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Twenty months ago, I stopped taking an SSRI drug (Citralopram/Celexa) that I had used for depression and pain management for 1 1/2 years. I started at a dosage of 20 and my doctor changed it to 40 after a year. Finally, tired of tremors, dull emotions and lack of motivation to do anything, I decided to stop. I didn't go cold turkey; I tapered off by halves (probably too fast) until the dosage was so low that it was ridiculous to try to halve it again. Still, the after-effects were so severe that they caused devastating impacts in my life.


 


For me, these effects were physical (brain zaps), mental (confusion about reality; inability to focus), emotional (out-of-proportion reactions to emotions, positive or negative; depression), and spiritual (because my spirit was greatly challenged).


 


I am not a doctor, but I've done lots of research on SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome. While on the drug, it coordinated the body's responses to emotional situations; after discontinuation of SSRIs, the brain must re-learn, through trial and error, how much chemicals and what chemicals to send the body for EACH type of emotion. Though some doctors admit that these withdrawal brain zaps exist, they don't understand them; some speculate that it is part of this "relearning" process.


 


During the early stages of my "relearning" process, I lost 4 friendships; three are now starting to mend, but will never be at the level they were before. I became estranged from every social group I was involved with, except for a small women's group. I resigned from active participation in the neighborhood community that I live in.


 


While my mind tried to re-balance itself whenever I felt an emotion, the intensity of my response often seemed inappropriate or “out of character” for me. People around me became confused and I became confused. I (and they) began to question my perception of reality, which only added to my confusion. But, I was NOT imagining things. I was feeling emotions that were there, emotions that the meds had masked. While my mind struggled to relearn how much chemical to send for EVERY type of emotion, my feelings were bouncing up and down and I would become extremely upset over seemingly trivial things.


 


Some would say I “lost my mind” during this period, but I'd actually found it again. Only it wasn't working well. It was an atrophied muscle that had to exercise, but exercising subjected every one around me to my hell on earth. I had a very low tolerance for bullsh*t, or for being discounted. I called people on things they did or said that hurt me, often out of proportion to the actual event I was reacting to, but it was still a real thing I was reacting to. This did not work out well. So, I isolated. And lost friends.


 


I am now slowly re-entering the world. I'm gardening again. I'm doing art again. I spend most of the day out of bed. I'm feeling closer to my old self, especially since also discontinuing the Vicodin. It seemed to me that it was aggravating my recovery. Though initially ceasing the Vicodin increased the brain zaps, after a week it seemed to have helped overall.


 


There is a lot of excellent advice on this website. Here's my thoughts on how to get through this: Wait. Meditate. Slow down your life. Keep healthy. Deep breathing exercises. Drink lots of water. Keep regular bowels. Tell everyone near and dear to you what you are going through, and hope that they can be patient and understanding. Listen to your body: If it wants to sleep, then lie down, even if you woke up only an hour ago. If you are in a conversation that is upsetting you, excuse yourself and walk away.


 


If you are struggling with depression: Some find going gluten free helps. Others find St. John's Wort helps. Have your blood work checked to see if your vitamin and minerals are in good shape. Vitamin B is important for healthy emotions. Sun is important. Therapy. Friends. Journal.


 


I am retired, so I had the luxury of being able to totally isolate through the worst of it, about a month. It is good to enjoy yourself, but with quiet type of enjoyment. If you stimulate “happy making” chemicals in your brain, the condition will temporarily get worse because it throws the brain into overdrive of a sort; "happy makers" include: nutmeg, chocolate, anything with tryptophan in it (turkey, for example), sex, getting high, getting excited.


 


Watch boring reruns on TV, play quiet games, read, and avoid social gatherings or stimulating conversations. I know, sounds boring, but that is the idea. As your condition improves, you can begin introducing the “highs” of life again, but slowly. If you eat a whole bar of chocolate, you may have severe brain zaps the following day, and a deep depression the day after. Been there. I truly empathize.


 


It gets better! Slowly, but it does get better. I feel confident that I will be back to my self eventually.


MITCHIE

Celexa/Citalopram for 6 yrs. (20 mg 5 years; 40 mg. for last year). Tapered down over probably 6 mths, if that (can't remember), 1/2 every 2-4 wks. to zero in November 2013. Worst withdrawal condition: brain zaps that were incapacitating at first, but have slowly decreased and now occur only at night when I get dehydrated while sleeping, 3-4 times a week.

Vicodin for 30 years. Stopped cold turkey 8 months ago. Many withdrawal conditions related to water retention changes in the body (ie. loose stools, sweating, sinus drainage). Set the brain zap recovery back a few steps.

Completely off all Rx drugs now except Valium (10 mg) 1-2 times/wk. for muscle relaxation.

 

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Welcome Mitchie, thank you for sharing your story and tips for getting through withdrawal, you have done well and I'm glad to hear you are now over the worst of it.

 

What are your remaining symptoms?

 

I'm a little concerned that you are still using Valium on a regular basis, and wonder how your current symptoms correlate with when you take this. A nervous system sensitized by withdrawal can be more susceptible to interdose withdrawal from any of the benzos, including Valium. Have you noticed a pattern?

 

Petunia.

I'm not a doctor.  My comments are not medical advise. These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I've learned. Please discuss your situation with a medical practitioner who has knowledge of tapering and withdrawal...if you are lucky enough to find one.

