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tjs19, panic attack/anxiety, need advice

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tjs19

Hello all, About three weeks ago I had a panic attack right as I was falling asleep. I only slept four hours each night the next two days. I learned that my family has had a history of anxiety issues, and because I was having trouble calming down, I was prescribed 50 mg trazodone to be used once a day, and 10 mg zolpidem tartrate to be used as needed for sleep. These did help me sleep, but I was still only getting consistently 6 hours of sleep a night. So, I talked to a counselor and saw a doctor. They both recommended a SSRI, presuming that the anxiety was the reason I wasn't sleeping as much as I had previously, so I was perscribed 25 mg sertraline HCl (Zoloft). After taking it for four days, I decided that the long-term side effects were pretty scary (brain zaps, "lower IQ," memory issues, weight gain), and that given that my anxiety was pretty mild by this time, I decided to stop taking it and try to go with just cognitive behavioral therapy. (I'm in grad school BTW.) I've found that I can't fall asleep without trazodone (now it's been about three weeks taking it), so I'm considering tapering. Do you think the insomnia is really because I don't have the trazodone, or is my sleep anxiety playing more of a role than I am giving it credit for? Should I reconsider Zoloft? I'm not really worried about having another panic attack, but I'm not sure whether I should take a combined therapy/medication approach to the anxiety or just try to do it with only therapy. Your advice is much appreciated. (you can delete my post in the tapering forum)

Edited by scallywag
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Brandy

Welcome, tjs!

 

Altostrata and others are better able to advise you about how to deal with the meds you're already taking.

 

But I urge you to avoid SSRIs! They can give symptomatic relief (sometimes, not to everyone!) for a while, but they introduce new problems. They also do not work forever, at least in most people, and withdrawal can lead to rebound, especially with panic and conditions like that. People who have taken SSRIs (or their cousins SNRIs - or benzodiazepines for that matter) usually wish later that they had never started them, since they tend to cause more problems than they help.

 

Another consideration is that if you explore therapy for controlling panic, it would be harder to do if a med is masking the condition, from what I've heard.

 

Again, welcome to SA!

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tezza

tjs19,

 

I'd run from any AD as if I were running from the devil himself. I wouldn't advise my worst enemy (if I had one, I don't think I do) to take any AD or anti-psychotic. Just my humble opinion.

 

As for the benzos, Brandy is right, wait for Alto on that.

 

Wish you the best,

 

Tezza

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tjs19

Brandy, thank you for the kind welcome.

 

Yes, I am wary of committing to Zoloft as I have read many bad experiences from people who were taking the drug for a while, or about withdrawal.

 

I am hoping I can put the insomnia behind me by tapering off trazodone. I tried cutting a 50 mg pill in half by taking 25 mg last night. I fell asleep eventually, slept about 6 hours. But I am a zombie today - I tried to go to bed at midnight, but found I couldn't sleep and didn't take the trazodone until maybe 4:00 am.

 

Trazodone side effects for me:

 

Haven't slept more than 6 hours with it.

Some involuntary, jerky movements while trying to sleep. (my legs have always done this on occasion, but now I notice my shoulders and fingers do as well.) (Zoloft can do this as well, I took it for four days so it might be that as well.)

My right eye will get red a couple times a week. (I wear contacts, and taking them out does seem to help.) (I didn't think this was the drug until I read others who have experienced this as well.)

I get an erection rather easily throughout the day.

Sometimes I will wake up throughout the night, bed soaked (nightmare?) and needing to urinate frequently.

 

Tapering side effects (today):

By dinnertime, I felt like my anxiety had returned somewhat. It manifests as a vague sadness. I now recognize the couple times I tried to quit cold turkey previously were probably just these withdrawal symptoms.

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tjs19

tezza, thanks for your advice.

 

I'm hoping trazodone is easier to quit than other drugs I've read about. It seems many SSRI users suffer when withdrawing...

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Brandy

As for the benzos, Brandy is right, wait for Alto on that.

 

Wish you the best,

 

Tezza

 

Just wanted to clarify that as far as I know, trazodone is an antidepressant (a tetracyclic though, not an SSRI). Zolpidem is not actually a benzodiazepine - it's technically a "nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic" but seems very similar to benzos in that it potentiates GABA, binding to the same GABA-A receptors as benzos.

 

I actually mentioned benzos doctors are likely to offer them for concerns about panic or anxiety. Different drug family than the two you're taking, but cause at least as many problems.

