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Sarahewhe's Quest to drop SSRIs and put Nutrition in their place (ex-Zoloft user, now getting off Lexapro)


sarahewhe

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Hi, all. I'm Sarah, 30 years old from the Midwest and trying desperately to get off all psychotropic drugs and use diet and supplements to balance out my brain and health. My main issues are depression and, especially, generalized anxiety. 

 

I'd say my first experiences with anxiety started when I was 7, just after my grandfather passed away. Started to feel some incredibly strong separation anxiety, so much so that I wasn't even able to go play at my best friend's house just two houses down the street from me, I didn't want to be away from my parents. My mom and dad took me to a psychologist and she helped me work through some of that separation anxiety and gave me some tools to be able to deal with the panic and anxiety, so that helped for a bit. Fast forward to later in middle school (a particularly painful bullying experience), and the general awkwardness of teenager-hood, I was a pretty depressed kid. 

 

Freshman year in college (2001), my long-term boyfriend broke up with me and I "lost it" big-time. Ended up going to my school's health center, where they prescribed me my first SSRI, Zoloft. I believe they started me on 100 mg (hard to remember those specifics). The first few months on the medication were physically horrendous for me. Lots of nausea, vomiting, sleeplessness, weight gain, etc etc. But after a few months, boy did it help. My body normalized, yet I did continue to gain a lot of weight. I was still experiencing panic attacks here and there, and ended up hospitalized in 2004 for a series of severe panic attacks and was then first introduced to Clonopin, Luckily, this is something I never took on a daily basis, only as needed. In my nearly 10 years of having that Clonopin Rx, I'd say I've only taken 60 or so dosages, spread out over that decade. I'm so lucky that I'm not addicted to a benzo, as I've read the withdrawal misery stories. 

 

So, I had been on 100-150 mg (the dosage wavered over the years) of Zoloft from October 2001 - May 2013, when I determined the drug had finally pooped out on me. Went to see a new psychiatrist. To my horror, she told me to taper from 150mg of Zoloft to 0 in a matter of 12 days. Can you even believe that ****? These doctors, the irresponsible advice and delusional notions that a super fast taper won't cause horrid withdrawals. She gave me a prescription of 10mg Lexapro and told me to start that when I hit 25mg of Zoloft on my taper. 

 

I slowed down her taper advice, and even found that this slightly prolonged schedule was awful for me.

Here's my Zoloft history:

Oct 2001 - June 2013: was on varying dosages of Zoloft, between 100-150 mg (150 mg daily was the latest dosage)

June 6 - June 20, 2013: (15 days) dropped to 100 mg Zoloft

June 21 - June 30, 2013: (10 days) dropped to 50 mg Zoloft

July 1 - July 5, 2013: (5 days) dropped to 25 mg Zoloft 

July 6, 2013: first day 0mg Zoloft since October 2001 

AND I started 10 mg daily of Lexapro on Monday, July 1, 2013 

 

Let me address this Zoloft taper schedule first. It was way too fast (I know that now, but thought it'd be better at least than my psychiatrist's suggestion to do it all in 12 days) and the withdrawal symptoms were brutal. Mainly experienced waves of intense anxiety and depression, big-time dizziness, nausea, irritability, headaches, (luckily no brain zaps). 

 

Now let me address the Lexapro. Been on that for 2.5 months now and I absolutely hate it. The side effects (which, I realize, still might be coming from some of the Zoloft withdrawal) are awful. So, I'm tapering off. I want to be done with this garbage that is poisoning my body. Not to mention... I went on SSRIs when I was 18 years old and I find it incredibly sad to realize I don't know who I am as an adult human being without an anti-depressant. That hits me right in the gut. 

 

 

Here's my Lexapro history:

July 1, 2013: started 10 mg Lexapro

Sept. 19, 2013: dropped down to 5 mg Lexapro 

My Lexapro side effects: brain fog (this is the WORST, I feel stupid every minute of every day. I can't retain information, my memory is shot, I walk out of the house to go grocery shopping and forget my purse at home, this kind of stuff has to stop happening or I will lose my mind. I often find myself at a loss for simple words, etc.). Can't lose weight. Libido is at 0. CONSTANTLY ravenously hungry. I just feel "off." And I still have low-grade generalized anxiety most days. 

