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forceoffire Sertraline: The Cold Turkey Big Mistake


forceoffire

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Well, I've heard that you never know when you will become a good warning to others, now is my turn. So let me tell you about my mistakes, and what I am trying to do; and maybe some of you will have advice, who knows?

 

It all started July 2011 when I suffered from encephalitis. Although it was a "minor" case, the effects on my cognitive capabilities were profound. During the illness I suffered from left temporal lobe epilepsy, and afterwards severe memory disability. I only consulted with a neurologist after the seizures and the guy never picked up on the encephalitis, which resulted in systematic worsening of the memory problems until I went for a 2nd opinion at another neurologist which (by lumbar puncture) picked up on the cause of my problems. Luckily, by then the worst of the symptoms had already begun to get better. However, a local psychiatrist decided the best thing for me would be to start taking Zoloft (well, I was using the generic version: Serdep).

 

So I had been taking Serdep for a year when I decide (due to severe problems achieving orgasm) that I would stop taking the medicine. I read on the internet that it may cause brain zaps which will last for a while so in some sense I was "prepared". I stopped taking the Meds and indeed experienced a variety of rather bizarre cognitive symptoms. However, after about a month these symptoms disappeared and I thought that things were going okay. This was at about September of last year (2012).

 

During the time (because it is summer in South Africa), I notice that I have sinus problems. I go to see an ENT specialist (that's ear/nose/throat in case you were wondering), and indeed I have problems with my nose. A nose operation later (septoplasty) and I am supposedly fixed. This is October 2012 and I notice my concentration is also affected. Although the nose specialist can confirm that indeed my nose is now in tip-top shape the sinus pains remain and indeed there are even minor headaches to the front of my head. Bizarrely, I start having very sudden anxiety attacks. In fact, a few times the panic is practically unbearable, and I start to think it must be some kind of encephalitis relapse. I make another appointment with the 2nd neurologist and we do a full MRI scan only to confirm there is absolutely nothing wrong with my brain that they can pick up. I am at a loss!

 

Because nowhere on the internet did I read that things can go this crazy, I never made the "connection" that it might be Sertraline withdrawal. In any case, by the beginning of December 2012 I am totally overwhelmed by even the most basic tasks and my memory is awful. How I cope with work I still don't know. However, I still have a box of Serdep left, so I start taking it again, this is around the last week of November 2012. At first nothing improves. By December 17th my condition is so bizarre, my memory so defective, that even in my dreams I cannot "fill in the picture" in the dreams because I cannot remember how to fill it in. This is actually something I realise WHILE I am dreaming. On the 19th of December I remember feeling like I am somehow locked into a prison in my own consciousness, prevented from accessing any memories. I feel like a hollow shell and all events in my life appear like sudden flashes rather than detailed stories. The last month is largely a void, none of the events that occurred in that month even make it into my longer term memory. The anxiety must have been so severe that I am totally incapable of concentrating. Short term memory is bad because events are not even given the chance to be "recorded" into short term, let alone longer term recall.

 

By the 20th of December I suddenly start recalling music that I love. I'm a classical music lover, you see. And suddenly it's Beethoven. It's familiar tunes I love and it comes back. Somehow I realise things are improving. It is as if someone took a axe and managed to break through the wall inside my head. The wall turns into a heavy fog, the anxiety is still there but it feels like there is hope, rather than utter despair. By the 21st things are normalising. I am suddenly getting better. The signals in my brain is getting through. By Saturday, 22nd of December, I am essentially "cured" of my withdrawal. The sinus symptoms disappears. Clearly, the headaches and sinus symptoms were part of the Sertraline withdrawal.

 

But now I realise for now I must not play around with Serdep. However, a doctor suggests I try Cipralex (Escitalopram) because I need less and it may help with the sexual side effects. I was taking 50 mg Serdep in the morning and 50 mg at night. He suggest I try 10 mg Cipralex in the mornings rather than Serdep. This I try, but two days later I can feel the headaches start to come back, so I take Cipralex in the morning and Serdep at night. And that works beautifully.

 

During the time where things were so horribly bad I made an appointment with a psychiatrist and now it is time to go there. This is the 22nd of January. I tell him my story and he is glad things are so much better. He thinks that in order to minimise the sexual side effects it may be a good idea to change over from Serdep to Cymgen (the generic Cymbalta). Because Serdep is an SSRI and Cymgen is an SNRI, he doesn't think there would be any withdrawal effects. There should also not be serotonin syndrome because the half-life of Serdep is about a day. The next day I start taking Cymgen, 60 mg, in the mornings only.

 

For a week everything is fine. All goes well. No funny brain zaps, memory is fine, all is good! By February 4th 2013 I start to notice my concentration is quite as good as it was, maybe this is just a temporary adjustment problem? Why do I get the feeling the fog is returning? However, by Feb 15th 2013 I am sure things have degenerated to a point where I cannot cope with work AT ALL. Things are, if anything, even worse than they have EVER been before. The fog has turned into a wall; a wall more permanent, more impenetrable, that ever before. The feelings of sinus headaches are back with a vengeance. Although my psychiatrist had the best intentions, in my case clearly this was NOT what my body wanted. I consult with my doctor and the internet and they both agree that I should be able to change back to Serdep. In fact, my doctor feels I better change back immediately.

 

I start taking Serdep again on that same weekend. This is thus just before the 18th of February. I am back on 50 mg Serdep in the morning, and 50 mg at night. I have been on Serdep twice daily ever since. It is now March 7th (that is thus about 3 weeks later). I was on Cymgen for only two weeks. At this stage things have not improved. In fact, aside from the severe memory problems and and constant "sinus" headaches, I have also developed tinnitus. It is not debilitating, but it is sufficiently pronounced when I go to bed at night that it gives me pause to worry. The tinnitus only began once I restarted the Serdep, a symptom which I never had before in all the time that I had been taking Serdep. Apparently, the temporary use of Cymgen must have altered something in such a way that going back to Serdep brought on the tinnitus.

