Phases of SSRI Withdrawal

Not all people experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop taking a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. In clinical trials, the percentage is placed between 2 and 10 percent of patients. These studies are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. In independent research that looked at several different company studies, the percentage of patients who experienced withdrawal symptoms from SSRI was placed between 40 and 60 percent. It’s difficult to ascertain which number is right, most studies are held privately by the drug manufacturers and not available for public scrutiny. The term used by the pharmaceutical companies for withdrawal is “Discontinuation Syndrome”. SSRI work by blocking receptors that absorb Serotonin between neurons, thereby increasing the available Serotonin in the brain. The theory is that depression, obsessive behavior, anxiety, and psychotic behavior are caused by a lack of sufficient Serotonin in the brain. This theory was first developed in the 1950’s when it was noticed that patients’ mood improved when their levels of Serotonin was increased. It is currently impossible to measure the levels of Serotonin in a living brain. 90% of the body’s Serotonin exists in the gut, so researchers measure that amount, and extrapolate a concurrent increase in levels in the brain. Ironically, studies have also proven that reducing Serotonin in the brain can lead to improved mood. These results have brought the chemical imbalance theory under question in recent years. It is beginning to appear that artificially adjusting Serotonin levels in the brain does not have the intended effect, and may be the cause of some of the symptoms that SSRI were originally developed to treat.

The method that SSRI use to increase Serotonin levels in the brain is at the heart of the withdrawal problem. By blocking Serotonin receptors on neurons, the brain becomes dependent on the drug to maintain consistent levels of Serotonin. As the brain becomes accustomed to the drug, it no longer has to produce or regulate Serotonin as it did before. When the drug is removed, the receptors that stimulate Serotonin production are still blocked, and levels of this neurotransmitter begin to fluctuate. Since Serotonin is closely involved in mood and the ability to cope with emotions, this fluctuation causes wide mood swings and uncontrollable emotions. It seems that the level of Serotonin in the brain is not as important as consistent levels. As the brain adjusts to the need to self regulate levels of Serotonin, many patients experience a cascade of extreme emotional and physical symptoms. Analogous to the stages of grief or joy, these symptoms don’t always come all at once. In most cases, withdrawal symptoms come and go as the user lowers their dose of the drug. Some common emotion symptoms include depression, anxiety, anger, confusion, insomnia, and memory loss. For most people, these are symptoms that they experience in every day life. Usually, they are manageable and temporary. The difference for the withdrawal sufferer is that these emotions become unmanageable and intense. The regular mechanism that we use to control our emotions no longer works during withdrawal. It’s hard to imagine the loss of control that accompanies withdrawal symptoms. When a normal person succumbs to anger, it is still a conscious decision. In withdrawal, there is no spiral that precipitates the uncontrollable rage, it springs fully formed in the mind and propels itself without any input from the person experiencing it. The other emotional symptoms of withdrawal act in a similar way. Even when the patient exercises mindfulness and self awareness, anxiety, depression, and the other symptoms come on with little warning. They have a realness and power that most people are not used to. Since the brain’s balance has been disrupted, reality itself has been changed for the patient. Instead of an emotional wave that must be conquered or endured, these emotions become reality, with no alternative.

As time goes by, the patient will eventually be able to self regulate each emotion at a level similar to before they began taking an SSRI. One of the frustrating things about weaning off an SSRI is that the patient is only aware of progress after a phase has passed. They may feel extreme anxiety, but realize that the rage they experienced a few months before no longer bothers them. While they are experiencing a phase, there is no context to compare their emotions to. Since the emotions are so powerful and uncontrollable, emotional self awareness is short circuited, leading to mental relativism. The patient doesn’t realize the whole range of emotions, just the small extreme range that they are experiencing at the moment. The alternative to blind rage isn’t calmness, as it would be in a normal person. Instead, irrational anger is the lower end of the emotional range.

During withdrawal, these realities change and evolve as some emotions become dominant. Patients may experience uncontrollable rage for a few weeks, then enter a stage where depression dominates. These emotional tides are outward signs of the brain readjusting to the need to self regulate neurotransmitter levels. It is almost as if the mind is going through the entire inventory of emotion trying to catalog what’s necessary to regulate each one. Some people will experience several uncontrollable emotions at the same time, but the uncontrollable aspect of them will fade away one at a time. The variety and severity of symptoms often lead doctors to prescribe other drugs to mitigate the effects. This strategy compounds the problems of withdrawal by adding a second effect to an existing condition. The patient now has to deal with withdrawal as well as the effects of a new drug and perhaps a new set of withdrawal symptoms. The best strategy for dealing with SSRI withdrawal symptoms is time and slow weaning. A prolonged weaning schedule will reduce the severity and number of withdrawal symptoms. The brain requires a certain amount of time to adjust back to a natural balance of neurotransmitters which can’t be rushed. By slowly weaning off an SSRI, the brain does not have to deal with a sudden change to Serotonin levels, and can adjust at a natural rate. It takes a great deal of time for receptors in the brain to regenerate. A schedule that reduces the drug by 10% each month is usually sufficient. Schedules can vary depending on the patient. Some will be able to reduce their dose more quickly, others may have to go more slowly.

1,415 Responses to “Phases of SSRI Withdrawal”

  1. lesley penn Says:

    I read your SSRI withdrawal article with interest. Its comforting to realise that the ‘crazy’ range of emotions I am currently experiencing is considered ‘normal’ under the circumstances….I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression in 2005, and have been on 20mg of Lexamil since then. Two months ago I made a decision to rid my body of pills, as I found my creativity to be stunted (hard since I’m an artist), as well as carrying around an extra 8kg, mostly around what used to be my waist. I had reached a stage of particular boredom where I found I was a slightly overweight Stepford wife with no passion for anything. Calm, placid, sane and boring….never being one to do anything in half-measures, I went cold-turkey immediately, knowing full-well how hard I would find it and how ill-advised this sudden blow to my brain would be. Two months cold-turkey has been a rough ride to say the least…- I have been able to deal with migraines, insomnia, severe anxiety, stomach upsets, RLD and electrical flashing in my head. What I didn’t count on is the ANGER and EMOTIONAL sudden sadness that grips me suddenly and without warning. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, ‘Are we there yet??’ How long will it take for the synaptic spaces between my neurons to twig on that effort is required on theor part?

    • npanth Says:

      How long symptoms last depends on a lot of factors. Each individual will react differently to the drug. Many people, even a majority, don’t have any perceptible withdrawal symptoms. The size of your dosage, and how long you took an SSRI affect the length of withdrawal. It can seem like it will last for a long time, all you can do is recognize progress as it happens and realize that you’re healing.

      Anger is one of the hardest symptoms to deal with. It’s rage without any context or reason. It’s not caused by any external event, it’s backwards. It’s anger springing from within looking for a target. We’re so used to anger being a righteous response to something that’s wronged us, it’s turned on its head when it just comes over us during withdrawal. You’re just Angry, and anything that looks like a likely target becomes the reason to be angry. The most frightening thing about Withdrawal anger is that the scale and target of that anger can be anything, it can lead you into serious trouble if you focus on the wrong thing. It should pass, eventually. It gets replaced by other emotions, but you should take comfort in the idea that you’ve passed through the anger phase. It feels like the mind is cataloging each emotion, one madness at a time.

      Withdrawal is a one step forward, half step back kind of thing, so it’s very frustrating and hard to gauge. I wish the companies would give more information about it because patients who experience it are often diagnosed with new disorders and given ever more powerful drugs to treat those diagnoses. We treat withdrawal from other drugs as a condition, but dismiss SSRI withdrawal. Patients and doctors misdiagnose SSRI withdrawal, which complicates recovery and often leads to a spiral of treatment and disability for the patient. We’re left with anecdotal reports from other patients, which isn’t the way it should be. We’re not qualified to distinguish between real problems and those caused by withdrawal. They can look very similar, even to a professional. The only reason I can distinguish between withdrawal and pre existing symptoms is that my original diagnosis was so slight, shyness, that most of the withdrawal symptoms were related to stopping Paxil. Good luck with your withdrawal. Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org if you need some help, they have some withdrawal veterans there who can give very good advice.

      • diayeion Says:

        I went into a manic phase at 2 month on lexapro treatment and while tappering off.
        Since that manic stuff, wich have stayed 1 or 2 month, Im a zombie.
        No emotion, no motivation, no creativity left in me (was musician), my thought process is just blocked my memory and concentration is f**ked, Ive hard time to find my words. I lost my job and my girlfriend, I navigate beetween different psy with no help.
        1,5 years and nothing have changed. I’m simply like dead.

        I just vent that, I want no more of psy sh**ty advice. I wait for science discredit all your wrong stuff and false hypothesis. I know a guy (waking life forum , french forum) who got exactly the same story. I mean EXACTLY.

        • Clementine Says:

          You put into words exactly what being on Luvox has been like for me. Except that a graphic artist and not a musician. Haven’t produced anything in years. Creative button seems soldered tight and it’s to the point where anytime I can’t find the word I’m looking for I wanna bash my head against a wall (it’s too often). It’s so frustrating and it makes me feel stupid – and like a waste of a 4 year degree earned with honors. My place is a mess along with the stack of mail as I have no motivation to bother with it. And showers? Yah, hahaha. Once every couple of weeks if I’m lucky, a project in of itself. There is two extra bonuses I have that weren’t mentioned though. I’ve lost so much weight that I look straight outta Auschwitz (it’s bad), and I get these chronic sweats (that brings on adult acne, yay) on a daily basis, multiple times a day. It’s so odd though cuz it’s only on the right hemisphere of my head, neck upper back and face. You can literally wipe a finger from left to right on my forehead and the left side will e perfectly dry and once the middle is crossed over it’s clammy and dripping sweat. So strange!! (and uncomfortable!!) After a few year on this shit drug, I’m done playing hostage to it and my dr who has me “hooked” by supplies alone due to $$. I’ve gone from 100mg down to 20 and it got rather shaky for a couple days there for the first time so I’m gonna hang out at this lvl for awhile. Not that anyone cares about those particulars – I just really hope that I lose most if not all of these shitt side-effects and none of them have become a permanent fix in my life long after I’m off Luvox.

          • npanth Says:

            I was stunned when I reached zero on paxil. It was like that creativity switch you talk about just flipped itself back on in an instant. In the two months I was Paxil free, I wrote 13 short stories, absorbed 400 pages of a Cisco networking book in a week, became more interactive with my friends, and regained my speaking eloquence. It was an amazing time. Unfortunately, I crashed after that two month period, and had to go back on the drug. I could feel the curtain lowering over my mind this time. It felt like I was losing an essential part of myself, and there was nothing I could do about it. That creativity is now slowly coming back. It’s slow, and irregular, but it is coming back. I’ve had two job interviews in the last month. I was confident and eloquent in the first, tongue tied and stuttering in the second. It’s frustrating that I can’t predict how I’ll be in a given situation, but I’m hopeful that the word stumbling will diminish and the eloquence will return.

          • Becky Says:

            January 1, 2014 1:50am Hi I’ve read a few of the things you have gone thru & can relate so well! I’ve been trying to get off of effexor for years! at 1 point I was taking over 450mg per md ok & ended up in hosp for 5 days for seratonin syndrome but I’m so tired of being tired and the migraines & not being able to think. I’ve tapered down considerably to a total of 150mg a day total & that’s significant. these drug companies are sort of like hostage takers you can’t afford to be on it or off it. I’ve tried to get off this for 4 times now. think i’ll try the tabs instead of sr and cut them in half & go off tiny bit every 4 months (in past have cried every day for over a week but have gained weight & hair falling out & i’m only a girl. so wish me luck this beginning of the new year and that I live thru it all ’cause its a big risk but i am determined) hard part is: you know if your crying so much that it will only tale one pill and you’ll stop like turning off the water so wish me luck in new year maybe i’ll try to remember to check back in a year. You people have helped me very much….at a great risk of expense I must say though….. thank you all, You must feel strog enough in your soul to do it but problem is…on these….where is your soul, really? Best of luck for all of you & all those who got sucked into this mess. Attn psych’s:::go back to school & get updated info re :::ways to cope ’cause this way is like being a zombie!

        • Kelly Says:

          Thanks for your comment. I wait for the day too when the bs will be put to rest and people will stop being guinea pigs to stupid assumptions of what is best for us. Best of luck to you.

      • Rodney Says:

        I have been off of sertraline for 10 months now and I STILL have issues with the brain zaps and anger…. Is this EVER going to go away completely? Makes me think I have some sort of permanent damage…. Anyone else have it last this long????

        • drew Says:

          I’m at 8 1/2 months everythings great except EXTREME Exhaustion that hits everyday around 3 .. debilitating mental fatigue and insomnia … Have talked to many doctors and specialist. Can take up to a year or sometimes even 2. Hang in there .. your fighting the good fight.

        • Rachel Says:

          Rodney – how are you doing? 11 months off sert now? Any improvements over this month? I’m a month behind you- 10 months off the sert and suffering badly at the mo. Hoping you’ve had some improvements. Rachel

        • npanth Says:

          I also had a long period where I thought that I had damaged my brain in some way by taking Paxil. It’s hard to avoid the thought because the symptoms are so profound. It also permeates every aspect of thought, too. There are some articles that speculate about large scale physical changes in the brain made by these drugs. My sense is that the changes that SSRI make to the brain are microscopic, at the neuron/receptor scale. By suppressing the reuptake of Serotonin, SSRI deplete the store of Serotonin inside neurons and increases the amount of Serotonin in between neurons. In response, the brain tries to reestablish the old Serotonin balance by activating new receptors. These new receptors are in turn blocked by the drug. When the SSRI is removed, the brain is suddenly thrown into chemical chaos. Suddenly, there is a huge overabundance of receptors absorbing Serotonin. The balance shifts dramatically from Serotonin in the interneural gap to being hoarded in the neurons. Just as it takes a long time to establish the SSRI balance, it takes a while for the brain to readjust itself to the lack of drug. There are 100 billion neurons in the brain, each with a series of receptors and “pores” that absorb and release neurotransmitters. Withdrawal can last a long time, but there is an inevitability about recovery. A brain that is plastic enough to adjust to SSRI in the first place is flexible enough to adjust back. I hope you feel better soon, withdrawal is really hard to deal with.

          • jane Says:

            Hello, everybody. Again, don’t want to post an exclusively negative input, but, according to your explanation, npanth, a recovery process is constantly going on and eventually has to overcome the withdrawal. Please, explain, if you could, what’s going on with me – I am spiraling further and further down. Didn’t sleep 7 nights in a row, couldn’t bear with it any longer, went to the ER, was admitted to the psychiatric unit of the hospital and thrown out in 2.5 days with prescription for insomnia. I got there on Saturday night and psychiatrist who performed an intake on Sunday took it very seriously, seemed open-minded about withdrawal but she was there on a rare occasion. When regular team took over (residents with an attending physician) it didn’t go anywhere – totally distorted and superficial approach – they didn’t even believe I don’t sleep at all b/c an anxiety level is through the roof. The medications that are supposed to decrease the anxiety don’t work and make me more depressed. I can’t find anything to mitigate anxiety and help me sleep. Today came back home at the same condition as I went to ER in despair, ready to go there again. I apologize but where else I can look for an advice? Exhausted all possible venues.

          • Sarah Says:

            Hi Jane,

            My cousin doesn’t sleep either, due to anxiety. If she doesn’t take meds, she doesn’t sleep. I will find out what she’s taking. I know Valium helps. But there are other meds that help her sleep. She is resistant to many medications and has to take larger doses than many people. I feel horrible for you, being in that level of anxiety with no relief.

          • jane Says:

            Thank you so much, Sarah. I’d appreciate if you could find out what drugs help her with sleep. The problem is that I’ve tried “plain” sleeping pills, and they don’t work, antianxiety meds such as benzos and neurontin with the same effect, now I was prescribed remeron which is tetracyclic AD (small dose though). The big problem with all the drugs for me is not only they are not effective for the indications they are supposed to fix, but even a single use of the drug dramatically worsen my depression and alertness the next day. Could you ask her about these adverse reactions as well. Thank you so much.

          • AE Says:

            Jane, I read your posts re: anxiety, insomnia, etc. I have NO training whatsoever, but have tried various “natural” supplements as I’ve attempted to get off Zoloft. I find passion flower 1000 mg, D3 1000 to 2000 units, and Calms Forte (homeopathic tablets) helpful. Good luck.

          • jane Says:

            Thank you AE for your suggestion. I’ve tried many supplements as well, and some contain part of the ingredients you’ve mentioned. I took Picamilon – special anxiolytic remedy without any effect, currently taking Seriphos and blend of GABA (500 mg), L-theanine (400mg), Ashwagandha (200 mg), Valerian root extract (200mg) and Passion flower (100mg). So far these all haven’t made a dent. May be, I should increase the dosage? Seems that the powerful process going inside me is very hard to overcome or, at least, affect in some way.

          • Sarah Says:

            Trying to reply to Jane – there’s no “reply” under her post. Jane – my cousin said Seroquel worked, though it made her sleep so much of the next day that she could barely function. But maybe you could try it at least to get SOME sleep. She said that Lunesta works for her mom, who has similar problems.

            This same cousin is Bipolar, and when treated with antidepressants, had “mixed states” where the antidepressants were making her manic and depressed, all at once! Horrible. She’s only on a mood stabilizer now, not an antidepressant. I’ve seen a huge difference in her since she got off the antidepressant. Granted, she still can’t sleep without a lot of assistance. I suspect that she has some post traumatic stress work she needs to do before her brain will let her sleep, but that’s my totally non-clinical opinion. I really hope you get some help. I had to call and schedule appointments with three unknown psychiatrists while I was in my panic spiral, and it was hell, but I’m feeling better that I have some experts to talk to next week. I really hope one of them seems smart and well-read on meds. Good luck to you. I’ll be thinking about you.

          • jane Says:

            Sarah, I already replied to your other post that I felt completely in accord with, before I read the last one. Thank you for your info. Seroquel scares the hell out of me – it’s deadener, in my opinion. Lunesta doesn’t work for me as other “purely” sleeping pills. Supplements have very weak effect if at all. Share with us the outcome of your meetings with the specialists. So far I couldn’t find an understanding of withdrawal on the part of any practitioner I’ve met. Understanding can’t be achieved without a willingness. But it’s much easier for them to reject the condition than make an attempt to accept.

          • Rachel Says:

            Hi Npanth, i was looking online earlier and ALL my symptoms are a classic description of fibromyalgia. I was looking up reasons for my back pain. Everything, from the areas where i have pain, the numbness, tingling, fatigue, headaches. If I went to a doctor today this is what they would diagnose me as having. The only difference is i have experienced a break from these symptoms. They say fibromyalgia is permanent.

          • AE Says:

            Jane, I just remembered that I also take magnesium every day. I was just reading on paxilprogress and one area was about magnesium. I didn’t realize it would have an effect, but I’ve been off zoloft for 2 weeks now and this withdrawal session is much easier than other’s I’ve attempted. I had tapered my zoloft down to 12.5 mg a day, but I’ve done that in the past too yet was in agony with withdrawal. So maybe it is also the magnesium that is helping.

          • AE Says:

            Jane, try melatonin to sleep. comes in a variety of doses.

          • jane Says:

            Thank you, AE. Really, every advise and act of attention here are so precious. If we all could get together and talk personally – it’s supportive role is hard to overestimate. I took melatonin in the past when insomnia was not so persistent – it didn’t have an effect. Unfortunately, all supplements I’ve tried, had no effect on my condition. As for drugs – completely opposite. As other people find, I developed hypersensitivity and even single and small dose of any drug makes my depression so much worse that I try to stay away from them. Couldn’t entirely, though, otherwise I wouldn’t sleep at all – that’s happened already for 7 nights in a row what brought me to the ER and subsequently – to the hospital. Thank you, all

          • Kara Says:

            I had just read this. I’m going through a hard time as I was put on cymbalta for a month. Had the worst side effects known to man. All of the bad effects possible happened to me and happened hard. I was prescribed for anxiety and just a little bit of depression. After getting on cymbalta I had full force depression (became suicidal) scared the hell out of me!! Than I felt like I had been drinking coffee all day everyday that’s how anxious I felt. I had shakes, racing heart, sweating ridiculously…the list goes on and on. I tried so hard to stick it out as I know it takes 2 weeks for the medication to get in your system and than up to 6-8 weeks for the body to adjust. I kept pushing each day as the days seemed never ending, the pain was impossible to ignore, and I cried everyday. Went to the doctor after a month because I couldn’t handle it anymore. She said what I was experiencing wasn’t right and that I’m too sensitive to it. I have been withdrawing from it and taking a new medication which has absolute no side. So as I started tapering off off of cymbalta I have started Lexapro. My head is just all over the place. I feel like these last about 6 weeks I have been absent from my body and its been very upsetting. My short term memory kind of sucks. I just don’t feel connected to anything that’s going on. What you wrote definately gave me hope. It just feels never ending. Usually with anxiety I would avoid situations that would give me anxiety. And now…I fear myself and mind as each day I don’t know what’s going on. I just want to feel grounded and have a sense of reality. I’ve felt like I’ve been just floating around. :( it’s been really getting to me. I know I’m chemically unbalanced but I’m petrified that I’m going to be stuck. This is so so so hard…

          • Dano Says:

            Kara
            You said your doctor told you that Lexapro had no side affects. It sounds like to me you need another doctor. I am not a doc and have only information based on personal experiences. Lexapro left me with many profound side affects. I believe all these drugs have side affects of some type.
            I am going on 21 months drug free. I still have depersonalization and derealization almost daily.
            This journey you are on is not easy but you can do it. It takes a lot of personal courage and lots of time. Time to relearn who you are without meds. It is not easy but can be done.

          • theyogimind Says:

            I also was taking Lexapro and experienced not so many bad effects-but became dependent on a drug that I felt like I was only taking it to prevent going through withdrawal symptoms.

            Having any sort of identity which I can live with has pained me, and SSRI use, I believe, makes it harder to live-although, I’m fairly new to this Lex discontinuation.

            Good luck

          • npanth Says:

            Hang in there Kara. The anhedonia (emotional disconnect) is really common in SSRI withdrawal. I had it, too. It’s so weird seeing something that you know should be emotional, but there’s no response. It’s like living inside a pillow or blanket.m it does go away, though. It kind of breaks up like the flu. I was watching a comedy and suddenly realized that I had laughed until I cried. I hadn’t done that in a while. Slowly, things have been getting back to normal. I hope you get there soon.

      • Nodrugs for methanks Says:

        I think there should be many new class action lawsuits against big pharma., for relatives who have been harmed by the withdrawal symptoms of their loved ones. If the “anger” you described as rage, is looking for a target, maybe it should be directed at these drug companies who helped create it. I believe in 20 years from now these aforementioned drugs will be viewed with greater disdain than now, and if lucky, at least in the same way or worse than when the FDA prescribed Estrogen for post menopausal women. They did so many flip flops as to whether is was good, bad, and/or indifferent it was ridiculous. I just have a hunch we are just dabbling with brain chemistry, ( as you say covering up withdrawal from one drug with another), and as you say ” not even the professionals can tell the difference”. Not very reassuring from my point of view. I’ll keep my neurosis, and oppositional defiance disorder, (self diagnosed) and I say direct your ” anger” with class action lawsuits, and the sooner the better. Btw, have you noticed that many of these people on these types of drugs seem to end up on the Channel 7 news committing all sorts of crazy crimes. Is it merely a coincidence that many seem to be on these drugs, a common thread perhaps? Or am I just imagining this? Do these drugs also lower inhibition, and inhibit impulse control, do these drugs prevent people from abiding by the law? I think Big Pharma should be held responsible if it turns out my hunch is correct that the aforementioned actually is more than mere coincidence.

    • Amanda Says:

      You should try sertraline, I actually found my imagination to be even more vivid, might be because I have more of my brain free to be imaginative lol. I’m an artist also I draw every day on sertraline, before it I spent so much time in a dark room being suicidal I drew once a week….tops.

      • Kat Says:

        Hi Amanda,
        Sertaline is Zoloft. I strongly recommend staying away from it. Once you get tired of existing in a numbed state and try to get off, you get a first-hand introduction to hell. Some of us are still experiencing problems because of taking Zoloft and trying to get off. I’m glad it works for you, but anyone considering trying it should do some serious research on what happens when you try to quit.
        Good luck to you,
        Kat

        • hopeful Says:

          Hi Kat and Amanda,
          I experienced the most horrific side affect from Zoloft and only from couple of pills. I would not wish it upon anyone! I experienced such horrible sensations that I can’t even write about it.It sent me to a really dark place and I wanted to commit suicide! I would love to be part of a law suit because these drugs can really destroy lives! I would not advise anyone in trying Zoloft and any other AD’S. I don’t even know if I have fully recovered because I have been prescribed RAMERON as I was not functioning at all. I lost weight, no appetite, no will to live it completely destroyed me as a person. I can’t describe what it did to me! The worst part is that GP’s can prescribe AD’S and not know of possible rare side affects. I just have one advise to people going through withdrawal symptoms, try not to take any herbal, supplements, vitamins etc. If your system is already sensitive, these supplements can aggravate the problem and prolong your withdrawal symptoms. Found out first hand. Could not tolerate magnesium or fish oil. The less things you take the faster the healing process. I wish everyone the best.

        • Kelly Says:

          I have been on Zoloft for 15+ years and have been slowly weaning since last May. I am down to 50% of the dose I was on. Horrible protracted withdrawals hit around 8 months into my taper – like really horrible. Pain, flu-like symptoms everyday, extreme fatigue, anhedonia, disassociation – I even had a grande mal seizure in my sleep that sent me to the ER and now have my license suspended due to that :(

          I am just coming out of it now I think. I will wait a while and have a few good months while I stabilize and heal from the first half of the taper – then I will continue again. Going to be a several year process. My creativity is going THROUGH THE ROOF though! I just wonder what I missed out on creating all these years while I was drugging away the sensitive parts of my nature…….

    • Keith Goss Says:

      This series of articles on SSRI has been a comforting godsend to me. Thanks so much James. I have a question::Can you still get antidepressant withdraw syndrome even while switching to another medication? This seems to be the case with me.

    • Jen Says:

      Thanks for posting this. I am navigating through what I assume is antidepressant withdrawal and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve been searching the web, trying to find insight into what’s happening to me, both physically and mentally. In 2010 I was prescribed 20 mg. of Prozac to treat stress headaches that began after a job loss; at the same time I struggled with worsening symptoms of a chronic pain disorder, and my normal daily dose of Elavil was raised from 25 mg. to 75 mg. Although I felt OK emotionally on these drugs, my eating patterns changed markedly; I craved food constantly, in particular sugary foods, which eventually resulted in a weight gain of 60 lbs. After tapering off of Prozac completely and reducing Elavil to 50 mg. back in March, I just feel strange. I struggle with a lot of anxiety, suffer from random crying spells, and have a much reduced appetite; I’ve lost nearly 40 lbs. in four months. I also feel really unproductive. I used to exercise and create art, but lately I just feel stuck in neutral, unmotivated to do much of anything. Most of the “official” sites claim that withdrawal syndrome only lasts a few weeks at most, but clearly my brain has still not adjusted to the change. I wish I knew when things will start to improve.

  2. originalbitman Says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I’ve fowarded it to friends and family so they can have a better understanding as to what is going on with me. Very well written.

  3. Thomas Anderson Says:

    Can we sue the pharmaceutical companies and the Doctors who hand out and prescribe SSRI meds like they are candy? Without warnings?
    These damn withdrawals almost killed me and made me lose my mind!!!!!!

    • Michou Says:

      I haven’t lost my mind nor nearly died but I totally understand. My suspicion that the family doctor is often just a pusher for big p[h]arma is confirmed. Just like other dealers I have dealt with they neither know or care what is in their product.

      • AE Says:

        I wouldn’t go so far to say they are pushers, so much as “educated” by the pharma rep. They believe what they are told, the rep makes it all sound so reasonable. I’m sure for some people an SSRI is a life saver, but so many of us are prescribed it when it is inappropriate – as we NOW know. I had a situational depression (life stressors got way out of hand) and was put on Zoloft. Felt great, and have to admit I still feel great on it except for the 25 pounds that showed up so quickly it never even registered on the scale! But I now know that situational depression is exactly that…related to particular circumstances and not necessarily a “chemical imbalance,” which is how it was sold to me. I don’t want to be drugged for ever (14 years so far!!!) and hope this time my efforts to quit pay off. I am hoping the supplements I am using will be helpful longterm.

        • Lorraine Says:

          Hi, ive been reading your posts and find them really helpful.. At the moment i am withdrawing from citalopram, i have been on this for 12years and am really scared right now, i have bad withdrawal symptoms .any advice would be appreciated .

          • npanth Says:

            The best way to deal with bad withdrawal symptoms is to slow down or pause your taper. It seems like there is no avoiding withdrawal, but you can minimize the symptoms by slowing down. I still get stiff joints, obsessive thoughts, and the other withdrawal symptoms, but they are much, much milder than they were before. In fact, I really have to pay attention to notice them, sometimes. Hang in there, withdrawal stinks.

  4. thelibrarian365 Says:

    Reblogged this on My Experience of Withdrawal from Paxil and commented:
    This blog really helped me cope yesterday. I figure if it helps me cope, it might help someone else.

  5. mishy 50 Says:

    This has been the worst 12 days. The nausea is the worst and the sudden flashes of intense heat make it even more unbearable. It never even occured to me that I would suffer so, until I Googled SSRI wthdrawal. While I’m happy to be rid of the meds, I wouldn’t recommend going cold turkey to anyone. Just curious, how long will these symptoms last?

  6. npanth Says:

    The length of time that symptoms last varies from person to person. Paxil withdrawal can be protracted and intense, or mild and short. If you are experiencing intense symptoms, it may be best to go back to a lower dose of Paxil and slowly wean yourself from there.

    We can’t sue the drug manufacturers for SSRI withdrawal. There’s nothing legal preventing us from suing, but the burden of proof is on the patients. Most experts agree that people who experience withdrawal after stopping SSRI use are really seeing the emergence of a pre existing condition. Intuitively, I don’t think this is the case. I never experienced the breadth and severity of symptoms before or after I tried to wean myself off Paxil. In my mind, that directly relates withdrawal with those symptoms. It’s ironic. We don’t question a person when they say that a street drug or alcohol is causing withdrawal, but prescription drugs like Paxil are presumed to be withdrawal free. Paxil shares many mechanisms with street drugs in the way it acts on neurotransmitters, but without the overt narcotic effect. I think that if Paxil made you “high”, withdrawal would be more accepted.

    • Jen Collins Says:

      Hi,

      I know I’m kind of late to the game here but I found this blog while researching SSRI withdrawal. I believe I am experiencing it and have experienced it several times in the past when trying to get off of SSRI’s. Every failed attempt for me has lead to the same thing, the doctor’s telling me “See you need this drug. The anxiety is coming back because you stopped the drug.” so I get back on the drug. I, however, like you, have never had symptoms this severe before starting the drug. I actually had extremely mild anxiety, at least compared to what I’m experiencing now. My symptoms are debilitating and leave me unable to function. I guess I’m just posting in response to this article to try to better understand where you found the information in the article or if your speaking from personal experience. What intrigued me the most about the article was the statement that the symptoms that arise from withdrawal are literally uncontrollable and almost irrational for the person as opposed to a person with a brain that hasn’t been chemically altered by SSRI’s.

      • npanth Says:

        Some of the information here is from experience, some is from research. It took a long time to sort through the reasons why I was having so much trouble stopping Paxil. I’ve never experienced the emotions that I did while fast tapering Paxil. Not before or since. Like you, I started taking Paxil for a mild diagnosis, social anxiety in my case. Despite having my history and diagnosis in my file, my doctor tried to tell me that my withdrawal symptoms were an existing illness. It was obvious to me that it was not a normal part of social anxiety. It was the nature of the emotions that really stood out for me. Normally, emotions arise in response to some external event or interaction. Withdrawal emotions are different in that they arise fully formed, then the mind tries to provide some external context to explain the sudden anger, depression, anxiety, or fear.

        After I reinstated Paxil at a lower dose, the symptoms largely disappeared within a couple days. That points strongly to an addictive reaction. After that, I started to read about SSRI. The difference between my doctor and the manufacturers’ assertion that SSRI don’t cause dependence and my experience prompted me to start writing about it. If you would like more information about slow tapering off an SSRI, I’ve written a post about on this blog. I’m glad you found the information useful.

        • Rodney Says:

          How long can these symptoms last??? I have been off of sertraline for 11 months and I am still having serious issues…. Anger brain zaps(they are nowhere near as bad as when I first kicked but still annoying) headaches fatigue etc etc etc… Anything I can do to alleviate these symptoms or do I need to seek a psychiatrists help?

      • Altostrata Says:

        You’ve done an extraordinary job, npanth.

      • npanth Says:

        Thanks, Altostrata, I’m sorry I haven’t been very active on your website. I keep intending to write there, but wind up lurking instead. You have very good discussions going that I follow. In the last year, I almost feel like I’ve taken an undergraduate course in pharmacology, neurophysiology, psychology, politics, and government. I’m mostly trying to organize what I’ve learned in my mind, so I don’t write as much as I’d like.

      • Altostrata Says:

        Any of the articles about withdrawal you’ve posted on your blog would be welcome! I especially like your insights about how withdrawal magnifies emotions.

  7. Amanda Says:

    I have taken Lexapro for over 10 years for anxiety. I started taking the generic on June 28 and by July 5th I was a basket case. Went back to taking Lexapro again on july 7. I have had bad withdrawal from the generic while the brand name build up in my system. How much longer will this go on? It has been a week and is somewhat better, but I figured it would be gone by now!

    • npanth Says:

      It’s hard to say how long you will experience symptoms. I’ve read some reports of people who have problems switching to generics from the name brand. Apparently, there can be some differences in the inactive ingredients, even the distribution of active ingredients inside the pills. The effects of an SSRI are somewhat delayed, so you may still be experiencing a reaction to the generic. Like the initial start up period, it may be another couple weeks before you start to feel the effect of the original drug. SSRI also have a “Garden of Eden” effect. Once you stop taking an SSRi, reinstating will not produce the same effect. Your situation is different since you didn’t stop taking the drug altogether. Give it some time before thinking about making other changes, these drugs act in the long term, so patience is important. Good luck, I hope you feel better soon.

  8. Barbara Says:

    Excellent explanation. Had not heard of Garden of Eden effect. Thanks.
    Are you familiar with Survivingantidepressants (dot) org?
    B

    • npanth Says:

      Yes, survivingantidepressants is a great site. I coined the Garden of Eden effect as a way of describing the reduced effect that reinstating SSRi seem to have on long term users. For some reason, the drugs don’t have the same efficacy after discontinuing use and restarting. In my mind, reinstating shouldn’t be a strategy for restarting an antidepressant, but rather a way to make tapering more tolerable.

      • Altostrata Says:

        I agree completely! Very good advice, npath, thanks for posting this and helping get the word out about the need for tapering.

      • Kelly Says:

        The ‘Garden of Eden’ effect may also apply to MAOIs. The enormously gifted writer David Foster Wallace transitioned (for a variety of reasons) from the MAOI Nardil to an SSRI. His depression spiraled and couldn’t be controlled with ‘new’ drugs. At some point he was placed back on Nardil, which had worked relatively well for him for many years. Tragically, the drug was no longer effective and his depression deepened. Within months the literary giant died by his own hand.

      • Altostrata Says:

        If you closely read the detailed article in the New Yorker a couple of years ago by DT Max about David Foster Wallace’s death, you will see that Wallace killed himself after 1.5 years of Nardil withdrawal syndrome, during which he was treated with various drugs, which he believed were making him worse.

        This is not unusual in antidepressant withdrawal syndrome.

        If he had only known this is what he had, instead of a new, virulent, untreatable psychiatric disorder — which, apparently, is what he was told — he might not have killed himself.

  9. Krista Says:

    I’ve been off celexa for almost 2 months now. Im 29 years old. I was taking it for generalized anxiety and had been taking it for a total of 7 months. I tapered for about 2 weeks and then stopped completely of my own decision bc i didnt like the way i felt on it. I have experienced the brain zaps, the extra anxiety, the sadness, the ups and downs you mentioned in your article. I’ve been able to control these emotions but it’s very hard. It’s been 2 months this week and the brain zaps have decreased but still are there. And worst worst part of this “withdrawal” personally has been the weight gain. I’ve had a rapid weight gain in the last 2 months of about 15lbs. Nothing in my diet had changed, I eat healthy and exercise regularly. A lot of weight gained in the mid section and upper thighs of my body. When i originally went on celexa I also gained weight, not as bad probably 5-10lbs. I can handle the emotions but the weight gain is awful and stressful on my body. Any advice on how long it could last? What I can do besides diet? Do you think eventually my body will regulate and this weight will come off? Any advice is much appreciated, I wish I had never gone on this drug, it’s been an awful experience overall and I feel like it minimally helped my anxiety.

  10. Krista Says:

    Forgot to add that I’m in good health with no other comorbidities. In fact I just had bloodworm done the week I started tapering and according to my doctor I’m physically in great health so I know the weight gain is not due to anything else except the celexa

    • npanth Says:

      Most people respond to SSRI use with weight changes. Usually, they gain weight while on the drug, and lose it when they stop. Each person is unique, though, so your reaction may be part of the process. Since you can’t find any other factor in your life that could explain the sudden weight change, it’s most likely related to your use of Celexa. You were on the drug for a relatively short time, so the effects should be short lived. It’s hard to say exactly how long you will have to deal with it, but it shouldn’t be a long term issue. Usually, symptoms related to SSRI use do not extend beyond the initial length of treatment, which is encouraging. Weight fluctuates at a slower pace than other symptoms, but you should find that it stabilizes in the long term.

      In the mean time, keep your regular routine of exercise and dieting. You want to balance your weight concerns with emotional issues. Withdrawal can exaggerate self image concerns. It’s a subtle symptom. Try to be mindful that the weight is probably an issue that you will only have to deal with for a short time. Don’t change your dieting routine attempting to overcome the drug issues for a while, you would be fighting an uphill battle. Let your body work through the changes from stopping the SSRI before worrying about the weight, it will most likely work itself out. Good luck :)

      • Krista Says:

        Thank you!!!

        • Jen Says:

          Krista,
          I see that you wrote this in July of last year. Right now I’m where you were then, about 2 months off of Celexa, around your age, gained about 10 or maybe more pounds. I am so happy to hear that someone else has gone through the same thing, not that I would wish it upon anyone else but because I know I’m not doing anything differently in my diet besides not taking Celexa and I have never been this heavy. I’ve always been slender and now I have this extra fat on my thighs/hips/butt area and I always look and feel bloated, it’s so weird and disturbing and my confidence has plummeted. I’m wondering if you are back to your normal self now and if so how long did it take? Thanks!
          Jen

          • npanth Says:

            I was at the bottom about a year ago. Things have improved dramatically since then, both compared to withdrawal and my Paxil self. I’m better able to manage emotions, my weight has stabilized, and my symptoms are much milder. It seems like it takes a long time to get there, and it does, but it still happens faster than you think. Try your best to keep at it. It doesn’t seem like there is a reward for enduring withdrawal. I certainly didn’t think there would be back then. There is, though.

  11. CD Says:

    I’m finally successfully withdrawing from long-term Lexapro use and am almost there. This is my second attempt. I learned that I HAVE to treat my condition naturally in order to cope with the severe withdrawal symptoms. This is what worked for me:
    1. treat the low serotonin with 2 snacks during the day (eat a fruit high in tryptophan like a banana and grapefruit and NOTHING else for the snack). You can also take a trytophan supplement and vitamin B complex once a day. Get plenty of sunshine
    2. treat the low GABA by completely avoiding caffeine, downing green tea, and eating GABA rich meals like oatmeal. SSRIs lowered dopamine levels and raised GABA naturally. So many on SSRIs developed serious caffeine habits. When your body withdraws from SSRIs, it simply won’t handle caffeine well. A supplement like suntheanine could help too. Don’t cheap out – take suntheanine – no imitations.
    3. exercise EVERYDAY until you’re completely finished withdrawing. Exercise that bounces you around like jogging especially helps. Yoga and deep breathing also help GABA levels. You will wake up every morning with a surge of stress hormones, and the only way to get these OUT is hard-core exercise.
    4. drip-feed food until the dizziness and brain zaps are gone. Keeping food in your system and your blood sugar steady will help with the dizziness.

    Obviously, this type of real information on withdrawing from the drugs will not be provided by the drug company LOL because it could put it out of business. I believe that EVERYONE who takes these drugs will have SEVERE withdrawal symptoms when quitting. I’m glad Lexapro was there during the time I took it, but I’m done with it now!!

    • Altostrata Says:

      Hi, CD. I’m glad to hear your Lexapro taper is going well.

      However, if you’re getting dizziness and brain zaps, those are signs your nervous system is under stress from your taper. Brain zaps are not minor withdrawal symptoms.

      You may be going a bit too fast. I suggest you get Lexapro liquid (if you haven’t already) and slow your taper by making small decreases until your withdrawal symptoms are minimal.

      I agree, keeping blood sugar constant can be very helpful while tapering — your body is under enough stress already from the dosage changes. It’s unlikely your snacks are doing anything for serotonin or GABA in your brain. About 90% of your serotonin is in your gut, and GABA as well as other neurohormones are self-regulating — the body is designed to keep them level.

      • CD Says:

        Altostrata: thanx for the advice. If I get a lot worse, I’ll consider taking a small dose to get me thru withdrawal 100%.

        I would have to disagree that snacks do nothing for serotonin levels. Sure 90% of serotonin is in the gut – but the trick is getting tryptophan, a serotonin precursor, through the blood brain barrier. This can be done with a piece of fruit that’s high in tryptophan (yet low on other amino acids that compete to get through the blood brain barrier), B6, sugar (for that extra oomph to get through the barrier) and sun. Fruits eaten alone, like bananas, are HUGE for fixing my mood. After I eat them, I get a very mellow feeling, a typical feeling you get with elevated serotonin levels like after drinking a beer. In fact, studies have shown that tryptophan is as effective as an antidepressant with mild to moderate depression. IF everything was 100% self regulating and level, people would never suffer from seasonal affective disorder when shielded from the sun for long periods of time nor feel great after drinking a beer. Some people just need more serotonin precursors than others. It’s simply in their genetic code. SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin. Why is the brain reuptaking serotonin to begin with? Partly to make other important substances like melatonin. So some brains may just ‘need’ or crave more tryptophan than others. That’s fine – I’ll just feed my brain extra tryptophan rather than blocking it from functioning properly…

        This is just my opinion: If people are to withdraw from antidepressants, they MUST know how to treat their condition with another tool. Especially since the brain WILL WILDLY DIP in serotonin and GABA after withdrawing from a drug that elevated both artificially. I tried to withdraw once without doing any natural treatment, and almost went off the deep end as far as the depression and anxiety went. I had the full works – the rage, the deep depression, the crying spells, etc.etc. This time, I’m simply fine. The difference is night and day. Right now, I’m happy, but dizzy.

        Oh – speaking of dizzy – what causes the withdrawal patient to be dizzy and lightheaded? I’ve read that it’s possibly caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. All recommendations for fainting help with this. If I lay down, it lets the blood go instantly to my brain, and my head can feel like it’s getting a good dose of oxygen again! Sometimes I’ll put my head between my knees and breathe, and that can help. Massaging the head and neck help increase the blood flow. But eating really is the best way to completely help alleviate the dizziness. It feels as if it takes twice as much energy to get enough blood and oxygen to the head during withdrawal.

        • Altostrata Says:

          Oh, forgot to post this — the early morning surge of stress hormones (cortisol) is because when you are withdrawing, your system become stressed and sensitized. Naturally, there is an early-morning cortisol peak; in withdrawal, this is exaggerated and rather than giving you a nice wake-up call, you might get a surge of anxiety, panic, or doomy feeling.

          Cortisol is a daytime hormone that is produced in concert with the light of dawn (as melatonin is produced with nightfall and darkness). To reduce the stimulation that may cause this early-morning surge, darken your bedroom with blackout shade or curtains and use a sleeping mask.

          It’s worth it to do this because the more you can lower the stress on your nervous system, the faster you will heal from withdrawal.

          With all due respect, CD, the “serotonin imbalance theory” is just as invalid when promulgated by alternative medicine as it is by allopathic medicine. I’m glad you are feeling good results from your strategy, but it’s likely not for the reasons you believe. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this.

        • Sarah Says:

          CD – I’d like to talk to you more about this someday, when I get ready to try and come off them again. Right now I’m back on them because I went into a Depression spiral and felt like getting institutionalized. If I could do it with natural helpers, I might be more apt to try again. Probably when it’s sunny, though. sarahjcarrato@gmail.com

    • VB Says:

      Hi I have been taking various SSRis for last 16 years Effexor, Zoloft, Luvox, Prozac but mostly Zoloft. Recently my specialist suggested tapering down and eventually stopping the Zoloft while taking a mood stabiliser as I felt the Zoloft was not helping and my mood swings were getting worse and harder to deal with. I have tried 2: Tegretol and Lithium. I could tolerate neither long term as the first one affected my balance but reduced chronic pain and the Lithium while initially very helpful led me to put on so much weight that the extra pain on my joints was making my chronic pain issues worst. Not only that I started to mentally completely slow down to the point that I could not function and cope with household stuff like washing, cooking without feeling terribly confused, let alone work in my business. One day in January this year while watching the surf life saving competitions (I used to be a very active person ) I decided enough was enough. Even though I was diagnosed with depression when I was 19yrs (it was called nervous disorder in the mid 80s) and i had take time out from my work and my university studies (i was put on a tricyclic antidepressant for 6 mths) in 1987 and then no drugs until prescribed in 1997 i always found my way back innately with EXERCISE. So i could not agree more with this post. Deal with the anxiety first by ridding the body of excess adrenaline and then you will SLEEP. Catch up on your lost sleep, reset your circadian clock by exposing your self with MORNING SUN or use the a light machine on days when there is less light. when you SLEEP better the depression lifts and you get a natural high from endorphins from exercise. I have had terrible withdrawal symptoms with the brain zapping, weird sensations in my head and neck that have been hard to explain not pain but like a shock and left me heading for the ER last week and I wonder if our brains are resetting themselves like a computer has to reboot. LISTEN to your body REST when your fatigued. The intensity of the brain zapping is lessening it has been about 3 weeks since I stopped but tends to come back worst at night, SWIM, CYCLE and RUN at a sensible pace. BY God I hope it does not take as long as some of the other people I have read on this post. I remember a previous Dr specialist telling me that SSRIs are not addictive and that they can even help prevent dementia. I am a trained scientist with some pathology training and I think we have been sold the biggest lot of BULLSHIT. If SSRIs are not addictive why have so many people been experiencing such horrid symptoms when they stop. People go back on them because they cant stand the withdrawal symptoms. I know I have tried before to stop then and have been tempted again when the symptoms are really disabling but I am bloody determined to let my body repair itself. I am going to try the Magnesium to see if that helps. It is definitely better when I lie down I think the pro-prioreceptors in the cerebellum are freaking out when the active ingredient is not there. Any way if this reads like a rambling piece I will put that down to the withdrawal syndrome as I used to have my thought and words more logical and easier to obtain I think before I started taking SSRIs, I think we should start an action class litigation against the drug manufacturers for the disability these drugs cause in the name of treating “depression”.

      • npanth Says:

        Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies have been largely indemnified against lawsuits based on withdrawal. Most of the evidence in lawsuits is withheld from public transcripts. That may change in the future if more of the privately held studies become public. Companies can hold study results at the present time, and only publish studies that are favorable to their approval bid. That limits the kind of information available about the drugs.
        The percentage of people who experience SSRI withdrawal is hotly debated. The companies claim that only 2-5% experience withdrawal. Some other studies claim that 30-50% experience withdrawal. I suspect that the truth is somewhere in between, maybe 15-25%. That’s still a lot of people who have severe problems getting off these drugs. I wish companies would study withdrawal more, not for litigation purposes, but just to make it easier to get information for people having trouble.
        I agree that exercise can really help in withdrawal. I tried to go out on walks, I even played wii games when I felt like I had to stay in. Just getting out of the chair, out of bed, or off the floor, was helpful. I think your determination will help you in withdrawal. Hang in there, the zaps are tough, but they usually don’t last very long (for most people). Be careful of some of the emotional issues that can crop up after the zaps, though. Depression, anger, and even self harmful thoughts can start to appear. If it gets really bad, consider reinstating on Zloft and tapering slowly from there. It’s hard to go back on the drug after realizing how much of your thoughts and well being it controls. Reinstating is a second chance to taper slowly, though. Some people only go through a short period of withdrawal. Hopefully, that will be your experience.

  12. TiminJapan Says:

    Thank you for sharing your insights on the subject of SSRI use and tapering. It is much appreciated. My history of SSRI use is short, one 10mg of Paxil from December 2011 to Feb 2012, and then tapering down to 4mg at present. But I am getting a variety of withdrawal effects including head noises and pressure, fatigue, tingling nerves, morning and afternoon anxiety, etc. So I’m holding steady at my current dose.
    I have read all your SSRI posts with interest and I am using your knowledge as reference both for myself and fellow weaners. If you have anything more to say on the subject I’m ready to lap it up. One question, what do you think about the effectiveness of supplements such as Omega 3, magnesium, etc. on easing WD symptoms?

    • npanth Says:

      You were on Paxil for a very short time. Usually, most people can taper off the drug in a shorter time than the original treatment period. Still, if you find that you’re sensitive to the drug, taper at your own pace. The most important part of tapering is to do it at a pace that minimizes symptoms. I’m sorry that you’re having trouble tapering. The symptoms you describe are consistent with SSRI withdrawal.

      I’ve tried a few different supplements to help with tapering, but haven’t had much success with them. I’ve tried fish oil, multivitamins, and magnesium supplements. I haven’t noticed much of a difference. I think that a balanced diet probably helps withdrawal symptoms just as well as a specific supplement. It’s worth a try, though. I’ve read that other people have found symptom relief from Magnesium supplements. I’m hesitant to rely on supplements because there is some risk of pushing the dependence from one drug to another. Most of the compounds that alleviate symptoms act with similar mechanisms to Paxil. I’d stay away from any supplement that directly affects the Serotonergic system, like 5-htp.

      • Altostrata Says:

        In general, people on my site do well with fish oil and magnesium supplements (as well as Epsom salts baths; magnesium absorbed through the skin.

        I agree, if you are sensitive to dosage changes, taper by smaller amounts, even a fraction of a milligram a month, to keep your nervous system relatively stable. Paxil liquid, if you can get it facilitates a very gradual taper; use a tiny .5mL or 1mL oral syringe to measure small doses.

        • Squirel. Says:

          I was happy to find this Very informative blog. My husband has taken different ssris ( fluoxetine, currently) for about 10 years having been perscribed them after a physical attack. A year after which panic attacks and anxiety developed. H has come to depend on them but uses exercise alot as his other drug. I know he would dearly love to ditch the ssri but whenever he stopped the anxiety returns and so he knows the needs these tablets. He hasnt tried to wean off gently properly. Hes a very all or nothing person. Following your advice here i shall sugest the 10% permonth.
          Recently he has swapped and changed a bit after visiting a different chemist and felt as though the tablets werent working properly. Can you explain what you mean by garden of eden effect? Also he has been trialing a suppliment of magnesuim for sport to help with recovery whilst carrying on with his regular ssri tablets. The mag worked well for the muscle fatigue when he stopped he fely similar anxiety and dizzyness like when you have low blood pressure. Obviously i talk him through these sorts of symptoms from time to time and i am sure the mag has effected him, better or worse?? Any advice you can give apperciated. I would like not to habe to worry about depending on perscriptions ect. Which websites is yours. Please direct me.
          Many thanks , big help!