 

tjs, if you've been taking trazodone consistently (daily) for several weeks, cutting a tablet in half may be much too big a drop. You may need to taper more slowly. Again, I'll defer to Alto, as well as to those who have taken it, about that.

 

Until you get Alto's advice, I'd suggest you take the dose you've been taking so far and take *** at the usual time. Just until you come up with a suitable plan given that you've been taking it for a while but not a long time.

 

Another thing - how often have you been taking the zolpidem, and are you still taking it any of the time? If you don't take it regularly, I'd really urge you to avoid it even if it means some insomnia for a while. But if you've been taking it on a regular basis for any length of time, let us know, because that could be a factor. After taking it regularly, it would have to be tapered carefully also.

 

Were you taking any other medications prior to the onset of the original panic (even if they were for other conditions)?

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Brandy

tezza, thanks for your advice.

 

I'm hoping trazodone is easier to quit than other drugs I've read about. It seems many SSRI users suffer when withdrawing...

 

The fact that you've been taking it only briefly is a plus when it comes to withdrawal. But as I said, you may need to taper it more slowly. Your answer re your zolpidem usage (and any other meds, even if you no longer take them) might be important for Alto's and other people's advice on tapering the trazodone.

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tjs19

Good point. I took the zolpidem the first three days it had been prescribed, but I've only taken it once since then. So my last regular usage was, if I remember correctly, two weeks ago. The zolpidem withdrawal is pretty clear for me - the day after I take it, I get really anxious/tense/nervous between 3 and 6 pm, and it lasts perhaps 3-4 hours. If I had to guess, I'd think I'm over the zolpidem, but it's hard to really know...

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amg2012

I've found that I can't fall asleep without trazodone (now it's been about three weeks taking it), so I'm considering tapering. Do you think the insomnia is really because I don't have the trazodone, or is my sleep anxiety playing more of a role than I am giving it credit for? Should I reconsider Zoloft? I'm not really worried about having another panic attack, but I'm not sure whether I should take a combined therapy/medication approach to the anxiety or just try to do it with only therapy.

 

Your advice is much appreciated. (you can delete my post in the tapering forum)

TJS

 

Over the years, I have taken prescription sleeping aids, including Tradazone. It does not take long for the body to be addicted in that quitting the drug, one has trouble sleeping. I have found tapering helps a great deal. I have usually cut a tablet into approx. 3 pieces; taking 2/3 for two or three nights, then reducing to 1/3 of a tablet for two or three nights... you could then take 1/2 of the third for a couple of nights.... slower tapering helps... I did not sleep "like a rock" during the taper but sleep grdualy improved. I believe that any prescription sleep aid should only be taken for a very short time - 2 or 3 nights. Sometimes I have taken Melatonin, or Gravol to help with sleep.... non prescription... but I wouldn't take along with Tradazone - this would be for the future if you need sleep help - also do your research by asking Mr. google about both before using.

 

I noted that you are a student and probably studying and on the computer a great deal. Light at night can be very disturbing for sleep as it upsets the natural circadian rythmn and melatonin onset which helps one sleep. I suggest for this that you check out this link on this site.

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2770-too-much-light-at-night-may-cause-depression/

 

You will find reference to special amber glasses that block out the blue lights so that you can still continue exposure to bright light and sleep better. I bought them and put them to watch television or look at the computer after 9pm. This might help you.

 

Having learned the hard way, I would avoid taking any prescription without knowing all about it and weigh the odds. It is so wonderful that in this computer era there is so much information available we are able to self-help and need not fall victim to even well-meaning drug pushers.

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amg2012

TJS

 

Sorry the above link that I gave you does not talk about the yellow glasses... I did a search which I am mentioning because it is so helpful... At the top right of this sight under your Name and Personal information there is a search tool.. very useful to look up stuff like "insomnia" or any relavent topic. This is the site that talks about the glasses and I have got to get to wrok so I hope all of this has helped. :unsure:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/304-light-sensitive-try-blocking-out-blue-light/page__p__3231__hl__glasses__fromsearch__1#entry3231

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tezza

I apologize, I wasn't aware that trazadone was an anti-depressant. I remember now that zoplidem is generic for Ambien.

 

I do agree that you probably need to taper more slowly but Alto will come along soon, and she is the expert.

