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Sudden fear, terror, panic, or anxiety from withdrawal

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Petunia

Anxiety has always been my main problem, even before withdrawal, so it makes sense that it would come back once I stopped medication, but withdrawal has taken it to a completely unbelievable level. In early withdrawal I found myself overcome, constantly with fears about everything that could possibly go wrong. If the weather got a bit windy, I became terrified that a branch would break and then break a window and the house would get flooded and it would spiral on and on. If my daughter went out, I was sure something bad was going to happen to her and she had just reached the age where she was going out a lot and getting around by herself, so I was in an almost permanent state of panic about her. Then she got her license and started driving, and it got even worse.

 

Whenever it rained, I was sure the roof would start leaking. Going out in the car meant it would break down or I would get into a bad accident. When the phone rang, it was going to be bad news. Even when nothing was triggering me, I was sure something terrible was about to happen. But over time, I've had to learn how to stop these thoughts because they cause a feedback loop of increasing physical anxiety, which then fuels more worry.

 

In my earlier life, before drugs, I used to worry about certain things, but now its everything and anything, if I let it, it can become extreme, my mind, at times seems intent on driving me insane with fear, so I've had to learn how to turn off the thoughts, for my own sanity really. Distraction has been the only thing that's worked.

 

I've got better at it, but when something stressful happens, or I'm triggered by a conflict, I start imagining the worst possible scenario, and at the time, I feel certain this is what's going to happen.

 

Earlier in withdrawal, I mostly used to worry about other people and disasters which I was sure would happen. But these days I worry more about not recovering, getting sicker and how to keep functioning while still in withdrawal. I worry about not being able to handle things I need to take care of and there being no one else to help. I think that when we recover, after going through all this extreme fear, normal, everyday worries will be like nothing.

 

In some ways, this intense worrying has taught me how to manage life better. I used to procrastinate a lot, especially if something I needed to do was causing anxiety. But now, if its possible to do something to solve a problem right away, I do it in order to stop the worrying. If I need to make a phone call, I do it rather than put it off.

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Horns85

Anxiety has always been my main problem, even before withdrawal, so it makes sense that it would come back once I stopped medication, but withdrawal has taken it to a completely unbelievable level. In early withdrawal I found myself overcome, constantly with fears about everything that could possibly go wrong. If the weather got a bit windy, I became terrified that a branch would break and then break a window and the house would get flooded and it would spiral on and on. If my daughter went out, I was sure something bad was going to happen to her and she had just reached the age where she was going out a lot and getting around by herself, so I was in an almost permanent state of panic about her. Then she got her license and started driving, and it got even worse.

 

Whenever it rained, I was sure the roof would start leaking. Going out in the car meant it would break down or I would get into a bad accident. When the phone rang, it was going to be bad news. Even when nothing was triggering me, I was sure something terrible was about to happen. But over time, I've had to learn how to stop these thoughts because they cause a feedback loop of increasing physical anxiety, which then fuels more worry.

 

In my earlier life, before drugs, I used to worry about certain things, but now its everything and anything, if I let it, it can become extreme, my mind, at times seems intent on driving me insane with fear, so I've had to learn how to turn off the thoughts, for my own sanity really. Distraction has been the only thing that's worked.

 

I've got better at it, but when something stressful happens, or I'm triggered by a conflict, I start imagining the worst possible scenario, and at the time, I feel certain this is what's going to happen.

 

Earlier in withdrawal, I mostly used to worry about other people and disasters which I was sure would happen. But these days I worry more about not recovering, getting sicker and how to keep functioning while still in withdrawal. I worry about not being able to handle things I need to take care of and there being no one else to help. I think that when we recover, after going through all this extreme fear, normal, everyday worries will be like nothing.

 

In some ways, this intense worrying has taught me how to manage life better. I used to procrastinate a lot, especially if something I needed to do was causing anxiety. But now, if its possible to do something to solve a problem right away, I do it in order to stop the worrying. If I need to make a phone call, I do it rather than put it off.

Petunia,

 

The fear and anxiety cycle you describe is me exactly. I, like you, anxiety was my main problem prior to WD. Since WD it is 100x worse. I worry about everything and always expect worse case scenario. I was never like this before and it's the hardest thing I've had to deal with. I'll worry about something ALL day. The the next day I'll say to myself 'why was I even worried about that'. It's the craziest feeling.

 

I agree in that once we recover, normal everyday anxiety and fear should be a cakewalk. 

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antidepressantsNoMore

Hell yeah! I used to have really bad Generalized Anxiety Disorder and "Pure OCD".