 

Right now I am a little terrified. Everyone tells me (as well as my own rational mind) that all I must do is wait. Although I rationally "know" all I must do is wait, in my heart I have this constant fear: what do I do if these problems are for some reason now permanent?! What do I do if my memory NEVER improves. What do I do if these headaches and constant tinnitus are never alleviated. The notion that I may never get better is enough to make me think of suicide. Patience is a virtue, yet I feel like a caged animal unable to do anything about my condition. The sense of hopelessness that comes with this lack of being able to do anything to improve the situation is enough to drive me to madness. Everything seems pointless; because although meditation gurus tell you the best thing to do is to live in the present, they never think about the full implications of that idea, when living in the present means being completely cut off from the past. Where you cannot remember where you put the keys. When you buy a CD that you love only to realise two days later you actually already do have that CD. When you constantly have to try and make sense of the world by using deduction because your memory fails, and often the deductions are mistaken. Your cognitive capacities are dwindling, and you fear that any hope of living is totally misplaced. You wonder: how will you cope tomorrow. Every day goes by. Every day you hope: please, PLEASE!!! let this horror lift from my mind tomorrow. Please, let things improve, let there be some glimmer of hope. Tomorrow comes, and yet there is no improvement. How will one cope, when you realise that because you can't concentrate, you can't remember, there is nothing worth doing! You cannot read, you cannot watch TV, because you cannot focus on what is happening. You cannot even talk with your close friends are relatives, because nothing comes to mind with chatting about. All you can do is sit back and wait. Wait out this relentless state of emptiness. The wall inside me prevents me from doing anything worth doing. I have tried to exercise but that only worsens the tinnitus. I sit here. And I wait. And in the meanwhile my hands are sweaty because the "voice" inside me is saying: this will NEVER get better.

 

And so I urgently ask: can anyone give me any advice?!

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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forceofffire,

 

Believe me, many people decide to take the cold-turkey jump to better 'get it over'. The withdrawal risk is downplayed by 'suthorities' and information about it conflicts from the amateurs on the internet. So don't feel bad this is not your fault. In fact, you very likely will get better. I'm sorry for the hellacious 18 month ordeal you've suffered.

 

There is a plenty of information about sertraline withdrawal on the forum and also some hard-earned tips for coping with symptoms.

 

I don't think many posters experienced a tipping point around a surgery. You may be a bit novel in that regard. What is a septoplasty?

 

Our posters experienced diverse reactions to medications and their removal so this is a great place to start looking for answers.

 

Welcome to the forum,

 

ALex

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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  • Moderator Emeritus

force of fire,

 

Welcome and let me say I am very sorry that you are suffering in this way. Alex picked up from your eloquent writing the symptoms surrounding the surgery, I noticed ( because I experience the same side effect) that some of your med changes were because of sexual side effects. I just want you to know that you are not alone in that & I also know how frustrating it can be.

 

I am relatively new here myself so am not qualified to give specific advice but rest assured that someone will be along soon to give you educated suggestions for your situation.

 

I just wanted to say hi & welcome and that you are not alone!!

 

RU :)

Fall 1995 xanax, zoloft. switched to Serzone

1996- spring 2003serzone/ xanax/ lightbox.

b]Fall 2003- Fall 2004? Lexapro 10 mg. Light box /4 mg. xanax.[/b]

2004 - Fall of 2009 10 mg Lex, 150 mg Wellbutrin XL % 4 mg xanax

November 2009- Sept. 2011 10 mg lex., 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax [/b

Sept.2012- July 2012 20 mg Lex 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax

My mantra " go slow & with the flow "

3/2/13.. Began equal dosing 5 Xs /day xanax, while simultaneously incorporating a 2.5 % drop ( from 3.5 mg/day to 3.4 mg/day)

4/6/13 dropped from 300 mg. Wellbutrin XL to 150 mg. Difficult but DONE! Down to 3.3 mg xanax/ day / 6/10/13 3 mg xanax/day; 7/15/2013 2.88mg xanax/day.

10/ 1/2013...... 2.5 mg xanax… ( switched to tablets again) WOO HOO!!!!!! Holding here… cont. with Lexapro.

1/ 2/2014.. tapered to 18mg ( by weight) of a 26 mg ( by weight) pill of 20 mg tab. lexapro. goal is 13mg (by weight OR 10 mg by ingredient content) and STOPPED. Feeling very down with unbalanced, unpredictable WD symptoms.

1/2/2014- ??? Taking a brain-healing break from tapering anything after actively tapering something for 1.5 years. So… daily doses as of 2/2/2014: 18 mg by weight Lex, 150 mg Well. XL, 2.5 mg xanax, down from 26 mg by weight Lex., 300 mg well. XL, 4 mg xanax in August, 2012. I'll take it. :) 5/8/14 started equivalent dose liquid./ tabs. 5/13/14 1.5 % cut.

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Welcome Force of Fire!

 

Really, none of us who are in the middle of withdrawing know what the final outcome will be...we just know a very slow go is our best bet. But I had a random thought for you that may or may not be true...the blood-brain barrier of your brain was breached by the organism that caused your encephalitis. It may not yet be completely healed, which could leave you more vulnerable to environmental and food toxins. I've noticed most of the people who are succeeding on this board are eating very unprocessed foods, some on paleo-like diets. Wishing you the best, Meimeiquest

1st round Prozac 1989/90, clear depression symptoms. 2nd round Prozac started 1999 when admitted to dr. I was tired. Prozac pooped out, switch to Cymbalta 3/2006. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder due to mania 6/2006--then I was taken abruptly off Cymbalta and didn't know I had SSRI withdrawal. Lots of meds for my intractable "bipolar" symptoms.

Zyprexa started about 9/06, mostly 5mg. Tapered 4/12 through12/29/12

Wellbutrin. XL 300 mg started 1/07, tapered 1/18/13 through 7/8/13

Oxazepam mostly continuously since 6/06, 30mg since 12/12, tapered 1.17.14 through 8.26.15

11/06 Lithium 600mg twice daily, 2.2.14 400mg TID DIY liquid, 2.12.14 1150mg, 3.2.14 1100mg, 3.18.14 1075mg, 4/14 updose to 1100mg, 6.1.14 900 mg capsules 7.8.14 810mg, 8.17.14 725mg, 8.24.24 700mg...10.22.14 487.5mg, 3.9.15 475mg, 4.1.15 462.5mg 4.21.15 450mg 8.11.15 375mg, 11.28.15 362.5mg, back to 375mg four days later, 3.4.16 updose to 475 (too much going on to risk trouble)

9/4/13 Toprol-XL 25mg daily for sudden hypertension, tapered 11.12.13 through 5.3.14, last 10 days or so switched to atenolol

7.4.14 Started Walsh Protocol

56 years old

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Hey guys. Thanks for the support that came so quickly! Septoplasty is when they actually move the septum in your nose. In my case I had mistaken the headaches due to serotonin withdrawal as due to sinus. However, it turns out I actually DID have sinus problems (due to sleeping on my stomach my septum became arched so that one of my sinuses, on the left actually) became blocked. The septoplasty is a surgery performed under general anaesthetic, where they make a small incision and reattach the septum so that the sinuses can drain naturally :-) To be honest, compared to hectic memory problems, the sexual side effects are not that big a deal. It's tough when it is difficult to achieve orgasm; ironically, it doesn't bother me that much, but your sexual partner ends up thinking the fault lies with them no matter how many times you tell them 'No, it's the medication!!!' In any case, right now I somehow don't have that kind of problem. Lets hope sooner, rather than later, I will also be able to get past these constant headaches are difficulties concentrating! Thanx again guys. Peace, love & respect!

