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Altostrata

☼ About Altostrata -- withdrawal syndrome since 2004

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Altostrata

 

A YouTube video from a few years ago:

 

Alto Strata's Paxil Prolonged Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome (8 minutes)

 

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I developed prolonged antidepressant withdrawal syndrome after going off 10mg Paxil over 3 weeks in October 2004, at the age of 54.
 
I very slowly and painfully recovered from the autonomic nervous system damage over 9 years. For the last 5 of those years, I was unable to work due to prolonged withdrawal syndrome.
 
I started taking Paxil in 2001 for what I now believe was symptoms of menopause aggravated by intense work stress. After 3 years  with side effects on Paxil 10mg, I "tapered" under medical supervision at University of California San Francisco and immediately suffered severe antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.
 
My doctors at UCSF did not recognize acute and severe withdrawal syndrome and treat it properly by reinstatement of Paxil even though I requested it in January 2005. I had found information about diagnosis and treatment of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome on the Web. (The recommendation for reinstatement in cases of severe withdrawal symptoms was added in the package insert by GlaxoSmithKline in December 2001 during a widely publicized lawsuit regarding Paxil withdrawal syndrome; the FDA has caused similar advice to be added to antidepressant package inserts ever since.)
 
Instead, I was prescribed Wellbutrin; when that didn't work, a parade of other drugs I refused.
 
Ironically, the notes from UCSF include a diagnosis of "prolonged withdrawal syndrome." After 10 months, in July 2005 I left the care of UCSF Psychiatry and started my search for a doctor who might be able to help me. That proved to be near-impossible.
 
Over 3 years, I probably talked to 50 psychiatrists, including a good proportion of the Psychiatry faculty at UCSF, one of the top medical centers in the world, and none of them knew anything about antidepressant withdrawal syndrome -- so don't be surprised if your doctor is clueless. I was told by dozens of psychiatrists that I was suffering from "relapse." One elite psychiatrist told me that my belief I was suffering from withdrawal syndrome was a delusion.
 
I struggled with an ever-changing panoply of withdrawal symptoms for years, including excruciating tingling pain in my arms and shoulders for 2 years. Meanwhile, I read everything I could about antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, particularly in medical journals. (I was a medical researcher for a couple of years a while back; I've worked for 2 biotech companies.) Many of these papers and citations are posted in From journals and scientific sources .

 

I've talked to many, many doctors of various specialties and found psychiatrists to be the least sympathetic and just as ignorant as any other doctor about withdrawal syndrome. Most alternative practitioners, however well-meaning, are equally in the dark, having adopted the bogus "chemical imbalance" model; their recommendations can also be injurious.

 

Like many others, withdrawal made me hypersensitive to neurologically active medications and prone to paradoxical reactions. Personally, I found very small amounts of some supplements and herbs, along with acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, and osteopathic manual therapy, to be helpful in reducing physical symptoms, see the Symptoms and self-care forum for the accumulated wisdom of myself and other members.

 
In December 2007, after an ill-advised job change, I completely lost the ability to sleep and became disabled. In late 2007, I finally found a doctor, a psychiatrist and sleep specialist, who understands and treats withdrawal syndrome, coincidentally in San Francisco.
 
Under his care, I very slowly recovered. Unfortunately, in January 2010, I developed severe atrial fibrillation, an autonomic heart condition. This was successfully treated in June 2013, but it took me a very long time to recover from the procedure. As I'm now 65+, I am still dealing with many health problems, but my autonomic nervous system is stable, my mind is clear, and my mood is generally calm.

 

Over the years, I learned a great deal about how my doctor views iatrogenic drug damage, which corresponded closely with the impression I had gotten from my reading. This, and my treatment, is recounted in One theory of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome
 
As my condition permitted, I advocated for psychiatric patient rights and educating the medical establishment about withdrawal syndrome. When I felt up to it, I ran a peer support group for antidepressant withdrawal in San Francisco for about 2 years. I was a frequent participant in PaxilProgress.org for 5 years.
 
In March 2011, with a group of friends from PaxilProgress.org (closed in December 2014), I founded SurvivingAntidepressants.org to provide peer support for tapering and to document withdrawal syndrome for the education of the medical establishment -- see About SurvivingAntidepressants.org
 

Medicine is in wide denial about the existence and severity of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, leading physicians to almost always misdiagnose withdrawal syndrome as a relapse or emergence of a psychiatric condition and treat it improperly with ever-escalating combinations of drugs, which tend to make the condition worse.

 

Psychiatry ignores the adverse effects of these drugs because writing prescriptions is how it makes its living. In reality, the best doctors will admit treatment with psychiatric drugs is trial and error, success being when the patient stops complaining.

Even though most of the drugs they purvey are truly addictive or are well known to cause physical dependency, most psychiatrists know very little about how to get patients off psychiatric drugs with a minimum of withdrawal symptoms, indicating wear and tear. There is a widespread but spurious belief that withdrawal symptoms are invariably trivial and transient.
 
SurvivingAntidepressants.org is here to document that belief and practice regarding getting patients off psychiatric drugs is incorrect and needs to be informed by real patient experience, such as mine.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
updated/cc added link to YT vid

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Barbarannamated

How are YOU doing?

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Nikki

Looking forward to it:)

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xDebbiejo

Me too! x

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elizabeth11

Me three!