My Introduction Thread

Full Drug and Withdrawal History

Brief Summary

Several SSRIs for 13 years starting 1997 (for mild to moderate partly situational anxiety) Xanax PRN ~ Various other drugs over the years for side effects

2 month 'taper' off Lexapro 2010

Short acute withdrawal, followed by 2 -3 months of improvement then delayed protracted withdrawal

DX ADHD followed by several years of stimulants and other drugs trying to manage increasing symptoms

Failed reinstatement of Lexapro and trial of Prozac (became suicidal)

May 2013 Found SA, learned about withdrawal, stopped taking drugs...healing begins.

Protracted withdrawal, with a very sensitized nervous system, slowly recovering as time passes

Supplements which have helped: Vitamin C, Magnesium, Taurine

Bad reactions: Many supplements but mostly fish oil and Vitamin D

June 2016 - Started daily juicing, mostly vegetables and lots of greens.

Aug 2016 - Oct 2016 Best window ever, felt almost completely recovered

Oct 2016 -Symptoms returned - bad days and less bad days.

April 2018 - No windows, but significant improvement, it feels like permanent full recovery is close.

VIDEO: Where did the chemical imbalance theory come from?



VIDEO: How are psychiatric diagnoses made?



VIDEO: Why do psychiatric drugs have withdrawal syndromes?



VIDEO: Can psychiatric drugs cause long-lasting negative effects?

VIDEO: Dr. Claire Weekes

 

 

 

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  • Administrator

Welcome, Mitchie.
 
Please read
 
What is withdrawal syndrome?
 
The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

Brain Zaps

I have never heard of brain zaps being a sign of post-discontinuation neurological adaptation. Having had them for 6 months myself, I would say the theory that they are a form of epileptic activity makes sense to me.
 
Are all the journal articles you read in your research in the From journals and scientific sources forum? If not, please add them, following this format: Before you start a topic in Journals.... (copy and paste abstract from PubMed).

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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Petunia,

 

Thank you for welcoming me. I am always shy about joining groups. My remaining symptoms are mainly brain zaps and mood swings (depression, irritability). I have sweats, but it's hard to tell if that is from our weather (103 this week!), menopause, or still withdrawal from the Vicodin (been only 7 months). It is for the reasons you mentioned that I decided to go off the Vicodin even though I have chronic pain. Using yoga, massage, beneficial supplements, good diet and lots of water, I've been able to find that I am able to manage the pain without the Vicodin.

 

As a young child, I had polio that affected my whole body. I use a power wheelchair and am unable to walk at all. The muscles that I do have work overtime to do their job and that of the missing muscles, so sometimes they get rather tense and overused. Ice and relaxing will often calm them down, but a couple times a week I take a valium in the evening to relax the overworked muscles. I haven't noticed any affect or pattern related to my withdrawal symptoms, but I'll keep that in mind as I check in with my body each day to see if maybe it is doing more damage than good. Thank you for your concern.

MITCHIE

Celexa/Citalopram for 6 yrs. (20 mg 5 years; 40 mg. for last year). Tapered down over probably 6 mths, if that (can't remember), 1/2 every 2-4 wks. to zero in November 2013. Worst withdrawal condition: brain zaps that were incapacitating at first, but have slowly decreased and now occur only at night when I get dehydrated while sleeping, 3-4 times a week.

Vicodin for 30 years. Stopped cold turkey 8 months ago. Many withdrawal conditions related to water retention changes in the body (ie. loose stools, sweating, sinus drainage). Set the brain zap recovery back a few steps.

Completely off all Rx drugs now except Valium (10 mg) 1-2 times/wk. for muscle relaxation.

 

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Altostrata,

 

Thank you for what appears to be some excellent reading material. I look forward to digesting it when a project I'm doing settles a bit. I will also check to see if I have journal references or articles that are not in the collection and post them if they aren't.

 

Brain zaps as a form of epileptic seizure?...hmm. I hadn't heard that before. I suppose it could be somewhat related to a petite mal type seizure, though one often gets an aura beforehand, and I don't recognize any auras. However, I haven't been paying attention to that possibility, so it's something to ponder. 

 

Thanks for you suggestions,

Mitchie

MITCHIE

Celexa/Citalopram for 6 yrs. (20 mg 5 years; 40 mg. for last year). Tapered down over probably 6 mths, if that (can't remember), 1/2 every 2-4 wks. to zero in November 2013. Worst withdrawal condition: brain zaps that were incapacitating at first, but have slowly decreased and now occur only at night when I get dehydrated while sleeping, 3-4 times a week.

Vicodin for 30 years. Stopped cold turkey 8 months ago. Many withdrawal conditions related to water retention changes in the body (ie. loose stools, sweating, sinus drainage). Set the brain zap recovery back a few steps.

Completely off all Rx drugs now except Valium (10 mg) 1-2 times/wk. for muscle relaxation.

 

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  • Administrator

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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Petunia, do you have thoughts about Valerian tea (I grow Valerian) rather than Valium? Still a concern?

MITCHIE

Celexa/Citalopram for 6 yrs. (20 mg 5 years; 40 mg. for last year). Tapered down over probably 6 mths, if that (can't remember), 1/2 every 2-4 wks. to zero in November 2013. Worst withdrawal condition: brain zaps that were incapacitating at first, but have slowly decreased and now occur only at night when I get dehydrated while sleeping, 3-4 times a week.

Vicodin for 30 years. Stopped cold turkey 8 months ago. Many withdrawal conditions related to water retention changes in the body (ie. loose stools, sweating, sinus drainage). Set the brain zap recovery back a few steps.

Completely off all Rx drugs now except Valium (10 mg) 1-2 times/wk. for muscle relaxation.

 

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