 

Because I've only been on this awful drug for 2.5 months, I am hoping I can do a taper schedule a tad quicker than others might try for.

 

Here's my plan going forward..... 

[July 1, 2013: started 10 mg Lexapro]

Sept 29 - Oct 10, 2013: (21 days) 5 mg Lexapro

Oct 11 - Nov 1, 2013: (21 days) 2.5 mg Lexapro 

Nov 2, 2013: First day without Lexapro

Beginning of December, 2013: Get a blood test to determine any vitamin deficiencies (I suspect my B12 is super low because I've been on 150mg Ranitidine daily for almost 8 years now too... plan to taper that as well). 

 

In the meantime, I'm doing a bunch of research on diet, detoxing, vitamins/minerals, supplements, exercise, meditation, hypnosis, neurotransmitters, etc. 

 

About a month ago, I dropped caffeine, (mostly) alcohol, wheat, gluten, and processed sugars from my diet. I only consume a little bit of dairy in the form of cheese, mostly, here and there, so even my dairy consumption is way down. I did the Clean Program from Aug 9, 2013 - Aug 30, 2013 and it was AMAZING. I also got a series of colonics and stuck to the detox program very strictly, and let me tell you, getting back to eating fruits and veggies and lots of lean proteins & leafy greens and cleaning my body out of old toxins has made me feel physically amazing. Certainly helped with the SSRI withdrawal/introduction symptoms. 

 

I am looking, now, on research to utilize diet to optimize brain chemistry and introduce much-needed vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and enzymes into the body. Also looking into supplements (namely researching into 5HTP, l-theanine, SAMe, Valerian Root, etc) but won't be taking any of those until I consult with my primary care physician and see how it works out being off the meds completely and trying to manage my depression and anxiety through diet and exercise. 

 

Oh, I should also mention that I've been in and out of therapy over the years, but since June of 2013, I've been seeing a new counselor that I absolutely ADORE. Utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy and some hypnotherapy, she has helped me a lot and she supports my decision to come off all medication. 

 

So, in other words, I'm looking to move forward by getting off medication and relying heavily on eating lean proteins and a LOT of fruits and vegetables to sustain my health. I have a juicer and am big into green juices, and make green smoothies often, too. 

 

If you stuck through this very long intro, god bless your heart. :) If you have any advice or words of encouragement, I'm all ears. Thanks for listening, and especially thanks for providing such a great place to talk about these things, share experiences and get lots of great information and advice. I try not to be a cynical person, but I really don't trust psychiatrists and the ones I've seen, at least, have been so incredibly (criminally, even?) irresponsible with my mental health that it disgusts and saddens me. So, I can do this on my own, under the supervision of my very great PCP. So, no more SSRIs, let's do this. 

MY INTRODUCTION

Zoloft history:

Oct 2001 - June 2013: on varying dosages of Zoloft, between 100-150 mg (150 mg daily was the latest dosage)

June 6 - June 20, 2013: (15 days) 100 mg Zoloft

June 21 - June 30, 2013: (10 days) 50 mg Zoloft

July 1 - July 5, 2013: (5 days) dropped to 25 mg Zoloft 

July 6, 2013: first day 0mg Zoloft since October 2001 

Zoloft side effects: weight gain, nausea and upset sleep cycle in the beginning, 0 libido, 

Zoloft Withdrawal side effects: nausea, headaches, extreme dizziness, irritability

 

Lexapro history:

July 1, 2013-Sept 18, 2013 = was on 10 mg Lexapro daily (80 days)

Sept. 19 - Oct 29, 2013 = 5 mg a day (for 40 days) [sticking with this since I already made the first 50% drop and am dealing with the withdrawal symptoms okay]

Oct. 30-Dec. 8, 2013 = 3.75 mg a day (for 40 days)

Dec. 9, 2013 - Jan. 7, 2014 = 2.5 mg a day (for 30 days)

Jan 8 - Feb. 1, 2014 = 1.25 mg a day (for 25 days) 

Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2014 = .625 mg a day (for 15 days) 

Feb 17, 2014 = BE DONE WITH TAKING LEXAPRO FOREVER!  

