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Keights (Introduction)


Keights

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Hello all,

 

This is just my introductory post. I found this website the other day while searching for information on the oh-so-fun "brain zaps" or, as one article (almost) humorously called them, "cranial zings".

 

I'm a 36 y/o female, who went on anti-depressents and clonazepam at age 19/20 for very severe anxiety (composed of general anxiety disorder, but with similarities to somitization disorder...I wasn't functioning AT ALL prior to medications). So, sixteen years on 0.5mg clonazepam 2x day and three different anti-depresents over that time period, ending with the last ten years on 100mg Sertraline 1x day.

 

The drugs were a miracle that got me functioning, able to work, and live again. Our lovely health care system does not provide any kind of counselling so medication was my only option and I was on them for WAY too long. A couple of years ago something prompted me to do some research (four years of expensive therapy was probably what prompted me!) and I realized that, wow, I probably didn't need them anymore. I decided to tackle the clonazepam withdrawl first, as I was fairly certain I didn't require it anymore and it seemed to be the most debilitating. Working full-time I was unable to do a liquid taper, so I simply cut the pills. I tapered for approximately 12 months until I was at .25 mg twice a day (half way point), stopped for a few months, then started again and finished in October/November of 2012. It was a long hall but well worth it. It was like waking up from a 16 year fog. Since I quit, I have been able to take in new information again...I have been able to go back to school part time, and THINK clearly. It's been, quite frankly, amazing.

 

I live in a very rainy climate, which is very grey during the winter so I decided to wait until the spring (when it gets a bit brighter and happier outside) to start my sertraline taper. (After all, even people without anxiety and depression get in a funk here in the winter.) Sertraline is only sold here in 25mg increments so I had four dosage drops and I did them a minimum of three weeks between each. After 100mg to 75, I was a bit dizzy for a few days but that was all. All was fine until after my last 25mg dose on May 11th. On May 15th the "brain zaps" began. I'm not in horrible shape but I have had to take a few days off work so far. I'm very tired all the time (I had that when with the clonazepam withdrawl as well). The "brain zaps" appear to be related to eye movement and head movement, though mostly the former. Other "electric shocks" through-out my body seem to be more random, but worsen as the day goes on. I've also been crying at the most ridiculous commericals and songs (sort of like extended PMS!), though that is improving.

 

From what I've read, I seem to have a fairly mild case of discontinuation syndrome and I plan on riding it out without re-instating medication (after all, 25 mg was as low as it could go anyways!).

 

I just re-read my post and see that it sounds fairly upbeat - please don't let that fool you! Though I am doing pretty well as far as withdrawl symptoms go, I am extremely angry about how these medications have negatively affected my life. I fully believe that these medications can be life-saving and, when prescribed and used properly, can be a bloody miracle. However, in my case, I was left on them much longer than necessary (they should have been a bandaid solution used only until proper therapy could solve the root cause of the problem) and they have ruined at least ten years of my life. I'll probably be spending another four years in very-expensive-therapy, learning to deal with that fact.

 

Cheers,

 

Keights

---------------

16 years on clonazepam and anti-depressents for anxiety. 10 years on Sertraline (prior to that, four years on serazone (was taken off the market), 2 years on Paxil which caused extreme weight gain).

 

0.5 mg clonazepam 2x/day for 16 years. 12-18 month taper finished November 2012. Difficult withdrawl but no lingering symptoms from it.

 

Three month taper from 100mg Sertraline finished May 11, 2013. Virtually no symptoms until five days after last 25mg dose. Experiencing exhaustion, "Brain Zaps" brought on by eye and head movement, general "electric zaps" throughout most of my body. And a bit moody to boot...

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello, Keights ~

 

Since you've been off the sertraline for only 15 days, you might want to consider reinstating at a lower dose than 25 mg., stabilizing, and tapering from there. You can make your own liquid from tablets:

 

How to Make a Liquid From Tablets and Capsules

 

You might try 5 to 10 milligrams for four days to a week and see if that relieves your withdrawal symptoms. They may get worse and I'd hate to see you lose some of the gains you've made.

