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Raven's Intro


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I've been reading on this forum with interest for the past few hours, so I decided to make an account. I am not sure if I have antidepressant withdrawal, but it's certainly possible.


I am a 26 year old female living in the midwestern United States. When I was 16 or 17, I was placed on Prozac/fluoxetine for depression. After a few weeks, my parents decided I should see a psychiatrist rather than a general doctor, and the psychiatrist changed my prescription to Effexor XR. I was on various dosages of Effexor XR for the next 4 years. I don't remember a lot about that time; I'm not sure why. I barely remember an entire year that I went to college, just snippets here and there. I do remember running out of Effexor one time and cowering under a blanket in my dorm room afraid that if I moved I would lose my grip on reality and possibly kill myself.


I had a devil of a time withdrawing from Effexor. I was on 225 mg for a while, but I when I decided to get off the drug I was at either 150 or 75 mg. It was my own decision, and I had to push for it. The psychiatrist said no, no, no, why mess with what you have? I was becoming a happy person, however, so I no longer wanted to be a slave to the medication. I felt confident that there was more for me than desperate Effexor dependence. (I characterize it that way because the withdrawal symptoms appeared just a few hours after a missed dose.) It took me a few months to work down. 37.5 mg was the smallest available dose and was still too high for me to come off of so I got empty capsules from a pharmacy and made my own mini-pills for a few weeks. It was to the point where I was only ingesting a few grains of Effexor a day, but even then, when I finally went off, I had brain zaps and disorientation for over a month. 


My next stint with antidepressants began around late 2011 or early 2012. I was worn down from working a job I hated and attending graduate school part time. I was having anxiety and crying all the time. Even though I was extremely reluctant to go on meds again, my family and partner convinced me it was for the best. I don't blame them; they didn't know what to do, and I didn't either. Looking back on it, probably all I really needed was permission from my loved ones and from myself to quit my job, leave school, and find a new way in life. 


My doctor prescribed 50 mg Sertraline. A few months later, I received Adderall to combat concentration problems. That one was all my fault, I'll take responsibility. I thought, "If I just had the energy to get through this Masters program, then I could really start living." But, come on, how easy is it to go get speed from your doc? :lol:


The Sertraline did not have a noticeable effect on my anxiety. It really decreased my libido, but I'm not sure if it had other side effects (like the difficulty concentrating), or if my other ills were related to me living a life that wasn't good for me (forcing myself to do stuff I hated because I thought I should). Since the Sertraline wasn't helping and I was becoming more depressed, at one point I made a really dumb decision to go off cold turkey. I know better than to do that, so I can only describe that decision as illogical and stupid. I got brain zaps and felt crazy. Like...I think I tasted psychosis but I'm not sure. So, I went back on. 


In early 2013, I resigned from my loathsome job to concentrate on my final stretch of grad school. I was in an internship for my professional program that took a considerable amount of time and effort. Through a series of events and transformations, and amidst what I now believe was a nervous breakdown, I realized that I did not even want to work in the profession I was trying to go into, and I made the decision to leave school. At the time I made this decision, I was alternating between staying up for days on Adderall (yes I was abusing it) and sleeping 15-20 hours a day, I was unable to make basic decisions, I had almost no concentration, and I was getting to the point of envisioning suicide plans.  


I went off the Adderall (cold turkey), off Sertraline (a fairly rapid taper), and off of oral contraceptive all around that same time, April 2013. I put my attention toward healing and getting back to nature. My life is much improved. I am in touch with my basic needs, am laughing a lot, and am almost finished training for a job that I know I'll enjoy.


There are still some difficulties, however, which is how I ended up researching antidepressant withdrawal. I have tremendous mood swings and sometimes cry for hours on end, sometimes for days in a row. I sometimes feel afraid to leave my house without my partner. I sometimes feel afraid to do basic tasks like checking email or returning a phone call. I regularly have pains with no known cause; these can be anywhere. I don't know if this stuff is related to the chemical abuse my body went through, if it's a normal part of recovery from a breakdown, if it's hormonal imbalances, or what. It's probably a combination of all those factors and many more. Anything and everything is under my consideration at this point, though mostly I'm trying to focus on what I can do to function at my best - things like meditation, spending time in nature, exercise, and so forth.  


Writing this piece has been helpful for me; never before have I put so many of my medication experiences into one place. Thank you to anyone who reads this, and thank you to those who operate this organization. Best of luck to all.  

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Your present symptoms are very likely due to your abrupt withdrawal from Adderall and Zoloft a mere five months ago.  "Cold turkey" and rapid tapers generally result in prolonged antidepressant withdrawal symptoms which may appear on the surface to be a "relapse" or nervous breakdown. Your episodes of crying and agoraphobia are quite typical.  Here's a collection of articles that may be of interest:


What Is Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome?


There are a lot of posts in that same discussion area, 'Symptoms and self-care", regarding non-drug ways to feel better.


Welcome to the forum, Raven. You'll find lots of good information and friendly support 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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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome Raven. I'm sorry that you have had to travel this journey but am glad that you have found this place. It can be a Godsend , with good people and information. 


I'm quoting you here; "though mostly I'm trying to focus on what I can do to function at my best - things like meditation, spending time in nature, exercise, and so forth.  " kudos. This strategy will carry you far on your road back to you!


RU :)

Fall 1995 xanax, zoloft. switched to Serzone

1996- spring 2003serzone/ xanax/ lightbox.

b]Fall 2003- Fall 2004? Lexapro 10 mg. Light box /4 mg. xanax.[/b]

2004 - Fall of 2009 10 mg Lex, 150 mg Wellbutrin XL % 4 mg xanax

November 2009- Sept. 2011 10 mg lex., 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax [/b

Sept.2012- July 2012 20 mg Lex 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax

My mantra " go slow & with the flow "

3/2/13.. Began equal dosing 5 Xs /day xanax, while simultaneously incorporating a 2.5 % drop ( from 3.5 mg/day to 3.4 mg/day)

4/6/13 dropped from 300 mg. Wellbutrin XL to 150 mg. Difficult but DONE! Down to 3.3 mg xanax/ day / 6/10/13 3 mg xanax/day; 7/15/2013 2.88mg xanax/day.

10/ 1/2013...... 2.5 mg xanax… ( switched to tablets again) WOO HOO!!!!!! Holding here… cont. with Lexapro.

1/ 2/2014.. tapered to 18mg ( by weight) of a 26 mg ( by weight) pill of 20 mg tab. lexapro. goal is 13mg (by weight OR 10 mg by ingredient content) and STOPPED. Feeling very down with unbalanced, unpredictable WD symptoms.

1/2/2014- ??? Taking a brain-healing break from tapering anything after actively tapering something for 1.5 years. So… daily doses as of 2/2/2014: 18 mg by weight Lex, 150 mg Well. XL, 2.5 mg xanax, down from 26 mg by weight Lex., 300 mg well. XL, 4 mg xanax in August, 2012. I'll take it. :) 5/8/14 started equivalent dose liquid./ tabs. 5/13/14 1.5 % cut.

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