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lupe

Intro from lupe -- off trazodone

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lupe

I started taking prozac in the mid to early 1990's. Other family members were taking it and were feeling soooo great. With manic depressive and schizophrenic illnesses in the family it stood to reason that brain chemical imbalances would be in all members of the family in some level. I suffered from mild anxiety and my doctor and I thought I could try the prozac to see if it helped. I honestly do not remember if it helped the anxiety but I do remember that I had relief from fibromyalgia symptoms.... mainly pain. This started years of trying different antidepressants to find which would work best.

 

I did take the prozac initially for a long time until it stopped working. I tried amitriptyline which worked really well for pain and helped me sleep but I could eat a whole cake every day, nortriptyline but it did nothing, zoloft for 2 weeks but bad side effects and effexor which made me suicidal within a month.

 

I finally started on citalopram which one of my sisters was taking for depression and it did help the fibromyalgia. During this time I was desperate for a good sleep aid. I woke up 4-6 times a night and felt tired all of the time...very common with fibromyalgia. My doctor started me on trazodone which I thought was a sleeping medication and later found out that it is an antidepressant.

 

The citalopram eventually stopped working, probably after a year of use and I decided to stop taking it. I did not realize that I should talk to my doctor about tapering and went cold turkey. I had withdrawal symptoms that were pretty severe and mostly psychological...at one point the doctor thought I might have multiple personality disorder and sent me to a shrink... after many months of therapy and no diagnosis I somehow discovered during a lit search on the net about people having withdrawal symptoms from citalopram and was able to put the pieces together because their stories sounded so much like what I had been going through.

 

I quit seeing a therapist and I was able to stay off the antidepressants, I thought, and was only taking the trazodone for sleep. I started having bad electrical shocks starting in my spine and radiating out to my limbs followed by extreme sweating and more problems sleeping. I felt that this was form the trazodone and decided to stop taking it to see if things would improve. Within a month I was headed for the psych unit it got so bad.

 

Extreme paranoia and anxiety, nausea so bad I could hardly eat and sleep was almost impossible. My son was still a young teen at this time and I realized that I needed him to be more independent and/or on his own and I would need to know I could take time off from work if I was going to stop the trazodone. I went back on the traz under my doctors guidance and we decided to wait a few years and then I would taper off.

 

I spent the last 2 years tapering off the trazodone very slowly. I would lower the dose every 90 days so my body had plenty of time to adjust because the withdrawal symptoms were so severe. I finished tapering sometime in March 2011, probably around the first of the month, and the withdrawal symptoms did not start for several weeks. They seemed to be triggered by an event that started a cascade into extreme anxiety and panic. The nausea started and sleep became almost impossible. I started my internet search for any info I could fine about withdrawal from antidepressants and found plenty of testimonials. Pub Med has some research but much of what I find was done in the late 90's with the initial press and complaints about paxil. It seems to be more sparse but there is some research more recent and I have found a few studies concerning withdrawal from trazodone.

 

I found this site but was so sick from withdrawal at the time I registered I could not remember my id or password. I have read much on this site and have found it to be extremely helpful and informative. I have just had 3 fairly decent days in a row... I can eat pretty good, mostly in the evening or at night, am sleeping more than 1 hour at a time and the anxiety is fairly low. I hope to be able to get on this site more, learn how to navigate it better and be able to share my experiences and info I am able to find.

Edited by Altostrata
added poster's name to Intro topic heading, paragraphs

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Altostrata

Welcome, lupe. You've made quite a journey.

 

It sounds like you've been off trazodone since March 2011, have had severe withdrawal symptoms since, and recently started to feel a little better?

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lupe

Yes I am feeling better but definitely concerned about a stressful event triggering more anxiety, depression, nausea etc. I am not sure how this is going to evolve after reading so many different stories from other people but am determined to stay off meds now. I read a study done in narcoleptics treated with antidepressants and after cessation of the meds it took about four months for the narcoleptic symptoms to return so they are saying it takes at least four months just to clear the effects. I can't remember how long they were treated. Will try to find it and post a link.

Many of the things that you tell people on this site I have been slowly figuring out myself. I have to avoid supplements, hard exercise, unhealthy food and stressful situations. I must not isolate as being around others seems to really help. Work has been a lifesaver for me because it is a great distraction and my coworkers are good support. I basically have to keep my life as low key, normal and healthy as possible. Even when it is really bad I just put a smile on my face the best I can and pretend everything is ok.... because it really is.... it is just inside me that feels like the ax is gonna fall or the worst possible thing is going to happen etc. and so I keep telling myself that it will pass. But I sure do hate these horrible feelings!!!!!!