 

I still deal with this crap but it is not as bad as it was during WD.

 

Still dealing with it though.

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Addax

The fear and anxiety cycle you describe is me exactly. I, like you, anxiety was my main problem prior to WD. Since WD it is 100x worse. I worry about everything and always expect worse case scenario. I was never like this before and it's the hardest thing I've had to deal with. I'll worry about something ALL day. The the next day I'll say to myself 'why was I even worried about that'. It's the craziest feeling.

Crazy is a good word for it. When I've experienced it there was nothing that could convince me that the worst case scenario wasn't going to be the outcome. Nothing! I ruminated on the same three things for months, with the addition of one or two other things here and there. Here I am 4 months after the worst "spell" of it, and none of the worst case scenarios came to fruition. In fact, they've all been disproved. What a relief to find out withdrawal makes you terrible at predicting the future!

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Petunia

Atarax (Hydroxyzine) is an antihistamine. For someone recovering from antidepressant withdrawal, antihistamines can make symptoms worse and possibly slow recovery because they affect some of the same family of receptors that antidepressants target.

 

Please see this topic for more information:

 

Antihistamines

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MissTrish

I am glad to find this topic.  Last night I had a huge wave of what I can only describe as intense deep fear roll over me.  I have been through the w/d wars enough to know it had nothing to do with any real situation, having had lesser waves of it from time to time, so I tried my best to just watch it with detachment.  It felt like being in a hole waiting for planes to fly over and drop bombs on me.  I had hot flashes with it, and I had to consciously breathe.  It actually lasted until morning.  I managed to sleep, which is amazing, and woke up very early with the fear still there.  I went back to sleep and when I woke up again (later than usual) the fear had abated somewhat.  

 

It was awful; I kept thinking, am I going to have to live with this from now on and I'm still not even off this drug!

 

Possible factors could be I took two Advil yesterday morning for sciatica and I have read that NSAIDs trigger symptoms.  Also I watched the finale of Survivor last night, haha, and it was a nail biter because the eventual winner is a friend of both my sons, so even though it was a fun thing, there were two hours of suspense and texting back and forth with my sons instead of winding down in the evening like I usually do.  Also it's just four days since my last cut so CNS is probably unstable.

 

I don't know the reason but if it was debilitating.

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Petunia

MissTrish,

It sounds like your nervous system became overstimulated, I can imagine how exciting the finale of Survivor must have been, seeing as you know one of the contestants. I'm glad you are feeling better again now.

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bluebalu86

I would appreciate any suggestions about how to deal with this. I feel overwhelmed and apart from hiding in my bed I don't know what else to do. Distraction doesn't help. I feel so not normal and weird and when these surges hit I feel like I'm being tortured in hell. When the horror hits I feel like my whole brain is on fire and burns. I'm very scared :( 

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LoveandLight

Nothing helped when I was like this, I'm afraid to say. I got a stack of colouring books for adults, beautiful patterns and pens and just holed up with these and wait until it passed. It didn't take it away but I was doing something even when feeling awful. Hope you feel better soon. So sorry your feeling so bad. Xx

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a99

I feel your pain . This symptom is cruel  like nothig else . I thought I lost my mind  .

It gets better .

hang in there .

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Petunia

a99 is right, it does get better in time, but we have to figure out how to survive and keep going while that time is passing. The intensity of these symptoms can get so bad for some people that distraction doesn't work, it was like that for me for a long time, not all day, but for many hours of the day.

 

What helps one person, might not work for someone else, so we have to put some effort into finding things that are helpful for us. Sometimes what may help for a while, might stop working and we have to keep searching for more ways to help ourselves while we are recovering.

 

For me, getting familiar with my own patterns of symptoms has helped me to have faith in knowing that some measure of relief is always going to arrive eventually.

 

Sometimes its just not possible to do anything besides lay in bed shaking, or pacing or crying or whatever it is you do. I'm a lay in bed shaking kind of person and the only things which helped/help is to focus on my breath, trying to slow it down, use belly breathing and silently chanting meaningless words to stop any spiraling negative thoughts. Eventually the acute terror would pass and then I would be able to do something distracting.

 

Another thing which sometimes helps me is paying attention to my surroundings, using the sense of touch. I will notice the softness of my bed cover, the comfort of my pillow, the way the bed gently supports my body. I like the way the sheets of my bed feel in between my toes, so I focus on that to bring me back to the reality of the moment and help my body realize that its safe.