          • npanth Says:

            I use the Garden of Eden effect as a way to describe the way that SSRI seem to be more effective the first time a patient takes them. For some reason, the drugs don’t seem to be as effective when a person reinstates after a failed taper attempt. I think there is a mental naivete that keeps us from seeing the effects that the drug is having on us the first time we take them. After tapering off the drug, those changes become apparent as the mind returns to normal. That experience makes the drug less effective when the patient tries to reinstate. When I had to reinstate, I was very aware of the changes that the drug was making. I could feel my mind slowing down again. It felt like a wet blanket was smothering my thoughts. I didn’t recognize what was happening when I first started taking Paxil. The people around me noticed, though. They all say that I “checked out” about ten years ago, and the “old me” is starting to come back now.
            I can understand the desire to be off these drugs quickly. It can be very frustrating to realize that the drug you were relying on to help you has had other, less perceptible, side effects on you cognition and creativity. It is important to taper slowly, though. even if you’re determined to get off the drug, it’s very hard to do it quickly. The symptoms of a fast taper are unbearable. It’s hard to say if your husband is experiencing poop out or a change in formulation. Poop out is when you reach tolerance for the drug. It’s similar to other drugs in that respect. Just as a cocaine user needs more and more of the drug to get the same effect, SSRI users often find that they have to steadily increase their dose to get the same effect. The difference with SSRI is that tolerance happens over the course of years instead of months. There are also differences between the formulations of the patented drug and its generic alternative. By law, they have to have the same active ingredient, but there are allowable variances in the distribution of the chemical within the tablet and which fillers can be used. He may be having a reaction to one of the new fillers that are in the generic.
            I only tried Magnesium for a little while in withdrawal along with multi vitamins and fish oil. After a month or so, I decided that I would just taper without supplements. They weren’t making a significant difference for me. I’ve read that they can help people, though, so I don’t recommend against using them. I think the most important thing to do when trying to change dosages or supplements is to do so slowly, giving the body a chance to adjust to the changes. I hope he feels better.

          • Sylvia Says:

            Look into Nutritional Response Testing. It has truly saved my life and is very helpful in my attempt at getting off anti-depressants of over 15 years use. I am not there yet but there is no way I could have come this far without the nutritional support. Thanks to Dr. Schmidt for all his support at the Nutritional Healing Center of Ann Arbor Michigan. I am about 6 months clean from anti- depressants but I have to seriously think about restarting my anti depressants, due to the stress it is causing to my family and then weaning slowly, like Dr. Schmidt told me to do. He actually has a few other things we are going to try first. Good luck to all.

      • TiminJapan Says:

        Npanth, thanks very much for your reply. Like you, I’ve tried a variety of supplements and not found a magic bullet. It may be that taking nothing that stimulates or sedates the central nervous system is the best course during the withdrawal period. Certainly, anything that directly affects the neurotransmitters is inadvisable as this will tend to keep the system out of balance. On the subject of food, I probably eat as well as anybody because my wife and I grow most of our own vegetables as well as potatoes and rice, and we avoid processed food to a large extent. This may make a positive difference, but we shouldn’t expect too much because I think the power of SSRIs to mess with the brain trumps anything that supplements or healthy eating can do for us.

  13. CD Says:

    I have successfully withdrawn from these drugs with the strategy I listed above. I have been off them for close to 2 weeks, and I quit cold turkey. I could not have done it without my tryptophan supplements and without being cautious about my caffeine intake during the days I felt severe stress hormones. I also exercised a ton and soaked up a lot of sun. There were about 2-3 occasions where my mood dipped severely. At that point, I would take a tryptophan supplement, eat a snack, and take a breather in the sun. After 15-20 minutes, I would be 100% better. The mood swings from withdrawal are wild, but can be controlled.

    My friend is a doctor. He said the dizziness from the withdrawal may be “orthostatic hypotension”, or super-low blood pressure. He said my practices of frequent meals and laying down when the dizziness got out of hand were great strategies. He also suggested lots of salt and water intake. This definitely has helped. I got a blood pressure test a couple of days ago at a marathon expo, and the lady said I had the lowest blood pressure of all the people she tested that day (she tested about 100 people). After eating a series of MSG chinese meals, my dizziness has improved a lot.

    • Altostrata Says:

      Some people can quit antidepressants with little or no withdrawal symptoms. You are fortunate to be one of them. However, others suffer A LOT of neurological damage from going cold turkey, which is why, universally, cold turkey is a terrible idea.

      The nervous system is not made of rubber. Causing damage to it by withdrawing too fast can cause you problems for a very long time.

      Supplements do not protect the nervous system from cold turkey. These drugs are much more powerful than any supplement.

      • Michou Says:

        What about brain plasticity though?
        Thankfully I read Doight’s “The brain that changes itself” recently, helped immensely with my anxieties about my withdrawal symptoms & permanent damage. It is an uplifting & hopeful theory that is yielding fantastic results.

  14. Renn Leech Says:

    I tried a few years ago to taper off of Zoloft. The symptoms were so horrible that I have never tried again. I will take an SSRI until the day that I die. I take it like a diabetic would take insulin. It’s now just a maintenance medication that I need to function properly. I have taken it for 20 years and, since I am almost always happy and content, why would I do anything to disrupt that? I have no side effects after all of these years. I figure that if any damaging long term effects were to occur that I would start seing them at this point. And if those effects come later, because the onset would be so slow, I will probably be too old to care or on my way out anyway! Have I given in after all of this time? I guess so. Am I regretting it 20 years later. Not anymore…

    • npanth Says:

      I try not to universally condemn SSRI. My goal in writing these articles is to provide information about the process of weaning off SSRI to people who want to do so. I do have personal doubts about the efficacy of these drugs, but would not condemn a person who feels that they are helping them.
      My issues with antidepressants stem from the reckless way they are prescribed and the intentional lack of information about withdrawal and discontinuation that is provided by regulators and manufacturers. I feel that it’s an informational vacuum that should be filled.

      • Renn Leech Says:

        I didn’t mean to step on your message because I support all of the people who were able to get off of them and it’s important topic of discussion. And, yes, if I could go back in time, I would have wished that I had never been prescribed an SSRI. But, it is what it is…

      • npanth Says:

        Not to worry. Discussing SSRI use is part of the process. The first decision that people have to make is whether or not it is best for them to keep using SSRI or attempt to taper off them. It’s not an easy decision. There are a lot of people who feel like you do. I felt the same way for a long time. Withdrawal is tough. For me, the balance didn’t tip in favor of tapering until Paxil pooped out. It lost its efficacy for me about 7 years ago. Instead of working as intended, it exacerbated my symptoms and added several other side effects. My regret is that I waited for years before deciding to taper off Paxil. The experience left me with a bit of bitterness that leaks into my comments from time to time, sorry.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Each SSRI has unique w/drawal challenges.More sedating than other SSRIs,and a more potent dopamine uptake inhibitor than other SSRIs, Zoloft is more like a benzo w/drawal than other SSRIs The acute anxiety induced by Zoloft w/drawal greatly amplifies the other w/drawal symptoms. Npanth’s comment re. the unique anger that arises from SSRI withdrawal also applies to the emotion of fear: Fear forms independently in the mind. Instead of rising in response to an external event, withdrawal causes fear without context. The nonspecific, drug induced fear caused by w/drawal seeks a cause and focuses on the other w/drawal symptoms. This makes symptoms such as vertigo, nausea and cognitive/perceptual distortions more frightening. I liken it to taking methamphetamine with LSD (not that anyone would be stupid enough to do that)

  15. TiminJapan Says:

    There was no bitterness in your comments. While it’s only natural that your experiences have left you exasperated or soured on the subject of SSRIs, you are a model of patience, moderation and gentleness. Also, as someone who has suffered the misery of “poop out” you understand the potential for these drugs to suddenly “pull the rug out” from the user, an attribute that makes them unsuitable as a permanent option for mood control.

    Perhaps a small minority of users will never be able to stop taking SSRIs, but for the great majority who can do so with a suitably slow and gentle taper, the best course is to start the journey well before poop out hits.

    • npanth Says:

      Thank You. I try to keep my experience with SSRI in mind when I comment or write. I had a much different mindset, then. It’s remarkable how profound the changes in attitude, cognition, and self awareness are on these drugs. I really didn’t realize that Paxil was losing its effectiveness. I absolved the drug of any role in my problems and ascribed them to some failing or illness on my part. It wasn’t until I started to wean off the drug that I realized how dramatically it had changed my mind. I can compare how I was then to the emerging self that I see now. While I was on a full dose of Paxil, I would get inconsolably depressed every 4-6 weeks, like clockwork. It would build up over the course of a few days, last about a week, then taper off over a few days. Other than the episodic, acute, depression that I experienced during withdrawal, I don’t get that steady drumbeat of depression anymore. It seems obvious to me that Paxil was causing me to get depressed. At the time, I felt that Paxil was the only thing keeping that steady depression from becoming a chronic, debilitating, condition. How could I know? So, I try not to dismiss anyone taking SSRI. Part of me screams in my mind “Get off this poison!”. I keep reminding myself that the goal isn’t to start an argument, but to provide information and encouragement. Arguing just entrenches everyone in their positions and leads nowhere.

      I agree with you that it’s very hard to recognize poop out, thanks for your kind comment.

      • Altostrata Says:

        I also experienced poop-out, after adverse effects.

        After about a year on Paxil, I got more and more sluggish, apathetic, and demotivated — all known adverse effects of SSRIs, but of course unrecognized by the psychiatrist I consulted. He then tried to directly switch me to Lexapro, with disastrous results.

        After experiencing severe Paxil withdrawal syndrome and overstimulation from Lexapro, I got off Lexapro quickly and went back to Paxil. This resolved the withdrawal symptoms, but I still had the adverse effects described above and, after about a year, found myself occasionally spontaneously weepy for no reason.

        My conclusion was the Paxil had pooped out. I then tried to go off it again…the rest is history. I tapered too fast and have had Paxil withdrawal syndrome and sequelae since October 2004.

        Since then, I’ve become more or less an expert on tapering and run a Web site offering information about it and peer support — click on my icon to see it.

      • npanth Says:

        I remember the apathy and sluggishness. I would drink coffee, soda, energy drinks, whatever I could find to give me energy. I still fell asleep every morning. I never really put it together with Paxil until I started tapering off.

        • Squirel. Says:

          Do you think this is what my husband is experiencing then. The drug after 10-12 years failing to work any more, after using a different brand without knowing? How do you explain the garden of eden effect? So realistically he will need to start the weaning process in case the drug will not work again?
          Advice appreciated. Many thanks.

      • hopeful Says:

        What about tricyclic AD’s like Mirtazapine? A lot of discussion and withdrawal symptoms are about SSRI’s. Can some please also add information about other AD’s. Thank you.

  16. Joroy Says:

    Does anyone have any suggestions for going from 1 mg to zero? I’ve tried to get off paxil twice and this is where I get the worst withdrawal symptoms. The last time I withdrew I made it to 43 days without paxil, but had to go back on because the dizziness and fatigue were so bad

    • Altostrata Says:

      Paxil comes in a liquid. Use a 1mL oral syringe to measure doses in as small as .01mg decrements. Yes, some people need to do this to get off psychiatric drugs! Paxil is a prime offender for withdrawal difficulties.

  17. jane Says:

    Hi fellow sufferers. I was so unfortunate to get on the hook of the most notorious SNRI Cymbalta, which is known for the worst withdrawal symptoms affecting the most of people taking it. Like other people, I had no clue what kind of “bomb” is ticking until I was deeply into the process of weaning off, and I was doing it in a comletely wrong way as I know now, not quickly but skipping the days. It took me about 8 ms. I had been on the “evil” drug for 6.5 years, I am off since March, experiencing the horrible roller-coaster of symptoms, fluctuating but not subsiding a bit. All my pre-existing conditions have exacerbated drastically – asthma, allergic rhinitis, GERD, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, etc. I didn’t have brain “zaps” but rather my ears get plugged and sometimes there is an annoying ringing sound, can’t tolerate any noise and aquired persistent insomnia. Also, I lost the smell and taste sensations. Extreme irritabitily and anger are through the roof. The impact is so devastating that I live almost in isolation, scared to come close to people due to an uncontrolled and impulsive reaction. So far, there has not been any positive dynamics in the withdrawal process. I’ve even ordered a medication from overseas (produced in France) Stablon, which is supposed to treat depression and called SSRE (E stands for “enhancer”). But after having read James Heaney’s articles, I am scared to start on it. Npath and others, could you recommend anything. BTW, have tried tons of indicated supplements, healthy eating – no effect at all. Lost hope that this night/daymare would ever end or subside at least. Thank you

    • npanth Says:

      Many doctors recommend skipping days as a method for tapering off SSRI/SNRI. My doctor recommended the same method when I began tapering off Paxil. I hope that information about the pitfalls of this method become more widely known. Because most of these drugs have relatively short half lives, skipping doses puts the body into a cycle of being drugged and withdrawal. Combined with the very rapid schedules that most doctors give, withdrawal can be quite severe. The best method to taper off a psychotropic drug is to slowly decrease the dosage without skipping days. You’re not alone in coming to this realization after trying a doctor’s schedule. I believe they mean well, but don’t have sufficient information about the possible withdrawal problems that these drugs can cause.

      Starting a new drug is usually problematic. Adding new drug effects to the symptoms you’re experiencing may actually make you feel worse. The problem is that your system is reacting to an imbalance. Changing that balance again with a new chemical may not work as intended. You have been off the drug for about 5 months, which is close to the break even point for reinstating. You could try to ride out the symptoms or try to reinstate Cymbalta. I’m not familiar with the specific problems that tapering off Cymbalta can cause. Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org and http://survivingantidepressants.org for specific advise on tapering. The good news is that you may not have to reinstate at your previous full dose to alleviate the worst withdrawal symptoms. You should be able to calculate your reinstatement dose by reducing your original dose by 10% each month to the present. That dose should be high enough to reduce your symptoms, but not higher than it needs to be. Hang in there. It feels very acute and permanent right now, but it does get better, and faster than you think possible.

    • Altostrata Says:

      jane, you cannot treat withdrawal syndrome as if it were depression. It is something else entirely. I would caution you about taking any psychiatric drugs to counter withdrawal syndrome. Often, it sensitizes the nervous system has to neuroactive medications and supplements — even foods.

      The alternating-doses method of tapering is second only to cold-turkey in eliciting severe withdrawal syndrome. It’s doctor folk wisdom, unsupported by any medical evidence. I very much wish they would stop doing this to their patients.

    • biochemist Says:

      Nutrigenomics could be of some help to you. You can google nutrigenomics or functional medicine to find a specialist in your area.

      Personally I have several mutations in the methylation pathways – specifically the ones that support the production and destruction of neurochemcials, like dopamine and seratonin. (This explains the high incidence of depression, OCD, autism and schizophrenia in my family also). We are supporting those biochemicals pathways with metabolic intermediates and RNAs that allow my system to produce the enzymes required to be begin to function normally again.

      So far just about a month off of zoloft (been taking it on and off over the years along with prozac.). Having some withdrawals symptoms, but manageable.

      I’ll keep you posted.

  18. jane Says:

    Thank you for responding. I get your point, it does make sense to me but… There is no any antidote to this absolutely intolerable condition. I wouldn’t take a risk to reinstate the drug, just feel that some irreversible damage has been done to the brain – it behaves so erratically, unpredictably, totally out of control. One day you can’t get out of bed, another your head is so fuzzy and you are disoriented, confused; may be an acute rage phase has passed but anger is still so intense and irrational that you even lash out at an innocent child and then hate yourself. I’d compare (though remotely) this condition with a coincidence of a very bad flu(general malaise, alternating chills and hot flashes, bone numbing fatigue, sleep disturbances, etc) and a grief of having lost somebody very close to you. With the only difference that flu will pass in a visible time frame, even pain of loss fades with time, but these horrible withdrawal symptoms… hope has almost dissipated. I am very much familiar with living a life of very low quality due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other ailments but I still had some control over it. Now, it’s like a semiparalyzed state and it can last for years. From other people stories and testimonies some don’t feel an improvement after 2-3 years, the longest I encountered was 13(!). Of course, you can’t reconcile with such a life sentence, and, sometimes impulsively, try different things (often only making harm) b/c there is nobody around who can help or knows what to do. It’s so obscure and each individual’s outcome is so different.

    • Altostrata Says:

      jane, please visit http://survivingantidepressants.org for info and support. Your concerns are typical for someone suffering from prolonged withdrawal syndrome; there are answers on my site.

      • notjustamomblog Says:

        Hi Altostrata,

        I have been to your site, written up my “case” in introductions, and written several comments, but only received one response from Barbara. It was a nice response but didn’t offer any real advice. I’m doing ok, but if I were still in the desperate, answer seeking place emotionally, I would be freaking out that no one has really responded. Especially when many of us are struggling to communicate with our doctors. This seems to be a place of support and haven for a lot of us. I’m wondering if you could tell me, is this pretty normal for your site? Should I just be reading through old boards and finding answers there instead of waiting for someone to weigh in on my personal experience? Do people not interact much there? Is my case just too boring (that’s a joke)?

        Thanks,
        Sarah

        • Altostrata Says:

          NJAMB — Not knowing what screen name you’ve posted under, I can’t fully answer. I’ve looked at the recent topics in the Intro section, and found one by “Sarah.” It was started 11/5 about 5pm PST and got 3 responses in about an hour. I responded the next day, 11/6, with some details about tapering. (For the sake of my own health, I try to stay off the computer at night.)

          In all, it has 7 responses. If you had more questions, I’m sure they would be answered fairly quickly.

          But, you’re right, if someone is having an emergency, they might not get a response immediately. I think you would find that true of any Web forum or blog.

          • notjustamomblog Says:

            I wish WordPress wouldn’t require me to log in with my old blog info. It confuses things. The “Sarah” posts are probably me. I never got email notification that there was any response. I’ll have to check my settings. The one time I went into the site, it was just Barbara’s response I saw. Thanks.

    • npanth Says:

      It can seem like it will be a very long term problem. Every person is different, though. I had a very hard time seeing the long term track of recovery when I was in the worst parts of withdrawal. When I was feeling anger and despair, it seemed like it would never go away. It does get better. There isn’t much that another person can say that will really change what you feel inside, but try to remind yourself that it will get better, and sooner than you think. It’s hard when you’re living minute by minute. Try to remember the times when you feel better, even if it’s just a little bit. Those moments will start to get more frequent and stronger. I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad, I remember what it was like. It’s not anything I would wish on anybody. I hope you feel better soon.

  19. dizzi1 Says:

    i am new to blogging and want very much to get some opinions, other than my dr, on my symptoms. I have been on an SSRI for YEARS. Have weaned myself off of zoloft (years ago) and had to go back on it when my job got incredibly stressful. I then switched to celexa when zoloft felt like it wasnt working anymore. That went ok. I have been taking celexa for 2 and 1/2 years now. I feel again as though its not working very well and my dr switched me to wellbutrin. OMG! I feel as though I’m in another world. I’m dizzy, air-heady, out-of-it, nauseated, at times I can focus really well, but most of the time I can’t hardly get through a thought without zoning out. And my ears are ringing all the time and loudly. This feels like severe seratonin withdrawl to me. And I know that wellbutrin only deals with norepinephrine and dopamine. I started taking wellbutrin once daily and still taking half a dose of celexa. Did that for 2 weeks. Then stopped celexa and went to wellbutrin twice daily. My symptoms are pretty severe now. Sounds like I didn’t taper long enough? What do any or all of you think?

    • Altostrata Says:

      You have withdrawal syndrome. You didn’t taper Celexa long enough. I suggest you go back on a half-dose of Celexa, stabilize for month, then taper very slowly. Plan on months rather than weeks.

      Tinnitus is a common side effect of Wellbutrin, possibly aggravated by sensitization caused by withdrawal syndrome. If I were you, I’d go off Wellbutrin when you reinstate Celexa.

    • npanth Says:

      Most doctors recommend very short tapering or switching schedules for SSRI. It seems to work for some people, but others don’t tolerate it very well. I agree with Altostrata that Celexa is the best way to approach this. You may be experiencing withdrawal from Celexa that isn’t being covered from your switch to Welbutrin, or start up symptoms from starting Wellbutrin, or perhaps both. Take some time to get stable again before you decide what your best option is. Stable doesn’t mean that all your symptoms go away, but it should take away the worst of your symptoms. You said that Celexa had reached a poop out stage where it wasn’t having the intended effect anymore, so you should consider tapering off of it slowly once you get stable. Check out Altrostrata’s site for instructions on the 10% tapering method. It seems like a very long schedule, but it’s the best way to maintain your quality of life while you taper.

  20. jane Says:

    Altostrata, I did go to your web site a few times as well as other forums (there is one specifically for Cymbalta withdrawalers which is exactly my case). Thank you for setting and running the site. It’s very useful for people initially finding out what’s going on with them (I was in the darkness for so long and it’s terrible). But after having read thousands of stories I’ve come to realize that each individual is unique (of course, I knew that before, but I am talking now in respect to this particular condition, a degree of impact and chances and length of possible recovery) and what fits one person (or seem to help) doesn’t necessarily translate to be a useful for the other. Also, when I read so many truly horrible testimonies (they are ready to be presented in the court), I get not only more discouraged and pessimistic but they plant an unrelenting fear and sometimes panic in my soul. That’s my comments.
    To npath: First, I’d like to express my admiration for your deep understanding of this condition and very insightful observations. (if that’s your articles by Janes Heaney). What surprise me though is your kind of acceptance of an almost pandemic wave of the cases (up to suicides and homicides due to the withdrawal inadequacy) that have been kept containes and secretive for so long. It seems inconceivable to me that the stories haven’t been mentioned anywhere – not even on the media, let alone a medical establishment involved. So people continue to get trapped in the web of psychiatric and pharmaceutical community. I’ve tried to find an open-minded, kind of a maverick in the field, got one referral and e-mailed her. Here is what she had to say:
    “I don’t have experience treating this. I do not know whether or not it is real but suspect there are cases of it. You may wish to try some people in SF as there is no point driving to Berkeley unless I have more to offer than those in the city. Generally, the only way to treat is to restart a low dose of SSRI/SNRI.”

    • Altostrata Says:

      jane, if you’re in San Francisco, you’re in luck. Write me survivingads at comcast dot net — I know of a doctor who can help you.

      Yes, everyone is different. But if there was a silver bullet for withdrawal syndrome, I would tell everyone about it and close up my site.

      The doctor you corresponded with is correct, restarting a low dose of the offending drug often reduces withdrawal symptoms. But it doesn’t always work, and the longer you wait until reinstatement, the less likely it will work.

      Yes, the stories are distressing. The reality is distressing. It’s a failure of medicine that doctors allow this to happen to people and don’t know what to do about it.

    • npanth Says:

      I’ve read the same stories. At one point, I wrote all my passwords on an envelope so my brother could figure out why I had died. I was, and am, very angry at a system that allows people to suffer like that. The problem is that SSRI withdrawal is considered to be a conspiracy theory. When you watch a Youtube video of someone describing their experiences withdrawing from an SSRI, that video is only two or three links away from New World Order/Depopulation conspiracy videos. According to the pharmaceutical companies and regulators, SSRI withdrawal doesn’t exist and can be explained by the emergence of a new or existing condition. Because of that narrative of denial, people who want to advocate for SSRI withdrawal sufferers have to be twice as right and half as angry.

      • Altostrata Says:

        Very true, James. And understanding this betrayal by doctors, our safety net when we are injured, can be very traumatic. It’s too awful to be believed, but it’s the truth.

  21. dizzi1 Says:

    Thank you for your replys on my situation. Since I wrote earlier today I took half a dose of my celexa and my symptoms have calmed down significantly. It makes me mad that my dr didn’t know nor warn me of the potential withdrawl but prescribes the change of medication. I’ve had some withdrawl symptoms in the past when changing meds, but this time it was becoming debilitating. I read where someone lost his job and girlfriend because of withdrawls. I can’t afford either of those.

    After reading a lot of bloggs, I want to get off this stuff. I read that long term SSRI treatment can cause altered brain chemistry for life. That scared me. I always thought that when I would lessen the stress in my life that I could slowly stop the meds. ( It seems that my recurrent depression occures during highly stressful periods of my life. Maybe a major change in my priorities in life are up for consideration. ) I never dreamed that it was possible that I would not be able to stop taking this stuff.

    • npanth Says:

      That’s great. The silver lining is that you can be fairly certain that your symptoms are caused by withdrawal, not an existing condition. When symptoms abate almost immediately after taking a drug, that points to dependence.

      I hated that out of control feeling I got when I started tapering on my doctor’s schedule. Unlike you, I wasn’t smart enough to slow down. I raced from 40mg/day to 0mg/day in 5 months, hitting every emotional rock along the way. I thought that I could just power through it and everything would work itself out when I got to the bottom. Two months after getting to 0, it all caught up with me and I had to reinstate at 10mg/day. That was January, 2012. Now, August 2012, I’ve been able to make three tapers. I’m at 7.5mg/day right now. Even when I went to my doctor in the worst parts of withdrawal, he still persisted in his rapid schedule. Despite having my history of social anxiety in front of him, he tried to tell me that my intense withdrawal was an existing psychosis that I needed Paxil to treat. Imagine a doctor telling you that you’re psychotic. Blech. I’ve never experienced symptoms like that before or since.

      I’m not sure that SSRI can cause permanent changes in brain chemistry. Brain research is at an interesting point in history right now. We’re transitioning from the static model to the plasticity model. Up until this point, the theory has been that the brain remains relatively static after reaching adulthood. That is the origin of the idea that drug induced changes become permanent. It’s becoming more apparent that the brain reorganizes itself dynamically in response to changes in environment, etc. The act of reading this post changes your brain in small ways, causes it to rewire itself a little bit. When an SSRI blocks reuptake sites on neurons, the brain responds by growing more dendrites into those areas in an attempt to re-establish the Serotonin absorption capacity. The drug blocks those new sites and the process continues. When you stop taking the drug, all that excess Serotonin gets absorbed at once. Instead of having too much Serotonin in the interneural gap, there is too little. It takes the brain some time to adjust to the change, and lower its Serotonin absorption capacity.

    • Altostrata Says:

      Just wanted to note: Celexa comes in a liquid for slow tapering. You may wish to stabilize on your current dose for a month or more, then very slowly decrease the dose. Think in terms of 2mg or even 1mg at a time. A 10% per month trial reduction for a couple of months will give you an idea of your tolerance for lowering the dosage.

  22. jane Says:

    PS. I keep forgetting to ask you about your strategy in this tough battle after you’ve understood (to some extent, entirely it’s still impossible) the nature of such a chaotic process of misfiring in the brain. Since you insist not to interfere with any other drugs or supplements that may affect neurotransmitters, what’s left – just sit and wait for indefinite (perhaps, infinite time)?

    • npanth Says:

      I’ve tried to minimize stress, but I’ve also tried to put myself into social situations to test my progress. Looking back from my current perspective, I think that Paxil actually masked the fact that I was outgrowing my original diagnosis. Social interactions don’t have the same effect on me as they did before I started taking Paxil, but those symptoms persisted while I was on the drug. It’s an odd effect.

      I decided to start tapering off Paxil after I was laid off. It was a good time to re-evaluate things in my life. I knew that I had become less empathetic, less self aware, more insular. I didn’t like the person I had become. Initially, I didn’t make the connection between Paxil and the strange sense of disconnection that I had developed. It wasn’t until my dose was much lower and I talked to some people who have known me from before I started Paxil that I realized what had happened. They all talk at length about the change they saw in me 11 years ago, and the way I seem to have reverted in the last year. It’s had a great impact on me. It gives me great motivation to taper off Paxil the right way, so I never have to go back to it again. It may take some time to get off Paxil entirely, but I’m willing to be patient to get the old me back.

      • Rebecca Says:

        I’ve been on Zoloft since it came out—20 years. I reduced dose from 100 to 50 years ago and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. A nightmare. I couldn’t conceive of going through that again so stayed on 50 mg. Then, a strange thing happened. I was switched unknowingly by the pharmacy to a different generic brand of sertraline. Long story short—I went into SSRI withdrawal. Since this was totally unexpected, at first I didn’t realize what was happening, since I assumed the generics were all the same. Since the wash out period of the previous brand and the onset of the new brand overlapped, it took about 2 weeks to understand what was happening. At day 10, at a Tai Chi class –I had a remarkable experience–a sudden burst of my “real self” – my real feelings came over me. In retrospect, I realized that the emmergence of real feleliings was a result ot SSRI withdrawal. It is only through this accidental withdrawal that I realized how much the SSRI had masked my real feelings, my real self. My first reaction was to go into default anger mode. I was outraged at the lie of “generic equivalence.” Now I am grateful for this “accident” because I am once again determined to get off this drug. But I will need help. I live in Seattle and will need to find a doctor who understands severe withdrawal symptoms. I cannot bear the thought of trial and error shopping for docs who then say withdrawal is a return of preexisting mental disorder or is an atypical reaction, unique to me—in other words, that I’m crazy. Before I realized what was happening, when I was in the midst of SSRI withdrawal caused by the switch in generic brands, I felt like I was having a mental breakdown. What really scares me the most is that if I try to go off this drug, if I can’t find a doc who understands the process, I will be perceived as insane due to misdiagnosis of what are for me extreme withdrawal symptoms.

  23. allie mc Says:

    Thankyou to everyone for all your stories –as currently withdrawing from escitlopram -i felt like i was on my own and going off my head but now I know it’s the meds xxx

    • npanth Says:

      Thanks. I started writing about SSRI withdrawal because I was in the same position you were. I seemed to be the only person who thought it was the drug that was causing my withdrawal symptoms. My doctor completely absolved Paxil, when it was obvious to me that the drug was causing me a lot of problems. He prescribed another drug. I think that’s the only solution that doctors have to withdrawal. That leads to a downward spiral of dependence and disability. Who knows where I’d be if I had started that second prescription. I don’t think I would be nearly as well off if I was taking two drugs now.

  24. dizzi1 Says:

    Thank you npanth and altostrata for your comments and time. My thoughts at this point are to go up to 30mg celexa (was on 40) and stay there for 6 weeks or so and then try to taper from there. I’m unsure of what I should do with the wellbutrin. My original complaint to the dr was my celexa just wasn’t doing the job anymore. He thought wellbutrin was a good thing to try. And it did give me a lift immediately after starting it. On celexa I needed soooo much sleep. I needed 9 or 10 hours a day and often couldn’t get it. Every morning I would fight to wake up. I would set 2 alarms, 15 minutes apart and hit the snooze on both of them 3 times. It took me 30 to 60 minutes to wake up. The wellbutrin had me waking up on my own at 6:30 or 7:00 every morning. And had more energy and wanted to do more stuff during the day. I hate to give that up if I stop the wellbutrin.

    I really don’t know what to do at this point. I want to get off the drugs. I have before. But my job is so stressful I need something to help with the seratonin levels. It just seems to be my body chemistry. If I need to stay on something to be able to work, I was thinking about a drug that helps with seratonin, norepinephrine and possibly dopamine. Could this be a good answer or am I dreaming?

    • npanth Says:

      It depends how long you have been taking Wellbutrin. In your earlier comment, you mentioned that you took Celexa and Wellbutrin for about two weeks before switching entirely to Wellbutrin. If you’ve been taking Wellbutrin for a short time, 4-6 weeks, you may be able to taper off of it quickly. It usually takes a month or two for the drug to begin to have lasting effects. If you have been taking Wellbutrin for more than two months, you should consider a slower tapering schedule. It’s important to only taper from one drug at a time. Since taking Wellbutrin alone is causing Celexa withdrawal for you, Wellbutrin should be the first drug that you taper off. You may have to deal with fatigue from Celexa for a while until you’re in a position to start tapering off of it. Once your dose of Celexa begins to diminish, you should start to feel more energy. Once you are off both, you can consider your best course, whether that is to try a different SSRI or use other methods to deal with stress.

      Ironically, you may be able to follow your doctor’s schedule to taper off Wellbutrin if you’ve been on it for a short time. Doctors base their tapering schedule off of the short term studies that the companies conduct, which usually last 8-12 weeks. It’s the long term effects of the drugs that aren’t accounted for in these short studies.

      As far as I know, the only drugs that affect all three neurotransmitters are illegal, like XTC or Cocaine, which probably aren’t good choices. Usually, doctors prescribe a cocktail of SSRI/neuroleptics to achieve that affect. You’ve experienced a bit of the polydrug spiral. I wouldn’t recommend going down that road again if you can help it.

    • Altostrata Says:

      diz — It sounds to me like you are taking Wellbutrin to counter undesirable side effects from Celexa. Your current state does not represent who you are or your normal capabilities.

      Those questions are too complicated to answer in a blog comment. I suggest you join http://survivingantidepressants.org and start an Intro topic with your questions.

      (npath, I am not trolling for members, I have plenty, I just want to see people get off these drugs safely.)

      • npanth Says:

        I don’t mind, Altostrata, My goal is to provide as much information as I can. My experience is limited to my own Paxil use and what I’ve read about these drugs and neurphysiology. My advice isn’t as complete as folks can get at a dedicated site.

  25. jane Says:

    Last few days have been so dreadful with the acuteness of the very first stage of withdrawal – am I back to square 1 again? I already learned that it could fluctuate widely but what’s currently happening makes an already very weak hope absolutely unachievable. The following’s just popped up in my mind:
    I can’t walk, I can’t talk (let alone – work).
    I can’t sleep, can only weep.
    I can’t breathe – I can’t live.
    Any sound drills my brain, any movement brings me pain.
    I am so full of anger – I can even hit an angel.
    Cold and hot, and cold again
    Like I carry sun and rain.
    Tired, tired all the time.
    What a miserable rhyme…

    • npanth Says:

      I like your rhyme. When I was at the bottom, my brain felt as if it was fizzing like a soda, I couldn’t string sentences together, let alone make them rhyme. That was less than a year ago. It does get better, and faster than you’d think possible.

      You’re not back to square one. Withdrawal is filled with setbacks. It goes forwards, backwards, sideways, but every time you pull yourself out of a setback, the road back is shorter than it was before, because you know the way that much better. Hang in there.

      Try to explain how you feel to people in your life who care about you, they will support you. They may not understand completely. I tried to explain it to my friends and family, but they didn’t really get it. They knew I was suffering, though, and their support helped a lot.

      You recognize that it’s cyclical, and that’s the best place to start. I know it doesn’t seem like it, that there’s no intuitive way to convince yourself, but the cycles will start to work in your favor. The good will start to outnumber the bad, and the bad will get milder as time goes on. I only recognized that pattern when it really started to get better. I think that’s part of the process of withdrawal. You only recognize progress after you’ve made it.

      • Altostrata Says:

        That recovery comes in waves and windows is a very important realization, and something doctors are prone to misinterpret as “bipolar cycling.”

        (When it comes to withdrawal syndrome, another thing they don’t know about is it often makes people hypersensitive to any neuroactive substances, even food, and they misinterpret that as well, throwing drugs at you that make you worse.)

        There’s a discussion about the waves and windows pattern here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/82-the-windows-and-waves-pattern-of-recovery/

        I welcome your additions to it!

        • Dominic Says:

          Hey Altostrata,

          I hope someone can answer this. I quit taking Effexor XR January 30, 2013. It is now May 7, 2013. Whenever I try to drink something like coffee or even have a sip of beer, I am EXTREMELY hypersensitive to them. A sip of coffee wires me and makes me very uncomfortable and a sip of beer makes me very drowsy and then anxious. I worry about this, also, because I fear that if I take any sort of medication, I may have to worry about getting screwy on it.

          My question is this: Does this go away? Will my body ever come back or am I going to be hypersensitive always? Also, does anyone have a time window that they endured before it got better? I’m just worried I won’t get my life back. I used to love having coffee and enjoying a beer here and there with my friends.

          Please advise,

          Dominic

          • npanth Says:

            I was the same way. While I was taking Paxil, I could drink like a fish. I had drastically suppressed reactions to caffeine, etc. when I got to a certain dose in my taper, though, I became a serious lightweight. I’m reaching a happy medium again, though.
            It can take a while. Sensitivities come and go during withdrawal, but the overall progress should be back towards normal.

          • Altostrata Says:

            Dominic, after withdrawal, many people become hypersensitive to drugs and even foods that act on the nervous system. Caffeine is one of those substances. This is an aspect of the autonomic nervous system being thrown out-of-balance by withdrawal. Listen to your body, cut back on anything that gives you a bad reaction. Over time, the hypersensitivity will lessen, but you’ll always have to listen to your body and don’t stress your nervous system if it sends up warning signals.

          • Dominic Says:

            npanth and Altostrata,

            Thank-you so much for your encouragement. How long did it take you guys to get towards normal? I was taking Effexor for 5 years and I’m trying to figure out what to expect. I will definitely listen to my body, as I am sure it will tell me when I am ready. But, if you guys have a window that it took you, I would love to know. As you both know, doctors and psychiatrists know very little of the poison they prescribe. And, Altostrata… I follow so many of your posts and articles from a couple of sites. Thank-you so very much for all of your encouragement and expertise. It is so inspiring. Also, npanth… I see your name frequently on this page and your contributions have really helped me. Thank-you so very much.

            Sincerely,

            Dominic

          • Altostrata Says:

            Thanks, Dominic. With a couple of false starts, including a bad reaction to Wellbutrin, it took me about 3 years to see significant improvement. But I must caution — even then my nervous system was vulnerable. Stress and a paradoxical reaction to a benzo set me back to square one, and then some. (Npanth, I think this thread might be exceeding WordPress’s abilities. It’s taking longer and longer to load.)

          • npanth Says:

            I think you’re right about WordPress getting a bit stressed by this thread. I’ve tried a couple things in the admin page, but WordPress doesn’t provide many tools to manage the comment section.

          • Dominic Says:

            Also, did anyone ever try re-instating the drug they were on and trying an appropriate taper to see if it mitigated the symptoms of hypersensitivity? I am considering this because I would really like to repair this issue.

            Thanks,

            Dominic

          • npanth Says:

            Most of my symptoms dissipated within the first week when I reinstated. Since then, I’ve been slowly tapering, just 10% each 5-8 weeks. I’m going a little slower than I could, but I’m prioritizing quality of life over tapering right now. After the last year and a half, I figure I need a break.
            The amount of time it takes to do a 10% taper seems overwhelming at first, it sure did to me. It’s not that bad, though. After going through the turmoil of a fast taper, having stability while tapering is very valuable to me.
            I had hyper sensitivity for a long time when I was fast tapering. For a while, I couldn’t even watch tv. The shows made me depressed, and the commercials made me angry. The finest moment of triumph was when I realized that I had recovered enough to actually watch a horror movie. I went from not being able to watch David Attenborough to staying up late to watch the Fearnet channel.
            I have mild withdrawal symptoms, but they don’t really interfere with my life like they did before. That’s another reason I’m going so slowly. I don’t want to jeopardize that stability, even in a small way.

          • Dominic Says:

            npanth,

            I have been off of effexor xr since january 30th. Is it too late to try to re-instate and minimize the hypersensitivity?

            Thank-you,

            Dominic

            Altostrata,

            I understand. I will be very careful. I am figuring if I get back on effexor now and slow taper, I may be able to handle coffee again… I miss it VERY much. I also miss being able to handle tea…

            ANYBODY… Is it too late for me to re-instate??

            Take care,

            Dominic

          • npanth Says:

            It’s hard to say when it’s too late to reinstate. I’ve been trying to come up with some general ideas. It seems like the exception, rather than the common, rules, though.
            There are two things that make it hard to say if reinstating is the right course. You don’t want to reinstate if you’re currently closer to recovery than the stabilization period after reinstatement. Since its extremely difficult to tell how long withdrawal symptoms last, you have to rely on your own sense of where you are in the process. Since withdrawal distorts our own sense of our well being, that is very hard to do. Quite a neat little catch-22.
            The other thing that makes it hard to say if reinstating is the right thing to do is the variable way in which each person reacts to it. In the last few weeks, one user here tried to reinstate, but had to stop the attempt, even though it was on the same drug. Another person was able to get symptom relief within a couple days of reinstating. The only way to find out if you have developed a sensitivity to the drug since getting off is to reinstate and see. If you see symptom improvement within a couple days, it may still be some weeks, even a month or two, before you really feel stable again.
            One thing that does seem to hold true is the idea that the longer you wait before reinstating, the longer it takes to get stable again. That’s not meant to pressure you, the difference is measured in months, not days. So, you have plenty of time to examine your symptoms and decide if reinstating is the right thing for you.
            I’m sorry I can’t be more certain in my advice, I wish I could be.

          • Dominic Says:

            npanth,

            Thank-you SO MUCH for the advice… I will see if I can figure something out.

            Take care,

            Dominic

          • npanth Says:

            No problem, glad to help. Withdrawal is a frustratingly personal journey. Sometimes, the best we can do is help out, even if the advice doesn’t exactly hit the mark :)

  26. jane Says:

    Your comments make me cry, fill my heart with such a deep pity for all of us, admiration of your, guys, courage, thoughtfulness and compassion, infinite gratitude. Unfortunately, I am embarassed to admit, I have a desert around me. I’ve been afflicted with a chronic illness (of a kind of similar nature, in terms of obscurity, and not fitting in a recognizable category, though lately it is gaining legitimacy, ironically, I have more serious condition now to attend to on top of the old one) for a long time and an underlying cause of it was an unremitting stress provided by my family. As for friends, probably, I am not a lucky one to have very loyal people and I don’t judge them – a passage from an old song: when you are happy and successful, many people seek your friendship, when you are in trouble – they abandon you (sorry, transtating from russian). When I lived in Russia, it was common to share and exchange, you didn’t need a therapist for that, but here I’ve long learned not to impose my woes on anybody else (at least, not to take initiative) – it’s a kind of mauvais ton (unacceptable). At the same time I can’t pretend that I am doing well, as everybody is supposed to, just to be one of them.
    Altostrata, your site definitely deserves many credits, it’s different from others: very well organized, with your guidance it gives a constructive view with so much useful info, instead of just presenting stories of moaning and groaning people (I am doing the same thing though) that can scare a hell out of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    You guys are heroes!

    • Altostrata Says:

      Thank you, Jane, for those kind words.

    • npanth Says:

      I ran into the same thing. I tried to reach out to many of my friends, but found that there was a small core of friends who were willing to hear about serious problems over and over again. It bothered me a great deal at the time, but now I think that there is a limit to how much a casual friend can absorb. It makes other people frightened for themselves. They know that you’re not “contagious”, but it’s a reminder that their own mental state is more tenuous than they like to admit. The english version of your quote is “Success has many fathers, but trouble is an orphan.”

      SSRI withdrawal is still essentially a solitary thing. I did find a couple friends who I could talk to occasionally, and that helped a great deal. I learned the most from online resources, but I needed those face to face interactions to gauge my progress. The diagnostic tools to describe SSRI withdrawal don’t exist, so doctors try to fit your symptoms into some other category, which leads to mistreatment. When I went to my doctor at the low point, he tried to convince me that I had an existing psychotic condition that was being treated by Paxil. His only solution was a new prescription. I have social anxiety, shyness. Having him tell me that I was psychotic was just so tone deaf that I didn’t trust anything he told me for a long time. I’m gaining more of a balance in my interactions with my doctor, but I think I will always apply more critical thinking to what he says from now on.

      Thanks, glad to help where I can :)

  27. Suzy Says:

    Any chance that you could do something in depth about “memory recall”? I saw one of your posts on PaxilProgress – it has helped me a great deal. Currently, I am going thru Valium withdrawal – to say that the Valium has impacted the flooding of memories or if the Paxil withdrawal after 12 usage did this – doesn’t really matter – it is the most painful experience – much trauma in my past.

    I would be interested in your 2 cents – Valium withdrawal impacts short term memory – leading to what has been the most confusing time of my life- memory flooding and short term memory loss – interesting combination.

    Do you have an coping tech. for memory flooding? Is it better to skip the memory or try to sort it out? After reading your post – I wonder how many of my memories are accurate.

    • npanth Says:

      Sure, I’ll put together something about memory and recall. The strategy that I used to deal with the obsessive flooding of memories was to try to understand the foundations of those memories. It’s not easy, because memories can come to the surface for many reasons. There’s a fine line between dwelling on memories and evaluating them. If some memories are too painful to examine, try to take your mind off them with other activities… easier said than done. There is a long time in withdrawal where memories come unbidden and kind of assail you. Examining them can increase stress and make recovery more difficult. In those cases, it’s better to put off the self examination for a while. It doesn’t seem like it when you’re living minute by minute, but those memories will be easier to deal with after you have had a chance to get past the worst parts of withdrawal. Waiting until you’re further into recovery can make examining those memories more productive, too. Withdrawal skews memories with other elements that don’t belong with the memory itself. It can be much better to wait until you are better able to separate out the intrusive and real memories.
      I wrote a bit about separating withdrawal driven emotions from normal emotions here: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/separating-ssri-withdrawal-symptoms/

      • Altostrata Says:

        I went through a period when I was reliving the most humiliating, painful, or frustrating episodes of my life. I couldn’t shut those thoughts off. Eventually they did go away.

        The way I looked at it, the same process that was producing excess stress hormone, cortisol, was drawing out the deepest negative memories as well, like a magnet.

        That was a difficult period. But I had learned to separate my withdrawal-induced “neuro-emotions” early, and that’s how I dealt with it — this, too shall pass, like all the other waves of weird symptoms.

  28. jane Says:

    I am surprised that you’ve stayed with the same doctor. I’ve been skeptical of doctors for a long time due to my ongoing journey with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I came here with a great hope and in awe of advanced and very potent, as it seemed to me back then, american medicine. Gradually, I was becoming more and more dissapointed and, finally, have reached an impression (and conviction) that the status of the medical care here is very poor, and if it’s developing the way it is now, the future is catastrophic. I’ve read hundreds of stories about this particular condition that eloquently repeat each other in 2 facts: first – none of them were warned or even hinted about possible consequences of discontinuation, second – nobody got help, even acknowledgement, when it happened (the same as you are describing). Here is just one of them:
    “I been on SSRI’s and various psychiatric drugs for 17 years of my life. Mostly SSRI’s. I was pumped with drugs since age 17 (brainwashed by psychs). I found out about the fraud of psychiatry 17 years later. I was on 60mg’s paxil and 300mg’s effexor (COMBINED) as well as xanax. I wanted off these drugs because i developed serotonin syndrome. The criminal psychiatrist weaned me off these drugs ALL in 6 short weeks after 17 years of use. I developed the most INTENSE, EXCRUCIATING, head pains that most humans would commit suicide in an instant. I was screaming in PAIN!. I was staring at death in the face and was going to emergency rooms and doctors and they were all telling me it was all in my head that i was (nuts). NOBODY believed the severity of my pain and that i had pain. I was in this agony for 1 full year (i don’t know how i survived 1 year in such agonizing pain, it was the love for my family that kept me alive). After 1 year, i was given an Opiod called Hydromorphone which immediately calmed my pain and i could breathe again. I went on my knees and cried and thanked Lord Jesus. SSRI/SNRI withdrawal that has caused me intense head pains has now given me CHRONIC PERMANENT CENTRAL PAIN SYNDROME and i have to take OPIODS for the rest of my life because my CNS is damaged. Now in my closing argument i want to say that PSYCHIATRY and PSYCHIATRISTS are the most DANGEROUS, MOST BRUTAL subhumans one could ever encounter. Psychiatry destroyed my life, and the lives of MILLIONS. It is up to US to help stop this DANGEROUS PSEUDOSCIENCE CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION that masquarades as MEDICINE before they kill, cripple, and maim other innocent human beings. This is my story of SSRI/SNRI withdrawal. Now i have PERMANENT CENTRAL PAIN in my HEAD and have to be on OPIODS for the rest of my life thanks to criminal psychiatrists. Those who enjoy these drugs, love psychiatry, support psychiatry. Stay away from me, my family, and the innocents who don’t know what psychiatry and psychiatric drugs are. Those who fight to abolish psychiatry i applaud and support you. Those who give it power, i will do everything in my power with antipsychiatry groups and orgs to counterattack and have psychiatry totally eliminated in the next 50 years. The GOVERNMENT KNOWS PSYCHIATRY is the KILLING MACHINE of POPULATION CONTROL.”
    May be the conclusion is extreme but I agree with it. If thoughtful doctors do exist, I’d call them mavericks, should be other way around.
    Also, I wanted to ask people who are suffering so profoundly – how you go about your life. The condition is hardly endurable and it lingers for so long, devastating and incapacitating. There are commitments in life, housing chores, etc. Do you push yourself beyond tolerance level or just wait for “windows” to come? If you overcome yourself and do impossible for a “normal” person things, how it affects you later? How do you decide whether to go for something despite a brutal impediment when the ability of making rational decisions itself is substantially impaired?

    • npanth Says:

      I recognize the sentiment. When I was feeling the worst withdrawal symptoms, I felt very angry at a lot of people. I focused that anger on the pharmaceutical companies and my doctor. If I had written about it at the time, my post would have looked very much like the one you copied here. I decided to put all those feelings on hold because I knew that they were changing the way I thought. Acting out on those feelings would have been counterproductive to my recovery. I didn’t want to do anything that I would regret later, either. I’ve decided that the best way to channel my frustration is to try to help others rather than attack the companies or doctors. Letting go of anger in withdrawal is not an easy thing, not at all. It’s chemically driven, and doesn’t respond to the normal mental checks and balances.

      I still see the same doctor because he’s all too typical of the doctors that are available to me. Too many patients, too little time, not enough care. He’s considered to be a good doctor with high ratings and reviews. I don’t think that the standard medical world is equipped to deal with problems like SSRI withdrawal. They probably don’t see many patients that want to stop taking psychotropic drugs. My doctor was genuinely surprised when I told him I wanted to stop. I’ve seen a couple other doctors, but they all approach the problem in the same way. The only treatment option available to them are the very drugs that have caused me so many problems. If I tried to escalate the issue, the referral could have led to an involuntary prescription to SSRI. They only treat the symptoms in front of them. They don’t have time or resources to investigate the causes of withdrawal. The kind of episodic, temporary, problem that SSRI withdrawal presents isn’t something they can really handle.

  29. CD Says:

    I wanted to drop an ‘update’ on my withdrawal for anyone who wants to know that it can be done. I’m fully withdrawn after about a month and a half. I withdrew by taking half a dose of my 10mg lexapro every other day, then quitting completely after 6 days. My dizziness lasted for about a month, but eating salty foods, eating frequently, and resting during bad periods got me thru the dizziness. I got ‘cortisol surges’ in the morning, but that disappeared after about 2 weeks. The main thing is finding non-SSRI treatments for low serotonin.

    My natural replacement was daily sun, daily exercise for at least 30 minutes, and supplementing with tryptophan and a light snack. I found that I could make the serotonin easily. For instance, I’d be a little down, but after an exercise session or soaking up a few sun rays, I’d be fine again. My problem was that my good feeling would disappear within the next 1.5-2 days if I didn’t do anything for it. Therefore, I hypothesized that I had a lot of the MAO-A enzyme that broke serotonin down. A good natural MAO inhibitor is ginkgo, so I started taking that. Another natural MAO inhibtor is resveratrol, found in berries, grapes, and chocolate. I also found that the cheap tryptophan didn’t work as well as a good quality tryptophan.

    Finally, 5-HTP has been said to be ‘dangerous’ because it creates serotonin in the body as well as the brain. The theory goes that the blood brain barrier creates a wall between the gut, where 95% of serotonin is created, and the brain, where only about 5% of serotonin’s created. The reasoning is that you can have too much gut serotonin, (serotonin syndrome) and still be depressed with low serotonin levels in the brain. LOL I honestly don’t believe the wall’s this thick. This is why: when I’m depressed, I also get cold, a tad constipated, and light-headed (i.e., my blood pressure goes down). These are all bodily symptoms of low serotonin. Perhaps there’s a gut-brain connection as observed with autism. The vagus nerve connects the gut to the brain. Obviously, the scientists don’t know what’s going on completely yet. I’m not going to wait for scientists to figure it out and will instead rely on my own reasoning. When I’m super-low, (like on a dreary day where I’ve drank a bunch of drinks the night before) AND when I also feel the bodily effects of low serotonin, I pop an 5 HTP. 5 HTP really works better than tryptophan. But I’m careful with the 5 HTP because I don’t want to get liver tumors or cardiac fibrosis from too much bodily serotonin.