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Tricia

Hello Lupe! I am glad to hear that you are feeling better. I hope it continues!

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SaveMooses

Even when it is really bad I just put a smile on my face the best I can and pretend everything is ok.... because it really is.... it is just inside me that feels like the ax is gonna fall or the worst possible thing is going to happen etc. and so I keep telling myself that it will pass. But I sure do hate these horrible feelings!!!!!!

 

This is something I have to learn. Thanks for sharing! I hope you get to where those horrible feelings go AWAY.

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lupe

Thanks for the responses. I think I have a hard time expressing myself when writing.... but will keep trying. It is nice to feel connected to others going through the same sort of stuff. I was actually able to eat almost normal yesterday.I was still somewhat nauseated and unable to eat in the AM but by noon I had a full meal and was able to eat dinner. For some reason mornings are the worst. I have bad anxiety and a lot of nausea. Sometimes it goes on all day but usually, sometime in the late afternoon or evening, it is like a curtain goes up and the symptoms disappear. I have learned that cortisol, the fight or flight hormone levels are higher in the morning and think that might add to it. This is such a weird experience.... I suddenly find that many of the things that used to give me comfort don't anymore... like watching TV. I am a big TV person.. mostly movies but now I can hardly stand to have it on. I am reading a lot more and on line more and seeking out companionship more.

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SaveMooses

I know what you mean! I haven't had the TV on for about 3 weeks now, no noise on this computer and light....too much light...... I think mine are more migraine-like symptoms. I'm glad you are feeling better! :)

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Altostrata

....I have learned that cortisol, the fight or flight hormone levels are higher in the morning and think that might add to it. This is such a weird experience.... I suddenly find that many of the things that used to give me comfort don't anymore... like watching TV. I am a big TV person.. mostly movies but now I can hardly stand to have it on. I am reading a lot more and on line more and seeking out companionship more.

 

lupe, it does sound like at least some of your symptoms are withdrawal symptoms.

 

You're definitely going in the right direction with your research if you've figured out that cortisol is involved. You might want to look at our From journals and scientific sources section.

 

When you have withdrawal symptoms, it's important to remain calm. You may experience surges of intense, unpleasant emotions -- we call them "neuro-emotions" -- that are not representative of your "own" emotional makeup but generated by the neurological upset of withdrawal syndrome.

 

When you have these neuro-emotions, remind yourself they will pass. Take deep breaths, as in meditative breathing. Withdrawal symptoms tend to ebb and fade over time.

 

You may be hypersensitive to stimulation from the sound or light from the television. Many of us experience this. It, too, will get better. If you find you are sensitive to light, you may want to keep lights down, particularly at night, and wear sunglasses more often, even indoors.

 

The skills you learn to manage withdrawal syndrome will translate to managing your own depression or anxiety, should it return.

 

It's good you've found being with other people is reassuring. Company is good for our nervous systems.

 

You're expressing yourself fine. Please ask whatever questions you want.

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lupe

Hi Alto

I appreciate your quick responses! I do research for a living. I am a molecular biologist (BS) and have worked in a research lab for over 20 years and am able to understand many of the biological processes going on to a point. I have been doing research into what I am going through since this started in March and have been really fascinated. The biochemical mechanisms are very intricate and complicated, so many different systems intertwined, and you can understand how scientists can spend a lifetime on a small set of questions.

The info you provide has led me to more research and I will try to share what I find. Pub med is a good source and I have access to full text articles through our medical library.

My physician, thinking I needed medication management, sent me to a shrink when this started again and this time I was prepared to be offered more drugs. I said no and was referred to a class on managing depression and anxiety in lieu of meds. It was 8 weeks and I just had my last class. It taught me about deep breathing and other relaxation techniques and also some CBT, which I understand is the best treatment for anxiety. I am going to have some one on one sessions with the counselor and probably take the class again when the withdrawal symptoms are "gone" or at least lessened.

Everyone attending the class was on antidepressants!!! My healthcare is with a managed care system and they are great for doling out meds. I was able to share what I was going through without preaching to anyone about not taking antidepressants but I am glad they were able to hear my story. The counselor was knowledgeable about discontinuation syndrome and that helped a lot.

Right now I am resting after getting some chores done. I need to eat something but morning nausea is always bad... not sure what my stomach will tolerate... nothing sounds good.... been eating a lot of bananas and applesauce in the am but getting tired of them.

I took advice from you already and have darkened my room at night, purchased a mask and have been using a fan at night for white noise. Sleep is getting better.