 

In any event, welcome aboard. You'll find lots of company to share your anger at the psychiatric establishment here.

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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Yes, welcome!

 

:D

 

-Salted

10 mg daily Fluoxetine/Prozac Jan. 2009-Nov. 2012

Went COLD TURKEY Nov. 2012-March 2013

.05-1 mg daily Lorazepam March 2013-April 2013

After approximately 21 days, stopped COLD TURKEY

Doctor put me on 20 mg daily Fluoxetine/Prozac as of 4/25/13

I decided to jump down to 10 mg daily Fluoxetine/Prozac as of 5/08/13

Will stay here for a few months, then taper to ZERO!!

 

 

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

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Just want to say, it's way too early days yet to assume that you are going to have a mild withdrawal. Given your very fast taper and the length of time you were on the AD, plus the symptoms you are now beginning to have, I am concerned that you may be in for some rough times ahead.

 

Please read as much as you can on this site, it's not too late yet to reinstate on a low dose and then do a safe, slow taper.

 

Some people do succeed with harsh, rapid tapers, but when people do NOT succeed the outcome can be a level of suffering that is extreme and life-shattering. That's why on this site we pretty much always recommend doing a slower taper; better safe than sorry.

 

Of course, it's up to you. Just, please take the time to educate yourself about your options now, while it's still early enough to reinstate successfully and taper more slowly. I've seen so many people who have said, oh, I'm okay, I'll tough it out, and then three or four months down the road they're in hell, and it's too late to reinstate easily, and they come back begging for help, and we can't do much for them. I hate seeing that kind of avoidable suffering.

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

 

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

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  • Administrator

Welcome, Keights.

 

I can't put it any better than Rhi has.

 

While 25mg might be a low dose from your doctor's point of view, going off it may have been a big drop for your nervous system, which is complaining with those symptoms.

 

Please, please consider going back on 5mg and tapering slower from there. A few months at lower doses may forestall longer and more serious problems.

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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Since my introductory post on May 30th, I have re-read the two responses I received and find myself feeling marginalized and a bit angry.  I am going to leave the following statements and comment only and hope that someone can benefit from them:

 

This website and the people who contribute to it are providing an invaluable service on a topic which even our own Doctors commonly ignore and advice is all being offered with the best possible intentions.  That being said, all the reading I have done on this subject during the past two years has shown me that there is a wide range of experiences during discontinuation of these medications, and I believe we would all do well to remember that our own experiences are not the only valid ones and, often, are not even a reflection of the majority.

 

Withdrawal side effects can be “life-shattering” and people do need to be made aware of the risks of both taking medications and discontinuing them.  However, it is also naive to believe that anyone can discontinue these types of medications with no side affects at all. 

 

After quitting smoking two years ago, Clonazepam last year, and Sertraline this year I have become fairly familiar with my own bodies response to withdrawal...though the “brain zaps” appear to be unique to this particular type of medication, exhaustion and lack of concentration are both extremely common in any type of withdrawal. I hope no one ever suffers from these beyond what they can handle in their day to day life and beyond the duration of a few days.

 

On a personal note, seventeen days from my last dose the “brain zaps” finished three days ago, the other ‘electric shock’ sensations are virtually gone, and the exhaustion has also dissipated.

 

I wish you all the best of luck in your own journeys.

 

~ Keights

---------------

16 years on clonazepam and anti-depressents for anxiety. 10 years on Sertraline (prior to that, four years on serazone (was taken off the market), 2 years on Paxil which caused extreme weight gain).

 

0.5 mg clonazepam 2x/day for 16 years. 12-18 month taper finished November 2012. Difficult withdrawl but no lingering symptoms from it.

 

Three month taper from 100mg Sertraline finished May 11, 2013. Virtually no symptoms until five days after last 25mg dose. Experiencing exhaustion, "Brain Zaps" brought on by eye and head movement, general "electric zaps" throughout most of my body. And a bit moody to boot...