 

I'm so sorry you're having issues with sleep, that is so hard to live with. Many here have been dealing with insomnia, myself included. It's miserable, I haven't slept without taking something for several years and now wonder if I ever will. I've become so dependent on the meds for sleep.

 

Thankfully, you thought this through sooner rather than later so with advice on here, I'm sure you'll do very well.

 

Brandy gave you some good advice, she's much more knowledgeable than I. ;)

 

Hugs and healing,

 

Tezza

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Altostrata

Welcome, tjs.

 

Well, I can hardly improve on any of the excellent advice you've been given so far.

 

Good point. I took the zolpidem the first three days it had been prescribed, but I've only taken it once since then. So my last regular usage was, if I remember correctly, two weeks ago. The zolpidem withdrawal is pretty clear for me - the day after I take it, I get really anxious/tense/nervous between 3 and 6 pm, and it lasts perhaps 3-4 hours. If I had to guess, I'd think I'm over the zolpidem, but it's hard to really know...

 

In my opinion, this is an indication you should avoid zolpidem. This sounds like rebound anxiety, and you don't need any more of that.

 

You should definitely look into non-drug ways to cope with the anxiety that interferes with your sleep. Browse around in our Symptoms and self-care forum, particularly the sleep topics here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/604-important-topics-about-symptoms-including-sleep-problems/

 

Also look into supplementing with fish oil, magnesium, vitamin B12, cut way down on caffeine (if you're drinking a lot of coffee, this alone can disturb sleep patterns), junk food, and sugar.

 

To avoid sleep disruption while you go off trazodone, see Tips for tapering off trazodone (Desyrel)

 

In my opinion, trazodone is a disgusting drug that creates the very problems it's supposed to help.

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Rhiannon

I agree, you've gotten the advice I would have given: stay off the zolpidem or only use it rarely, and taper off the trazodone but at a reasonable rate--no more than 10% of your current dose, at least until you learn how you're going to react to cuts.

 

I second the info about bright light, blue light and computer screens. Even TV screens emit a lot of blue light, and with today's huge HD screens they're even more of a problem. I have some simple blue-blocking safety goggles from Uvex, cheaper than a lot of the products out there. Even with the blue blockers, though, I have to avoid the computer for a couple of hours before bed. My TV is an old-fashioned one with a small screen and if I use blue blockers I can watch it in the evening.

 

Exercising early in the day, enough to really wear yourself out, is a great sleep inducer. And I like to listen to meditation tapes as I fall asleep--there are a number of them, you can search on Amazon or iTunes. They knock me right out.

 

Exercise and sunlight actually seem to be good for a lot of what people get offered psych drugs for. Which makes sense, since we evolved to have lots of both of those things and our modern lives don't permit them.

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tjs19

Thanks to all of you for your advice. You've given me a lot of stuff to try. I've already bought the Uvex safety glasses from Amazon. Hopefully filtering out the blue light will help. I'm also going to try to make my bedroom darker - my blinds still let a lot of light through. Not sure whether to go with drapes, or just the aluminum foil idea I saw in a different thread. Obviously, I'm going to try to go to bed at the same time every night - sometime between 11 and 12 (I was previously a night owl, in bed around 1 or so, but I don't think that's a good schedule honestly since I'd usually start get tired around 9 pm or so even when going to bed that late). I'm also going to try exercising in the morning since it seems vigorous exercise at night isn't a good idea. I'm also going to just go with decaf coffee. Anyway, hopefully all of this will help.

 

Last night was terrible. I went to bed at 11:15 or so, fell asleep in about a half hour if I had to guess, then was up around 1:30. Went back to bed, slept until 4:45 or so. Was a zombie all day. Started feeling pretty crappy toward dinnertime, like I wanted to cry. I'm hoping this is just the trazodone getting to me; I did cut my dose in half two days ago (I think). Probably need a slower taper than 50%...

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tjs19

Well, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, no surprise, but as I was drifting off the first time, I started to snore, obviously ready to sleep...then BAM! Heart started racing, breathing picked up really fast, etc. Seems as though the falling-asleep panic attacks haven't subsided. Anyone else experience this? Seems to be mostly out of my control because it came out of nowhere.