Lexapro side effects: extreme brain fog and memory loss, inability to lose weight. Libido is at 0. CONSTANTLY ravenously hungry. I just feel "off." still experience low-grade generalized anxiety most days.  

Lexapro Withdrawal side effects (so far): brain zaps, headache, some brain fog (though my thought process is starting to clear up and am able to lose weight again), irritability and quick temper, more morning anxiety in the beginning, but that's getting better

 

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  • Administrator

Welcome, Sarah.

 

Did the Lexapro help the Zoloft withdrawal symptoms?

 

The withdrawal symptoms you're getting now from Lexapro indicate you're going too fast. Lexapro comes in a liquid for easier tapering. See http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/406-tips-for-tapering-off-lexapro-escitalopram/

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 so much for having me... this site is so great! I've been popping in and out for a while and figured it's time to actually register and introduce myself. 

 

As for your question, it's so hard to say.... when you are putting a bunch of new crap in your body and taking other crap out, it's hard to determine what is helping and what is hindering, you know? 

 

And I will fully admit that I am probably going too fast and should have done the 10% titration method over a longer period of time, but I am DESPERATE to get off this poison asap. The brain fog is just killing me, I mean, affecting job performance and relationships, everything. I have noticed a slight improvement in cognitive function this week, so I at least feel hopeful, and am willing to put up with some other unpleasant WD side effects if it means getting my brain back. Fish oil and lots of avocados, sun butter, etc are also absolutely helping with the WD symptoms.

MY INTRODUCTION

Zoloft history:

Oct 2001 - June 2013: on varying dosages of Zoloft, between 100-150 mg (150 mg daily was the latest dosage)

June 6 - June 20, 2013: (15 days) 100 mg Zoloft

June 21 - June 30, 2013: (10 days) 50 mg Zoloft

July 1 - July 5, 2013: (5 days) dropped to 25 mg Zoloft 

July 6, 2013: first day 0mg Zoloft since October 2001 

Zoloft side effects: weight gain, nausea and upset sleep cycle in the beginning, 0 libido, 

Zoloft Withdrawal side effects: nausea, headaches, extreme dizziness, irritability

 

Lexapro history:

July 1, 2013-Sept 18, 2013 = was on 10 mg Lexapro daily (80 days)

Sept. 19 - Oct 29, 2013 = 5 mg a day (for 40 days) [sticking with this since I already made the first 50% drop and am dealing with the withdrawal symptoms okay]

Oct. 30-Dec. 8, 2013 = 3.75 mg a day (for 40 days)

Dec. 9, 2013 - Jan. 7, 2014 = 2.5 mg a day (for 30 days)

Jan 8 - Feb. 1, 2014 = 1.25 mg a day (for 25 days) 

Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2014 = .625 mg a day (for 15 days) 

Feb 17, 2014 = BE DONE WITH TAKING LEXAPRO FOREVER!  

Lexapro side effects: extreme brain fog and memory loss, inability to lose weight. Libido is at 0. CONSTANTLY ravenously hungry. I just feel "off." still experience low-grade generalized anxiety most days.  

Lexapro Withdrawal side effects (so far): brain zaps, headache, some brain fog (though my thought process is starting to clear up and am able to lose weight again), irritability and quick temper, more morning anxiety in the beginning, but that's getting better

 

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  • Administrator

I can understand why you'd want to be off it but your plan is too fast -- it involves decreases of 50%.

