mFrustrated

mFrustrated: Need insight - Zoloft withdrawal

94 posts in this topic

Curious to know if anyone can give me their thoughts on my situation. My GP gave me Celexa at the beginning of February for general anxiety...very mild. I took the Celexa for 2 days and it made me few worse. She switched me to Paxil (took 5 days) and it did the same. I had panic attacks, felt like I was coming out of my skin, etc. I then went to see a psychiatrist, hoping he would give me advice on going the natural route. He said he thought SSRIs were not compatible with me, but suggested I try Zoloft. I really didn't want to, but he promised me it would be worth the shot. I took it for 11 days and on the 10th day, began having unwanted, depressive thoughts. He asked me to immediately stop the medicine, so I did. I had taken 12.5 mg for 5 days, 25 mg for 5 days and 36.5 for 1 day when I stopped cold turkey. The unwanted thoughts and anxiety increased for about 2 weeks and last week, began to taper some. I'm 3 weeks into being off them meds, but the depressive thoughts have not diminished. I was never depressed or experienced anything to do with mood swings or depression before SSRIs. I know what I am dealing with has to be my chemistry trying to balance out, but it's miserable. The doctor says I should be back to normal by week 4, but I'm struggling to have confidence in that...especially since he didn't think the Zoloft would mess me up in the 1st place. I feel like I've really messed myself up. I just want to be back to my normal self like I was before all of this. I don't like having thoughts of hurting myself or others...it's not me and I want it to go away. I would love advice or thoughts from anyone with similar situations.

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Oh...and before all of this, I had never taken meds besides things like antibiotics for a cold or Tylenol, allergy meds, etc.

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Welcome mFrustrated,

I'm sorry to hear you've had an adverse reaction to the medications you have been given. Its difficult to understand why your pdoc gave you Zoloft after saying SSRIs did not suit you because Zoloft is also an SSRI.

 

I also developed depression after starting on Zoloft, my original problem was anxiety. The mistake I made was staying on them, I wish I knew then what I do now.

 

Some people are very sensitive to these kinds of drugs and it sounds like you are one of them, its was good that you stopped taking it. You will eventually recover from the imbalance which has been caused, but its difficult to estimate how long it will take. We occasionally have members join who have experienced an adverse reaction, similar to what you are going through. The symptoms can be similar to withdrawal symptoms, and tend to follow the same course of recovery.

 

Its good that you are starting to feel better, this is a sign that your nervous system is trying to re-balance back to its natural state. You may experience recovery happening in a windows and waves kind of pattern, or you may just gradually improve over time in a linear fashion.

 

Please don't rely on the prediction of your psychiatrist regarding the length of time it will take for you to recover, I also suggest to look for non-drug alternatives for dealing with your original issue.

 

Have a look here for some suggestions: Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Don't worry, you will recover, but it may take a little longer then 4 weeks. The important thing is not to take any more drugs. 

 

If I were you I would stay away from psychiatrists from now on, their only tools are diagnosis of mental illness and drugs, if you visit one its highly likely you will leave with both.

 

Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.

 

Petunia.

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Petunia, thank you for your advice. I do not plan to see the pdoc again; it's very frustrating that he prescribed me another ssri knowing I'd not had luck with the 1st two. Thankfully I have a great support system in my family and friends, I am in counseling, and am taking fish oil supplements at the advice of my chiropractor. He also recommended spending extra time at the gym, sweating it out. I also believe that although this is bad situation that I'm in, my faith in Jesus will get me through as well. Just hoping its sooner, rather than later. It's crazy how taking ssri's for such a short period of time can mess you up so badly. Makes me want to encourage everyone I know to stay away from medication if at all possible.

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He said he thought SSRIs were not compatible with me, but suggested I try Zoloft. I really didn't want to, but he promised me it would be worth the shot.

This is an example of why we don't really listen to Doctor's too much around here .

 

M .   Would you mind filling in your drug history signature ? It makes it easier for members to see what your history is , and to offer advice.