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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  • Administrator

Welcome, forceoffire.

 

Here is the connection between sertraline withdrawal syndrome and surgery: Going off psychiatric drugs too quickly can leave your nervous system in a vulnerable state, although the withdrawal symptoms may be so mild you don't recognize them or (as is extremely common) misdiagnosed.

 

The anesthetics used in surgery also act on the nervous system and can disrupt the delicate balance that has kept withdrawal symptoms in check.

 

Going on and off various psychiatric drugs repeatedly further makes the nervous system hypersensitive.

 

Your nervous system might be so hypersensitive now that the amount of sertraline you're taking may be too stimulating for it. You may wish to slightly reduce your dosage, by 5mg, for example, to see if that helps. For information about titrating sertraline, see http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1441-tips-for-tapering-off-zoloft-sertraline/

 

I would hold at the reduced dosage for at least a week to see what it does.

 

To go off sertraline safely, you will need to stabilize on a dosage. Given your history, I would stabilize for at least 3 months. Then you can reduce very carefully by 10% a month to prevent further destabilization of your nervous system. See our Tapering forum for more information.

 

See our Symptoms and Self-care forum for information about dealing with symptoms in the meantime.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome, forceoffire. If it's any consolation, just about everyone in this forum has greatly feared that they will never get over withdrawal syndrome, but it does, in fact, get better. The brain and nervous system are capable of healing themselves given enough time and gentle encouragement.

 

When I first discovered this forum, I spent hours reading about 'Symptoms and self-care' and also others' posts. To know that what I was experiencing was withdrawal syndrome and to know that I was not alone was an enormous relief. Without that knowledge I might very well have gone to a doctor and ended up on even more drugs for an indefinite period of time. I thank God I found SurvivingAntidepressants.org, and I'm glad that you also have found us.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello forceoffire

 

and welcome to the forum, and I'm so sorry you are suffering.

 

Jemima is so right - many of us have been in your situation - where we're terrified that the symptoms will never go away and we will be stuck in this hell forever.

 

Ironically this kind of 'all-or-nothing' thinking is PART of the withdrawal process so it's hard not to get swept up in our own fears. This can further exacerbate the already horrific withdrawal symptoms.

 

For now, know that you are not alone and that you are in a safe, supportive place with lots of valuable information that will help you make an informed decision about where you want to go from here.

 

I really hope you feel better soon.

July 2001 prescribed 20mg citalopram for depression;
On and off meds from 2003-2006.
February 2006 back on 20mg citalopram and stayed on it until my last attempt at tapering in September 2011.
By far the worst withdrawal symptoms ever. Reinstated to 20mg citalopram
October 2012 - found this forum!
Nov 2012 to Feb 2013 did 10% taper, got doen to 11mg - was going great until stressful situation. Cortisol levels hit the roof, hideous insomnia forced me to updose to 20mg.
March 2016 - close to 100% back to normal!



****** I am not a medical practitioner, any advice I give comes from my own experience or reading and is only my perspective ******

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi forceoffire,

 

Welcome to the group! I'm sorry for all you've been through. There's not a lot I could add to what you've already been told.

 

This is the best place you could have found, IMHO.

 

Everyone is very caring and supportive, as you can see already.

 

If you could add your drug history it would be a great help.

 

Here is a link with instructions:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

May you feel well soon!

 

Tezza

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey my dear fellow survivors. Just thought I'd send a bit of an update. My detailed story can be read at http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3945-forceoffire-sertraline-the-cold-turkey-big-mistake/page__pid__45845; but for a quick overview:

 

May - July 2011: Encephalitis causes memory problems and epilepsy; the disease is not diagnosed for quite a while,

but luckily by July my body's natural defenses kick in. Neurologist puts on 50 mg Lamictin twice daily.

July 2011: A psychiatrist put me on Serdep (generic of Zoloft -- sertraline), 50 mg daily. I'm told it will

help me with my memory problems and "stabilize" me generally.

July 2012: I decide it's time to go off the medication (since it's been a year and no further symptoms present), and go cold turkey.

Sept 2012: Bizarre brain-related and consciousness symptoms such as freezes/electric zaps, sense of depersonalisation,

these symptoms are, however, expected based on what I've read on the internet.

Oct 2012: Headaches, appears to be sinus related. I go for an operation to correct my septum, which is supposed to help with sinus.

Nov 2012: Sinus headaches remain, confusion and total lack of concentration develops. Bouts of severe anxiety set in. I decide to

go back on Lamictin because I am aware it has mood stabilising properties.

Dec 2012 (~1st): Suicidal. Severe anxiety. Complete lack of concentration. No capacity to make short term memories whatsoever. Even long

term recall is vague and distant, singular flashes of memories rather than a full "episode" of detailed memory. Out of

desperation I start taking Serdep again, 50 mg x2 daily.

Dec 2012 (~25th): Sudden improvement, over the space of 3 days everything returns to what I would call "normal". Sinus headaches "magically"

disappear. It seems the "sinus" headaches were really caused by sertraline withdrawal.

Dec 2012 (~27th): Switch to Cipralex (Escitalopram) 10 mg morning and Serdep 50 mg in evening (to help with difficulties achieving orgasm).

Jan 2013 (22nd): Psychiatrist suggest I switch to Cymgen (generic Cymbalta -- duloxetine), rather than using two difference antidepressants.

I do so, 60 mg once daily.

Jan 2013 (29th): My partner notices my concentration is worsening, but I don't notice at that stage.

Feb 2013 (8th): Things have deteriorated to a point of utter chaos, headaches have returned. I switch back to Serdep 50 mg x2 daily.

March 2013: Severe memory problems. Short term is atrocious, long term vague and distant. No improvement as yet.

 

Presently there has been absolutely no improvement. If anything, my lack of concentration is excruciating. I have difficulty doing my daily

tasks and going to work is drives me to tears. Previously, things got better after one month, it's been two whole months now...

This makes me wonder whether some change in my brain chemistry due to the cymgen has caused permanent damage. I am terribly afraid that things

will never improve whatsoever. I find myself just wanting to be in bed all the time and cry, because I can't concentrate. My memory is so bad

that I cannot do even basic tasks. My head feels like it's in a vice grip. I won't say I'm suicidal as I was before, because I am strangely not

harangued by severe anxiety, but the thought of another month like this this is almost too much to bear. The thought of a lifetime like this

is enough for me to *consider* ending it all! What should I do?!