Here's my plan going forward..... [July 1, 2013: started 10 mg Lexapro]Sept 29 - Oct 10, 2013: (21 days) 5 mg LexaproOct 11 - Nov 1, 2013: (21 days) 2.5 mg Lexapro Nov 2, 2013: First day without Lexapro

Please consider getting the liquid, making smaller decreases, and taking a bit longer to go off.Are you taking magnesium? Our bodies need this, too.

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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Today is the 3rd day I've taken magnesium, thanks for that recommendation. Here are the supplements/medications I'm currently taking:

 

- 2000 mg fish oil

- 500mg magnesium

- 2000 IU Vitamin D

- a B-Complex with additional Vitamin C (like I mentioned, been on Ranitidine for about 8 years so I think my B-12 levels must be very low)

- a one-a-day woman's vitamin

 

I will say, since I amped up my fish oil dosage, I haven't had any brain zaps.... my brain fog is getting so much better.... the only real side effect is in my mood - I do have the morning anxiety and get irritable throughout the day, but I'm trying so so hard to control the negative thoughts that would normally have made me dwell in those negative feelings, and instead turn them around and think something positive. It's amazing what mindfulness can do. 

 

I'm reading a few books and once that's helping the most is called "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay. In it, there is a quote that is saving my sanity at the moment: "It's only a thought, and a thought can be changed." I'm working really hard to build up the neuro-pathways that involve more positive, hopeful thoughts.... that's an important part of SSRI recovery too, I think. 

MY INTRODUCTION

Zoloft history:

Oct 2001 - June 2013: on varying dosages of Zoloft, between 100-150 mg (150 mg daily was the latest dosage)

June 6 - June 20, 2013: (15 days) 100 mg Zoloft

June 21 - June 30, 2013: (10 days) 50 mg Zoloft

July 1 - July 5, 2013: (5 days) dropped to 25 mg Zoloft 

July 6, 2013: first day 0mg Zoloft since October 2001 

Zoloft side effects: weight gain, nausea and upset sleep cycle in the beginning, 0 libido, 

Zoloft Withdrawal side effects: nausea, headaches, extreme dizziness, irritability

 

Lexapro history:

July 1, 2013-Sept 18, 2013 = was on 10 mg Lexapro daily (80 days)

Sept. 19 - Oct 29, 2013 = 5 mg a day (for 40 days) [sticking with this since I already made the first 50% drop and am dealing with the withdrawal symptoms okay]

Oct. 30-Dec. 8, 2013 = 3.75 mg a day (for 40 days)

Dec. 9, 2013 - Jan. 7, 2014 = 2.5 mg a day (for 30 days)

Jan 8 - Feb. 1, 2014 = 1.25 mg a day (for 25 days) 

Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2014 = .625 mg a day (for 15 days) 

Feb 17, 2014 = BE DONE WITH TAKING LEXAPRO FOREVER!  

Lexapro side effects: extreme brain fog and memory loss, inability to lose weight. Libido is at 0. CONSTANTLY ravenously hungry. I just feel "off." still experience low-grade generalized anxiety most days.  

Lexapro Withdrawal side effects (so far): brain zaps, headache, some brain fog (though my thought process is starting to clear up and am able to lose weight again), irritability and quick temper, more morning anxiety in the beginning, but that's getting better

 

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Good to hear the brain fog is getting better. I can see why you are anxious about It I myself am experiencing It but has gotten better.

Very debilitating and hard to stay motivated without the proper mental focus.

 

Sounds Like your reading an NLP book which are all very good at enforcing positive thought patterns.

2013-July 1st Citalopram 20mg ()

2013-August 19th ended Citalopram cold turkey

med free.  (Took them for 7 weeks)

 

When I was a child, I spoke as a child,

I understood as a child, I thought as a child;

But when I became a man,

I put my childish things away.