    • npanth Says:

      I’m glad that your plan is working for you. I’ve stayed away from supplements for the most part during my taper. I tried fish oil for a while, but didn’t notice a big difference. I’m hesitant to add another compound to the mix right now. Supplements can be very helpful to a lot of people, so I don’t try to dissuade people from using them too strongly. Staying away from supplements is just my personal strategy. I try to eat right and take care of myself. I agree that taking care of the basics creates a good foundation for recovery.

    • Altostrata Says:

      A lot of people suffering from withdrawal syndrome report problems with those supplements — they make withdrawal symptoms worse — so unfortunately there’s no simple way to ease symptoms.

      CD, I’m glad you’ve recovered from a month and a half of withdrawal symptoms. The way you tapered — alternating dosages, then quitting after a week — would cause a lot of people to have horrible withdrawal symptoms. Alternating dosages, like cold turkey, is a roll of the dice, and if the result is bad, it can be very bad.

      You are lucky to have a very resilient nervous system. It’s likely that’s what got you through, rather than the supplements.

      Anyway, good to hear you’re fine now.

  30. jane Says:

    I didn’t get an answer to the last part of my posting and I’d really like to. You might’ve skipped it intentionally, then just disregard it. I’ll repeat the question:
    Also, I wanted to ask people who are suffering so profoundly – how you go about your life. The condition is hardly endurable and it lingers for so long, devastating and incapacitating. There are commitments in life, house chores, etc. Do you push yourself beyond tolerance level or put it off and wait for “windows” to come? If you overcome your incapacity, forcing yourself to do impossible, how it affects you later? How do you decide whether to go for something despite a brutal impediment, when the ability of making rational decisions itself is substantially impaired?

    • npanth Says:

      I did sidestep that issue a bit. I started weaning after I was laid off, so I didn’t have work commitments at first. That’s a good thing, in a way. I couldn’t go out of the house very much at first. It wasn’t until I realized that I was tapering too quickly and slowed down my schedule that I became able to do things again. Now that I’m on a slow schedule, I’m able to handle problems and events better. Slow tapering really does make a difference in the severity of symptoms. Instead of being overwhelming, they are much milder. I still get the same symptoms, but they are pale shadows of what they were before. When I was tapering 20% each month, the symptoms were really debilitating. I don’t think I would have been capable of working effectively during that time. I’m not sure what people who decide to taper in the middle of their lives do.

      • Dano Says:

        It’s been 9 months of hell for me and counting. Making it thru daily executive life is truelly miserable and unbearable at times. The thought of failing this early in my life (i just turned 45 in August) is almost as unbearable as the withdrawl symptoms. Failing in front of my wife of twenty years and 2 awesome kids and piers is not an option. I have struggled to live the American dream way to damn hard to give it up.
        Possitive thoughts about life and making it to lunch time do I can take a 10 min nap have helped me so far. I’m by no means at a point to say I have even made it past this stuff. Hope I don’t sound portentous or pompous because I’m not I’m a small town farm boy that has lived humble and now am being humbled to the max and then some. And yes I have cried more in the last 9 months than I have in my entire life.

  31. Dano Says:

    I have been on some type of ssri since 1993. Yep almost 20 yrs. The longest of the meds being Effexor for 14 yrs. I decided to taper off of this evil medicine to stop a life time of eyeore like living. Yes Disneys eyeore. Slow and unemotional. I realize now I did many things wrong during this process. I started the two week taper on my doctors direction on December 20th 2011. Way to fast. I could barely function. Zaps, dizzy, nausea on and on. I truely thought I was dying from some horrible brain disorder. Several trips to ER cat scans blood work, heart eco, stress tests. U name it I was tested for it. After 4 months of agony to say it lightly phys doc decided to put me on lexxapro. You already know before I say it that it didn’t go well. I actually tapered off of it over a 5wk period. The doctors recommendation was to increase my dosage. Wrong answer. I have now been off of all meds since the end of July.
    I am still in major major withdrawl. I am a vice president of a small company with 90 employees. I must be Hercules to endure this living hell. I have to stay positive about the positive outcome that might come. I have symptoms from the second I wake up until I go to bed. My family and lifestyle is in serious jeopardy if this doesn’t go away or at least decrease slightly. The only thing that helps my head is a steady steam of asperine. I realize aspirin is not good long term either.
    It is almost impossible to write down or even explain symptoms like my head is so fuzzy I can’t see straight. The medical community, naturopathic, main stream no one has a clue about ssri discontinuation syndrome. It is very disheartening to say the least. I’m not sure what I am asking for because there really seems to be no answers to when this will go away or subside if ever.

    • npanth Says:

      I’m trying to imagine working in an executive position back in the bad days. It’s hard for me to really wrap my head around it. I’m not trying to make a pun. The dissociation, anger, electric brain, it would have been too much for me. I know what you mean, wake up to the panic alarm clock and crawl through the day.

      A two week taper after 20 years, it’s hard to imagine. That schedule is really a cold turkey stop. It makes me angry that doctors persist in those precipitous tapering schedules even when it’s obvious that it hurts their patients. It’s been some time since you stopped, so I’m not sure how to advise you about whether to reinstate Effexor or continue. You could consider reinstating at a lower dose, and slowing your taper from there. Changing SSRI to alleviate withdrawal symptoms doesn’t do much, as you know. SSRI seem to have a “Garden of Eden” effect, where you don’t get the same effect when you try to reinstate or switch. It might blunt the symptoms and allow you to do a slower taper.

      I know where you’re at, it’s not something that you can really explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. How can you describe the way it dissolves your personality, fills you with dread, fear, anger? It can be really hard on families and friends because they can’t really understand what you’re going through. Try to explain it to them as best you can. Emphasize that it is a temporary thing, because it is.

      It’s hard to say how long withdrawal will last, each person seems to have a different reaction. The one thing that’s certain is that you can recover. It’s very hard to recognize that you’re making progress until you’ve made some. It’s one of the ironies of withdrawal, I think. Until you get past a phase, you don’t think it will ever end.

      Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org/ and http://survivingantidepressants.org/ There are many people there who started their withdrawal the same way you did. I started my withdrawal the same way you did. I think most people start by tapering too quickly. They have good advice and support on those sites, many withdrawal veterans.

      One of the hardest things for me to understand about withdrawal was that it does pass. It’s hard to believe when you’re living life minute by minute, but it does get better and easier to manage. I hope it turns around for you soon.

      • Dano Says:

        Well it’s been just over a month from my last post. I have gone threw a wave and a small window of what i call clarity in each of the last four weeks. My symptoms are still there but they are slightly decreased in intensity. I have actually slept well for the last five days. Waking up without that overwhelming dread feeling has been very nice. Don’t get me wrong it is still their just not as intense. I continue to have headaches but they are manageable with just a couple aspirin not 8 or 10. Depersonalization is probably my number one concern. I think it is easy for my mind to fall into depersonalization and I catch myself saying ” wtf her I am again lets change something”. It’s not easy for me to come out of this mode. If I change my location or do a different task that helps. Keeping busy is the key for me. The problem is I feel totally exhausted after a day of work so it’s not easy to find a task other than laying on the couch. Basically keeping my mind occupied with thoughts other than Im dying or going crazy helps a lot. Bad or drug induced mental habits are very hard to change. These thoughts actually proliferate into physical pain for me but I am slowly understanding that the pain or thoughts are suto self inflicted. I will get better damn it!!!

        • jane Says:

          I am, to the contrary, deteriorating to the extent that suicidal thoughts are haunting me more an more frequently. I’ve totally lost sleep, even sleeping pills sometimes can’t overwhelm severe insomnia. Even when I get some sleep with the pills, next day depression strikes more intensely and I have this dread feeling constantly. Really tough dilemma – to lie down through the whole night with eyes open and horrible thoughts visiting non-stop or to get some artificial sleep and face a next day to bring me the same distress. Also, when I navigate the relevant sites and read the people stories or, for example, Dr. Shipko, observations (just those notes alone could make you absolutely hopeless), it adds an agravation even more. Again, whether to stay away from reading that data at all, or continue to search and search trying to find something helpful – that’s the question.

      • npanth Says:

        Dano, I’m glad you’re not waking up to the Paxil alarm clock. I know you were on a couple different SSRI, I just call it the Paxil alarm clock. That morning zinger was a terrible way to start the day. Getting a good night’s sleep helps a lot, too. I think some of my problems were caused simply because I couldn’t get more than 3-4 hours a night.

        You’re recognizing waves and windows, that’s a big step. One of the big corners that people turn in recovery is recognizing when they’re getting better. It’s easier to see when you’re feeling bad, it’s kind of overwhelming. Somehow, feeling bad becomes… comfortable? familiar? It took me a long time to actually admit that I was feeling better, and longer to recognize the pattern between waves and windows. Somehow, knowing that I was feeling better felt like an admission of failure. It sounds weird and irrational, but that’s what withdrawal brings out in people. gauging the intensity of your symptoms also helps a lot. In the beginning, there doesn’t seem to be any movement at all. Once you know that your symptoms are getting milder, it’s progress.

        You’re using mindfulness to work through withdrawal. That’s great. I have to say, you’re almost a year ahead of me. It took me a very long time to even understand the rules, let alone have any control over withdrawal. I can relate to that deep set feeling of determination to overcome it, too. It didn’t feel like it for a long time, but I know this experience is making me stronger and more compassionate than I was before. Great to hear how you’re doing.

      • npanth Says:

        Jane, it sounds like you’re in the hardest part of withdrawal, stuck between sleep and waking. You mentioned in an earlier post that you were taking an opiod to treat your symptoms. Has that helped at all?

        I had to take a couple breaks from researching withdrawal. Sometimes, it gets to be too much. At different points, I had to stop watching TV and browsing the web, it was too much stimulation. Eventually, I was able to start engaging again.

        If you feel that your well being is in danger, please reach out to someone. You said that your family was very supportive. It may take some time, but you will eventually start to see improvement. I don’t think that the effects of SSRI are permanent, but they do improve slowly, sometimes. It’s very hard to persevere, but it’s worth it. I hope you feel better, soon. I’ll be thinking about you.

        • jane Says:

          Thank you for your support, but seems like you are mistaking me for someone else. I haven’t taken any opioids. I mentioned Stablon (SSRE drug manufactured by the French co.). I started myself on it a couple of ms ago, took it for 5 days only, then dropped it for b/c: first, I felt worse on the 5-th day (now it’s clear to me that it was a usual dip given the nature of this condition, changeable from bad to very bad to dreadful ever), secondly, reading advices, particularly – yours, not to mess up with other drugs. As for supportive family, it’s quite the opposite. I actually explained that I got into this situation due to an unrelenting stress produced by the family. The hideous effect of withdrawal for me goes farther that the typical symptoms. I also have thyroid disease, asthma and allergic rhinitis that are not only exacerbated with unvailing of w/d but don’t get alleviated by the drugs and an inhaler – so, looks like the body got destructed so profoundly that all it’s reactions’ve turned unside down. My allergist was shocked after checking the lung fuction (it got significantly worse compare to previous), but I’ve failed to explain to him what an underlying culprit of it is. Everything that worked in the past just becomes absolutely irrelevant

      • npanth Says:

        I’m sorry, Jane. Another Jane posted here about a month ago with similar symptoms and I thought it was her returning. I agree that other drugs tend to complicate withdrawal more than help. Your post had an immediacy that concerned me. Withdrawal can lead to very dire thoughts. The previous post mentioned that she had found some relief from an opioid, which is why I mentioned it. I’m sorry for the confusion. Your situation is complicated by other illnesses, you might be able to get some coping advice from the support websites listed at the top of this thread. There are people there who have more experience with symptoms caused by drug and condition interactions.

    • Dano Says:

      It’s been a little over a month since my last post. I have read and totally related to many of your posts over the last several weeks. I have had to stop my intense research mode every night to find answers about what has happened over the last 11 plus months. Doing this can cause as many bad results as good. This site by far has been very helpfull to me. The reality of feelings and emotions that I was void of for two decades is interesting (to say the least ). Real anxiety is still scary but when I realize I just have to deal with it void of medicine is a small relief. I have only had the wake and instant total dread feeling a couple days this month. I have been sleeping pretty good as well. GI issues have decreased as well.
      I had a MRI of my brain two weeks ago. They told me my sinuses are completely plugged in multiple places. The good news is I don’t have any major brain issues or tumors. I was convinced for a long time I had a major brain disease or something. I have now had 5 sinus infections in the last 7 months. I have never had one in my life before this year. So I’m going thru withdrawl sindrome with massive sinus infections. The steroid to reduce swelling and antibiotics to beet the infection are giving me lots of brain fog.
      I actually hooked my boat up tonight and have decided to go steelhead trout fishing in the am. This is a big deal to me because I used to do this on a weekly basis and haven’t done it for many many months.
      Don’t get me wrong I still have symptoms every day but they are manageable most of the time. So yes it does get better but it has taken a really long time.

      • npanth Says:

        It’s hard not to dwell on withdrawal research at first. I think it’s very common to spend a little too much time trying to explain what’s happening. The lack of official information leaves patients with little choice but to scour the web for answers. For most people, it fades away over time in a natural way. It may not be directly symptom related, but it’s a common response to withdrawal.
        I’m glad the MRI came back negative. I had the same problem. There were times when I was convinced that I had a permanent neurological problem. The symptoms just didn’t seem like they could be a temporary problem. How can something that severe ever go away? Despite my worst fears, the symptoms have faded over time. Thank goodness.
        When I started tapering, I realized how many of the things I used to love had just quietly slipped away. Fishing, photography, writing, reading, music. Somewhere along the line, I just stopped caring about them one by one. Eventually, I guess I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t realize it until I started tapering, though. Have fun fishing, I hope you catch a couple steelies… even one of those wily browns :) I used to drift egg sacs for browns in a river near where I live. Those tricky little fish would actually steal the eggs right out of the sack, leaving me with nothing but a bit of plastic on the hook when I reeled it in. Amazing.

  32. Kristin Says:

    I am trying to wean myself off Lexapro and am having a very hard time. My question is this. How do you know if these are withdrawal symptoms or this is just how you are without the meds?? We all started taking these meds for a reason, I assume, so how do we know we can even function properly without them? I am so concerned about this because I REALLY want to be able to live a “normal” life that does not include taking anti-dep every day. What if I get through the withdrawal time period and realize I just have to be on medication to function normally. What if I am just stuck with this chemistry that isn’t “right”?
    I applaud all of you and the hard work you are doing to get off these meds. It is not easy.

    • npanth Says:

      That is one of the hardest parts of withdrawal and using an SSRI. It’s very hard to separate the baseline anxiety and depression from those caused by the drug. You can’t really rely on your memories of how you were before you started taking the drug, Those memories are colored by your experiences since. The best way to recognize the difference between withdrawal and a baseline anxiety is to recognize the things in your life that trigger your anxiety/depression. Triggers can be almost anything. Usually, they are stressful encounters that trigger immediate anxiety. There can also be things in your life that trigger stressful memories. Becoming aware of environmental triggers helps you in two ways. It allows you to tell the difference between symptoms caused by the drug, and those caused by the underlying condition. It also allows you to start working on your reactions to those triggers. It’s not easy to do. It takes a long time to sort out the emotions and your reactions to them. I wrote a post about this topic, trying to parse out the different techniques to separate withdrawal from baseline symptoms. http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/separating-ssri-withdrawal-symptoms/
      Withdrawal amplifies emotions, too. Where you might normally react with mild anxiety to driving on a busy road, in withdrawal, the reaction is much stronger. So, as well as identifying which emotions are caused by triggers and which are caused by withdrawal, you also have to gauge the strength of that reaction. It’s complicated, but it does get easier as time goes on. Tapering off of Paxil has been a blessing of sorts for me. While taking the drug, I still experienced the same emotions, but they were numbed. The drug also numbed the cognitive processes that I would normally use to deal with those emotions. So, I was stuck with the consequences of emotional triggers, but had no tools to deal with them.

      The chemical imbalance theory has been under criticism in the past few years. It was originally developed to explain why patients taking antihistamines showed improved mood. There isn’t a biological test to confirm or deny the theory that patients who are experiencing anxiety or depression have a chemical imbalance. Researchers are using it to explain an anecdotal observation made in the 1950’s. It has gained widespread acceptance based more on advertising campaigns rather than scientific observation. If you listen to the commercials carefully, you’ll notice that they carefully avoid tying depression to any imbalance. They use phrases like “it is thought that depression may be related to an imbalance.”

    • Altostrata Says:

      If you have any of the physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as brain zaps, sleeplessness, palpitations, loose stools, temperature dysregulation, etc., your emotional symptoms are also withdrawal symptoms. They don’t exist independently of whatever else is happening in your body.

      Typically, in withdrawal, those emotional symptoms come in surges of anxiety, morbid thoughts, or fear out of the blue, interspersed with periods where you wonder “what the heck was that?” — unlike “normal” emotions.

  33. Ct24 Says:

    Hi all

    Im 26 years old man, I started taking citalopram May the 3rd till the 6th of june 2012. That would be 5 weeks on the drug.

    I started taking citalopram cause I was having a lot of anxiety, and my mother kind of pushed me to start on ssri cause she knew a lot of people that benefited from it. I really didn’t want to take it, since I knew about the sexual side effects it could cause (but only on the drug not after stopping).

    But the doctor made sure they would disappear again when I went off the ssri
    again. She actually said my dose was so small I could stop from day to day. I was having a lot of side effects while on the drug and my libido got a lot worse. So I searched on the sexual side effects on the drug on google, and ended up reading about pssd and became scared as hell.

    I then took half a dose the next day I was on 20mg the entire time and went down to 10mg and then stopped taking it, so almost a cold turkey. And right now im still having libido side effect and my erection is not as hard as it used to be. I improved some from not being on the drug, and its been on and off ever since. I still not feel like the old me, even though some improvement has been made.

    Right now im worried cause I felt I caused this by going cold turkey, can this be reversed by the same drug and how should I do it ?

    Or do you think I should just stay away from all ssri and hope the body can take care of it by itself ? And only being on the drug for 5 weeks is it really that bad to could turkey on a relatively small dose ? I read that you can stop from day to day up to 4 weeks on the medication.

    I have to mention I did not have any other notable side effects from withdrawal from the medication at all. Its only the libido and the decreased erection strength but thats a huge problem too.

    Thanks

    • npanth Says:

      Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common side effects of using an SSRI. There aren’t many concrete numbers on how many patients experience it, the number is anywhere between 3% and 60%. Since you were on the drug for a short time, you should be able to wait it out. It can sometimes take a while for the symptoms to resolve themselves. It’s not the method that you used to stop taking the drug that caused your problem, but the drug itself, so going back on the drug would probably prolong your ED rather than help it. It’s been about 3 months since you stopped. See if waiting another month makes a difference. Some people have extended symptoms, but most people recover in time. It could have a little bit of a psychological aspect to it, too. You expect to have problems because of your experience and it becomes a self fulfilling thing. It’s natural for concern to impact sexual performance. 20MG is a normal dose, so it may take a little while for your body to adjust. I hope it works itself out. I had the same problem while I was taking Paxil. It largely went away when I got down to 0mg/day, then started up again when I had to reinstate. I’m now in this weird place where I have desire but not function. It’s really frustrating. It’s coming back little by little as I taper, so I’m confident that it will work itself out.

      I disagree with your doctor about being able to go on and off a 20MG dose. I’m not a doctor, so my disagreement is anecdotal. What I’ve noticed is that starting and stopping an SSRI puts the body into and out of withdrawal, which usually makes the symptoms worse.

  34. Ct24 Says:

    Thanks for the great reply :) The thing is, that I have never heard of anyone that had cold turkey antidepressant medication and everything returned 100% back to normal before they went on ssri. So that causes some worries, I try not to worry too much though. Maybe its me that spend too much time on websites such as paxilprogress and yahoo pssd group.

    I will definitely wait a month and hope for improvements as you suggested. Another thing other than my decreased libido and erection strength, is that I noticed that my body hair has thinned and even fallen out different places on my body. I highly suspect the ssri medication caused this too, since I have never had this problem before.

    • npanth Says:

      Cold turkey is definitely the hardest way to stop taking an SSRI, but most people do recover in the end. There are some people who have continuing problems, but they are in the minority. Sometimes, they have other reasons for problems, other drugs they’re using, existing problems, etc. I’ve worried about long term problems, but most of those have been unfounded as I continue to improve. I’ve known people who have had terribly hard withdrawal, but came out the other end, hopefully, it’s the same for you.

      Some of my hair has turned white during withdrawal, but I think that might be stress related. I’ve heard that some people have had thinning hair during withdrawal. I’m not sure if it’s due to the drug and withdrawal or stress during withdrawal. I think it could be either.

      • Altostrata Says:

        In the beginning, the new generation antidepressants were thought to have no withdrawal problems. Everyone went cold turkey. It became obvious in the mid ’90s that this was causing injuries, and the warnings about cold turkey — which are unanimous throughout the medical literature — were published.

        Experiments in cold turkey are considered unethical because cold turkey is so thoroughly regarded as harmful. Therefore, observations need to be based on accidental cold turkey, such as in this study:

        In the study, out of 34 women who quit abruptly
        • 26 (70%) reported physical and psychological adverse effects
        • 11 (30%) reported suicidal ideation “because of ‘unbearable’ symptoms,” and 4 were hospitalized

        An additional 3 women “used some form of tapering off. This tapering was unsatisfactory, however, because even these patient suffered from adverse effects.”

        “One woman had a therapeutic abortion because she did not feel she could go through the pregnancy feeling so awful….,” another considered it.

        Paroxetine again was associated with more severe side effects; 6 of the 11 reporting suicidal ideation were taking paroxetine.

        (Note that the events occurred in 1996-97, when the adverse effects of medication on the fetus were still being denied.)

        Including the 3 women who tapered for a total of 37 followed, at best 8 women of 37 , or 21% reported no appreciable symptoms. 11 of 37 (29%) were on the other extreme, with “unbearable” symptoms. The others were in the middle.

        This fits a normal curve, with a small number of people at either end and the majority in the middle.

        A normal curve explains the range of withdrawal reactions in quitting psychiatric medications. The percentages should not be taken seriously as odds because the number of subjects was so small. However, this small study indicates a metaphor of Russian roulette for cold turkey is not far off: one chamber is empty, 4 are loaded with rubber bullets (which can hurt pretty bad), and the last contains a real bullet.

        [b]J Psychiatry Neurosci 2001;26(1):44–8.[/b]
        Abrupt discontinuation of psychotropic drugs during pregnancy: fear of teratogenic risk and impact of counseling.
        Einarson A, Selby P, Koren G.
        Abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11212593 with free full text.

      • npanth Says:

        Thanks for the link. It is a small study, but it’s one of the few I’ve seen that looks at withdrawal and the consequences that people suffer when they quit. I wish there more studies on withdrawal, but I can see why companies are hesitant to do them. I’ve suspected that the percentages of patients who have serious problems is a lot higher than reported. I try to err on the low side when I quote percentages because I don’t want to be seen as exaggerating the problem. It’s bad enough as it is. If only 3% (company sponsored studies) of patients experience withdrawal, that would still represent hundreds of thousands of people having problems. I suspect the number is much higher, more like the numbers that you quote. I think most people get diagnosed with new illnesses, and get new prescriptions, so they are not officially counted as having withdrawal.

        • Altostrata Says:

          I agree. Oft-cited studies estimate incidence of withdrawal syndrome at 20%-80%.

          I estimate the incidence of prolonged withdrawal lasting more than 6 months as 1 in 10.

          The FDA considers an adverse effect “common” if it occurs more than 1 in 100 times.

  35. Ct24 Says:

    I definitely think citalopram messed up something with either my testerone level, thyroid gland or both. Since losing body hair and lowered libido seeems very likely cause of this. I will try get to a doctor and get it checked out. The thing that worries me, is that I been off the drug longer than I been on it and still dealing with these issues.

    • Altostrata Says:

      Rxisk.org, established by David Healy, is collecting reports of long-term adverse effects from drugs.

    • npanth Says:

      Yeah, I think the amount of time you’ve been off the drug should be enough to cover most of the withdrawal symptoms, since you were only on Citalopram for 5 weeks, 3 months ago. Everyone has a unique experience when they try to stop taking an SSRI. Some can just start or stop taking them at will, others have longer term problems. The one thing that the vast majority of people share with their withdrawal experience is that they get through it. Good Luck, I hope it works itself out.

      • Altostrata Says:

        Unfortunately, while it seems length of time (meaning years) on the drug is a risk factor for prolonged withdrawal syndrome, this isn’t always true. It seems there are people who are vulnerable to severe and prolonged withdrawal effects even if they’ve been on the drug a matter of weeks.

        The good news is, withdrawal syndrome does seem to fade eventually, although it can take a very long time.

  36. Victim Says:

    Amazing how quickly the drug becomes the problem for so many people. I consider SSRIs to be the most damaging poison that has ever passed my lips. Three and a half years off and I am ruined by them still. The damage is permanent.

    • npanth Says:

      I don’t think that withdrawal problems are permanent. There are some people who are particularly sensitive to SSRI who have prolonged symptoms. I know a couple people who quit off very high doses of SSRI and experienced years of severe symptoms, but they recovered in the end. I agree that withdrawal can be very debilitating. I’ve often wished I could have that decade back, never have taken Paxil in the first place. I know I’ll get back to my old self, though. I hope it’s the same for you.

      I’ve written about the neurological changes that SSRI make in another post. The drug does cause the brain to make structural changes in response to what it does, but the brain has a remarkable ability to change back once the drug is removed. Hang in there, it will get better.

  37. shriraj Says:

    i had nexito 5mg for 4 days.when u came to know that i was misdigonalysed..(i was given nexito for migraine eventhough it is a ssri..).
    i stop it al of a sudden..and from last 22 days m facing this mood swing problem.which is severe at morning and disappear by night.can any 1 help me out ..how long its gona take 4 me to be normal again.

    • npanth Says:

      Problems with SSRI are usually harder in the morning and get better as the day goes by, as you describe. You should be ok since you only took the drug for a few days. Some people have problems for longer periods, but usually get better in time. I would see how you feel in a week or two and decide from there. If you still have problems then, see a doctor for some tests to see if you have any other problems that are causing your symptoms. I hope you start to feel better soon.

  38. shriraj Says:

    thnks a lot for ur advice..2 days back i wasnt able adjust with the mood swing(which is my biggest.concern)..my mom whose a nurse gave me 1 dexa tablet..she said u ll be ok having it..so my question is will this tablet interfere with my recovery ..as i only read ur post yestetday (which i feel is excellent).i am not at all going to take any medications for this purpose..can u just aswere my simple question which i mentioned here about dexa( glucocorticoid)…hop u reply soon

    • npanth Says:

      I think she gave you the Glucocorticoid to help control Cortisol. High levels of Cortisol can cause morning anxiety and increased anxiety. Cortisol levels start high in the morning, then diminish over the course of the day, just like your symptoms.
      I’ve tried to not take any other drugs while tapering off Paxil (another SSRI, in the same class as Nexito) I don’t want to introduce any new drug effects while I’m tapering off the original drug. Since Dexa is a steroid that affects the adrenal gland, it can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms if used for more than a week. Long term use may cause more problems than it solves. Taking one tablet shouldn’t have a large impact, though. Your mom would know more about the effects and possible problems from taking it, though. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know all the effects of the drug.

      • shriraj Says:

        dude u r jst amazing…evn the doctors out here stopd belvng me..nd thy said i probably go to a psychiatrist ..but ur post helped me out..i feel m recovery..but the ibido level has gone down…i ll defntly wait for a month and also update you with my weekly progress…once again thnk u

      • shriraj Says:

        jst of curiosity i am asking a question…wil i b able to recover completly or is there any effect that is gonna b in my body for ever…it also includes the reduced ebido level..

      • npanth Says:

        My doctor didn’t believe me when I went to him with Paxil withdrawal symptoms, either. According to the manufacturers, SSRI don’t cause withdrawal, so doctors try to diagnose the symptoms they see as something else. Doctors often prescribe new drugs to treat withdrawal, which can introduce new drug effects, and don’t always treat withdrawal. I’ve met some people who are taking a half dozen drugs, each prescribed to treat the side effects or withdrawal symptoms from the previous drug/s.

        I don’t blame the doctors, not entirely. They could apply more critical thinking to the information that they’re given, but in the end, they have to trust the information the drug companies give them. More information is coming out that drug companies have manipulated study results so that side effects and withdrawal are minimized. It’s no wonder that doctors misdiagnose withdrawal as other illnesses.

        Decreased libido is a classic symptom of SSRI. It should slowly return to normal in time. It seems like you are very sensitive to the drug, so it may take a little longer than most people. Patience is the hardest part of stopping an SSRI. It always seems like it will take way too long to get back to normal. I had the same problem while I was taking Paxil. It didn’t start to improve until recently. You shouldn’t have to wait that long.

        Thanks for the compliment. I started writing about withdrawal and SSRI when I realized that what I knew about these drugs was so different from official information. What I was feeling was at odds with what my doctor and the drug companies were saying about Paxil, which didn’t seem right to me. When I got better information about tapering off Paxil from the Internet than I did from the doctor’s office, I decided to share what I had learned. Medicine will catch up, eventually. Most doctors are compassionate people and don’t like to see their patients suffer. I think these drugs could have a place in treatment. It’s not the drugs themselves that are evil, just the way that profits dictate how they are prescribed more than medical need.

        • Altostrata Says:

          For the last 10 years, all antidepressant package inserts contain warnings about withdrawal symptoms and instructions to reinstate and taper slower. If your doctor didn’t know about this, it’s because he or she wasn’t paying attention.

  39. shriraj Says:

    bro i have jst taken 4 tablets of 5mg each…so u have gud xperince can u jst tell me approx how many months i ll face ths problems..have u ever seen any1 completly recovered i mean completely..pls dude help me out..r u completly recovered

    • npanth Says:

      Each person is different when it comes to withdrawaling from an SSRi. Some people can stop without any symptoms, others have extended symptoms. It’s hard to say how long it will last. After taking Paxil for 10 years, I tapered from 40mg/day to 0mg/day in 5 months. It was 5 months of severe symptoms. Two months after I got to 0, I had to start taking 10mg/day again because I felt that my well being was in jeopardy. In the 8 months since then, I’ve been able to taper three times. I’m taking 6.8mg/day right now. My symptoms are mild and manageable, now. I should be able to get back to 0mg/day in another 6-8 months. My goal has changed from getting off the drug as quickly as possible to getting off the drug while maintaining as much quality of life as possible. Since you were only taking the drug for 5 days, you should be able to just stop rather than do an extended taper. Your symptoms shouldn’t last too long. It’s hard to estimate, but I would think that your withdrawal would be measured in weeks rather than months.

  40. shriraj Says:

    frnd i was completly normal.if at all i had anxiety or depression it was completly manageable.i use to keep myslf calm..i jst went to the doc for a headache..i hav no idea why he gav me ths medicine.thnks to my mom tht i stoped it..how can doc b so careless..as i told u..yesterday night i felt very gud as if i was completly normal again.but it startd again in the morning…its just scaring the hell out of me..but ur words are lyk soo help to me.as if god has send u for my help

  41. Altostrata Says:

    Some people have very severe adverse reactions from taking an SSRI like Paxil only a few times. These people are hypersensitive to all serotonergics, including LSD and MDMA. When they go off, it can take some time for their nervous systems to recover. After quitting, they suffer symptoms very much like withdrawal syndrome.

    • shriraj Says:

      so u meant to say ..i can be completely normal in few weeks.how can i come to know m recovering…

      • npanth Says:

        It’s hard to see progress with withdrawal symptoms. The best way to start is to separate existing emotions and symptoms from those that are caused by withdrawal. It takes careful attention to your state of mind and time to understand what is being caused by the drug and what is caused by the environment. Sometimes, I didn’t recognize progress with my symptoms until they had passed. Patience is the most important thing to have while going through the process. You will start to see improvement, but it may not be immediately apparent. I think that you should start to feel better soon because you were on the drug for such a short period of time. It’s hard to be more specific than that because SSRI affect each person differently. As Altostrata said, some people will have problems after just a few doses, others can take the drug for years without any negative side effects. I think the best thing to do is try not to dwell on your symptoms and remember that it is not a failing on your part that is causing your anxiety, but a reaction to a drug. Many people have recovered from SSRI, it shouldn’t have any permanent or long lasting effects on you.

  42. shriraj Says:

    thnks dude..but the problm is that all of a sudden sum wierd thoughrs cum to my mind….whch is unbearable..let me b back in 2 weeks nd if i see ny.progres i ll sure let u knw okk nd if not do hlp me

    • npanth Says:

      Obsessive and compulsive thoughts happen in withdrawal from SSRI. It’s a hard symptom to deal with, sometimes. It’s as if the mind’s regulation is turned off. In normal thought, all kinds of thoughts float towards the surface of consciousness, but the irrational and obsessive ones are usually dismissed easily. Withdrawal allows those thoughts that are out of character to reach consciousness. Being mindful of which thoughts are normal and which ones are caused by a drug interaction can help. It’s hard to tell the difference, at first. All the thoughts coming to mind have the same weight in withdrawal. It takes time to see the difference and consciously dismiss the ones that you don’t want. Instead of being an automatic process, it becomes a manual process in withdrawal.

  43. shriraj Says:

    i forgot to mention that i was on divaa od(divalproex sodium nd valproic acid ) along with nexito…i stop it also…does ths medicine also dangerous nd have withdrawal symptoms

    • npanth Says:

      It may be the combination of an anticonvulsant and an SSRI that is causing your symptoms to be extended. I’m not as familiar with that kind of drug interaction. You might want to join a forum that deals with withdrawal. http://www.paxilprogress.org/ and http://survivingantidepressants.org/ are two good ones.
      Your symptoms may have more to do with your anticonvulsant use rather than the SSRI. That class of drug has more capacity to cause adverse reactions right after starting.

      • shriraj Says:

        but my symptoms nearly vanish by night dude…what is all ths happning m mean jat cant understand…..dud m i in sum trouble

      • npanth Says:

        Most withdrawal symptoms are more severe in the morning, and improve over the course of the day. Reach out to friends and family. You need support, now. Withdrawal can be very hard to deal with, especially alone. If you feel like you’re in danger, please talk to someone about it. I found help at the forums I listed above, but I also talked to friends and family about what I was going through. It will get better. be strong, but rely on the strength of your relationships, too.

      • shriraj Says:

        my family not believng me dear…thy thnk m havng anxiety….nd may b i need to c a pychiartist….how can i mak thm belve tht m not acting nd its jst the medicine ..causing me al ths

      • npanth Says:

        Have them read some of the forum posts and stories from paxilprogress.com and survivingantidepressants.org. There are many people in both places who can completely relate to what you are going through. It’s very common for doctors and families to misunderstand withdrawal, especially when the person experiencing it has existing anxiety. It’s very hard to convince them that this is a different problem, related to a drug, not regular anxiety. It may take some time to convince them that your symptoms are real. It’s easy for you to feel the difference, but sometimes family is slow to recognize what you’re going through.

  44. shriraj Says:

    bro u hav such a gud xperince…pls tell me how long it can tak forvme to b normal all again so tht i can prepare myslf for the worse…is thr a chance ny othr cause…did u evr saw ny1 wth permanent damage frm ssri..lyf is soo hell 4 me.

    • npanth Says:

      How long withdrawal will last is the hardest question to answer. It’s different for each person. These drugs seem to have a very individual effect on people. I’ve met people who were on very high doses of SSRI and antipsychotics and quit. It seemed that they had suffered permanent damage, but they recovered themselves, eventually. It’s very hard to see improvement when you’re living minute by minute with symptoms, but it does get better in time.

      • shriraj Says:

        nd my libido level is gon so low…i was with my grl…whn i held her hands i dnt felt nythng…i kissd her but i wasnt able to feel a thng

      • npanth Says:

        Depersonalization (that empty emotional feeling) and decreased libido are very common during withdrawal. Try to explain to her what’s happening. Assure her that it’s temporary. I had the same problem for a long time, but it’s improving, now. I was on Paxil for a lot longer, so I had the symptoms much longer than you should.

      • shriraj Says:

        u said long tym…how much???a mnth a yr????

      • npanth Says:

        My issue lasted for 10 years, BUT, I was taking Paxil for 10 years, too. It started to improve when I started tapering off the drug. It’s hard to say how long it will last for you, but it should start improving. You were on a couple drugs for a short period of time, which is a good indication that your symptoms should be short lived. Hang in there, it’s hard to see improvement at first, but it should start to get better.

  45. shrirajsomi Says:

    thnk god i meet u.. ur words relif..nw i hav som hop…1 doubt …as long as u used ur med u had low libido nd whn u tapperd ur libido improvd..isnt???

    • npanth Says:

      Yes, it started to improve as I passed 20mg/day on my taper. Decreased libido and function are very common side effects of these drugs. I’ve heard people call them “anti-aphrodisiacs” as a pun on the name “antidepressants”.

  46. shiraj.ks9 Says:

    dude ths me..shriraj..frnd use your such a gud experience u mght hav seen cases like mine..so just mak an analysis nd tell me how long it may tak for me to be completly allrght again…(in mnths or yrs) so tht i can prepar for the worst

    • npanth Says:

      How long withdrawal symptoms will last is the hardest question to answer. Each person has a unique experience with these drugs. Some people can take them for years, stop without a taper, and be fine. Other people take them for a short time and have symptoms for an extended period of time. There does seem to be a correlation between the amount of time that a person takes a drug to the length and severity of their symptoms, but there are exceptions.
      It’s also very hard to look ahead and predict when symptoms will get better. Withdrawal proceeds in waves (feeling bad) and windows (feeling good) that can come and go suddenly. As time goes by, the waves get shorter, and the windows get longer. Eventually, you realize that you haven’t had a wave in quite a while. It’s not like a physical injury where a prognosis and timeline can be made based on similar injuries. I wish there was a way to be certain how long you will experience symptoms, but it’s too variable to really say.
      The best way to tell how long you will have symptoms is to start to track your symptoms. At first, it can be very hard to gauge the severity of symptoms. Keeping a journal can help. As symptoms wax and wane, you will start to see patterns in the severity and length of symptoms. Patience is the hardest, but most important thing, to have in this process. Hang in there, it will start to get better, and when it does, it happens much faster than you think it could.

      • shiraj.ks9 Says:

        patcnce yaahh …u r rght let me wait wait nd wait…god will help me …i knw ….i lll hang on….thnk u ..dear frnd…u jst an angel for me..thnk u

      • npanth Says:

        It doesn’t last as long as you think, or fear. It’s very hard to see the end of it when you’re living minute by minute. It does get better, though. I know the symptoms seem overwhelming right now, they can be severe. You have to see it as finite, something that will pass, though. It takes time, which is the hardest part about withdrawal.

      • shiraj.ks9 Says:

        omg i m feelng recovry….i am upto a limit able to cntrl the wierd feeling ….wow wow feels grt

      • npanth Says:

        That’s great. It’s important to remember that withdrawal happens in waves. I’m not predicting anything or trying to make you scared. Try to take stock of how you feel now and use that knowledge if your symptoms recur. The cycle of waves and windows will turn in your favor. The bad will get shorter, the good will get longer. It’s great that you’re feeling better. Controlling the symptoms of withdrawal takes a while, but you’re doing a good job of it, glad to hear it.

  47. shiraj.ks9 Says:

    omg the wave ..it jst taks the hell out of me…..the wav always mak me frghtnd by sayng my symptoms are permnt….it wont go..u wont get ur sex driv back. ..how to mak it to my control…..wil it b permant

    • Rebecca Says:

      SSRI Antidepressant Concerns for Pregnant Women
      Two of the three most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs in the U.S. — Zoloft and Lexapro– are named in a class action lawsuit claiming these drugs cause birth defects.
      These top sellers are SSRI antidepressants, a class of drugs that have been associated with a range of problems since their introduction in the early 1990s. Put simply, SSRIs change levels of serotonin in the brain.

      EDIT(npanth): This is part of a larger post that Rebecca asked me to delete. I found that pulling this comment out of the comment section made the other comments appear out of order, so I have included just the preface.

      • npanth Says:

        Thank you for the comment, Rebecca. I can’t imagine the choices that women who want to become or are pregnant have to make concerning their SSRI use. It was a very difficult process for me without the added pressure of affecting another life in that fundamental way.

        • shiraj.ks9 Says:

          npath how long does it take nexito to be out of our system

          • npanth Says:

            The drug itself is processed by the body in a relatively short time. It seems that symptoms are caused more by the body’s reaction than direct effects of the drug. An analogy would be a sinus infection. The stuffed up feeling comes more from the body’s reaction to the virus rather than the virus itself. Your system was shocked by the drug, it will take some time to reach equilibrium again.

          • shiraj.ks9 Says:

            thnk u frnd …let me tell u how am feeling…nxt week

      • jane Says:

        Some people in withdrawal tend to think (based on their and others horrible and protracted experience) that a brain restructure caused by a neurotoxical damage, not only from SSRI’s but continuing to unveil during the withdrawal process, is permanent – they see a glass half-empty. More optimistically opinionated see the changes reversible, given the brain’s ability to grow new neurons and connections (plasticity). Both are just speculations. But what’s really mysterious about the nature of the withdrawal process is it’s tendency to wax and wane, sometimes coming back after a long period of remission and striking with even more brutal manifestations of symptoms. If you take into account that it’s not a linear process, still it’s hard to comprehend what has to be happening in the brain (and body) to produce such an effect of never ending and debilitating condition. This phenomenon leaves you in such a distress because in order to battle successfully you have to know your enemy, and this insidious “beast” is totally in disquise.

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          Jane,there is no disguise in what you are going through,I feel your pain more than you think.
          What you need to do is believe in yourself and know that this is happening to so many people.
          You have to have trust that you will get better or you are never going to beat this.
          I have faith in myself that I will beat this,I have no other choice .
          Believe in yourself , keep telling yourself I’m going to get better and you will.

          • shiraj.ks9 Says:

            hii ths is shriraj …npath…dear my
            symptoms became manageable thnks
            for ur help….my libido however is
            fluctuating….sumtyms its gud
            sumtyms poor.. erection not full……
            but i can say libido us not zero soo ….i
            guess its all process of recovery isnt…
            Reply ↓

          • npanth Says:

            It’s a slow process. It takes some time for things to return to normal. It will get better, though. Recognizing progress is the best way to get through it. You’re doing better than you were a few weeks ago, and that points to a resolution in the future. Hang in there.

          • jane Says:

            Thank you, Jay, for your support and kind words, but let me disagree with you. A belief can’t exist without a ground, at least a glimpse of light, some positive dynamics. What I am experiencing though tells me exactly the opposite – I am getting worse, haven’t gotten any windows for a long time, just a terrible solid wave – malicious insomnia, bone numbing fatigue and many more. I am scared of myself now, b/c the suicidal thoughts have become so persistent lately. I understand that people here are trying to soothe and comfort each other on this harsh and brutal journey, but the blogs and forums like this are the only places where we can share and find an understanding (folks outside are not able and, frankly, not willing to comprehend this very bizarre phenomenon). “Political correctness” is not appropriate here. The facts and some testimonies are so unambiguously tragic that they can’t serve as an evidence of the optimistic outcome. One woman’s outcry just reverberates in my mind – she’s 10 years down the road and exclaims rhetorically: who could she hold responsible for her ruined life. Of, course, there are some successful stories as well, but the problem is it’s unpredictable and unique for each person. Now tell me the reason for being hopeful here – I am not any more. Forgive me if it sounds provocative, I am writing with such a pain (didn’t sleep one minute last night, sleeping pills either do not work, or make me very depressed the next day). I am in a total despair. Sorry.

          • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

            “Forgiveness Is Giving Up All Hope Of Having Had A Better Past.”

            Forgiveness is not process of hoping for a better future.

            Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.

            It is a process of accepting that although the past did not turn out as well as we wanted it to, it is unchangeable, and thus all we can do is move on.
            Forgiveness is a moment of realization.
            One in which you understand that holding on to hopes of better Pasts leaves you with no room to hold on to better Futures and Nows.

            This is what I was told by a Psychiatrist when I wished my accident never happened,or If I had not made all the bad decisions I did, I would not be in the position I am in right now.
            I have been on psych drugs for ore 30 yrs,right now I am going through some of the worst pain and emotional distress I have ever experienced,I have had more medical test done than anyone should be aloud to have,there is nothing wrong with me,My GI Doctor and I talked about SSRI and it’s effects on the GI tract and agrees that my being off the drugs has heighten my IBS which is nothing more than nervous stomach.
            The other thing about SSRi’s is that they have an analgesic effect on your body,so while your on them, those little aches and pains you would normally feel are lessened,I have accepted the fact that there is nothing wrong with me and I am training myself to ignore what I believe is drug withdrawal symptoms.Do you think that if you were seriously ill that you would have lasted as long as you have?
            You have given up and the withdrawal has won.
            You need help,and I think your best bet is to join a group,you definitely need so kind of distraction ,sitting around all day
            and obsessing about whats happening to you is just making it worse.
            I’m sorry to be so rash ,but I was the same way and gave up all hope,now things are starting to turn for the better,you need something positive in your life and right now you don’t have that,I don’t care what you have to do,but you need to find an outlet that makes you happy,no one knows better than you what would make you happy,excluding being symptom free
            if that were the case none of us would be here.
            I know right now your in a real deep dark hole,but the best way to get out of one is to stop digging it.
            You have done enough digging it’s time to start crawling, up and out,I know it will be very hard to do,but you have to,
            now else can do it for you.
            BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

          • npanth Says:

            Please take care, Jane. This is the hardest part of withdrawal. I was in the same place for several months. That was the only time I’ve ever felt that my well being, perhaps my life, was in jeopardy. Reach out to anyone you can for support. This is not a permanent state, it will pass and get better. I know how difficult it can be to deal with the overwhelming nature of these feelings. They really do not let up much. It will improve, though. A friend of mine calls it “bunker mode” where you just hunker down until it passes.

          • jane Says:

            You, guys, are the only ones who I can turn to for help. You know as well as I do that no one is able to even remotely understand the condition, that’s why remarks and so-called well-meaning advices to just lead a normal life are so insensitive, that make a situation where you are so vulnerable, much worse. It’s like talking in different languages. With such an intense irritability/ anger/rage some interactions make things much worse. I don’t have a genuinely caring person, let alone group, I can think of. I am not sitting and obsessing about how miserable I am. First, I literally pull myself out of bed every day, otherwise I wouldn’t have been around by now. Trying to be proactive, experimenting with supplements, acupuncture. Unfortunately, had a bad set back with a psychiatrist who recognizes the condition and was supposed to offer some treatment; in reality, it turned out to be an empty promise, he collected the money and lost the interest. What compounds the severity of my symptoms though is that I have multiple chronic conditions and what worked for them before is not effective anymore due to the possibly altered response and triggers. So, I can’t alleviate the bronchospasm with the inhaler I used to, for example, and the specialist is totally bewildered about it. Thank you for your support. I’ll try my best but it’s immensely hard.

          • npanth Says:

            I had a lot of people tell me to just straighten out, or suck it up, or get over it, mind over matter… Most of it was well meaning, but missed the true nature of what I was experiencing. There was no consoling me at that point. I guess it’s a good thing that most people don’t know what it’s like to go through SSRI withdrawal. They didn’t understand the depth of emotion or the intransigence of the symptoms. There wasn’t anything that another person could really say that would improve what I was feeling.
            Try to keep in mind that the symptoms are temporary. Withdrawal disconnects the intellect in a way that makes “mind over matter” not work. Keep thinking it, though. That’s the foundation for the mindfulness that will help later on. Hang in there.

          • shiraj.ks9 Says:

            today 12 30 pm…i felt empty from inside….my
            mind was sayng jst end your life…it scared the
            hell out of me…..whts all ths dear….i thnk i never
            in my lyf had suicidal tendancy….so how is this
            happening……m scared if it comes back i dnt
            thnk i l b able to withstand it …..it was sooo soo
            horrible

          • npanth Says:

            Take care when you feel like that, Shiraj. Many people get the same feelings out of nowhere in withdrawal. I never had problems with suicidal ideation before I started tapering off Paxil. It was an episode, though, it faded in time. Reach out to anyone you can for support. The feeling won’t last forever. Keep in mind that it’s caused by the drug, not some failing on your part.

          • shiraj.ks9 Says:

            that is the problem ..no one believes me anymore…even my parents…my friends not even my gf….they all say ether m acting or i am in some sort of psyciatric problem…so i have stoped talking about this to anyone..i think you are my only hope..

          • npanth Says:

            It’s very hard to convince other people about withdrawal. Since it’s an internal crisis, there isn’t any way for them to really understand what’s happening to you. I didn’t talk about it much, either. Try to be honest about what you’re feeling. Withdrawal does get better, it’s not a permanent thing. Try to tell them that it will get better, because it will. It’s an odd irony that the person in withdrawal has to reassure the people around him/her that it will get better.

          • jane Says:

            I have exactly the same situation: the worse I feel (at the lowest points contemplatint the suicide), the more desperately I try to find an understanding – not only I can’t find a reciprocity or compassion, but it actually pushed people away. As an example that speaks for itself, I started a treatment (just to give it a try) with a practitioner in alternative medicine and gently suggested to familiarize himself with the concept of my condition through your, npath, article and some people comments. And what’s followed?!

            “jane, here is my point: all of this forum stuff is flawed, even that persons ‘7 years of observations’ because the perspective is based in the same flawed, faulty logic that created the mess in the first place. that challenges and flaws in the the body/mind/energy are discrete single incidences of dysfunction that can be ‘cured’ with single, discrete ingredients, interventions or procedures.
            it is the number one fatal flaw in ALL of this. so i deny this persons observations because they live in the same myopic viewpoint as what got everybody in this mess to begin with.
            it shows no respect or understanding of the total natural integrated homeostatic balance the entire organism is. it seeks to take every down to its lowest possible common denominator which is essentially inert.
            and, im quite sure that most of these people were already so physically, emotionally, spiritually and environmentally depleted and bankrupt to begin with that they would be incapable, using the same tired viewpoints, to actually heal themselves.
            as einstein said ‘no problem can be solved from the same level of conciousness that created’. you must see the world anew.”
            I apologize for the long quote but that’s the unambiguous result, moreover he refused to continue my treatment. I am coming to the conclusion that staying in the shelf is at least less traumatic than to look for the allies. It’s been a very traumatic experience for me.

          • npanth Says:

            I began this journey being skeptical of the anecdotal accounts on websites and blogs, too. After many episodes where the doctors were wrong and the “amateurs” were right, I started to believe them. I think the disconnect comes from the fact that most things work as your doctor describes. If a mechanic tells you that your oxygen sensor is bad, but a website says it’s just the wrong gas, I would tend to go with the professional’s opinion. SSRI withdrawal is different, though. The official information is so far off base that it erodes the patient’s confidence in everything they say. Time and again, the symptoms that I described were properly diagnosed by withdrawal survivors when my doctor persisted in pushing new diagnoses and prescriptions on me. Even after I described my withdrawal in detail, my doctor still gave me the exact same tapering schedule he had before. He tried to diagnose me with a pre existing psychosis, despite having my 10 year history of social anxiety in front of him. That was very demoralizing. As I recovered, it was obvious to me that my symptoms were entirely caused by withdrawal. Otherwise, my symptoms would have increased as my dose of Paxil decreased. Instead, I have steadily improved as my dose of Paxil has gone down. It’s apparent to me now that Paxil was causing more problems for me than it was solving… another area where the amateurs are more right than the experts.

          • Altostrata Says:

            That naturopath is taking the same patronizing “I’m the expert” position that medical doctors take. He’s blowing the usual alternative smoke. He doesn’t want to work with someone who asks questions. You are well rid of him.

          • jane Says:

            All I can say – thank you! So far, my very sad experience of seeking help from the outside of the fellow sufferers circle has never brought about any positive outcome, even the relationship based on paying generously for the service presumed to render some relief. I wouldn’t generalize, may be, it’s only my bad luck. Every time I end up thrown way back, having lost a fragile stem of hope, being depressed to the unbearable degree. I know, hypersensitivity (emotional, physical, mental) is to blame. I find myself completely off the track, totally wrecked and distraught. Yesterday, after a first acupuncture session, instead of anticipated decrease of anxiety level, I felt so agitated and depressed that even a sleeping pill didn’t knock me out. Should I just stop trying, lay down the arms and flow with the stream whatever it brings?