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amg2012

Thanks to all of you for your advice. You've given me a lot of stuff to try. I've already bought the Uvex safety glasses from Amazon. Hopefully filtering out the blue light will help. I'm also going to try to make my bedroom darker - my blinds still let a lot of light through. Not sure whether to go with drapes, or just the aluminum foil idea I saw in a different thread. Obviously, I'm going to try to go to bed at the same time every night - sometime between 11 and 12 (I was previously a night owl, in bed around 1 or so, but I don't think that's a good schedule honestly since I'd usually start get tired around 9 pm or so even when going to bed that late). I'm also going to try exercising in the morning since it seems vigorous exercise at night isn't a good idea. I'm also going to just go with decaf coffee. Anyway, hopefully all of this will help.

 

Last night was terrible. I went to bed at 11:15 or so, fell asleep in about a half hour if I had to guess, then was up around 1:30. Went back to bed, slept until 4:45 or so. Was a zombie all day. Started feeling pretty crappy toward dinnertime, like I wanted to cry. I'm hoping this is just the trazodone getting to me; I did cut my dose in half two days ago (I think). Probably need a slower taper than 50%...

 

 

TJS

 

Glad you got the glasses and don't forget to wear them in the evening (sometimes I do forget and am on the computer and then it takes longer to sleep. As for light in the room - by far the quickest and cheapest method is to wear a sleep mask. They usually have them at Winners in the toiletries department and severla other places as well. I wear them even though I have blackout drapes! I also use them to snooze in the day time with the drapes open - they are very effective if you get ones that fit well.

 

I definitely think you would do better with a slow taper as I suggested in an earlier post. Please be patient with yourself. I understand the frustrations completely as I am a "doer" and I get very upset when I am held back. Patience please. Okay!

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areyouthere

like I wanted to cry. I'm hoping this is just the trazodone getting to me; .

 

NORMAL.. Tears are a part of my withdrawal... always sudden and unexpected.

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Altostrata

Well, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, no surprise, but as I was drifting off the first time, I started to snore, obviously ready to sleep...then BAM! Heart started racing, breathing picked up really fast, etc. Seems as though the falling-asleep panic attacks haven't subsided. Anyone else experience this? Seems to be mostly out of my control because it came out of nowhere.

 

This might be a withdrawal symptom from the 50% trazodone cut.

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tjs19

It's been a long time, but much has changed since I last posted. Unfortunately, I probably haven't remembered all the details, but I'll do as best I can.

 

I was convinced to add Zoloft (specifically, it was generic sertraline HCl I believe) to the trazodone, which I was taking at 50 mg. So I started the Zoloft. I was supposed to take Zoloft for one week at 25 mg, and then go to 50 mg. However, I noticed the Zoloft made a major difference in helping me sleep well even at 25 mg, so I never increased the dosage. And within several weeks, my mood improved and I even gained a lot of confidence and was much better about making eye contact than I had been all my life.

 

However, even though I was more sociable than I ever had been and was sleeping well, there were very unpleasant side effects. I'd randomly get dizzy, ended up gaining nearly 30 pounds over 11 months despite not changing any of my eating/exercise habits prior to starting the medications (note this was my age 26 year), and developed major problems with ED/lack of stimulation/orgasm/etc. I didn't want to do anything all day, lost a lot of desire to get out of bed in the morning, felt lethargic all day, and had lots of trouble exercising (when I would try to exercise, I'd have to stop after about 15 minutes because something in my brain would urge me to - and it seemed that my body wasn't responding appropriately, like my heart rate didn't seem to be going up like you'd expect). I also found myself pretty sensitive to things like loud noises/music.

 

So I made the decision to taper off the meds. Rough timeline (hard to remember details now):

 

Labor Day weekend 2012 (around September 1st) - panic attack, sleeping issues

~September 5th 2012 - start trazodone at 50 mg, Ambien at 1 pill "when necessary" (10 mg/pill? don't remember right now, I only took 3 pills or so total)

~September 20th 2012 - start Zoloft @ 25 mg, stop Ambien, continue trazodone at 50 mg

~March 2013? - Zoloft @ 25 mg, trazodone @ 25 mg

~July/August 2013 - Zoloft @25 mg, trazodone @ 12.5 mg (cutting the pills into quarters, so each dosage will vary)

~early August 2013 - Zoloft @ 25 mg, off trazodone (I switched in this timeframe to taking Zoloft in the morning after breakfast instead of after dinner because I noticed my sleep got worse without the trazodone, and this strategy seemed to work ok)

~late August 2013 - Zoloft @ 12.5 mg (cutting pills in half)

