me a kind of aboulomania or "paralysis by analysis". Gradually, the symptoms got worse and worse and made me dysfunctional. I also developed hypochondria, something I had never experienced before, not even before I took sertraline for the first time. Finally, it became unbearable and I had to take the drug again in June 2022. Again, the doctors wanted to give me much higher doses, which I refused.


At the moment I am fine, the only things that bother me are that I am not sure what I want to do with my life in the long term and I feel too much uncertainty, and I really want to improve socially. I certainly don't want to become an extrovert, but I would like to maintain valuable friendships and find someone to talk to about topics that interest me. I would also like to find an intimate relationship. But I still find it difficult to even team up for a project.


I am desperate to get off the medication, but I have not found a psychiatrist in Mexico who will help me. They all claim that Sertraline is completely harmless and that if I feel anxious when I stop taking it, it is because there is a problem with me and not with the drug. I don't believe them at all. Also, they don't seem to know what they are talking about, no one has been able to tell me what the brain zaps I am suffering from are, I had to find out for myself. I also have urinary problems, stomach problems, and I'm underweight, and I can't find a way to know what's caused by the medication and what's caused by other things. I want to lift weights to see if I can build muscle, but I have also found that SSRIs can cause muscle problems, lower testosterone, and even rhabdomyolysis in some cases. I am also deeply dismayed that it can make me impotent and infertile.


I hope you can give me some advice on this matter. If you know of a psychiatrist in Mexico who can help, I would appreciate it (although I would travel abroad if necessary to find someone to help me out of this). I welcome any input with much appreciation.


PS 1. I had an MRI of my brain and everything seems to be fine.

PS 2. I seem to be low on vitamin D, I have already ordered a supplement. I also bought a multivitamin (Throne Research Basic 2/day) but I have read comments that it can cause anxiety, I don't know if this is true. I ask for your recommendation.

PS 3. I have voluntarily reduced the dosage to ¾ and feel fine so far.

June 2015 - June 2015. Desvenlafaxine 50 mg. This drug caused serious unwanted effects, OCD and anxiety.

June 2015 - Jan 2020. Sertraline 50 mg.

Jan 2020 - Mar 2021. Sertraline 25 mg.

Mar 2021 - Dec 2021. Sertraline 12.5 mg.

Sep 2021 - Discontinued all medications and was "medically discharged".

Dec 2021 - Withdrawal syndrome along with crucial life decision. Anxiety returned.

April 2022 - Symptoms become unbearable.

May 2022 - Jan 2022. Resumed Sertraline 50 mg.

Jan 2022 - Present. Sertraline 38 mg.

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  • getofflex changed the title to TruthSeeker91: My story
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Welcome to SA, TruthSeeker91.  We're a site for helping people taper off psychiatric medications and dealing with withdrawal.  Thanks for completing your signature and Introduction.


Unfortunately, it is all too common for psychiatrists to blame the patient rather than the drug for drug withdrawal.  This is not surprising; drugs are their stock in trade.  I don't know if you have the phrase in Mexico, "Cada loco con su tema."  Drugs are their "tema."  However, the reality of antidepressant withdrawal is very slowly becoming more widespread.  A psychiatrist in Great Britain, Dr. Mark Horowitz, who personally experienced the difficulties of withdrawal, has written widely on the subject, and reading his findings might make you feel less isolated. 

Horowitz et al. (2022). Estimating Risk of Antidepressant …


Here are some other readings about withdrawal that might help validate your personal experience.  It's not surprising that your symptoms became unbearable.


What is withdrawal syndrome.


Brain Remodelling 


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery



The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization


I can't say whether your physical issues are withdrawal-related, but physical as well as emotional and mental  withdrawal symptoms are widespread.  The central nervous system underlies all our experiences, and if things have gone awry there due to withdrawal, it's not surprising what might manifest.  Here's a list of some withdrawal symptoms but it's by no means means complete.   


Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF) 


As far as your going off the Sertraline, it is definitely doable.  We recommend tapering by no more than 10% of your current dose every 4 weeks.  As you'll read in the following link, the purpose of this slow taper is to minimize withdrawal.  


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?


You mentioned that you've already reduced the dose to 3/4.  That's a 25% reduction, much faster than we recommend.  I would make any further reductions for at least 3 months.  At that point you can see if you feel stable and, if so, can start a 10% taper.  Keep in mind that antidepressants alter the architecture of the brain and you have to go very slowly to returns to the status quo ante.  



   On 8/30/2011 at 2:28 PM,  Rhiannon said: 
When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.




   On 12/3/2015 at 10:41 AM,  apace41 said: 
Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  


The following link is specifically about tapering Sertraline, including how to get the nonstandard doses you'll need for your own 10% taper.


Tips for tapering off sertraline (Zoloft)



Regarding your supplements, we don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems.  A multivitamin might not be the best choice because there's no way to tall what might cause what among the many ingredients.  Also, the B-vitamins contained in multivitamins might be too stimulating for someone in withdrawal.  You could try the vitamin D in a low dose at first to see how it goes, but do this separately from any other changes in supplements so you can isolate what's happening.  Two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium (glycinate is a good form) and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 


Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 


Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 


Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.


This is your introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community.  I hope you’ll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation.  I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but I am glad that you found us.




















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 to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium  

End 2021  year 1 of taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of taper at 2.75mg 

Current dose as of Feb. 25, 2023 2mg

Taper is 89% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Taper is 87% complete.  


Supplements: omega-3, 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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