          • npanth Says:

            Sometimes, acupuncture can have a stimulating effect on the body and nervous system. That can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms since part of the problem is that the nervous system has become very sensitive to stimulation. As I understand it, there are several different types of acupuncture. Some are stimulating, some are relaxing. I think you have to make that distinction to the acupuncturist when you go for treatment and ask for the relaxing treatment.
            I’ve found that most doctors and therapists misunderstand the nature of SSRI withdrawal, and that misinforms the rest of their advice. I’ve met a few that understand it is an episodic and acute crisis that will respond to talk or cognitive therapy. I think it’s a fundamental problem with the philosophy behind modern medicine. Doctors are taught that the two pillars of modern medicine are surgical and chemical intervention. If all you have is a hammer and a crowbar, everything starts to look like a nail, or a bent nail.

    • npanth Says:

      Waves have a feeling of permanence that they shouldn’t They do feel like they will never end because withdrawal changes our perceptions of reality. That’s how being mindful of changes in symptoms can be helpful. You’re fighting against instinctual emotions in withdrawal, using intellectual knowledge is the best way to combat a bad wave. Knowing that a wave isn’t permanent helps a lot. It will all come back to you in time, hang in there.

      • Rebecca Says:

        shiraj: If you suddenly stop showing up here, many of us here will worry about what happened. Please tell someone who can help you in the nonvirtual world that you’ve had suicidal thoughts. I don’t think you want to kill yourself, but the w/d can bring on such despair that it may cause you to something preventable if someone in the real world knows your situation. Please tell someone who is in a physical position to help about your thoughts. Its none of our choice that the virtual world is our only hope–it’s really unacceptable that the nonvirtual medical establishment has washed its hands of this,horrible problem, but that’s the situation for many of us. Nevertheless, relying solely on online contact is not enough if you are suicidal.. And I definitely believe its as bad as you say.

  48. Rebecca Says:

    Your insights are very helpful to me.

  49. Rebecca Says:

    I am just amazed that even now, after massive documentation of SSRI withdrawal effects, the medical establishment still denies it exists. In email correspondence with a dr. at Harvard, I received the following response. He apparently subscribes to the idea that these effects are “all in your head”–symptoms of the drug user’s own mental disorders and not caused by withdrawal of the drug:
    “The concept that there are routinely “severe cognitive distortions” while tapering off of SSRI antidepressant medications is not a common/typical event; more likely the culprit is not routed in the medication itself.”

    Best of luck,
    JHH

    John H. Halpern, M.D.
    Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
    Harvard Medical School

    Director of the Laboratory for Integrative Psychiatry
    Psychiatrist-in-Charge of Division Coverage
    Acting Interim Medical Director of the McLean Residence at the Brook
    Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse

    • npanth Says:

      The denial facet of withdrawal fascinates me, too. When I went to my doctor at the bottom of withdrawal, he diagnosed me with an existing psychosis that was emerging because I stopped taking Paxil. He had my entire history of mild social anxiety right in front of him as he said it. I was amazed and frustrated that he would make that kind of diagnosis. I’ve never experienced those kind of symptoms before or since. To me, a lay person, it is obvious that I went through an acute and episodic trauma. The only correlation is my cessation of Paxil. If an amateur like me can make that obvious connection based on my anecdotal experience, why do doctors persist in refusing to see it? A small part of me thinks that it is a conspiratorial alliance between manufacturers and doctors to propagate the drugs. When I think about it rationally, I think that the problem begins when the drugs are studied. The FDA allows pharmaceutical companies to present two studies of efficacy vs placebo. Studies that do not prove efficacy can be discarded and kept privately by the companies. So, a company can do dozens of studies with negative results without a negative effect on the regulatory process. The intent of regulation is to compare and contrast the benefits and side effects of drugs and approve them based on all information. That intent has been subverted by pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical companies have two mandates. Make a profit and make effective medications. The balance has shifted too far away from effective medicines, and too far towards profit seeking. I think the balance will eventually swing back towards a more balanced approach. Unfortunately, it will most likely be precipitated by some kind of societal crisis caused by the effects of SSRI use and withdrawal that the companies and doctors go to great lengths to dismiss.

      • Altostrata Says:

        There are very well-meaning people who deny withdrawal syndrome. It’s an inconvenient truth for everyone. See http://criticalpsychiatry.blogspot.com/2012/09/what-does-it-mean-to-say-that.html and comments.

      • Dano Says:

        Altostrata:
        I am very happy to know there are people out there such as yourself that can debate or converse at the level you do. In my state I can only wish I had the knowledge and whit to engage the neigh sayers of this medicine. At one time in my life I would have engaged at this level but I will need much time I regret to say to become mentally healthy again. Please Please keep hammering those people harder and harder with your logic and knowledge. (I really wanted to write foul exsplative language)
        Everyone on this site that speaks out about this condition please accept my sincere thanks. I can only hope to get better and join your/our crusade.

      • Altostrata Says:

        Thank you, Dano. This debate over something that seems so obvious to some of us can be very exhausting. If you feel up to it, please add what you have to say about your experience to http://criticalpsychiatry.blogspot.com/2012/09/what-does-it-mean-to-say-that.html

      • npanth Says:

        It’s interesting that Dr. Double claims that antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are primarily caused by psychological dependence. In great measure, that absolves the drug from any direct effect on the patient. It sounds like a corollary to the reemerging illness line we hear so much about. He seems to back away from that stance a bit in the comments, but just far enough to get a running start at it again.
        It’s frustrating that it is so hard to convince clinicians and regulators of something that seems so obvious to the patients who have experienced it. I’m not sure what it will take. The avalanche of anecdotal incidents hasn’t changed things very much. Multi million and billion dollar settlements haven’t changed things very much. That’s part of the reason I chose to focus on withdrawal itself. I’m not a good debater or a vocal advocate. Debating with people like Dr. Double isn’t something I’d be good at, despite my belief that he is completely wrong.

      • Rebecca Says:

        Thanks to your comments, I’ve seen what a waste of time my arguing can be, so I will not engage Dr. Harvard bigshot, but if I did I would ask him: Since 90% of serotonin receptors on in the gut, would you anticipate any disruption to the GI system when SSRIs are discontinued?

      • Altostrata Says:

        npanth, unless you want to produce citations, all you can do is post about your own experience to refute that kind of nonsense.

      • npanth Says:

        I have a small group of bookmarks that lead to citations, but I’m still in the beginning stages of collecting information. Because most of my information is personal, anecdotal, or communal (sites like yours), I can’t really make the larger arguments about withdrawal, yet. Perhaps I’ll get to that point

      • Rebecca Says:

        Npanth: I think you are a good debater.”He seems to back away from that stance a bit in the comments, but just far enough to get a running start at it again.” (nice!) With psych meds, it is very easy to take the stance that w/d symptoms are part of the users’ original make up. In your article re. w/drawal and anger, you state “anger forms independently in the mind. Instead of rising in response to an external event, withdrawal causes anger without context.” You get to the heart of how w/drawal emotions are uniquely caused by the SSRI disruption of serotonin/receptor ratios. This is an important insight and is difficult to grasp for those who’ve never experienced it. Even sympathetic and rational drs. can’t grasp that these emotions are different from nondrug induced emotions. Once a person is classified as a psych patient, emotions provoked by w/drawal are mistakenly assumed to be the reemergence of states that the drug was “treating.” It is a circular, closed world view, very self-reinforcing and self-justifying for those whose only tool is to prescribe these drugs.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Npanth: you write “Because most of my information is personal, anecdotal, or communal (sites like yours), I can’t really make the larger arguments about withdrawal, yet.” I think it is a mistake to think that the nay sayers are at a higher level of discourse that we need to rise to. By accepting their premises, the use of the word ” anecdotal” is unnecessarily dismissive of thousands of individual reports. Dr. Harvard can dismiss this evidence simply by describing it as anecdotal. Scientists think the response of inarticulate lab rats is more valid than 1000s of individual human reports. Science thinks it is infallible. What it can’t measure in the lab does not exist. Scientists operate on speculative theories and subjective interests much more than they want to admit. For instance, they simply accept the assertion that SSRIs “work” by increasing levels of serotonin. Yet, actual levels of serotonin in the brain can’t be measured.
      The scientific world view is a kind of depersonalization: the personal is suspect.This is why the mainstream can deny the existence of ssri withdrawal. Interestingly, depersonalization is one of the effects of taking SSRIs. I and many others share the experience you describe: “I knew that I had become less empathetic, less self aware, more insular. I didn’t like the person I had become. Initially, I didn’t make the connection between Paxil and the strange sense of disconnection that I had developed.” Flattening out, limiting the range of emotion is one of the goals in prescribing SSRIs–problematic feelings are masked, with a net effect of distancing the user from personal experience. Certainly this can reduce negative emotions, but it also reduces positive emotions–a net effect of depersonalization–of distancing oneself from oneself and others. The goal of depersonalization is also the goal of science. Emotions are suspect. But, Intellect divorced from emotions leads to grandiosity–belief in ones own infallibility. This is a way of managing the uncertainties of life. The term anecdotal is a way of confirming a world view that denies the validity of personal experience. If we accept these assumptions, we deny the truth of our own experience, we accept that lab rats are a more valid measure of reality.

      knew that I had become less empathetic, less self aware, more insular. I didn’t like the person I had become. Initially, I didn’t make the connection between Paxil and the strange sense of disconnection that I had developed.

      • Altostrata Says:

        David Healy explains the fallacy of dismissing anecdotal evidence here http://davidhealy.org/the-unbearable-lightness-of-being/

      • npanth Says:

        Thank you Rebecca. I try to moderate what I say about withdrawal. Because withdrawal is seen as an anecdotal problem, not described in literature or studies, I feel that I have to be careful what claims I make about it. The fact that withdrawal has not been widely studied is a convenient omission. I keep telling myself that I need to be twice as right and half as angry when I’m talking about withdrawal. I try to suppress the more emotional things I feel about it, because expressing those feelings would make my argument easier to dismiss.
        I use the term anecdotal to describe individual experiences that have not been proven in a Randomized Control Trial. That’s the language of regulators and manufacturers. I think if we want to affect change in the way that SSRI are prescribed and used, we have to speak the same language. It’s frustrating, but I think it’s the only way to make progress. The preponderance of evidence that SSRI cause cognitive problems during use and withdrawal after cessation is obvious to me. Changing the regulatory behavior towards the companies and the way they study their drugs has to be done within the system, though.

      • npanth Says:

        Altostrata, I agree that adverse reactions to SSRI cannot be adequately captured in an RCT, and dismissing anecdotal reports because they are not described in an RCT is a circular argument that withdrawal doesn’t exist. Until the changes that Dr. Healy describes are instituted, we only have the current system to work with. He proposes that doctors contribute to the description of signals, which I would like to see. At present, though, doctors don’t adequately report adverse reactions. Only 1% of adverse reactions are reported. Writing about adverse reactions and describing them is a start. Eventually, the evidence of “anecdotal” reactions will become too much to deny and they will either be studied or described in some other fashion. I guess all we can do is keep going.

      • Rebecca Says:

        I agree it’s helpful to use terms that the other side understands and i don’t fault your use of the term anecdotal–I know you don’t discount individual experiences. i’m a word person and can get sidetracked by semantics. in any event,this is all out the window when I deal with w/d. I’m just starting the taper and intellectualizing may be a way of putting off the dread. My arguments aren’t much help when dealing with the reality of w/d. I’m really afraid of it. It helps a lot to be in touch with others who have been through it.

      • npanth Says:

        Rebecca, you’re way ahead of where I was when I started tapering off Paxil. I didn’t even know the basics, let alone tapering strategies or the larger issues of regulatory and prescription policy. I don’t entirely see the regulators, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies as adversaries. They have the authority to make the changes that we would like to see, they just lack the conviction to do it. It could be lack of information, deliberate, or conspiratorial. I don’t really see a huge conspiracy between pharmaceutical companies and regulators beyond the profit motive all of the companies share. We’ll get there, I think. When the balance between customer safety and profit has been changed in the past, it has eventually been corrected. From the Trust Busters at the beginning of the last century, to the chemical companies mid century to the tobacco companies late century, malfeasance eventually catches up with the companies.
        I know what you mean about being afraid of withdrawal, it can be scary at times. You will reach a point where you understand it better in an intrinsic way, though. The intellectual information you’re banking now will eventually become internalized and withdrawal will lose its mystery. Once it becomes a known process, it’s much easier to gauge how you’re doing and see the longer arc of recovery. Thanks, your comments are very valuable to me.

  50. Rebecca Says:

    Npanth: your insights are so helpful. I quote the ones that are most helpful for me:”My issues with antidepressants stem from the reckless way they are prescribed and the intentional lack of information about withdrawal and discontinuation that is provided by regulators and manufacturers.
    The experience left me with a bit of bitterness.
    Arguing just entrenches everyone in their positions and leads nowhere.
    I was, and am, very angry at a system that allows people to suffer like that.
    I focused that anger on the pharmaceutical companies and my doctor.
    Acting out on those feelings would have been counterproductive to my recovery.”
    Mpanth: I also find I focus my anger at the drug companies, and that this is counterproductive. I go into default argument mode. Your comments made me realize how this just exasperates withdrawal hell. I have been trying to get off of Zoloft for a very long time. My withdrawal feels like a combo of benzo withdrawal (anxiety); heroin withdrawal (flu-like symptoms and nausea); and LSD (perceptual/cognitive distortions).

    • Rebecca Says:

      “I don’t entirely see the regulators, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies as adversaries. ” This statement has had big effect on me, I feel my anger lifting, Now I see the regulators and the pharma system on a parallel line, not intersecting, not on a collision course; So there’s no futile running up against a wall. Parallel is very peaceful., instead of being a boxer (Like the Paul Simon song)

  51. Rebecca Says:

    Npanth: I have one concern that I would like to ask you that I would rather not post to the internet. Is it possible to correspond with in private? Do these posts automatically post to the public view or do you moderate each one before posting?

  52. Altostrata Says:

    npanth, I think you express yourself very well, and do fine with debate.

  53. Annie Says:

    Thank you for this so much. I’ve PTSD and went on Celexa, an SSRI after some really tough life events that triggered some severe symptoms. I was on it for 2.5 years. I tapered down 2mg a week for 20 weeks. This last month, I have been having the terrible emotions you wrote about…intense irritation, especially this last week, crying, panic attacks, barely controllable anger, tears at work. I started thinking it was the PTSD and I would have to go back on the medication. Do you think it could be withdrawal at this stage? Will it even it? I just started a job I love and graduate school, it’s a lot of stress and I have a loving partner now but he is irritating me tremendously when he didn’t before. I’m so impatient now. I am not having PTSD hallucinations or nigntmares but I feel like I am not handling the stress and getting triggered into anger/rage/ irritation. My usual ‘chill’ techniques are not working either. What do you think?

    • npanth Says:

      It depends. The symptoms you describe are very much a part of SSRI withdrawal. They are also symptoms of PTSD. I would lean towards SSRI withdrawal because your taper was fast, which makes the symptoms worse. The best way to find out would be to reinstate Celexa at a lower dose. If your symptoms begin to abate in a week or so, it is almost certainly caused by withdrawal.
      To calculate a reinstatement dose, start with the date you started tapering, and reduce the dosage 10% of your previous dose every 4 weeks. It looks like you were on 40mg/day and tapered for 5 months. Using that reduction schedule, you would be taking a little over 20mg/day now. I started on May 10, 2012, and reduced the dose every 30 days. You can get a spreadsheet that can help you calculate dose reductions here: http://www.paxilprogress.org/forums/showthread.php?t=41850
      It’s very hard to describe the symptoms to someone who hasn’t experienced them, especially the anger and irritability. Try to be honest with your partner. You may say or do things that are out of character. It’s very hard to control the anger at times. Make sure to impress on your partner that you’re not doing it out of spite or anger or any other natural emotion. It’s driven from somewhere else. I wrote a post about anger and irritability here: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/dealing-with-anger-during-ssri-withdrawal/
      Hang in there, the anger phase is frightening and hard to get through, but it does get better.
      One question that might change the dosage is how long has it been since your reached the end of your taper? You said that you started experiencing symptoms this month. Was that when you finished tapering?

      • Annie Says:

        I just went to zero on Sunday after taking 2mg slivers for a week. Wow, 5 months was too fast? I guess that is hopeful that it is SSRI withdrawal. I was thinking about the benefits since I started going off the medication…I a tally wake up in the morning and 7 to 8 hours is plenty….way cool. I feel more alive and the silly part of me is more there. I have still lost my sexy side and I hope my drive comes back. Is that from the withdrawal too? I have like no sex interest. I’m interested in the reinstatement and slower taper. What do you think I should go to?

      • npanth Says:

        Isn’t it amazing how emotions and and that daytime exhaustion go away? I didn’t realize what was causing it at the time, but 5 years ago, I fell asleep at my desk every morning at 10AM. I tried energy drinks, coffee, going to sleep at 6PM! Nothing helped. When I started tapering off Paxil, my energy started returning. At this point, I don’t have that anymore. I didn’t realize how much my emotions were being suppressed while I was on the drug, too. It wasn’t until they started to emerge during tapering that it dawned on me that my whole perspective was wrong. I thought I was doing ok. Looking back, I was an insular, self absorbed shell of myself. It’s a little creepy how easily I was sold on this drug, and how profound and long lasting the effects were/are.
        Decreased libido and function are classic symptoms of SSRI. It varies from person to person, but it usually returns after some time. I was essentially a chemical eunuch for 10 years. I thought I was either getting older, or had some other problem, or I don’t know. I started tapering off Paxil and wow… I wasn’t really prepared for that. Cool :)
        When I first decided to taper off 40mg/day of Paxil, my doctor gave me a 2 month tapering schedule. I thought I was being smart by more than doubling that to 5 months. It was 5 months I wish I could erase, just scrub it out of my mind. Anger, depression, anxiety, dizziness, and a host of other symptoms. For people who are sensitive to these drugs, a much slower tapering schedule is required. It’s not acknowledged by doctors. They lack information about withdrawal, so they try to make a new diagnosis based on the symptoms. It’s a difficult diagnostic problem, most people who take SSRI did so for an existing condition. Separating the symptoms of that condition from withdrawal isn’t easy. If amateurs like me and others can do it, I’m certain that doctors should be able to do it, too. Your reinstatement dose of Celexa would be about 20mg/day. That should take away most of the symptoms. I wrote an article about reinstating here: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/reinstating-ssri-use-during-withdrawal/ You might want to start a topic at http://www.paxilprogress.org/ or http://survivingantidepressants.org/ There are many people there who have been through withdrawal, specifically Celexa. I know more about Paxil withdrawal and the common elements between that drug and other SSRI. There may be some symptoms/gotchyas to Celexa that they could help you with.

  54. Jay Benson Sr. Says:

    I suffered a near fatal accident back in 1978,although I got over it physically I never got over it psychologically.
    I was misdiagnosed by my first psychiatrist and told that I was suffering from depression and was put on enddep a very sedative drug and would sleep all the time,I did not like this drug so he put me on elavil (sp) after a year of feeling worse coming out of his office than going in,I tried suicide as you can see this didn’t work and was just a cry for help.
    I found another psych and he diagnosed me with PTSD and put me on Norpramin and Xanax ,after 3 yrs of therapy
    I was feeling good again,until I went back to the job that I almost died from,it didn’t take long before I was back to feeling like crap again and finally quit my job ,The Norpramin cause positional hypertension and I had to go on another ssri luvox
    I never did get back to my same old self and have been on almost every psych drug going.
    over 30 yrs of taking psych drugs and now I have, through not being able to tolerate the side effects of these drugs have stopped taking them,and get this ,my forth Psychiatrist has thrown his hands in the air as to what to do for me,he says that I am confrontational and I should continue my sessions with a, just out of collage psych student who has yet to experience
    life herself,I am 61yrs old and she is 24 give me a break, these sessions do nothing for me.
    Since stopping these drugs a month ago I am going thought the worst systems I have ever experienced.
    I have been diagnosed with IBS and I am in severe pain,I believe it is because I am no longer taking an SSRI that I am experiencing all these systems,including all the ones people here are complaining about,I know I have a long road ahead
    and it’s not going to be easy ,but I need to believe that these systems are caused by my brain trying to adjust to 30+ years of SSRI’s and now it is trying to remap.
    I hope I can get through this,because I have no choice,I just wish I was told about the long term side effects and the
    living hell I am going through right now.
    Thanks for reading and I hope everyone gets well soon ,I’ll hang in there if you do.
    JVBSR

    • npanth Says:

      Gastrointestinal problems are very common in withdrawal from an SSRI. Besides acting as a neurotransmitter, Serotonin is used in digestion. The symptoms are often diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Ironically, many doctors prescribe SSRI to treat the symptoms.
      I know a couple people who have had to change psychiatrists because they were labeled “confrontational” or “difficult” I don’t understand that. That’s the very reason they’re seeing a psych, right? That’s like an IT person saying they can’t fix your printer because it won’t print.
      You might consider reinstating on the last medication you were taking and doing a slow taper from there. Withdrawal can be traumatic in its own right. Even after long term use, many doctors will recommend a precipitous taper off the medications. The official taper method causes many problems for people who are sensitive to the drugs. Good luck, withdrawal can be hard, but it has other rewards. SSRI numb us cognitively and emotionally, suppress self awareness, and many other problems. Seeing that veil lift before your eyes is a really enlightening experience.

    • jane Says:

      I’d like to ask Jay Benson some questions about IBS. Did you have symptoms of IBS before withdrawal began? Was an onset sudden or gradual? Could you tell what exactly you are experiencing that make you or your doctor diagnose IBS? What are you taking to relieve pain? Any suggestions? I am having non-stop abdominal pain for about 2 weeks. Couple of days ago I recklessly took Ibuprofen because couldn’t stand it any more and it was a disaster – I had to go to the ER. They prescribed something containing barbiturates – and it made me so-o-o depressed. I noticed that every time I take any drug with anticholinergic effect (sleeping pill or benzo) I react with a bout of severe depression. I have no ideal what to do – it’s not possible to tolerate pain and insomnia infinitely but the adverse effects are as bad if not more. I don’t know which of 2 evils to choose from.

      • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

        Hi Jane , Yes I did have symptoms before withdrawal but I believed they were brought on by Celexa ,which by the ways was one of the side effects of the drug, after reading about the bad press it got,my Dr. took me off and put me on Luvox,I just had an MRI down last Monday and it was normal,My GI Dr. has prescribed Donatol (BELLA – PHENOBARB) for pain and muscle spasms of the colon.I will let you know how this drug works out,in the meantime
        I am still in a lot of pain,but I have noticed that certain foods are triggering more severe problems because of gas
        associated with the digestion.
        I also started to take 12mg of Luvox hoping to ease some of the pain,but I now know this was a mistake as now I am experiencing a lot of anxiety, panic attacks off balance and other side effects that I didn’t have before I was off the luvox ,so I am taking a slow tapper, even though I was only on it for a couple of weeks.
        Its a vicious cycle that seems to have no end but now that I know nothing is truly wrong physically my approach
        is to follow my GI Doctors advice and hope this will finally give me the mind set that I need to believe I can do this.
        P.S Not all my days are bad just most.
        Jay

        • jane Says:

          Hi Jay, thank you so much for your prompt reply. I was prescribed the same drug Donnatal in the ER but it doesn’t work for me – even when it makes the pain somehow easier, it doesn’t eliminate severe bloating as I am about to implode and that’s prevents me from sleeping for even 1 min. at night. I forgot to ask if you are also loosing weight due to that GI turmoil. And MRI in the case like ours – what could it reveal and can it replace a colonoscopy – I wouldn’t be able to sustain the procedure in the state I am now in – not sleeping at all for many-many nights, having lost a lot of weight, very weak and frail. I am about to see a GI doctor tomorrow (a new one for me) but I really don’t see how I can last, even till then. And anyway, what can I expect from just being seen in the office?

      • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

        HI Jane, yes I have lost 45lbs in the last 2 months,I just can’t eat ,between being constipated and diarrhea and the pain its a constant battle just to keep my sanity,A colonoscopy will probably show a little irritation or a polyp or 2,
        but I have had 3 in the last 5 yrs and they have only confirmed what my Dr. and I already new ,diverticulitis.
        The MRI was a last resort effort to satisfy My Dr. and Me that there were no underlying problems,cancer being the big one.
        I wish there was something I could say or recommend to help you in your most dire situation,but I am at a lost for
        suggestions,I will tell you this and you probably have tried it,but I will pop a couple of 1mg Xanax and hour before I go to bed,and it does help me sleep and relieves the pain to a tolerable level, not the best thing to do but it helps
        me, so I do it.
        I wish you well and good luck with your exam.
        Jay Benson.

  55. wele Says:

    Thank you so much for you article. It’s given me a lot of hope and it’s really refreshing to find a forum where we can discuss issues like this. There wasn’t any mention of side-effects or withdrawal symptoms when I was put on Effexor back 8 years ago. I’ve come to realize that while Dr’s do mean well, they have absolutely no idea what we’re going through (unless they’ve taken SSRI’s).

    I was a longtime user (8 years) of SSRI’s for panic attacks and decided to start the tapering process about a year ago. I was on Effexor for the first 3 years and Citalopram for the next 5. Tapering was going really well until I got to the 10mg mark and it all went downhill from there. The withdrawal symptoms were horrific and as someone with anxiety, was making that and my panic attacks even worse. I was lucky enough to find a pharmacy that was able to compound the medication into REALLY small doses. They were able to get me down to 0.13mg which helped but the withdrawal has continued fast and furious. I began to get symptoms of depression which I’d never experienced before. Along with it came some OCD-type intrusive thoughts. These symptoms have been debilitating me for the past 2 months. I’m now struggling with the idea of going back on medication (which I really don’t want to do). It’s hard to know if these newly developed depressive/OCD type issues are a result of the stopping of the meds or something that was dormant in me. As one user described I”m also getting that surge of depression/dread/anxiety in the AM as soon as I wake, which doesn’t make for a very productive day. If you could shed any light on these new issues that I’m experiencing that would be great. I just don’t feel like myself and wonder if I ever will again.

    Thanks again for your wonderfully informative post!

    • npanth Says:

      The combination of symptoms that you describe sounds very much like withdrawal. I often wondered if tapering off Paxil was unmasking some intrinsic problem. Over time, though, it became clear that the issues I was experiencing with anxiety, depression, panic, obsessive thoughts were all related to tapering off the drug too fast. In order to be an underlying issue, the symptoms would have continued to get worse as the dose of drug became lower. Instead, those problems have all gone away. It’s obvious to me now that they were caused by withdrawal. Beyond that, it appears that Paxil was causing some of the issues that I was taking the drug to deal with. I got depressed every 4-6 weeks for 10 years while I was taking Paxil. That issue has resolved itself now that I’m on a much lower dose.
      My doctor didn’t understand withdrawal, either. He made several new diagnoses that were based on the chemical imbalance theory. Instead of recognizing that what I was feeling was episodic, he tried to convince me that it was a lifelong issue. If I had followed his advice, I’d be on Paxil as well as two other psych meds at this point. I think I would have deteriorated instead of improved. I agree with you that he probably meant well.
      I can understand your feeling that you would rather not get back onto the drug. The issue is one of quality of life, though. It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea that I need to taper off Paxil very slowly. I still feel the head-full-of-wool feeling, but I can also see the old me emerging slowly. I don’t get the anxiety, panic, obsessive thoughts, morning anxiety or other symptoms anymore. From my original dose of 40mg/day, I’m down to 6.8mg/day. I’m getting close, now. It will be several months before I get off Paxil completely, but it’s within sight. There’s a big temptation to speed things up, but I’m doing my best to be patient about it. Withdrawal has a way of catching up with you all at once. You may do a taper or two and feel fine. Then the cumulative effects of several tapers appear. My last two tapers have been virtually symptom free, but I’m not going slow so I feel better tomorrow. I’m going slow because I want to feel better two months from now, too. Keeping my slow schedule will pay dividends when I reach 0mg/day.
      I hope that helps. I’m sorry you’re feeling bad. I remember that feeling, it stinks to feel that the symptoms will never get better, that there’s something wrong with you. One of the nuances of withdrawal is that you can’t recognize progress as it’s happening, only after it’s happened. Hang in there.

    • wele Says:

      hmmm….no sure why my post was listed before older posts.

      • npanth Says:

        That started happening on this post about a week ago. I think that the number of comments may have surpassed WordPress’ comment system. Too many nested replies, maybe.

      • wele Says:

        yes, well this seems to be a popular thread and I completely understand why — WordPress`comment system doesn`t know what`s hit them! Thanks for your insight and kind words. It’s so true about the good and bad days. Today I feel really strong mentally but who knows that tomorrow may bring. It`s great to know that there are other people dealing with the same issues as I am and I can come back here to get feedback if need be. As many other users have already stated, while our family and friends mean well and care about us, they really don`t understand the complete turmoil that is going on in our minds. Thanks again and best of luck with your journey!

        Also, because I had so much trouble tapering off my meds and my Dr. was completely dumbfounded that I wasn`t able to go from 5mg of Citalopram to 0mg, there is an amazing company called pharmacy.ca. They are a Canadian company and as far as I know only available to Canadians…BUT they have amazing tapering programs and was able to go as low as 0.13mg. So for any Canadians that are struggling as much as I was I encourage you to check them out — they saved me!

      • Altostrata Says:

        wele, thanks so much for posting about pharmacy.ca I see some very valuable information at http://www.pharmacy.ca/ssridiscontinuation.shtml?active=15 — they’ve documented better results with a slower taper!!!!

      • npanth Says:

        That’s a great link, thanks for posting it… bookmarked! It’s amazing that there is documented information about tapering and withdrawal symptoms. That kind of information is rare. A compounding pharmacy is a great resource. I haven’t been able to find one around here, yet, so I’m filing my pills down with a swiss army knife. It’s working so far, but it’s not the best method. The slight variations in dose is a risk. I’m just glad I was able to convince my doctor to prescribe 10mg pills… only took 9 months. Cutting and filing those 40mg pills was too hard, my symptoms were all over the place back then.
        My theory about the comments is that some reply in here is messing up the sorting system. If I could figure out which one it is and pull it out, the whole thing would re-sort back to the way it should be. I’m not going to start messing with it like some Jenga pile, though.

      • wele Says:

        lol…yes, best to to mess with the Jenga pile. I remember the days of filing down my pills in the kitchen. I can`t even describe how ecstatic I was when my doctor found this place. It was actually relatively close to my house and they are SO friendly there. I was almost ready to jump around the counter and give them a hug….but quickly decided that wouldn`t be appropriate ;)

        Altostrata, yes, I was also very excited and surprised to find the information on the benefits of tapering. I also checked out your site yesterday and was very happy to see the plethora of information. I think I`m just happy to have finally found some answers. All of these resources have given me some hope :)

  56. emma Says:

    i have been clean of all ssris for 6 months 2 weeks and still my head feels awful, full, frazzled, sick but not depressed!!! just horribley horribley wrong????? any advice, have been taking 5 htp on shrinks advice for 2 days, nothing!!! i hate the length of time this is takin!!!!!!!! anyone any advice? x

  57. emma Says:

    Hi I was on ssris for 15 years i am 36, have been off for 6 months and 2 weeks and I still feel awful!!! not depressed, but horrible horrible head feeling, fog, sad, confusion, hurting, cluttered, physical feeling of wanting remove sometihing from my head, I hate it and it is taking soooooooo long, i will never ever ever take ssris or any medical head drug again but my my shrink has told me to take 5htp i have been on for 2 days and i pray it helps, any advice please because i just dont know what to do!!! i want to get on with life, have a baby but can do anything until i feel mentally stable, any advice?? x

    • npanth Says:

      What method did you use to taper off the SSRI? People who are sensitive to SSRI have to taper off these drugs very slowly, much slower than the schedules that most doctors use. I think that the brain adjusts to the lack of an SSRI at about 10% reductions each month. That’s why the slow taper method seems to minimize symptoms. Fast tapering and quitting cold turkey seems to shock the system, making symptoms more severe and long lasting. 6 months out may be at the break even point for trying to reinstate and do a slow taper. It’s hard to say how long the symptoms will last, withdrawal is a very crooked road. The steady symptoms will begin to break up into waves and windows. Slowly, the waves will get shorter and milder, the windows longer and better.
      I haven’t tried 5-HTP. I’ve read some comments and articles that express concern about it. It works in a similar way to the original SSRI, which may alleviate some immediate symptoms, but prolong the overall progress of withdrawal. Withdrawal is about immediate problems, though, so I wouldn’t discourage you from using it if it is helping.
      The best method for dealing with withdrawal symptoms is to be mindful of where they originate from. It’s difficult at first to divide feelings into those caused by withdrawal and those that arise naturally. At first, there is no context to judge emotions. They all seem to arise from the same source. Eventually, it becomes easier to separate them out and it becomes almost second nature. Some emotions need to be dealt with in order to process them and understand why they’re occurring. Other emotions are just being thrust upon you by the drug. Those need to be dealt with, but not incorporated like a legitimate emotion.

  58. Rebecca Says:

    today I got a combo of dha (fish oil) and phosphatidylserine. I’m also reducing anger, caffeine and practicing being happy.There seem to be a lot of opinions pro and con re. supplements, etc. I think when someone is in despair re. withdrawal, they have to try a lot of things, no one should judge, no one can tell them what to do –no one else is in your shoes. My ND thinks liver detox is very important. I think laughter is important. I do know that acupuncture if done by a skilled practitioner (that’s very important) can do a lot. I went to acupuncture with massive brain fog depression, and the treatment lifted the fog. I’ve realized that giving up finding someone to blame is key to my own survival.

    • Rebecca Says:

      So I got the advice to get phosphatidylserine from a different SSRI w/d website. Now, I’m Reporting back from the trial and error approach .This supplement wasn’t what I needed — Caused brain fog. I’m tending toward the view of supplements as too hit or miss to be much help–with the fluctuations of w/d so variant who knows at any given point what amino acid might be helpful or which is just as likely to be detrimental.

  59. Jay Benson Sr. Says:

    Jane,I truly hope you get better,just hang in there and keep us up to date.

  60. emma tolliday Says:

    thanks for reply npath, I do think possibley my 6 month taper off of seroxat was too fast but there is absolutley no way I would ever reinstate to taper again. I just need to keep going, the thing with 5htp is I dont want to then withdraw from something else but then CITA an organisation for ssri withdrarawl suggest it too, i might give it a few weeks then stop, my shrink also recomended it to help start fixing nerouns, i would love to take nothing but it got so bad that i needed to try something (but as i said would never take a chemical drug every again!!). good news is I am following a raw food lifestyle and that has done wonders for the body and energy levels, I am just waiting for the head to catch up!! x

    • npanth Says:

      I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying supplements. I’ve tried to stay away from them because I don’t want to complicate things… they’re tough enough as is. I think it’s important to bring up the concerns that people have about them. We got into this mess in the first place because people didn’t give us all the information about what we were taking. Withdrawal is a very personal and individually unique experience. If a supplements helps, that’s a good thing.
      I understand your sentiment about not taking the drug again. I felt the same way. After realizing that the drug acts very differently than we expected, it’s very hard to start using it again. I reinstated on Paxil two months after tapering off. It was a very hard decision. I had come to treasure the reawakening that I had experienced off Paxil. Friends who had known me from before I started Paxil all commented on how the old me was coming back. I didn’t realize how much Paxil had suppressed my character and mind. A self fulfilling effect. I needed to maintain some quality of life, though. I felt the Paxil blanket lowering over my mind within a week. It was infuriating to watch my mind slip away into a drug fog, again. 10 months later, I would still do it again, though, despite the cost. My mind is slowly reemerging and I don’t have the overwhelming symptoms I had before. I’ll get off this drug, just a lot slower than I thought. I hate taking those pills, refilling the prescription feels like a failure every time I do it. It serves a greater victory, though.
      You’ll get better, either way you go. I hope the symptoms are short lived. Progress comes on suddenly, you may be just a few days away from a breakthrough. Here’s hoping :)

      • emma tolliday Says:

        thats the nicest thing anyone has said that I could be days away from a breakthrough, I will think that every day!!! good news is I am going on holiday for a week to greece tomorrow and if I am not too agitated and frazzled I am going to lap up as much vitamin D as possible, 5HTP doesnt seem to be doing anything anyway< and I agree with the fact that just let nature take its course, I just needed to try something, heres hoping the breakthrough is very soon, I soooo want to start a family and time is running out I am 36 but just cant do it until I feel mentally able to handle it and with withdrarawl I just cant have anything else added to my plate!!! x

      • npanth Says:

        Mel Fischer always said “Today is the day we find the treasure” when he was searching for the Atocha. He said that for years until it came true. Our hunt for wellness won’t take as long, hopefully, but the sentiment is appropriate. I had a wave last March were I started slurring my words and had trouble with fine motor control. My friends and family were worried that I had a stroke. It came on suddenly, and went away just as suddenly two weeks later. It was the beginning of period of steady improvement that has continued up to this point.. It’s hard to know what’s happening in your mind. I think waves are external symptoms of the brain adjusting, which is the foundation of recovery. Have fun in Greece, savor the wonder of doing nothing in a beautiful place.
        Try to put the idea that time to have a family is slipping away out of your mind. Withdrawal has a feeling of permanence that it doesn’t really have. It feels like it will last for years, even forever, but it does get better, and faster than you would think.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        thank you, this is the encouragement i need! My husband thinks i shouldnt look at other peoples withdrarawl developments but it is the only thing that keeps me going as sometimes it is sooooo bad and I need to see that other people get better, thank you for your kind words! x

      • npanth Says:

        I agree and disagree with your husband. There is a fine line between seeking encouragement and obsessing over symptoms. Being mindful of your symptoms, and determining if those problems come from withdrawal or some other place is important in recovery. Being consumed by the symptoms and trying to understand what causes them is part of withdrawal from an SSRI. Many people go through the same process. We’re forced to seek out information from other patients because the official information on withdrawal is so lacking. Be aware of the amount of time that it dominates your thoughts, and step away if you feel that it’s getting to be too much. It does fade over time, though. I lurked on dozens of websites, mined the FDA adverse reactions website for months, seeking validation for what I was feeling. My doctor didn’t understand what was happening, and I needed to fill that gap somehow. Over time, as I came to understand it myself, I didn’t feel the need to search as much. I still read, but I intrinsically feel that it doesn’t have the urgency and desperation that it did before.
        A loved one sees the obsession as something that is developing and may continue forever, just as the patient sees withdrawal symptoms as permanent. It’s an episodic crisis, though, and will fade away with time.

        • jane Says:

          I have a sort of question/comment. A fine or even invisible line is not only between “healthy” search for help, or info that may lead to that, and a complete “unhealthy” immersion into the environment of withdrawal symptoms. For me the puzzle of distinguishing between a cause and effect and trying to determine what makes things worse or better (hasn’t happened for a long time) – be it a supplement, or a new treatment, or any possible change that went unnoticed – is totally insolvable. Given a constantly altering character of the condition, how to get to the root of the aftermath event? Also, has anybody heard or tried MPS (microcurrent point stimulation) or abdominal organ massage (Chi Nei Tsang)? There is also an Alernative to meds Center in Arizona that claims to treat the psychiatric problems, including an AD withdrawal, by natural modalities. Too good to be true?

      • npanth Says:

        I’ve generally heard neutral to bad things about those kind of supplements that claim to alleviate SSRI withdrawal symptoms. I don’t have any experience with them. I’d go with Altostrata’s direct experience.
        As to the line between obsession and healthy study on the topic, you’re right that it’s hard to tell sometimes. Withdrawal is such a misunderstood phenomenon that it takes long study to even begin to understand what’s happening. It’s chaotic, too, because there is so little official information about it. I’ve seen many people read and post about their experiences almost compulsively. That’s not a bad thing in my mind. It’s an attempt to understand what’s happening, which is a natural reaction to such a traumatic thing as withdrawal. I’ve also seen many people have that compulsion fade away as they begin to understand the nuances of withdrawal. In a way, it’s a good thing to see a person stop posting as much because they no longer feel the need to do it. It’s an odd sentiment to have on a blog or bulletin board, where the goal is usually to sustain as much traffic and conversation as possible. Just another odd irony of withdrawal, I suppose ;)

      • emma tolliday Says:

        thanks again guys now i dont feel so bad about seeking information, but as i said most of the time i am looking for a suceess story that makes me think i am almost there! near as you said breakthrough day! I am 100% sure I am not as bad as during the taper a year ago, 6 months 2 weeks off today. Can I ask are there suceess stories that have come through here?? if there are can you tell me about them??? I do think if i can get on a plane today then how bad can i be but i guess a zombie could get on a plane, i am fine with doing things, going to work, holiday, socialisning i just feel awful while i am doing them, sometomes work is a great distraction though! x

        • npanth Says:

          There are many, many success stories in SSRI withdrawal. You don’t hear much about them because they generally move on rather than share the result. Withdrawal is generally a traumatic thing, most people don’t want to dwell on it after they get through it.
          I would say that I’m a success story… in progress :) My symptoms are minimal and I have a good tapering plan. After tapering too fast and seeing the bottom of the pit, I’m getting back to normal, and better than the “normal” I experienced while I was taking Paxil. After 10 years of numbness, I can actually see the real me emerge again. It’s awesome. It was worth it.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        well after 11 days being back from the awful holiday I certainly dont feel as bad as I have been, very minimal brainfog, which for me is always the worst. I still have been feeling anxious and find that i can go into a panic easily, like when i am on the underground/subway i freak out that i am in an enclosed space but i can just about get through it, but then that anxiety stay s with me for the day which is not pleasenet. I am assuming and hoping that the tendancy to panic is heightened bu the withdrarawl and that it will calm down. I also can cry at any sad or happy thing, i by no means feel recovered as my body tells me that every morning when i wake at 5:30am anxious when i dont have to get up until 8am, but i would say the last weeks has been an improvement and i really really really hope it continues to get better, I had this 3 months ago and then had a really bad long wave of feeling appauling!! THIS COULD BE THE BEGINING OF THE FULL RECOVERY!!!! news is last week throughout some rubbish feelings I managed to get my dream job!!! so if I can achivev that while I feel so rubbish, anything is possible!! I hope the improvemnt and corner turning is on its way!!! Also being on here less indicates I dont need it soo much. I have had fort he last 6 months the most painful ankles so much so that i limp when i walk sometimes and i am fairly young at 36 so not quite oled enough to start having aches and pains and today it dawned on me it could be withdrarawl, i refered to my withdrawrwal guide and there it was muscle and joint pain, anyway off to the docs about it today as they said if it continued they would do an xray, hope it is that not arthritis x

      • npanth Says:

        It’s strange how stressful episodes can lead to windows in symptom severity. Sometimes, it can be cathartic to go through a wave. I also think that waves are outward signs of the brain readjusting to a new functional state. You’re reaping the benefit of that reorganization. There may be new waves in the future. There’s a fine line between fear and hope at this stage of withdrawal. Don’t worry that you will slip backwards. It may happen, it may not. The important thing is that you know that waves aren’t permanent. The waves will fade away and eventually there will be nothing but window. I’m not saying that you will slip back into a wave. It’s just the nature of withdrawal to go through waves and windows. At first, there’s just wave. Then it starts to break up into good and bad cycles. Eventually, the waves get milder and shorter, while the windows get longer and better. I clung to the first window I had a little too much. Slipping back into a wave was a very powerful disappointment for me. It kept me scared of recovery for a long time. I kept thinking that any improvement was just a prelude to the next wave. Eventually, that fear slipped away as I entered the window I’m in now, which has lasted 7 months. Take heart that you’re feeling better, but don’t despair if you slip into a wave in the future. That wave should be shorter and lead to a better window.
        Congratulations on getting the job! Starting a new job is an anxious time. Try to remember the other jobs that you started, which seemed impossible at first, but quickly became doable as you learned the new routine. It may cause some anxiety for a couple weeks, but that should fade away, just like a wave.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        so I have been speaking to a anti depressant withdrarawl helpline over here and funnily enough they too have said i was weaned too fast from ssris and I have obly just figured out what everyone means and I am a bit annoyed now and my psychitrist for being so irresponsible!! so I was on seroxat for 11 years and tapered from 20mg to 0 over 6 months which I think was persfect as this was happening I was being upped on prozac. so then i was on prozac for 4 months and then swapped straight to effexor and was on that for 4 months and then when I decided to off everything I was taken off efexor in the space of 4 weeks, 150mg to 0 in 4 weeks!! The psych said I hadnt been on it long so there would be mo withdrarawl, but the point that the counciller on withdrarawl helpline made was that no matter what brand of ssri or anri I was on they all do the same thing and ultimatley, whetehr i was switched or not, I stopped taking all ssris/snris in the space of 4 weeks!!!! no wonder i feel so bad, i never thought of it like that, I still wont reinstate but I am very mad that this could have been easier for me, andyway almost 8 months free of AD and will keep going, still feeling pretty bad though, that change I though I was having has amounted to nothing, tomorrow could be a breakthrough! x

      • npanth Says:

        A lot of people are given very fast tapering schedules to get off SSRI.I think it works for many people, so doctors apply it to everyone. The issue is that it doesn’t work for everyone. People who are sensitive to these medications can’t tolerate a fast tapering schedule. I think a new category of tapering should be added to the procedure. If a doctor sees a patient doing well on a fast tapering schedule, that’s fine. If the patient starts to experience problems, the schedule needs to be adjusted. Doctors currently continue to press the fast tapering schedule despite the problems it causes for their patients. I wish that established medicine would be more willing to investigate withdrawal instead of denying it.
        I hope you do get to a stable spot soon. I feel bad that you’ve been having so much trouble.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        Dont feel bad for me i know i will get there, but thank you, im just mad that i have only just realised this is what has happened. It could have been so diffrenet, anyway i guess i am learning a life lesson and as so many people have said, if you get through withdrarawl the rest of life is easy, i truly belive this!! heres to another day that could be a turning point x

    • emma tolliday Says:

      so i went to greece and it was awful, i feel so ungrateful saying that as some people have nothing, but it was just a very bad time. Brain fog, depersonilasation and realisation, frazzled, crying all the time, but weirdley now and then 2 hours of absolute normalitly, how i would love to be all the time) and then straight back to withdrarawl, i hate that the feelings tease me on an hourly basis!! I was so happy to be home because at least I can try and distract myself, on holiday you are stuck, we did some walking which helped. I would have loved nothing more than to have ehad a drink and relax but I dont drink anymore because of withdrarawl but look forward to the day again when i feel i can handle a glass of wine with no ill effects. I stopped taking 5htp as i couldnt tell if it was making things worse, and i hate the ritual of having to remember to take something, it is like ADs all over again, so that only lasted 5 days before I stopped. Since I have been home I have felt much better, still not great but better. I wake up with palpitations every morning at 5am and I am sure that sets me up for a bad day. But then this week I have had to present for 3 hours to 50 people at work and it was easy and I felt fine, yet this morniing again felt awful, not so bad again as typing!! i hate the ups and downs!!!!!! x

      • npanth Says:

        I’m sorry you had trouble on vacation. It’s still a good step that you went there. Speaking in front of a large group is an accomplishment, too. Most people are nervous and anxious speaking in public, which is exacerbated by withdrawal.
        The up and down of withdrawal is really frustrating. It’s very hard to measure overall progress when symptoms fluctuate so much. As strange as it sounds, that’s progress. When the symptoms start to break up into waves and windows, it is the beginning of recovery. As time goes by, the waves will get shorter and milder, while the windows will get longer and better. Hang in there, you are getting better.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        so I dont want to say it out loud and I have a really long way to go but I have had 2 weeks of not feeling as bad, belive me I want a better quality of life than this but I do feel better! What I really struggle with at the moment is the early early waking, 5am and anxoius its almost like it sets my day up badly, last night I had a lovely 2 hours with my husband and parents felt persfect and had fun and the 5am boom!! anyone have any experience of bad sleep? especially early wakeings x

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          I am just the opposite,I wake up felling fine for 10 to fifteen minutes and gradually by the time I’m ready to come home
          from work between 4 and 4:30 pm, I am so hyper that I get little panic attacks and a feeling of off balance,This time of year is extremely hard for me,It’s the anniversary of my accident and my attempted suicide.
          I seem to relive the accident with all it’s PTSD symptoms,it’s something I have never been able to prevent to this day.
          From now until February,I will have nightmares,and suicidal thoughts,Even at my best I could not stop this from happening.
          Even if I beat withdrawal,which I know I will,reliving my anniversary is something I will and have been doing for the rest of my
          life,it’s something I have accepted and I deal with it.
          Today I had a good day right up until 4pm,I went to move and I got a little off balance and panicked,I know what it is,but your mind just sets you up and all you can do is deal with it.
          It’s funny but sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to feel good for fear of something else happening,and I think this happens to a lot of people.
          I have to believe I will not die from a panic attack,I know it’s something I really need to work on.
          Here’s to better days and longer happiness.
          Jay Benson Sr.

      • npanth Says:

        Early morning anxiety is very common in withdrawal. Withdrawal disrupts the Cortisol cycle. Normally, cortisol rises as morning approaches. It’s meant to wake us up and make us alert for the day. Instead, Cortisol levels spike during withdrawal, leading to panic and anxiety in the morning instead of alertness.
        I used to call it the Paxil Alarm Clock. I would jolt out of bed with an overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety. It didn’t have any particular focus, there was no nightmare or trouble that preceded it. It faded away slowly. As time passes, the cortisol cycle returns to normal. It’s a frightening thing to have to deal with. As you say, it really starts the day off in a negative way.
        I know what you mean about not wanting to jinx your improvement. It feels fragile at first, but stability will gain strength and momentum as time passes. You may still have waves where you feel symptoms again, but they won’t last as long, and will lead to better windows of stability, again.