 

Any advice very welcome!

 

Sincere regards,

A friend in serious need...

 

PS I did try to add a short history to my signature, I hope it shows...

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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Talk about irony: I *forgot* to mention another symptom...

 

After switching back from Cymgen to Serdep (Feb 8th 2013), I started developing tinnitus. It came on very suddenly and has been persistent since I'd switched back. A high-pitched constant ringing in my ears that I hear whenever the surrounding environment is quiet. Luckily the ringing noise doesn't drown out the rest, rather, normal sounds silence the tinnitus... Just wanted to add this symptom to the list.

 

Regarding the headaches: it feels like it is my sinuses that are blocked, somehow being more localized to the left than to the right. It feels like it is "just above" my left eye. However, the feeling is not a typical headache, it is more a feeling of pressure. The way blocked sinuses produce a sense of pressure in the head. There is pain, but it more a feeling of pressure. Presently, this sensation is quite pronounced, and although I can feel that it is strongest above my left eye, I can actually feel it throughout my head today.

 

I'm actually at work today, and I am strongly considering going home. I just don't feel capable to dealing with people. It causes such a sense of shame...

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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  • Moderator Emeritus

From the history you describe, I am not at all surprised by your symptoms. Your symptoms are exactly what I would expect from a history of so many sudden, frequent and abrupt changes in meds and dosages.

 

Other people also have reported sinus symptoms from AD withdrawal. Sometimes from benzos too.

 

If there's any way you can quit switching things around at this point, I think that would be a good idea. There's no quick fix for what you're going through. Every time you change drugs and dosages your brain tries to adapt, and if it's already in chaos it's just going to get even more chaotic. At this point further changes in ADs are not likely to help.

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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Dear Rhi; thanks for such a quick reply. Although your reply is kind of depressing (no pun intended), I guess what you are really saying is that I should not consider my condition unique. In fact, it is somewhat expected. Please know that each and every change was made by a psychiatrist, I definitely did not go about and jump around all on my own. Every time I was told 'this is what you need to do to get better', and clearly things have gone totally pear-shaped. If it is then true that my symptoms are to some extent expected, can I thus also expect that, over time, things will improve? What I really need to hear right now is just that although things are terribly out of control, I should not give up. My greatest fear is that somehow my brain was permanently wrecked and that there is no hope of any improvement. As much as your reply is depressing, it is also comforting because it suggests that at least I am not the only one going through this time of confusion, and that there are other people that have been in such a state, and have gotten better.

 

Previously I got better after a month, but presently it has already been two months without any sign of improvement. Would it be possible to suggest what I can expect in terms of a time frame? Another month or two? Six month? (gulp) A year? I have been through many rough times in my life, but I would not lie if I say this one is the most hectic. It is like being on a very powerful mind-altering drug that locks you in a small chamber in your brain, where you are not able to get any access to any part of yourself or your memories. I guess no-one ever tells you that this state of consciousness is even possible when they tell you that you must go on the next best antidepressant. I would say that without actually having been in this state, it is impossible for someone else to understand. It cannot be fully described...

 

In any case, thanks again for such a quick reply. If I had to summarize your reply it would be: "Yeah, it's bad, but it's not entirely unexpected; you're going to have to wait a bit, it may take quite a while yet, but it's going to get better, and for goodness sake, DON'T SWITCH YOUR MEDS!!!".

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Dear Rhi;

 

In any case, thanks again for such a quick reply. If I had to summarize your reply it would be: "Yeah, it's bad, but it's not entirely unexpected; you're going to have to wait a bit, it may take quite a while yet, but it's going to get better, and for goodness sake, DON'T SWITCH YOUR MEDS!!!".

 

 

forceoffirefire,

 

I've merged your "update" with your existing topic. Introductions and Updates is limited to one topic per member. This is where you add any updates, you can also use it as a sort of journal to keep track of your progress.

 

I included the quote because you summarized Rhi's reply very well.

 

Most doctors don't understand withdrawal and think it is a relapse, that's why they keep changing and/or adding meds.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey everyone, just a quick question:

 

I've noticed something which I didn't expect; I remember when I stopped using the medication I got those "zaps" people talk about. However, currently I'm on 50 mg twice daily of serdep, and I'm still waiting for the stuff to "kick in"; the funny thing is: now and then I get those same zaps, even though I'm taking the meds! If you read my whole story, you'll see that presently I have severe memory problems, headaches and tinnitus. These zaps are now a new development. Has anyone else experienced these zaps coming back even after being on the meds for a whole two months without so much as missing a single dose?

 

Could it be that my brain is somehow getting used to the medication, should I consider using more? I'm afraid of serotonin-syndrome, so I'd discuss it with my doctor in any case, but I'd like to hear your opinions too. To be honest, it seems like my psychiatrist is also not too clued up on my condition. He recently told me he's thinking of changing my medication AGAIN. Currently I think your suggestion (to not making any changes right now) is a better idea. So I told my doctor I'm sticking to things as they are for now.

 

This weekend was rough, because, on top of it all, I got tonsillitis! And although I understand antibiotics (amoxicillin) and antidepressants don't interfere, I still seem to have problems with a runny tummy. GHHRRR!!!!

 

Thanx for all your help!

Regards,

forceoffire

 

(1 year serdep 50 mg daily, 3 month cold-turkey, back on the serdep 50 mg x2 daily, and still waiting for improvement...)

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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  • Administrator

Yes, you can continue to get withdrawal symptoms even if you reinstate or take another drug.

 

Hard to tell if the zaps are from too much sertraline at this point. Do they occur in any pattern?

 

Please keep notes on paper about your symptoms.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • 1 month later...

This reply is more for myself to remember where I stand, and to put it in writing; but if anyone has any comments you're always welcome. Last time I wrote down here I was on sertraline, it had been three months since a local psychiatrist changed me from sertraline to duloxetine (cymbalta) with dire consequences. At the time of my previous report, I had been suffering from severe tinnitus. Although I had been using sertraline for a long time before that, the sudden change-over to cymbalta (as told by my psychiatrist and thereafter sudden switch back to sertraline (because the change-over resulted in such a severe withdrawal effect), had caused some kind of changes in my brain that, upon switch-back to sertraline, the old ssri suddenly caused tinnitus. This tinnitus was a NEW symptom, precipitated by going back to an SSRI I had been using for at least two years.