 

- 1 Corinthians 13:11

 

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Okay okay, I've thought long and hard about this and am modifying my taper schedule and have agreed to slow it down. I hate this (because I'm so impatient and I just want to be done!), but here's my new plan:

 

July 1, 2013-Sept 18, 2013 = was on 10 mg Lexapro daily (80 days)

Sept. 19 - Oct 29, 2013 = 5 mg a day (for 40 days) [sticking with this since I already made the first 50% drop and am dealing with the withdrawal symptoms okay]

Oct. 30-Dec. 8, 2013 = 3.75 mg a day (for 40 days)

Dec. 9, 2013 - Jan. 7, 2014 = 2.5 mg a day (for 30 days)

Jan 8 - Feb. 1, 2014 = 1.25 mg a day (for 25 days) 

Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2014 = .625 mg a day (for 15 days) 

Feb 17, 2014 = BE DONE WITH TAKING SSRIs!!! 

 

I know, this is faster than a 10% taper, but I really do think I'll be okay going at this rate and with these dosage cuts. 

 

Then I'll begin to taper the Ranitidine, my only other medication, shortly thereafter. 

MY INTRODUCTION

Zoloft history:

Oct 2001 - June 2013: on varying dosages of Zoloft, between 100-150 mg (150 mg daily was the latest dosage)

June 6 - June 20, 2013: (15 days) 100 mg Zoloft

June 21 - June 30, 2013: (10 days) 50 mg Zoloft

July 1 - July 5, 2013: (5 days) dropped to 25 mg Zoloft 

July 6, 2013: first day 0mg Zoloft since October 2001 

Zoloft side effects: weight gain, nausea and upset sleep cycle in the beginning, 0 libido, 

Zoloft Withdrawal side effects: nausea, headaches, extreme dizziness, irritability

 

Lexapro history:

July 1, 2013-Sept 18, 2013 = was on 10 mg Lexapro daily (80 days)

Sept. 19 - Oct 29, 2013 = 5 mg a day (for 40 days) [sticking with this since I already made the first 50% drop and am dealing with the withdrawal symptoms okay]

Oct. 30-Dec. 8, 2013 = 3.75 mg a day (for 40 days)

Dec. 9, 2013 - Jan. 7, 2014 = 2.5 mg a day (for 30 days)

Jan 8 - Feb. 1, 2014 = 1.25 mg a day (for 25 days) 

Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2014 = .625 mg a day (for 15 days) 

Feb 17, 2014 = BE DONE WITH TAKING LEXAPRO FOREVER!  

Lexapro side effects: extreme brain fog and memory loss, inability to lose weight. Libido is at 0. CONSTANTLY ravenously hungry. I just feel "off." still experience low-grade generalized anxiety most days.  

Lexapro Withdrawal side effects (so far): brain zaps, headache, some brain fog (though my thought process is starting to clear up and am able to lose weight again), irritability and quick temper, more morning anxiety in the beginning, but that's getting better

 

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  • Administrator

I would hold on the Lexapro taper until withdrawal symptoms go away. Otherwise, you'll be piling stress on stress.

 

Suggest you taper off the ranitidine in the meantime. This could be making your withdrawal symptoms worse. See http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4361-tips-for-tapering-off-stomach-acid-blockers-esomeprazole-lansoprazole-omeprazole/

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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  • 3 weeks later...

I just wanted to report back that surprisingly, I'm feeling kind of awesome these days :D It's REALLY unexpected but also REALLY appreciated. I do believe it's helping that I'm getting lots of rest, taking good supplements, and eating exceptionally well. 

 

I recently read the book "The Edge Effect" by Dr. Eric Braverman, and in this book he provides a test you take to determine what neurotransmitter(s) is deficient in your body, and based on what's deficient, he suggests specific foods, supplements, exercise and other activities to help replenish those neurotransmitters. Well, turns out I've been taking drugs all along for serotonin, when I am actually quite dopamine and GABA deficient. For these, he recommends almonds, cottage cheese, lean poultry and wild game, tons of veggies rich in antioxidants, etc., and I've been including all of this in my diet, daily, when I can. I've definitely embraced my local farmer's market and load up on fruits and veggies and hormone-free poultry each weekend. Also drinking tons of water to flush out toxins and avoiding processed sugars at all costs - I believe this is key. 