      • npanth Says:

        Jay, I’m sorry that you have to go through this so often. Recognizing that they are temporary is a powerful weapon to use against those hopeless feelings. Perhaps your anniversary anxiety will fade in time, it would be great if if did. Withdrawal can have another long term effect on people. It makes us much more aware of our emotional state and more mindful of the ways that we can control our own minds. I wouldn’t call it a silver lining, it’s more like the way a bone will grow stronger at the point it was previously broken.
        Most people seem to have their anxiety spike in the morning, but withdrawal is frustratingly diverse in the way it affects people. It seems to affect everyone in a slightly different way. The only certain thing seems to be that it does fade over time, hopefully, a short time.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        Its good to know that this is common then, infact its one of the easier things for me to put down to withdrarawl because when I was actually dpressed this was the first sign. As I stated so many times, I am not depressed, I do not feel depression, what i feel is totally broken but as I said slightley only slightly improved, but to notice that improvemnet is a big step! So this morning I woke up at 5 feeling immense fear and of absolutley nothing just fear, so weird, and cried about 3 times today already and its ot even midday, but not dpressed. I swear to god when I am through this, and I said to my husband in bed this morning in a years time from now this should hopefully be a distant memory (as I have already suffered for 7 and a half months), I am going to do something to help people and campaign against unnesecary long term use of AD. Today I feel like I could just loose the plot, not anger but just go mentaly insane, it is horrible!!!!! Thanks again for your reasoning. Jay I feel for you, it sounds like you must have had a horrfifc accident and I am sure as npath says in time it will fade, I too was in a bad accident in Australia in 1999 in which I was seconds away from dieing although I was not injured, this is what I was given ssris’s for (once at university i was on a trycillic for a few months but looking bag I was just getting paranoid from smoking to much pot I am sad to say). After the accident I started having panic attcks and the ssri (paxil) was perscribed, and then no one would let me come off it, it was always the wrong time, and when I started feeling bad again whih I now know is tolerance withdrarawl they made me take more, I know it was always my choice no one put these pills down my throat but you take the advice of your doctor. Anyway the point of the story is the accident anniversay has faded, more than I ever hoped so I am sure it will get better for you. x

      • emma tolliday Says:

        I now have just had a massive rush of being absoltley petrified ( i think I am scared I am going to go insane, damn these horrible drugs we took, this is new, great another thing to add, I will pervail!! x

      • npanth Says:

        I had times where I felt like my sanity was in danger, too. The symptoms are so powerful, so deep, that it can feel like you’ll slide the rest of the way down to insanity. Fragile is the way I describe it. Normally, our minds seem so stable, so strong, that we’re immune to losing it. Withdrawal shows how fragile our minds really are, and that’s a hard thing to accept. Now that I’m feel like I’m past that phase, I feel much stronger, but the mindfulness that weakness made me develop has stayed with me. I think I have a good plan to taper off Paxil at this point. I hope that I won’t have to face that mental fracture again. Hopefully, if I do, I’ll be better prepared to deal with it. It’s strange how strength can come out of weakness. You’ll look back on this time as a foundation for strength. Hang in there, determination to get through it is the best way to actually get through it.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        how long until you are done with your taper? I am going to see my therapist tonight who is great to talk to but she also does hypnotherapy and I am going to ask her to do something for the anxiety especially when I am in enclosed spaces as normally i can handle it but at the moment it is horrible and to help with the early waking, worth a shot!!!! x

      • npanth Says:

        I’m not certain how long it will take for me to get off Paxil completely. I’m trying to taper when I feel like I’ve consolidated my last taper, so the intervals aren’t fixed. I’m considering making another taper in the near future. I’m at 6.8mg/day right now, so my next drop would be to about 6mg/day. If I continue at my current pace, I should be off Paxil sometime next summer. Who knows what will happen between now and then, though, so I’m trying to keep an open mind and not have any date certain in mind.
        I hope hypnosis is helpful for you. I’ve met several people who say that alternative treatments like hypnosis and acupuncture worked well for them. I hope it’s the same for you. I developed some agoraphobia when I was in the middle of withdrawal, too. I think it will pass in time, but if hypnosis helps, it would be great to shorten it.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        so was your withdrarawl so bad that you had to go back on it, that must have been a tough decesion, you seem very wise with your comments and talking to you has helped. This morning I slept in until 6:30 which was a massive treat and after an hour of reading had another sleep until 9am, it was great, but then as this happened it seems like I have a worse day!!!! God it is never ending< i still dont think I am as bad as I have been, but today I have had a real bad what I call heady feeling, some would call in brain fog, to me it feels like I need to take my brain out, scrape the feeling out and put it back i in and everything would be fine, i was then walking round the shop and had 10 minutes of feeling like I was sooooooo low it hurt, when normally that isnt the problem. It is so unfair to feel like this< I hate it!!! Could cry all day, I have bought 2 books to try and encourage me a bit, the anti depressant sloution and youur drug could br your problem. It really helps for me to knoe that other people have this and that there is an end to it!!! x

      • npanth Says:

        My symptoms varied a great deal. At one point, I couldn’t sleep in my bed because I was convinced that the floor underneath it would collapse. After I finished tapering, I was free of the drug effects for two months. It was great. I wasn’t really free of Paxil, but it was a wonderful window of clarity. At the end, I was curled up on the living room floor, again. I felt that my well being was in danger, so I reinstated. I can separate the effects of the drug from withdrawal, now. I could feel the drug wrapping itself around my mind like a snake when I reinstated. I hate taking it, but I can’t afford to slide back into withdrawal like that, so I’m stuck on this slow tapering schedule.
        I had never experienced psychosis, irrationality, and the other symptoms before I tried fast tapering off Paxil. It was very scary to lose control like that. I have never had those symptoms before or since. So, I’m determined to stick to the slow tapering schedule, despite the side effects of the drug. I’m debating whether to taper again, now. I’m a bit stuck between the fear of tapering too quickly and stagnating at my current dose too long.
        Those first couple nights of better sleep were wonderful. After so many months of a few stolen hours of sleep, getting a full night was a real surprise. Sleeping better was a first step towards normalcy. The symptoms started to break up at that point. Soon, I was able to eat more normally again. I think those two things went a long way towards turning the corner for me.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        I am really sorry to hear that it was so hard for you, tapering is horrible, but it seems wise, and you clearly understand what is going on in your body and head. I too was fantastic after I came off and then 6 weeks after I had completley stopped bam it hit me. Yesterday I felt so bad for a few hours that I decided to take the online British government depression test to see if I should just resign to the fact that I might have depression not really withdrarawl and I was pleased to see I scored so low it said that I did not have depression and was not likely too, as I said before I never had any form of depression or head messed up until I was on ssris, only anxiety, always in my body never in my head. Anyway, as I said today I kept worrying at what point do I think ok this clearly isnt going anywhere and this is the best I am ever going to be and I just need to get on with life and stop talking about it, I am so worried that I am just manifesting head problems and making it worse. One of my friends who is really supportive did say to me today she just doesnt understand it which made me think maybe there is no withdrarawl, maybe I just make myself ill, but then there are times in the day when I feel perfect, just how I would like to feel forever, so surely if I have those feelings there will come a time when it will be feeling well forever and full time. x

      • npanth Says:

        I was talking to a friend of mine today about this very thing. One of the things I don’t think I will ever say to someone else is to “Just suck it up and move on” It’s not as simple as deciding to get better from something like withdrawal.
        One of the strange elements of withdrawal is the sense that it is a permanent state. I experienced that, too. It really did feel like the symptoms would never improve, that they could only get worse. Withdrawal is the kind of experience where it’s very hard to tell that you’re making progress until after that progress occurs.
        Even supportive friends and family don’t seem to understand what it’s like. They mean well, but it’s very hard to express an internal state of mind in a way that’s apparent to onlookers. I’ve talked to people who recovered from withdrawal who seem to have forgotten what it was like. Several people who went through withdrawal think I’m tapering too slowly and should just cold turkey from the 6mg/day that I’m on now. It takes some willpower for me to do this the way I feel is correct. Hang in there, you’re doing the right thing, and it will pay dividends in the future.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        its good to know you have friends who have recovered, I understand when people get better that they leave the site but I sooooo need to read about people who get through this, I know I said that I felt I had had 2 weeks of feeling slightley better, but as those 2 weeks past and you adjust to those ever so slightley better feelings (still feel horrible) that you then start questioning it again and thinking have I actually made that progress as you are already to adjusted to the next stage. All I can think is I was crying lots more 2 weeks ago, I preay for the day that I wake upp and think, today is going to be a good day and then I just get on and have a good day without even thinking about it!!!! Do you really think this is real and we will get better x

      • npanth Says:

        People do recover, even from the worst cases of withdrawal. It is very hard to find their stories. As you say, they either move on or become accustomed to their recovery. They’re not as likely to share their experiences and recovery after it’s done. I cling to the two months of clarity I had while I was off the drug as a marker of how I am without it. We’re much different people without an SSRI. It’s not apparent to other people, or even ourselves, how different we are, but the drugs make profound changes to us. Reversing those changes is wrenching process, but worth it. We’ll get through this, perhaps even come to take our well being for granted someday :)

      • emma tolliday Says:

        there is a really good website I am using over here called recovery-road.org, there are some really good succes stories on there and the woman who does the website had a long prtracted withdrawrawl, I have meditated for 45 mins today and am going to try and do every day for the next weeks and see how i go, still feel rubbish today! tom orrow could be breakthrough x

  61. emma tolliday Says:

    also just to point out I have absolutley no underlying emotional problems, nothing that worries me that i need to address, it is just a physical state of emotions, crazey head, sad, crying, frazzled, fog!! x

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      Thanks npanth,Your words of encouragement mean more to me than you think,It gives me hope that I never got from anybody because I, like most have tried to hide my illness from the world, the more I open up, the more I find people receptive to what I’m going through.

      Hi Emma,I guess from your reply that you were diagnosed with PTSD,the sad thing about this illness is that we have the same systems and more of someone diagnosed with depression,but not once did I ever feel depression,
      it was those panic attacks and OCD that comes with PTSD that a lot of Psych’s misdiagnose ,In my case it took almost 3 yrs before I was diagnosed with PTSD only after an attempted suicide did I get the right Diagnoses,and your right about my accident,I backed into a high voltage line when I was a High Tension Lineman,I had an out of body experience,and was thought to be dead ,during the time the high voltage passed through my body I felt nothing,it was when I came to that I realized what happened to me,and it’s been a long terrifying road that only sometimes I catch a break,but finding this forum is a fork in the road that I am glad I took,I see now that I am not alone and I finally have people I can relate to,that know what I’m going through.
      Good Health Everyone
      Jay Benson Sr.

      • npanth Says:

        I tried to explain what I’d gone through in a couple job interviews. When they asked what I’d been doing since I was laid off, I felt that I should try to tell the truth about it. I soft pedaled the worst of it, but I could see them wilting a little bit. I didn’t get any of those jobs. At this point, I don’t bring it up in job interviews anymore. It was probably a mistake to try to explain it in the first place. I’ve found that I have to pick who I share this with. As much as some people will offer support and understanding, most people are still afraid of withdrawal. It’s a reminder that we’re not as strong or stable as we think we are, that we’re all vulnerable to weakness.
        I saw a worker get electrocuted while he was working on a transformer, once. It was a horrible thing to see. I can’t imagine what it would be like to experience it. I’m glad that you’re making progress towards resolving it.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        Jay, yes I ha PTSD, that was from a top psych in OZ. But I believe I was treated in the wrong way, I blame myself too though as I think I wanted a quick fix, I was young and wanted to get back to going out and having fun with friends, if it was these days I would have taken the time to get better naturally. I truly believe we will all get there it is just a daily struggle!!! I remember after the accident when the doctor put me on paxil he said he had a special intrest in anxiety and i could either go to a meditation retreat (that as a traveller I couldnt afford) or I could or I could take this amazing new drug that is perfect for anxiety, PAXIL!! 13 years later I am fighting for my life sometimes to remain off it!!!! We will get better. A really good website is recovery-road.org have a look at it!!! x

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          Paxil was the very first drug I was put on,but it wasn’t a psychiatrist who prescribed it.
          The Dr. who had treated me after my accident prescribed it,only because I was complaining about PTSD symptoms.
          In retrospect ,I now see where all this started,because I only took it for a couple of weeks and stopped because the side affects were to much for me to handle,back when I got hurt,they were just starting to recognize PTSD and it’s symptoms.
          They use to call it shell shock .My first Psychiatrist misdiagnosed what was wrong with me,I was depressed he said even though I didn’t feel depressed that’s how I was treated,I walked out out of his office feeling worse than when I went in,he just didn’t get it,and the worse thing he did was to put me in a mental hospital for 2 weeks,where I saw what real mental illness was all about,the whole time I was there people kept telling me ,you don’t seem depressed,because I was joking around and had nothing in common except for the drugs we were taking,I wanted out but the Dr. insisted I stay,so I lied to get out,I tried to commit suicide ended up in the ER,was released because the attending DR. recognize that this was just a cry for help,It was my wife who really got me the help,she was working for an answering service and one of their clients was a Psychiatrist who she was friendly with and started telling him about my problems,he told my wife exactly what my problem was and said he could help,as he just wrote a article on PTSD,I saw him the very next day, and 3 yrs later I was and I mean this cured,my down fall was going back to my job which he recommended I not do,but I had no choice at the time,I had a family to support,and was told by so many that I wouldn’t be able to do anything else because I was to stupid,I was very gullible back then,and the people I worked with were very ignorant and cruel.
          Thank you every one who responded to my previous post ,I really appreciate your help,I know and have accepted my fate.
          sometimes, I am my own worst enemy, I think I know what I am doing,but I really don’t and it’s forums like this that give me hope,I read about the same situations that I am going through which no longer makes me unique, that I am part of a greater whole that are just trying to come to terms with a problem we were never meant to deal with.
          Jay Benson

  62. Altostrata Says:

    From 7 years of experience on withdrawal forums, I’ve seen very few supplements that seem to help most people. Fish oil, magnesium, whey protein isolate, and vitamin C are standouts, but sometimes people have bad reactions even to them.

    The others are all your-mileage-may-vary, and that goes for expensive supplement programs supposed to help withdrawal, too. See info about supplements here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/606-important-topics-about-tests-supplements-herbs-treatments/

    Among alternative treatments, acupuncture seems to be helpful — but you have to make sure your practitioner understands you don’t need stimulating treatments (they give those for “depression”) but very, very gentle calming treatments. Withdrawal-sensitized people do have adverse reactions to acupuncture if it’s too aggressive.

    I have never heard of naturopathic treatments such as liver cleansing, heavy metal purging, enemas, or other purifying processes helping anyone with withdrawal symptoms. People either report they did nothing or they were harmful.

    From my personal experience and what people report, naturopaths, herbalists, and orthomolecular doctors don’t know any more about withdrawal syndrome than ordinary doctors. The alternative practitioners use their own hammers on the problem, tools developed for entirely different conditions in people whose nervous systems are not hypersensitive. So resort to these at your own risk.

    Red flags are if the treatment is supposed to balance neurotransmitters (a fallacy in alternative medicine as well), it’s overpriced, it has secret ingredients, or it was developed to address a condition other than withdrawal syndrome.

  63. wele Says:

    Hey again :) I’ve been having another symptom – GI problems – since tapering off citalopram and was wondering if anyone else had experienced this. Now that I think about it, these symptoms trace back to when I first began to taper off the SSRI about a year ago. It doesn’t matter what or how fast I eat, I always have bloating and pain at night time and when I wake up. I’ve tried eating very little in the evening and still wake up with pain. It’s actually worse when I eat less because I wake up with that hallow pain feeling. I’ve read online something about SSRI’s and their effect on the gut but those reports are not related to withdrawal. Anyone else have these or similar issues?

    • npanth Says:

      Gastrointestinal problems are very common during withdrawal from an SSRI. From gas that would make a dog cringe to running to sitting to TMI, it’s a rotten problem. The majority of Serotonin exists in the gut. It’s created there, then migrates to the brain to be used as a neurotransmitter. There are neuron like cells all over the body that use it, too. Some people call it the “belly brain” Those cells aren’t as organized as those in the brain and serve different functions, but the name is appropriate.
      It does get better over time. It’s another adjustment that the body has to make once the drug is removed.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Wele: I also have severe GI problems with the w/d. The majority of serotonin receptors are in the gut so on withdrawal, my gut is going through the rinse cycle in the washing machine and I feel seasick. That’s what the cliche list of SSRI w/d effects calls “flu-like” symptoms. In other words–you feel sick as a dog.That’s why the w//d is so tough–the extreme anxiety would be bad enough by itself but it combines with flu and brain weirdness. Usually when you have flu, you’re tired and you can sleep. Imagine having the flu and being too wired to lie down–but every move you make walking makes you more seasick.
      For nausea, the acupressure wrist bands work pretty good . You can get them at the drug store.
      Since its so easy for shrinks to discount subjective mental and emotional effects as the delusions of “those nutty patients”, I like to point out that the GI problems have an objective biochemical explanation due the serotonin receptors in the gut. But I guess docs could regard those GI withdrawal symptoms as the reemergence of a condition known as psychosis of the gut. At this point, to deny the reality of the w/d severity they have to be doing that kind of acrobatics in their “logic.” That’s a thought disorder.
      But come to think of it, lots of docs think their patient’s physical symptoms are imagined and they discount those too.
      It’s good to be King. And when you try to describe what it’s like, they say, no it’s not like that and they tell you how you feel.

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      Wele,I have the exact problems you describe,I have been diagnosed with IBS,but I didn’t have problems when I was on Luvox, My psych changed my meds to Celexa and that’s when I started to have problems with My stomach and
      colon. 3 colonoscopies and 1 endo in the last three yrs have revealed nothing wrong.My GI Dr. and I are on a first names basis.I explained to him about my withdrawal from my meds and he did agree that this is playing a big part in the pain,bloating,diarrhea and constipation that seams to run in cycles.I have been put on anti spasm medication,
      mirolax and other meds and none seem to help.I did have a bout with Sigmoid Diverticulitis in which he put me on antibiotics for 3 weeks 2500mgs a day,their just as bad as the psych drugs,I ended up getting c diff and was put on another course of antibiotics,can’t win lol.
      To be honest ,if wasn’t for the Gi problems ,I would feel great, because this is the only problem I’m having right now.

    • jane Says:

      I can relate to that now since I am having the same developments with GI symptoms lately. And they are so severe, I’d say – cruel and excrutiating, that I am not able to even lie down and stay in bed, let alone sleep. I am just in a total crisis. Bloating is so drastic that I feel like I am going to explode, vague pain all over abdominal area and lower back adds on top of this awful feeling. I can’t get any sleep at all, progressively losing weight, literally wasting away. Tried to experiment with food (eliminated almost all possibly offensive ingredients), time of meal – it seems absolutely unrelated. Couple of times was about to go to ER, only out of total desperation, because I know – it’d only produce an additional stress and traumatize me further. It just doesn’t make any sense, unplausible that eating small and innocent meals could produce such an adverse reaction. Any suggestions?

      • npanth Says:

        I had the same problem for a long time. It’s gotten better, recently. I still have strange digestive problems that pop up from time to time, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before. I didn’t really find anything that relieved it. I tried to eat innocuous foods and wait for it to get better. It seems like the body needs time to adjust to the new state. It’s really amazing how many systems in the body that are affected by SSRI/SNRI. The best thing I did was cut out overly processed foods… fast food, prepackaged foods, etc. That’s something that I’ve continued since. Now, when I eat fast food it tastes very artificial to me.

      • wele Says:

        That sounds so horrible Jane. As if withdrawing from the medication isn’t hard enough mentally we have to deal with all of this physical stuff too! I can completely relate to the bloating, it’s just horrible. I recently came across a diet (it may have even been on this forum) that is known to be very healing for the stomach – it’s call the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). There is also a similar diet out there called GAPS. There is so much research linking diet to psychological wellness. I’ve been preparing for the last week and am aiming to start the diet this coming week. You have to commit to it 100% so I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed at home to avoid cheating. You are generally suggest to do this healing diet for 6 months to a year (even up to 2 years) but some people start to feel better within a few months and are able to slowly introduce certain foods back in their diet. It’s also been extremely healing for people that suffer from IBS and Crohn’s.

        http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/

        http://www.gaps.me/

        I’ll can let you know how it goes. At this point I’m willing to try anything! From the feedback I’ve heard, I think this just may do the trick!

      • wele Says:

        yes…I just looked back and Altostrata recommended this diet and also included a link to a post with comments from others that are dealing with similar issues. Good luck Jane!

        http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/604-important-topics-about-symptoms-including-sleep-problems/

        • jane Says:

          Thank you, Wele. I’ve been on a kind of similar diet for awhile by now, started before withdrawal happened. GI distress is getting totally out of control – every night pain and bloating prevent me for even a short snooze. Last night while the pain was torturing me, I began to think that it might be something more serious that could be overlooked. I’d like to know how you are doing now in terms of this particular problem. I am afraid I couldn’t last long if the symptoms won’t subside.

        • jane Says:

          Also, I need to mention that I am loosing weight progressively on top of that I already shed in the very early stage of withdrawal. I got so skinny as never before, just wasting away.

          • wele Says:

            Yeah the severe loss of weight is not good. I agree that visiting your doctor would be a good idea if you are loosing that much weight and are still in so much pain. Nutritionists can also be helpful but only after the severe symptoms you are describing have subsided a bit. As for me, I’m feeling good so far. I have my beef broth simmering on my stove as we speak. Good luck and I really hope these horrible symptoms start to go away for you!

      • patsy Says:

        i was on them 3 months and really bad gi problem so much so i had to see a consultant, even when i stopped citalopram the gi continued i have been off them 17 months and just now the discontinuation symptomes have gone and my stomach and bowels are back to normal. They effect people in different ways, i would never go back on them again coming off them was worse than the original problem i had for going on them

      • npanth Says:

        I lost 80 pounds over my initial withdrawal. It was scary to see it all melting away like that. I think a lot of that weight was drug related, though. SSRI and similar drugs are known to cause dramatic weight gain. I think most of the weight I lost was just my body normalizing again after the drug. I’m not dismissing it, a good chunk of the weight I lost was because I couldn’t eat anything for a long time. It will get better, though. I can even eat hot sausage, now, which is a long way from the handful of crackers I was eating each day last year.
        I always wondered why I couldn’t lose weight while I was on Paxil. No matter what diet or exercise regimen I tried, I still gained weight. I haven’t started gaining the weight back since I resumed a normal diet, so I think it must be related to the drug. The GI problems are very hard to deal with because they affect so many other aspects of your life. It should eventually get better. At this point, I just have gas and relatively minor digestive problems. It doesn’t prevent me from eating particular foods, though, so that’s a big improvement. I hope it goes away for you soon, it was a rotten feeling.

        • jane Says:

          It’s not my case though, I didn’t gain any weight while on Cymbalta – it had been stable through the whole period. But once I started to withdraw, I lost a chunk of it immediately, then it kind of leveled out for a 6-7 ms, and last 3 weeks are marked of a very dramatic and rapid weight loss (I didn’t have any extra weight anyway, quite the opposite), GI symptoms are gaining more and more ground, first it was happening at night only, now pain persists non-stop, therefore I can’t sleep at all, it interferes with a whole body functioning. I am loosing weight despite eating regularly (I force myself to eat because how I look now gets very frightening). I was thinking to get a GE specialist evaluation but they wouldn’t be able to say anything without a colonoscopy, and I am in a such a fragile and weak state now that I can’t go through the procedure. I need to find something for at least a temporary pain relief but so far I responded to the drugs I’ve tried with an adverse reaction, so I am very cautious about taking them.

  64. Sinead Says:

    Hi, I came across this site yesterday and have found it so helpful. 4 years ago I suffered 2 major panic attacks in the space of 3 days and ended up in hospital both times. I ended up taking 5 weeks off work and became obsessed with my breathing, I was consciously breathing all day, I tried everything from Hypnotherapy to CBT but nothing worked, my doctor then suggested Effexor which is an SNRI, I didn’t know anything about this med at the time only that it would help me and it did, I was on 75mg each day. It got me out of the whole obsessional thinking and worked well apart from being a bit tired at times, I went down to 37.5mg after 2 years and then started weaning down further at the beginning of this year as I am 36 and want to start a family. In August I was down to 37.5mg every 4 days, I wasn’t feeling great and decided to go to a herbalist who gave me a tonic which included St John’s worth and she said it would be ok to take as I was on such a low dose of the Effexor, I started taking it alongside my effexor and 2 days later started crying really badly over nothing. I decided to stop the Effexor and just keep on the tonic but the crying became really bad, this lasted for nearly 4 weeks until I decided to stop the tonic altogether so was on nothing but fell into such depression I had never had before, a horrible low feeling, getting joy out of nothing, the crying had stopped but I felt so off, everything was an effort, the morning time was the worst, such feeling of hopelessness, feeling of how am I going to get through another day feeling like this. I kept trying to think had I felt like this before taking the tablets but I only took them because of anxiety and not depression and now I was depressed. I felt like this for 8 weeks and started feeling also detached from reality so I went back to the doctor and she put me on 10mg of Lexapro, I have heard that sometimes you need to go on an SSRI to help wean off an SNRI. I am taking these for 2 weeks but am still feeling low and I suppose its the feeling of defeat as well and guilt incase I do get pregnant and I am not med free. The only thing I can do is keep on the tablets until I start feeling better and do a better weaning program this time around.

    • npanth Says:

      Some supplements can make withdrawal symptoms more intense. St John’s Wort has a similar mechanism to an SSRI. It can help withdrawal for some people, but not others. It’s usually best to taper off of the original drug that you were taking. Many doctors switch their patients to new drugs during withdrawal, though, so you are not alone at all. Lexapro has a similar effect as St John’s Wort, but is more powerful. The addition of an SSRI to SNRI withdrawal is a complicating factor. The start up effect of the SSRI are combining with the withdrawal effects from Effexor (maybe a bit from the supplement, too)
      I think that the people at http://www.paxilprogress.org/ and http://survivingantidepressants.org/ may be able to advise you on how to proceed better than I can.
      The best choices are:
      1 stick out the withdrawal effects of Effexor until you become stable enough to taper off of Lexapro.
      2 You could quick taper off of Lexapro since you’ve only been on it for two weeks. Reinstate Effexor at your last dose and do a slow taper from there.
      I lean more towards the second choice, but that could be difficult in the short term. The people at the two sites I linked would know better. Many people there have gone through med switching and tapering.
      The feelings of hopelessness and depression that are more intense in the mornings are very consistent with withdrawal symptoms. Hang in there, it may take a while to get to a point where you can start tapering again, but it will get better.

      • Sinead Says:

        Thanks so much for the reply, I suppose the main reason for me going of Effexor is that I have heard that its not safe in pregnancy and that Lexapro is safer, hence the reason for going on this one. I was on a really low dose of Effexor and the withdrawal is so bad, its hard to imagine how it is for people that are on higher doses. I think I might just stick with the Lexapro for the moment and see if I can taper off that once I feel better, its funny because I have always told people that I had never been depressed before, anxious yes but not depressed until now, its a horrible feeling.

      • npanth Says:

        Altostrata beat me to that point ;) Yes, SSRI/SNRI all have risks associated with pregnancy. There may be variations in the percentage of risk, but there isn’t currently a safe SSRI/SNRI to take during pregnancy. I would stay away from the supplements that act in similar ways, too, just to be safe.
        One of the things that is missing from the literature and medical advice is the length of time it takes to taper off these drugs in a way that minimizes symptoms. It’s much slower than they advise. Some people, perhaps a majority, can taper off the drugs quickly, but a significant percentage require very slow tapering schedules. I’m sorry to bring up a negative point, I understand the desire that becomes urgency that having a child entails. You want it to go as perfectly as possible, though, and that means attending to yourself first.
        New depression while tapering off an SSRI/SNRI is very common. I had mild depression that came from social anxiety. Social interactions made me nervous, which made me anxious, which sometimes led to depression. When I started tapering off Paxil, though, the depression became acute. It was an episodic thing, though. As I stabilized on a slow tapering schedule, that aspect of withdrawal faded away. In fact, while I was taking Paxil, I got very depressed on a regular basis, every 4-6 weeks. That steady depression, that I thought was being held in check by Paxil, faded away as well. Turns out, Paxil was causing me more problems that it was solving. If it was an existing condition, that depression would have gotten worse as I lowered my dose, not better. The depression in withdrawal is a feeling of hopelessness and impotence. It is a rotten feeling. It does get better, though. Hang in there.

    • emma tolliday Says:

      I started taking for panic attacks 15 years ago, and now 15 years later I am 7 months off everything and still in withdrarawl, but 7 months clean the anxiety and panic has not come back, everything else is bad, brain fog, depressed, frazzled, but no panic attacks. I too want to get pregnant as i am 36 and time not really on my side, but i just cant go for it until I feel the withdrarawl is gone or at least on its way to going forever. My point was I never ever ever have depression until I started taking anti depressants, it was when i had tolerance withdrarawl that i experienced depression for the first time and i would not wish it on anyone!!!! damn these horrible horrible drugs!!! we will get through and have lots of beautiful babaies x

    • notjustamomblog Says:

      Sinead, I’m certainly not advocating it, but I will say that I went through two pregnancies on a low dose of Zoloft, and I can’t find anything “wrong” with my 4 and 6 yr old that someone could link back to SSRI use. I think at the time (2006 and 2008) the thinking was that its worth for a mother to be depressed than it is to expose the baby to a little bit of the drug. If you can find a way around it (slow tapering and then work on your family), do it, but if you have to be on a SSRI while you’re pregnant, don’t be too hard on yourself. It was worth my sanity. And helped me cope with postpartum depression in one pregnancy.

  65. Sinead Says:

    Thanks Altostrata and npanth, its tough alright to know what to do, if I wasn’t looking to get pregnant I would start up the Effexor again and taper very slowly, the Lexapro doesn’t seem to be doing much expect making me tired. I think I will just wean off that and keep going with nothing and hope my brain will return back to normal on its own.

    • npanth Says:

      I think that the amount of time it takes for symptoms to resolve themselves is the same whether you fast taper or slow taper. The difference is in the severity of symptoms. Quitting cold turkey or fast tapering is a shock to the system. After adjusting itself to the drug slowly, the brain is suddenly left without the chemical state it has grown used to. It takes time for it to adjust back to a drug free state. That adjustment seems to happen at a relatively static rate. I understand your reluctance to reinstate. Believe me, I hate, hate, hate being on Paxil. I can feel it perched on my brain like a spider web, slowing down my thought, muffling my creativity. Reinstating is a compromise and a means to recovery, not an abdication. The time it takes to recover isn’t as long as the original treatment, it won’t be years.
      I understand your reluctance to postpone getting on with your life, I had the same feeling. I still have it. It’s frustrating. It’s something that each person has to come to understand themselves. Like many other people, I resisted it at first. I’m not berating you, not at all. I guess I’m trying to give you some information that you can bank away for later. If you do find that the symptoms are escalating past the level that you thought they would, and you start to consider reinstating, don’t feel bad about, or think of it as a personal failure. It isn’t.

      • Altostrata Says:

        Excellent observations as usual, npanth.

        I would quibble with your statement “the amount of time it takes for symptoms to resolve themselves is the same whether you fast taper or slow taper.” You should taper at a rate that does not destabilize your nervous system. Withdrawal symptoms indicate destabilization. Once destabilization gets going, all bets are off for time to recovery. It could be sooner or later, depending on the amount of the disruption and how your nervous system repairs itself.

        A slow taper is less likely to set off serious nervous system destabilization.

        However, there are people, a small number at the very right end of the bell curve, who have a difficult time getting off these drugs no matter how slowly they taper.

      • npanth Says:

        Good point. I’ve been developing the idea that the brain adjusts to the lack of SSRI at a constant rate, similar in speed to the slow taper method. It’s still an hypothesis, so subject to refinement. I’ll try to incorporate the stability idea.

        • Altostrata Says:

          The way I look at it, you sneak off the drug at a rate the nervous system doesn’t notice. You know you’re getting away with it when it doesn’t complain with withdrawal symptoms. The nervous system adjusts in a way that’s imperceptible to itself — very gradually, almost at the rate of normal homeostasis. This tolerance for change is individual.

  66. Spiky Says:

    fantastic blog. many thanks. has helped greatly with my own cymbalta withdrawal that I am grappling with right now. some comments have also enlightened me to behaviours during supposed “treatment” (eg caffiene abuse). I cannot wait to rid my body of this crap a doctor pushed on me and give my liver a break. if i would have known what i know now… same story as everyone here. i am likening the experience to a massive comedown which was definitely not worth the party or the money this time. for my fellow travellers who have no experience of a recreational drug come down – now you can say you know what it feels like!

    • npanth Says:

      I think that our attitude towards SSRI would be much different if they had an overt narcotic effect. They have the same capacity to disrupt life and cognition as drugs that society reviles.
      The secondary behaviors that SSRI promote really caught me by surprise. I really had a caffeine habit going. Liter after liter of Diet Coke. It’s strange how it matches up with my Paxil dose. I was out of control when I was taking 40mg/day. It dwindled down to nothing when I got off. When I reinstated at 10mg/day, it reappeared, but not as bad as before. Now that I’m slowly tapering, it’s slowly going away again. I can use will power to control it, but I just get more and more miserable until I give in. I’m just glad it’s Diet soda and not whiskey or crack.

  67. Jay Benson Sr. Says:

    Well, I haven’t posted in a awhile and I would like to say things are going good but,I was in so much pain over the weekend that I ended up going into the hospital for a c scan,I thought I had another kidney stone,I saw my Urologist the next day and everything was fine,So I called my G.I. Dr and I am scheduled for a colon/endoscopy next week. I know he’s probably going to find the same thing he has the last 3 times,diverticulitis and some inflammation of the stomach lining.
    I guess I’m not as tough as I though I was,I have decided to take 12mgs of luvox to see if this will ease up on the pain I am experiencing with my G.I. tract,I hate doing it ,but the Psychologist I’m seeing told me to stop taking it because I was only taking 25mg and he said it was doing absolutely nothing,apparently he was wrong because my mild systems went full blown
    a month after I stopped,of course this is in lieu of me taking 10 mg of Prozac that started panic central and had to stop.
    I can’t describe some of the sensations that I have been going through with this sudden withdrawal,which by the way was his idea.
    I thought I could handle this with out going back on SSRI’s and I probably could have if the taper was a lot more gradual and what was I thinking when I said ok to just stop taking the luvox,I new better,I new I needed more time,but the Prozac was supposed to take it’s place,now he tells me that I am so sensitive to the SSRI’s that I can not go back on them again,which is fine by me,but he didn’t think about the withdrawal problems ,because he doesn’t believe in them.
    Needless to say he is gone and I am looking for another Psych to help me get off this crap for good,but it has to be done the right way,I see now that I am going to need a long taper and I am good with that,I just know that this time it’s going to work,30+ years of psych drugs is not going to be an easy thing,I wish it was but it’s just not going to happen.
    Time heals and I’ve got plenty of that,I hope.
    Hope everybody is doing better than I am.
    Peace

    • npanth Says:

      I’ve read several stories of people who have been med swapped by their doctors and experienced bad side effects. I think the doctors will eventually understand that these meds aren’t as interchangeable as they think. I hope you get stable at your new dose quickly, I hated that unstable, fragile feeling in withdrawal. It took me a while to get stable, but withdrawal got much easier once I was able to control the tapering speed better. Good luck finding a new doctor. I hope you find someone who works for you. It’s tough hearing advice you intuitively know won’t work for you..

      • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

        Thanks npath,I was talking to my Gi Dr this morning ,and he of all people believes that what I am going through is definitely SSRI withdrawal,we discussed my diverticulitis and the pain that I am experiencing is different .
        It just seems to be the same place with a little stomach issues to mix things up.
        But your right about finding a psych who will work with you,They don’t like to be told what YOU want,their the expert.
        I’m not going to have the colon/endo because I’ve had so many in the last 3 yrs,also he said I’ve had to many cat scans and xrays.I’ve been radiated to much and he is concerned,so as a last resort I am going to have an MRI
        and we will take it from there.
        Thanks again.
        Jay Benson Sr.

      • Altostrata Says:

        We are seeing people with withdrawal syndrome and gut issues having success with non-irritating diets such as GAPS http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/890-scdgapspaleo-diets/

      • emma tolliday Says:

        i was med swapped 3 times to come off paxil, prozac than effexor, didnt help at all, ,the taper was worse than anything, but as bad as it is and as rotten as i feel now you do get through the ta[er period alive x

  68. jane Says:

    I don’t believe in any possible improvement any more. I am getting worse and worse. There is nothing for even a temporary relief. It’s absolutely unrealistically unbearable and dreadful. I have such a malicious insomnia. If I try any sleeping pill it either doesn’t work or causes so severe depression next day that I am scared to come even close to that. But otherwise I don’t sleep at all and get psychotic. Anxiety is so severe that I have difficulty swallowing. I am considering to try medical marijuana. That would be the last resort. But I don’t know how to get a non-smoking kind. Any suggestions?

    • npanth Says:

      I spent several months in the same spot. I only slept for an hour or two each night. Every couple days I would fall asleep in the middle of the day from sheer exhaustion, but would only get 3-4 hours of sleep. The days were filled with despair, anger, and anxiety. It did start to break up and improve. I know it’s hard for the intellect to influence the power of these symptoms, but try to remember that it is a phase. It will pass, eventually. It’s not the chronic, long term problem that it feels like right now. How can symptoms as profound as this be anything but permanent? They’re not, though.
      I’m not sure about medical Marijuana. It may help. As strange as it sounds, compared to the alternatives that you would get from your doctor, pot may be the most benign thing to try. I know that some companies make it in pill and food form. I saw that on a documentary about California’s system, though. I think that it would vary greatly depending on the local state’s laws and their relationship with the Federal system. http://www.norml.org would be a good place to find out more about how Federal and state laws interact on the subject in your state.

      • jane Says:

        Thank you, npanth for your supporting words and the link. I am going to try it. 3-4 hours of sleep sounds as a luxury for me. Some nights (like last one) I don’t fall asleep at all, not even for a single minute. At day time a nap would last 20 minutes at most. I am on the way of loosing my sanity. I undestand and appreciate your attitude for a positive outcome but, just to clarify, according to your history notes, you’ve reinstated the drug in a couple of months, so your turn to the better should be attributed to a timely resume of the pill (though very reluctant). How can you be sure that the phase of a terrible insomnia (only one out of many manifestations of the process spiraling down) will pass? At this point all the signs indicate the opposite. And the developments are so different for each individual. Thank you.

      • npanth Says:

        One of the problems with sleep is perception. It felt very much like I wasn’t sleeping at all, but eventually I realized that I didn’t recognize that I was sleeping. It wasn’t restorative sleep, anyway. Sleep does slowly return to a more normal schedule. It can take some time, but it does happen. Even without reinstating, you should start to sleep more. When is a hard thing to answer. As you said, it varies from person to person. It’s important to realize that the permanence that the symptoms have right now is perception, too. It feels like they will never get better, but they do eventually start to improve. It just seems permanent because you haven’t seen much improvement, yet. Once the symptoms start to break up and move into wave/window cycles, it will get easier to recognize progress. Hang on until then. It will get better.

  69. Jay Benson Sr. Says:

    Altostrata,
    I appreciate the link and info.
    Before I had my accident I only weighed 225,I use to pump iron with a very close set of friends and I was benching 510lbs
    I could work out with 300lb sets and taper down to 200 to cool down, I was in really great shape,after my accident I gained
    75lbs in less than a year,convinced I was going to die,I ate for comfort and stopped working out, before all was said and done I was up to 375lbs I could not believe I let my self go that far,but then again I was misdiagnosed and didn’t get the proper help ,after starting therapy it was almost impossible to lose weight,it seem the harder I worked out the more I gained.
    everything these drugs said would happen,like weight loss and all the other BS did not happen to me,you see I am that person that fall into that 2% group that has the most weird side effects,I am so sensitive to drugs of any kind that I have to be very careful,I can take a drug once with no problems and then the next time I have a severe reaction to it.
    I was hospitalized 15 yrs ago for a kidney stone,the pain was so bad that they gave me morphine,well I had morphine for my very first stone at the age of 23,so much that the doctor told me that I had enough in me to kill a horse,believe it or not I was still in a lot of pain,but could not have any more injections,the Doctor told my new wife that I was a wuss,that was until they had to cut me open to get it out,it was the size of a half dollar and when I was coherent enough he apologized to me.
    My next stone was a few yrs later,standard procedure was to administer morphine,well guess what ? I almost died that night,
    I went into shock and stopped breathing,they had a hell of time getting me stable.
    What I’m getting at is what works for some people doesn’t always work for others ,because I had all that power surge through my body I have 2 strikes against me,I have tried all the above mentioned diets,including gluten free and lactose free and everything in between,I have lost over 40lbs in just the last month alone,only because I am not eating,I go for days on water and juice and then introduce solids,I know I am hurting my self,but this keeps the pain to a minimum .
    I take supplements and eat fish and chicken when I feel I can handle it.
    Right now this seems to help and occasional piece of fruit thrown in for ruff-age and good old mirolax to help with constipation,until I get a handle on what I can eat and what I can’t, this is all I can do for now,I keep a log of every day events and what made me feel good or bad,so I can reference patterns that I can avoid and not just food but the days events also they all play a part in what I call Food and Mood,sorry to bore you with this,all I really wanted to do was say thanks.

    • npanth Says:

      That sounds like a kidney boulder, not a stone. Wow, I can’t imagine. I think I have some idea of what you’re saying about being overly sensitive to drugs after initial treatment. When I reinstated Paxil, I was expecting my symptoms to go away. Instead, there seemed to be a Garden of Eden effect where the second treatment wasn’t nearly as effective as the first. It’s not the same, though. Even though it felt like it was life threatening, I wasn’t in mortal physical danger from withdrawal. Like you said, one step at a time is the best way to get through it.

  70. pat Says:

    patd

    i was on citalopram for 3 months, came off cold turkey and still 16months on still suffering withdrawal sydrome, although less intense and not as severe, my brain is still trying to repair itself. Would appreciate any feed back on similar situations.

    • npanth Says:

      A couple other people here have had very similar experiences with Celexa (short use, long withdrawal). I’m beginning to wonder if Celexa has a more pronounced effect on some people. For some SSRI users, even short term use can lead to extended symptoms. Other people can take this class of drugs for years and stop without serious consequences. There is probably a biological/psychological explanation for this disparity that hasn’t been identified, yet.

      One of the hardest steps in recovery is recognizing progress. At first, the symptoms seem uniform and severe. Eventually, that non stop wave starts to break up. The next stage is the wave/window cycle where symptoms wax and wane. Waves may be lengthy and windows short, but that balance eventually reverses itself. The windows become longer and the waves shorter. One of the signs that you’re getting better is that you start to see that pattern. Try to pay attention to how you feel, how severe the symptoms are. The pattern will eventually become clearer. It’s almost like the feeling you get when you’re getting the flu. You can feel the symptoms coming on as you start to get sick. Eventually, waves begin to take on this pattern We’re sensitive to the pattern of physical wellness and illness because we’ve experienced it our whole lives. It takes some time to get used to it in withdrawal. After a while, you’ll feel waves coming on, but they dissipate before they become full blown waves. That’s the best. It’s like that feeling of getting a cold that never becomes a full blown illness.
      Take solace in the progress you’ve made so far. Even if it seems like it’s not very much, it snowballs into better and better progress over time.

  71. Sinead Says:

    Hi npanth- how long did it take you to stabilize once you went back on the Paxil at 10mg after being off them for 2 months?

    • npanth Says:

      I reinstated in January, 2012 at 10mg/day. Stabilization happened in stages. The really bad, overt symptoms went away within two weeks. A month later, I was feeling ok, a little fragile, but ok. I had a job interview in February and had a bad anxiety reaction. I slurred my words and had fine motor control problems for two weeks. My friends thought I’d had a stroke. In May, I had a very stressful, 5 part, 6 hour, interview. I came through it without any symptoms. Since then, I’ve been getting better and better. I’d say I have a normal reaction to stress and emotions, now. The difference is that I’m much more aware of the foundations of that stress and those emotions. When a thought comes to the surface, instead of mindlessly suppressing it or letting it run wild, like I would have years ago, I can identify the cause, remember the effect it used to have on me, and file it. I’m much more mindful of stressors and my reactions to them, now. I’d say I’m a better person than I was while taking Paxil. I’m really looking forward to getting off this stuff and seeing my real potential.
      Reinstatement is an up and down road. It’s important to reduce stress as much as you can, but still test your reaction to stress in small ways. I felt fragile, but I over estimated my resiliency for several months. I kept walking into situations that triggered anxiety reactions. I’d never had severe anxiety before I started tapering off Paxil, so I ascribe those reactions to withdrawal. I can’t really put a timeline on reinstatement because it happens differently for everyone. It’s not a cure for withdrawal, but a method for reducing symptoms while tapering.

  72. Sinead Says:

    Thanks for the reply, I am 4 weeks into reinstating Lexapro at 10mg, I was on Effexor 37.5mg and off the meds for 2 months before I went back on Lexapro, I feel ok but still low at times, I am hoping to stabilize soon so I can start reducing very slowly, I don’t want to go through the withdrawal I did with Effexor.

    • npanth Says:

      Go slow and make sure that you take a consistent dose every day until you feel stable. Stability is a fragile thing. It can seem like you’re stronger than you really are at first. After so long with bad symptoms, even small improvements feel like a lot. Take care to minimize stress as much as you can, but test it in little ways. It’s natural to over reach when you’re testing your stress resiliency. Don’t feel bad if you go backwards at times, it happens to a lot of people. It takes a while to start to see improvement. Most doctors will ascribe that improvement to taking the drugs again. Perhaps in some cases that’s true. In my case, my symptoms would have returned as I started tapering again. Instead, I’ve been steadily improving since then, so I can’t say that Paxil helps me. In fact, many of the problems I had while taking Paxil have fallen away as my dose has gone down. It’s obvious to me now that Paxil was causing more problems than it was solving. Reinstating reinforced that belief for me. When I started taking Paxil again, I could feel the blanket descending over my mind, feel the newly found freedom slipping away again. I had to reinstate, though. The symptoms were too intense. I’ve had to tell myself many times that I need to be patient. The creative, friendly, caring person I am off the drug is still there. It’s slowly emerging again as my dose gets lower and lower. I can’t speed up the process, the risks of renewed withdrawal is too great. Perhaps I’m going too slowly at times, but I’m determined to do my taper right this time.

  73. Sarah Says:

    Thanks so much for this article. I’m tapering off Citalopram and am having horrible discontinuation symptoms. The most intense part is the rage that happens at unpredictable times. I have a 4 and a 6 year old and I worry about emotionally abusing them during this time when I can’t regulate my emotions. I was down to 5 mg every other day and finally went off it completely early this week and I’ve been progressively more rageful each day, not to mention constant brain zaps. I’m a mess, emotionally. I finally took 5 mg again today because I couldn’t stand it anymore and my husband is traveling so I’m with the kids full time, alone. It’s comforting to find a web site like this where other people understand what I’m going through. Neither my husband or any of my friends has ever experienced anything similar. Increases my feelings of isolation.
    Any advice on getting through the last little bit? Brain zaps and emotional roller coaster (crazy anger) are the worst.

    Thanks!
    Sarah

    • npanth Says:

      I wrote about anger during withdrawal here: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/dealing-with-anger-during-ssri-withdrawal/
      Anger is a tough symptom to deal with. It’s the one that people are most likely to translate into action against others. It causes broken bridges, puts strain on relationships, all kinds of problems. The best way to deal with it is to recognize that it’s being caused by withdrawal, not a character flaw. It takes a lot of effort to push that anger aside, it can really be overwhelming. It does go away, though. It’s a temporary problem. It’s also important to not dwell on any mistakes you make while you’re in this phase. Regret is another powerful emotion that gets amplified in withdrawal. Don’t beat yourself up about slips, it’s very common. Just do your best to minimize how you react to anger while you’re in this vulnerable place. I hope it goes away soon. Anger was the scariest phase for me.

      • Dano Says:

        Very nice analogy Jay.
        I backed my brain data up to the “cloud” but I seem to have forgotten the damn password again!! LOL!!!

  74. Altostrata Says:

    Again, I urge those of you who suffer from prolonged withdrawal syndrome to register on http://survivingantidepressants.org and add your case history to the Introductions forum at http://tinyurl.com/3o4k3j5

    One of the purposes of the site is to document cases to educate doctors.

    (Apologies for breaking in again on the fine job you’re doing of answering questions and providing support, npanth.)

    • npanth Says:

      I don’t mind at all. The support I can give is limited to my personal experience, research and reasoning. By it’s nature, that is a limited perspective, so having other sources of reliable information is very valuable to me. Thanks for the links.

    • emma tolliday Says:

      altostrata is there a success stories link on there, I so want to hear about people who have got through it! x

  75. Jay Benson Sr. Says:

    As you may or may not know,I started a small dose of Luvox ( 12mgs ) three weeks ago because I was having such a bad time with my GI tract.Well the symptoms are starting to reside,but for every action there is a reaction,Now I am back to where I left off with the side effects,Dizziness,Anxiety,Ocd and all the other great things this drug causes,I didn’t think that such a low dose would bring on such intense symptoms,my plan was to start low and tapper off slow,because my former
    shrink told me to quit taking the 25 mgs a day I was taking, because it was doing absolutely nothing for me Ha,I guess it was because all my severe GI problems started not long after I stopped.Now I have brain fog and I am extremely off balance,I feel that I can not control my body,I make a move to do something and my body gets confused,I had my legs buckle yesterday and It scared the crap out of me,if I even look to either side of the room with out moving my head it causes dizziness,I have an appointment with my EN&T Dr tomorrow and I know he’s not going to find anything wrong.
    My GI DR feels so guilty because he cant help me, that he suggested I go get a second opinion.With all the test and
    and finding nothing wrong,I told him no way.
    The fact that the Luvox has eased up my GI problems is proof enough for me that he has done everything right.
    It’s my last Psych who told me to quit cold turkey and then called me confrontational threw his hands up in the air and told me there was nothing more he could do for me, that I need to talk to a psychologist,Hello your a psychiatrist this is what you went to school for,being confrontational is part of the illness,especially when your advice is not helping and your drug swapping is making me suicidal,I was doing great except for the GI problems,now I am back to square one again,
    I hate taking 2 steps forward and 3 back.I wish we all new what these drugs were doing to us before hand,because I for one would have never Taken them, All I needed was an education as to what was going on inside me,ignorance on my part,and someone to reassure me that what was going on was not just in my head, but it was also physical,a chemical imbalance that if I had the proper treatment in the first place,I would have had a better chance at never taking a psych drug to begin with ,I have just set my self back x amount of time just to prove a theory.
    Sorry for the rant,I’m having an out of century experience.
    Jay

    • shriraj1 Says:

      i feel realy sory for you.but believe me i can realy understand what you are going though now.2 months back i was exactly where you are right now.but i can assure you it will get better but its a very slow process.you have to accept this fact as soon as you can.there are certain thing which can realy help you because that helped me .if u wana know i can tell u

    • npanth Says:

      No problem, rant away. These drugs can be incredibly frustrating. That frustration is compounded by the glib way some doctors treat them. My doctor gave me a very fast tapering schedule to get off Paxil, and threw a handful of pills at me when I started having trouble doing it. He greatly damaged my confidence in him in that whole episode.

  76. Jay Benson Sr. Says:

    Thank you shriaj1,I can use all the help I can get.
    I have been fighting this Illness on and off for 30 + years and the last 12 yrs has been an up hill battle with some wins
    but to many setbacks,I have been through a lot of psychiatrists over the years,some have helped and others have set me back,the last one I had has put me in the worst situation with no one to help me and me looking for a Psychiatrist that is
    willing to help me get off this night mare called withdrawal,they all say you will never get off the drug,so you might as well
    keep taking it, not gonna happen,one way or another I am determined to beat this once and for all.

  77. Dreamer Says:

    Went through the posts and believe me feeling much better now. Reading this page can be included as a part of ” coping with ssri withdrawl” therepy.:)
    My story: have been on SSRI citslopramine 60mg for 4 years and then 20 mg for next 6. I was prescribed the drug for OCD mix, but now i think it was mainly depression with frequently changing theme.
    Last year I played around with dosages and made it Irregular, 20 mg twice a week (any two days). The idea was to discontinue the drug and thought making it irregular would help ( brain is getting an hint).
    6 months back I left the drug. Started on music and sport in a big way. Physically I dont think withdrawl has bothered me much. But now for last 4 months i have become extremely tearful. I dont think i cried ever for last 20 years. Even when I was diaglozed with OCD mix i didnt cry. Now seeing a wedding in a movie makes me cry? It is still under control though as i usually collect myself and start a different activity when it happens.
    The question is; is it ssri withdrawl? How pong will it last?

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      Dreamer,I am man enough to admit that I do the same thing,I was watching a show the other night with my wife and the ending was so sad,I just burst out crying and my wife was taken aback,she said to me you never cry whats wrong?
      I said it;s the withdrawal that’s causing it and to tell you the truth I felt better afterwards,I think it;s just part of the healing
      process and a good cry is a great way to relieve stress.
      As far as how long will it take,everybody is different and depending on your mind set,really know one can tell you exactly how long,it takes time and when it happens you will think wow,I actually feel good for a change.
      Like people here have told me and countless others,hang in there it will happen.
      Jay Benson

    • npanth Says:

      It’s possible that it’s part of withdrawal for two reasons. Many people go for long periods without feeling overt symptoms, then experience symptoms after a few months off the drug. Also, SSRI suppress most emotions along with a range of mental processes. As the brain adjusts back to a drug free state, emotions will become more pronounced. Which emotions become dominant can vary. Anger, depression, mania, empathy. Sometimes, it’s more than one at a time.
      It’s hard to say how long your symptoms will last. Many times, emotional symptoms come on suddenly, and return to normal just as quickly. It can be situational, too. Symptoms can occur with or without a trigger. Recovery seems to follow a crooked path before it settles down. You may go through a period where you feel emotions more strongly, then a numb period. After alternating for a while, it should settle down into a more normal level.
      I had a similar experience. I didn’t really have emotions to speak of for most of the time I was on Paxil. Then I went through a period were my emotional responses varied greatly. That has settled down to normal, now. Patience is the hardest but best way to get through it. I’m sorry I don’t have a definitive answer. SSRI withdrawal is still poorly studied, so there are a lot of “should”, “most”, “may” when it comes to withdrawal symptoms.

