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Anhedonia, apathy, demotivation, emotional numbness


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#1 Neuroplastic

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 03:02 AM

ADMIN NOTE Also see

Emotional numbness on and off drugs

 
 
How many of you, apart from the whole gamut of other symptoms, are suffering from emotional numbness as of present? How does it manifest in your case?


Edited by Altostrata, 13 December 2015 - 12:14 PM.
added admin note

2000-2008 Paxil for a situational depression
2008 - Paxil c/t
Severe protracted WD syndrome ever since; improving


“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once”
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#2 Punarbhava

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 09:22 AM

How many of you, apart from the whole gamut of other symptoms, are suffering from emotional numbness as of present? How does it manifest in your case?



Neuro......


I hope my response does not corrupt the subject of your thread but I seem to alternate between anhedonia and depression.


Both, as we all know, how horrible states to be in. I find though that the depression is harder for me to endure since, feelings of loss, trauma also become activated. Anxiety levels are usually higher when the WD induced depression hits. Fear, horror, caring too profoundly about everyone and everything and becoming hair-triggered to any negative emotion or event/stressor makes it extremely difficult to endure much of anything. Consequently, I avoid interacting with others or with life since, even going to the grocery store floods me with instant and visual reminders of how much I've lost in life.


Although, with that said, I force myself to distract via some form of activity, even if I cry through it since it can help get my mind moving outside the horrors of the WD induced depressive thoughts.


However, when I lapse into the anhedonic states I'm the opposite. I feel dead to the trauma, lifeless, no fear of any losses, nor any fear for my future, absolutely no motivation nor even care to motivate myself (although I do push through such states as best I can to distract although engaging in an activity usually deepens my feelings of disconnection since, I derive no pleasure or sense of accomplishment from anything).... just don't feel connected to anything life nor to my traumatic experiences/losses etc.


In a sick way, as horrid as anhedonia is, I actually prefer it to the depression since, it gives me respite from feeling traumatized (feeling too much of everything).
I feel disconnected from my losses and trauma when in this state.


So, in essence, I feel way too deeply in my depressive states and lifeless/dead in my anhedonic states. Then there are some okish days where I don't feel as polarized but rather, more neutral/balanced. Such days seem to be increasing in numbers (thank God) appearing in clusters (few days in a row). So, there is this "break" in between the two states that I have described.


No matter how serious these states feel, I try not to take them seriously (although, as we know its a challenge). I try to force myself to distract myself out of either state (even if for moments at a time). Humour saves me when in either state.


Although humour is really difficult to illicit, I really, really push myself since, its the only thing that snaps me into an altered state, for a short spurts of time.


I can construct a humurous thought but then plummet emotionally two mintues later. So, I go back and contruct another funny thought and so on. I'm very up and down in this regard but that's okay. My goal is to create as many mini moments of life and connection as possible.

One could remark: "well, you can't be suffering too badly IF you can create humour". Yes, that may seem to appear to be the case but it's not at all. For some reason, the creative part of my mind, despite the severest of WD states, has been accessible to me, at some level, but only if I force myself to direct my mind into this mode, even if I have to cry my way through it (which happens often). It's a survival tactic utilized to keep myself going. If I don't do so, I won't make it psychologically.

Not implying that my approach will work for everyone. Rather, just sharing what I have to do to survive this WD ordeal.


Punar
To Face My Trials with "The Grace of a Woman Rather Than the Grief of a Child". (quote section by Veronica A. Shoffstall)

Be Not Afraid of Growing Slowly. Be Afraid of Only Standing Still.
(Chinese Proverb)

I Create and Build Empowerment Within Each Time I Choose to Face A Fear, Sit with it and Ask Myself, "What Do I Need to Learn?"

#3 stan

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 01:14 AM

i think i have anhedonia too, i have less interest in quality of life, have no desire to laugh, i am not in depression (or very little), a feeling "zombie" as the time i was on meds, but as i have anxiety, back pain, mouth dry, nocturia, bowels tense,derealization and so on, i am too busy with these symptoms to feel my anhedonia i think with time it diminish as all symptoms trying to be busy with computer, dog, grocery, youtube, new friends, new challenges will help

for anxiety 

12 years paxil - cold turkey 1,5 month - switch celexa 1 year taper; total 13 years on brain meds 

66 years old - 8 years  med free

 

in protracted withdrawal syndrome

 

chronic fatigue syndrome...off balance and dizzy...sleep very bad...dryness syndrôme...prostate...derealization...itching psoriasis...unable to be quiet inside... to rest though improvements akathisia...dilate bronchitis ...auto-immune disorder...conversion disorder...strong back pains...permanent stress...emotions no control...my senses are false... many feelings are false since beginning...locomotor disorder ...

 


#4 Neuroplastic

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 02:54 AM

Thank you, Pun! Great post. Very insightful!
2000-2008 Paxil for a situational depression
2008 - Paxil c/t
Severe protracted WD syndrome ever since; improving


“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once”
Albert Einstein

"Add signature to your profile. This way we can help you even better!"
Surviving Antidepressants ;)

And, above all, ... keep walking. Just keep walking.

#5 Neuroplastic

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 02:57 AM

trying to be busy with computer, dog, grocery, youtube, new friends, new challenges will help


To do our best to take our mind off of WD is a must indeed, Stan.
2000-2008 Paxil for a situational depression
2008 - Paxil c/t
Severe protracted WD syndrome ever since; improving


“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once”
Albert Einstein

"Add signature to your profile. This way we can help you even better!"
Surviving Antidepressants ;)

And, above all, ... keep walking. Just keep walking.

#6 Druid

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 07:35 AM

How many of you, apart from the whole gamut of other symptoms, are suffering from emotional numbness as of present? How does it manifest in your case?


Great question NP...

I can strongly relate to everything You wrote Punar great post.. I'm so sorry to hear that You have to experience this horrible and inhumane condition too i send all hope to You that this will resolve for You very soon.

I guess our feelings are the essence of the human experience and most of life revolves around how we "feel" about something. So for me Anhedonia has a profound effect on my whole life on so many levels. Punar I struggle to interact with other people and life in general too because of this symptom. I often recluse and isolate because i struggle to relate. It's like a depression but not depression in that nothing i can do seems to impact it in any way. It's like the ultimate chemically induced depression.

It even seems to make any decision making almost impossible, from hundreds of small decisions that we make almost subconsciously every day to larger more obvious ones. It's like when we make a decision we imagine say two or more possible paths or choices we might take.. we think about each separate scenario of action and consequence and then try to imagine how we feel about each outcome and therefore decide based on this information.. but how are we supposed to differentiate without having our feelings to guide us?.. I know there are many other variables that we take into account in this process but for me personally it's my feelings that have always been the stronger and most prominent guide..

Anhedonia seems to effect my memory too. Because i feel numbed in real time/ present.. and can't access my feelings i also lose the clarity and vividness of memories, because i cant access my feelings from past experiences either, because it would seem that memories are not just pictures we recall but when we hear an old song or have a memory triggered etc and it takes us back to a certain time or place or person, there is such a strong feeling accompanying this experience to complete it.. this feeling is often missing and i can only glance that distant memory for a fleeting moment unable to hold onto that moment and memory that is rightfully mine.. As a consequence to this I feel like a lot of my life and experiences even before these drugs has been stolen from me.

I feel like an observer of my own life rather than participating and living in the moment as i once did.
In a cruel irony negative emotions seem to be intensified. I do have very brief respite from time to time when i am able to glimpse my former passion and self for one beautiful bitter sweet moment only to lose myself again seconds later. I pray that these precious moments are windows that i am allowed to look through and glance a little into how i will feel in the future, when more healing has taken place..