~early September 2013 - off Zoloft. (I may have cut the pills in quarters prior to this, but probably not, because they're pretty small IIRC)

 

So I was on pills for almost exactly a year. My doctor tepidly approved the tapering off, without getting into details. Overall, I experienced withdrawal symptoms for ~2 months, I would say, in varying degrees and types. (dizziness, insomnia, and more.) But I'm probably not fully "done withdrawal," as the things below

 

The things that I wish were better are the following:

 

I'm still experiencing sexual dysfunction. My erections are slowly getting better, but I still lose them quite easily because I have greatly decreased sensitivity. I can ejaculate but have almost no mental orgasm, certainly no flood of positive feelings during and after sexual activity.

 

Perhaps related to the above, I don't experience the depth of emotions that I did prior to the pills. The highs aren't quite as high, and I guess the lows aren't quite as low, either. Music is enjoyable, again, but I can't get "high" off music like I could before the pills.

 

Since stopping the pills, I will often wake up once during the night. I don't sleep as deeply as I did on the pills, or prior to my first panic attack, but I can usually get 7 hours of sleep if given 8-9 hours in bed. (those orange glasses are a lifesaver, they reliably have me falling asleep within 90 minutes of putting them on.)

 

But things that are good are as follows:

 

Since stopping the pills, my weight has basically held steady.

 

I can exercise again without getting unreasonably tired after only 10 or 15 minutes. My body has a "second wind" again, if you will.

 

I have more motivation than I did on the pills. Maybe not what it was, but better.

 

I have somewhat better sexual function than I did on the pills. Probably not what a healthy 27 year old should have (and not what I did prior to the pills), but it is better.

 

I'm still making better eye contact. (the best way I could describe my condition prior to the pills was "autistic," in that I have difficulty making conversation/not interrupting at weird points in conversation, bad eye contact and very sensitive to light, hard time emphasizing with other people/thinking of people other than myself. sometimes I wonder if I'm autistic, I was developmentally delayed - didn't talk until I was 3 years old - but never was diagnosed. I've never been in a relationship or have done more than held hands with women even though I want to.)

 

Anyway, I don't know what the future holds, but my withdrawal has gone well, and if you have something to offer I'd appreciate it, and if you have questions I'll try my best to answer them.

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johnson

Thanks for updating us, hang in there! I'm going through sexual dysfunction also it's been a year and one month since I took my last pill but I still have erection issues and frequent urination and other sexual issues as well.  Though like you it has improved since last year. We just have to hang in there somehow. I'm 31 years old.

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tjs19

Thanks for updating us, hang in there! I'm going through sexual dysfunction also it's been a year and one month since I took my last pill but I still have erection issues and frequent urination and other sexual issues as well.  Though like you it has improved since last year. We just have to hang in there somehow. I'm 31 years old.

 

Thanks for writing. Yes, hope things continue to improve for you. Wondering - did your issues start while you were taking the medication, or after cessation? I also have had issues with frequent urination, while not every day, seemingly more often than not.

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johnson

 

Thanks for updating us, hang in there! I'm going through sexual dysfunction also it's been a year and one month since I took my last pill but I still have erection issues and frequent urination and other sexual issues as well.  Though like you it has improved since last year. We just have to hang in there somehow. I'm 31 years old.

 

Thanks for writing. Yes, hope things continue to improve for you. Wondering - did your issues start while you were taking the medication, or after cessation? I also have had issues with frequent urination, while not every day, seemingly more often than not.

 

Yes it did start but my situation is a bit different in that I took a supplement called 5htp. See my signature below. But yes the symptoms started while taking this supplement and got even worse after I got off.

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tjs19

 

 

Thanks for updating us, hang in there! I'm going through sexual dysfunction also it's been a year and one month since I took my last pill but I still have erection issues and frequent urination and other sexual issues as well.  Though like you it has improved since last year. We just have to hang in there somehow. I'm 31 years old.

 

Thanks for writing. Yes, hope things continue to improve for you. Wondering - did your issues start while you were taking the medication, or after cessation? I also have had issues with frequent urination, while not every day, seemingly more often than not.

 

Yes it did start but my situation is a bit different in that I took a supplement called 5htp. See my signature below. But yes the symptoms started while taking this supplement and got even worse after I got off.