  78. Dreamer Says:

    Went through the posts and believe me feeling much better now. Reading this page can be included as a part of ” coping with ssri withdrawl” therepy.:)
    My story: have been on SSRI citslopramine 60mg for 4 years and then 20 mg for next 6. I was prescribed the drug for OCD mix, but now i think it was mainly depression with frequently changing theme.
    Last year I played around with dosages and made it Irregular, 20 mg twice a week (any two days). The idea was to discontinue the drug and thought making it irregular would help ( brain is getting an hint).
    6 months back I left the drug. Started on music and sport in a big way. Physically I dont think withdrawl has bothered me much. But now for last 4 months i have become extremely tearful. I dont think i cried ever for last 20 years. Even The symptom for which i took at the first place ssri didnt involve crying at all. Now seeing a wedding in a movie makes me cry? It is still under control though as i usually collect myself and start a different activity when it happens.
    The question is; is it ssri withdrawl? How long will it last?

  79. Ashley Says:

    Hi, I am just wondering what your sources are for this information. They sound about right to me, but I am not one to read something on the internet and just believe it’s accurate without there being any sources. Where can I find further information that would confirm that all you say is accurate?
    No intentions to offend!

    Thanks.

    • npanth Says:

      I’m not offended at all. There is a lot of conflicting information about SSRI withdrawal out there. That was one of the reasons I decided to start writing about it. There isn’t much consolidated information about withdrawal. Since withdrawal isn’t officially acknowledged by the pharmaceutical companies and doctors, there haven’t been many studies or literature about the phenomenon. As a result, I’ve had to gather information from a variety of sources. Some of it is from my own experience, some from anecdotal conversations with other patients, some from message boards like http://www.paxilprogress.org/ and http://survivingantidepressants.org/ Other sources include https://www.rxisk.org/ and news articles like http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/13/us-usa-health-anxiety-idUSBRE86C07820120713
      The information here is a conglomeration of many sources. It hasn’t been proven in double blind studies. I don’t have any medical information to back up what I say. That’s a shortcoming to what I write, but it’s all we have at this point. Until withdrawal is acknowledged and studied in a scientific way, patients have to rely on anecdotal and communal information. It’s imperfect, but so are the drugs and the method of prescribing them.
      The best way to approach the information here is the same way you’re approaching other information you’ve read. Not everything will apply to you, nor will it all be accurate in a way that a peer reviewed article would be. I’ve found that many people share similar, but not exact, experiences with SSRI withdrawal. I try to write about the commonalities rather than the exceptions as much as I can.

  80. Dreamer Says:

    Couple of more quaries if anyone has inputs.

    1. Once you are on self awaremess path as predcribed here where you have to learn to differentiate between the real and withdrawl driven anxiety (anger, irritation etc),
    Will it good to think over the thought applying some rationale and try to solve it or better to ignore it. I mean will trying to think over it make it worse and start a vicious circle or it will help the mind absorb the thought and learn to live with it.

    2. Role of tobacco and alcohol during withdrawl. Any inputs on this ?what i have heard so far is the alcohol is not good for depression and although may proivde a very short relief may make the things worse. In my case I had quit tobacco around the same time i quit the Ssri (6 months back) Is the nicotine withdrawl also kicking in?

    • Dano Says:

      Rational thinking can and does help at times. After decades of not having to think or face real anxiety or fears and just plowing thru situations that warrant these thoughts; rational thoughts can betray you. This is my second chance to get it right whatever right is.
      I still smoke daily so I can’t speak to that. My drinking has been reduced to almost nothing. I have made 25 gallons of whine this year and have only enjoyed a few glasses with my wife on rare occasions. I never drank to forget or loose myself only for the feeling.

    • npanth Says:

      It’s hard to strike a balance between mindfulness and obsession in withdrawal. Try to take it slowly. When you feel anxious or depressed, try to think about what could be causing those emotions. If you are unable to find a cause in your past or present, it is most likely related to withdrawal. As Dano says, it’s very hard to develop a sense of what is caused by an emotional/environmental trigger and what is caused by withdrawal. After having the drug suppress emotions for so long, the causes of emotions have receded from the conscious mind. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just step away from mindfulness and try to distract yourself from everything. Eventually, it gets easier to do, almost second nature.

      Any chemical can be a risk during withdrawal. Everyone has different reactions to alcohol and tobacco during withdrawal. Alcohol tends to cause problems in withdrawal. You usually have a more pronounced drunken effect, and the hangovers are worse. Tobacco withdrawal usually causes irritability, mostly in the first month. That irritability does come back at intervals in the months after you first quit. They slowly diminish over time. I’m not sure if you’re experiencing nicotine withdrawal, but 6 months is one of the time frames that many people point to as a difficult point.

  81. Aint Life Grand? Says:

    I’ve been reading here for hours this morning, and it it has been quite a commiserating experience. Please consider my personal, and what I consider to be rather complex situation. It explains why I began SSRI’s, and other mitigation circumstances. I’ll attempt to be as concise as possible:

    I am a single man, aged 56. At age 38 (1995) I had a quintuple heart bypass (both parents died early to heart disease, Dad – 40 & Mom – 55.) After surgery, I was placed on Xanax (amongst others,) and have been taking 0.25mg daily every since. I’ve had mild to moderate anxiety for most of my life, and have suffered from self-worth issues as well. I began social drinking in my early 20’s (a drink or two, only once a month or so, with friends.) Slowly over the years, I began drinking more frequently. By 40, I was drinking most every weekend, and by 45, 3-4 oz of hard liquor nearly every night. Until two years ago that quantity remained static, and I was fairly consistent with my “one drink per night.” To the point that I’ve become a practicing “isolationist,” with generally no social abilities other than family, I confess that I am probably an alcoholic. My best and only friend now, is my sister.

    Two and 1/2 years ago, my best friend since age 14 died of breast cancer. Two months later, another long-time friend died. A month after that, the Aunt who had become my second mother, also died. I had become so severely depressed, that after many previous refusals, I finally agreed to my doctor’s advice on an SSRI. After an awful false-start with Celexa, Lexapro 10mg seemed to do the trick. I never took more than 10mg. I DID HOWEVER, begin to ramp up my alcohol consumption.

    A year later, I experienced complete and utter burnout. I sold my home, quit my job, and moved to another state. I completely cashed-out my entire life’s savings (pension & 401k,) paid cash for a modest house here, and had no bills. I had enough money to survive for quite some time. Convinced that with a whole new life, I’d get a great job, and live happily-ever-after. In retrospect, I behaved irrationally, made a huge mistake, and now see that the past 18 months has been a fog that I can barely remember. Having quit my job, with only a budget insurance plan, I couldn’t afford the Lexapro anymore, so my new doctor put me on Paxil 20mg for 8 INEFFECTIVE months. No anxiety, but pure depression. I’ve forgotten to mention that in this past 2 1/2 years, I went from a healthy 170 lbs, to 225 lbs.

    I sought out a new doctor who changed me to Prozac 20mg. After 3 months, no more depression but incredible anger and aggressiveness kicked in, so he gave me Viibryd 10mg samples to “try.” He instructed me to call in 30 days for a refill, or a visit. It was terrible, so I called his office. Check this out: I told his nurse that “I just hate it and want to die. Could I please come in and see him?” She said, “You want to die? Oh no, you’ll have to go to the emergency room!” I said, “No, I don’t mean KILL myself, I was just expressing my exasperation for goodness sake!” She proceeded to say that she could not take back what I’d said and that she won’t make an appointment for me until I have been evaluated by a psychiatrist. She wouldn’t budge. UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE. I’m not even sure the doctor knows I called.

    So, here I am, no job for more than a year, no money, no insurance after this month, and a doctors office who doesn’t give a crap about me. They never even called to see if I am alive or not. I decided to go it cold turkey and just quit (what other choice have I got?) It’s been 5 days now. I had a horrible migraine last night and this morning. I feel a little hot, but the Tylenol has moved it to the background. Strangely-enough, mentally I feel fine today. I’m going to try again on Monday to convince her that I’m OK and want an appointment.

    After 2 and 1/2 years on SSRI’s, should I expect this to become much worse?

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      I’m really sorry that your going through,I can tell you this,I went cold turkey 4 years ago and for the first 4 or 5 days I felt great,then it all came crashing down,I didn’t tell my Psych that I stopped,when I finally told him what I did, he told me when you quit like I did and being on the drugt for so long, you get a kind of euphoria for several days and then the withdrawal and lack of SSRis kick your brain into a nightmarish hell that only the person experiencing it can explain.I tried I really did but I ended up back on a different drug , still an SSRI but not the one I was taking,I should have taken the same drug because I was never the same after that.
      I just want to forewarn you that this could happen and hope you find help.
      Jay Benson Sr.

      • Aint Life Grand? Says:

        Thank you for sharing Jay. I did go back and review your particular posts in some detail. After reading, it reminded me that just when I think I have it bad, I only need to look to my left or right, because someone else has it MUCH WORSE than me. God bless you Jay.

    • npanth Says:

      I did some things over the years that I was on Paxil that I just scratch my head at, now. I traded my truck in for a sports car, despite needing it to tow a boat. The boat has just sat in the driveway ever since. I was genuinely surprised when my friends questioned what I was doing. I gained 80 pounds. Towards the end, I started drinking, too. Luckily, that has faded away as my dose of Paxil has gone down. I lost the 80 pounds, too. It’s very strange. Paxil removed my inhibitions and self awareness to the point that I just did things without thinking about them. I started to take my job for granted, and my performance dropped dramatically.

      I had the same experience with my doctor. I went to an appointment during the worst of withdrawal. I told him that I felt irrational anger, depression, and had suicidal ideation. He also gave me a starter pack of Viibryd and sent me on my way. There was no follow up. I’m glad I never started Viibryd, I think I’d be in a worse place now if I had. I think the industrialization of medicine has made it nearly impossible for doctors to understand the problems with these drugs. How can a doctor help you when he only sees you for 10 minutes, twice a year? All he can do is throw starter packs from the pharmaceutical salesman at you.

      It seems like you have either developed or had an existing sensitivity to SSRI, which could make withdrawal more intense than normal. You could try switching to the generic version of the drug and tapering slowly from that. The cost of my generic Paxil actually went down after I lost my insurance. Instead of $10 per month, it’s now $4 per month. Apparently, the pharmacy I go to supplements certain drugs, including SSRI. One of the weird ironies of modern medicine. My copay was higher than the supplemented cost of the drug. I think a good way to approach this would be to wait a little while and see if your symptoms escalate. If they do get worse, you may want to consider reinstating and tapering slowly from there.

      I also regret starting an SSRI. I would say it has done more harm to me than good. Regret about the past is one of the meta symptoms of withdrawal. It originates from the depression that withdrawal causes. It can be very overwhelming at times. Try to go easy on yourself. It will fade back to normal over time.

      • Aint Life Grand? Says:

        Thank you npanth; your reply was very comforting for me. Your thoughts on industrialization is spot-on I think. Even the pharmaceutical makers of SSRI’s clearly state that they don’t understand the mechanisms of how they work, only that they “are believed to effect the re-uptake of serotonin,” etc. Of course, THEIR primary goal is financial gain. Even after typing that, I feel more of a guinea pig than ever. I know that our doctors don’t mindfully set out to cause us worse problems than we started with, and my best guess is that their only knowledge behind prescribing an SSRI, is that 3-minute lecture they get from the drug rep in the hallway of their office in-between patients. I just wish there was legislation in place to require notification about withdrawal syndrome.

        Reading that you also had issues with weight gain and alcohol, and then lost your weight, gives me some hope (thanks again.) I just awoke from a short nap awhile ago, with no headache, but still flushed with head pressure. I’m hoping that only 2.5 years on SSRI’s is a short enough time to make my withdrawal less prolonged.

        After being so long without work, and just weeks from being desperate, I have a job interview next week as a computer analyst. With over 30 years of experience, I still don’t feel quite mentally equipped to pass an interview (much less finding pants that fit LOL) but I’m going to throw it out there and try. If by some miracle, I do get the job, I only pray that I can DO the job as they would expect me to.

        I’m so happy I found this blog, and you npanth. Per your suggestion, I will see if my symptoms escalate. I want to be COMPLETELY free of them, but if necessary, I have enough left that I can cut them to 5, 2.5, etc. That will be a last resort though. I’ll let you know what happens.

      • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

        npanth,unbelievable,I just finished reading your last reply and the things you did were so parallel to me.
        I made mistake after mistake and never learned,I sold my boat because I needed money ,so I thought because I was out of work,the thing is, I could have just stored it till I got back on my feet,it was a couple of years later that I landed a very well paying job as a Network Engineer working for the Nasdaq Stock market,I had a six figure income
        and life was good,well not entirely,I was still having PTSD problems and the stress was not helping,in 2002 I was laid off,I just bought a house in 2001 because with the money I was making ,I was getting hammered in taxes and I just bought a new truck and financed the whole thing at $600 a month,to make a long story short, my wife and I had to file for bankruptcy,I could not find a job, I was over 50 and after 2 yrs went into a deep depression,5 yrs later after a long battle to get back on my feet,I landed a job working for a school system as a pc tech,the lowest end of the the scale in the IT world,but I had insurance and it was cheep,before finding this job I went on disability,it was enough money to help pay the bills and enough income,that allowed us to refinance our home and I bought a new truck,I paid cash for it,because I said I would never finance another vehicle,the job I have was and still is the worst job I have ever held,I sold the truck 2 yrs after buying it,I wanted to buy a boat,I ended up pissing the money away.
        There more to this story,but I won;t bore you with it.
        I am now financing a truck and a new car,after I said I would never do it again.
        I have not learned from my history and here I am repeating it,I know I should not have done it,but I did.
        Jay

      • npanth Says:

        Jay – I’ve heard story after story of people who did strange things while they were on SSRI. From alcoholism to binge purchases, they just somehow lose control of their lives. It’s more than a little scary the way that Paxil and similar drugs change our personalities. An observer might say that we have abdicated responsibility for our actions, let go of our willpower. That’s not how it works, though. These drugs change our very perceptions of the world, suppress inhibitions, and make irrational decisions seem normal. I would never have let my career slip away like I did if I wasn’t taking Paxil. I didn’t think I was that different back then. I absolved Paxil of any role in my problems… until I spoke to several old friends who have known me from before I started taking Paxil. They all say the same thing. About 10 years ago, I “checked out”, stopped caring, became unapproachable and emotionally distant. Coincidentally, I started taking Paxil about 10 years ago. That has all changed in the last year. They all speak at length about how the old me is re emerging. I can’t wait until I’m all the way off Paxil. I’m eager to see what I can do once I’m free. I have to be patient, though, it will happen in good time.

        Ain’t Life Grand – The first couple interviews in withdrawal were very difficult for me. The first two resulted in intense anxiety. I have been able to get better at interviewing since then. Like Jay, I had a well paying IT job, and am now looking at the full range of support jobs, from desktop to enterprise. I feel like I have to reassemble my life after what I’ve been through, almost like an alcoholic has to start over once he achieves sobriety. Try to relax as much as you can during and after the interview. Don’t be too hard on yourself, no matter what the outcome is. This will be a good test of your status in withdrawal. Job interviews are among the most stressful situations we face. It’s important to test our coping abilities during withdrawal, see where we stand from time to time. Don’t believe that an episode of anxiety is a failure, though. It’s a part of withdrawal, and will improve over time. Good luck, I hope you get the job.

  82. Aint Life Grand? Says:

    P.S. I meant to mention that I regret starting the SSRI in the first place. I just wish I would have let myself go through the grieving process, as nature would have intended.

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      I know what you meant , and it’s sad that our only alternative to a little sanity is to take a drug that took it away in the first place.
      Jay

  83. Aint Life Grand? Says:

    @npanth & JB Sr. I know this may be a little off thread topic, so please delete if you need. It’s fascinating to me that the three of us are in similar situations: SSRI’s, high-level IT positions, looking for the right job, all seemingly well-educated and well-spoken, yet still in that “place” of despair. I awoke this morning, albeit 4:00am, and unlike the previous 5 days, I am feeling well. No trace of a headache, no anxiety, calm pulse, nothing other than slight head pressure. What I am most focused on, is my mental state. This marks day 6 of zero SSRI input, and I am happy. Happy like I was many years ago. I am so hoping that this because the chemical is no longer masking my brain, and also hoping that this just isn’t the calm before the storm. Thinking positively (perhaps half the battle,) I don’t want to dwell on it.

    So, here is the off-topic portion. I know that lacking confidence is a part of withdrawal, so I am hoping to get your opinion, just to be sure that I’m not reaching beyond my abilities. As I mentioned, I’ve well-over 30 years of experience in IT. Here are the requirements for this upcoming interview:

    KNOWLEDGE OF: Client/Server Systems, SQL, Reporting software (Crystal Report or Report Viewer), DB2 database, .NET framework, Microsoft Exchange Server, .asp, C# or VB, and Windows Applications. Hardware and networking knowledge a plus. Three (3) years experience working as a software engineer/developer/programmer using .NET (with C# or VB), SQL to build Window Apps and .asp, Microsoft Exchange Server, DB2 Databases, and Visual Studio.

    I’ve worked with most databases (to some extent) all the way back to IMS (IBM’s DBMS predecessor,) but never DB2 (which I understand is a completely different animal.) Still, being proficient with SQL, and applying it to the schema, just seems like a small learning curve to me. During the past 10 years, the company I worked for, was was stuck in a pre .NET environment, using only up to VB6. I set up ADO connections to make SQL calls to MS Access. Easy Peasy. Feeling as though my skills were falling behind, I installed Visual Studio and MS SQL Server Express on my home PC and began practicing. I taught myself and actually ended up creating three small systems for some P/T weekend clients, (I think the largest challenge was the difference in IDE’s (I like how the Intellisense exposes methods as you type.) C# and .VB are so standardized, that they are nearly identical now. Relying on the Framework rather than .com API’s makes it simpler I think. Played with Crystal Reports once, but never really used. Understand the concepts though: Plug DB data into predefined templates… Never used Exchange Server, but know what it is and does. I have LOADS of hardware and networking experience. Never used .ASP but have been practicing. I’ve done website development on the side for years. I know Javascript, PHP, HTML and CSS of course. I know JQuery It appears that for ASP, it’s server-side execution (like PHP) with C# embedded in Razor code. I think I can handle it. I’ve now even converted my domain at goDaddy, from Linux, to a Windows server so I could get .ASP support and practice the concepts.

    So my question is, would YOU hire me, even with a lack of formal and recent .NET experience.? This job is for my local county. The listing closed (I never applied), then reopened the next week with “until filled,”) which means no one applied, or no one with adequate experience applied. So I threw my hat into the ring, and now waiting for the interview. Do you think my experience suits the position (learning curves not withstanding,) or will I fall into the “inadequate” column? Guess my confidence hasn’t come back yet.

    • npanth Says:

      Many times, job openings list all of the technologies they use, even if they already have a staff member responsible for it. For instance, I’ve taken some MSSQL classes, and can manage MySQL and MSSQL (user/group rights, installation, maintenance etc.) but I’ve only done some data management. Usually, that level of experience is adequate because the organization already has a dedicated data management person. I’ve done a couple Windows/Apache/MYSQL installs that I then handed off to a curriculum support person, who did the data management. Don’t assume that you have to be the only expert on every technology when you go to the interview. I try to be very honest about my abilities in interviews, which hasn’t been a great strategy. I’m starting to think that most applicants wildly overstate their experience, and interviewers seem to expect that. I get the distinct impression that they’re cutting 30% off my experience, and since I don’t exaggerate what I know, I’m 30% behind the other applicants. That may be a conceit on my part to explain why I didn’t get a particular job. I’m in this strange place where I’m over qualified for half the jobs, and lack some specific experience for the others.
      Most of my experience is in Active Directory and Cisco IOS. I’ve always worked in very vertical environments, desktop support to Network Operations Center support. I’m also a Novell 3/4/5 CNE, but people don’t seem to be impressed by that as much anymore :) Having the majority of my experience in educational IT doesn’t seem to be a feather in my cap. Everyone assumes that it was an easy job with summers off. Two of us configured and installed 265 layer 2 switches in a 9 site, 30 closet, school district over the course of 6 weeks, between summer school and the start of the next school year. That project included VOIP, QOS, and VLAN configs, with Visio documentation. Another summer, 6 of us imaged and installed 1400 computers, while I was rebuilding the entire Novell infrastructure from the ground up. That job had just as much pressure and responsibilities as a commercial position, but I get asked about it in every interview.
      The job market is pretty hard these days, there are a lot of applicants for each job. Several of the jobs I’ve applied for have had over 100 applicants. In addition, many places are specifically looking for people with 3-5 years of experience, not people like us with 20+ years. We seem to be in the experience donut hole. I’m confident that something will turn up for me, and for you. Hang in there.

      • Aint Life Grand? Says:

        I appreciate the thoughtful response. In the late 80’s I went to Sunnyvale, California and trained at the Novell educational institute. You’re right, it’s not very impressive these days. Back then it was all bridged networking in a star configuration on coax, with extenders and repeaters from building to building. Ethernet was a twinkle in the eye then, just like Ethernet is becoming a twinkle in the eye of wireless now.

        God, I’m getting old…

      • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

        npanth,I back in the mid 90’s saved the Nasdaq Stock Market 500k,by swapping out all the old 3 com core builders,
        and setting up and configuring cisco 6400,5500 and 2600 router and switches,I finished a head of time, cisco bought the old core builders and I ran the fiber and terminated it,I also made brackets for the cisco equipment,because the cabinets they went into were old Compaq server racks,and the cisco equipment did not line up,I was given an accommodation for my ingenuity and finishing the job ahead of time,this did not save me from being axed when the time came,but it did look good on my resume.
        Now I’m doing what you use to do,and I hate it,mixed environments do not play well together,I like you was a CNE
        2.x,3.x 4.x and now zen 7. We are in the middle of migrating from Novel to AD and no one knows what they are doing.Our DNS does not work,we use iprint for printing and I hate it.We have 2 AD’s that don’t trust each other,to which I have pointed out several times to no avail,being a civil servant has no perks you are over worked and under payed,and you don’t know from year to year whether or not you have a job because of the budget restraints they put in place,I do know this,the upper echelon definitely takes care of their own.

        ALG,I know what you mean,I get it from the younger guys I work with,funny thing though,I’m always the first guy they come running to when they can’t figure out whats wrong or want to know about tcp/ip,voip or hardware compatibility.
        I may be a dinosaur,but I always keep up on the latest and greatest,something they do not do.

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      I would hire you with no hesitation,what you can’t expect an IT person to know everything,you have to learn the environment you are working in,I have yet to see someone walk into my place of employment and hit the ground running.
      The other problem that I have encountered ,is age discrimination ,don’t let anybody tell tell you it doesn’t happen,it’s more prevalent now that ever. I went on 15 interviews after I got laid off and everytime I walked into the the Interviewers office
      I saw the look on their face,they look at my resume and then look back at me,you see I went back to school after my accident and graduated in 1992,the same year my youngest son graduated High School,I got a degree in Electrical Engineering,and graduated Magna Cum Laude and I also went to school for Networking Technologies and I have certificates for Cisco and Microsoft,the thing that through them off was my age,I was 40 yrs old when I graduated and when recruiters saw graduated collage in 1992 with a BSEE,they figured I was only in my mid to late 20’s.
      The 10 yrs I spent at the Nasdaq Stock market,I was constantly going to school,but after 9/11 the IT field and the Market took a nose dive,I am now only making a third of what I use to but that is about to change,they want to stop outsourcing and hire someone to do cable management and fiber ,something I excel at.
      Lie if you have to,I did and it got me the best job I ever had,you have the experience and the tools,be confident in your interview and the rest will take care of it’s self.
      Good Luck,
      Jay
      P.S. us older IT nerds are a rare breed. lol

      • Aint Life Grand? Says:

        Thanks JB. Yes, age and the weight I’ve gained on SSRI’s. If it’s meant to be, it will be I suppose.

        I hate it when my brother-in-law teases me about my age. He usually comes up with something like, “Did you have to wear gloves when you changed the hot bulbs in ENIAC?”

  84. emma tolliday Says:

    Today started really well, not great but definatley not too bad, that went on for 4 hours and then baboommm i wanted everything to stop i felt so bad, like i was going insane and just wanted to leave my body, and then massive panic because i felt like my mind was going to explode in my head, what the hell have these drugs done to me!!!! So I was thinking for the rest of the day that hold on I have never been right so why do I think i will get back to being right and then I saw a photo of myself at 21 (I am now 36) and i looked at it and thought actually then I was totally fine then and had never touched anti depressants so at least I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, that is if I make it as today I fear I will never ever get better, I even have been thinking maybe I should just take something as I am getting nowhere, feeling frazzled on drugs was better than this. 7 months 19 days off today x

    • npanth Says:

      In a way, having windows and waves is good. At first, withdrawal is a continuous trial with little let up. Eventually, the symptoms start to break up and begin to fluctuate between symptoms and windows of feeling more normal. As time goes by, the windows should get longer and better while the waves get shorter and milder. hang in there. I know it doesn’t really feel like it, but you’re making progress :)

    • emma tolliday Says:

      thank you because of yesterdays awfulness I have woken up so scared i will feel like that again today it is an endless circle i pray for the day I can have a normal life i am not sure how much more i can take, yesterday it was literally one minute i thought i was alright and 30 seconds later i was awful again and then 1 minute later again i thought i was alright, never had it that up and down before. I was out xmas shopping with my husband and then it hit me the doom and fear and insanity,i am so sad that I cant enjoy anything the simple things like a nice day out with my husband, im not asking for rays of sunshine and jazz hands but just simple normality with the average ups and downs, will this ever happen? I do so much for other people why is this happening to me, my life is being wasted but why do i even care when sometimes i want to be dead, that is not suicidal tendencies i am not suicidal so please dont woryy it is just the feeling of not wanting to be here and suffer, i would never ever do anything but i can totally understand the poor people who do! and the weirdest thing i can still hand on heart say this is note depression, it is no way the same. heres to hoping a change and improvement is round the corner, it must be after this long x

      • emma tolliday Says:

        could it be possible that i am getting worse , or is it just the waves and windows that make me feel like that x

      • Jay Benson Sr Says:

        Well I think I have done my self more harm than good,I reintroduced 12mgs of Luvox to see if it would help with my GI problems,well it has helped a little,but now I am going through some of the worse symptoms I have ever experienced.some that are new to me,yesterday I felt ok for most of the day,I ate dinner around 6:30 pm and after that I started having problems with my stomach ,then I felt very weak and broke out into a cold sweat,I thought I was having a heart attack but I had no pain in my chest or arm,but my heart was pounding pretty hard,I took a couple of Xanax hoping this would calm me down and relax me ,but it did just the opposite ,I got frightened when I started having really bad sensations in my head,it felt like it was expanding and contracting and I was getting terrible brain zaps,I was not having these problems before the introduction , I wondering if this is a combination of withdrawal and side effects form luvox mixed together with the uncertainty that there is something physically going on,I am on my own with no one to help me,any thoughts about this theory ?,also I am experiencing extreme dizziness and being off balanced,I also noticed I have a problem with coordination ,I get confused when I go to move ,which causes instant dizziness and brain zaps,maybe I am really just stating to hit the peak of my withdrawal because it has only been a few months since my psych told me to quit the 25mgs of luvox I was taking,I thought I was on my way to recovery but now I am worse than ever,I don’t know what to do at this point.
        any suggestions.
        Jay Benson sr

      • npanth Says:

        Waves have a feeling of permanence that they really shouldn’t. Each time I entered a wave, it felt like that was a permanent turn for the worse. I tried to remind myself that it was temporary, but that was bare comfort while it was happening. It takes a long time and many cycles to intrinsically understand that they pass. Your waves and windows are very short, and that makes them feel more intense. The wave/window cycle adds uncertainty to the whole thing, too. It’s hard to tell what you’ll be like from day to day, week to week. That produces its own stress, which is a trigger for waves. Withdrawal is a self feeding thing. Your symptoms increase, which causes stress, which increases symptoms. The good news is that it works the other way, too. As you start to improve, it snowballs. The hard part is enduring the bad parts until it starts to improve.

      • npanth Says:

        Jay, if you had an immediate and severe reaction to Luvox/Xanax, it probably won’t help you in the long run. A lot of doctor prescribe those two together, but some people can be sensitive to it. Be careful with that combination. Polydrugging can add an extra dimension to the withdrawal problem, since it’s hard to taper off a cocktail of drugs. All the symptoms you describe, head zaps, dizziness, head throbbing, and fine motor control problems, are consistent with withdrawal. It seems like the biggest reaction you had was to the Xanax.
        Give it a little while and see if your symptoms settle down. It could just be a temporary reaction to the drugs you took last night. SSRI and Benzos seem to have a “garden of eden” effect where they don’t have the same efficacy if you try to reintroduce them after a period of being off them. Hopefully, you’ll get back to your status quo soon, even though that’s a incremental improvement. I think you’re right that the Xanax and Luvox combined with your withdrawal to make your symptoms more pronounced.

        • Altostrata Says:

          Jay, if I were you, I’d immediately reduce the Luvox, at least by half. If you’ve had withdrawal symptoms before, your nervous system may be hypersensitized to any further antidepressants. Your adverse reaction suggests that amount of Luvox is too much for you. It’s best to titrate up from, for example, 2mg to find the lowest effective dose. You might find you can tolerate only a few milligrams — or none at all.

      • Jay Benson Sr Says:

        Thank you ,npanth and Altostrata, The thing is I am not taking it everyday (Luvox) it’s every other day,but I think I am so sensitive to the drug that your right, I should cut it down to as low as I can,I ‘m sorry now that I reintroduced it
        because I would have rather put up with the GI problems than what I’m going through now.
        I don’t know why I listened to my last shrink who told me to just stop taking it,the low dosage is doing absolutely nothing and I believed him, I am so pissed at him, I want to warn people about his ignorance/denial of SSRI withdrawal symptoms and his lack of compassion leaves a lot to be desired.
        I will try cutting down to a very small dose and wean my self off by mid December or sooner ,I don’t think my body can handle the drug and quite frankly neither can my mind.
        Thanks again
        Jay

        • Altostrata Says:

          Taking any antidepressant every other day is an excellent way to elicit withdrawal symptoms. Try a small, consistent dose every day, taken at the same time if possible.

      • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

        I just got through reading an article on Benzodiazepines ,they were never meant for long term use,and getting off of them is just as bad if not worse than all classes of psych drugs,so now I have a double whammy,SSRI an Xanax.
        People who have taken them the longest will have the hardest time getting off of them,people with half or less years than me are having a terrible time getting off and some have just given up,I have become so dependent on Xanax
        that I am (hooked) to coin a term,and will probably never be able to get off this drug with out the most severe withdrawal symptoms,regardless of how I taper it,I think now that I am fighting a losing battle and these drugs are going to do what the accident didn’t ,Kill me.

      • npanth Says:

        I second what Altostrata said. Skipping days isn’t recommended as it puts you into an on and off withdrawal. Since these drugs can have delayed reactions, you may find that you feel the effect of a couple skipped days all at once. I know that most doctors’ tapering schedules include alternate days. Perhaps that works for some people, maybe for most people, but definitely not for all people. My doctor wanted me to skip days and get off 40mg/day Paxil in less than a month. I think that schedule would have put my well being in jeopardy.

        I know how daunting it can be to read some of the experiences, especially with benzos. Try to remember that many people have recovered from withdrawal. It’s difficult, whether it’s withdrawal from an SSRi or a benzo, but it’s definitely achievable. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Some of the best advice I got from a friend of mine was to go easy on myself, give myself a break. Try to focus on the immediate, and before you know it the long term has taken care of itself. Withdrawal has a way of feeding on itself, circling around you like an anaconda. Try to keep in mind that your symptoms aren’t permanent, your reliance on these drugs isn’t forever. You’ll make it, hang in there.

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      I think I have found a Psychologist that might help me,she is going to do an enzyme tests for drug reaction,has anybody ever heard of this? Is it worth it? She said she will help me get off the drugs,so will see.
      In the mean time,I am getting really bad brain zaps,I have cut my dosage of Luvox down to what I think is 6 0r 7 mgs
      and cut my Xanax to .5 mgs, I started taking them every day at the same time,but I think I;m reacting to the cut in Xanax more than the Luvox,Brain zaps are the most terrifying thing to me,I can handle everything else but those scare the sh!t out of me.
      I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.
      Jay

      • Altostrata Says:

        She may be referring to a test identifying liver enzymes, which are important for metabolizing psychiatric drugs. However, they have little to do with withdrawal symptoms and are a waste of money for this purpose.

        Jay, please do not make simultaneous changes in your drug dosages. You won’t know which change is causing the symptoms. If I were you, I’d hold the Luvox dosage steady for several weeks at least. Your nervous system is susceptible to withdrawal symptoms right now. Making changes in the benzo dosage may cause flareups.

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          I am at a loss right now,I thank you for your support and advice and you are right,I think I am reacting to the drug dosages more than the withdrawal right now,I was doing so good until I went back on the luvox,right now I think its more drug reaction
          than withdrawal and I can’t seem to find a happy medium,I’m afraid of upping or reducing at this point,I’m also into my reliving my accident stage,it always starts around Thanksgiving,last year I lost 2 months of work,this year I can’t afford to lose anytime,I’m hoping this Psych my wife found will work out,because right know I am my own worst enemy.
          Thanks for replying,
          Jay

      • npanth Says:

        I’ve heard of enzyme tests, but don’t know very much about them. I’d go with altostrata’s experience on this one. I’m not sure how to advise you about changing your dosages of Luvox and Xanax. I agree that staying at a certain dose or increasing can bring on symptoms. Changing both drugs at the same time complicates things as well. I think changing the Xanax may be more likely to cause symptoms, so it might be better to keep that one steady.

  85. soozen Says:

    I have been using whey protein isolate loaded with amino acids. I think it’s been taking the edge off. Why no talk about this?

    • Altostrata Says:

      I like whey protein isolate. I also found it calming. Our bodies need the amino acids in protein to rebuild themselves.

    • npanth Says:

      Whey protein just hasn’t come up in the discussion to this point, thanks for pointing it out. I haven’t really taken any supplements during withdrawal, so I’m not well versed in their effects and side effects.

    • Dreamer Says:

      The protein is to be taken as an supplement or natural protein i. Cereal and pulsesneould help. I am a vegeterian so i dont think i have choices with natural protei .

  86. Mary A. Moser Says:

    I took a low dose of Paxil for nearly 10 years with little to no side effects. I made the decision to go off the drug and slowly tapered for about 2 years before discontinuing all together. Within 6 months of stopping the drug, I got very ill with a variety of horrible side effects, including debilitating fatigue, horrible digestion problems, muscle and joint paint, dizziness, nausea, vertigo, chronic muscle spasms, restless leg syndrome, electric shock feelings in my face, and trouble concentrating. I had to quit my full-time job and lost my quality of life. I was seriously ill for 2 years before I started to see very small improvements. By the 3rd year of discontinuation, I considered myself mostly recovered. Within the last two months, I honestly started to fee like my old self again. Prior to this, I was a very healthy and active person who regularly enjoyed rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and other extremely physical activities. Needless to say, this experience was devastating in so many ways, but I am now getting my life back on track. What helped me is a blog that I discovered many years ago when I was suffering from all these weird symptoms that no one could explain. I fired two medical doctors during that time because they both told me I was “just depressed” and had to go back on the drug. Ironically I never had one panic attack after discontinuation. All I can say is this blog really helped me cope because I realized I was not alone. Here it is: http://www.paxilprogress.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=7

    • npanth Says:

      I participate on paxilprogress.org. I agree, it’s a good site. Altostrata runs a good site at survivingantidepressants.org, too. Both have knowledgeable and compassionate users.

    • Altostrata Says:

      Mary, the story of your recovery is invaluable to other prolonged withdrawal syndrome sufferers and to medicine. Please post it here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/forum/28-recovery-success-stories/

      Unfortunately, paxilprogress.org discourages discussion of prolonged withdrawal syndrome. I had collected about 200 cases in a topic there, but they deleted it in a purge about 2 years ago, and banned many people with prolonged withdrawal syndrome. That is why I started SurvivingAntidepressants.org

      Accounts of prolonged withdrawal syndrome are needed to help patients and doctors understand the risks of withdrawal and, hopefully, figure out a way to treat it. That is one of the objectives of SurvivingAntidepressants.org

  87. Dreamer Says:

    I want to thank all the contributors this site. I am hesitant to say as i dont want to jinx it but i think i have improved my withdrawl slightly. Unless it js again a phase and recurrence is around the corner.
    The changes I tried is excercise and given up coffee. If nothing else excercise is Giving me a nice 8 hour sleep. Not sure on whether what worked with me will worked with all.
    Still the withdrawl haunts sometimes but is managable atleast rightnow.

  88. jane Says:

    My phases of withdrawal seem to be different from what’s stated here. I never get windows (may be at the beginning) but it’s unveiling like a chain reaction of new set of symptoms arising every couple of months while “old” don’t disappear (some of them subside temporarily). So, I am getting more and more debilitating symptoms – some of them get more prominent (as GI distress now – severe bloating, exacerbation of reflux, heart burn, gastritis, etc.), some – less. Moreover, what is of a serious concern now is depression that seems to have become steady now (not as before -every now and then). Unlike for many people, it intensifies as the day progresses and reaches it’s peak at night when it gets especially unbearable with it’s sucking in feeling. May be the season of predominant darkness contributes to that. What I am worried about is: could it be a new onset of “real” depression alongside with withdrawal symptoms? Is there a way to distinguish another bout of “genuine” depression from the one mimicked by withdrawal. Any thoughts on that?

    • npanth Says:

      It’s difficult to differentiate between depression that is triggered by a life event and that which is brought on by withdrawal. Usually, the best way to tell the difference is when there isn’t an identifiable trigger to cause it. When there isn’t a trigger, such as an event causing a memory to surface, it’s usually withdrawal related. It takes a long time to develop the mindfulness to tell the difference. Withdrawal depression takes events that wouldn’t normally cause a depressed reaction and turns them into a trigger. Withdrawal really does feel like an emerging, chronic, depression because it doesn’t let up and queues off of almost anything. Withdrawal depression is acute rather than chronic, though. By acute, I mean that it is episodic rather than life long. Time is the best way to tell which kind of depression you are experiencing.
      Withdrawal usually begins with a period of time without windows, just rotating symptoms. It doesn’t start to break up into waves and windows until later. The amount of time with constant symptoms varies from person to person. Some people only experience it for a short time, others for a longer period. Again, time is the best way to recognize that your symptoms are starting to fluctuate between windows of stability and waves of symptoms. It’s very frustrating and difficult to have patience when you’re living each day minute by minute. It was several months before I started to understand what people meant by “windows”. When it did start to happen, it was rather sudden and took me by surprise. I hope your symptoms abate soon, it’s really hard to deal with that part of withdrawal.

      • jane Says:

        Thank you npanth: “Withdrawal depression takes events that wouldn’t normally cause a depressed reaction and turns them into a trigger” – that’s well put. And in this very phrase is the key: if a small, tiny thing that would have passed unnoticed for the “normal” person could push you off the track and trigger a depressive state then the poor condition you were thrown into by the withdrawal process, when you experience nothing but terrible symptoms and have to struggle every day, that could be powerful enough for a healthy person to end up being severely depressed, would pose a tremendous challenge for people like us to withstand. In other words, our constant suffering and quality of life near zero is more that enough to cause a depression outside of withdrawal. It’s comforting to hear that it will eventually pass but I am not sure I’ll last long enough because I am loosing weight due to digestive problems that interfere with assimilating nutrients from food. Tests show that my body is starving while I am eating normally and the doctors don’t believe me – they continue to attribute that to skipping the meals no matter what I say.
        Jay, wish you good luck with a new psychologist, keep us posted about the testing – I have no idea what it means, psychologists usually don’t order routine or any tests, they are PhDs.

  89. phiilp Says:

    I’VE READ THE LOT AND MY WAY ARROUND THE WITHDRAWL SYMPTHOMS WAS PRITY SIMPLE
    5THP SUPLEMENTS AND A HIGH DODE OF ST JOHN’S WORTH. AGAINST MY DOC’S ADVICE I STARTED THE ST JOHN’S WORTH 4 WEEKS BEFORE I STOPED THE LEX 20MG PER DAY.
    AGAIN THIS WORKED FOR ME IT MIGHT NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE

  90. emma tolliday Says:

    ive been reading a lot of books and today after waking again at 5am anxious I feel so weird I just cant describe it, scared, depressed worried, numb, and in the books there are parts that say there can be permanent brain damage or that we dont recover so today i am sat here thinking i will never be right, i am striving for something that is never going to happen, its almost a dissapoitntmernt to wake up, Im not saying I want to die althought that would take the pain away, I must stress i am not suicidal, but everymorning when I wake up and realise today is no better I am devastated, almost 8 months drug free, I wish I coudl celebrate this ! I have had no brain fog for 3 days but I cant celebrate as all the other feelings are so bad, will i ever recover? x

    • npanth Says:

      A lot of the claims of permanent brain damage from SSRI are based on the same assumptions that get people to take these drugs in the first place. Specifically, that the brain is a static organ. In the case of the SSRI promoters, they’re saying that there is a permanent imbalance that needs to be offset by a drug. In the case of the brain damage people, it’s that the brain has been permanently altered by the drug. The basic assumption, that the brain is static, is too simplistic. The brain reacts to stimuli and changes its structure to accommodate new input all the time. Your brain is rewiring itself right now as you read this. It doesn’t hurt because this is just a little drop in the bucket. SSRi force the brain to restructure on a large scale. By blocking and down regulating receptors, the brain is forced to reorganize around the new normal. When the drug is removed, it takes some time for the brain to reorganize itself once again. An analogy would be a pain killer. You pull a muscle and it hurts. You take a painkiller for it. The drug blocks receptors that would make you feel the pain. Once you stop taking the drug, the receptors become active again, and you feel pain again. Painkillers are a microcosm of what’s happening with an SSRI. The numbing effect on your mind has been removed, which causes pain, psychic instead of physical in this case.

      The brain has a remarkable ability to adapt and change to new environments. Another analogy would be silly putty. When you first get it, it’s in a nice little egg shape. After playing with it, you can form it back into a semblance of an egg shape again, but it won’t be exactly the way it was before. In the same way, your brain is reorganizing itself into a new functional state. It may not be exactly the same form it had before, but it will still be viable. Healing takes a long time and imposes a lot of pain in the process, but it will happen. The pain you feel right now is the process, not the result… and don’t think about your brain as a blob of plasticized clay! :)

      • jane Says:

        The following is an excerpt from the scientific article “Neurobiology of AD withdrawal”
        However, as this article has emphasized, response to
        antidepressant withdrawal may involve stress-related
        events with more insidious and malignant implications for
        the outcome of the illness. Under certain conditions,
        overtly raised synaptic 5HT levels may be detrimental to
        neuronal function and integrity. In this regard, stressinduced
        down-regulation of BDNF mRNA appears to be
        mediated by 5HT2A receptors (Vaidya et al 1999). Moreover,
        tianeptine, a serotonin reuptake enhancer, prevents
        stress-induced atrophy of dendrites of CA3 pyramidal
        neurons (McEwen et al 1997). It has been suggested that,
        in these preclinical models, 5HT released during stress
        may contribute to neuroplastic events by enhancing
        NMDA receptor efficacy (McEwen 1997). Furthermore,
        removal of the inhibitory effects of the antidepressant on
        NMDA receptor activity through disinhibition of facilitatory
        glycine binding or, alternatively, inducing a stresslike
        response through the activation of the hypothalamicpituitary-
        adrenal and growth hormone axes will further
        promote the release of limbic glutamate. The eventual
        impact on neuronal function and integrity will be determined
        by various factors, such as the pharmacological
        profile of the antidepressant, the time-point and duration
        of withdrawal, whether withdrawal or noncompliance is
        repeated and how often, and the impact of associated
        contributors such as inherent genetic and environmental
        factors.
        As described for depression, psychosocial and other
        stressors will, together with genetic vulnerability and
        effects on cortisol and glutamate release, provoke a
        depressive episode culminating in changes in structural
        plasticity and cellular resilience. This, in
        turn, will result in neurodegenerative pathology with
        volumetric reductions in critical limbic brain areas apparent
        in clinical studies. Successful treatment with an antidepressant
        will result in reversal of these neurochemical
        and structural changes, culminating in remission. Inappropriate antidepressant withdrawal-associated
        stress will engender neurochemical imbalances in glutamate
        and GABA, as well as alter the expression of critical
        cellular resilience proteins. The ensuing actions of raised
        glutamate and NO on synaptic plasticity and cellular
        aspects of memory may change neuronal and synaptic
        structure in such a way that prior antidepressant response
        is altered. This response could lay the foundation
        for relapse, requirement for higher dose, and
        possibly treatment resistance.
        Conclusion
        From a practical perspective, a focus on antidepressant
        adherence and relapse prevention is crucial. The distress
        that potentially accompanies antidepressant withdrawal
        has not always been sufficiently appreciated. As alluded to
        earlier, missed doses, abrupt dose reduction, or abrupt
        discontinuation of some antidepressants may be associated
        with an antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Although
        the severity of withdrawal symptoms may vary
        with the type of antidepressant and between patients, all
        too often not enough emphasis is placed on the possible
        neurobiological effects and possible longer-term risks
        associated with inappropriate withdrawal or discontinuation.
        As emphasized here, antidepressant discontinuation
        may involve a stress response accompanied by a set of
        specific biochemical responses that cause further neuronal
        dysfunction and that may compromise long-term outcome.
        This is not to say that clinicians should continue antidepressants
        indefinitely; it is, however, to emphasize that the
        decision to discontinue antidepressants should be made
        judiciously and on an individualized basis. Longitudinal
        studies substantiate the recurrent nature of depression, so
        that in some cases this may be regarded as a lifetime
        disorder (Greden 1993). Considering these relationships,
        an approach in clinical practice should arguably be one
        that requires justification of discontinuation rather than
        justification of treatment continuation (Greden 1993).
        Further clinical research on how optimally to discontinue
        antidepressants remains needed, and the underlying molecular
        biology of antidepressant discontinuation deserves
        additional study.”
        The article suggests that the ramifications of withdrawal are actually unpredictable in terms of longetivity, intensity and an overall outcome. Not only SSRI’s effect but an unveiling withdrawal process continues to play the damaging role on brain chimistry and structure.

        • Altostrata Says:

          Jane, that article is about “inappropriate” discontinuation, i.e. too-fast tapering. I have corresponded with the author, Brian Harvey.

          • jane Says:

            Yes, Altostrata, I am aware of that, but how many of people experiencing withdrawal could claim that they have done it appropriately if nobody even knows what it is. I think (may be it’s not an accurate assumption) that if discontinuation had been done properly for the particular person (because for each of us it’s different), then the person shouldn’t have withdrawal symptoms in the first place, at least not of a long duration. I know for sure that I have done it in a very wrong way, skipping the days. Despite the fact that I spread it for 8 ms it didn’t make it any safer. What we all are experiencing is the sign of “inappropriate” discontinuation whatever it implies.
            Did you get a different impression from your correspondence with the author?

          • Altostrata Says:

            jane, if you look for the worst-case scenario, you will surely find it. What’s done is done. Instead of scaring yourself about damage, you might study neuroplasticity. The brain is capable of remarkable healing. Best wishes for Thanksgiving to you.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        THANK YOU SO MUCH THAT HAS MADE ME FEEL SO MUCH BETTER!! A GREAT WAY TO PUT IT NPATH X

      • emma tolliday Says:

        i have been thinking about it this morning and it is kind of like when we cut ourselves, we know it heals, it takes a while and as it is healing and when the wound is gettiing better it usually itches and throbs a bit until it is finally healed and you have forgotten about it, now and then you will see the scar and be reminded briefly of how you got it but then not give it another thought, I am hoping that is a good analogy of what is happening and how it will end. I had the best 3 hours last night i was doing an evening event for my job and i was so engrossed in what i was doing and speaking to people i felt completley normal, content and did not think once about withdrarawl, it was a beautiful few hours!!! this morning i woke up feeling bad again but as i lay in bed i told myself i am healing and this is withdrarawl not me, cant say it made me feel better but im doing what i have too x

      • npanth Says:

        That’s a good analogy. When you cut your finger, the skin is broken. After healing, it’s not quite the same as before, but it reaches a new functional state. I cut one of my pinky fingers to the bone once. It took a long time to heal, and has a funny looking scar, but it’s functional, now. So much so that I haven’t thought about it in months, until this moment.
        It’s hard to make analogies about withdrawal that capture it exactly, There’s always some aspect of the analogy that doesn’t apply. The brain is a much more complicated organ than a finger. The process is similar, but different in some ways. It’s very hard not to think about withdrawal as a permanent condition. It’s so profound that it can’t be anything but permanent, can’t it? It isn’t, though. I think that’s the best part of an analogy to focus on. The body and brain can heal from very traumatic injuries. We may “think with a limp” after it’s done, but who doesn’t have some little nagging ache as they grow older? Eventually, they don’t even bother us, and we just go on as before.
        The more you experience windows in withdrawal, the more you’ll be equipped to deal with the waves. There’s no context for health at first in withdrawal. After a while, when you get some time feeling better, it’s easier to see that waves are temporary and a sign that you’re healing. At this point, I have more time feeling good than I do feeling bad. When a wave starts to come on, it feels like I’m getting a cold, mental instead of physical. There are even times where I feel like a wave is coming on, but it dissipates before it develops into a full blown problem. Recovery has started to snowball, which is great. It will happen for you too, I’m confident of that.