Motivation is a fickle friend when as Punar explained so well, pleasure, reward and sense of accomplishment are missing, Apathy seems to conquer all to easily, and as a friend once pointed out to me, hate is not the opposite of love apathy is...

#7 cinephile

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 08:25 AM

I hope my response does not corrupt the subject of your thread but I seem to alternate between anhedonia and depression.


Both, as we all know, how horrible states to be in. I find though that the depression is harder for me to endure since, feelings of loss, trauma also become activated. Anxiety levels are usually higher when the WD induced depression hits. Fear, horror, caring too profoundly about everyone and everything and becoming hair-triggered to any negative emotion or event/stressor makes it extremely difficult to endure much of anything. Consequently, I avoid interacting with others or with life since, even going to the grocery store floods me with instant and visual reminders of how much I've lost in life.


Although, with that said, I force myself to distract via some form of activity, even if I cry through it since it can help get my mind moving outside the horrors of the WD induced depressive thoughts.


However, when I lapse into the anhedonic states I'm the opposite. I feel dead to the trauma, lifeless, no fear of any losses, nor any fear for my future, absolutely no motivation nor even care to motivate myself (although I do push through such states as best I can to distract although engaging in an activity usually deepens my feelings of disconnection since, I derive no pleasure or sense of accomplishment from anything).... just don't feel connected to anything life nor to my traumatic experiences/losses etc.


In a sick way, as horrid as anhedonia is, I actually prefer it to the depression since, it gives me respite from feeling traumatized (feeling too much of everything).
I feel disconnected from my losses and trauma when in this state.


So, in essence, I feel way too deeply in my depressive states and lifeless/dead in my anhedonic states. Then there are some okish days where I don't feel as polarized but rather, more neutral/balanced. Such days seem to be increasing in numbers (thank God) appearing in clusters (few days in a row). So, there is this "break" in between the two states that I have described.


No matter how serious these states feel, I try not to take them seriously (although, as we know its a challenge). I try to force myself to distract myself out of either state (even if for moments at a time). Humour saves me when in either state.


Although humour is really difficult to illicit, I really, really push myself since, its the only thing that snaps me into an altered state, for a short spurts of time.


I can construct a humurous thought but then plummet emotionally two mintues later. So, I go back and contruct another funny thought and so on. I'm very up and down in this regard but that's okay. My goal is to create as many mini moments of life and connection as possible.

One could remark: "well, you can't be suffering too badly IF you can create humour". Yes, that may seem to appear to be the case but it's not at all. For some reason, the creative part of my mind, despite the severest of WD states, has been accessible to me, at some level, but only if I force myself to direct my mind into this mode, even if I have to cry my way through it (which happens often). It's a survival tactic utilized to keep myself going. If I don't do so, I won't make it psychologically.

Not implying that my approach will work for everyone. Rather, just sharing what I have to do to survive this WD ordeal.


Yes, everything you said. And this as well from Druid:

It even seems to make any decision making almost impossible, from hundreds of small decisions that we make almost subconsciously every day to larger more obvious ones. It's like when we make a decision we imagine say two or more possible paths or choices we might take.. we think about each separate scenario of action and consequence and then try to imagine how we feel about each outcome and therefore decide based on this information.. but how are we supposed to differentiate without having our feelings to guide us?.. I know there are many other variables that we take into account in this process but for me personally it's my feelings that have always been the stronger and most prominent guide...I feel like an observer of my own life rather than participating and living in the moment as i once did.
In a cruel irony negative emotions seem to be intensified. I do have very brief respite from time to time when i am able to glimpse my former passion and self for one beautiful bitter sweet moment only to lose myself again seconds later. I pray that these precious moments are windows that i am allowed to look through and glance a little into how i will feel in the future, when more healing has taken place..


I think these two posts really sum up what I've been feeling ever since I took Effexor almost five years ago. I pray that I'll regain normality (even if it's 70-80%) once I'm off this last med (Lexapro) this time next year. Anhedonia is THE worst symptom for me. It contaminates every facet of my life, from my libido to my motivation to my anxiety. I honestly think anhedonia fuels anxiety because dopamine/pleasure is a natural anxiolytic. And I don't mean huge spikes of dopamine (from drugs/sex, etc) but just the NORMAL levels that unmedicated people have. It's like a lubricant for our spiritual and mental gears. When I'm anhedonic, it's like my brain is one big rusty cogwheel and getting ANYTHING done (even previously pleasurable things) feels like a chore, like turning a rusty crank. Basically it just makes things 100x harder than they have to be, and that includes even the most basic of tasks like brushing my teeth or getting ready for work. To sum up: about 95% of things I do these days I do BECAUSE I HAVE TO, NOT because I WANT to. It's a terrible way to "live."

And speaking of work, it makes it MURDER as I'm always second-guessing myself in this pseudo-OCD fashion because I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN MYSELF to do tasks I've done at work hundreds (if not thousands) of times, because I don't have normal dopamine levels (my theory) that would give me a simple pleasure in completing tasks that would in turn give me confidence. The worst part is I have to almost fool myself into being excited about taking on new tasks at work because I'm training for a new career and I know that if I don't look excited/motivated, my superiors who are training me will ask themselves, "why is this guy here if he doesn't even look interested in the work and the field? Why should I bother training him on new things if he doesn't even look like he's the least bit interested?" And what am I supposed to say? "Gee, I'd really love to FEEL motivated and excited about learning new things that will look great on a resume, but I just can't feel it like I used to because long-term SSRI use has eroded my dopamine/reward system and I'm emotionally numb 90% of the time." Yeah, I'm sure they'd understand that. So on top of everything else, it's a battle I (we) have to fight alone (at least in real life). It sucks -- what else can be said?

And boy do I get you Druid when you talk about indecision! Often I'm paralyzed by indecision because nothing seems worth doing, but I have to do SOMETHING to alleviate the toxic boredom. But deep down I know that even when I DO decide on something to do, I know that most likely it will mildly amuse me for a few minutes and then I'll just be anhedonic again. So often I end up just sleeping or watching TV. YES, I do push myself and sometimes it does feel good, but even the good feelings are often (not always) muted by the muffling effect of SSRIs. Very, very rarely do I feel like my old self and, curiously, it comes in clusters of days as it does for Punar.

I guess the only advice at this point I can give is basic common sense, which is better than nothing considering how kooky psychiatric "advice" is these days. For one, don't take ANY more psych meds to alleviate this (I know it's tempting to try dopamine agonists like mirapex, but please don't), and try to avoid supplements as well because I think that feeds into the mentality that the cure is only a pill away. It most likely isn't. At least not until UNBIASED science says otherwise. And, most importantly, keep as many positive things in play that may pay off in the long-run. For example, I'm still going to work because I know that some day my efforts will pay off, and it sure beats doing nothing career-wise. My dream is to one day finally come out of this horrible fog and have some great things waiting for me, like all the experience I've accrued at work that I can immediately transfer into a great career that I'm passionate about, which I can then fully enjoy! Is this dream possible? I think so. But the hard part is, of course, dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing WHEN it will be realized. Sigh.
Been on SSRIs since 1998:
1998-2005: Paxil in varying doses
2005-present: Lexapro.
2006-early '08: Effexor AND Lexapro! Good thing I got off the Effexor rather quickly (within a year).

**PSYCHIATRY: TAKE YOUR CHEMICAL IMBALANCE AND CHOKE ON IT!
APA=FUBAR
FDA=SNAFU
NIMH=LMFAO

Currently tapering Lexapro ~10% every month:

STARTING: 15 mg
11/7/10: 13.5 mg
12/7/10: 12.2 mg
1/6/11: 10.9 mg
2/3/11: 9.8 mg
3/3/11: 8.8 mg
4/1/11: 7.8 mg
4/29/11: 7 mg
5/27/11: 6.4 mg
6/24/11: 5.7 mg
7/22/11: 5 mg
8/18/11: 4.5 mg
9/14/11: 4 mg
10/13/11: 3.6 mg
11/9/11: 3.2 mg
12/7/11: 2.6 mg
1/3/12: 2.1 mg
2/2/12: 1.8 mg

#8 Punarbhava

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 10:38 AM

Thank you, Pun! Great post. Very insightful!