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Hi honey, I wanted to let you know that yes you are right and everyone is different but I was FINE until 5 months off at which point the gates of hell opened and I was pushed straight in, I have now been in hell for 11 months, I cannot work, I cannot be a wife or a mother to my child, but that makes it sound ok, that makes it sound like Im ok if Im at home, Im not, every second I am praying and wishing to die, now, I Cted, yes, but I was on the drug for 2 and a half years, at 20mg, and I have no history of any mental health issues, I was put on for a medical reason.

 

I urge you to take the advice of alto and rhi, oh how I wish someone had told me, just bear in mind that the worst of withdrawal does not start until often a few months off the drugs, anytime from what I have seen between 3 and 9 months, the hell can start, and you dont want to know what it feels like, I pray you never have to and I hope that you are one of the people who are ok, but I tell you, I didnt notice ANYTHING until 5 months off and it was like in the morning I was fine and living a normal life, by the afternoon of that same day I was living a suffering that has not left me for very close to a year now with no sign of relief, if thats a chace you are willing to take and you feel confident in your body etc then great, but brain zaps are a sign that your brain is in distress, I had a few weeks of brain zaps, then it all stopped until 5.5 months off.

 

please dont let it happen to you, if I can help to save one person from what I find myself in then I cannot walk by as you stand on top of the building I have to shout a warning, please take it in the spirit it is given, to try to save your life, but it IS your life and you might jump off and land on something soft, if you get my drift, but why jump at all, why not wait until the fire brigade are underneath you with a safety net?

 

anyway, whatever you choose to do I wish you health and happyness, like I said, I just couldnt walk by without shouting a warning, dont end up like me, I would do ANYTHING to have had someone warn me, I quit and never thought about ADs again until 5 months off, it never crossed my mind, for you to know you are experiencing withdrawal at this point off I would take as a big warning that it could get very much worse.

damaged by citalopram - severe suffering for 3 years now...no improvement

 

akathsiia, pgad, dp/dr, terror, and so SO many more daily

 

severly disabled and lost everything

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I know it can seem like we are trying to scare you but it's not like that. I did a way too fast taper. I thought it was slow. Took me about 4 months to wean. I used the alternate day method, which I now know was a mistake. (For example 20 mg one 10 mg the next and so on)  I wish someone "scared" me then. 

 

Maybe then I wouldn't have experienced the hell I have.

 

The worst points didn't hit til being off the drug for several months, although even the wean caused problems.

 

Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones. I hope you are. 

 

If you end up struggling more, you have found a helpful resource here chalk full of information useful for getting through this.

Started Fluoxetine Jan. 2010

Tried to go off of it in Sept. 2010

Weaned too fast and was back on it by Nov. 2010

Didn't work as good the second time around.

Started to wean again in Nov. 2011 and was off for good by April? 2012

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One more thing...

 

I have heard of Dr's telling people to cold turkey their ad's.

 

Many Dr's have no clue how to properly take people off their meds.

Started Fluoxetine Jan. 2010

Tried to go off of it in Sept. 2010

Weaned too fast and was back on it by Nov. 2010

Didn't work as good the second time around.

Started to wean again in Nov. 2011 and was off for good by April? 2012

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yes I wanted to add to what dunerbug said....if further down the line you run into problems, please come back for support, there will be no 'I told you so here' no one wants to see someone suffer, and no one wants to gloat over being right about THIS, never ever.

 

be kind to yourself, and be happy

damaged by citalopram - severe suffering for 3 years now...no improvement

 

akathsiia, pgad, dp/dr, terror, and so SO many more daily

 

severly disabled and lost everything

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You guys have sufficiently scared me.  It's been three weeks, and I'm basically okay.  I had a few days off work but I've been back for a week and a bit, and that's fine. The exhaustion is gone, the brain zaps have virtually gone, but sneak in every now and again, as do the other electrically charged feelings.  That they are not gone bothers me. 

