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UK TV personality tells of difficulty going off Prozac


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She tried to quit but had to go back on because of withdrawal symptoms. Now she plans to taper carefully.

 

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/newsreview/features/article1260998.ece

 

Dreaming of a life outside Prozac prison

As debate rages over how to treat mental illness, a former CBeebies star tells Kathy Brewis of the torment of trying to escape her addiction

Kathy Brewis Published: 19 May 2013

 

Sarah-Jane Honeywell, 39, tucks her legs under herself and tells me why she wants to quit the drug she has been hooked on for 16 years. “I’m scared I’m just sleepwalking through life. I’m scared it’s not the true me. There is always a slight haze.”

 

When the latest version of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) — the psychiatrists’ bible — comes out on Wednesday, even more of us will be deemed suitable for treatment with Prozac and other psychiatric drugs, for an ever-widening range of “disorders” many of us would consider to be simply personality quirks or natural responses to life’s challenges — including shyness, toddler tantrums and bereavement.

 

The number of new diagnoses has stirred controversy on both sides of the Atlantic, as many people allege that the industry is in cahoots with pharmaceutical giants whose main motivation is in finding ever more “illnesses” to drive sales.

 

Prozac is booming. It was launched 25 years ago as a wonder drug for depression — quickly followed by other brands offering similar selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Since then the number of antidepressant prescriptions has been increasing by 5%-10% each year. Last year 47m were dished out in the UK.

 

Some users swear by Prozac. Others insist it has ruined their lives. It has been blamed for suicides and murders, with Eli Lilly, the manufacturer, forced to pay out millions in court cases and private settlements. Yet it is still doled out routinely.

 

Antidepressants are also not solving the problem. The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of ill-health worldwide.

 

As a CBeebies presenter with cute bunches and rosy cheeks, Honeywell had a smile that looked more genuine than most. But she had secrets....Her blog, Punk on Prozac, reveals the horrors that ensued when she stopped taking it.

 

Officially, Prozac is not addictive. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the government body responsible for ensuring that medicines are safe, says that, although “certain antidepressants are recognised to cause withdrawal reactions on stopping treatment, there is no clear evidence that they are likely to be addictive”.

 

David Healy, psychiatrist and author of Let Them Eat Prozac, disagrees. “In lay person’s terms, if you can’t get off a drug, you’re hooked on it. You might not be a junkie, in the sense of mugging an old lady to fund your habit — but you don’t need to, you can get it from your GP. Significant numbers of people find it awfully hard to come off Prozac and, when they do, they endure very physical problems that can go on for years.”

 

Honeywell experienced grim physical withdrawal symptoms: nausea, vomiting, flu-like shivers, headaches. “I just felt really awful, pretty much straight away.” But then came the mental torture. “I started to feel like there was no hope. I’d never take my own life — I wouldn’t do that to my friends and family — but it was like I was being pulled down into a black hole.”

 

....

The withdrawal symptoms proved too much for Honeywell, however. She started taking Prozac again. This is why she can talk so evenly today, in marked contrast to the anguished person who blogged: “I feel like I’m on a tightrope and if I lose concentration for one second, I’ll fall. ”

 

What support is there for people trying to come off Prozac? “None. Absolutely none,” says Healy. Honeywell says: “I could go to Narcotics Anonymous, but they’d probably laugh.” So she is paying for the emotional support of a private counsellor. “I can’t afford it, but I can’t afford not to,” she says. With her help, and that of her GP, she plans to quit again, as soon as she dares, reducing the dose slowly and carefully.

 

She recalls how, Prozac-free, she became virtually paralysed by fear and flashbacks. ....

 

A small thing pushed her over the edge. “I had starved myself for a chocolate bunny rabbit, and when I got to the supermarket it wasn’t there. I lost the plot. I smashed up all the Easter eggs.” What happened next is a blur, but she found herself in the Maudsley Hospital, south London. She did not tell the psychiatrist she was living in fear of her life. He told her she did not produce enough serotonin and prescribed Prozac.