Thank you Neuro!


Stan, Cine and Druid.........your posts have been SO VALIDATING and I can relate to SO much that's been written.


Cine and Druid, you have expressed yourselves, not to mention described anhendonia, in a much more sophisticated fashion than myself and thus, your posts provide greater detail.

It's been overwhelming to read this thread since, there is so much to relate and respond to.


I'm going to print these out since, it's easier for me to read hard copy than on-line. In any event, I'm so sorry that we all are experiencing this. Being robbed of passion and desire for anything pretty much renders us merely existing and going through the motions of life.


I can't even derive pleasure from taking a bath/shower. Normally one would feel refreshed, clean, relaxed etc. I don't feel any such feelings even on my few okish days.


Even the smell of fresh laundry does nothing for me. Consequently, I derive no pleasure from clean, fresh bedsheets, even if the sheets have been hung outside (which is suppose to make them smell fresher)


There's a huge disconnect going on a multi-sensory level when in anhendonic states. In other words, either my senses are over the top and unbearable in my depressive/anxiety/OCDish states or dulled to the max when in stuporish, anhedonian phases.




Do any of you mind if comment on a few of your points at a later date?



Thank you for spending so much time describing this symptom. It assists us in the presence, but will be of help to others in the future.


Neuro, thanks for starting this thread. It's been very therapeutic to share thoughts on the subject.


Punar
To Face My Trials with "The Grace of a Woman Rather Than the Grief of a Child". (quote section by Veronica A. Shoffstall)

Be Not Afraid of Growing Slowly. Be Afraid of Only Standing Still.
(Chinese Proverb)

I Create and Build Empowerment Within Each Time I Choose to Face A Fear, Sit with it and Ask Myself, "What Do I Need to Learn?"

#9 summer

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 02:12 PM

How many of you, apart from the whole gamut of other symptoms, are suffering from emotional numbness as of present? How does it manifest in your case?


I have felt bits and pieces of all the thoughts expressed in this thread. Very little brings me pleasure. At the moment I can only think of two things... my granddaughter and food! Things I once derived some kind of pleasure from, are now things of the past. I push myself to be "normal" for my family, and often I'm not very successful. When I think that my granddaughter may be sensing this, it makes me feel terribly sad. I try so hard with her. I wonder sometimes what she is thinking. Writing this makes me know that I have to try even more.

I am able to hide this from acquaintances quite easily. It seems I've learned how to come across to people - I know that sounds weird. Most people wouldn't know how I feel inside, if I don't want them to. I often feel I could win an academy award.

On the other hand, I really do believe that some amount of faking it until you make it, is important. Allowing yourself (at least for me) to wallow is even worse. It makes me feel so much worse, which is why I push myself so much of the time. Giving in to me is like giving up - I won't allow myself to do that.

Wellbutrin: 150mg.

Xanax: .5 once daily

 

Charter Member 2011


#10 Healing

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 07:50 AM

Great posts, everybody! Wow, these meds are so dangerous to the body politic. An apathetic, anhedonic populace is much easier to control, sell things to, work to death. But, you're all doing an incredible job of putting one foot in front of the other through sheer will. So Their plan is failing! B)
1996-97 - Paxil x 9 months, tapered, suffered 8 months withdrawal but didn't know it was withdrawal, so...
1998-2001 - Zoloft, tapered, again unwittingly went into withdrawal, so...
2002-03 - Paxil x 20 months, developed severe headaches, so...
Sep 03 - May 05 - Paxil taper took 20 months, severe physical, moderate psychological symptoms
Sep 03 - Jun 05 - took Prozac to help with Paxil taper - not recommended
Jul 05 to date - post-taper, severe psychological, moderate physical symptoms, improving very slowly

#11 buxy2222

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 01:02 PM

Some great posts here, very interesting and detailed....the problem i have is knowing how i feel and which is the best "name" "word" to use to express my symptoms, most times i will say im apathetic but it could also be D/P or D/R but it could also be depression ect. For 6 years now i feel like i am outside of reality...nothing seems to register in my brain, ie i can be looking outside but it all feels so alien like i am not feeling the blue sky or the green trees i am just observing what is outside but making no connection with it. This also happens when i look at loved ones...yes i know i love these people but i really dont feel that love :(. Most days i feel like i am walking round in dream state and as Druid said it is like watching your life from the outside. I never get up in a morning with an enthusiasm for the coming day or even the coming week as much too often i can`t even see a tomorrow its like i am stuck in that moment of time and there are no more moments in the future, a real bad feeling of disconnection is all i feel mostly. Typical example of this....i recently got engaged and for a small period of time i was excited and wanted to immediately plan the wedding, the dress, the venue ect ect...but hours later that feeling was gone and i felt nothing almost like the wedding plans had never even been in my thoughts and to be honest this has remained, the thought the feeling the planning has not entered my head for quite a few months now and don`t feel it will return...although i am sure i will have glimpses again. Sorry if this doesnt really make too much sense but i do really find it hard to put this hell into explanation with words :(

#12 squirrel

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 02:09 PM

Ditto to all that buxy! ( except for the wedding bit!)
Started Seroxat(Paxil) for panic attacks in 1997 stopped the drug in 2005 tapered over 3 months ( doctors advice)
Suffered severe and protracted withdrawl ever since.
No other medication taken.

#13 compsports

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Posted 10 June 2011 - 02:30 PM

Some great posts here, very interesting and detailed....the problem i have is knowing how i feel and which is the best "name" "word" to use to express my symptoms, most times i will say im apathetic but it could also be D/P or D/R but it could also be depression ect.


For 6 years now i feel like i am outside of reality...nothing seems to register in my brain, ie i can be looking outside but it all feels so alien like i am not feeling the blue sky or the green trees i am just observing what is outside but making no connection with it.

This also happens when i look at loved ones...yes i know i love these people but i really dont feel that love :(. Most days i feel like i am walking round in dream state and as Druid said it is like watching your life from the outside.
I never get up in a morning with an enthusiasm for the coming day or even the coming week as much too often i can`t even see a tomorrow its like i am stuck in that moment of time and there are no more moments in the future, a real bad feeling of disconnection is all i feel mostly.


Typical example of this....i recently got engaged and for a small period of time i was excited and wanted to immediately plan the wedding, the dress, the venue ect ect...but hours later that feeling was gone and i felt nothing almost like the wedding plans had never even been in my thoughts and to be honest this has remained, the thought the feeling the planning has not entered my head for quite a few months now and don`t feel it will return...although i am sure i will have glimpses again.


Sorry if this doesnt really make too much sense but i do really find it hard to put this hell into explanation with words :(


Hi Buxy,

Everything you say makes total sense as that is exactly how I feel.

Every now and then, I get fleeting excitement about something but it quickly disappears.

Also, I have many issues that I really need to be concerned about but due to andehonia, I am not.

Druid said the best as I feel like I am an observer of my life and not a participant.