 

Make a warm drink and notice the feel of the cup in your hands as you slowly sip it. Or if its a hot day, notice the coolness of a glass or the gentle air from a fan. For me, the only way I've been able to get through these intense, terrifying, acute symptoms is to bring my awareness right into each moment, see it for what it really is... an unpleasant sensation in my body or brain, and not some external threat to my life, which is what it feels like.

 

I've wondered if having a large teddy bear to hug at times like this might have helped, but I don't have one.

 

Sometimes the fear is so overwhelming its not possible to form a rational thought, not for a while until its calmed down a bit.

 

Acceptance is another thing, realize that this is a normal part of the recovery process for some people, once you get through it, you will never have to endure something so difficult ever again.

 

More ideas here:

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

 

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Mort81

Geese Blue I can relate to these symptoms. When I get belted with these emotions the only thing that helps Is I keep telling myself this is temporary. Reading the recovery stories on this site has helped so much aswell When I am overwhelmed by fear. People who have gone through the struggles and all of them say it keeps getting better. Its jusst a temporary storm thats all

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aberdeen

It does get better! I had these symptoms intensely while tapering (much too fast) Effexor, and then for almost a year after wards. The waves of this symptom got milder and milder, until one day the waves brought only the mildest form of this. I still get it in waves but its so subtle I can just say "oh, a flutter of that weird anxious stuff, i remember that!" and i can totally move on with what im doing, its so mild a deep breath or two can almost make it go away. And my waves are a matter of days now, not months. This has been the case for over 2 maybe even 3 years now, so have hope!!! And dont read my signature and say omg she's been in wd for 4-5 years straight...its not like that. I did a lot of silly things in the first year of my wd (because I didnt understand what was happening yet, I raised my dose twice, then came off too fast and took anothe rmed, and then switched again twice more to new meds) then I stayed on Paxil to help the wd (it didnt do anything noticable to help) and then tapered that, so its not a clear picture. My sysmptoms also became very tolerable after about 2 years, they never went back to "crazy" level.

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Patoski

Sometimes my symptoms are so bad they are unbelievable the pain is unbearable ihave to pace up and down just to cope I some times walk round the block as if I'm running away from my symptoms I sometimes pop in a shop so I force my self to compose myself in front of strangers I feed myself positive im formation and deal with the moment in hand I've done this before I came off bensos 28 years ago so I know if I can keep going I will recover to have to do this twice in a life time is really dissapointiing and I've just had an operation under general anaesthetic and it has trebled my symptoms I am now in martyr mode and am determined not to give in I wish you all well remember the prize is recovery

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nz11

 

a99 is right, it does get better in time, but we have to figure out how to survive and keep going while that time is passing. The intensity of these symptoms can get so bad for some people that distraction doesn't work, it was like that for me for a long time, not all day, but for many hours of the day.

...................................

Sometimes its just not possible to do anything besides lay in bed shaking, or pacing or crying or whatever it is you do. I'm a lay in bed shaking kind of person and the only things which helped/help is to focus on my breath, trying to slow it down, use belly breathing and silently chanting meaningless words to stop any spiraling negative thoughts. Eventually the acute terror would pass and then I would be able to do something distracting.

 

Acceptance is another thing, realize that this is a normal part of the recovery process for some people, once you get through it, you will never have to endure something so difficult ever again.

This ....

 

Sometimes my symptoms are so bad they are unbelievable the pain is unbearable ihave to pace up and down just to cope I some times walk round the block as if I'm running away from my symptoms I sometimes pop in a shop so I force my self to compose myself in front of strangers I feed myself positive im formation and deal with the moment in hand

and this ...yes i would pace back and forth and then get in the car and drive as if as you say trying to escape the horror.

 

and as aberdeen says 'My symptoms also became very tolerable after about 2 years, they never went back to "crazy" level.'

They didnt disappear but the heat was turned down a little and became almost mostly manageable.

 

Good question. 

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gemini

Does anyone have experience with extreme fear in wd? It's like I'm afraid of movement and paranoid

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Jaywill

i am starting therapy in Aug because I will be three years off and I am starting to feel better physically but my fears are keeping me from enjoying my life. I used to react to so many things that now I am afraid to be out where the bees are because I was told I get bad reactions. I am afraid of going hiking because there have been some bears etc. I still go and do the activity because I refuse to let this medication rob anymore of my life but I am still afraid of things that I know dont usually bother me

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gemini

Sorry you are facing this Jay.I have no life now, no more career, complete anhedonia. I have a hard time showering. I believe therapy helps but I know this is protracted withdrawal now from Zoloft. Only time will heal the body and mind. I hope you get well:)

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Petunia

 

I've been dealing with fear/terror since the end of 2010.  It started slowly and then built in intensity and I would say it peaked for a while at the end of 2011 and again through much of 2013.  But last year (2014) its intensity started to decrease and continues to do so.