    • emma tolliday Says:

      so you reckon because it is so up and down that it means it might be improving, i did think that today it is literaaly so up and down all the time that it must mean improvemnet is near. I have felt horrible today, the feeling that there is somethimng foregin in my head and that i could go insane, i guess what they call cognitive disfunction or brain fog. heres hoping after tonights sleep tomorrow might be a better day tomorrow, thanks for all your support x ps I cannot wait for the breakthrough to come x

      • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

        I also am having a terrible time today,my son came over and I was trying to help him fix his car,every time I bent over I felt like I was going to fall because I was so dizzy,and then the panic attacks came which I haven;t had one in 3 months and the constant anxiety and fear ,I am at a loss right now,I thought I could handle this,but I’m slowly losing it.
        I’m afraid to take any high does of Xanax for fear of reacting to it.I know that this is a combination of withdrawal and myself medication,but damn this is bad.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        thinking of you jay, we will get better x

      • emma tolliday Says:

        so far today has been intresting, sad news about larry hagman, made me question point oof everything a little bit but got over that, and sooooo loved larry hagman, we have a massive who shot jr picture in our guest bathroom!!! went to bed last night with horrible full head feeling, but woke up this morning with it feeling like more of a headache which i can totally handle!! i would swap every day i have at the moment for a headache!!! anyway got up at 7am popped to toilet, got back into bed and meditated and woke up at 11.30am must have fallen asleep half way through the body scan, got a bit of a headache still but managed to pop to shops with husband and am just about to get ready to go to london for a 40th birthday party, dont want to go as i live in fear that i will be hit by a horrible wave while i am there as they are so up and down at the moment but I am making myself go. i will let youu know how i get on!! it is like when i fell semi ok, i am shadowed by the constant fear that in 5 minutes i could feel insane and like i want to die!!! fingers crossed, also a really really good book that i carry with me all the time and has helped me so much through the last 8 months is Recovery and Renewal by Bliss Johns you can get it on amazon, it is so helpful to pick up when i feel rubbish and has some great succes stories in it!!!! x

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          Well last night was really bad for me,I never had a night where I could not fall asleep,and when I did it didn’t take much to wake me up,right now my hearing is so sensitive to noise and my startle response is at an all time high,I laid in bed this morning for a couple of hours and actuality was feeling ok,then it came on real slow like,now I’m where I was yesterday
          but not quite that bad,it seem to get worse as the evening progresses and peaks just before I go to bed, I had such a terrible headache last night and finally gave in and took some Advil,I was afraid I was going to react to it and I still am.
          I’m seeing a Psych this coming Wens, and we are going to figure this out,I already told her I want off the drugs,and she was fine with that,plus I have armed myself with a lot of info from here and Altostrata’s site,I’m hoping that one day this withdrawal syndrome will be recognized for what it is and not be marred by Dr’s,Pharmaceuticals and big Corporate Lawyers that blame the patient instead of addressing the real issues.
          One can only hope.
          Emma,have a good time and don’t worry like you said to me “we will get better” be safe. x

      • npanth Says:

        Fear of slipping back into a wave is one of the larger things about withdrawal. It’s very hard to let go of it. It will fade away over time, though. While you’re going through waves and windows, slipping can happen at any time, which adds uncertainty to everything. It’s so hard to predict when it will change. After a while without the extreme fluctuations, things start to settle down a bit. Waves don’t have the same unknown quality about them. You’ll get there. Have fun in London, but don’t feel bad if you slip into a wave while you’re there. It’s not a failing on your part, it’s being imposed on you by the drug.
        It’s so hard to have patience while you’re going back and forth between waves and windows. That is progress, though, and it will get easier to see that as time goes by.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        EXTREME FLUCTUATIONS that is the best description of what i feel like, it is soooooo up and down where a few months ago it was long good days and long bad days. so yeaterday was ok, most of the day i felt on edge all day like i was so close to tipping into the insane feelings and i try soo hard not to get there but i know really there is nothing i can do to stop going into a bad wave. I said to my husband today that tomorrow could be the turning point, everyone who has got through this would not have exspected it on the day it actually started to change for them, i live in the hope that when improvement comes it will come quickley. anyway before i tell you about how horrible today has been, last night was fine, infact i really enjoyd myself, the drive into london i was worrying i was going to feel bad but when we got there and i saw my closest friends it was 90% good, i laughed and didnt think about feeling rubbish for a good 4 hours, it was so nice to laugh out loud. I had a tiny bit of anxiety but nothing i couldnt handle, we didnt get in until 2am and i slept fine but then this morning booom the usual waking anxiety, and now all day have had a horrible full, frazzled, mental head , soo bad that i almost want to throw up to get the feeling out and clear my head but i dont throw up and if i did it wouldnt work. all i want is a clear head, i am so desperate to find something that could help but nothing will speed it along, someone said to me they thought my new job soon to start might make me feel better but as we know winning the lotterey wouldnt make us feel better, only time and the brain rebuilding and rewiring, i just really dont know how many more days i can wake up and feel this horrible head feeling, it is so unfair, i do feel like i am going to go insane, again today i had fleeting thoughts that maybe i should just go back and get some drugs as being on those wasnt as bad as this, but as i say time and time again i am not depressed, i just want relief and to be normal, i now have figured out that where i was changed for 3 drugs in 1 year i have not just been suffering withdrarawl it has also been mixed with start up side effects!! 8 months off and i feel no better, i am literally sat in the living room tonight watching the clock, counting the hours until i can go to bed and switch off, i know when it is really bad when i count down till bed time, my husband is trying to speak to me and as much as i love him i just want to switch off. one good thing is i have kind f got in the habit of taking headache tablets in the vain hope that thye will stop the head feeling, i know they dont i just think it helps sometimes to think they may help, anyway i have gone 2 days without taking them, im going to read some succes stories to try and make myself fell better, stupid thing is i know in 2 hours i could feel fine, but that if i do i will feel bad again, it is so cruel, how can drugs have done this, a man on the withdrarawl line in the uk said to me it is like we have to train our brain to work again, like when people come out of a coma, its frustrating and it takes time and you want to give up but you get there.please tell me it will be soon!!!, thank you all your support guys, lovely bed awaits in 3 hours x

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          Hi emma,it seems like we are paralleling each other,I had a small window from 9pm to 1am,fell asleep at 2 woke up ok
          8am to 9am was ok,as soon as I ate something I had sever stomach pain which went away 2 hrs later,now I’m having brain fog and the same old symptoms as usual,I hope you can enjoy the rest of your stay,thinking about you, Jay

      • emma tolliday Says:

        hey jay, are you still on anything? i really do believe we will get better it is just the wait for it to happen, i am starting to think i should call the feelimng in my head brain pressure rather tham fog as i am not confudsed just head full, not of thoughts but full of a physical feeeling, like really aware of my brain in my head, as much as i am suffering in a way i have to be thankful as I get 8 hours a night of sleep which in a way lets me recharge myself to fight another day, i cant imagine how much worse it could be withoout constant sleep at night, so although i hate this and want it to be over i am grateful for the ability to sleep and also i dont have brain zaps so also happy about that. i have to think that an improvemnet is soon to come otherwise all hope will be lost. I have bought a book about the brain repairing itself which i hope to read and understand that we can really repair our own brains through time. i know i didnt have this brain feeling before i started taking drugs 15 years ago and i didnt have it at the beigining of use but i have had it on and off for 10 years whilst i was on the drugs, was that tolerance withdrarawl, npath you might know?? today could be the day we start to recover x

      • npanth Says:

        Head pressure is a hard symptom to deal with. It’s like jamming a hat that’s two sizes too small onto your head and wearing it all day. I had that weird awareness of my brain, too. It was like I could feel it sloshing around in my skull. I’m not sure where it comes from, but it’s definitely a strange feeling.
        Tolerance can take many forms. For me, it was new depression and irritability. I would get depressed every 4-6 weeks, like clockwork. At the time, I thought it was a condition that Paxil was keeping from becoming chronic. As I started tapering, that steady depression faded away. I’m convinced that Paxil was actually causing that depression. It’s too much of a coincidence that it grew worse and worse while I was taking the drug, and faded away when I stopped. I’ve had much more to be depressed about since starting to taper off the drug, but I haven’t gotten depressed like that in more than a year.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        thanks for that, i am pleased to say so far today it is not there hooray!!! it is definatley something that has only come on with drug use and withdrarawl so i am sure it will go x

  91. Julieanne Says:

    I truly want to say ‘thank you’ for all of you taking the time to write and to share what has happened to you as you have experienced SSRI Withdrawals. I was put on Celexa/Citalopram 15 years ago to assist in reducing the severity and frequencies of my migraines. For years the medication seemed to work, but over time the migraines returned with severe intensity and I suffered from 3-4 a week … one led right into another. I spoke to my GP (my dr. for 19 years) and he stated that there were new medications that might work better. Last August he put me on Topomax and I can honestly say it was the worst experience of my life. I spent two days in bed because I was so dizzy and tired. Then as the days went on the symptoms became worse, I cried all the time, I was like in a zombie state most of the time, I had huge memory lapses…I was terrified. I had an aunt that was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 49 and I was 50. I finally started to look on the web and researched the symptoms; I had them all. I phoned my doctor and he said I was having an acute allergic reaction to the new medication and he took me off it and put me back on the Celexa. It took me 14 months to regain the mental strength to agree to try something new. The day I went to my GP he introduced me to an intern that was working with him and this dr. was interning in neurology. He specialized in migraines. The newest way to treat migraines is with doses of CoQ10, Slow Mag (Magnesium Chloride) and Riboflavin (B2). It has helped a lot, however in the process of putting me on this new form of treatment they took me off of Celexa. I was taken from 40 mg. to 20 mg. for two weeks, then reduced to 10 mg. for 2 weeks before ending this medication. It has been almost a week and I have to say the withdrawal symptoms remind me of some that I experienced with the Topomax. I came to this site when searching for SSRI Withdrawal symptoms and how long they last. I am feeling tired but cannot sleep. I have extreme pressure behind my eyes and in my temples. I feel as if air is ‘whooshing’ through my head every time I turn my head. My moods vary … I can cry within seconds and get very annoyed easily. I find that I am very ‘touchy and snippy’ for lack of better adjectives. My husband of 30+ years joked with me that he wondered if the med’s have kept the ‘real’ Julieanne under wraps for the past 15 years. I normally would have laughed at this … I did not find it funny. I do not want to be touched and at times feel as if a furnace is stuck on ‘high’ in my body. I do realize I am in the midst of menopause but this is different. My daughter said that she notices I am ‘grouchy’ and everything seems to bother me. This is NOT my normal personality. I have actually considered calling my GP and asking him to put me back on my medication at the 10mg. I am even more scared after reading these testimonials. I loved the person I had become in the past few years where I was able to see the good in most situations and did not let every little thing bother me. Now? I am bothered by so many things and get frustrated easily. I never realized how serious this medication was until I read more about it since starting to experience these withdrawal symptoms. I have not found that the weight is coming off either which is rather disappointing considering that I had really hoped removing the Celexa from my medication regiment might give me back the tiny waist I had 10 years ago. I am thankful that I have not had the nausea and vomiting though my appetite has been affected; food tastes different and I am really not enjoying it even if it is my favorite meal. Reading much of these entries I realize so many of you have it much worse than what I am experiencing so I don’t want to complain but I pray that this ends soon. I am already tired of feeling this way and it is only a week. I return to my doctor in December so of course I will be sharing all of this with him and will seek his advice. He has been a wonderful dr. to me for these past many years and a great listener so hopefully he will have some suggestions of what can be done as I walk this new road ………

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      Julieanne, I have twice as many years of taking SSRI’s and Benzo’s,I have had more cocktail mixes of drugs than they have drinks at a bar.We were never told of the long term effects of these drugs and a lot of us, like me ,were never told about the side effects,I just learned about the side effects a few years ago when I stopped cold turkey,it was a psychiatrist who was very ill himself that told me about sudden discontinuation and it’s side effects.
      I think this goes with out saying,if we knew what was going to happen to us by taking these drugs we would have never taken the them in the first place,I believe there’s more to our brains than just chemicals and electrical circuits,and the matrix has yet to be fully mapped,in fact we haven’t even begun to understand why a lot of the brain goes unused,I as an engineer, I believe that all that extra brain mass is for remapping,all we need to do is learn how to tap it and some day I believe this will happen.
      In the mean time I need to take my own advice and the advice of 2 great people here,npanth and Altostrata.
      I like you went to the net to find some kind of rational reason as to why I was having symptoms I never experienced before on ssri’s or when I was at the peak of my illness.Withdrawal is by far, worse than anything I went through,even 26 kidney stones,because I new eventually the pain would be gone and there are new pain killers that are tailored just for people with kidney stones,but with SSRI withdrawal ,you don’t know when the pain and symptoms are going to stop and there’s no drug that is going to give temporary relief even for a minute,but we are not alone and even though I have done myself more harm than good,I am so happy that I have found this place and Altostrata’s site,I am scared,but I believe in these 2 people because they have been there and are more than willing to help in any way they can.
      Jay Benson Sr.

    • npanth Says:

      Julieanne, I wouldn’t dismiss you if your symptoms are lighter than someone else’s. That would be a race to the bottom, and we’re all here to get over withdrawal, no matter what the symptoms are. Besides, what benefit is there in proving that I have it *worse* than you? :)

      Irritability is one of the most pronounced symptoms of withdrawal. I’m an easy going and conflict adverse person. The anger I had during the worst parts of withdrawal was nearly uncontrollable, though. Try your best to keep from doing anything you might regret later, but don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Lashing out at someone is almost inevitable, and you shouldn’t add guilt over it to your withdrawal symptoms. Try to be honest about what you’re going through with your family. It’s very hard for other people to understand how short tempered a person in SSRI withdrawal can be. Dealing with it can make them defensive, perhaps even resentful. It’s a temporary situation, though, not a permanent change in your personality. There are no outward symptoms of withdrawal, just an internal struggle. Trying to communicate an internal state to another person is very hard. The way that symptoms fluctuate makes it hard on loved ones, too. One day you feel pretty normal, the next can be much more difficult. Seeing that personality change can be hard on them. It can lead to transference of emotions. Instead of giving you the support they intend, they may react with recrimination and anger. Just as they need to be patient with you, you also have to be as patient as you can be with them. Don’t think that withdrawal is uncovering some hidden personality defect. It’s actually the opposite. Withdrawal is causing you to act outside your normal nature. SSRI have a tendency to change personalities. the turmoil that you’re feeling is your mind recovering itself after that chemical change.

      Your taper was very fast, probably too fast. You may be one of the people whose symptoms are short lived. For many patients, they usually start to feel better after 4-6 weeks. That’s a long time to find out if you’re sensitive to the medication and withdrawal, though. I’d say if you’re not beginning to improve by the time you have your next doctor appointment, consider reinstating at a lower dose and doing a slow taper from there. People that are sensitive to these drugs require a much longer tapering schedule than the one given by most doctors. I think more people than we think fall into this group, but the official statistics place it at under 10%.

      You will get back to your old self. It may take some time, and it may not be easy, but it will happen for you. Hang in there, I hope your symptoms even out soon.

    • Altostrata Says:

      Julianne, as I read what you’ve written it occurs to me that the symptoms you attributed to a bad reaction to Topomax were severe and prolonged symptoms from a precipitous withdrawal of Celexa.

      I’m perhaps going to err on the cautious side. Since you had this previous severe withdrawal, which might have made your nervous system more susceptible to withdrawal damage, if I were you I’d get liquid Celexa and reinstate perhaps 3mg as soon as possible. Wait at least a month for your nervous system to stabilize, then go off very slowly from that low level, at a 10% decrease per month calculated on the last dosage (decreases will be getting progressively smaller).

      This will ease your nervous system off the drug.

      • Julieanne Says:

        I was talking to my husband about some of these symptoms and he suggested the same thing re: Celexa/Topamax. I am going to wait a day or two and then call my doctor and get his advise. I assume my GP has to order a prescription of 3mg Celexa?? I did not realize it came in such a low dosage.

        • Altostrata Says:

          Ask your doctor for a prescription for liquid Celexa. You can measure the dosage you want with an oral syringe you can get from the pharmacy. Be prepared to insist, many doctors know very little about tapering and withdrawal symptoms.

          • Julieanne Says:

            Thank you! I did speak to my doctor’s office and told them what is happening. I also explained that I had been reading about individual’s struggling with withdrawals from SSRI’s. My dr. was not in today so she put the note in his email and said when he comes in on Monday he will read it and call me. I will have to deal with what is happening and continue to pray that the symptoms do not get worse.

  92. Julieanne Says:

    Today has not been a good day physically. My sister phoned and immediately knew from my voice I was not feeling well. When answering her question of ‘what is wrong.’ I basically said “It is an over all unwell feeling.” I did phone my doctors office yesterday and hopefully will hear from him on Monday. I am even debating the issue of going back on a low dosage of Celexa – like 10mg. I slept for a few hours last night but kept waking. When I did wake it was with a migraine which is getting worse as the day goes on. So thankful that I have my faith and believe in prayer because the Lord is hearing from me a lot these days. When speaking to my sister I just learned that she too has been on Celexa (after being weaned from Prozac) for about 5 years. I did not know this. I knew she was suffering from anxiety attacks but had no idea they switched her medication. Honestly I feel as if I would rather be on the 10mg the rest of my life than to deal with these symptoms and yes, I know that may sound cowardice but at this point I don’t care. It has only been a week of these symptoms so I am so sympathetic to those of you who have suffered for so long and are still dealing with them. Prayers for all of you.

    • Dano Says:

      Coward is not a word you should use. These conditions are very powerful in many ways as only you or someone else that had or is going thru this. I am coming up on one year of living thru this nightmare and have made many mistakes and a hand full of triumphs. If you decide to reinstate this stuff; it’s might just be what it takes to slowly get you through it.
      A coward in my mind is someone who knowingly leaves a givin situation that should not have been left. The situation you and I face and many others is Un-known. You can only do what you think is right for you and I wouldn’t call that being a coward.
      Sorry if these couple paragraphs sound cheesy but I’m not the best writer. If it helps I really do feel your pain and wish you well.

      • npanth Says:

        Dano, that’s not cheesy at all. It takes a long time to come to an understanding about how withdrawal works, even longer to gain the perspective that you have. We’re essentially medical heretics to taper off these drugs in our own way. “Medically non compliant” at least. Without that little rebellion, we would all be on a pile of these drugs by the time we went through the diagnostic process.

    • npanth Says:

      Withdrawal simultaneously shows us how strong and how weak we are. You may feel weak at the moment, but you will look back at this time and realize that you were never stronger. If you feel that your well being is threatened, don’t hesitate to reinstate at a lower dose. It’s not a capitulation, it is an opportunity to taper at a slower pace. I felt like reinstating was a failure, an admission on my part that I could not do what so many others seemed to do so easily. It has worked for me, though. Instead of lying on my living room floor in fear for my stability, I can function again. It will take much longer than I thought to taper off Paxil, but I will now do it on my terms, instead of jumping off the withdrawal cliff. I can see the drug free Me emerging again, too. He’s been smothered under the brain fog for years, but he’s poking though more every day. I can’t wait to see what I can do once I’m totally free.

  93. Sue Says:

    Has anyone tried to wean off of Pristiq? I have been on a 50mg dose for about a year. My Dr just said to take one every other day for two weeks, then stop taking it. He said I might feel different but not sick.. I am trying but I have a headache that just won’t go away, and keep hearing a “swishing” sound, especially on the off day. Is there any other way to cut back on Pristiq?? It is the lowest dose made, and Pristiq is a time relased pill, so cutting it in half ot quarters just doesn’t work. It’s been almost 2 weeks and the swishing/whooshing sound/ringing ears is getting louder! Any suggestions??

    • npanth Says:

      It’s very frustrating to me that doctors advise skipping days to taper off SSRI/SNRI. That basically puts you into an on/off withdrawal state that only complicates your taper. You should take a consistent dose each day, and taper slowly, much slower than most doctors recommend. The whooshing feeling is very common during withdrawal. Along with head zaps, it’s usually one of the first symptoms that people report. It can progress into dizziness and loss of spatial orientation. If your symptoms become worse, you should pause your taper at your current dose until you feel stable again.
      10mg is the lowest dose that Paxil comes in. In order to get the intermediate doses for my taper, I’ve been using a file to reduce the size of my pills. It’s not a perfect system, my pills are not accurate to the degree that I would like, but it has been working for me. You can also contact a compounding pharmacy that can make intermediate dosages out of your pills for you. Regulations control the density and distribution of active ingredient in drug tablets, making it easier to get a consistent dose out of partial tablets.

  94. Sinead Says:

    Hi npanth, I just wanted to ask about a symptom that I have been getting alot of and is it withdrawal, I sometimes feel spaced out or detached from reality, sometimes after doing something like meeting and chatting with a friend or going to the shops it seems like a blur and that I wasn’t really there, its hard to explain, I am quite irritated as well, and find it an effort to just chat to people and totally drained afterwards as well……..

    • npanth Says:

      It’s called Anhedonia, a disconnect between ourselves and our emotional state. It’s very common in withdrawal, perhaps one of the most common symptoms. It’s very hard to describe what it feels like. As you say, you go to the market, but never connect with anything, have trouble remembering events, things like that. It’s as if you’re following yourself around, watching yourself go through the motions of life.
      It takes some time for it to go away. It’s such a fundamental and subtle aspect of our emotional lives that it’s hard to measure progress. It does get better, though. It starts with a little laugh at something funny. Eventually, you realize that the things you used to enjoy give you pleasure again. It’s the kind of symptom that heals itself before we realize it’s happened.

    • Altostrata Says:

      More specifically, it’s depersonalization or derealization, a common withdrawal symptom.

  95. emma tolliday Says:

    i know i am not npath but for me and others that is one of the most common things, depersonilastion and derealisation, exactley as you described, it does get less, I am still strugglin a lot after month but that has definaltey become less, good luck, npath will describe better x

  96. Sinead Says:

    Its good to put a name to it, everyday can be such an effort, its such a weird feeling of not being able to enjoy things and not being fully focused and alert etc

    • npanth Says:

      The hardest part of it is that it “feels” like your normal state at the time. It’s hard to imagine feeling any different while you’re going through it. I think that’s why it’s so hard to measure progress until after it happens.
      It is a really strange feeling. The thinking part of your mind recognizes that something should evoke an emotional response, but there is no corresponding reaction from your emotional self. It will get better, eventually. Try not to worry about it too much if you can. I had a lot of trouble with anhedonia, it felt like a permanent condition. I really surprised myself when I chuckled at a stupid cat meme I saw. I realized that it was the first time I’d found something genuinely funny in… a long time. Since then, it’s gotten better. I have a much better appreciation for social interactions. I pay better attention to the people around me and my own internal state. After you get through the depersonalization, you should have a better internal mental life. You just have to get through the hard part. hang in there.

      • Dano Says:

        Are there any tips or techniques that might help with depersonalization? I have and still have this condition 24/7. Hate it

      • npanth Says:

        Time is the best cure for SSRI induced depersonalization. Since it is drug induced, it should diminish over time. There are some intermediate things you can do to help, though. Try to get out with friends. You can even try to engage people in line at the supermarket. Pay attention to your emotional responses to people, TV, books, etc. I first realized that my depersonalization was breaking up when I caught myself chuckling at an internet meme. From there, it slowly gained momentum. It feels like an emotional head cold. Everything is blocked up, stuffy and numb. It breaks up like a cold, too. Your emotions may be a bit unstable at first, but it should even out over time.

  97. emma tolliday Says:

    wow yeasterday i would have said I was 75% normal, that is not a bad place to be when the day before i was 0%, it was a welcome relief to have a day of no mental trauma. today i also dont feel too bad but very blue and low, which annoys me because surely I should be elated that I dont feel too bad!!?? !! I am annoyed at myself for not being happier about the fact that i dont feel awful, is that another withdrarawl symptom? when it is over will I enjoy life and embrace feeling normal!??? x

    • npanth Says:

      It’s very hard to recognize progress in withdrawal. While your symptoms are fluctuating there is always that fear of slipping back into a wave. It’s not until you get some time of sustained wellness that the pieces start to click together. It happens, though. It takes longer than I would like, longer than any of us would like, but it does happen.
      I wouldn’t call the annoyance that progress is slow a symptom. It’s more of a meta symptom. Something that is caused by the symptoms themselves. The fear of renewed symptoms and frustration at an inability to recognize progress will get better, too :)

  98. emma tolliday Says:

    its like when i have had a few days feeling better i am so grateful that i feel better i try not to focus on the feelings that are still there. When I feel at my worst I can understand that the only ways is up and that we will get better, but when I have a window and feel a bit better i get worried that is the best I am ever going to be. I guess when people say they have repaired a bit but still have some old symptoms that this is what will happen and eventually everything will be good. I am assuming that w indow doesnt mean that the feelings during the window is fully repaired, it is just a relief from the horrible wave, am i right in thinking a window is not fully repaired but it is the road towards it? x

    • npanth Says:

      Yes, windows and waves are the cycle that establishes itself during recovery. Each is a counterpart to the other. At first, recovery is just one long wave, unrelenting symptoms. The next phase of recovery is when that wave starts to break up into cycles of windows and waves. Slowly, the windows get longer and the waves get shorter. There isn’t any point in time that you can point to when the window becomes recovery. There just comes a point where you realize that you haven’t had a wave in a while, or the wave was so subtle that you had to be very mindful just to see it.
      A good analogy I read is trying to remodel a skyscraper while its occupied. As the remodeling moves from floor to floor, there is chaos and disruption. When the remodel finishes a floor and moves on, that floor functions again. How much chaos we feel during a wave depends on which floors we spend most of our time in. In a window, you may still be remodeling, but it’s not on a floor that you’re “living” in at the moment. Waves occur when they’re remodeling the lobby, or fixing the elevators, places we spend a lot of mental time in. The more remodeling that gets done, the more livable space there is in the whole. The positive thing is that once one aspect of our mind has undergone remodeling, it starts to function again. There may be other parts of the mind that still need some work, but each wave is a step towards finishing the entire project.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        good analogy, so the building work is not all done while i recover in a window, i would hate to think i wont return to full health and all symptom free, its like if i donr have brain fog i have anxiety, if i dont have tight head i want to cry, when something goes something else not quite as bad replaces it, i feel really chemical at the moment but wasnt too bad at the begining of the day, oh well 2 and a half days not too bad is a turning point! x

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          Well I went an talked to a this psych today and as Alto and some suggested ,it was not going to be the way I wanted it,She made some good points about the trauma to brain from having high voltage surge through it,Like a couple of other Psychs did.

          Your brain has been altered by the electricity that surged through it, I can understand that having 11,000 volts surge through anything is not going to make it better,although I think sometimes its just what I need to straighten me out.

          She agreed that I was suffering from withdrawal and between my Psychs and myself, I have become hypersensitive to any amounts of drug changes and should take my Xanax the way I was prescribed for now.

          She can’t understand why the the last Psych told me to stop the luvox cold turkey, that this set me up for a barrage of problems ,hey like I don’t know that.

          She is affiliated with Yale and Bridgeport mental health and is involved in a new program that test a persons tolerance to all psych drugs,while I am intrigued by this new method , I was told to keep an open mind.

          I may have to take a little dosage of what ever to keep me stable,that’s when I kicked my wife in the foot,indicating that this was something that she was going to say,I told her that she needed to keep an open mind too.

          I want off the drugs and this was my long term goal, she agreed and said putting that aside for now I need to get stable and stay that way for awhile, she said your quality of life right now is not good and the most important thing right now is to get me on the right track and get stabilized,she checked my heart and blood pressure which was good and took a case history and just could not believe what I have been through.

          I told her of my symptoms that I am having right now and agreed that my reintroducing the luvox after being off it for 4 months triggered the problems I’m having right now.

          She asked me why I reinstated the drug and I told her because of the GI problems I was having ,did the problem
          get better ? ,yes I said it did but now I’m having all these other withdrawal problems.

          This blood test that they do test your reaction to all psychotropic drugs ,how their broken down and which ones will be toxic to your system,she showed me an example of a patient and how the chart works.

          This is all well and good i said but what do I do now to get myself back on track ,she told me to stay where I am,don’t alter anything give my body a chance to heal,well here goes nothing.

          JVBSR

      • npanth Says:

        It’s amazing how long the list of symptoms can be when you sit down and catalog them. When I wrote the post listing them all, I thought it would be rather short. It turned into more than a page. Whenever I start to list them to someone else, they usually stop me after a dozen or so. I think it becomes overwhelming and hard to absorb for other people when it gets laid out like that. I hope the new psych doc can provide you with a better plan than the last one. It’s a big step to find someone who accepts your symptoms, there seem to be too many who dismiss it as hypochondria or even psychosis.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        i feel scared and panicy again today and have a very important meeting this morning, not great but I just have to get through it, roll on the day happiness returns and stability, still not as bad as last week but yesterday I went down hill a bit again, i felt chemically, almost wired and on the edge of something. Jay it sounds like your new psych is quite supportive, keep trucking as they say, you have had so many ups and downs and on and offs it will surely stabilise soon x

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          I’m not counting on it emma,but if it happens great. sorry to hear your still having those problems,I am having the same
          problems and one I never got before .the feeling of passing out,this really scared me and I checked the symptoms on line,and this was one of the stop taking immediately and call your DR right away severe side effects.I didn’t take it last night and I don’t have that anxious ,off balance I feel like I’m going to pass out symptom ,I was suspect of the drug when I first reintroduced it a month ago,yes it helped my GI problems but it created a whole lot more and on such a very low dose.
          Hang in there ,hopefully we will see a little bit of sanity coming our way.

      • npanth Says:

        Hang in there, Emma. Meetings can be stressful enough without the complication of withdrawal. Try to rest this afternoon without thinking about it after the meeting is over. The chemical, edgy feeling usually happens at the beginning of waves. It doesn’t always turn into full blown waves. That was one of the ways I knew I was getting better, when I felt the initial stages of waves but they didn’t turn into full blown waves.

        Jay, I feel bad that you have to make such difficult choices between symptoms and drugs. That passing out feeling is pretty scary. I had similar symptoms a couple times when I was fast tapering. Everything just seemed to fuzz out for a moment. I didn’t actually pass out, but I had to lie down several times. Hopefully, your new doc can find a drug that treats you GI problems without causing so many other effects.

        • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

          npanth, yea it was very frightening to say the least,today I had some off balance and a little anxiety,but it was nothing like yesterday,I purposely skipped taking the luvox to see what would happen,at this point I am scared to take it again,today was not as bad,and to tell you the truth,I’d rather put up with the Gi problems than have to put up with the reaction to luvox.
          At this point I’m all over the place with the dosage and as much as I know how bad cold turkey can be, at least now I know that my GI problems are from withdrawal and anything I get now will be from the very little luvox I was taking,I went and had my blood test this morning,takes 4 weeks to get the results,not that I care but I would like to see what my reaction to luvox on the chart will look like.I never should have started taking it again, but here I am again letting a psych drug make decisions for me.I know what I’m up against and as long as I believe this will get better,I have a better than average shot at beating this , it’s just gonna take time,probably years,but that’s OK. as long as I reach my goal of getting off this psychocoaster, that’s all that is important to me.

      • npanth Says:

        You’re not alone on the drug roller coaster. I’ve talked to many people who wound up going on and off medications, switching medications, all kinds of things. I hope the Luvox doesn’t cause you too much more trouble. I know what you mean when you say that the symptoms of the drug can be more troublesome than the problem it’s intended to fix. I had a similar experience with Paxil.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        thanks guys, meeting was fine, felt pangs of badness now and then but brushed them aside everytime i became engrossed it the moment with the people i was meeting with, but after meeting and when i got home was just totally wired felt horrible,k started as a headache and then turned into the brain fog/pressure and when on until bedtime, then woke up 5 am this morning anxious as hell and scared and feeling pretty horrible, such a shame after 2 full days of being better, and then i dry heaved about 10 times, i havent done that for a good few months but I kind of take that as part and parcel of the symptoms now, i am in contact with a lvely woman who had pxil withdrarawl for a year (she is now free of all symptoms, good news) and she had dry heaving for a long time so i am kind of used to it. Im just so scared that i will feel this bad forever, and now off to work for another day, much better for me than being at home, infact through this whole nightmare which has been over 2 years as when they were swapping me between drugs i was having start up side effects and withdraraal form paxil and prozac but only 8 months of all drugs completely which i believe is not very long really, i have gone to work every day, never taken one day off as the distraction helps me. I am now off to have my spinach, brocoli, carrot, ginger celery and cucmber juice ( i have been healthy living for the past 4 months to try and help the horrible feelings and have lost 53 pounds) i feel like it is my natures medicine. I am thinking i might try accupuncture. I just hate that one day i feel better and the next in the depths of despair and pain, mental pain, be strong people x

      • npanth Says:

        It was good that you were able to push the symptoms aside. The symptoms that you’re feeling today may be the repercussions of that. Mindfulness starts out like that. We’re able to push the feelings aside, but still have to experience them at some point. Eventually, the repercussions get lighter and lighter. It’s important to keep trying, because it will eventually get easier.
        If you can’t find a memory trigger to cause a symptom, it is withdrawal related. Those are the symptoms that can be pushed aside without examination. Triggers that arise from a past experience should be examined to understand the trigger, but not dwelled on. It’s hard to tell the difference, it takes a lot of uncomfortable self examination, but it gives you a lot of power over your symptoms in the end.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        do you know what i think it is all symptoms of withdrarawl i really dont have anything to explore in my history, in a a way it would make it easier if i did because things would then have more of a reason. after such an awful start in the morning, by lunchtime and through to bed time i was absolutley fine, the way i would like to be for life, it is the erraticness that makes it soooo hard. inf act npath you were quoted on the facebook page i follow called recovery road, the comments were v ery complimentary about your blog and they were saying you should be published!! anyway my thinking yesterday was that if i can successfully distract myself (somethimes not all the times) does that mean that because i can distract myself there isnt really a problem and i manifest itm it is kind of what comes first the egg or the chicken, do i feel awful because i am thinking about feeling horrible or do i feel horrible and then it starts the whole horrible trail of feelings and thoughts. My opinion and what it feels like is that i will be absolutley fine and then be hit with bad feelings even if i am not thinking about withdrawrawl, and then after that thefeeling continues, i really don think i manaifest them as they are so real. Also people talk about acceptance and accepting the feelings rather than fighting them, well surely disstraction (like for me work and today i am strating craftingto try and help) is not accepting the feelings or is it accepting the feelings and choosing to then try and forget them. Anyway here is hoping today isnt too bad, felt doom this morning at 6am but not anxious, oh the joy of the symptoms x

      • npanth Says:

        Thanks, it’s nice to know that what I’m writing is helping people. I didn’t realize that some of it had made it to Facebook.
        I’m torn about the distraction versus confrontation ideas concerning withdrawal symptoms. I can completely understand the desire to distract from them. At the same time, I think it’s helpful to be mindful about withdrawal symptoms, and try to ascertain what’s causing them. I try to do both. When symptoms were too much to deal with, I needed distractions. When I can, though, I try to engage symptoms. Even though they are caused by drug withdrawal, symptoms feed on our inner mental life, using memories and emotions as fuel. It may not be something historical. I think it’s similar to the way we process life events in dreams. Withdrawal distorts our everyday experiences. Instead of dreaming about flying after watching birds, we feel like they’re pulling our hair out.
        I think that considered mindfulness builds a foundation that lasts beyond withdrawal. I can feel myself becoming more mindful of my interactions with other people as a result of the introspection I’ve done during withdrawal. It gets easier to process withdrawal symptoms as the process goes on, too. At first, I think distraction is a great strategy.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        you reallly should check out the facebook page it is very good for when the struggles are hard. at the momenet for me i think distraction is the best way im going to start sewing this evening as distracting myself with work is turning me into a workaholic! x

  99. Sinead Says:

    Npanth, just another question, why is the depression from withdrawal worse in the morning and during the day than it is at night?

    • npanth Says:

      I call it the Paxil Alarm Clock. No matter how late I went to sleep, I would always be woken up at 4AM by an overwhelming sense of panic, fear, dread, and depression.
      Symptoms tend to be more pronounced in the morning because of the Cortisol cycle. In nature, Cortisol acts to wake us up from sleep, and in the Fight or Flight system. During withdrawal, Cortisol spikes and plummets instead of following the regular cycle. It amplifies all aspects of withdrawal, depression, depersonalization, anxiety, panic.
      As the day goes on, cortisol levels drop, which diminishes the panic. Cortisol reaches its lowest level at night, just before we go to sleep. It’s the body’s way of allowing us to go to sleep. That cycle of morning panic that diminishes over the course of the day should start to return to normal as time goes by. It’s hard facing the day when you start it that way, but eventually normal sleep and instinctual responses should return.

  100. Sinead Says:

    Great, thanks again npanth!

  101. Sarah Says:

    I’m having some interesting symptoms. Not sure how I would characterize them, but maybe some of you can help me do that. I reinstated 5 mg of Citalopram(Celexa) almost a month ago after trying to taper off unsuccessfully. I’m sure my nervous system was going through a very scary time, and when I reinstated I started feeling better almost immediately, like within the same day that I took a dose. Since then I’ve kind of wanted to put the episode behind me. I think this is pretty typical for me – go through something traumatic, and then move on, as far away from it as possible. I have been watching this board, and trying to relate, but I almost feel like the alcoholic that has been “cured” – even though I know this isn’t possible. I don’t want to chime in because I want to think that I’m all solved and better and resolved. I have a spouse who is as supportive as he can be, but he comes from a family that doesn’t really know how to support people who are in pain, whether emotional or physical. When I get a cold, I’d rather be left alone than have him around – he’s a “buck up and pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of guy. We’re working on it. :) Anyway, having him around makes me want to pretend even more that things are fine. But I keep having symptoms, on a much smaller scale, but they are there, and they are frustrating. For example, (and I’m really glad you posted about the Paxil alarm clock, because this may be what’s happening) I am responsible for getting my 4 and 6 year old up and out of bed, lunches made, and off to school in a timely fashion every morning. I’m a stay at home mom, so I signed up for this. But I’m the farthest from “morning person” that you can imagine. I stay up til midnight on a regular basis, and then struggle to get up at 7:30 which is sort of the absolute latest that I can and still get close to making it to school at 8:45. I don’t know what the hell is broken about our morning routine and it probably doesn’t factor in here. But this morning I felt so angry again – it was almost close to what I felt when I went off the Citalopram entirely a month ago. This anger hasn’t been as bad in the last month, at least not on a regular basis. This morning I just felt so deflated and angry with myself, and with my son, for being late to school again. It’s a small issue in the scheme of life, but it sets me off. I start feeling bad about myself for pushing him physically into the school, and then when he was embarassed for being late, I just kept pushing him into the classroom, trying to get him to sit down and “be normal” like all the other kids. I am afraid I’m harming him emotionally with my anger/anxiety. As I drove home, I thought about coping mechanisms. I know that this is probably going to continue as I continue weaning off the Citalopram. I have it in my calendar to drop my dosage by 10% at the beginning of December. How do you know when it’s the right time to do this? Do you want until you aren’t having Waves? Or do you just do it and see how it goes, and go back up in dosage if necessary?

    Oh, and I’m sorry for the long post, but there are some other things going on. It’s dreary here in Portland right now. And my motivation is just sunk. For awhile before I started tapering, I was in a manic “fix my house” mode. I lost weight this summer, and did projects around here. Now I feel like that time is gone. At least for awhile. I have been eating to deal with anxiety and stress. I gained 8 lbs in the last little while. Ugh. Aren’t the rest of you reporting that you are losing weight? I feel like I’m beating my body up – trying to manage emotions through eating because it calms me down and gives me endorphins or whatever. As I write this, I feel tremendous pressure to starve myself back into a smaller form – and I feel once again let down by myself that I’ve let this happen. Yesterday and the day before I felt like I had to nap during the day, instead of being productive and doing laundry/dishes/projects around my house, and instead of working out. I’m letting myself down and feeling bad about it, but I’m not stopping it. Does anyone else do this? How do you get yourself out of it?

    Here’s what I’m trying:
    – Making an appt with a naturopath who works with people on weight issues, supposedly from a spiritual level
    – Making an appt with an acupuncturist who works with emotional issues like stress and anxiety. My friend has gone to her and says that when she hits certain spots it just makes her sob. I’m not looking forward to that, but the release would probably be helpful.
    – Trying meditation. I’m hoping this will help on many levels. Someone recommended Deepak Chopra. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
    – Trying to journal, and use CBT to fight back against the negative messages I’m sending myself. Trying to talk through some of the anxiety/panic/self recrimination.

    Anyway, love to hear any of your thoughts, and thanks for listening.

    Sarah

    • npanth Says:

      When I reinstated Paxil, I went through a very similar experience. The worst symptoms disappeared overnight. As time went by, though, I realized that there were lingering problems. They were much lighter than they had been before, but they were the same symptoms. Instead of desperate depression, I would just feel uneasy. The fact that the symptoms largely disappeared after reinstating points strongly to withdrawal. Just like an addict getting their fix, we provided our brains with the drug they were missing.
      I’ve been in a bit of a funk as far as housework and motivation is concerned, too. My house isn’t as clean as it should be. I had an interesting experience when I was entirely off Paxil, though. I had a sudden surge of motivation. I cleaned the house, started moving again. All of that seemed to slip away once I reinstated. I think it’s an effect of the drug. There’s a fine balance between procrastination and drug induced procrastination, but I think it’s partly due to the drug. The inertia it has created in my life will take some effort to overcome in the future, but I’m not as concerned that it is an intrinsic fault as I was before.
      People react individually to withdrawal. Some people lose weight, others gain weight. I think the people who lose weight gained it from the drug in the first place. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Consider it a temporary state that’s affecting you because of withdrawal. It’s very hard not to take the way you feel right now and project that into the future, but it is a temporary thing caused by the drug.
      I have several people in my life who give the “get over it, mind over matter” kind of advice. After going through withdrawal, I don’t think I’ll ever tell another person to just suck it up. You can’t really just get over it when your whole mental landscape is being reordered. There’s no context for us to just turn around and fix what’s ailing us. It does get better, though. It takes time… sometimes it feels like too much time, but it will get better.
      I think anything you try to help with withdrawal will be a positive. The most important thing to do is try, not necessarily succeed. It may sound strange, but the effort has a bigger impact on your recovery than success. I think that’s because withdrawal is about turning small victories into larger ones, while accepting the inevitable setbacks. The cyclical nature of withdrawal means that it’s a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of thing. Success can be diminished by setbacks, but effort will prepare you to turn those setbacks into foundations for future success.

      • Sue Says:

        I just had that “one step back”. Yesterday was almost “normal”!! I was thrilled that the noises in my head were few and fading. Today they are back with a vengence, stomach bad, horrible headache.. So frustrating. If I had known then what I know now, I NEVER would have taken Pristiq. Horrible stuff, and should NOT be given for “temporary” depression. I have never been depressed before, even after being diagnosed with breast cancer and going through 2 surgeries, 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation. But I was having major marriage problems, lost my job and both sons were unemployed. It was just too much to handle so my Dr put me on the Pristiq. Never again!!

        • notjustamomblog Says:

          Sue,

          I’m sorry you had such a bad day. I hope tomorrow is better. I woke up happy today, which hasn’t been the case for awhile, so I’m hopeful that my body is working through this. Hope yours does too.

          Your comment brings up an interesting question for me. I wonder if I would ever go back on an antidepressant? It’s dumb to play the “what if” game but occasionally I wonder “what if my mom died? Would I go back on them then?” And I also wonder if they do work for some people and not others? Or are they just sort of bad for everyone but provide enough benefit that many people overlook the side effects? I am afraid that I’ve gone from being a believer in “better living through chemistry” to more of a natural solutions person. I would probably try counseling, meditation, exercise, and any foods/herbs that could help before I went back on antidepressants again. That is, if I ever get off them. :)

          Love to hear anyone else’s thoughts.

          • philip Says:

            I already said this elseware on this site i had bad witdrawl from lexapro but discovered
            5thp suplements and st johns wort these stopped the sympthoms of withdrawl by about 90%. im of the lexapro now for about 2 months and all i take now is 1 300mg st johns worth 3 times a day.
            when i went to my doc orignally i asked him about st johns wort and he fogged me of with some crap about them having no medicinal benifit. so he forced lexapro on me.
            im from ireland where st johns wort was freely available, now you need a prescription for them (the drugs companays telling the government what to do)
            if its of no medical benifit why is it on precription ?????????
            phiilp

      • npanth Says:

        I’ve met many people who have become very much against SSRI after going through withdrawal. Personally, I can’t foresee a situation where I would start taking them again. I can’t think of many things that are as traumatic as SSRI withdrawal. If the solution is worse than the problem, it’s not a solution at all. Still, I wouldn’t vehemently dissuade anyone from taking them. A friend of mine started taking an SSRI a couple months ago. I talked to him about my experiences, tried to tell him what he might have to go through someday. It feels like a balancing act for me. I don’t want to see anyone else go through it, but I also don’t want to force an opinion on someone else. That’s how you lose friends, I think.
        I’m starting to view SSRI as a broad acting drug used to treat a discrete problem. The analogy I keep thinking about is a painkiller. We take painkillers to treat a sore back, for instance. The drug doesn’t just take away pain in the back, it numbs the entire body, and covers back pain while doing it. In the same way, SSRI suppress a broad range of mental processes in the hope of treating the narrow symptoms of OCD, depression, etc. While that may be an effective strategy for treating physical pain, it’s not nearly as effective for mental issues.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        hi sue, im sorry about your struggle, i too had a nearly notmal day last week which gives a glimmer of hope and then book back to square one!!! but at least we knoe this is what happens and we are not the first to experience it, absolutley horrible thoough. and i too never had depression before taking AD’s, as npath says we are building our foundations for a new loevly drug free life, i was really hoping this would be the first christmas in 15 years that i would have a clear head but i guess it is not to be and will put all my efforts into thinking posotive thoughts at making next christmas the one to remember!!!! good luck lovey x

  102. notjustamomblog Says:

    Notjustamomblog is actually Sarah. I have no idea why WordPress makes me log in and then uses my blog name. Argh.

  103. Sue Says:

    Sarah, My husband and I are going through counseling, so depression gets talked about quite often. I really do not feel the drugs had much affect on me, I really didn’t feel that different after taking them, and had no side effects while taking them. It is only getting off that I have had trouble. I wish now that I had never agreed to take them. I usually take the tough it out route, and live a pretty healthy lifestyle. Lots of fruits and veggies and organic whenever I can. I just want this horrible stuff out of my system! I don’t mean that no one should ever take antidepressants, far from it! I know several people that would not be able to function without them, they are lifesavers in some cases. It just isn’t right for me. I am still on Wellbutrin, and when i am through this, I will think about getting off those too.

  104. emma tolliday Says:

    hey sarah and others, i too had a good day last week and then boom old feelings back its just the waves and windows, and then today i dont fell too bad but am literally on the edge of my seat waiting to feel bad again and trying my hardest to prevent it but know i have no way i can stop the bad feelings. I understand the nature of this withdrarawl it is just so horrible. I too wish i never took the drugs especially paxil that i was on for 12 years (8 months off all drugs as we speak!! wish I could rejoice this) I have become a massive follower of natural foods, raw foods, no processed and although I am making myself so much healthier unfortunatley it does nothing for my head, and i know time is the only thing that will heal my head! I have also become a hatter of AD’s, I had a dream 2 nights ago that I took 1 paxil tablet and I can honestley describe it as a nightmare!! I do try and tell people about my struggle but most people on AD’s dont worry about the day they will come off or have any intention ofever coming off them, my father in law died last year still on anti depressants after being on them for 15 years, he would never come off them, everyone thought they were what kept him sane!!! I have read a lot about grief as i too worry that is someone close to me died would I have to go back on drugs, but everyone knows, it is a proven science through evolution that grief fades, thats why we talk about the stages, adn a lot of people on the withdrarawl sites say that this is worse than grief, funnily enough I coped really well with my father in laws passing and eneded up arranging and dealing with the whole thing, now 18 months on my mother in law has not resorted to anti depressants and is happy and i can genuinely say that, obviuosly not all the time, but she is very well!! My dad had a bit of a mid life crisis when he turned 60 and took AD’s for the first time in his life and was on them for 6 months, they fixed the problem and he came off them easily over a month and not at 66 is happy as anything and drug free, I really think short time use isnt the problem, I think its the over 2 year and above usgae that is the problem, in total i was on ssris for 12 solid years and trycillics for 3 years before that all becuase of panic attacks at university, i never had a head prblem, ever , no depression just anxiety, and i was smoking so much pot i am sure now it was that!! i swear when i have kids, if they go near pot of AD’s unless it is the last option i will go crazey!! There is a famous tv doctor here in the UK who goes on tv and says he is on AD’s and will have to be for the rest of his life as he has a chemical imbalance, I jsy cant see that it could be good for you to put drugs in your body everyday, I know doctors say diabetics have to take insulin but actually diabetics dont need to take insulin in most cases if the controlled their diet, so maybe a chemical imbalance doesnt have to be treated with drugs if it was controlled with diet and talk therapy, anyway I am off for a walk dear friends to try and move on from this fear of feeling bad! x

  105. emma tolliday Says:

    i never had depression until I was on AD’s x

    • Jay Benson Sr. Says:

      Same here emma,people with PTSD are for the most part misdiagnosed , our symptoms closely mimic people who are depressed or bi polar,hence we get the wrong treatment and a lot worse before we are finally, if were lucky get the right diagnoses,but by that time we are well on are way to personal hell.I was not in the least depressed ,but was treated as so
      and when treated for depression,my condition only worsened compounding an already miss trust for Doctors because I felt they missed something or I was dying and they could do nothing about it.
      i still don’t trust psychs and I never will again,even the last one I saw,made me uncomfortable, not her fault but I am not as gullible as I use to be.
      Jay

  106. emma tolliday Says:

    i do belive in a few years it will all be exposed, well probabley more like 20 years but one day it will beome common knowledge that these drugs can really damage you!! x

  107. emma tolliday Says:

    ok so today and yesterday I hav developed a twitch, it is almost comical, just under my eye, i am posotive this is neurons rewiring!!! i weirdley dont feel to bad but fel really trippy today, like shakey adn frazzled all very strange!! thesed drugs are crazey how can they be responsible for soooooo much! I also need to get out of the habit of coming on here everyday listing my symptoms, not sure if it is helping or not! x

  108. Sinead Says:

    I know with me, my worst symptom is that every minute of every day I am checking how I feel, I am questioning myself the whole time, I am feeling low, is this the withdrawal, I am feeling anxious, is this the withdrawal, I am feeling tired, is this the withdrawal, it’s a constant battle each day not to obsessively think how I am feeling, I know it will reduce in time but it just seems so heightened at the moment

  109. emma tolliday Says:

    when we feel fine though we dont question our feelings so it will lessen, please forgive my bad spelling, the post types slower than me so I cannt go back and correct, x

    • Jay Benson Sr Says:

      quote”
      ok so today and yesterday I hav developed a twitch, it is almost comical, just under my eye, i am posotive this is neurons rewiring!!! i weirdley dont feel to bad but fel really trippy today, like shakey adn frazzled all very strange!! thesed drugs are crazey how can they be responsible for soooooo much! I also need to get out of the habit of coming on here everyday listing my symptoms, not sure if it is helping or not! x
      end quote”

      emma, list everything your going through,it helps people who are going through the same thing,really everybody who has a

      symptom that they think may or may not be related should post.

      In the mean time,I stopped taking the small amount of luvox I was taking against my new Psychs advice,because I was

      reacting to it big time,I looked up the most serious side effects and the ones I was having called for immediate intake and

      call your Dr, 6 days later I am feeling better and the GI problems have returned , but not as bad,no more feeling of

      fear,anxiety and the feeling of passing out has gone.I still have a little bit of off balance but that gets better everyday.

      It’s amazing how just a little bit of luvox could make me so crazy,I new it was the luvox when I went from 6mgs to 12mgs

      the next few days the symptoms escalated and I new then that I had to get off it.

      I will continue to take my Xanax as prescribed for now, when I get stabilized ,I will start a very slow taper,I don’t care if it

      takes a year or more,I now talk to myself and repeat”I am going to get better it’s just a matter of time”,I am going to tell

      myself this everyday and will not stop even when I get better.

      Hang in there,I can see the change and I saw what self medicating can do,I’m going to tough it out this time,hopefully
      with a little talk therapy.
      JVBSR

    • npanth Says:

      I’ve had the twitching eyes, too. It’s really a strange symptom. For me, it varied a bit from time to time. Sometimes, it was my eyelids that twitched, sometimes it was the eye itself. The eye twitching made reading very difficult. Everything I looked at just started shaking. It went away after a day or two, which I’m very grateful for. I’m glad that the luvox anxiety is fading. That drugged anxiety is really hard to deal with. You have the right approach, though. No matter how long it takes, I’m determined to get off Paxil. It’s going a lot slower than I would like, but it’s going, and that’s the important thing.
      Emma, I know what you mean. These drugs create such a feeling of relative emotions, it’s hard to remember how I felt before, what the differences are. I really have to delve into my emotions and thoughts to tell the difference. I don’t want to lose that perspective, though. I think it’s important to hold onto the improvements I’ve made while tapering off Paxil, not forget what I’ve accomplished. What we’ve accomplished :)

    • Sinead Says:

      Thanks Emma, I am looking forward to the day where I feel better and don’t have to question it x

  110. Sinead Says:

    Hi npanth, do you have a recommendation for a weighing scale for the pills?

    • npanth Says:

      I’m eyeballing the pills after I cut them and going by the letter markings on the pills, which is kind of a dumb thing to do, but it’s going pretty well, so far. I’ve talked to a couple people who like this scale.

      There are a couple ways to get precise measurements. You can crush the pills, then add the dust to the scale until you reach the amount you want. The disadvantage to that method is that the drug is absorbed more quickly than it normally would be. You can also cut the pills and then file them down to a precise amount that you get from the scale.
      You can find the appropriate amount to weigh for by weighing full pills and taking the average between them. there are slight variations between pills, so you have to find an average weight for the whole pill. Then you can reduce that amount by a percentage.