CS

Drug cocktail 1995 - 2010
Started taper of Adderall, Wellbutrin XL, Remeron, and Doxepin in 2006
Finished taper on June 10, 2010

Diagnosed with sleep apnea 2012 and on pap machine

Dealing with protracted sleep issues


#14 stan

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 12:10 AM

Some great posts here, very interesting and detailed....the problem i have is knowing how i feel and which is the best "name" "word" to use to express my symptoms, most times i will say im apathetic but it could also be D/P or D/R but it could also be depression ect.

hi Buxy,
i expirience this too DP/DR since the beginning, you describe derealization much more,
i have googled DP/DR to find people who have this without psy meds, there are many testimonies,
what is scaring is that some have this since years, it wants not go away, some try psy meds to cover it but with no result ;they live in a dream or observing world or ...
some explain it comes , stays several months , and disappear quickly, and for some come back
i think psy meds boost this DR as many other anhedonia, agoraphobia...

for anxiety 

12 years paxil - cold turkey 1,5 month - switch celexa 1 year taper; total 13 years on brain meds 

66 years old - 8 years  med free

 

in protracted withdrawal syndrome

 

chronic fatigue syndrome...off balance and dizzy...sleep very bad...dryness syndrôme...prostate...derealization...itching psoriasis...unable to be quiet inside... to rest though improvements akathisia...dilate bronchitis ...auto-immune disorder...conversion disorder...strong back pains...permanent stress...emotions no control...my senses are false... many feelings are false since beginning...locomotor disorder ...

 


#15 Punarbhava

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:39 AM

Hi Druid.......

I've been wanting to share a few thoughts in regard to your post but I can only deal with certain subject matter, on certain days and at certain times (lol). :(


I can strongly relate to everything You wrote Punar great post.. I'm so sorry to hear that You have to experience this horrible and inhumane condition too i send all hope to You that this will resolve for You very soon.

Thank you so very much for you most kind wishes and I truly wish you the same! We will make it through these days one way or another. BTW, I hope I don't annoy anyone via my style of responding paragraph by paragraph, but I become mentally overwhelmed trying to respond any other way. (lol) This method keeps my mind focused.

I guess our feelings are the essence of the human experience and most of life revolves around how we "feel" about something. So for me Anhedonia has a profound effect on my whole life on so many levels. Punar I struggle to interact with other people and life in general too because of this symptom. I often recluse and isolate because i struggle to relate. It's like a depression but not depression in that nothing i can do seems to impact it in any way. It's like the ultimate chemically induced depression.

I completely understand what you are experiencing. I'm so very sorry this has been such a large part of your WD experience. Just wanted to share a thought, although not saying I'm right.

Do you think there may be a "double effect" going on? In other words, exogenous form of anhedonia (seconday cause) superimposed upon endogenous form of anhedonia (primary cause)

We're familiar with the chemical induced anhedonia created by WD however, I feel (at least for me) that there are external factors that need to be considered in this anhedonic equation.

I can only compare my prior WD eperiences, with my present WD and I did not suffer from lengthy and profound anhedonia despite C/T experiences. This last WD experience is so much worse, on so many levels and aside from the various reasons why (which I understand) the anhedonic factor, I believe is double fold due to sheer exhaustion, mutliple traumas and multiple losses that have occurred over a very long period of time, with virtually no breathing time in between such losses and WD induced illness.

The accumulated losses alone, would move anyone into an eventually anhedonic state since, one becomes emotionally, psychologically and spiritually depleted due to given prolonged assaults. Since it's taken incredible survival instinct to endure such lengthy trials, it's reasonable to expect that one would reach the depletion stage (apathetic, deadness, disconnection etc.)

I've tried to look at the anhedonic phase (regardless of how long it lasts) as the ultimate rest stop. No more fighting, striving, forcing, achieving etc........all which have cause massive depletion on all levels. So, I guess what I'm saying is there can be a secondary level of anhedonia in addition to the primary (WD induced).

Druid, I read your intro and I'm extremely sorry for what you have been through! Unfortunately, I too have experienced repeated misdiagnosis and prescribed drugs for conditions I did not have, and repeatedly. To know that there is no legal recourse, no recourse of any kind, is a very bitter pill to have to swallow and I believe, at least for me, that the inner sense of helplessness in righting a wrong, can create a level of anhedonic despair (giving up the fight). It's not a suicidal feeling at all but rather, a complete surrender to a "whatever" attitude because there is no energy left to care too deeply about any of it anymore, let alone any energy left to fight what has occurred.

It's like a unconscious and even a degree of conscious mind create a numbing effect as a coping mechanism to dull the pain and powerless feelings of it all. Eg. If one doesn't care then one doesn't have to feel the anger, rage, pain, loss etc. since, the enormity is too much to bare. I believe this is a psychological coping strategy and is necessary for a period of time. This is the secondary anhedonic effect that I'm speaking about.

Does this make any sense? BTW, I'm certainly not analyzing you but rather, sharing what I've analyzed about myself.


Anyway, as the primary anhedonic effect begins to lift the secondary will fall away in due time as one begins to feel a sense of safety and recovery. The reason I state this is because when my primary anhedonia lifts for a bit, my secondary anhedonia does not necessarily lift in accordance. There's a "resistance" to fully embrace the lifting of the primary. ...........a psychological unacceptance and/or unreality about feeling "normalish" for a short time.

I understand the dynamic of it all and why it is occuring and thus, I don't fear it but rather acknowledge what is happening and then try to move myself out of the secondary anhendonia so I can more fully accept the lifting of the primary.

However, I'm still not able to socialize effectively since the secondary anhendonic factor is more psychologically driven and those of us who have been through lengthy, repeated and serious WD experiences, will have a hard time integrating back into society since, our meaning of life, purpose etc. has dramatically changed.

When one has been through so much and for so long, how is it possible to relate to mainstream society? In fact, I don't even want to relate to most of it anymore. BTW, this doesnt' mean that I'm not trying to work towards restoring my life, on all levels, but there is little drive to align with the norms.

I'm not well enough at this time, to seek out the new and thus, again, this IMHO contributes to sustaining the exogenous induced anhedonic effect, not to mention, can deepen the primary endogenous anhedonic condition.

I will never be the same due to my experiences and thus, superficialities of life feels even more superficial than prior to WD. Consequently, my life takes on a much deeper tone and thus, my walk back into life is going to be far more challenging since, relating to the interests of the "norm" just isn't possible.

When one has been so ill for so long, one doesn't just psychologically flip into "normal mode" even if recovery and primary endogenous anhedonia effects were to occur over night. The realization that one is recovering and the prospect of becoming free is a psychological process, in of itself, and thus, I believe the secondary, exogenous induced anhedonic effect will take a bit of time to diminish. I believe I'm moving into the beginning of experience windows of some relief, from both anhedonic effects.


BTW, I don't fear any of the process. Rather, I understand it for what it is and thus, attempt to work with it and through it.


Anyway, I believe I'm getting a bit off track. (lol).

I don't know if I'm wording my thoughts correctly, due to cognitive impairments but I hope I'm explaining my thoughts in a clear enough manner.


I wish I could edit this since, my thoughts are all over the place but I'm going to have to let it go and post "as is" since, I'm becoming overwhelmed. There were other parts of your post that I wanted to comment on but will have to do so another time.

Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your experiences and expressing your thoughts since, it is very validating for others and thus, creates a form of inner healing when one feels understood by another/others.

Oh, I can't even phrase my thoughts well at all so I better give my poor overloaded mind a rest. (lol)


Punar

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#16 Nadia

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 11:47 AM

Oh my god... I had not read this thread until now. You guys have expressed so much of what I feel SO well. I want to respond but am having trouble processing now. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts in this thread.

'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.


#17 Nadia

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 02:47 PM

Of course it is hard to say what is worse: anhedonia, depression (which are of course related), anxiety... (usually the one you are suffering at the moment!) but the anhedonia is one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. Since mostly I've been anhedonic, when I feel intense emotion, like pain or loss or regret, it is actually a relief. It's not like I hadn't had anhedonia to some degree before, so I'm not sure how much of it has to do with withdrawal or not, but it is so pernicious and constant, has been for so long now, that it has become my reality.