 

Now my hypersensitivity to the sertraline->duloxetine change probably resulted from the fact that, six months before, I attempted a cold-turkey which is where all the chaos really began. Ironically, during the time of withdrawal various local GPs just told me I had ADHD and I was even on Ritalin for a while. I myself realised it may be SSRI-withdrawal. It was December of last year when I started taking the sertraline again, and it was just before the New Year when things suddenly improved. Because of sexual dysfunction another GP changed my to citalopram. However, even two days of taking JUST citalopram was enough for me to realise that that wasn't going to work. So before the psychiatrist mentioned before made the change, I was actually using the citalopram (10mg) in the morning, and using the sertraline (50mg) in the evenings. Part of the reason the psychiatrist thought it wise to make the change, was because he felt it didn't make sense to use two different SSRIs simultaneously. Whatever the case, I had some extra citalopram left.

 

A previous reply told me rather not to make any further changes, but the tinnitus was getting VERY severe, and so I made the decision to carefully taper over from sertraline to citalopram. I could do this only because I had some citalopram left from an old script. I did it very carefully, noting that combining SSRI's is risky. Yet it seems to have made an improvement. The tinnitus is considerably better.

 

And yet, after some difficulty sleeping my GP suggested amitriptyline to help me fall asleep. And so I was using it for about 5 days, when suddenly the tinnitus comes back. It is with some irony that Wikipedia is enough to confirm that amitriptylene is actually also an SNRI. Just like duloxetine! Well, not *just* like, but the fact is both have SNRI function.

 

I am at a point now where I have come to realise you cannot even trust doctors to have any idea what is safe to combine. I have also discovered that they don't listen to you. They have their ideas and whenever you say something that doesn't conform to what they've been taught, tough luck. Right now I am not doing well, because even though I've stopped using the amitriptylene, it has only really started to affect my depressive state now a week later. Typically whether for the better or for the worse, you only start to really notice the effect a few days later. The unfortunate thing then is, of course, that you've already been taking the offending chemical for quite a few days. And all the while believing that this will make things better.

 

So since getting back onto the sertraline after the short duloxetine interlude, it has been nearly six months. Four months involved severe tinnitus before a switch to citalopram brought some relief, about a month ago. My episodic memory is so severely affected that I cannot really remember more than a week, even when things were at their best. The amitriptylene which I had only started taking about two weeks ago, had such a severe impact that I experienced moments of depersonalisation and bizarre memory shifts where I would find myself, say, on the loo, thinking, where precisely AM I? Luckily, since I've stopped taking that stuff at least I haven't had any bizarre moments like that this week.

 

The sense of iatrogenic helplessness is, however, overwhelming. People (and that includes my significant other) simply doesn't listen to me now when I say things are getting WORSE. I get the distinct impression they think I'm exaggerating. This only makes things worse, because clearly people just don't listen when I say I'm not well. The last to days have been really REALLY bad. That is, to some extent, I guess, what drove me to wrote this down now. Even if there is no-one directly that would listen, and even if a computer can't 'talk' back, at least I feel somewhere, somehow, some kind of 'recognition' of my condition must now happen, because even if this story is stored on a server hard drive somewhere, that means some day if I ever get better, I can come back and read this again. Although I don't think I'd actually commit suicide, right now I feel like I have an appreciation of why someone would actually go that far. When you come to the distinct impression that (i) no-one even makes the effort to listen to you, and (ii) that even includes people that are SUPPOSED to take you seriously and, finally (3) that there is no hope for improvement: it's been six months now. Rationally, I am trying to tell myself to keep the hopes up, that inevitably, things will improve. Emotionally, my heart is telling me that it isn't even worth bothering anymore, because this state of intense helplessness will never improve.

 

In two weeks time I'm supposed to go through performance appraisal. This year has seen me doing significantly less meaningful work compared to the years before that. My colleagues know I've been suffering. But, just like everyone else, they simply don't recognise my condition. Just more people who think I'm merely exaggerating. This appraisal thing is going to be tough, because the powers that be decided for THIS round, every employee will get to present his/her performance for the year in front of a whole panel of managers. They might as well bring the thing to its natural conclusion and let you sit down, tie you in, and shine a bright light on you, before telling you to convince them of you worth. If I survive the next month, it will be truly incredible.

 

And can you imagine: I'm writing all this three days before getting a civil partnership. A day after the house had been totally repainted and re-organised. Yep, explaining that all these sudden changes make it difficult for me to cope just seems to fall on deaf ears.

 

Some days I really wish I believed in some kind of interventionist God. But even those days have gone and sailed.

 

This is Star Date 240513 at exactly 1320PM South Africa time. My parents will be staying with us. Tonight will be dinner with all the in-laws. Two weeks from now my fate at work hangs in the balance. The tinnitus is back, though slightly better. My concentration at work today has been non-existent, another reason why I decided to write this instead of frustrating myself even further in trying to make sense of my daily duties. No one seems to listen. My fellow survivors I really hope I can cope. I feel terribly sad that in two weeks time, I will very likely not even be able to remember a day, the day of my civil partnership being celebrated, that will be one I'd have hoped would stay with me for a life-time. It's seems, aside from stupidity and hydrogen, the only other overwhelming element in my universe, is irony. Maybe it's all so sad because I really I won't remember anything. Not anything that was good. Not even these terribly sad moments. Adieu.

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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forceoffire, please take care of yourself. You can get through this. It will take time.

 

Can you get a medical leave from work?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • 1 year later...

I have written here before, two years ago (http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3945-forceoffire-sertraline-the-cold-turkey-big-mistake/) - during a time in my life where I thought things cannot possibly get worse.  I survived that episode.  But it seems the universe, never averse to irony, has left me know with a new appreciation of the true depth of what is possible for someone struggling with depression...

 

It is ironic, precisely because since my previous writing to this forum, I had to endure the lack of understanding from doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists; I've been switched from antidepressant to antidepressant, some with more success, others less so.  I've been through a tapering process where I started with 10 mg daily of citalopram and managed to get it down to 2 mg daily citalopram, that was last year around March.   But at the 2 mg level things suddenly got very bad, and so I went back to my usual 10 mg and went through a rather bumpy ride all the way through to the end of last year over Christmas at my parents where I reached a level of utter despair.  But my partner of 5 years had seen it all and although it also made him unhappy to see me so sad, throughout it all he managed to get me through even the worst of it.

 

This man saved my life.  I was struggling with alcoholism before I met him, and I am sure if I had not met him, I'd be dead by now.  My bad drinking habits had left me with a fatty liver.  But he managed to help me to stop drinking alcohol completely.  I've not had a drink since August last and it is my full intention of keeping it that way!  If I am lucky, the damage done will heal itself slowly, although there is a real risk that the damage may ultimately lead to cirrhosis.  But that will only happen over time.  And since I am drinking no more alcohol, there as at least a very good chance that, over time, my liver will mostly heal itself, and even if some eventual scarring remains, I should be able to live a normal alcohol-free life for many years to come...