 

 

I just wanted to post a little update on this symptom for me, now that we are getting close to the end of 2015. I no longer experience anything intense enough these days to be called terror. No more laying in bed for hours shaking, focusing on my breath to get through the minutes.

 

Anxiety/fear still peaks at times, when its triggered by a situation or increased stress, but the intense 'chemical' terror, not connected with anything is gone. I still have a higher than normal level of subtle anxiety in the mornings (cortisol mornings), which lasts for varying amounts of time, but its not too bad and can quite easily be distracted from.

 

Time and acceptance is what has got me through this.

 

Not everyone is going to experience these high levels of fear, or for as long as I have. For most people, it passes much faster. No matter how long it lasts, it will eventually subside.

 

Welcome the fear, the anxiety and thus transform it

June 17, 2015 by Monica Cassani
 
A first step [in remaining open] is to understand that a feeling of dread or psychological discomfort might just be a sign that old habits are getting liberated, that we are moving closer to the natural open state. Trungpa Rinpoche said that awakening warriors would find themselves in a constant state of anxiety. Personally, I’ve found this to be true. After a while I realized that since the shakiness wasn’t going away, I might as well get to know it. When our attitude toward fear becomes more welcoming and inquisitive, there’s a fundamental shift that occurs. Instead of spending our lives tensing up, as if we were in the dentist’s chair, we learn that we can connect with the freshness of the moment and relax.  – Pema Chodron
 
I’ve found this to be true too. And boy does protracted psych drug withdrawal open the floodgates of fear and terror. It’s not like anything natural that occurs before drug damage. But even with this sort of iatrogenic damage I’ve found that the best solution is to treat it like all the rest. I’ve decided that in the end, it’s the same thing as though on steroids...
 

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LoveandLight

So happy for you Petu..

 

That happened after dosing with vitamin c?

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alex

I am happy for you dear Petu, that your suffering is not that intense anymore.

I am on the 8th day of intense wave of anxiety,fear, horrible DP.

I truly believe that I am getting liberated from old habits ond fears myself.

This is tough.

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NoMeaning25

I just woke up in the middle of the night with the following:

 

Severe heart palpitations, dizziness, confusion, sweating, profound nausea, arms and hands pounding/pulsating, ringing in ears, extreme hot flush, whole body feeling weak

 

It lasted 15 minutes and i thought i was dying!!! I just jolted awake. This has happened before.

 

Please anyone know what this is? Im thinking panic attack maybe? Im affraid to go back to sleep now.

 

I cant carry on living like this. Im thinking of starting meds again to see if it helps me. 3 years off and still in acute withdrawal. Im severely worn out

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Petunia

That happened after dosing with vitamin c?

 

I can't honestly attribute this improvement to anything in particular. Its happened gradually. I've been taking 6000mg vitamin c daily for several months now, but I also started supplementing with vitamin d even more recently. Who knows? They may be helping, but its just as likely to be the passing of time and acceptance.

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Cressida

Hmm. I wake up with a version of that most nights am 38 months off. Tends to happen at regular times around 1am 330am and 5am. Used to be really bad with most of my body feeling like it was burning. Now occasionally I don't notice it at all or its a minute or so of mild heart pounding and and warmth in feet or lower legs. I think most people think think they are cortisol peaks and with me are only bad now if I inadvertently eat something on my trigger list. Its also possible you have had a nocturnal panic attack. Very unpleasant been there too. If its cortisol more likely to recur than if it was a panic attack . Although I ve only had nausea with panic attacks. Hope you are feeling better

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Marta

I hate when intense fear switchs on....when I am so stressed because of work (as I am now) it expodes in full power.

I feel so bad, every breath is hard and the burden is so heavy, want to escape but no place can heal. I never had this level of how can I say, a "void full of pain" before ads. My brain for sure is changed, I am changed and still I try to accept it.  :unsure:

 

I try to talk to myself: 

"it will pass", "rememember happy moments", "you have still things to do" and my personal one:

 

"at the end everybody dies, so struggles will end for sure, so keep on fighting the years you're alive, always"  (I know it is not an optimistic and bright idea, but for me sometimes works)

 

At least I don't feel alone with this horror, thanks for sharing your thoughts! 