 

It did free her of the bulimia. “It was gone. Instantly. I remember thinking, Ah! This is what normal people feel like.” Liberated, she found the clarity to leave her boyfriend. But that was 16 years ago. She has not seen a psychiatrist since, just a succession of GPs. None asked why she was on the drug. “I just go in and say, I need some Prozac, and they say yeah. And sometimes I say, can you up the dose, and they say yeah; and sometimes they say, you should reduce the dose, and I say, okay.”

 

Without Prozac, the bulimic thoughts returned: “You’re going to get fat, you’re ugly . . .” She also noticed she had premenstrual symptoms and period pain for the first time in nearly two decades. “I said that to the doctor and she said, ‘Oh, did you have periods on Prozac?’ It made me think, what does it do?”

 

Honeywell has not admitted in her blog that she has started taking the drug again, she says nervously. Off Prozac, she cried nearly nonstop. “I thought Prozac levelled me out and there would be highs and lows. But when I came off it, I felt like the world was crashing in on me. It’s really depressing to know that there’s no fight in you without a drug.

 

“Lots of people have said it’s rare to see someone in the public eye being so honest. Lots of people have said how brave I am, which makes me feel sick. Does it mean I’m not going to work again, is that why I’m brave? But you get criticised for whatever you do, so I might as well be honest. It didn’t do me any good hiding bulimia or hiding I was on Prozac. I will get off it again. It’s time for me to start dealing with things.”

 

And perhaps time for mental health practitioners to think again about alternative treatments for depression, rather than relying so heavily on pills.

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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How fascinating, I'm not the only person blogging about Prozac withdrawal then!

*** Please note this is not medical advice,discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner***





http://prozacwithdrawal.blogspot.com/
Original drug was sertraline/Zoloft, switched to Prozac in 2007.
Tapering from 5mls liquid prozac since Feb 2008, got down to 0.85ml 23/09/2012, reinstated back to 1ml(4mg) 07/11/2012, didn't appear to work, upped to 1.05ml 17/11/2012, back down to 1ml 12/12/2012 didn't work, up to 1.30ml 16/3/2013 didn't work, bumped up to 2ml (8mg) 4/4/2013 didn't work, in July 2013 I reinstated Sertraline (Zoloft) 50mg, feeling better now. 

A few months down the line I switched to 5ml liquid Prozac and tapered down to a compromise dose of 3ml liquid Prozac and have stayed there ever since, no withdrawals and no emotional blunting/loss of libido.

 

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I thought you two should meet! :)

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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Her blog is very different from mine, I've left a couple of comments. My two boys are well past the Cbeebies stage so I'm not familiar with her at all.

*** Please note this is not medical advice,discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner***





http://prozacwithdrawal.blogspot.com/
Original drug was sertraline/Zoloft, switched to Prozac in 2007.
Tapering from 5mls liquid prozac since Feb 2008, got down to 0.85ml 23/09/2012, reinstated back to 1ml(4mg) 07/11/2012, didn't appear to work, upped to 1.05ml 17/11/2012, back down to 1ml 12/12/2012 didn't work, up to 1.30ml 16/3/2013 didn't work, bumped up to 2ml (8mg) 4/4/2013 didn't work, in July 2013 I reinstated Sertraline (Zoloft) 50mg, feeling better now. 

A few months down the line I switched to 5ml liquid Prozac and tapered down to a compromise dose of 3ml liquid Prozac and have stayed there ever since, no withdrawals and no emotional blunting/loss of libido.

 

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I'm sure she will be informed by your blog!

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Very interesting. Thanks for posting!

2003 - Sept. 2010 Effexor 150mg Fast taper off

April 2011 Massive panic attack, did not relate it to Effexor w/ds

April 2011 - May 2012 Benzodiazapines (Xanax 2mg then Valium 22mg - 2mg)for panic attack. 14 months of benzo withdrawals

April 2011 - October 2012 Effexor 150mg - fast taper off

January 2013 Due to panic feelings (Effexor w/d I now believe) and insomnia, 15mg Mirtazapine prescribed

April 2013 C/T Mirtazapine because of adverse reaction of high anxiety

April 2013 Reinstated 7.5mg - adverse reaction of high blood pressure and palpitations

May 2013 Reduced dose to 6.5mg - trying to stabilise

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