 

Please put your withdrawal history in your signature

 

Ali

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Done :) sorry about that. My experience was very short lived...only had SSRIs for 18 days. Really messed me up.

 

My history should appear in my signature now.

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Hi! You sound like me just trying out SSRIs and having bad reactions. You can see my signature for my story. You are lucky you got off the meds quickly. Does your brain and body feel like it's racing all the time and everything you do is overwhelming and you feel you have to hurry because your body is on overdrive?

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Hi Silver Star,

 

I have days where I start feeling better and then days (like yesterday) where I feel like I'm never gonna get better. My mind races and i seriously get so scared I'm gonna hurt myself...I don't want to, but I get thinking about it. On those days, I take a Xanax to calm down. I am a mom of two, have a wonderful husband and I'm a teacher. These meds have ruined things for me and day to day is hard. My husband has been a great support. I just really hope that this mess goes away sooner rather than later. My chiropractor recommended adjustments a few times a week and a good detox. Also, he recommended omega 3's and intense workouts. I hope all of this speeds the process. I really want my life back. My anxiety was not worth trying meds,it was manageable. How long before you started feeling somewhat better?

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Hi M, Sorry I missed your query in Cookie's SSRI reaction thread.  I did take naturopathic stuff, which made me so much worse.  I wouldn't recommend that at all.  I couldn't really cope with supplements either.  A lot of people do well with fish oils and magnesium tablets but I found them too activating.  I relied very heavily on camomile tea, long walks, epsom salts & lavender oil baths and trying as much CBT-style coping methods as humanly possible.  I also avoided all caffeine and alcohol.  I think that helped a lot.

 

I'm not sure about the hard workouts.  I would incline towards keeping things nice and calm - no extremes.  Do what you used to, if you can but don't be surprised if a lethargy sets in for a while. 

 

I've read your thread and your experience sounds very much like mine.  The harm intrusive thoughts were unbelievable.  I'm a mum too and it was torture.  They do go over time.  I haven't been troubled by them for a long while now.  

 

Please feel free to PM me if I miss your posts in future. 

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Thanks for your advice Farout. Today has been. Really bad day. Took 5-htp this morning because I've had a lot of really bad days recently...lots of crying, feeling defeated, etc. thinking it might help. I think the 5-htp was a bad mistake bc I've had dark thoughts of hurting myself, feeling like I can't go on, etc. all day. Definitely not taking anymore. I had to take a Xanax and let my husband take the kids the rest of today. I'll stick to my omega 3's and that's it.

 

I'm having some DNA testing done that my counselor recommended that will show if the ssri's I took caused severe reaction. Apparently there is testing that can show which meds are best for anxiety depending on a person's DNA. Who knew? Wish I would have known before taking anything. I don't want to take anymore meds, but I'm desperate to find something to help.

 

I'm a teacher and have 4 weeks of school left. Hopefully summer and a trip to Disney will help. I'm hoping I have some relief soon. I'm only 2 months out, need relief or at least a window soon.

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I completely understand.  It is very hard to find a balance between the desire to find some, any relief and knowing that it might do more harm than good.  

 

I haven't heard about the DNA testing for anxiety.  Perhaps a mod can help you with that. I would tread very carefully though.  It seems that in psychology/psychiatry things are quite often stated as facts or established science when, in fact, they are little more than theories and all are targeted towards selling more medicalised treatment (drug therapy) that you most likely don't need, or may have worse long-term outcomes.  What if they 'prove' (and I'm dubious that they can, otherwise more doctors would be listening to us) that you had a reaction but then persuade you that some other drug is a sure-fire winner?  I'm not a scientist but, logically, your DNA must surely be only part of the story. The reaction that you've already had and its protracted effect is a significant variable, which most around you are downplaying.  How can you rely on them to factor that into the test?