 

I see that you stopped after taking a 50 mg pill. Have you considered getting a pill cutter and reducing your dosage by smaller increments? Obviously you'd have to go back on more than a year after having stopped, which is probably not you want. Maybe someone else on the board has experience with this supplement and can give better advice. Having taken other supplements and stopped those also, your body probably has had to make a big adjustment, and it could be withdrawal from a different supplement which is giving you issues.

 

I second the lack of sweating. It's hard to break a sweat, both on the medication and since I stopped. Which made the urination problem puzzling - I felt like I was thirsty frequently on the meds even though I could barely sweat, and so I ended up urinating a lot out.

 

My sexual function (though not mental orgasming) has gotten better after I do some simple exercises in the morning - crunches and related exercises that can be done in a bedroom. Do you exercise?

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johnson

 

 

 

Thanks for updating us, hang in there! I'm going through sexual dysfunction also it's been a year and one month since I took my last pill but I still have erection issues and frequent urination and other sexual issues as well.  Though like you it has improved since last year. We just have to hang in there somehow. I'm 31 years old.

 

Thanks for writing. Yes, hope things continue to improve for you. Wondering - did your issues start while you were taking the medication, or after cessation? I also have had issues with frequent urination, while not every day, seemingly more often than not.

 

Yes it did start but my situation is a bit different in that I took a supplement called 5htp. See my signature below. But yes the symptoms started while taking this supplement and got even worse after I got off.

 

I see that you stopped after taking a 50 mg pill. Have you considered getting a pill cutter and reducing your dosage by smaller increments? Obviously you'd have to go back on more than a year after having stopped, which is probably not you want. Maybe someone else on the board has experience with this supplement and can give better advice. Having taken other supplements and stopped those also, your body probably has had to make a big adjustment, and it could be withdrawal from a different supplement which is giving you issues.

 

I second the lack of sweating. It's hard to break a sweat, both on the medication and since I stopped. Which made the urination problem puzzling - I felt like I was thirsty frequently on the meds even though I could barely sweat, and so I ended up urinating a lot out.

 

My sexual function (though not mental orgasming) has gotten better after I do some simple exercises in the morning - crunches and related exercises that can be done in a bedroom. Do you exercise?

 

At this point I'm never taking this stuff or any medication again unless it's a real emergency. I've been checked out by my doctor and tested and everything always comes back fine. I've read a few sites where sexual dysfunction is a side effect of taking 5htp. If only I read that before I ever took this crap.

I exercise about 3-4 times a week.

 

I think the body takes time to heal. Which is what others keep saying on this board.

Thanks for replying.

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tjs19

Just an update.

 

I've noticed that my emotions have changed in the few months since I last posted. A lot of the time, I feel pretty "flat." But when I'm not feeling flat, I'm in a bad mood. I get angry pretty easily now (almost impulses at times) and interpret everything that happens pessimistically. Fortunately, I've never wanted to hurt myself or anyone else. Before I started the antidepressants, I was a happy person that would get excited about things, pretty frequently. Now I don't look forward to anything. I miss being happy and excited about things. I used to jump out of bed in the mornings, nervous and excited about the day ahead. Now, even if I've slept 7 or 8 hours, I don't feel like I'm well rested and don't look forward to the coming day.

 

I tell myself that it's just recovery from the antidepressants, that they messed up my hormone levels (like endorphins). I suspect I just don't get any endorphins now. I don't orgasm mentally during masturbation - there's no "release." I always found that was a good way to relax - at least before the antidepressants. Now it doesn't help at all.

 

Can anyone relate to these sorts of things?

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tjs19

Not much has changed since my last update. My moods are pretty much the same - if not "blah," then unhappy. While I have a little more energy than I did a few months ago, I still struggle with wanting to just lay in bed all day and not do anything. Pretty sure my weight gain has basically stopped now. Sexually, my erections are slightly better but I still don't orgasm. I think I'm mildly autistic which is why I've always had social anxiety, eye contact problems, difficulties relating to other people, etc., though my therapist thinks it's just autistic traits (though he didn't see what I was like before I started medication).

 

I'm supposed to be in the prime of my life, but instead the last two years have been a low. It'd be nice if things would turn for the better soon.

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Altostrata

Hello again, tjs.

 

What drugs are you taking now? Are you still in school? How's your sleep?

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tjs19

Alto,

 

I'm not taking any drugs right now, and I haven't taken any since September, so it's been over 7 months.