 

What I find worst about it is that some sort of connection, feeling, or pleasure is what I need as my light at the end of the tunnel. I feel like we can survive just about any difficulty if we know there is an end to it. But that is what I lack now. I get little to no feeling of accomplishment when I do things now. Usually if I clean the house, or organize, or work, I feel good afterwards. Now the only motivation to do things is avoiding further anxiety or dread.

 

I really, really relate to what Druid said (sorry I can't wrap my head around the multiquote thing now): "It even seems to make any decision making almost impossible, from hundreds of small decisions that we make almost subconsciously every day to larger more obvious ones. It's like when we make a decision we imagine say two or more possible paths or choices we might take.. we think about each separate scenario of action and consequence and then try to imagine how we feel about each outcome and therefore decide based on this information.. but how are we supposed to differentiate without having our feelings to guide us?"

 

That is a big one for me now. I start to think sometimes my anxiety is being caused by my life situation (I had just made a few big choices in my life: stay in Mexico City, move in with my boyfriend, try to get pregnant) and my real doubts about those choices. So I try to imagine what it would be like to do something else... but it seems just about all the choices evoke more anxiety for me, and none evoke pleasure. I used to be able to fantasize about stuff, now I can't! It makes it really hard to know what I want deep down, or to make sense of what is "real" anxiety and what is withdrawal anxiety. And I do feel to some extent external life factors could help my anxiety. Or maybe it's just that a lot of people keep asking me what it is that I'm not happy about that has me in this state.

 

Also, what Cinephile said: "It contaminates every facet of my life, from my libido to my motivation to my anxiety. I honestly think anhedonia fuels anxiety because dopamine/pleasure is a natural anxiolytic. And I don't mean huge spikes of dopamine (from drugs/sex, etc) but just the NORMAL levels that unmedicated people have. It's like a lubricant for our spiritual and mental gears. When I'm anhedonic, it's like my brain is one big rusty cogwheel and getting ANYTHING done (even previously pleasurable things) feels like a chore, like turning a rusty crank. Basically it just makes things 100x harder than they have to be, and that includes even the most basic of tasks like brushing my teeth or getting ready for work. To sum up: about 95% of things I do these days I do BECAUSE I HAVE TO, NOT because I WANT to. It's a terrible way to "live.""

 

And Punarbhava: "I can't even derive pleasure from taking a bath/shower. Normally one would feel refreshed, clean, relaxed etc. I don't feel any such feelings even on my few okish days." Ditto ditto ditto. Sometimes I do the things anyway, like sit in the sun. Or eat chocolate even though I don't enjoy it (though now I will stop eating chocolate at all since it has caffeine and stimulants). In fact, I have to force myself to eat every meal. I get hungry but I have no appetite. This from someone who used to absolutely LOVE food.

 

And Buxy2222: "This also happens when i look at loved ones...yes i know i love these people but i really dont feel that love :(. Most days i feel like i am walking round in dream state and as Druid said it is like watching your life from the outside." This for me is one of the most distressing. It's one of the things that's making me doubt having a baby. I can't imagine loving it. I only imagine the bad stuff. And with my parents and boyfriend, I mostly feel nothing. I can't feel grateful most of the time, either, and god knows they are trying so hard to support me. Only sometimes after acupuncture do I feel a bit of a release in the feeling grateful and it makes me cry (which feels like a huge relief).

 

I think what is important here is something Alto suggested: even if we're not feeling the good effects of doing "pleasurable things" it could be having beneficial, soothing effects on a subconscious level... I'm normally a really mischievous, laughing person, always joking around. Now I don't even find things funny anymore. But I think Punarbhava is onto something. I think I might watch some Seinfeld reruns regularly or something. I don't want to think of it as forcing, because that has never worked for me, but somehow exercising? The same way I exercise the meditation even though it feels like it's going nowhere. And certainly I know I'm going to feel better if I take a shower than if I don't, even if I have no feeling of accomplishment or pleasure at the moment. Maybe we have to think of things like sipping tea, sitting in sunshine, petting animals, getting hugs, etc. as putting pennies in a bank, and eventually it will fill up. Or how they move paralyzed people's limbs around so they don't atrophy. It could be very important.

 

The challenge is finding the self-discipline to do it in the face of the lack of the usual feelings of reward we get from these things. And not beating ourselves up about not feeling the gratitude or pleasure or love we "should" be feeling.


Edited by Petunia, 20 September 2015 - 05:40 PM.
fixed text (replaced paragraphs)

'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.


#18 Altostrata

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 05:33 PM

.... It even seems to make any decision making almost impossible, from hundreds of small decisions that we make almost subconsciously every day to larger more obvious ones. It's like when we make a decision we imagine say two or more possible paths or choices we might take.. we think about each separate scenario of action and consequence and then try to imagine how we feel about each outcome and therefore decide based on this information.. but how are we supposed to differentiate without having our feelings to guide us?.. I know there are many other variables that we take into account in this process but for me personally it's my feelings that have always been the stronger and most prominent guide.. Anhedonia seems to effect my memory too. Because i feel numbed in real time/ present.. and can't access my feelings i also lose the clarity and vividness of memories.....
This is very well expressed. I've tried to explain not being able to make decisions -- Druid, you've captured it. I've also tried to describe the memories issue. What I've said is I'm missing emotional resonance. I can remember a memory, but I don't have the emotional associations, although I remember I did have those emotional associations. Emotional resonance does seem to be coming back, faintly. Charly G. said emotions were the last to come back. A knowledgeable doctor recently told me this, too. In all the years (6 now) that I've been reading people's experiences with withdrawal syndrome, of all the awful symptoms, the emotional anesthesia seems to frighten people the most. It's so not-human. (I prefer to call it emotional anesthesia, implying an iatrogenic condition, rather than anhedonia, which is supposed to be a symptom of garden-variety depression. Hah! I'd go for anhedonia any day over emotional anesthesia.) Yet, if you look at what these drugs do when you're taking them, it's a predictable residue of their action. Nadia, it does get better. You are in a phase where symptoms are fairly acute. Be assured they will change. You'll find your sense of humor is still there.

Edited by Altostrata, 28 August 2013 - 07:49 AM.
name changed by request

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

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#19 Phil

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 01:42 AM

My god, this thread resonates so much with me. It's hard to take it all in. The anhedonia is indeed the worst aspect of withdrawal. I sometimes wonder if it's to do with our brain chatter completely taking over our heads, drowining out awareness and emotions. I notice a huge difference between a stable dosage of Lexapro and then when I reduce it. When I reduce..I just feel so much emptiness. Simple things like eating, brushing teeth, caring about my appearance, can all go out the window. One thing I can say, from my previous withdrawal experience (cold-turkeyed off various ssris years ago), was that feelings did eventually come back. I felt satisfied with life again...enjoying cups of tea, doing voluntary work, walking, nature, etc. I had feelings of friendship, appreciation and more connection with the world. Nadia - my advice is, just to know that your feelings will come back, and be safe in that knowledge, but don't set a goal-post in your mind of looking too hard for it, as this can cause extra stress. I also think acceptance of our current situation is healthy. It at allows us to live more peacefully in the now. (there's a piece on this on the Beyond Meds blog).
Off Lexapro since 3rd November 2011.

#20 Nadia

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 05:10 PM

Nadia, it does get better. You are in a phase where symptoms are fairly acute. Be assured they will change. You'll find your sense of humor is still there.



Nadia - my advice is, just to know that your feelings will come back, and be safe in that knowledge, but don't set a goal-post in your mind of looking too hard for it, as this can cause extra stress. I also think acceptance of our current situation is healthy. It at allows us to live more peacefully in the now. (there's a piece on this on the Beyond Meds blog).