What scared me about what I read was that you can go past the point of re-instating doing any good.  That said, at what dose should I re-instate? I'll put my medication history below.

 

Thanks again.

 

Medication History:

Paxil: about 2 years, then Serzaone for about four years, then Sertraline 100mg 1x day for almost 10 years.  It is Sertraline I am tapering off of: 

Clonazepam: 16 years, most of it at .25mg 2x day.  approximately 18 month to 24 month taper, ending October 2012. 

 

Sertraline Taper Details:

Dropped from 100mg to 75mg Feb 27th and held for 35 days.

Dropped from 75mg to 50mg Apr 3rd and held for 24 days.

Dropped from 50mg to 25mg April 27th and held for 22 days. 

Last 25 mg pill May 18th. 

* Keep in mind I am in Canada and Sertraline comes in a capsule and the lowest available dose is 25mg.  I have a compound pharmacy doing some research for me to see what doses they can make for me in pill and/or liquid format and at what cost but I will end up being limited to what they can do for me.

 

Cheers,

 

Keights

---------------

16 years on clonazepam and anti-depressents for anxiety. 10 years on Sertraline (prior to that, four years on serazone (was taken off the market), 2 years on Paxil which caused extreme weight gain).

 

0.5 mg clonazepam 2x/day for 16 years. 12-18 month taper finished November 2012. Difficult withdrawl but no lingering symptoms from it.

 

Three month taper from 100mg Sertraline finished May 11, 2013. Virtually no symptoms until five days after last 25mg dose. Experiencing exhaustion, "Brain Zaps" brought on by eye and head movement, general "electric zaps" throughout most of my body. And a bit moody to boot...

---------------

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I wrote this post as an addition to my introduction last night, but it's no longer in the right place...so I have posted it here.  I'm looking for assistance on what dose to re-instate at (symptoms are a bit worse today...electric body and tingly sensations).  Lowest available is 25mg capsule (cannot be cut) but I have read that re-instating at that last dose can be too much, especially after 3.5 weeks (the compound pharmacy can make 5, 10, 12.5, 15, or 20 mg pills for me.  liquid not available here).

 

----------------------------

 

It's been three weeks, and I'm basically okay.  I had a few days off work but I've been back for a week and a bit, and that's fine. The exhaustion is gone, the brain zaps have virtually gone, but sneak in every now and again, as do the other electrically charged feelings.  That they are not gone bothers me. 

What scared me about what I read was that you can go past the point of re-instating doing any good.  That said, at what dose should I re-instate? I'll put my medication history below.

 

Thanks again.

 

Medication History:

 

 

Paxil: about 2 years, then Serzaone for about four years, then Sertraline 100mg 1x day for almost 10 years.  It is Sertraline I am tapering off of: 

Clonazepam: 16 years, most of it at .25mg 2x day.  approximately 18 month to 24 month taper, ending October/November 2012. 

 

Sertraline Taper Details:

Dropped from 100mg to 75mg Feb 27th and held for 35 days.

Dropped from 75mg to 50mg Apr 3rd and held for 24 days.

Dropped from 50mg to 25mg April 27th and held for 22 days. 

Last 25 mg pill May 18th. 

* Keep in mind I am in Canada and Sertraline comes in a capsule and the lowest available dose is 25mg.  I have a compound pharmacy doing some research for me to see what doses they can make for me in pill and/or liquid format and at what cost but I will end up being limited to what they can do for me.

 

Cheers,

 

Keights

 

---------------

16 years on clonazepam and anti-depressents for anxiety. 10 years on Sertraline (prior to that, four years on serazone (was taken off the market), 2 years on Paxil which caused extreme weight gain).

 

0.5 mg clonazepam 2x/day for 16 years. 12-18 month taper finished November 2012. Difficult withdrawl but no lingering symptoms from it.