 

If your reaction was anything like mine, I imagine that you are second-guessing everything right now; over analysing thoughts and behaviours you had before the SSRI to see if there was some underlying issue that you might have missed.  SSRI reactions do that.  They temporarily make you lose your sense of self.  Things that felt certain no longer appear so.  Try to remember that you were prescribed Celexa for mild anxiety - not debilitating anxiety, and not any of the things you are struggling with now.  All those things started when you took the Celexa and got worse as you tried the alternatives.

 

SSRIs have put you in this terrible situation. They have put so many of us through it.  We have all suffered these hideous effects.  It is not you.  It is the drugs.  Please be very careful about adding any more.  

 

Suicidal thoughts are very common after SSRI reactions and in withdrawal.  I decided that mine were more of an anxiety thing than any sort of real desire to harm myself but it took a while to trust in that, because they took on so many different forms - feelings of hopelessness, a means of escaping the torment, a legitimate means to keep the kids safe from me, derealisation or 'out of body' style sensations and sometimes, just sheer fear.  I identified that whatever the form, they illicit the same, heightened anxiety reaction, so I read up on intrusive thoughts and CBT.  It really helped.  I'm happy to share some of the resources that I used if any of this is striking a chord with you.  Otherwise, I'm here to listen and support.

 

All the best.  Time will heal you.

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Hi m, I am sorry to read that you are having such awful symptoms from just a few days of SSRIs. Sadly we see this quite a lot, some members have had bad reactions to a single pill! You will get better, but sadly we can't say how long it will take, it is different for everyone and the best thing is to take each day as it comes. Keep a diary or just simple notes in a note book.  Date it when you make an entry, it is helpful to look back and see that you have improved from the previous week/month etc.  Be very careful with supplements, some of the ones sold for depression and anxiety have the same mode of action as SSRIs (5htp and others). 

Take good care of yourself and don't push yourself too much. If you can, get plenty of rest and sleep, sleep is healing. If you can't sleep just rest in bed with lots of pillows to support you and your feet up with a book.  Time is what will heal you, and you will get better. 

 

There is a thread  with links to different topics such as tests and supplements, including 5htp and the testing your doctor was talking about. 

Take a look and go through them as you are able, you will find lots of information there. 

You are not alone, we are all going through the same thing in various stages, some with reactions, others withdrawal, and those who are tapering. 

We have all landed here after being misled, misdiagnosed and prescribed drugs which have harmed us and together we will get through this. 

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/606-important-topics-about-tests-supplements-treatments-diet/

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Welcome, mFrustrated.

 

It does seem you are one those people who do not get along with SSRIs. You don't need a genetic test to tell you that; the utility of those tests is vastly overrated in choosing the "right" antidepressant. You're suffering from a bad drug reaction, you don't need the "right" antidepressant.

 

I love chiropractic for my aches and pains, but you might find acupuncture to be more helpful for nervous system re-regulation. Be sure to let the acupuncturist know you need calming, not treatment for "depression."

 

I would stay away from anything stimulating like 5-HTP or even caffeine. This would be a great time to take up meditation or anything calming. Get gentle exercise like walking, slow swimming, or bike riding every day.

 

Do your symptoms follow any daily pattern? Please keep notes on paper. How are you sleeping?

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Thanks everyone for your advice. I am planning to have the testing done. I trust my counselor and the new doctor she is having me see. They've both been in practice for years and understand that I've more than likely had a reaction to meds. It would help me to see what this new doc says with the test results. I will certainly not take any other meds without very careful thought. I am not being seen until the end of May. I was feeling so much better week by week until about 2 weeks ago, and I've had a rough time since then. My family, friends, and coworkers have been very supportive. I'm just exhausted from waking up to the same unwanted thoughts daily. I'm finally getting sleep again, so I'm sure that helps. Weekends are the worst when I'm not at school teaching and actually have down time.

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Hey mFrustrated - 

 

Others have said this - your chiropractor is right about some things:  the fish oil is an awesome place to start.  Magnesium and Omega-3 fish oil

 

But you cannot "sweat it out."  High intensity cardio may set off a wave:  Waves and Windows

If you can do gentle weight lifting, it has some enzymatic benefit to the brain as your muscles strengthen.  