Very good advice, thank you! I need all the optimism I can get at this point!

'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.


#21 Barbarannamated

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 09:30 PM

Hi everyone. I'm new; will post my info asap. This thread caught my attention. So much I relate to. Thank you all for expressing my feelings so eloquently. One thought/feeling that I must add is GUILT. I'm now realizing why I haven't been able to accomplish anything in so long. I can focus long enough to think 'that is something I must pursue/look into/follow up on' but I have a horrendous time moving beyond the initial spurt of interest (which, at times, is obsessional). I've blamed it on everything imaginable and when I AM feeling, i am consumed with guilt about being a nonproductive slug for so long which feeds right back into the depression. It feels good when anger breaks thru the fog. Stuff all feelings for 30 years, add serotonergic agents for 15 years, one after the other because they're sooo safe and even tho' I havent noticed any improvement with the first 5, this new one is different and we wouldn't want to risk a relapse by lowering dose or DCing altogether, so take this coupon for a FREE month's supply.... WeeeHooo!! To 'relapse' doesn't there have to first be improvement? Silly me. Cynicism, my coping mechanism. What was I talking about?? Damn ADD.
Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

#22 Barbarannamated

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:03 AM

Everyone's descriptions of experiences resonates with me far more than when I wrote previous response - Cine -Nadia- Alto - anyone who is checking in … I'd greatly appreciate any updates on how this has changed for you over the months - I cannot find even a glimmer of joy or pleasure now for several months - I feel that I *should* spend time with people but I feel little connection and negative emotions are triggered by learning that most people are on some psych meds (but I've learned to keep thoughts to myself)- I drove by the coast yesterday -a beautiful day- listening to music and felt none of the beauty like I did even while on SS/NRIs - I felt a multitude of negatives: aloneness - brokeness ($$) b/c everything is so expensive and we are struggling to get by after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars over several drugged years - Everyplace feels *wrong* right now unlike several months ago when I could find some escape even if temporary - I have no safe haven as home is extremely stressful and physically uncomfortable - The animals (horses and dogs) do help considerably as I can feel connection but it quickly provokes guilt because I haven't been caring for them to my usual standards - they are at my home - Thanks again for this eloquent thread everyone -
Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

#23 Nikki

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:53 PM

Barbara... I am not experiencing joy or happiness and have not for quite awhile now. On a daily basis I hear more & more bad news. Who went to the hospital, who had a heart attack, who lost their job, who doesn't have health insurance, who lost their alimony, etc. Today I realized that just about everyone has problems, issues, challenges. I must dmit, I do look at people and say to myself 'at least they aren't dealing with AD's'. Or 'at least they are married' because of where I am in my life. Aside from having my share of medication challenges lately, I have the ups - downs and curve balls of life that are coming 100 mph or so it seems. In my heart-of-hearts I know that where I am now emotionally and mentally is greatly affected by the drug transition I am in. Most Americans are on Survival Mode these days, for us we have the added issue of drugs and what they have done to our minds (or what's left of them). Mama Mia. I live in Jupiter Florida right by the beach. It is beautiful here, and in the mornings I say "today is a beautiful day" and I look at the color here. Beautify hues of caribbean blues and green. I tap into that every morning. Fake it till you make it. You are on the Pacific Coast. Every morning make it a practice to notice the scenery and colors of Southern California. Try that as a starting point..... I get where you are coming from and sometimes the struggle brings us to a saturation point and that's okay.\ Cyber Hugs

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#24 Jemima

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:26 PM

Everyone's descriptions of experiences resonates with me far more than when I wrote previous response -
Cine -Nadia- Alto - anyone who is checking in …
I'd greatly appreciate any updates on how this has changed for you over the months -
I cannot find even a glimmer of joy or pleasure now for several months - I feel that I *should* spend time with people but I feel little connection and negative emotions are triggered by learning that most people are on some psych meds (but I've learned to keep thoughts to myself)-


That's a shocker, isn't it? I used to envy one of my friends whom I believed to have "child-like" faith in God. I was quite disillusioned when she told me she'd been on Prozac for decades. She never seemed to worry about anything and now I know why.

I wonder about other people I've met, now. When I was hospitalized my first rommmate was a doctor's wife who had acted out rather badly when her husband's medical practice was taken over by the same hospital conglomerate where we were staying and she was rudely dismissed from her position as office manager. She told me a bit about her marital problems, and when I met the guy he immediately struck me as being void of any emotions and unreachable. He really spooked me, and I felt very sorry for her.


I drove by the coast yesterday -a beautiful day- listening to music and felt none of the beauty like I did even while on SS/NRIs - I felt a multitude of negatives: aloneness - brokeness ($$) b/c everything is so expensive and we are struggling to get by after losing hundreds of thousands of dollars over several drugged years -

Everyplace feels *wrong* right now unlike several months ago when I could find some escape even if temporary - I have no safe haven as home is extremely stressful and physically uncomfortable -


I experienced considerable emotional numbness myself while on Lexapro. That hasn't gone away completely, but every now and then there's a glimmer of joy. I was able to appreciate a beautiful night sky a few evenings ago, although it didn't affect me as deeply as before I took Lexapro. I think it will all come back, though. It's not as bad as it was in early withdrawal.

The animals (horses and dogs) do help considerably as I can feel connection but it quickly provokes guilt because I haven't been caring for them to my usual standards - they are at my home -


Animals really do help. Even in early withdrawal I could feel affection for my cat Rosie, and she sometimes even made me smile. It's only recently that I've been able to laugh. This is four months after taking the last small dose of Lexapro. Symptoms have been lessening bit by bit, well, more like jerks forward and sudden stops, but I believe I will eventually return to my former, pre-AD state older and wiser for the experience.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

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Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 


#25 Altostrata

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 06:25 PM

All you can do is calm yourself and find what pleasure you can, however dilute. Slowing down your mind to be in the moment helps a lot. Your ability to enjoy will come back, slowly. If you've got a camera, take pictures of things that strike you as interesting, lovely, or funny, and look at them later. They will remind you it's not all dull and gray, there are glimmers of pleasure here and there.
This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

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#26 Nadia

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:22 AM

Everyone's descriptions of experiences resonates with me far more than when I wrote previous response -
Cine -Nadia- Alto - anyone who is checking in …
I'd greatly appreciate any updates on how this has changed for you over the months -

Hi Barb,

Let me reassure you that this will improve! I was at the very depths of anhedonia some months ago, and slowly I started recovering my ability to feel pleasure. I went from feeling no love for anyone, no pleasure in anything... the most I would feel would be horror or dread or just a really bizarre feeling which I can only call derealization. Everything seemed awful and distant and cold.

Alto suggested I do the things which used to cause pleasure for me anyway... I sat in the sun, looked at flowers and trees, ate, took deep breaths, showers, drank a cup of tea, read. The progress was gradual and erratic. From anhedonia I went to depression, and disliking everything and everyone intensely. And then this past month, it's like a cloud lifted, and I feel so much better. Things that seemed absolutely horrible before seem OK now, or more like a problem that can be fixed instead of the end of the world. Nothing in my outer life has really changed, but because I can enjoy things more I can make choices about changes I need to make. The first thing I started enjoying was nature... I felt a deep thirst for trees, animals, and also food. That was a signal to me that I was "coming back to life".

I think you have to plow ahead and "fake it 'til you make it"... do things that are healthy. Walk, eat well, try some form of meditation. I often would repeat to myself "may I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be peaceful, may I be safe"... and then I added inspired and fulfilled as well. I tried to imagine and generate health, even though at the beginning it didn't feel like health or seem right.