 

Three month taper from 100mg Sertraline finished May 11, 2013. Virtually no symptoms until five days after last 25mg dose. Experiencing exhaustion, "Brain Zaps" brought on by eye and head movement, general "electric zaps" throughout most of my body. And a bit moody to boot...

---------------

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  • Administrator

I would try 5mg.

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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  • Administrator

Answered in your topic here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4393-keights-introduction/

 

Intro topics are good places for questions about individual tapering instructions.

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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Thanks for your quick response.  By yesterday afternoon I had had the pharmacy make a 12.5 mg dose and had taken it already - I haven't had a brain zap since, and the electric shock like symptoms are all gone.  Unfortunately, my emotions are also gone ... but hopefully a few more months will bring a final taper.  I had a bit of a hypersensitive (maybe call it a burning sensation) in my arms still this morning but that's basically gone now, too.  Hopefully it stays gone - that was a new sensation that showed up on Tuesday or Wednesday and, of all the symptoms I've had, it was the one that threw me over the edge and made me decide to re-instate. 

 

I have an appointment with my own Dr. next week and I'll get him to extend this prescription for a month or so.  Then I will go down to 10mg...a nice small change that the pharmacy has a recipe for...and see how that goes.

 

It took me 18-24 months to get of clonazepam so I will have to dig deep and find that patience within me once again.

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Keights

---------------

16 years on clonazepam and anti-depressents for anxiety. 10 years on Sertraline (prior to that, four years on serazone (was taken off the market), 2 years on Paxil which caused extreme weight gain).

 

0.5 mg clonazepam 2x/day for 16 years. 12-18 month taper finished November 2012. Difficult withdrawl but no lingering symptoms from it.

 

Three month taper from 100mg Sertraline finished May 11, 2013. Virtually no symptoms until five days after last 25mg dose. Experiencing exhaustion, "Brain Zaps" brought on by eye and head movement, general "electric zaps" throughout most of my body. And a bit moody to boot...

---------------

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great to hear knights! oh how I wish I was you right now.

 

xxxx

damaged by citalopram - severe suffering for 3 years now...no improvement

 

akathsiia, pgad, dp/dr, terror, and so SO many more daily

 

severly disabled and lost everything

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Kieghts I get scared reading alot of the posts and I have gone thru WD a few times.  It is not a pleasant subject.

 

There are alot of people who don't have a bad discontinuation, and I say God Bless them, and I really mean it.

It is a blessing to be able to get off meds unscathed.  I was not one of those people.

 

The people here really have health issues from WD.  Take each day as it comes.  As you get further away from the meds you may feel better and better.  If you find that you are having symptoms, you can reinstate as was suggested and see how it goes, again one day at a time.....

 

Nikki

Intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1902-nikki-hi-my-rundown-with-ads/

 

Paxil 1997-2004

Crossed over to Lexapro Paxil not available

at Pharmacies GSK halted deliveries

Lexapro 40mgs

Lexapro taper (2years)

Imipramine

Imipramine and Celexa

Now Nefazadone/Imipramine 50mgs. each

45mgs. Serzone  50mgs. Imipramine

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Keights,

 

I think you might find that dropping from 12.5 mg. to 10 mg. is a bit much.  We generally advise cutting by no more than 10% of the current dosage, which would bring you down to 11.25 mg.  (Directions for making your own liquid are above and in the 'Tapering' discussion).  Your central nervous system is probably already sensitized from the benzo withdrawal, so I'd be especially careful were I in your place.  I agree with you that everyone is different in their response to tapering off these drugs, but in my opinion it's much wiser to go too slowly than too fast and avoid the hell of withdrawal symptoms.  As both Dunerbug and Iggy have pointed out, withdrawal symptoms can slam a person flat months after going off too fast.

 

While it's true that you can increase your dose if you decrease too much, every change that's made stresses the CNS, so a smooth, gradual taper is best.

 

No one here is trying to scare or bully you.  We're just telling you what we've learned the hard way both personally and through the many stories of misery that are posted here.

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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