  111. emma tolliday Says:

    not bad today apart from this m orning bad anxiety and few blips in the day but not too bad!! MY SYMPTOMS ARE, brain fog but not confused just not feeling right in my head, near insane sometimes, lump in my brain like if i sliced my head open cleaned out my brain and put it back all would be fine, tight feeling in head, cognitive problems are my worst symptoms, I am just so aware of my brain it is horrible, depersonalisation, derealisation, anxiety every morning 5 am, panic being in confined places or places I dont know, scared of everything, and sometimes just sad, but listing all these I can still say I am not depressed I am just not right, I am only 36 and want to start living my life not counting everyday until bedtime so I can switch off x

    • npanth Says:

      The paxil alarm clock. I hated that feeling of jolting out of bed every morning, looking for something that wasn’t there. It lingered longer than a nightmare would, and only faded slowly. It’s gotten much better, though. I sleep normally, even when I have experiences that would have given me bad dreams during the worst of withdrawal.
      It’s really weird how withdrawal makes us so sensitive to our brains. that scraped out feeling, the fuzzy dice hanging from our brains. The brain itself doesn’t have any nerves. Surgeons don’t need to anesthetize the brain when they do open brain surgery because it’s not necessary. The pain of a headache is transposed from veins in other parts of the head. It’s really strange that the brain gives off so many sensations during withdrawal.

  112. Jay Benson Sr. Says:

    I meant to post this this morning , I read somewhere on here that someone was having brain zaps while trying to go to sleep or when he/she was in a type of half sleep mode,well this morning it happened to me, the alarm went off at 5:45am I reached over and turned it off,rolled back over to just get a few more zzzz when all of a sudden it hit me.
    It felt like a bolt of electricity went through my whole body and it actually was terrifying because I thought I was having a seizure of some kind,needless to say this set me up for a really bad day and it ain’t over yet.
    This has got to be the scariest symptom yet ,and now I dread going to sleep or waking up to another one.
    has anybody else experienced this?
    JVBSR

    • npanth Says:

      Brain zaps are really one of the hardest symptoms to deal with. They come on with little warning, and make any movement painful. The good part of it is that brain zaps usually aren’t a long term symptom. Some people experience them for a prolonged time, but most people get past it in a week or so. It may come back, but it’s cyclical, not chronic. It’s one of the symptoms of waves, so it comes and goes like other symptoms. It should get better over time. I get mild dizzy symptoms sometimes, but it’s not brain zaps anymore. I hope it goes away for you soon.

      • Jay Benson Sr Says:

        Thank you npanth,it seems like one symptom resides and another takes it place,right now my neck muscles are so tight that you could take a baseball bat and break it over my neck and I wouldn’t feel it , I don’t know if this is a symptom or I am sleeping the wrong way,I woke up this morning at 3.am because of the pain and now I can’t get back to sleep,it’s gonna be a long day for me.
        JVBSR

      • npanth Says:

        Stiff neck, check :) For me it’s the C1 vertebrae. right where my neck connects to my skull. It started out as joint pain, but has softened into stiffness, now. That spot is fairly stiff, as if I need to crack my neck, but never can. The stiffness is starting to go away. Hopefully, it will fade away like the other symptoms have. The pain in my shoulder, back, knees and ankle started out fairly acute, but has faded over time. I just have an achy shoulder left from all that at this point.
        What I’ve found is that the catalog of symptoms remains fairly consistent, but which ones are prominent changes over time. I had a continuous runny nose for months. It wasn’t painful, just annoying. That symptom went away about 8 months ago. In the last month or so it’s come back again. It’s not nearly as bad as it was before. The hard part about some of these symptoms is determining whether they’re withdrawal related or not. My runny nose may just be a new winter allergy, or it could be an allergy exacerbated by withdrawal, or it could be withdrawal. It’s hard to tell. Stiff muscles are common in withdrawal, but they can be caused by sleeping position, too. If it lingers and fades slowly, I’d say it’s related to withdrawal. If it fades quickly, then it’s probably a regular stiff muscle.

  113. emma tolliday Says:

    Oh Jay I really feel for you and the ongoing changes i think thought the more symtoms, as horrific as they are, the more you have the more repairing is taking place. This morning I woke up at 5 30 am again really anxios and now at 8 am i feel so sad really really sad, other than cognitive brain feelings this is the hardest thing for me to handle as I worry so much maybe I am depressed, today i am so sad and angry that i still feel awful after all this time. I said to my husband today in bed one day i will just wake up and get up, not think about withdrarawl or even if I do i will be able to say bad feelings arent there and get on with it, I dont wish to forget about withdrarawl i just wish to not be suffering with it, I dont care if every day i think about what a bad time it was as long as i feel better Npath when you paxil alarm clock weaned off was that because you reinstated? do you think at 8 months i might be near the half way point god i hope so, no one said it better than when they said things can only get better x

    • Jay Benson Sr Says:

      Hi emma, I was worried you weren’t talking to me anymore.
      I’m hoping one day that we can all look back and say wow,we did it.
      If these symptoms are a sign of of healing,then I’m well on my way lol
      I took a couple of Advil for my neck muscles and dosed off for an hour.
      Their a little better, but I hate taking otc drugs because I am so sensitive to them.
      well I;m off to work and it’s gonna be a long day,hopeful tonight I will get some sleep.
      Feel better.
      Jay

    • npanth Says:

      It’s very hard to remember withdrawal in detail. I keep a journal, write here, and think about it a lot, but some of it fades over time, anyway. I think it’s a coping mechanism that the mind uses to protect itself from traumatic memories.
      The paxil alarm clock went away in a very subtle way. I just realized one day that I hadn’t woken up with panic and dread in a long time. I think it faded out. One morning it would happen, the next it wouldn’t. I didn’t really recognize the pattern until it wasn’t happening any more. Whether you reinstate or stick it out, that morning panic should fade away. I think the difference between tapering or cold turkey is the severity of symptoms. I may still be getting the paxil alarm clock, it’s just so subtle that it’s below my threshold of awareness. Most of the other symptoms work like that. I still get the symptoms that I recognize as withdrawal related, they’re just milder because I’m tapering slowly. My theory is that the brain adjusts to the lack of the drug at a relatively fixed rate. That rate corresponds with the 10% every 4-6 weeks schedule of slow tapering. In slow tapering, I get symptoms when I don’t match my tapering schedule closely to the process of weaning that’s happening in my brain. Whether that’s because I’ve tapered too soon or too late, symptoms become more pronounced when I’m out of phase with my brain’s efforts to wean off the drug. I wish I could pat my brain on the back for all the effort it’s doing to get me off Paxil :)

    • Emily Says:

      I wasn’t on Paxil but I had the exact same anxious, terrifying and confused feeling every morning too. I can tell you that it does go away eventually. While I still experience lots of symptoms of withdrawal, I haven’t had that horrible feeling in about a month (it’s been about 5 months since I’ve been off citalopram completely). I still have moments where I think “okay these symptoms are never going to go away and I’m just going to be like this for the rest of my life”. Then I have a good day (a window) and realize that I am getting better and it’s just going to take a LONG time. Keep pushing through and I found that coming here to ask questions really helped as well. Knowing that others have been able to move forward is very helpful.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        THANKS AGAIN GUYS, AFTER MY POST THIS MORNING I HAD A PRETTY HORRIBLE DAY BUT THIS EVENING WHILE PLAYING WITH MY NIECES I HAD 2 HOURS OF NO PROBLEMS, HOPING TOMORROW BRINGS A BETTER DAY, I HAVE BEEN READING A LOT ABOUT MEDITATION HELPING TO HEAL THE BRAIN SO I AM PLANNING ON TRYING THAT AGAIN AND REALLY STICKING TO IT!!! I HOPE THE MORNING ANXIETY WILL FAADE, STILL NO PLANS TO REINSTATE, JUST KEEP TRUCKING!! X

        • Jay Benson Sr Says:

          I was dragging today, waking up at 3am and not being able to go back to sleep put me in a stupor ,and was very off balance,I’m lucky to have a trainee with me,with out him I would not have gotten anything done today.

          npanth,here’s something else I didn’t mention,working for the RR was a very dangerous job to say the least,3 yrs after I started working for them,I had an accident involving my head and neck,I was 3 yrs into my apprenticeship program ,when a lineman dropped a 40lb chain hoist that hit me right on the top of my head from 20 feet up,I had my hard hat on,which saved my life,but I lost 13 teeth and crushed all the vertebrae in my neck,back then they didn’t save the teeth like they do today,I had to have what was left pulled by an oral surgeon,I get cortisone shots in my neck every once in awhile because I can’t move my neck,but what I am experiencing is definitely muscle pain , I should have gotten the hint then that this was not the job for me.

          emma, I feel better now knowing your not mad at me,I thought I posted something that offended you,I think faster than I type and post with out proof reading,by then it’s to late because there’s no way to edit your post ,and when I read what I post,I’m thinking how did I miss that,oh well chock up another one for withdrawal.

          good health everyone
          JVBSR

        • Sarah Says:

          I recommend the Deepak Chopra meditations. I haven’t done many but those I have are very soothing.

      • npanth Says:

        One of the things I gleaned from withdrawal is that we can’t assume how someone else is feeling. The mix of emotions is so convoluted that a person may actually feel anger or distrust towards friends. It passes like the other symptoms. I resented my friends, who only wanted to support me, but that feeling went away like the others did. Now, I try to keep mindful of that when I talk to other people in withdrawal, and try to never take anything the wrong, or temporarily right, way.

  114. Sue Says:

    Well, it has been 11 days since my last pill. My ears are ringing like crazy and I am still getting the whishing sound in my head when I move, although it is less than before. But the ringing is louder! The GI problems come and go. I am so ready for this to be over. At least I can function now a little better. For a while i wasn’t driving because of the dizziness. One day at a time..

    • npanth Says:

      I’ve had the buzzing sounds and dizziness. They seem to be the physical counterpart to some of the emotional symptoms. They seem to attach to different symptoms in each wave, but come together. When my withdrawal symptoms started to break up, the physical symptoms became precursors to the emotional symptoms. First, I would get GI problems, buzzing, dizziness, then a couple days later, I’d get the anxiety, etc. Hopefully, it will start to break up for you soon. I hated that dizzy, whooshy feeling.

      • Jay Benson Sr Says:

        Good morning,I’m trying to keep a positive attitude, right now my Wife is in Fla.,her step mother is dieing of cancer.My wife lost her biological mother when she was 9 yrs old to the same cancer,her father is going through this again and is happy that his daughters have given him the support he needs.I can’t imagine going through that once let alone twice.

        Last night I slept a little better, but I had to pop an Xanax CR because my brain was racing like crazy and I needed to get some sleep.I’m still having the ringing in the ears and the dizziness,I know I’m going to have it the moment I wake up,I have a feeling like my head is not quite right,so I am mindful that this is what it is.

        Have a nice day
        JVBSR

      • emma tolliday Says:

        hey jay you have not offended me at all, we are all trying to help each other!! I appreciate all comments. hey today I slept to 7am!! still felt awful when i woke but didnt wake at 5am. My husband and I are going to move house in a few weeks which i think will helkp me as we live with a lodger and it really frustrates me which is again heightening my anxiety! i am looking forward to it being just us and no one else in our house, also our house is really dark and we are going to move somewhere much lighter. I am really worried at the moment that where i am starting a new very senior role with a new company in Janauary I will be doing a lot of travel in airports and on the london underground (subway), and when I feel bad withdrarawl symptoms, sad, brain fog, lump in head, deporsanilastion the fear oof being on the underground or in an airport freaks me out, for example when i am through the the security at the airport i feel anxious because i cant get out if i want to, tubes arent as bad as i would get off at the next stop and then go out, it is almost like claustrophobic, but i feel fine when no withdrarawl i have absolutley no problem with it, I am so worried that i will still be suffering withdrarawl symptoms, in my new job and i will constantley be having to do these things that lead to panic attacks, I am aware that when i am through withdrarawl i will be fine and be able to handle this, but I am looking at some coping techniques to get me through but it is a scary thought, I have never had to to leave a place because i feel i am going to have a panic attack and i dont avoid it as avoidance would lead to bigger problems, i can manage to calm myself down, and the bad thing is i am fully aware that i do it to myself by thinking am i going to panic, i need to know where the exits are at all times, but as i say when i am not in withdrarawl i am not that bothered, id dont love being in airports but i can handle it. i hope i cope and i hope this is heightened because on what i am going through and that thisnt is a whole new problem i have developed! does anyone else feel like this x

        • Jay Benson Sr Says:

          Emma.I think the problem we have is,people even today look at people with mental illness as some kind of threat that if they get to close their gonna catch something,so because of this we are embarrassed to ask for help or tell anyone we have a disorder that a lot of people cannot comprehend and we are afraid of what people will think of us ,so now we start holding it in and that is when all the real problems start,not wanting to have a panic attack in public or at our jobs or anywhere people will see us ,because oh my God these people won’t help me or, I’ll never be able to face or go there ever again,because of what happened.
          I think society needs to be educated that metal disabilities are also physical and not just in our heads.
          I don’t look at my disability as mental,I look at it as being life altering,I was not this way before I got hurt and I am not responsible for what happened to me,I did not cause it and I certainly did not want it,it was how I was treated afterwards that really has me where I am today,I use to laugh at people in school who took psych 101,now I wish I had taken a few courses myself,because having a better understanding of how our psyche works would have given us ammunition to help us cope with what we are going through now.
          I’m having little windows of feeling good and this is proof that if you can have them for a few weeks ,hours, days even minutes that it’s possible to have them all the time,it’s just gonna take awhile to get there.remember we didn’t get where we are now over night.
          Be good,
          Jay

  115. emma tolliday Says:

    thanks jay, I agree with everything you say, been having those feelings again today of maybe this is just me and this is how it is and how my brain work as none of my symptoms are physical they are all pshychological, but there are as you say windows of normal which must be proof that one day it will all be normal, my head feels horrible today and i couldnt even put into words what the feelings in my head are like, it is undescribable. 8 months one week, my gosh who would have known how horrible this is, maybe one day we can all rejoice together, Jay I am so happy for you that you are starting to have windows, that is amazing from where you have been. The website I use for inspiration and hope says to go with the feelings and dont try and fight them, but if you broke a leg you would do everything you could to try an reduce the pain. I would quite happily cut my head off today (again as always please dont worry i am not suicidal), heres hoping life will improve and soon!! i couldnt find the will to be like this another lifetime x

  116. emma tolliday Says:

    i agree with everything you say jay. i am so glad for you that you have had some windows, i have felt soooooooo awful today that i have thought maybe this is the best it will ever get for me, however if i am getting these small windows then hopefully that must be proof that one day it will all be one big lovely window, i so hope so, i could cut my head off today it is so horrible, dont worry not suicidal, but just desperatley wanting all this to end, I am scared that all my symptoms are psychological, as in brainn fog, full head, depersonilisation derealisation, sad, anxious, that it could actually be a mental health condition rather than withdrarawl, heres hoping life will get much better, and soon, i couldnt live another lifetime like this! xxx

    • npanth Says:

      I got that feeling a lot, too. It seemed like the waves were real and the windows were abnormal. It’s the opposite, though, but it’s hard to picture it any other way. I think it’s a quirk of withdrawal that makes us think like that.

    • Jay Benson Sr Says:

      emma, i don’t think it’s psychological ,remember that the drug tricked the brain by shutting down transmitters and substituting the job with SSRI’s of it’s own,surely this is a psychical remapping and the brain compensates by shutting down what it is supposed to do naturally and learns that it can get what it wants from another source, our brains are still primitive in the respect that we only use 5 to 10% of it,what about the rest? hmm it seems to me that it will take a long time for the brain to remember the job it was supposed to do,because it was tricked in the first place, and all this symptoms we are suffering is the brain trying to get us back on the drugs,because it easier.
      I look at the brain the same way I do a computer,if you setup a pc to run a certain way you have created a matrix, this matrix has all these little programs running around making sure that the original programing does what it’s supposed to,alter the program by introducing a virus and your pc starts doing crazy things, Ad’s are a virus and until there cleaned the brain will run erratic.I believe the brain will remember, a virus takes the original program and renames it and substitutes its own ,it is still there it just needs the antivirus to find it.The program is still there the brain just has to find it.
      Jay

      • emma tolliday Says:

        GOOD WAY TO LOOK AT IT, i GOT THROUGH A REALLY BIG THING AT WORK TODAY THAT i HAD BEEN SO WORRIED ABOUT, i AM SO PRUD, IF I CAN DO IT IN THIS STATE THEN I BELEIVE TODAY RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE X

      • emma tolliday Says:

        did affirmations at 5 am this morning when i woke up, one day closer to recover and i am healing, did it for 2 hours in bed, didnt really help but am trying to believe it! x

        • Jay Benson Sr Says:

          Rachel,I can assure you that what you are experiencing is withdrawal, I have had every symptom you describe, except the
          waking up and not remembering how to talk,every body will have that one or two unique symptom/s that no one else will experience.
          I can tell from my own experiences that there are a couple here that have not been mentioned that I have experienced.
          We are unique even though a lot of our symptoms are the same, but in reality their intensity is based on the individual
          and other stimuli that person is exposed to,don’t give up hope you have taking the first step forward by recognizing the fact that these are not common symptoms and you are not crazy,everybody here has gone or is going through the nightmare
          you describe,it will get better,you just have to believe in yourself.
          Jay

          • Rachel Says:

            Hi Jay thanks so much for your reply. It helps to have people who understand and yes we’re all unique in our symptoms. Maybe people seem to have symptoms such as anxiety/depression/anger but i haven’t really had those. It’s all mostly been pysical. Possibly easier in a way to have physical symptoms as you can be more rational about them and observe them. Although as i say that i still convince myself i have various life threatening diseases as each symptom emerges. My husband always says for example ‘now rachel, if you had stomach cancer/tumour why would the pain suddenly disappear after 1 day and move to your arm?’ and i can actually laugh and say ‘yes you’re right’. I wonder how many of us actually experience this withdrawal and how many people in the future will go through this. The message isn’t really getting out how dangerous these pills are. My friend has recently been given cit and not warned about potential problems of stopping them.

          • Jay Benson Sr Says:

            Rachel,their not going to be able to hide it much longer,I hate going legal, but a class action suit would be one way,the burden of proof would be on them to prove that AD’s are not harmful or don’t cause withdrawal,It would seem that more and more people would come out of there shells and tell their horror stories, with just the people here alone who have too many symptoms in common,it would be very hard to convince a rational person this is all in our heads,I am seeing a new psych and even she admits that withdrawal is a problem that is not understood,but like everything else the majority rules , and until more Dr,s jump on the wagon, it is up to people like us to spread the word,maybe even send signed letters to the AMA ,10’s of thousands of people can;t be having the same psychos at the same time. lol
            The one thing I leaned about AD’s is that they have an analgesic effect on the body ,what would normally bother you is suppressed to a point where you really don’t let it bother you,but once you stop taking the AD’s it doesn’t take long for the aches and pains to prop up,they have always been there,but our brains through no fault of our own,were taught to ignore
            them, it’s the one and only benefit I got from taking them.
            Hang in there.
            Jay

  117. emma tolliday Says:

    I have been thinking lots this evening about the course my life has taken with drugs and i know i shouldnt fixate on it, but a lot of the time on drugs i was worse than i am now in withdrarawl. at 23 i started taking ssris, i then needed a higher dose at 26,28 then 29, I am now assuming at these points i was actually going through tolerance withdrarawl but as i was only seeing a doctor not a psychitrist they uped the dose of the drug (paxil) everytime i ever uped it i felt soooo much worse and the doctors kept saying i would feel worse before i felt better, surely that should have been a sign as to how horrible these drugs are!! I am just freaking out thinking about those times and thinking that i just wasnt right and maybe thats just how i am now, but if i think back to when i was 21 and never touched a tricylic or an ssri i was fine, no depression or anxiety, totally normal. I am petrefied that this is just me, ! x

    • Dano Says:

      I seem to have taken ten steps back myself over the last two weeks and am very very scared. I feel as though I am festering inside with nothing but pain and anxiety that more than likely would kill an elephant. I have headaches most all day and everyday for now months on end. My vision is foggy along with my head, my head and face tingle so bad it hurts. It has been one year in one week from when I stopped meds. I know by reading this you are probably not reassured that this living nightmare will end and i am truelly sorry for that. I seem to be unable to enjoy almost nothing lately. Sleeping hurts waking hurts living hurts. My son performed last night and contrary to what I just wrote that did make me very happy and proud. He was actually asked to perform with the Notre Dame opera. He is 16 now and utterly fantastic in many people’s eyes not just his fathers bias love.
      I am at a crossroad and don’t know what direction to take. Doctors seem to be uncap able of understand what has happened to me. Anyone that has been drug free for one year couldnt be still affected as the docs would say. Just willing this to go away in my own mind only causes more thought to what is happening in my mind. I try to keep busy and it just feels like I have become OCD. I am afraid to take another medicine because of bad side affects etc. I truelly feel I have no options right now. I don’t have any clue what even to research anymore. No I am not suicidal either. I would give my life savings to have this go away. Sorry!!
      Do you think a doctor would agree to reinstate a medicine knowing that the goal is to taper off of it extremely slow like 1 plus years?

      • Jay Benson Sr Says:

        Dano,you are going to go through hell before you get to heaven,as the song goes,I have been up and down so much in the last 6 yrs ,it’s hard for me tell what is withdrawal and what is drug reaction.
        The last 3 yrs are different from the first 3 ,that I am having symptoms I never had before in the last three.
        I attribute this to multiple Psychs and and drug combinations, the only constant drug I have never changed is Xanax.
        I was taking one drug and with out withdrawal put on another, I was told SSRi’s are all the same,I can see why I was having all these problems and how my brain must have gone into hyperactive just trying to understand why it was getting hit from every direction,it’s amazing I’m still here.
        Psychs are in my opinion, no more knowledgeable than we are,they study it, we live it,if we had the education to go with it,we wouldn’t need them at all,if we all had a PHD in BIO chemistry, and had an understanding of how these drugs work we never would have taken them,because of ignorance and the need for help we put our lives in their hands and when things go wrong and they are at a loss to tell us why,it berates us even more, we are now on our way to the road of miss trust ,even if the Dr/s are good we still have that doubt in our heads.
        I don’t trust Psychs anymore and have been educating myself about the brain,how it works,there are so many factors involved with just every day living,that when you throw in AD’s in the mix,it alters your perception on life.
        There was a time when I think these drugs helped me,but I should have weened off of them when I was back to my old self,if you want to call it that.
        Circumstances beyond my control and a Psych who told me I could never get off them led me down this road I am on right now,I know there is an exit somewhere,I just have to find it.
        I talk to myself everyday,I tell myself I’m going to get better and I believe it,I have to otherwise my only recourse is to go back on them,and at this point I can’t tolerate anything I’m put on.
        Hang in there,that’s what everybody here has told me,and don’t try to medicate yourself unless you really know what your doing,this will set you back big time,trust me I know.
        I found a Psych that is some what willing to do it my way,If I fail I will have to do it her way and that is not going to happen.
        I am starting to see windows,even if their only for an hour,it gives me hope,you have to take it window by window.
        I believe that nobody gets over withdrawal in a very short time,it took us a long time to get this way and it’s gonna take along time to get back.

        Emma,hang in there,I’m sure that your windows are going to get longer and better,I don’t ask for a lot so I don’t get made when I have short windows,but it does show me that I am healing,regardless of the set backs they do come.
        Jay

  118. emma tolliday Says:

    i think you could reinstate but i would say you have done a year if you can get by in life everyday without ending it, then keep going, that sounds rich coming from me who is doubting withrarawl but there is a website recovery-road.org and the most common length of withdrarawl is 6 to 18 months and could be longer but it is very convincing of the fact that it can take a long long time. I ve always said if i dont feel significantly better after a year off (me 8 months so far) i would try a drug again, but i dontt think drugs didn cure everything anywya, please read all the info on that website dano it is very reassuring!! hang in there, i know how you feel but reading your posts you have had windows! read the recover-road.org!! x

    • Dano Says:

      Thanks for the help guys. We are decorating the tree and its a nice diversion. Let us all please get threw this.

      • npanth Says:

        withdrawal can be a much more long term thing than most doctors or manufacturers will accept. Many just go by the half life of the drugs, which are normally just a day or tow, as the length of withdrawal. I know several people who experienced extended withdrawal but have recovered. It can take much longer than we thought or expected, but it does happen. In a weird irony, it takes longer than we think, but happens faster that we believe it will. I hope you feel better soon. Withdrawal has a strange way of breaking up with little notice. You could enter a prolonged window tomorrow or next week. That’s how many of my symptoms acted. I had bad dizziness, sleeplessness, and morning anxiety. For each of these symptoms, I just woke up one morning and they had largely dissipated. It’s hard to describe, harder to explain, but symptoms can just turn themselves on and off.

  119. emma tolliday Says:

    i really hope so because this morning i wasnt just super anxious at 5am i also had horrible thoughts at the same time and i actually thought about reinstating today which i have never once considered, i think it was because we were with friends at the weeknd and my girlfriend has been on antidepreessants ( very small dose) and hormones as they say her depression is hoormone related and she is sooooo fine, and has been for years she has a great quality of life, it made me think maybe i just need the drugs in a small dose, the best i felt in years was when i was on very small doses of venlafaxine during my ridiculous 1 month taper off of it. I am kind of using it as a back up in my head that if it ever ever gets so bad that i think i just cant take it anymore i have that option, the psych told me if i was bad off drugs he would try me on trycillics again. I pretty much decided i am going to give it until june and see if i am slighgtley improved by then (as we go on holiday 2 months after and i dont want to waist another holiday feeling horrible!) by then i would have got to my ideal weight, and have been doing my new job for 6 months. i also was an outpatient on a very famous clinic for depression and drugs over her 18 months ago, and i remember when i was there one of the psychitrists was so anti use of drugs a lot of the patients didnt want to see him but i am going to track him down as i think someone like that will believe in withdrarawl and will help with my situation, i swear if i saw a psychitrist who said what i was going through is totally normal for the amount of drugs i was on and the time i was on them, and encouraged me that it will get better (as we all encourgae each other) it would make me keep going, its like i need to hear it from a professional. wish me luck in trying to find him. Npath did your withdrarawl symptoms become less when you reinstated, is that what you are saying, if so dont you just want to stay on the drugs and just feel ok? because that would say to me that your withdrarawl got better because of reinstating not because of time. After starting to write this i am positive i will not reinstate but just want to hurry up and get better, i have always been a worrier so is this just me for life. I keep reading quotations saying life is too short, and you only get one chance whic A0 makes me worry about dieing and B) makes me freak out that I am waisting time feeling bad when life is slipping away from me, i wont be young forever and these drugs have already stollen 15 years of my life!! x

    • npanth Says:

      After I crashed, reinstating did make my symptoms diminish. It took about 3 months for me to stabilize and continue tapering. It’s the same reason that someone on a narcotic feels better when they start taking the drug again. I would consider taking a small dose of Paxil for the long term if the costs weren’t so high. When I think about how I was on Paxil, I realize that I wasn’t really living, I was just existing. My weight exploded, I stopped doing the things I loved, I took my job for granted, I started drinking. The only difference between the spiral of withdrawal and the spiral of Paxil is that I’m much more aware of it off the drug. On Paxil, my life was falling apart, but I didn’t even notice it. Now that I’m getting close to being off the drug, I’m much more aware of the interactions I have. I pay attention in conversations, actually listen. I would never have considered writing these kind of articles while on Paxil.
      It’s even more apparent in the ways that my friends look at me. I still can’t really get over the way they keep saying that I was so different on the drug, and seem to be coming back as I get off. I’m determined to get off Paxil. It wasn’t helping me while I was taking it, and it’s punishing me now for trying to get off it. It’s almost become an entity in its own right for me. No matter what problems develop in the future, I’m convinced that Paxil won’t help me deal with them. It will just drug me until I don’t realize they’re problems, anymore.

  120. emma tolliday Says:

    well that all makes sense, you will get off for sure, how much have you got left to go? I found the shrink i was looking for and i have an appoinment with him next week! x

    • Altostrata Says:

      Does this doctor know anything about tapering and withdrawal syndrome? If so, I’d like the contact information for this list http://tinyurl.com/3zuaxo9

    • npanth Says:

      I started at 20mg/day, then went up to 40mg/day after a few years. I initially tapered from 40-0mg/day over 5 months. Twice as long as my doctor recommended. I had two months without the drug, then crashed. I reinstated at 10mg/day and stayed there for 3 months. I then started tapering 10% about every 6 weeks. I’m at 6mg/day right now. I think I should be able to get to zero sometime in the middle of 2013. I’m tapering very slowly because I don’t want to have the same experience of a temporary reprieve that I did last time. This time, it’s off the drug for good :)

      • TiminJapan Says:

        Npath, I’ve been tapering from 10mg of paxil since February 2012 and after hitting turbulence at 5mg, I had to slow my pace. Just now I am on 2.7mg a day and continuing to drop by a maximum of 10% a month in a steady slide. In this way, I think I can get down to zero without suffering any major withdrawal issues, but I can’t put a time limit on my progress. If things get rough, I may hold the same dose for a while, and I haven’t decided how to proceed once I get to 1mg a day. As the dose drops, there comes a time when we have to speed up our taper percentage wise and/or eventually make a jump to zero, and we have to trust our own instincts as to the timing of that and have faith in the brain’s ability to handle what WD throws at it.

        I’m experiencing fairly constant tinnitus/head noises and a sharp ramping up of what feels like WD-fueled anxiety and nervousness from around 8am to mid-afternoon followed by a slow fall until evening and a period of complete normality from around 10 pm to 7 am. My main methods of coping are formal and informal meditation, mindfulness, yoga, reading and keeping occupied with something that feels productive for the bulk of the day. I’m a naturally spontaneous person, but at this stage of life, I find I need to follow more a regimented existence to keep me on an even keel.

        • Altostrata Says:

          You may wish to try 5% decreases every 2 weeks. Under 1mg, you can use liquid to continue systematic decreases. If you’re having trouble going off Paxil, I would not jump off until you’re down to less than .25mg, maybe even less than .10mg.

  121. ellie Says:

    HI,

    I’m writing in this board because I don’t know what to do. I’m 24, and am suffering since childhood from anxiety and obsessions, sometimes ocd and lately depression. A year ago I’ve tried lexapro but had side effects and stopped right away. i thought i would never consider going on ssri again, but this last year has been so sad. i’ve been so obsessive, depressed and anxious, i’ve lost all my friends who were dear to me and also some of my family support. my family really wants me to go on ssri again, to try a different one, because i seem to be unable to handle life. i’m talented and not a bad person, i think, i had a good job and good friends once. but i seem to defeat myself always, and now i feel i don’t have the power to fight anymore. i suffer and make others suffer. do you think ssri might me the right thing for me after all? is there one ssri that is considered more mild? i only want something to mellow me out a little. the guilt and agony for my past decisions, and my loneliness are so intense. i wake up terrified. thank you for listening.

    • npanth Says:

      That’s a hard question. I’ve become much more hesitant to recommend SSRI as a solution. I understand how hard anxiety can be to live with, though. Adding OCD and depression makes it all the more difficult.
      Some things to keep in mind while making your decision. SSRI aren’t really a long term solution. Many patients reach a point where the drug is no longer effective. For some, that point is several years, others reach it sooner. Usually, a doctor will increase the dosage at that point. Again, sometimes that helps, other times it doesn’t. The medical role that SSRI occupy right now, a lifelong treatment, isn’t the experience that most patients have.
      SSRI are a class of drugs, they all have similar effects and chemical makeups. There aren’t any that are milder than others. There are some differences between them. Some people find they can tolerate some of them better than others. I think that difference comes down to subtle differences in individuals rather than the chemical differences of the drugs. Doctors will often switch between them until they find one that the patient can take. Be careful about that strategy, though. Effects from one can bleed into the new prescription, confusing the issue. Patients are often told to stay on a drug long enough to get past the startup effects, too. By the time you get through the startup effects, you’ve been on the drug long enough to experience withdrawal. It’s a balancing act.
      I think that the best approach to take if you decide to try it would be to start at a low dose. If you experience side effects, like you did on Lexapro, it will be easier to stop. Some alternatives could be Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness training. You may have tried some of those before.
      Personally, I’m very adverse to these drugs. I feel that Paxil hurt me more than it helped. My diagnosis was for mild social anxiety, though, not generalized anxiety or OCD.

      • ellie Says:

        THANK YOU FOR THIS THOUGHTFUL REPLY VERY MUCH.
        (SORRY, FOR SOME REASON I CAN ONLY WRITE IN THESE CAPITALS NOW…)
        I’VE HEARED SOME STORIES (INCLUDING IN THIS SITE) ABOUT PEOPLE TAING SSRI’S LIKE PROZAC OR EVEN ZOLOFT FOR 20 YEARS OR SO… SOMETIMES WITHOUT MAJOE INCREASE OF DOSAGE… IS IT THAT RARE?
        ALSO, HAVE YOU HEARED ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR ABOUT LUVOX?

        I WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO START… WITH A VERY LOW DOSE. I DON’T THOUROUGHLY GET THE IDEA OF TAKING SOMETHING WHICH WILL ONLY HELP – IF AT ALL – FOR A YEAR OR TWO – BUT IT MAY HELP ME TO GET MY LIFE TOGETHER, AT LEAST TECHNICALLY. I DON’T KNOW HOW IT CAN HELP IT EMOTINALLY, HOW THIS CAN HELP A PERSON BECOME LESS LONELY, IN THE DEEP SENSE.

        THANK YOU AGAIN.

  122. Rachel Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this blog Npanth, I’ve been following the comments on and off over the past 6 months or so. You have a lovely way of writing and answering others – so thank you! I took 50mg sertraline between oct 2011 and dec 2011 then 25mg sertraline down to 0 between jan 2012 and march 2012 so not very long at all. I’m coming up to 9 months off sertraline and have experience withdrawals on and off over these 9 months. I tapered too quicly down from 25mg sertraline and the wd hit me 1 month later. I decided against reinstatement as i didn’t want to take the risk of it not working. My withdrawal symptoms have mostly been physical, stomach aches, pins and needles, back pains, arm pains, chest pains, numb limbs, headaches, eye pain, tremors, twitching, hip pain, cramps, feeling bloated and nausea. I also had a spell of waking up in the night unable to remember how to speak which was really frightening.The worst months for me were between months 3 and 6 when i was in constant pain and the symptoms would not let up. From about 6.5 months to now i’ve had on and off spells, mostly days have been symptom free, some not so good. Recently, I’ve had a few days of nausea and pains in my ribs and stomach. I’ve given up going to the GP as it’s clear they don’t believe me when i tell them it was coming off the antidepressant which did this to me. Thanks for listening.

  123. emma tolliday Says:

    3 weeks i have been having this twitch now!!! im not worried but wow what weird things happen, I got through a very big thing at work so am happy idid that but still feel horrible, today i feel very scared and , vacant,lost, uneasy and like i dont want to be alone, i am so looking forward to seeing my new psych!!!! roll on getting better! x

  124. emma tolliday Says:

    jay how are you? x

    • Jay Benson Sr Says:

      Good morning Emma,or what ever time it is.lol
      I’m getting better everyday, I’m having more and more windows, it seems like I crap out around 2 or 3 in the afternoon.but even that is getting better,I saw my Psych Tuesday and even she can’t believe the difference, she finally admitted that the Luvox was the problem and said keep doing what I’m doing.
      I have told myself that this illness is no longer going to control my life and I am in charge now,
      I talk to myself which I think is the key, you should try it.
      How are you?
      Jay

      • Dano Says:

        I received this book yesterday and read about half of it last night. See the link below. It’s very good. It’s really a must read for all of us with withdrawl from these damn drugs. Oh by the way it gets tricky to read when a paragh hits home and your crying. This type of book should be prescribed along with the first bottle of all these cursid drugs.
        This is day three of a much needed window. It’s not gone yet but it been really nice to laugh more.

        http://recovery-road.org/benzo-wise-book-reviews/

    • Rachel Says:

      Hi Emma and Jay how long have you been off your antidepressants? I’ve had a rubbish day today with horrid joint pain. So fed up with feeling like this. Rachel

      • Jay Benson Sr Says:

        Rachel, I am an enigma, I have been on, off, switched around ,self medicated (big fail) and out right lied to.
        My path to the dark side started about 7 years ago when I went cold turkey,back then I was on 300 mgs of Luvox and taking Xanax 1mgs, 3 to 4 times a day,I was unaware of sudden discontinuation syndrome and when I tell you that when it started,I said to myself this must be hell ,because nothing could be possibly worse.
        I did not tell my Psych ,I just did it because I had had it with taking Ad’s and still feeling like crap.
        My psych at the time told me about SSRI discontinuation and to be sure he said to go back on, and the symptoms would reside, but instead of Luvox he put me om Celexa it helped but this was the start of my withdrawal ,so to speak,I stopped taking them after 3 yrs because they were causing side effects and I couldn’t handle them,then my psych had to close his practice right in the middle of a transitioning stage,and left me hanging,I saw 2 more psychs and they played the, try this and try that routine, well this got me more screwed up then ever,my very last psych had me quit the small 25mgs of luvox
        I was taking back in August of this year,and something started to happen, I was feeling pretty good and then I got hit with GI problems, big time problems but I had no more anxiety no brain zaps none of the symptoms I had before,just the GI problems,which now consumed every waking minute of my day, pain 24/7.
        You can read my post when you get a chance, I should have said that in the first place.lol
        I am just starting out again but I have seen a vast improvement in the last week,and I only see it getting better.
        I have a new psych who is sympathetic to my situation and is working with me,I know it’s hard to believe that this will get better but it does,and the sooner you accept the fact that there is nothing physically wrong with you,you have just leveled the playing field,I have for the longest time denied this and when I finally accepted this fact,I have been feeling better.
        A neurologist I saw in the first part of the year examined me and found nothing wrong.After his exam was done, he asked me what I thought was wrong with me,I told him I thought I had MS, he just looked at me and said, if you had MS you would not be able to do what you are doing,and if you had some dreaded disease, do you think that you would be here now talking to me ,I could run a hundred test on you just to satisfy your concerns, but I am not that kind of DR,there is nothing wrong with you physically,but he did mention my PTSD and said you need to address this,so this is how I started my path to the dark side,but I am getting better.
        People here have been very helpful and I can’t emphasize enough,Learn your brain, I read at least a hour a night about the brain and its incredible matrix, we are just beginning to learn about it’s remarkable abilities and it’s pitfalls.
        education is some of the best medication we can give ourselves.
        Jay

      • npanth Says:

        I had bad joint pain that came and went. It’s mostly gone away, now. I find that it crops up right after I taper, then slowly fades away. I think it’s something that will go away permanently at some point. The hard part is waiting for my body and mind to catch up. In some ways, being patient with symptoms and realizing that they will eventually go away may be the hardest parts of withdrawal. When we sprain an ankle, we know it will get better eventually. Somehow, symptoms caused by SSRI withdrawal don’t have that quality to them. They feel permanent in a way they shouldn’t.

        • Rachel Says:

          Hi Npanth, my pains over the past month seem to be often in my kidneys I think… they are in my back near my rib cage. I get so frightened as my mother in law recently died of kidney cancer. I should go to the doctor and ask them to check me out but i seem to have developed a phobia of going there after they refused to believe i’d developed problems since stopping the zoloft. Did you experience pains in this area? Every pain terrifies me. I am convinced I am going to die every moment of every day at the moment. Spending time with my kids i look at them thinking ‘i probably won’t be here next year’ Thanks for your support, rachel

          • jvbsr Says:

            Rachel,I have a long history of kidney stones and had one removed last April,I was fine after that until I stopped taking my AD’s,I started getting pains in what I thought was my kidney and it felt like I had another stone,so I went back to my urologist and he did every test going and could not find anything wrong,he said sorry Jay, but we are barking up the wrong tree,he said it would be almost impossible for me to develop a stone in such a short time,besides all your blood and urine came back fine along with the MRI,so there I was having back pains right where my kidneys were,then it started to go away,it was replaced by very bad GI pain and now I’m very anxious and off balanced,I feel like I’m always on the verge of a panic attack but it never really goes full blown,just feels like it will.I’m still having dizziness and motor control problems, so I try to take it easy ,but i have a very stressful job and if i were not going through WD, I know half the crap I’m going through would not bother me.I’m not having a good time either,and I wish there was a magic pill to take,but we know that is never going to happen,so I keep on going hoping that someday this will all be behind me.
            Jay

      • emma tolliday Says:

        i totally agree with you npath, we accept that most things break and get better, like a broken ankle as you say, we know will eventually heal, I think it is because it is such an unproven science we havent got the proof that our brains will heal, even though I know there is proof, it is not like the millions of years of proof we have that if you break a bone it heals. ALso with the body and mind catching up i too agree. I often say to my mum my body is fine i wish my head would catch up!!!! x

  125. emma tolliday Says:

    hey danno that book has been my life saver, i read it everytimne i feel really bad and have probabley read it 40 times now i carry it in my bag all the time even if it is just to read a success story every now and then. There is also a facebook page that goes with it and is really inspirational.
    Jay I am sooooooo very pleased for you that is great news!!! your attitude sounds diffrent I am so proud of you!!
    Rachel, I have been totally off ssris for 8 and a half months, so to me that seems like a really longtime but as the people on the withdrarawl helpline (they have 2 helplines in the uk) keep telling me, and people on here, that is no time at all, my psych who does belive in withdrarawl but doesnt really know much about it also told me that he thought it could take 2ish years to feel normal again. I definatley do have windows as this morning and lunch i felt awful, as soon as i threw myself into work i perked up and now i feel fine. I defenatley am better than I have been but it is a very very small diffrence but still it is a diffrence. There are people that recover much much quicker so dont be put off by me, I would still say i am very much in the depths of withdrarawl but the only way is up.
    Npath hope you are well.
    heres hoping tomorrow morning no anxiety! x

    • Rachel Says:

      Emma, just spotted this- I get updates through to my email but not on every reply for some reason. You mention some help lines in the UK – i think i’ve been in contact with one of them. Could you let me know which ones’ you’ve spoken to and if any are useful. From my experience they are lovely people to talk to but some of the advisors have told me to use Sam E and st john’s wort and I really don’t want to go down that route. Thanks for your help xx

  126. emma tolliday Says:

    Rachel you should read the book dano has spoken about as the woman who wrote it had really up and down symptonms and physical ones, mine are all psychological ones ( i dont mean in my head im imagining them, i mean cognitive), give it a go x

    • Dano Says:

      Rachel
      You can read Jay’s and Emma’s posts at length as well as mine. These tribulations will give you insight; some good some bad. What Jay has just written is very profound if you take it to heart. Your own mind will heal you.
      I also have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars looking for medical answers that simply return a diagnosis of ” Your test is negative” or ” You are healthy”. The sooner you reside to the fact that time and your own mind will create health is the key. You will read and read and read and read only to find there is no silver bullit or miracle drug to fix your, our syndrome. As painfull as this may sound right now your own mind that feels broken, infected, full, fogged, hurt will heal and pull you thru this.
      I don’t really feel worthy to advise anyone about this subject but I am one year into this process; so I guess that gives me some license to write.

      • emma tolliday Says:

        dano i think you are very worthy of saying all the above, I too say the same thing to others even though I am in the depths, but most of the time i do know i will get better. I find it so strange that some people are all physical, some all mental and some both, i have had nothing physical other than the twitch which i have now realised i can feel but no one can see, but as i said not worried about that at all, i could totally live with it. I kind of know when i am feeling better as i get hungry and i am hardley every hungry when i feel bad.! Good news people i have now lost 56 pounds in 4 and a half months through healthy living, mainly juicing leafy greens, i think of it as my mdicine for my head!! you lucky people in america have juice bars, we have hardley any over here, going back to the mental issues, i dont get the tests for other problems as really the only other thing i could have is depression and there is no test for that, did an on line test for depression and i got very unlikey depressed on the resulkts x

        • Jay Benson Sr Says:

          emma, how are you? to be sure I don’t think any of the symptoms we feel are truly what I consider mental, what we feel is real to us,so to me whether it’s brain zaps ,dizziness or eye twitches,it still a psychical reaction.Feeling scared ,anxiety what ever we are going through it’s a chemical/physical reaction,last night I really felt like crap and I just said screw it,I’m going to bed and woke up this morning feeling a lot better then when I went to bed.I have noticed that the more tired I am the more pronounced the symptoms are,so to me not letting myself get to the point of being over tired is a key factor in our road to recovery,we need to get enough sleep,and eat healthy like you said, I know for some people sleeping is a problem, but I always feel better when I have had a good night’s sleep, or even if I have to nap,it’s all good according to my primary DR., he once told me, if your body craves sleep then sleep,exhaustion is our enemy and and ally to withdrawal .
          I hate the term, you have a chemical imbalance in your brain,90% of our body is chemicals,but we still react physically to the chemical changes, muscles, joints or brain, it’s still a physical reaction,when you mix different chemicals together and you get a reaction, this reaction especially if it is explosive , is physical,what I’m trying to say is,what ever goes on in our heads , the out come is physical to us because we feel it, regardless how it is manifested our brains physically control everything we experience.
          OK enough of this.lol
          Lets just get better.
          Jay

  127. Altostrata Says:

    Jay, does your doctor understand tapering and withdrawal? If so, I’d very much like his or her contact information for this list http://tinyurl.com/7cp8l8v

    • Jay Benson Sr Says:

      Alto, I would say to a point she does,but she will not advocate it,because she believes that if you need a small dose of AD;s to make your quality of life better,then she has no problem with that,like I said in a previous post she is willing to work with me ,but if she sees that it is not working then I have to do her way,keep an open mind she said,I said the same thing right back to her.
      I have only seen her 2 times and that is not enough time for me to come to any conclusions one way or another..
      She is giving me space right now and talk therapy is what I’m seeing her for,she is supposed to be well recognized in her field,but right now I would not put her on your list.

  128. emma tolliday Says:

    hey jay when i say they are mental feelings, i dont mean i am imagineing them and they are not real, i mean the pain is in my head, rather than in my body, so a full head feeling, sad, anxious, mind you i suppose anxiety is a body symptom. I agree with you about sleep, a lot of the time i count the hours to bed time so i can switch off and be refreshed to fight another day. I do thank my lucky starts that i can sleep until the anxiety alarm clock. I have woken up this morning and said to my life coach (emailed her) and my husband that I am determined to feel positive today, no matter how bad i feel, to know it will pass and that this is still another day i wont get back. Most evenings i fell fine I have now had 5 evenings in a row that i felt so normal i thought i was recovered and then the day , especially morning brings the baddness!! Im going to look at the success stories today to keep me on the right track!!! good luck today everyone x!

    • Jay Benson Sr Says:

      Hi emma, you had a good 5 days,that’s a great window.You will have longer ones and keep telling yourself that you are going to get better everyday even when you don’t ,tell yourself you will,it helps believe me.
      Jay

    • npanth Says:

      I think one of the things that makes explaining withdrawal symptoms to other people is that the vocabulary doesn’t exist to really describe symptoms. When we try describe symptoms as “mental” or “emotional”, the connotation is that it’s some kind of personal weakness, not a real medical problem. The long standing stigma against mental issues clouds the issue. Pharmaceutical companies have done a remarkable job of removing the stigma just enough to allow people to take the drugs, but not enough that people feel safe discussing their problems with others. It puts SSRI into the same category as illegal drugs. People are willing to speak about them in general, but not in specific terms. There are many people who will joke about smoking pot, but very few who would admit that they do it. I think the same kind of double standard exists for SSRI. Many people will accept the Pharmaceutical companies’ assertion that depression is caused by a lifelong imbalance because they’re not willing to approach the subject of mental issues any closer than that. So, when it comes to withdrawal, they have no way of dealing with it in any meaningful way. They have to break with cultural conventions to even understand it in their own minds.

      • Jay Benson Sr Says:

        npanth, you hit the nail right on the head,my New psych has said the same thing, until people can openly and comfortably talk about, I hate to say this ,Their mental sate of mind and the medication they are on, without being frowned upon or looked at as though we have some sort of contagious disease, this will stay a close subject
        only to be discussed among people like our selves or the Dr’s that treat us.
        People really get turned off when you mention mental illness,yet have no problem discussing cancer and other diseases,some to the point where I want to walk out of the room.
        We are no different.
        Jay

  129. zman Says:

    i was on 100mg of zoloft at my highest. i weaned to 50mg. i’m now weaning about 3mg where i tap out 3mg of powder from the capsule because they don’t make 3mg capsules. any more withdrawal and i would experience hell of symptoms like i did when i went from 100 to 50–when it felt like my body was falling apart. one of my worst symptoms was soft, loose skin, that was noticable to people that touched me. because of the loose skin, my body went through spells where i feel my skin tightening, and my body adjusting. this is a very upsetting symptom because it feels like my body is literally falling apart. anyone else go through this bizarre symptom?

    • npanth Says:

      Actually, a symptom that I noticed recently is that the skin on my hand is looser than it used to be. I think it’s because I lost so much weight during withdrawal. Either way, it just slides around on my knuckles, now. As Jay says, everyone seems to have at least one symptom that is unique to their withdrawal.
      If your symptoms escalate, the best way to deal with it it to slow down, or even pause, your taper. That was one of the mistakes I made when I started. I tapered off Paxil on a set schedule, regardless of how I felt. I thought that getting off the drug was the most important thing, everything would work out if I could just get to zero. Since then, I’ve found out that maintaining quality of life during withdrawal is equally as important as getting off.

  130. Jay Benson Sr Says:

    zman, I have read that ad’s cause loose skin in the facial area,although I have never experienced this myself ,It seems to be a common symptom that is not listed,so I would not let that get me down,everybody experiences one unique symptom/s
    that others don’t.
    Other than that how is your tapering going?
    Jay

  131. susan Says:

    have you guys been feelinh lonely too? has anyone been with you through this?
    i’ve been going through this alone, no frieds or family close enough to talk about this long journey of withdrawal.

    • Jay Benson Sr Says:

      Hi susan,
      I think for the most part we are all alone,in my case my wife tries to understand but in reality she can’t comprehend what I am going through and it gets her very frustrated, she wants to help but is at a loss as to what to do.
      I think personally that family and friends are not to receptive to the idea that you are having withdrawal problems, because they can’t relate,they don’t know how you got there in the first place.Mental problems unfortunately, are very misunderstood and family and friends shy away when you try to talk about them.We are still in the dark ages when it comes to this subject.
      My withdrawal is not discussed between my siblings or family,they are aware of my situation but the subject never comes up and I don’t try to bring it up either.
      But if you would like you can discuss them here or there is another good site I listed below,either way you can’t go wrong.
      survivingantidepressants.org
      p.s. We are here to help,I have been given some of the best advice from these 2 sites and I am glad I found them.
      Jay

    • npanth Says:

      It’s very hard to talk to people, even close friends, about withdrawal. It’s so outside normal human experience that it’s hard to describe in a way that makes sense. The long time frame also tends to put people off. Just as it’s hard to have symptoms for so long, it’s hard for a person to listen compassionately for the long term.
      There’s a strange irony to withdrawal that I’ve found myself in from time to time. Instead of getting comfort, I’ve found myself reassuring my friends that it will eventually end. That’s what I wanted to hear from them, but it somehow gets reversed. I think it’s very hard for people who haven’t gone through it to understand. The only people I’ve found who really get it are those that have gone through it, or something similar like alcohol/drug withdrawal.

  132. emma tolliday Says:

    that is so funny i too reassure my friends it will end and i will get better, i think because i dread them saying that i need to take drugs or smething, literally today i told my aunty i still feel horrible but is ok because it is what it is and i have to go through it, she was then reassured, it is lonely as the others say the only people who understand are those going through it, my husband is soooo patient and has read up on withdrarawl to help me but all he can do is comfort me he cant help, only time will help that is it. Yesterday i managed to feel positive whilst feeling bad, today it has been impossible, i go to bed every night thinking tomorrow could be the day it all starts to change., the stigma is bad and i have sworn to myself when i have got through this i will do something to help people who are in withdrarawl, i do not hesitate telling people this is what i am going through and that i am not ashamed, but what i do worry is that people dont believe it is real and that i am holding out for something that isnt going to happen, sometimes i dont even think my dadd who has had depression and been on drugs himself thinks it can take thi