 

Also still seeing my therapist every two weeks and through cognitive behavioral therapy, I believe I am starting to help pull myself out of a lot of negative thought patterns I was allowing myself to automatically utilize in many situations. Now, I am so much more aware of how my thought process is contributing to my emotions, and I am able to better control the anxiety when it pops up these days - I feel like I have equipped myself with the tools to stop it from spiraling into a full-on panic attack and talk my way through it and get myself to far happier and more productive thoughts. This is also KEY. Also, spending more time outside (also KEY for me) and meditating/doing deep-breathing exercises, these have been critical and life-changing additions to my life lately.Physically, I'm no longer experiencing any brain zaps, the only time I get anxiety is sometimes on Sunday evenings/Monday morning, but I feel like I've kind of always had that - I call it the "Sunday Night Blues." Still working my way through it. I don't really experience any of the generalized low-grade anxiety in the mornings like I did when I first dropped my Lexapro dosage. I'm sleeping awesomely (sometimes have to rely on Melatonin to get to sleep quicker), and let me just say it's a BEAUTIFUL thing that my anger and irritability have drastically improved in the last few weeks. The one thing I'm still experiencing is a bit of the brain fog, but I'm hoping that will just slowly continue to get better over time as I get off this sh*tty drug and level out all of the neuro-transmitters. 

 

So basically, I know I'm not "out of the woods" or cured from withdrawal symptoms forever.... I know that I'll likely experience negative side effects when I make my next dosage drop, but I just wanted to report in to say that at least in my experience, the tapering hasn't been a totally awful process. Because I'm purposeful with what I eat and am trying to put positive things in my life in every aspect, I am doing so much better. Also, I'm nearly off the Ranitidine (Zantac) that I'd been on for nearly 8 years. Over the last few weeks I've continually dropped my dosage and now I'm at 37.5 mg daily, tomorrow should be my last day at that dose and I'll make one more drop for a few days and then done forever. My stomach has been handling this okay actually, but we'll see how I do once I'm off the medication completely. Sending positive thoughts to everyone else....

MY INTRODUCTION

Zoloft history:

Oct 2001 - June 2013: on varying dosages of Zoloft, between 100-150 mg (150 mg daily was the latest dosage)

June 6 - June 20, 2013: (15 days) 100 mg Zoloft

June 21 - June 30, 2013: (10 days) 50 mg Zoloft

July 1 - July 5, 2013: (5 days) dropped to 25 mg Zoloft 

July 6, 2013: first day 0mg Zoloft since October 2001 

Zoloft side effects: weight gain, nausea and upset sleep cycle in the beginning, 0 libido, 

Zoloft Withdrawal side effects: nausea, headaches, extreme dizziness, irritability

 

Lexapro history:

July 1, 2013-Sept 18, 2013 = was on 10 mg Lexapro daily (80 days)

Sept. 19 - Oct 29, 2013 = 5 mg a day (for 40 days) [sticking with this since I already made the first 50% drop and am dealing with the withdrawal symptoms okay]

Oct. 30-Dec. 8, 2013 = 3.75 mg a day (for 40 days)

Dec. 9, 2013 - Jan. 7, 2014 = 2.5 mg a day (for 30 days)

Jan 8 - Feb. 1, 2014 = 1.25 mg a day (for 25 days) 

Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2014 = .625 mg a day (for 15 days) 

Feb 17, 2014 = BE DONE WITH TAKING LEXAPRO FOREVER!  

Lexapro side effects: extreme brain fog and memory loss, inability to lose weight. Libido is at 0. CONSTANTLY ravenously hungry. I just feel "off." still experience low-grade generalized anxiety most days.  

Lexapro Withdrawal side effects (so far): brain zaps, headache, some brain fog (though my thought process is starting to clear up and am able to lose weight again), irritability and quick temper, more morning anxiety in the beginning, but that's getting better

 

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  • Administrator

That's great news, thank you. Gradual tapering need not be a torturous process.

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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