 

Yes, still in grad school. I'm planning on graduating sometime in the fall, and I'm trying to secure a postdoctoral position for after graduation. It's a very stressful time right now because of the application process, the uncertainty at the moment of not knowing where I'll be after graduation, and also that I have to collect and write up a lot of data still.

 

Well, my sleep has been about as good as I could expect, probably about 7 hours a night on average. I am totally reliant on falling asleep by wearing the orange glasses that were suggested earlier in the thread. Once I put those on, it usually takes 45-90 minutes to get tired enough to fall asleep. If I don't wear those orange glasses, I don't get tired. I will sometimes get the yawns earlier in a given night, but they pass quickly.

 

Thanks for asking.

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Altostrata

Good to hear the amber glasses are helping, and that your sleep is okay. Are you on the computer late at night?

 

It sounds like you're under a lot of life stress. Are you getting some exercise every day?

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tjs19

Well, yes. It would be better to read a book or something before going to bed instead - perhaps I'll pick one out - but fortunately the glasses seem be working.

 

Not every day, quite yet. I've started biking to and from work most days within the last few weeks, but there are still a lot of cold days right now in Minneapolis. (all the highs next week look to be in the 40s with rain :-(   ). There's also a running group that I usually go with each Wednesday, approximately 3 miles. I used to love exercising, but now it seems like a chore. I think that's due to the lack of endorphins, but whatever, it's a lot easier to exercise now than when I took the drugs.

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Altostrata

Do you think your mood could be influenced by your situation?

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tjs19

It's complicated. I do think it could be playing a role. But I also think that my brain hasn't adjusted back to where it was. In the past, this is the thing that would have excited me (anxiously, I suppose). My mind would have been racing with all the possibilities, rather than dreading the unknown. I guess life seems pretty dull/boring these days when I'm not feeling stressed. I can't complain a ton I guess, I mean for a while, while I was taking the drugs I could barely work at all because I had so little energy. But I do think I'm not getting endorphin rushes like a normal person would.

 

Thanks for your listening Alto, I live by myself and don't really have anyone to share these sorts of things with. If I told my family half these sorts of details they would freak out.

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Altostrata

Be patient, do the best you can, don't compare yourself to the past -- you'll gradually improve.

 

This condition forces us to be "in the present." Delight in what you can, exercise the enjoyment facility. It will be weak at first but you can nurture it.

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tjs19

I'm seeing a doctor next week to get a physical and hopefully bloodwork done. I feel like I have many of the symptoms of low testosterone - feeling "blah" all the time, trouble with energy levels (whether it be getting out of bed each day, which still takes forever for me, or recovering from exercise so that I don't feel physically tired for days later), not the greatest sleep (any light source besides my alarm clock can wake me up, which includes the dawn of course, and I feel like I may not be getting enough REM sleep), lack of libido, erectile dysfunction, etc.

 

The shrink I'm seeing basically told me (this past Friday) what you said, Alto, about trying to find the "little things" that give us enjoyment. It's funny, it used to be that it took no effort to find those things. I think part of the problem is that my life is so one-sided right now, and it has been for a while (finishing my Ph.D., trying to secure a position for after I graduate - which I haven't been able to yet). It's that if I had to "brag" about something right now, I have no idea what that would be. I'm sort of stuck in limbo, and that's holding me back.

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tjs19

It seems like everything is a package deal. I had been feeling like some of the good feelings were coming back, very briefly, yesterday. But then today I had a bad bout of anxiety when my coworkers and I went to lunch and an attractive woman behind the counter commented on the saying on my shirt. I basically clammed up and didn't say anything clever, at all, just sort of stammered - bewildered and surprised - despite my desire to flirt with her. In social situations where I don't know what to expect, I simply am horrible. Now my anxiety is bad and I feel terrible about myself. I'm pretty sure I'm autistic - if something isn't routine or expected, I simply fall flat on my face with embarrassment and anxiety.

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Altostrata

All of what you're describing fits with prolonged post-withdrawal syndrome. The post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD -- Google it) is a dead giveaway.

 

Testosterone supplementation is risky and most likely will not help. Recovering from withdrawal syndrome takes time and letting your nervous system heal itself.

 

It sounds like you might have a lot to work with regarding social anxiety. Joining clubs can help this. Some people have cured themselves via Toastmasters training in public speaking. A therapist might be able to help you with exposure therapy.

 

I suggest you look into these things rather than drugs.

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