 

But throughout the last two years I've had a bumpy and painful time juggling antidepressants, dealing with constant difficulties with memory, and concentration.  And now the unthinkable happened.  By eleven o'clock we were both tired and it was time for sleep.  But he had invited his mom over for lunch and we were still putting croissants into the oven to thaw overnight (they sell it as raw dough ready to be baked the next morning).  By twelve we were both in bed.  My partner asked for a sleeping pill, something he's been using for about 2 months.  He's also on Epilim as a mood stabiliser.  And he uses citalopram 20 mg daily.   That night I still tell him if he snores loudly I'll scoot him off to the room next door.  For I needed all my wits with me during the weekend to prepare for a lecture I was to give the next Tuesday.  And public speaking is something I find difficult in any case, public speaking as a depressed person makes it all the more difficult.  So we both fall asleep by around 12 am.

 

At 4 pm I wake up to go to the loo.  I return to bed only to notice wetness.  I turn on the light, and what will I find next to me?  My partner had passed and has been dead for at least 2 hours.  I didn't know it then, but I do now.  How do I know?  Because a few hours after death, red blood cells sink to the bottom giving the lower parts of the body a purplish pinking colour known as "livor mortis".   Not knowing what I am seeing, I still tried to do CPR and although I get air into his lungs it makes a gargling sound.  When I lift my head large amounts of fluid oozes through his nose and mouth.  Not blood.  Just a clear liquid.  And that's when I realised the one person that saved my life, and was a reason for me to deal with all the anguish that results from trying to cope  with depression, is with us no longer.

 

 

Chaos ensues.  I get the paramedics out, just to confirm what I had already known.  Due to the fact that he is 32 years old and because he was on potent medication, his death is considered "unnatural".  To this day I still have no idea what really happened.  A post mortem is in progress but so far nothing suspicious has been found.  They suspect it may have been the combination of medication he was on that caused him to slip into coma and stop breathing.  I don't know.  Is it possible he may have taken some additional medication without telling me?  I simply don't know.  Here in South Africa there is a severe backlog with blood testing for cases like this.  I was informed that they only recently finished the report of a woman that died... in 2012!

 

 

But it doesn't really matter *how* he died.  The point is, I've lost the one and only thing that was reason for me to keep going.  

 

It is so ironic, because after the bad stint over Christmas I realised I must go back onto zoloft.  Zoloft was what I was put on the very first time, and of all the medication I have been on, it is the only thing that had any success whatsoever.  So I did go back onto zoloft.  But because of the differences in strength between zoloft and citalopram I experienced some withdrawal symptoms like shocks.  Not wanted to fall into severe depression I doubled my zoloft dosing (to 100 mg twice daily) and that was in the end too much.  A week before Valentines I realised that 100 mg twice daily is too much and I went for 75 mg twice daily which seemed to be just the perfect dose.  Things were finally starting to feel like there is hope.  After two years of agony and endless struggle I finally allowed myself to start looking forward.  We had planned to go to Cape Town for New Years 2016 and had already booked the hotel.  For the first time in a long time, the possibility of happiness seemed not utterly squashed but floating nearby like a butterfly with per chance to land on my hand in give me a moment of hope.

 

And a week later my partner dies.

 

This coming Friday it will have been a month.  It is strange, how easy it is for me to bullsh*t everyone including myself so that I appear to cope.  I'm supposed to do the lecture which I never made due to his death at the end of this month... and right now I have no idea how on earth I will succeed.  I've been trying to work but the result is that I simply cannot really concentrate.  My memory is failing me both short term and long term.  It's like all the options that should be right in front of me have vanished.  I'm like a useless shell of a person.  Even the most obvious things I'm supposed to recognise based on the results I generate doesn't make sense until I talk to someone.  It's like I've developed dementia.  It's like I went from someone who aced at varsity to an utter fool that cannot even remember the simplest of things.  Connections that my brain should make without "thinking twice" are simply missing.  It's like there is nothing there.  And in my heart, there is nothing.  Nothing left to do, nothing left to hope for.   The one person that *actually* understood what I was going thought, the one person that *supported* me and somehow managed to love me none the less for all my faults, is gone.

 

The tears have dried up.  Now just the emptiness remains.  Everyone keeps telling me that "if I need anything they are there for me" and yet none of them can see that I cannot even find the words to explain how I feel.  When my depression gets at its worst, because my memory fails me, it is impossible for me to express my feelings and emotions.  I feel tired.  My head hurts.  I have ringing in my ears.  And panic attacks at work.  My mouth is dry.  But the underlying *feelings* I cannot express.  I cannot tell you what I feel.  I cannot tell you what I'm thinking.  And I know even if I did, you don't really want me to tell you.  You tell me "if you need anything I am here for you"  yet you stare at your watch anxiously because you don't really want me to tell you.  Because you don't care, because you are not the person that died right next to me three weeks ago.  I have nausea and dizziness.  I drive to work and home even though I can't quite remember the road I've driven thousands of times.  Every moment is collapsed into the present.  The past and future seems vague and distant.  My depression has affected my semantic memory but also my episodic memory.  Right now, there is simply no narrative to store, there is only passive reruns of the night I woke up next to the cold wet mirage of a person. Even though I typically have the worst of memories, I have not been spared these memories.  They are clear in my head and the are like a film I'm watching over and over.  Every time the ER people show me that indeed his heart has long since stopped beating, every time they check his pupils and there is no response.  Every time I see myself running back and forth hoping for no reason other than sheer madness that maybe I am wrong and he isn't really dead.  And every time I must face the shock that the feeling I had when I first saw him after putting on the light, was true.

 

 

I have to give that lecture two weeks from now and I don't know how I will do it.  By 2 pm I am so tired I can't keep my eyes open.  Today I had to attend a safety training course for work.   I passed the test.  A testament to how easy they make these tests, so simple that even with an attention span of 5 minutes and an obliterated capacity for storing any meaningful information, I still passed.  I'm sure by tomorrow I will not remember a single thing of today.  

 

I don't know why I am writing this down.  I guess I felt I needed to just write it down.   I don't want to commit suicide.   But   I also don't want to have to go to work.  I have no choice though: the current work climate is so bad that if I show any sign of "weakness"  I may well end up loosing my job.  I think about it and my ears feel warm.  My head hurts.  My ears ring and the nausea comes back:  the house I live in is a testament of the man that died right next to me.  In every corner I see his handiwork...  A painting hangs on the wall in front of me that he had framed on the day of his passing.  I stare at it in disbelief.   I don't want to commit suicide.