I plan on submitting history to the Italian researcher and am sooooo glad to see someone is pursuing this more. I keep thinking if we could just become a "tour deforce" maybe we could change the way these meds are being handed out like candy.

Thanks again for your support and what you are doing with this web site.

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Altostrata

Excellent, lupe!

 

Here's a seminal paper you'll find interesting: 2003 Neurobiology of antidepressant withdrawal

 

As you can see, in the Journals section, I've tried to establish a format for posting papers: In the title field: yyyy [Paper title]; in the body, PubMed citation and abstract, link to PubMed abstract, and link to full text.

 

You can e-mail me full text of interesting papers and I'll put them on the server.

 

(As a matter of fact, I'd really like to see Greden 1993 as quoted here. I couldn't find it.)

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lupe

I sent the pub med abstract to my work email and will see if I can get full text next week. I am working my way through the list of posts you have for papers, books etc. I want to read Greenbergs book on manufacturing a disease... found it at the local library.

I am going out to have some fun now... hanging out with my nieces and sister for the day..... not good to stay at home all alone and need a break from caring for elderly mother who lives nearby in a rest home.

Thanks for all you are doing!

Will get to the seminal paper later tonight... glad to have it to look forward to.... nights can be hell can't they!

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Altostrata

Glad to have another researcher onboard! Have a great day.

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lupe

I had a bad day again yesterday, but still not as bad as it had been. It was hard to eat again and I had to force food down. I was able to keep busy at work and that helped and left early for an appointment with a counselor. It was our first one on one but I know him from a class I just finished for dealing with depression and anxiety. It went well and we set down a plan for getting me to a point where I am more stable and able to deal with situations which can induce extreme anxiety and panic. I was able to eat dinner, it is always better in the evening. I am not so anxious and I have an appetite again.

 

I have awakened at 3:30 this morning! This does not bode well for the day ahead but I do not feel extremely tired and if I need to there is a place where I can lie down at work and catch a quick nap. But I seem to do much better on the days when I have had a good nights sleep. The extreme anxiety seems to be coming on more in the middle of the day and lasting only about 4 hours now. It has been almost every day all day with relief in the evenings but maybe it will continue to be shorter in duration.

 

I have been trying to post replies to other discussions but when I hit the post reply button my mac says it can't find the server. Is anyone else having this problem?

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Altostrata

Seems that last night there was a little glitch with the server.

 

lupe, symptoms changing is a good sign, particularly if they change for the better. This indicates your nervous system is trying to find its normal balance again. Since it's a complex system, improvement comes in waves and lurches, not in a smooth progression -- which can be very frustrating, but that's how it repairs itself.

 

Anyway, good to hear a reduction in the daytime anxiety is noticeable. Don't forget sunglasses if you are light-sensitive.

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lupe

Again having a bad morning. Have woken up too early today and yesterday after a fitful nights sleep. Having too many negative thoughts and memories intruding into my consciousness. I am tired of feeling bad and need another good day and restful nights sleep. Soon I hope. Evenings are usually better so I know I just need to hang in there. I am having stress from needing to move my mom from the 2 bedroom apt to a 1 bedroom apartment where she is living in a retirement home. My sisters helped start packing things up yesterday and we got things about 1/2 done. My mom is a total pack rat and saves everything. There is so much stuff tucked away in nooks and crannys we ended up being able to throw a lot of stuff away. But last week mom decided to start taking low dose morphine for pain and boy is she out of it!! I hate it, it's like having my mom go downhill from a major health complication or something but I know it is just the pills. Anyway she was no help at all in making decisions so I told my sisters we would just have to do the best we could to decide what to hang on to for her and what to toss. It was really stressful for me! And now my sisters say they probably won't be able to help anymore and I will have to do the actual moving of her stuff etc. and unpacking..... anyway it feels way too overwhelming and I can't sleep or think about anything else. I am hoping that writing about it helps. I need to either insist my sisters help or find some other people to help. I don't have a whole lot of energy right now and tire really easy and if I overdo with my activity I feel really sick like I have the flu and so this is really stressing me out.

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SaveMooses

Oh my goodness, Lupe. Even if you WEREN'T going through withdrawals, dealing with a parent or grandparent and moving them is a very stressful thing to do anyway! My grandmother is a hoarder and we moved her into my house 2 years ago. She still has her house filled up (an 8 hour drive from here) and even if I went there to try to salvage anything (the roof is caving in and rodents have moved in), I have an uncle who won't let me because HE is also a hoarder. Not to mention, I can't move all this stuff by myself. So definitely, make your sisters step up and help and find a couple of other people to help if you can. It is a HUGE job so no wonder your stressed. A totally normal reaction. Definitely hang in there. This too will pass. I'm rooting for you over here! :)

 

Also, when your mind is getting filled with things you don't want to think about, remember to BREATHE normally, deeply and slowly and only listen to your breathing and HOW you are breathing. Focus on that. I am just now learning to do that and it seems to help. My brain always wants to think of a million other horrible things, but then I get back to listening to my own breath. Over and over. It seems to be helping me.

