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Me95: Looking for strength


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I would like to taper my son (17) off of Abilify. He has only been on 2mg for 2mths. I plan to talk to his doctor but started giving him 1mg this weekend. Do you think his side effects will be as bad as someone who has been on the med for much longer time?

In March 2013 he was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and has been trying different meds since.

I've read so many negative stories about Abilify and seeing how it effects my son I really don't want him on it and don't want to wait any longer before deciding.

He has increase leg shaking, experienced several anxiety attacks, weight gain and most recently fainting/anxeity attack from over heating while playing football.

I'm hoping therapy and the Lexapro will be enought but is there a vitamin he can take along with the Lexapro that can help with withdrawal symtoms?

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  • Administrator

Welcome, me95. We can't tell if your son will be vulnerable to Abilify withdrawal symptoms after 2 months. It is possible.

It sounds like he's been bouncing from drug to drug and is having an adverse reaction to Abilify OR LEXAPRO (or both) now. It could be all the drug switches have sensitized his nervous system.


We recommend a much more gradual reduction than 50% when tapering. Although Abilify dosage looks small, it's a powerful drug. You might use the liquid to reduce it slightly, by maybe 10%, and see what happens.


However, the anxiety attacks, etc. suggest that dosage of Lexapro is excessive for your son and Lexapro should be reduced ASAP.


If he's been playing football, he doesn't have Major Depressive Disorder. People with MDD are incapable of normal activities. I suggest you get a new doctor. Your son has been overdrugged.

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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Boy! I thought for sure I had a better doctor. We have switched already once in this small time frame and was referred by several others he is a good doctor.


I myself had suffered from depression and was on antidepressants for a very long time (about 10yrs) and I was finally able to come off about 3 years ago (inpatient). I really don't want my son to go through what I have. It was difficult to always try and taper off the antidepressants the suicidal thoughts would be so strong. 


I'm so confused, after reading your entry about people with MDD incapable of normal activites. Wow!  My son did stop playing last spring and over the summer.  He just recently went back 2 weeks ago and already wanted to stop because the fainting and emotional break down he had at football practice last week.


Quick background: We took my son to the hospital in March worried he may be a harm to himself. He stayed in the hospital for 7 days. I hated having him there but needed a professional doctor to tell me he will be okay. While there he was diagnosed with MDD and OCD because of the presistent/dwelling thoughts which caused him to cut and was treated with the Pexeva and Abilify. When released he went to a therapist and new doctor. That doctor kept him on Pexeva and took him off the Abilify and wanted to put him on ADHD medicine because my son complained about feeling very sleepy and unable to focus. Never put him on the ADHD medicine we switch doctors and at the same time had to switch therapist because she felt she did not have the level of experience to treat his symptoms. Now he is with a new therapist and new doctor who feel he isnt OCD and is definitely suffering from depression combined with these horrible thoughts, and was put on Lexapor and Abilify. Prior to this (break down) my son has always been an A/B student, played football, never really had lots of friends but always had one or two close friends, did struggle at times with life situations but always able to cope. I always felt he may suffer from depression like me but never knew he struggled with the constant morbid thoughts.Violence games and tv is gone.


I'm questioning my choice to put him on medicine. :( I was hoping just to have him on the medicine for a short period just until he learned some good coping skills.


The doctor just returned my call and he said lets take him right off, "2mg is such a small dose". Gees! I asked if my son would experience any side effects and he said he should be fine, well that concerns me.  He stated most of his symptoms are probably caused by the Abilify and not the Lexapro. Your right time for a new doctor. Why is it so difficult to get the right doctor.

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Hello everyone,


I've recently added a post about my son in the Tips for Tapering off Abilify. As I've mentioned in that forum I suffered from Depression and was on so MANY different antidepressants (Zoloft, Effexor, Lexapro, are just a few of them) for at least 10 years. I finally was able to come off them 3yrs ago (inpatient).


Seeing my son struggle with his own depression and not wanting him to go through what I have, hurts. I feel stuck and alone, looking for answers and support is how I found this site. I'm finding it more and more difficult to cope lately.  I've started taking St. John Wort and B12 but dont think it's really helping. I dont want to go back on antidepressants but can't get myself out of the blues. I'm trying hard to be strong for my son and do the right things, but feel like I'm falling apart. I'm also taking Calm Forte to help me sleep, it does work.


I'd like to reach out to other parents who struggle with having their children on antidepressants and how are you coping?

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I wish I could offer more but.....


Hang in there. 



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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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to the forum, Me95.  I've moved your posts from the Tapering discussion to this one so your story is all in one place and those of us who want to help can follow your progress.

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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  • 3 weeks later...

Update. After being taken off of Abilify for about a week, major depression kicked in.  Just last week my son was planning suicide, I rushed home from work after a phone call with my crying son who contiued to say Im sorry.  Back to the doctor we went and do to the aggressive violent thoughts of wanting to hurt others, himself and the major ups and downs that doctor has now prescribed Depakote 250mg ER along with his current dose of Lexapro 10mg. He's been on it for almost a week, no major side effects but keeping a close watch. Plan to have blood work done next week to make sure everything is normal. It concerns me so much he is on these medicines but I feel he needs something to help him function. I have to say he did notice once off of the Abilify he no longer felt over heated/anxiety while at football practice.  He struggles going to football everyday but we are trying to keep him going and sticking with his commitment. I found some local support groups for parents and plan to attend one this week. God give me strength to help him through.