Maybe to ultimately be happy you need to change your life situation and maybe right now you don't have the strength or the ability to do it... I suspect that was the case for me, but I was so far in the dark about everything, and everything seemed so horrible, that I could not imagine the way out. Now I'm relearning the things that I like naturally and that make me feel good and starting to be able to imagine having the gumption to take action (though I'm still taking shaky steps).

Even if you don't feel it at first, go through the motions. Sometimes it's good to socialize and get out there even if you don't like who you are with. But even better would be if you could find someone you actually enjoy spending time with (I'm still working on that one). And I think sometimes it's better to be alone or with animals! Certainly it's OK to shield yourself from toxic people in your life (as much as you are able).

I think being around animals can really help and you should not feel guilty about not being at your best with them... I know at the depths of what I was feeling I didn't even get relief from being around dogs and just didn't have the energy to take care of them (I did for a friend once, but my heart wasn't in it and I too felt guilty). I think even if you don't FEEL it at the moment, it repairs you in hidden, gradual ways. Do your best to take care of them, and let them take care of you, too.

'94-'08 On/off ADs. Mostly Zoloft & Wellbutrin, but also Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, etc.
6/08 quit Z & W after tapering, awful anxiety 3 mos. later, reinstated.
11/10 CTed. Severe anxiety 3 mos. later & @ 8 mos. much worse (set off by metronidazole). Anxiety, depression, anhedonia, DP, DR, dizziness, severe insomnia, high serum AM cortisol, flu-like feelings, muscle discomfort.
9/11-9/12 Waves and windows of recovery.
10/12 Awful relapse, DP/DR. Hydrocortisone?
11/12 Improved fairly quickly even though relapse was one of worst waves ever.

1/13 Best I've ever felt.

3/13 A bit of a relapse... then faster and shorter waves and windows.

4/14 Have to watch out for triggers, but feel completely normal about 80% of the time.


#27 enufodat

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 06:25 AM

As with others, I've found this thread very helpful. I had not considered emotional anesthesia before because it's not THAT bad with me and not continuous. But I nonetheless can see it as a distinct piece of what I'm going through now that I've read this--the thread is helping me to look in a more refined way at my symptoms, disaggregate the various pieces. The point about lack of feeling inhibiting decision making is right on the mark and hugely reassuring. Being stuck in life, indecisive and lacking commitment and follow through, not achieving things, generates great shame for me. Having a clearer sense of what is at least a partial cause, and perhaps a major cause, helps a lot. Thanks to all, may you be well and in peace. E

1994-2009 50-100 mg Zoloft (plus tried Effexor, Lexapro, Wellbutrin at times)
5/'09-7/'09 taper off Zoloft
7/'09-12/'09 no zoloft, rough times after ~ 2 mos.
1/'10-6/'10 50 mg zoloft
6/'10-1/'11 slow taper
2/'11-7/'11 off entirely, ok for 2-3 mos., then rough
7/'11-9/'11 50 mg
9/15/'11 - 11/15/'11 taper off
11/15/'11 - 2/'11 clean, doing well but with some PSSD
2/'11 - 6/'11 depression creeps back, fairly significant by May.

6/'14 (long time...!)  life is good, full recovery, at least in terms of SSRI addiction.  Still digging out from the social and professional hole that it all left me in, but despite the loss of far too many years to this business I'm basically doing pretty well.  Still some depression at times, even severe on occasion, but clearly related to past trauma and current circumstances, all things that I am continuing to work through and work on.  I'd say it took at least six months and perhaps a year to fully get back to normal (neuro-psychologically and sexually) after the last dose in 2011.


#28 Jemima

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:27 PM

I've also tried to describe the memories issue. What I've said is I'm missing emotional resonance. I can remember a memory, but I don't have the emotional associations, although I remember I did have those emotional associations. Emotional resonance does seem to be coming back, faintly. Charly G. said emotions were the last to come back. A knowledgeable doctor recently told me this, too. In all the years (6 now) that I've been reading people's experiences with withdrawal syndrome, of all the awful symptoms, the emotional anesthesia seems to frighten people the most. It's so not-human. (I prefer to call it emotional anesthesia, implying an iatrogenic condition, rather than anhedonia, which is supposed to be a symptom of garden-variety depression. Hah! I'd go for anhedonia any day over emotional anesthesia.) Yet, if you look at what these drugs do when you're taking them, it's a predictable residue of their action. Nadia, it does get better. You are in a phase where symptoms are fairly acute. Be assured they will change. You'll find your sense of humor is still there.

This is a very reassuring post, especially the part about emotions being the last thing to come back. I've been really puzzled as to why I've fully recovered physically (no more insomnia, cortisol mornings, et cetera), but still feel such a limited range of emotions. I suppose that emotions are one of the most complex aspects of human health so it would make sense that this is the last aspect of normality to heal. Thank God there is an end in sight.


Edited by Altostrata, 28 August 2013 - 07:53 AM.
name changed by request

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivinganti...oducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivinganti...r-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 


#29 Shanti

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 10:58 AM

I seriously still have Anhedonia. I have to really force myself to do school. Aside from that, I don't want to do anything at all, I don't want friends. Actually, I don't like people, except for my kids, and online communities where I can come and go without having to engage in small talk. Going to the store for necessities seems like it's the biggest bother in the universe. I don't like to take showers (that one is hard to admit), but I force myself. For a while it was so bad I didn't want to brush my hair for days and ended up having to cut a lot of it off from the matting. It's shameful, seriously. Cause I feel okay, but I just DON'T WANT TO. I think this is the one lingering issue for me, but it is getting better. I am caring more about life. Just hard to move. So does anyone have advice for remedies or vitamins? I am now starting to take more fire element supplements like the Capsicum and Ginger. Also, I found a Homeopathic Remedy that indicates for it; Sepia. I just bought it this morning. I do actually feel a bit motivated to go trim some of the grape vines that are taking over my yard. But I can't guarantee I'll follow through. Here are the indications for Sepia: mind; aversions, dislikes; amusement; mind; aversions, dislikes; business; mind; aversions, dislikes; company; mind; aversions, dislikes; members of family; mind; aversions, dislikes; going out; mind; aversions, dislikes; indolence, aversion to work; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; abrupt; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; indifference, apathy, etc.; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; indifference, apathy, etc.; has no desire, no action of the will; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; indifference, apathy, etc.; to everything; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; indifference, apathy, etc.; toward others; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; mildness; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; quiet disposition; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; reserved; mind; emotions, feelings, attitude, disposition; unhappy; sadness, mental depression; mind; insecure, uncertain, scared; anxiety; mind; insecure, uncertain, scared; anxiety; alternating with indifference; mind; insecure, uncertain, scared; anxiety; full of cares; mind; wearisome, tired;
Taper from Cymbalta, Paxil, Prozac & Antipsychotics finished June 2012.
Xanax 5% Taper - (8/12 - .5 mg) - (9/12 - .45) - (10/12 - .43) - (11/12 - .41) - (12/12 - .38)
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#30 Shanti

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 11:00 AM

The only thing I want to do in my life is watch old Star Trek and Stargate episodes.
Taper from Cymbalta, Paxil, Prozac & Antipsychotics finished June 2012.
Xanax 5% Taper - (8/12 - .5 mg) - (9/12 - .45) - (10/12 - .43) - (11/12 - .41) - (12/12 - .38)
My Paxil Website
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#31 Jemima