Even better are exercises to benefit your "fight or flight" reaction, like yoga or tai chi.  There is even a Christian version of yoga that takes out all the Eastern stuff and replaces it with Christian stuff - called PraiseMoves.   Walking is awesome, too, and there are meditations you can do while walking - like breathing as you repeat a favorite bible verse in your mind - to enhance the healing power of walking.

 

The chemistry that has messed with you is already gone.  What you are left with now, is a restructuring that happened while you were on the drugs.  It hardly seems like there was enough time there - but there is a restructuring that starts at days 3-4 of taking the drugs, and you had 3 swift drug changes in a short time.

 

Even though you are not tapering, this may help describe the process:  Healing from Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery (by Toxic Antidepressants)

 

On those days, I take a Xanax to calm down. 

 

Xanax is famous for rebound anxiety, and inter-dose anxiety.  It easily sensitizes the brain to the very thing you are trying to stop:  anxiety!

 

How often do you take the xanax?  If you have been taking it frequently enough, we may recommend that you switch to regular dosing.  That's tricky with xanax, because even if you take it once a day, you can still have inter-dose anxiety.

 

We really don't understand the nature of these drugs, but what little we do understand, I reckon we should be extremely cautious with using any of them.  Were you using the xanax before you tried the Celexa?

 

Here's my little image of how it works.  You feel anxiety or upset, you take a pill.  That pill helps flood your brain with your natural calming neurotransmitters.  While that is happening, your brain says:  oh, we have plenty of this transmitter - let's adjust (homeostasis) so that we don't have so much (this can be production, receptors, any number of adjustments).  As soon as the drug wears off, those calming neurotransmitters are depleted, and your brain is left in a state of greater "anxiety" (only now it is a chemical state) than before.

 

That's a kindergarten explanation, and about as well as I understand it.  How a doctor, with years of training, can not understand this, baffles me.  I'll bet even your chiropractor, who has had less schooling than a doctor, understands this (I just watched a chiropractor's video about this, he called it "depletion" not "homeostasis" but - he understood it).

 

Xanax is a particularly wicked little pill because of its short half life (how quickly it leaves your system).  For some reason the manufacturers think that short life makes it easier to deal with, "such a light touch," and that's how the doctors are trained, too.  But that means that you could be having interdose anxiety up to 3x a day.  We have had people in here dosing with minute amounts of xanax every 6 hours to keep their nerves stable while tapering.

 

Here is one of my favorite Bible verses for insomnia:

Psalm 4:8 -  In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

 

 

You may feel better and then worse and then better again - this is the natural windows and waves.  So when a new symptom comes up, or you feel like you are getting worse - just remind yourself "it is the drug," and let go of fear.

 

I'm glad you found us.

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Sample of Praise Moves:

 

[JC note:  bad link]

 

 

While looking for this I found another kind, called Holy Yoga, which you might like.

 

Edited by JanCarol
added good link

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Wow, thanks for the info. JanCarol...very informative. My chiro is actually a Maximized Living Doctor. My sister in law works for him and has had great results coming off meds for another medical issue that she was "diagnosed" with. He has been very helpful in helping me cope. He had me on a cell/body detox, and it was certainly working but the toxins coming back into my system was just too much and he took me off. He's got me on omega 3's, and I've cut sugar and caffeine. He's got me working out for 12 minutes a day and it hasn't seemed to bother me. Enough to break a sweat...which is what I was doing before all of this. 

 

Before February, I'd never taken medication for anything besides allergies and a headache here and there. Looking back, my GP probably should have suggested some lifestyle changes instead of diagnosing me with anxiety...I think what I was dealing with was pretty normal mom/teacher stress, and I didn't realize it. I've only taken the Xanax a handful of times, and only in extreme situations when I was having a rough day and I had to "suck it up and keep going. (Such as my daughter's dance recital day and a day when I could not miss school) " I've taken .25 mg, maybe 3 or 4 times since April 1. My chiropractor doctor also suggested I only take it if I absolutely have to. I'm super scared taking anything right now, because I'm so scared of what has happened before. When I take the Xanax, I basically force myself to do it because I know it will help control the awful thoughts of hurting myself or someone else...I'm still learning to be ok when these dark waves come because they seem so real.