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lupe

THANK YOU sooo much! A good reality check. I will try to put off the home making us move mom for a day when my sisters can be there to help! If I let it get to me too much I start to feel paralyzed. Fear, paranoia, depression, anxiety if they get too far they can paralyze me into total inaction and I cannot afford to be in that place! I am just starting to practice the deep breathing and had not thought about focusing on it to help quiet my mind.

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SaveMooses

Definitely listen to your own body. If you KNOW you can get moved into paranoia and eventually get paralyzed and you know what gets you there, definitely STOP. No reason to go there if you know what puts you there cuz, holy cow, it's hard to get out of that spot, huh? Yeah, put it off until other people can help. I am a person that has ALWAYS been "I can do it, I don't need YOU to help ME", and that has been my family and friends biggest complaint about me. I'm a control freak so it's hard to LET them help, too. LOL!

 

But you can do it, Lupe, one day at a time. Breathe, breathe, breathe. I was telling Alto about some CDs that my mother bought my grandmother (that I STOLE...okay BORROWED) from her because SHE won't use 'em. They are from Dr. Andrew Weil about healing through breathing. I was at work listening to them and did a couple of the exercises while I was working as he explained how to do them. I wasn't even in a 'relaxed' position like sitting quietly in a room or anything. Just working and did them as he explained how. THAT helped. I was glad cuz I was just about to reach for my Valium that day and didn't have to! Yay! So there is hope out there after all and I know you can do it! :) Alto is very pro-breathing, too. LOL!

 

We just were never really taught before how to heal ourselves. I was always SO GRATEFUL that I belonged to a free society (America) and didn't have to suffer like so many do in the world. We have a pill for it. Why suffer if you don't have to? GEEZ, was I wrong. I now believe have been stunted emotionally because I have been on these drugs for 20 years. I mean, I have been very lucky in spite of myself, very blessed in general, and fall apart over the smallest things. Because I let a pill deal with it FOR me. They don't tell you the pills will eventually quit working on you and you CRASH AND BURN. Ouch. That's why I'm being forced to deal with things now that I haven't yet. It SUCKS but I finally feel like I am getting somewhere. FINALLY. I mean, I have been to counseling and things before and it never worked. I'm seeing a counselor now while my drugs are not working and FINALLY getting somewhere. Letting go of 10 and 20 year grudges!!!

 

So just keep hanging in there. Unfortunately, like I said, dealing with a parent's needs like that is a normal stressful thing (for her too) so just BREATHE. :)

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Altostrata

lupe, in another topic you mentioned you're taking omeprazole (aka Prilosec). May I ask, what are you taking that for?

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lupe

I am taking it for GERD. I started it along time ago when I was taking NSAIDS for arthritis. I don't take them anymore because they give me headaches and heartburn. I really do not take anything any more for pain except an occasional tylenol. The side effects from most medications are too much for me any more! I can go for 2 days without the omeprazole and then the GERD returns. I thought I might try to wean myself off of them some day but not now.

I found a great paper today on a study done on polymorphisms in the 5HT receptor gene family. It is an excellent study but very sophisticated science and maybe somewhat hard to follow. But I am sure you will be glad to know that scientists are beginning to be able to look at differences in individuals and the possible mechanisms that lead to some people having discontinuation syndrome and others not. I am not very tech savvy but will try to place it in the papers forum.

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Altostrata

So you're taking omeprazole for side effects from Lexapro?

 

Since you've been taking it such a long time, have you been supplementing with vitamin B12? Medications like omeprazole prevent absorption of B12. This can affect the resiliency of your nervous system.

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lupe

I have never taken lexapro. An NSAID is a "non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug". I used to take naproxen or "aleve" and those types of drugs inhibit prostaglandins in the stomach. They can even cause people to get silent ulcers. I was taking B12 but have cut way back on all pills right now.... I am really afraid of messing with my system..... even with supplements.