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Dear Mr95:

I am very sorry to hear about all that your son (and you) are going through. If you have the time to look at my intro thread, you will see that my son has been struggling to safely come off Abilify for a long time.


This is going to be a long response (sorry), but please remember that all of it is just my opinion or what I think I understand about the meds.

Abilify is well known to cause problems with thermo- regulation and I am surprised that you were not warned by your doctor that strenuous exercise (and never if it's hot out) while on Abilify can be dangerous.


I'll come back to Abilify in a minute, but I wonder why your doctor now prescribes Depakote, which I am pretty sure has no support for helping with depression. It is used for mania. Was your son manic? I assume that the check up you are having done will include a liver panel because Depakote can elevate liver enzymes (which can also effect the Lexapro metabolization).


OK, here comes the long winded part about why I would expect anyone coming off Abilify, who is on an anti-depressant to become very depressed.


Abilify works by occupying dopamine receptors, but it's kind of like dopamine-lite. It promotes a lesser response than dopamine would.


Imagine that everyone has 10 dopamine cups, and that the more cups are filled, the more dopamine activity. If all the cups were empty, a person would not survive (dopamine is essential for a lot of essential body functions...breathing for one). Pretend that at three cups a person is just getting by, but is very cognitively slow, and depressed. At seven cups, function is really good. At 10 cups, exhilarating, but unsustainable...no sleep, racing thoughts, mania.


So along comes Abllify. At so called "therapeutic" dosage (around 10 Mgs), all the cups are filled, not with dopamine (no room), but with dopamine-lite (Abilify). The Abilify activates the dopamine system at about 60% of what dopamine would do.

When someone is at a dose of 2 Mgs, about 8 of the cups are full. That leaves two cups for the dopamine to fill. Now they have dopamine activity equivalent to 6.8 cups for someone not on the drugs (8 cups at 60% + 2cups of 100%). They are functioning pretty well. With most folks, if they came off the Abilify, they would be in danger of becoming manic.


When someone is also on an anti-depressant, it can cause the opposite reaction. Serotonin and dopamine are like two ends of a rubber see saw. It's not completely consistent that when one is pushed up, the other goes down (there are other variables), but it is generally true. SSRI's elevate serotonin, which decreases dopamine. A person on SSRI's who comes off Abilify is left with very little in the dopamine cups....deep depression.


I know that the standing position in psychiatry was that depression is about low serotonin, but that position is certainly challenged today and sometimes outright disgarded. I certainly believe that mood is lot more than neurotransmitter levels, but in my opinion, those levels can influence mood. Serotonin, if it is neither too high nor too low, contributes to a sense of well being. Dopamine, if it is not too high or too low, contributes to experience of pleasure.


Reading the stories of people on this site (and the combined experience with meds, which must total 100's of years), the message of cautious changes to cater to a system destabilized by meds is, to me, convincing.


I know how awful it is to not know how to best help someone you love. My son is tapering off Abilify now, and after many disasters (and hospitalizations), we found this site. So far he is following the slow and steady taper (because of his long term exposure to meds, he will be tapering for years to come).


Your son is young and has a parent who obviously loves him. Lots of folks here who succeeded without either of those.


It's only my opinion, but I wonder if the doctor would go along with reinstating the Abilify at a lower dose (maybe 1/2 a Mg) and tapering off the Depakote.


I wish that when my son first became depressed, I had had faith that we could get to what was really effecting him. Since he started to taper effectively, we have gotten to things that we never could when he was doped up.


My goodness, I sure went on and on. Please feel free to ask for clarification of anything I may have explained poorly. My thoughts are with you and your son.

All the best,


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  • Administrator

The "chemical imbalance" theory, which includes the idea that low serotonin causes depression, has been thoroughly debunked. You'll still see references to it because it takes a long time for an urban legend to die.


Likewise, serotonin and dopamine have multiple roles in neurological and physiological functioning; feelings of wellbeing or pleasure are probably due to many hormones working in concert and not just one or the other neurohormone.


But -- certainly when the body's hormonal balance is dysregulated by psychiatric drugs, feelings of wellbeing or pleasure can be affected, as well as other body functions.

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

Do urban legends EVER die? I'm pretty sure we still have a few left over from ancient Rome...


Of course, the television ads with their little cartoon molecules and little cartoon neurons don't help. Funny thing, that. 


Neurochemistry is incredibly, indescribably complex, and every chemical change affects multiple other chemical reactions down the line, lasting tiny fractions of a second, then changing again as feedback loops are hit, cascading off in every direction, everything touching and interacting with everything in amazing and as-yet-very-poorly-understood ways.


I think it's misleading to describe neurological, emotional, hormonal, etc. processes in overly simplistic and mechanistic terms. They're tempting analogies because they're simple and intuitive to us, immersed as we are in our macro-size human-machine-filled world. Unfortunately, they're inaccurate and misleading analogies.  


I think it's much more helpful to people to realize that their brains are as complex as a rain forest, from the copper molecules in the soil to the bugs on the leaves to the various species of trees reaching into the highest canopy. Believe it or not, that's actually a more apt descriptor of the complexity involved.  Which makes sense--our brains are living tissue, much more like any living system than like any manmade machine or device.

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

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 


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

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