felin, on 31 Mar 2015 - 5:31 PM, said:
How long were you on Cymbalta before you started the tapering and what dosage did you start from?
Before Cymbalta, were you on other anti-depressants? (I've been one type of anti-d or another since my early 20's. I'm now 48 yrs old. Couldn't even tell you what all of them were or when I changed from one to another. Terrible terrible memory)
I'm having a hard time remembering exactly how long I have been taking certain drugs. Seems like forever. I was first prescribed Fluoxetine when I was 17. I am 30 now and for 13 years I have constantly been on and off different antidepressants - the whole spectrum of them. For a very short while I was even on antipsychotics (a month or so). I have always had awful side effects and have discontinued the drugs after a while, switched from one drug to another etc. It wasn't until a few years ago when I finally became aware and educated myself on the topic of antidepressant withdrawal and the harm they cause. (I would really suggest two books for a real eye-opening: Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide, and Crime by Peter R. Breggin and Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker).
When I think back on the years on these meds and realising now what they have done with me, it makes me indescribably angry and sad. I have had awful side effects for years and discontinuation effects that I only realise in retrospect for what they were. Last drug I discontinued before Cymbalta was Venlafaxine (Effexor) which is another nightmare next to Cymbalta. Unfortunately then I was not aware of the methods of slow tapering and the discontinuation symptoms literally almost killed me (the "brain zaps", disorientation and dizziness were so severe that I almost tumbled in front of a moving car one day). By then I was already google-smart on the discontinuation side effects these meds have but was still unaware how to slowly taper.
I was very reluctant to start taking Cymbalta but was convinced it was necessary by mu doctor. I started with the idea that I would only be taking the drug for a few months. Well, months become a year before I started tapering. I was taking 60 mg of the drug.
When I started tapering it was very difficult for me to distinguish between the effects of withdrawal symptoms and my usual symptoms. A lot of the time I did not believe that the drug could be causing all the mental and physical symptoms and was afraid that it was just me. By know (as I described in my previous post) I have realised that a lot of this has been the drug's effect, but I am still afraid whether these effects can be undone. I have no way of knowing whether the decade of these drugs has caused permanent damage on my nervous system.
I have tapered using different strategies. I have never tapered more than 10% of the last dosage, but I did reduce very often for a long time (after making a schedule I tapered every 2-3 weeks). It was because I could not really believe that my symptoms were so severely caused by the withdrawal. Later when I tried longer stabilizing periods I experienced how the withdrawal effects were sudden and obvious and followed a certain pattern (for Cymbalta and for me it is 1st day - no different, 2nd day slightly lowered mood, mild brain zaps etc, 3rd day - hell!).
felin, on 31 Mar 2015 - 5:31 PM, said:
Now that you've been tapering for 2 yrs. and you have your body and it's w/d symptoms a bit better figured out, how long would you say tends to be best for you to wait before reducing dosage again? (I know that this varies greatly from person to person)
For me there seems to be no "good" time because it really takes me a long time to start recovering from the reduction. As I said I mostly know people who's severe and acute symptoms don't last more than one week. For me everything comes crashing down when I reduce and I really cannot say it gets any "better" for many weeks. I remember feeling a little better after I had not reduced the medicine for 1,5 months and there was a clearer sense of stabilization after 2 months. As I said I have tried tapering 5% and microtapering but the outcome is always a disaster for me. I don't want to scare you because there is no need to assume that it will be like that for you. My case seems to be an example of an extreme one and there is a good chance that when you stick to a small taper (up to 10%), go slow and allow your system to stabilize enough between reductions, you will be ok.
felin, on 31 Mar 2015 - 5:31 PM, said:
Do you mind sharing what symptoms you have each reduction time, especially that first week? (please don't hold back. I really need honesty)
Seeing that you are already anxious about the symptoms before starting to taper I would definitely suggest just to take it slow, make a very small reduction and see how it goes and not pressure yourself to follow a strict reduction schedule. What dosage are you on currently? Perhaps you could try a reduction just 5% and monitor your symptoms. One possibility is to fill in a check list or create one of your own.
You can add symptoms that are unique in your case. That is what I do.
See if you develop any new symptoms during the week(s) following the reduction and if there is any dynamic in them. To what point do they get worse and when do they start getting better? I do understand that it can be difficult to tell the difference between already existing symptoms and new ones that come with the taper but by grading your symptoms on a scale from 0 to 10 you can monitor if they get worse.
When I start filling in the form I realise how many symptoms I actually have. Some of them I have grown so used to that I would neglect to mention them if anyone asks.