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lupe

I am consistently getting better. Still having some bad periods of anxiety and upset stomach but they last only a few hours now. I am sleeping better most nights, still not more than 6 hours but that seems to be enough. On mornings when I wake too early with only 3-4 hours of sleep I seem to have a worse day... more anxiety and nausea. On the whole I am still very low on energy and have to be very careful not to over exert in anything I am doing. I am not sure if this is due to fibromyalgia or WD. I took antidepressants for the fibro and they do work very good until they STOP working and I took the trazodone for sleep until the side effects got soooo bad, all over body shocks. I will live with the symptoms of the fibro gladly over going through withdrawal from these meds again. It has been the worst experience of my life! and I never want to go back there.

I continue to try to keep my stress level down the best I can because I know this can trigger a downturn.

I hope everyone is hanging in there and you are all able to get through this. I appreciate reading your stories and knowing that I am not alone in this journey!!!

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Altostrata

That's great news, lupe. You've been off trazodone since March? So that would be you've seen improvement in 5 months.

 

Was there anything in particular that has helped? Did you start taking fish oil or vit B12?

 

When you have a chance, I'd really appreciate your starting a topic in Journals and listing the papers about trazodone withdrawal you found. This will help other people in similar situations.

 

(While prescribed for sleep, trazodone is an antidepressant.)

 

If I were you, I'd stay far away from psychiatric drugs in the future. You've had so many adverse effects, your system is probably sensitized to them.

 

Have you tried acupuncture for the fibro?

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lupe

Thanks Alto

I have tried acupuncture but it had no effect.

I will try to find papers for trazodone WD but there aren't many. I do remember one pubMed study where it was recommended for a VERY slow withdrawal off trazodone. When I first tried to go off it 4 years ago I stopped cold turkey and within a month I knew that I either had to go back on or risk losing everything. I then started a VERY slow taper about 2 years ago. I reduced 12.5mg every 90 days. and sometimes I waited 6 months before I dropped it down. I talked to a pharmacist who said that she thought nursing homes are full of people who cannot get off trazodone. It is an antidepressant that is used for sleep "off label" and also classified as a hypnotic. It is believed to have ssri activity. I seem to remember pubmed studies about the tricyclics and withdrawal symptoms from the 1950's..? It seems that they have known about WD and antidepressant medications long before the SSRI meds. I spent a lot of March, April and May searching the literature for answers to what was happening to me but did not keep much. Mostly just read.

I do not plan on taking antidepressants again. The one that worked best for the fibro was amytriptilene (SP?) but I gained weight so fast on it, I could have eaten a whole cake every day, that I only took it for about a month.

Right now I am taking very little. I am using 1000mg omega-3/day, 2.5mg melatonin to get to sleep at night and an allergy pill at night for allergies, oh yeah and omeprazole for GERD.

Mostly I am trying to minimize stress. This seems to be the VERY most important aspect of my health right now. Next is eating good foods, not too much sugar or very often, no caffeine, more protein and lots of fresh fruits and vegies. I am very fortunate that many nights I can eat with my mom at the retirement facility where they serve good meals because most of the time I do not have much energy for cooking. I have to limit exertion of any kind because it seems to really wipe me out! I don't know if this is because my fibro is back with a vengence due to being off meds or if it is the WD. I suspect it is probably a combination of both.

I decided not to worry about sleep and just try to cope with however much I can get. I let myself sleep when I can and read, go online or watch some TV when I can't. I hate being awake in the wee hours of the morning!!!!!! but alas there are certainly worse things in life.

I decided to go easy on myself. I try to be reasonable with myself and remember my limitations right now. I am letting some of the chores I have wait longer before I do them, maintaing a slower but steady pace at work, resting more etc.

I do a lot of self talk, self reassurance. I often feel worse earlier in the day and so I remind myself that I will feel better in the evening and that I can hang in there until then. This will not last forever and most of what is happening is temporary. Much of it is in my head and not real... that I really am ok.

I read so many posts where people are suffering so much and my heart goes out to them!! I am getting better for now and am really grateful. I can certainly see the risk for suicide when a person is in the midst of the really bad parts of early WD and hope that I don't have to learn of that sort of tragedy for anyone here. The first couple of months really did feel like I didn't think I would make it! Thanks so much for creating this site.

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Altostrata

That's great news that you're doing better, lupe. You're doing an excellent job taking care of yourself.

 

You might increase the fish oil to 6 capsules a day. They say 1000mg per capsule, but the active ingredients are the DHA and EPA in the capsules, and the total milligrams of those omega-3s are much lower. 2,000-3,000mg DHA+EPA per day may help your fibro, too, it has an analgesic effect.

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lupe

Thanks Alto

I need to read more about DHA and EPA and how they are metabolized.

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Altostrata

lupe, please let us know how your recovery is going.

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