 

Not knowing how long this is going to take is the scariest part. I've read so many stories of people taking 18 months to years to heal....that freaks me out.  

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Just wanted to give you all an update. I had the DNA testing done with the new doctor I'm seeing and it was very informative! I did learn that all 3 SSRI drugs I took are in the class of drugs that I cannot take. I also learned that I have a gene that causes me to have sensitivity to drugs and a gene that causes me to metabolize meds quickly...which makes everything I've experience make so much sense. I have tried BuSpar, but have learned that I do not do well with it either. I have been doing so much better with less waves and more windows week by week...unfortunately, I set myself back by trying the BuSpar but I knew there would be a risk there. My doctor has been very encouraging and agrees that I should not take anything else right now. I'm thankful that she is trained in adverse reactions and is very knowledgeable.  I'm hoping I recover from taking this BuSpar quickly and I feel hopeful...but just one of those things you never know. Thankful to know now though, that my genes just don't do meds well. Hopefully I can get over this hump and feel like myself again soon. We have several vacations planned soon that I hope helps. 

 

 

I also wanted to encourage anyone that comes across my story that you WILL get through this. Adverse reaction to meds really is a thing and unfortunately, it is a thing. There really isn't much you can do to quickly fix your issue, but watching what you eat and taking walks is helpful. I've cut out all sugar (even pastas,etc) as much as I can, as well as caffeine. As I've recovered, I've been able to drink 1 cup of coffee in the mornings (which has always been my go to) and it doesn't bother me. When this all began back in March, I couldn't drink any caffeine. 

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I'm really pleased to hear that. I'm so glad you have found a doctor who is supporting you in this experience of the horrible adverse reaction (a lot don't).

 

There will be further healing but now you have the definitive knowledge that it is definitely reaction-based. That's really worth something.

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Thanks Farout. I'm looking for encouragement today guys. I'm on vacation with my husband and two sweet kiddos this week at Disney. Anxiety has been out of wack since trying that Buspar late last week. Is this just a wave that the Buspar set off? Did I set myself back so far that it's gonna take months to get back where I was? Just feeling so discouraged bc I was doing so much better.

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Thanks Farout. I'm looking for encouragement today guys. I'm on vacation with my husband and two sweet kiddos this week at Disney. Anxiety has been out of wack since trying that Buspar late last week. Is this just a wave that the Buspar set off? Did I set myself back so far that it's gonna take months to get back where I was? Just feeling so discouraged bc I was doing so much better.

 

 

It's most likely a wave -  it might have been set off by the buspar or it might have happened anyway.  There is usually further healing in a waves and windows pattern. It will pass.  Meanwhile you need to try to manage your symptoms.  Can you get your hands on some epsom salts?  A nice soak in magnesium might help the anxiety a little.  Are you getting any physical symptoms?

 

Which Disney are you at?  We went with the kids last year.  It was amazing!

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Don't you wish we could know what truly triggers waves? I have pin pointed a few things that I think could impact them for me...sugar, alcohol and caffine for sure.

 

I use Epsom salt and my essential oils...lavender, valor, and stress away blend made by young living. It helps for sure. Just wish there was a magic trick to make it go away. So scared I'm gonna just snap and lose it. I'm sure that's just an anxious thought as well.

 

We were at Disney World in FL. Good trip, lots of good memories even though I was in the midst of a rough wave.

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Did any of you that had a bad reaction to SSRI's go through a period where you felt super down and depressed? I'm about 4 months in and recently had a set back when my doctor had me try Buspar. I was feeling so much better and now each day is a struggle all over again. Today I'm feeling super down whereas yesterday I was physically anxious. I'm sooo over all of this.