 

But right now, for the life of me, I don't know how I will make it through the next two weeks.    It is my bed time.  I will go to sleep next.  Tomorrow I will wake up and for a minute I will not remember that he is dead.  It will hit me a few seconds after and that will be the first panic attack of the day.

 

Yeah, ironic, that he should die in the very week where I start to think:  there is reason for going on.

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Dear Forceoffire,

 

No two loves are the same and no two losses are the same. No one knows what it's like for you to suffer your loss but I'm very sorry your partner has gone. The impact of this is evident in your words.

 

Your partners support has enabled you to become a stronger person, to make good choices for yourself like giving up alcohol. This is a legacy you can draw on now.

 

I will keep you in my thoughts

 

Dalsaan

 

(I joined your intro threads together, that's how we keep people's story in one place)

Please note - I am not a medical practitioner and I do not give medical advice. I offer an opinion based on my own experiences, reading and discussion with others.On Effexor for 2 months at the start of 2005. Had extreme insomnia as an adverse reaction. Changed to mirtazapine. Have been trying to get off since mid 2008 with numerous failures including CTs and slow (but not slow enough tapers)Have slow tapered at 10 per cent or less for years. I have liquid mirtazapine made at a compounding chemist.

Was on 1.6 ml as at 19 March 2014.

Dropped to 1.5 ml 7 June 2014. Dropped to 1.4 in about September.

Dropped to 1.3 on 20 December 2014. Dropped to 1.2 in mid Jan 2015.

Dropped to 1 ml in late Feb 2015. I think my old medication had run out of puff so I tried 1ml when I got the new stuff and it seems to be going ok. Sleep has been good over the last week (as of 13/3/15).

Dropped to 1/2 ml 14/11/15 Fatigue still there as are memory and cognition problems. Sleep is patchy but liveable compared to what it has been in the past.

 

DRUG FREE - as at 1st May 2017

 

>My intro post is here - http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2250-dalsaan

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  • 2 months later...

I just want some advice, and maybe some hope.   I find myself today feeling like things are going a bit crazy which is strange because the taper so far has been really good.

 

Quick background:  I was on zoloft for 2 years 100 mg before my first act of stupidity where I stopped cold-turkey.  After a month or so the zaps and other typical short-term withdrawal symptoms disappeared and I thought I was getting better, only to find myself going well-and-truly crazy.  Anxiety, inability to even remember what I'm saying mid-sentence.  Basically as bad as it gets.

 

I went back onto zoloft and a month later things go back to normal.  REALLY NORMAL.  But a psychiatrist made me switch to cymbalta 40 mg and that was such a disaster than after 2 weeks I switched back to zoloft.  At this point I developed tinnitus.

 

Realising the folly of my actions I ended up on zoloft for another 6 months and then on cipralex 10 mg for 1 1/2 years.

 

Beginning of this year I was thus basically on 4 years total either zoloft or cipralex.  Since my tinnitus never improved and my memory remains unstable I decide it's time to cut back.  Hopefully things will improve if I do.

 

I first went back onto 100 mg zoloft because i feel its easier to taper from 100 mg compared to from 20 mg (its easier to measure doses).   However, within days I develop the brain zaps and so I went up to 150 mg zoloft for 1 month.  I stabilised.  My formal taper started in the first week of March.

 

Over the next two months managed to successfully taper 25 mg per month, which I know is pretty fast, but I have not had any recurring brain zaps whatsoever! From past experience the zaps are my first symptom that I am going too fast.  I may have had short moments with the beginnings of a zap here or there, but all in all I have really had an easy ride up until basically today.

 

Since the beginning of May I've been on 25 mg in the morning, and 25 mg at night.   During the first week of May I developed severe insomnia, for which I used zolpihexal to sleep.  However, I was doing okay during the day at work, my concentration wasn't the best, but it wasn't really any worse than your typical  day on the antidepressant.

 

I stopped the zolpihexal last Thursday and the weekend went okay.  I've had some difficulties falling asleep but because I didn't have to work during the weekend I was mostly okay, I could sleep late.  Now that I think about it, over the weekend I felt pretty good although I have had some sensations of sinus-headache-like pressure.  This sinus-like symptoms have been been an ongoing then-you-have-it, then-you-don't kind of symptom for the past two years.  Being on the antidepressant certainly doesn't improve these sinus-like symptoms, or the tinnitus that developed during this incessant hell the psychiatrist coaxed me into.

 

I still have not had ANY brain zaps but today I feel terribly anxious, and it's as if my memory just went rather blank.  I'm even thinking it's risky to drive home from work - something which I am going to have to do in two hours.  Luckily I have made sure to bring an extra zoloft to work with me each day in case things suddenly take a turn for the worse, so I just took another 25 mg and will give it an hour or so just to wait out this anxiety [hopefully it'll pass], before driving home.

 

I also notice that today as I'm typing I'm missing words, or typing the incorrect word.   When I reread my sentences I notice that on the first try I would type a sentence and although I won't notice it at first, when I go back there are words that I thought I typed but which I actually didn't [or just used the plain wrong word]

 

 

So my question is this:  in the absence of your typical brain zaps, can I expect other psychological symptoms to appear if the taper is too fast, without the concurrent appearance of typical zaps etc?    The fact that I haven't had any real zaps, is something I have treated as a confirmation that my rate of taper is okay.  I know when you get to smaller doses you have to taper very carefully, but going from 100 mg to 75 mg had absolutely no withdrawal effects (I was really surprised because I was preparing for some severe zaps).

 

Does the psychological effects like memory disturbances and concentrations problems arise during a taper without the concurrent zap-symptoms?   If this is the case then I will go back to 75 mg, even 100 mg and try again.    My plan was originally to slow down the taper when I get to smaller doses.

 

If you have experience in this regard and can answer any of these questions I'd be very happy.

 

I suspect part of this intense anxiety also comes from reading this article: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00117/full

 

Has anyone else read it?  According to the article there is real scientific evidence out there that long term use of antidepressants causes permanent brain damage.  Now I'm worried that the fact that I once made the mistake of going cold turkey may have left me in a world where suicide is really the only option compared to the alternative: 40 odd more years of continual memory and cognitive disarray, and ongoing tinnitus.