If someone has an idea how to better accept these new "aspects" of our being, please tell me.

 

With love,

M.

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LoveandLight

I like that Marta 'someday the struggle will end anyway' but I've got to the point of feeling that I cannot struggle no more but still keep going..the last 8 years on/off withdrawal has been a total nightmare and now I'm starting withdrawal over again..

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Marta

Hi LoveandLight (i love your nickname),

 

yes,it's bittersweet ....because it's ok that suffering will end but meanwhile we are supposed to have a "kind of" life for many years from now!

They say the "magic" word is "to accept", as always easy said than done.

It's like we had opened the pandora's box, quite impossible to turn back as we were before....

 

I think you are unbelievable brave, for me it is half year from the w/d beginning and the future is scary.....

 

I just keep to wake up every morning, say "f***k off", suffer and go on....or turn back to bed if I can.

 

Hugs hugs hugs,

M.

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KT38

Cressida, what foods are on your trigger list?

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Cressida

Sugar is the biggest. I have cut it out as entirely as I can so no fruit ( became sensitised after trying smoothies) hi sugar veg like carrots, tomatoes etc I eat lots of green veg and white veg like cauliflower. No alcohol sweets cake biscuits. My big treat is a crumpet a day. I check packets out nothing over 6 g sugar so wholemeal bread is fine. No alcohol.mo breakfast cereal. Cereals had too high carb concentrationsd which body then converts to sugar. I eat potatoes and rice but keep portions small. Artificial sweeteners. I don't drink coffee but fine with tea. No dairy apart from skimmed milk in tea no eggs. I eat fish and meat with freshly prepared veg. Avoid any prepared foods. Its quite a healthy diet I have gradually lost a stone and a half and lost the continuous food craving I had earlier in WD . The sensitivities aren't as bad , earlier they caused long lasting waves now tends to be a day or two and the effects are worse if I eat the trigger food a couple of days running. I m fine with gluten.

If I didn't control my food the nasty waves would just go on I imagine. I ve read that 90% of serotonin is in the gut , and sugar/alcohol is the undoubted biggy as that goes straight to the brain. Paroxetine in particular de stabilises sugar control. And giving up sugar is in line with all current health advice. Hope you are ok

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KT38

Oh yes, sugar is a biggie!!!  What is your typical breakfast, lunch and dinner?  You mentioned you can drink tea.  What types?

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Cressida

Prepare to be very bored. English Breakfast tea, Earl Grey Lady Grey lots. Get through 4 pints skimmed milk in a week. Drink it very weak.

During day only eat dry toast, one crumpet and one Benecol. Very boring but am never hungry. Meal cooked from scratch in evening meat or fish, veg and rice or potatoes. One bog standard multi vitamin and mineral tablet, one evening primrose capsule and one fish oil. Just normal strength.

Know it seems restrictive but was getting so many flare ups of symptoms particularly anxiety palpitations and burning skin it is a powerful incentive to keep at it. I ve been losing about half a pound in weight each week steadily I don't feel hungry and I no longer have food cravings and feel like I have to eat all the time to keep level energy and not feel awful . This is just what I ve done for myself trial and error there's no recommendations or science behind it

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Cressida

The other thing I ve noticed is cortisol surges are less at night if I eat earlier say 5-6 pm rather than 8pm which is unfortunately when my H prefers to eat

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Cressida

Thank you! I will have to try some of this. I won't try the tea, though, as it has caffeine.

Lol not a lot at the strength I drink it , it just gets a waft of the tea bag. If you are able to avoid all caffeine then good for you. I hope you are able to find some relief. Good luck

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antidepressantsNoMore

I had literally hundreds of panic attacks during my WD. Anxiety is a HUGE part of WD especially for me. It came in all different forms including, worsened OCD, generalized worry, and horrible social anxiety which was crippling. It just had started to get better within the last 90 days. The thing is , it does get better, it just takes time.

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antidepressantsNoMore

antidepressantsNoMore, how long were you off before the anxiety got better?

 

oh, I really don't know if you want the answer to that question. The anxiety was literally bad for the entire three years, were actually coming up on three years soon. It is just starting to really end for good.

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antidepressantsNoMore

Yeah, I hear 2-3 years is when the healing really happens.  I just bought suntheanine (l-theanine) and took about 25mg of the chewable tablet today to see what it would do.  I didn't notice much, but will try 50mg tomorrow. 

 

l-theanine works well for some people. It really didn't do much for me. I pretty much tried all the herbal supplements. Magnesium is descent though, no doubt.

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