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xDebbiejo

LOL :)

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Altostrata

Heck, you guys.

 

I'm in the last leg of recovery, I plan to post the whole story when I'm finally through it!

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

I only found this topic because I saw yahoo indexing it. Any chance there will ever be an update here, Alto?

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Altostrata

Some day soon, I promise.

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alex

Some day soon, I promise.

 

GOOD! I'll be waiting,as well as many others I am sure.

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DLB

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this but I am waitin patiently too! Thanks Alto...

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Purplestars22

I am also curious about your journey hopefully soon you will divulge.

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OffEFFexor

Hey Alto:  at least give yourself a sun logo!

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Altostrata

Good idea!

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Fresh

Happy Birthday to SurvivingAntidepressants  Alto.     You must be so proud of your baby . . . congratulations.

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Altostrata

Thank you. I'd lost track of the birthdays....

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roadback1

Alto,

I would love to read about your history of surviving antidepressants.

Can we be expecting it anytime soon ?

 

Thank you for all you do for us !

 

RB

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apace41

Man!
 

5 years later and still waiting!  This is bigger tease than the last episode of Seinfeld!

:D

Alto is holding out for a movie deal!

Andy


 

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Altostrata

Oh, gosh, I would say it took 9 years for my nervous system to fully stabilize. Then I had to deal with other health problems that may not be related to withdrawal syndrome.

 

Some day I'll compile all the details. In the meantime, they're scattered all over this site.

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LoveandLight

9 years wow..

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Fresh

Hi Alto ,  if there's a movie deal , who would you like to see playing the lead?     :)

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Altostrata

Rooney Mara.

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dalsaan

Rooney Mara because of Side Effects, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo or Nightmare on Elm Street?    All are fitting in a way.

 

Dx

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Hopefull

Hi Alto,

Are you now completly recovered? Nine years is a long time... I am glad that you have endured the wd symptoms and have recovered. It gives me hope. Still learning to be patient. :)

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AliG

 Hi Alto, you give us all hope, but more than that you teach "patience & perseverance".  Thank you for all you do  . We are eagerly awaiting  your  "whole" story, when you're ready.

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LoveandLight

Nightmare on elm street haha! Yes.

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Altostrata

Thank you all.

 

Rooney Mara because she is fierce! :ph34r:

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Altostrata

Updated post #1.

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Junglechicken

Alto, you are an inspiration to us all. I couldn't live without this website.

 

THANK YOU!

 

JC

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nz11

Wow

Thanks for all the tremendous work you have done and are doing.

 

Hey you forgot one more 'my':

my autonomic nervous system is stable,

my mind is clear,

my mood is generally calm and,

[my letters are like lazer beams of truth cutting through the cow manure of doctors incompetent nonsense exposing a dangerous vacuum of knowledge and triggering either clueless blither, a lack of logical coherence, or deafening silence.]

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Djones1984

Your story inspires me to keep fighting!

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Pokeshaw

Wow

Thanks for all the tremendous work you have done and are doing.

 

Hey you forgot one more 'my':

my autonomic nervous system is stable,

my mind is clear,

my mood is generally calm and,

[my letters are like lazer beams of truth cutting through the cow manure of doctors incompetent nonsense exposing a dangerous vacuum of knowledge and triggering either clueless blither, a lack of logical coherence, or deafening silence.]

Hi nz - This is so true!  Thank you for suggesting that additional 'my'! Well said!

 

Pokeshaw in Bklyn

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LexAnger

Thanks Alto!

 

Just finished reading. It overwhelmed me one more time by such a great soul full of strength, wisdom, and humanity! I believe you are the only one in the whole world with full devotion with all your time, energy, knowledge and care day in and out to help everyone in desparation.

 

I will from now on to remind myself of your great example when I feel unable to continue.

 

Hats off to you Alto. We all love you vey much and hope the other health issue goes away completely soon.

 

Lex

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ravijaua

I agree that you are an inspiration and godsend to us all.

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DrugfreeProf

Yes, thank god for people like Alto.  The world can be a terrible, heartless place, but people like her bring some light and warmth that is, I am sure, literally keeping a lot of people alive by giving them knowledge and hope that is available no where else.

I know how incredibly hard it is when you are someone who can really "see" in living color a system that is harming people left and right, that is built on greed and the hunger for profit and denial.  And no one wants to talk about it, yet people are being virtually if not literally MURDERED by such systems. I see this as true of what Alto has done here with the harm caused by the "safe, non-addictive, effective" meme applied to antidepressants and AD withdrawal.  

About 15 years ago, after going through it myself, I began working on behalf of battered women who lose custody of their children to abusive ex-spouses. The parallels of those horrors that take place in the family court/divorce court system of this country with the scandal that Alto has uncovered and is addressing are compelling. The powers that be--the lawyers, judges, "forensic evaluators," etc. exercise the same denial, hostility, and in some cases, retaliation whenever their terrible misdeeds of giving custody to the abusive ex are exposed.  So I know what it's like to be the nail that is standing out--the hammer comes down on you.

What is particularly amazing and inspiring is that Alto and the mods on this site do not do it for the money or glory or profit, of which I know there is none. These people are saints among us. 

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herewego

Do you feel fairly recovered now? Have most of your w/d symptoms gone away? Thanks for what you set up and do here.

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