 

 

Regards,

forceoffire

 

OLD HISTORY:  Zoloft 100 mg 2 years // Cold-turkey withdrawal: disasterous results - lasts three months //

Zoloft 100 mg 3 months // Psychiatrist puts me on Cymbalta 40 mg, WORSENING the situation [suddenly develop tinnitus], I go back to Zoloft. // Zoloft 100 mg 6 months //Doctor Switch me to Cipralex 20 mg - 1 1/2 years

MOST RECENT HISTORY: Zoloft 1 month 100 mg   Zoloft 1 month 150 mg.

START TAPER: MONTHLY REDUCTIONS 25 MG

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So my question is this:  in the absence of your typical brain zaps, can I expect other psychological symptoms to appear if the taper is too fast, without the concurrent appearance of typical zaps etc?    The fact that I haven't had any real zaps, is something I have treated as a confirmation that my rate of taper is okay.  I know when you get to smaller doses you have to taper very carefully, but going from 100 mg to 75 mg had absolutely no withdrawal effects (I was really surprised because I was preparing for some severe zaps).

 

Does the psychological effects like memory disturbances and concentrations problems arise during a taper without the concurrent zap-symptoms?   

 

e.  Now I'm worried that the fact that I once made the mistake of going cold turkey may have left me in a world where suicide is really the only option compared to the alternative: 40 odd more years of continual memory and cognitive disarray, and ongoing tinnitus.

 

 

Regards,

forceoffire

 

Welcome -

 

Thanks for the link, that was a great research paper.

 

Brain zaps are just one manifestation of neuronal instability, and they come and go. 

 

Brain zaps can reappear at any time during withdrawal. I have been off SSRIs for 15 months, and I still get the occasional but rare brain zap during bedtime. Brain zaps just remind me that whatever other withdrawal symptoms I still have (such as tinnitus), it is all due to SSRI WD. 

 

Often brain zaps are present during early discontinuation and fade away. Then more serious symptoms may arise a few months later, known as tardive (delayed) onset SSRI withdrawal. 

 

Tardive symptoms like insomnia, unusual anxiety, paresthesia, akathisia. You may or may not get any of these symptoms.

 

A long, slow 10% taper is recommended to reduce the severity of withdrawal and to reduce the shock to the nervous system that a cold turkey may do.

 

Nevertheless, many people suffer from withdrawal during the best managed slow tapers.

 

Don't beat yourself up over the cold turkey. It is the use of SSRIs that have caused damage. Cold turkey just reveals that damage quicker, whereas a taper gives your body a chance to heal the damage with the crutch of the SSRI to soften the landing. Healing occurs whether or not you cold turkeyed or slow tapered.

 

Your nervous system is in disarray due to your recent SSRI use history.

 

Once you decide on a stable plan to get off these medications, you have a good chance of largely recovering and being in a much more tolerable situation than you are in now. 

 

It usually just takes a lot of time and patience to recover. The body will heal, but it often takes months, even years.

 

A moderator should be along to help you plan your dosing and taper from here.

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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HI force of fire,

I feel for you and have been in a similar situation myself several times.

 

I was reading your post this morning - and wanted to respond to one part of it:

 

"So my question is this:  in the absence of your typical brain zaps, can I expect other psychological symptoms to appear if the taper is too fast, without the concurrent appearance of typical zaps etc?    The fact that I haven't had any real zaps, is something I have treated as a confirmation that my rate of taper is okay.  I know when you get to smaller doses you have to taper very carefully, but going from 100 mg to 75 mg had absolutely no withdrawal effects (I was really surprised because I was preparing for some severe zaps)."

 

You can definitely get a huge array of other psychological symptoms if the taper is too fast.

 

I have never had brain zaps ever in my attempts to withdraw from SSRI's. I am now on a very slow taper.  The primary symptom I have always gotten however is anxiety and for me this is my big indication that I am going to fast.  

 

You may need to do the two steps forward one step back approach and taper much slower to reduce the side effects you are getting. If you are not managing well in your life - likely the taper is too fast.  

1997 - effexor for 4 months. Came off without issue (as far as I recall)

2000 - 2004 - Celexa 10 mg (came off very quickly - and had a "nervous breakdown" to use my words. High anxiety, out of control and life became unmanageable. Reinstated briefly then came off successfully )

2006-2009 Celexa 10 mg - somehow came off for a while but then... things got hard.

2010 - started (Lexapro in the U.S.) 5 mg  2012 for 6 months I was on 2.5 lexapro,  ativan - for sleep very occasional use 2014 5 mg cipralex (lexapro) : attempts to come off 5mg  2014 failed - way too fast - terrible anxiety  2015 march ---- started a SLOW taper of Lexapro. I was able to get down to .5 mg Lexapro in early 2016 February and March started to get intense strange symptoms of shaking body, loss of control, panic, weight loss.  Especially in early morning.  Reinstated- on Psych. Docs advise. (sadly! now I think but didn't know what else to do). 

August 2016 was on 6 mg Lexapro and still having panic and anxiety. Re-instating was very hard. Took .5 mg Ativan 3 x per day for two months. August 2016 - started 1mg Abilify and tapered off of Ativan over three months. 

From November 2016 - Janaury 2018:  1mg Abilify - 6 mg Lexapro

 ABILIFY taper started May 2018:  lots general anxiety. Moved to a liquid dose of Abilify. September 2018: 6mg lexapro a day,  Abilify taper is at .4mg. Experienced terrible anxiety, worry, restlessness, sleeplessness. Then Father died traumatically. P-Doc said to go back up.  reinstated 1mg Abilify started Nov. 28, 2018.   LEXAPRO 6mg.

2019 April started taper of Lexapro to 5.5, June 2019. Lexapro 5 mg, Abilify 1mg.  Holding for now til life stabilizes. Fish oil, melatonin, vit d, bio identical hormones, magnesium citrate.

2020 - Abilify taper to .8mg, Lexapro 5 mg, Progesterone SR 300 mg

2022 - Abilify taper in progress started in june at .8mg.  September .58, Lexapro 5 mg, Progesterone SR 300 mg. Going as slow as possible - but worried I will be too old by the time I get off of everything to eventually have a life left to enjoy.

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  • Administrator

forceoffire, I merged your recent posts with your existing Intro topic.

 

Yes, you can get withdrawal syndrome without brain zaps. See Dr. Joseph Glenmullen's withdrawal symptom checklist and other topics in the Symptoms and Self-Care forum.

 

By our lights, you have been tapering recklessly fast. See Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

If the withdrawal symptoms are not too bad right now and your sleep has stabilized, you may wish to hold at your present dosage of Zoloft for a good while -- a couple of month or more -- to let your nervous system accommodate to the new levels.

 

We have several topics about that paper and others by Paul Andrews. Dr. Andrews believes that the nervous system can re-adjust after going off drugs.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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