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Hey guys. Maybe an admin can add this to my previous posts. I wasn't sure where to post my question. I've posted before about my experience and have come to realize I had a bad reaction to anxiety meds (ADs) after only taking a few. I believe I'm experiencing a wave right now. I'm curious to know if anyone has had a window followed by a wave with new symptoms. I was doing so much better over the past 3 weeks or so...feeling a lot more like myself before taking meds. This week I think I'm experiencing a wave (dark thoughts, feeling super anxious, etc) that I think was started by my period. Then, all of the sudden I'm having super weird experiences (feeling out of body, depersonalized). I've never experienced super long periods (hours) like this before. It's been going on for a few days now. I was feeling super encouraged because I was feeing better, but now all of the sudden I'm not. Is this normal? I'm trying to stay away from doctors because even though my psychiatrist understands I have bad reactions to drugs, doesn't get that it is lasting longer than a few weeks. She just wants me to keep trying different meds, and I'm totally against it now because I know it starts a wave each time and major set backs. Anywho...I'd love thoughts from anyone that can share their knowledge.

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Hello mFrustrated, 

 

I merged your new topic with your Intro.  It is one Intro per member, to keep your history all together in one place.  Bookmark your Intro so you can find it more easily, and post updates and anything to do with your particular situation here.  

 

Yes, it is normal to have waves with new symptoms after a window:  Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Perhaps watch this video if you haven't already:  Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

The meds are neuro-toxic and your system is very sensitive, it would seem.  Just hang in there; the waves DO pass, but no guarantee there won't be more.  It's just the normal pattern of recovery.  It helps to understand this and tell yourself "this is withdrawal again, but it will pass."

 

SG

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Thanks squirrellygirl. I will bookmark my post. I'm about 4 months out now, and I'm just so over it. I'm just so scared that when I have waves it's gonna be worse that before and I won't be able to make it out.

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When we are in a wave, our perceptions go completely wonky, and that was the scariest part for me when I was in it, because it all feels so "real." So, it's really important to find some coping strategies to calm yourself and not get caught up in secondary fear, which only keeps you in the wave longer.  Some people find it helps them to see the waves, wd symptoms, as signs that the nervous system is going through another bout of healing, because that's what it really is :-)

 

Mindfulness can be helpful, and many have been helped by the methods of dealing with anxiety developed by Claire Weekes:  Claire Weekes' Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System

 

Have a read through this one, too:  Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

SG

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Thanks. I've read through those articles a few times. I guess I just struggle every time because the waves I've had have all been started by trying new meds. No one seems to understand when I explain the waves and windows theory. My husband does to an extent, but everyone else just thinks I need to go back to the doctor. Hoping this wave passes quickly.

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It's a tough one for folks in general to grasp, and I even have a hard time articulating what is going on verbally.  I love Rhi's description with the building:  Brain Remodelling (Rhi's Description of Brain Healing).  This one is very good as well, even though it talks about benzos - the concept is similar for any neurotransmitter system:  What is happening in your brain?

 

SG

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Thanks SG. Does anyone have an scientific research that I could share with my doctor regarding what I'm dealing with or a doctor that I could refer her to that understands bad reactions to ADs? I'd love to share the information with her without presenting her with a forum. I also see a wellness doctor that is totally anti medicine of any kind and I would love to share this information with him as well.

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Ok thanks.

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I'm really struggling in this wave. I'd love to hear success stories from anyone who has suffered a bad reaction to antidepressants. I'm still only a few months into this and it's not getting any easier.

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Hi everyone- I am wondering how common intrusive thoughts are during CT of lexapro. When I am doing an action and get a bad thought it makes me feel like my action is bad because I had the thought. Do I make any sense? Please help.

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Coopergirl, I've discovered just about anything is normal with intrusive thoughts. This whole thing has just been mind boggling for me, and I've learned that our minds can do just about anything when trying to heal. Perhaps an administrator that knows more about this stuff can better answer your question.

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