The first week, on day 3 I start to have terrible crying spells. Literally for days I keep crying. Well, of course not 24/7 but for most part of the first days I am in tears. I am not sure how long that lasts but at least half a week. At some point the crying is replaced by despair and major depressive feelings. This is the worst symptom and the best I know to describe it is that while having this I feel that I cannot bear living for another minute more. I just want the suffering to stop. And it doesn't. And that can get better for half a day or even an entire day, but still last for... well, an unknown amount of time. I know I could handle any kind of symptoms - all the pain and crying and everything, but this is unbearable. The only thing that helps is numbing the feelings with Xanax. I do not drink alcohol but I can totally understand why people would choose to numb their pain with it. I suppose it is not at all different from taking Xanax - they're both a sort of a poison for the body and the brain.
From physical symptoms the strongest ones I have is exhaustion (up to the point where it is ridiculous even), I have strong neurological symptoms (brain fog, brain zaps - they are a sort of a mini seizure, extreme sleepiness - sleeping up to 15h a day, not being able to shake the drowsiness and fogginess for the most part of the day, I have strong neural pain in the left side of my body - in the left arm, shoulder, back of the head, behind the eye, vision problems, extreme sensitivity to sounds (!) and a general sensory oversensitivity, nausea of course. Oh, I remembered for some period during the tapering I sweated extremely. I usually sweat really little. I also sweat a lot during the night. The flu-like symptoms occur. Ohwell... the list is so long it is embarrassing. And these symptoms don't really seem to pass fast. They just last and last so that I get to thinking it is ridiculous. But it still keeps happening. Oh and from time to time comes the agitation and irritability. I can feel how my thinking gets impaired - it slows down, the memory gets really-really bad, I cannot remember words and names (I used to think it was just me or a symptom of depression, but now I have established a clear link between the symptoms and the reduction of the meds).
Oh, and the restless legs of course.
- Can I re-use the Cymbalta capsule after I've opened it? If not, what size capsules should I buy. My co-op order is due tomorrow and they offer 2 sizes which are "0" OR "00" and are made of 100% Bovine gelatin. Don't know which size to buy. Is the Bovine gelatin ok?
I cannot advise about the sizes of the capsules. I have not reused the beads, I have just poured a certain amount of the beads out of the capsule and closed the capsule again. So I don't know about the capsule materials either.
Can you tell me the name of the essential amino acid complex that you take?
This is what I take: http://www.iherb.com...49&sr=null&ic=1
The other thing that has kept me from beginning is the initial having to open a capsule and count the beads. Am scared of them going all over the place, etc. How in the world can you count such teeny beads and so many of them?
It does seem to be really hard to count the tiny beads. I have tried and it was too much for me. I would suggest the method I personally use (I described it earlier in this topic and others have shared many details about it here. I recommend using some slippery type of paper for that.
I am beginning to realize that I need to be certain that my body is well taken care of as a support. Diet/supplements, sunshine (for Vitamin D which is huge - I stay indoors almost always), close walk with my God, ample/clean water, activities that bring joy - get to see 2 of my 3 grandbabies' once a week. Aside from God, they are about the only thing right now that brings me that joy. Is tough to build this foundation when my body has so many other health issues. One step at a time! I get anxious just thinking about it all! (I, now, have no doubt that Cymbalta and/or the Welbutrin that I take, have, in the long run, caused more anxiety within me than I ever had prior). Oh, I also know that I need to exercise, but I don't at all. I am fatigued all day everyday so it's so hard to even think about the exhaustion that exercise will bring. I'm lucky if I get my dishes washed (unlike the real me).
I take supplements every day to support my system in recovery - vitamin D3 5000 IU (it is important to distinguish between D3 and D2), Omega-3, Folate, Magnesium (as magnesium oil applied on skin), Zinc and sometimes a B complex.
I personally cannot see how it would be possible to force myself to do physical exercises with this sort of exhaustion. I think I shouldn't. And I try not to feel guilty because the "you should get more exercise, it is good for you" suggestion really does not apply when you can literally not get up from a chair to make a sandwich. When I am feeling better, I take a walk. When I am a wreck, I concentrate on surviving and well... leave the "bonus track of exercising" to those who actually are able to. As you said - one step at a time.
I must say that I have noticed a big improvement in the energy department in past few months. I have been gluten free for 6 months now and it is the only thing that is different aside the fact that I take a smaller amount of ADs now than I did 6 months ago.
I am really glad that you have these things that bring you joy - your faith and your grandchildren. To tell you the truth I am a bit envious . I often wish I could believe strongly that all this suffering is for a reason and there is some force somewhere regulating it all.
I also noticed that you said you are talking two AD-s. I think you should look into the suggestions on how to taper when you are taking multiple drugs. One theory is that you should taper one drug at a time, but I have also read opposing suggestions that consider the fact that when you reduce one medicine then the relation between these two drugs will change and this will add to the complexity of the symptoms. I personally do not know which makes more sense. I think this is something everyone should research for themselves and decide how it seems best to proceed.
I wish you all the best! If you could find the time to let me know how you are doing with your tapering I would really like that.