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:17 PM

I've experienced this too, but I think it's more a form of dread than anhedonia. I mentioned in my intro post that it took me three tries on three successive Sundays to get out the door and go to church. I distinctly remember getting knots in my stomach the first two times and an overwhelming feeling of, "I can't do this!" Once I actually got to church, however, the experience wasn't nearly as bad as my gut was telling me (this response wasn't rational - there are lots of good, compassionate people in my church). After that, it was a lot easier to get out the door on Sunday morning and to also schedule a Physical Therapy appointment and keep it. Attending church this coming Sunday will be Week 7 for that and this has been Week 5 for P.T. and I don't think twice about leaving the house for either any more. On the one hand, I had to push my way through the dread the first time or two. On the other hand, if I hadn't been mostly ready anyway, I doubt I could have done it. My advice would be to do as much as you can, but be gentle and understanding with yourself when you can't. This is all part of withdrawal and it isn't your fault that you're feeling this way. Beating up on oneself has never improved any situation as far as I know. When you're ready you'll handle things just fine, even if it's an emotional strain at first. Every time after that it gets easier. You might also want to hold at your current dose longer than planned because this may have a lot to do with cortisol levels, but I'm not sure about that. I hope some wiser heads will come along and comment.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivinganti...oducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivinganti...r-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 


#32 areyouthere

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:37 PM

I seriously still have Anhedonia. I have to really force myself to do school. Aside from that, I don't want to do anything at all, I don't want friends. Actually, I don't like people, except for my kids, and online communities where I can come and go without having to engage in small talk. Going to the store for necessities seems like it's the biggest bother in the universe. I don't like to take showers (that one is hard to admit), but I force myself. For a while it was so bad I didn't want to brush my hair for days and ended up having to cut a lot of it off from the matting. It's shameful, seriously. Cause I feel okay, but I just DON'T WANT TO. I think this is the one lingering issue for me, but it is getting better. I am caring more about life. Just hard to move.

Shanti. Boy do I ever understand this! I had to look up "Anhedonia".... in my mind I feel so guilty about it because it just feels like I'm being LAZY!!! ( I like the word Anhedonia a lot better). I had no idea that this can be a WD symptom? Can you tell me a little more about that? Anyone?

I don't like small talk... never really did but I could at least get up enough enthusiasm to fake it until I actually enjoyed it. I don't find joy in much of anything these days. It's gotten much worse over the last years and I was not tapering. I just started a taper. If it gets worse during WD I might just as well put a sign on my back that says "Don't talk to me. I'm not at home".

Like yesterday. I was supposed to "share" my experiences / thoughts on some aspect of a concept at work with another person. I scoped out the people and met eyes with a young girl I know and have enjoyed interacting with ...like 3 years ago . Cripe. I couldn't even make eye contact with her. I sat like a dope on a rope. I had nothing. It wasn't like I didn't have any thoughts on the matter but I just didn't give a ****. I DIDN'T WANT TO!!!!!!!! I felt terrible. That gal had to do all the talking.

I think I am experiencing work burn out too.

Anyway, Shanti, I was astonished at how familiar the feeling you are having are. I'm sorry you're having to experience it and I hope that the sepia helps.



My advice would be to do as much as you can, but be gentle and understanding with yourself when you can't. This is all part of withdrawal and it isn't your fault that you're feeling this way. Beating up on oneself has never improved any situation as far as I know. When you're ready you'll handle things just fine, even if it's an emotional strain at first. Every time after that it gets easier.

You might also want to hold at your current dose longer than planned because this may have a lot to do with cortisol levels, but I'm not sure about that. I hope some wiser heads will come along and comment.

This is why I like it here. This response makes good sense and affirms the positive, not the negative and is constructive. Thanks Jemima!
Fall 1995 xanax, zoloft. switched to Serzone
1996- spring 2003serzone/ xanax/ lightbox.
b]Fall 2003- Fall 2004? Lexapro 10 mg. Light box /4 mg. xanax.[/b]
2004 - Fall of 2009 10 mg Lex, 150 mg Wellbutrin XL % 4 mg xanax
November 2009- Sept. 2011 10 mg lex., 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax [/b
Sept.2012- July 2012 20 mg Lex 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax
My mantra " go slow & with the flow "
3/2/13.. Began equal dosing 5 Xs /day xanax, while simultaneously incorporating a 2.5 % drop ( from 3.5 mg/day to 3.4 mg/day)

4/6/13 dropped from 300 mg. Wellbutrin XL to 150 mg. Difficult but DONE! Down to 3.3 mg xanax/ day / 6/10/13 3 mg xanax/day; 7/15/2013 2.88mg xanax/day.
10/ 1/2013...... 2.5 mg xanax… ( switched to tablets again) WOO HOO!!!!!! Holding here… cont. with Lexapro.
1/ 2/2014.. tapered to 18mg ( by weight) of a 26 mg ( by weight) pill of 20 mg tab. lexapro. goal is 13mg (by weight OR 10 mg by ingredient content) and STOPPED. Feeling very down with unbalanced, unpredictable WD symptoms.
1/2/2014- ??? Taking a brain-healing break from tapering anything after actively tapering something for 1.5 years. So… daily doses as of 2/2/2014: 18 mg by weight Lex, 150 mg Well. XL, 2.5 mg xanax, down from 26 mg by weight Lex., 300 mg well. XL, 4 mg xanax in August, 2012. I'll take it. :) 5/8/14 started equivalent dose liquid./ tabs. 5/13/14 1.5 % cut.

#33 Shanti

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:27 PM

Jemina, I remember you talking about that on your intro. I'm glad you're doing better now. The thing is, that I don't feel any anxiety. It's pretty much just as areyouthere says, lazy. It must have something to do with my metabolism. And yeah, I like the word Anhedonia better than lazy too lol. It is improving a bit, with some effort. It just feels like something is weighing me down. Oh and I've never liked small talk either. I've never been the type to surround myself with friends. I've always just had one or two good friends, and only ones that don't have expectations or attachments on me.
Taper from Cymbalta, Paxil, Prozac & Antipsychotics finished June 2012.
Xanax 5% Taper - (8/12 - .5 mg) - (9/12 - .45) - (10/12 - .43) - (11/12 - .41) - (12/12 - .38)
My Paxil Website
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#34 Barbarannamated

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 06:05 PM

This is very bad for me, also. Apathy is ruling right now. I can't connect to any emotions that motivate me to want to do things or avoid the fallout from not doing things I should. It's very distinct from "depression" or dread or anxiety at this point...a void of emotion or energy, a vacuum. It's EXTREMELY uncomfortable... the nothingness is hard yo describe to others. I do have spurts of emotion at different times of day. Mornings are still difficult and Im having an emotional *episode* at about 6pm- anger, crying, nostalgia. I used to have a single hot flash at 6pm several months ago, so I suspect some diurnal hormone swing. It's very pronounced. Glad you mentioned the hair and grooming, Shanti. I cant believe how I'm living. I don't have anyplace to be and things are being neglected. Most of my hair is chopped off (badly). I havent talked to anyone by phone. I still have "phone anxiety" although I dont know that I would call it anxiety anymore. I simply cannot connect to anything emotionally except my animals. When im feeling the nothingness, I touch my little girl dog and she grounds me. Sometimes she sleeps with her back flat up against mine as if she knows I need her contact or energy. It's incredibly comforting. The horses also help me connect. When I look at the animals, especially the little girl dog, I now see inti her eyes like never did before. She's a wiry little dog, not obviously cute like chocolate labs, for example, but I'm seeing how beautiful she is now. There's a connection I never felt while drugged (I'm still drugged, but off of Pristiq). The boy dog is extremely sensitive, intuitive (was abused, stray). I'm tuning into his feelings much more than in past. Sorry, that went way off topic! I have picked up an odd sense of humor through this. I find silly or absurd things extremely funny. I know it throws my husband because I *look* "depressed", but am laughing outrageously at times. Thanks for opening this topic, Shanti. The Sepia looks interesting. B
Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

#35 areyouthere

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 07:38 PM


I havent talked to anyone by phone. I still have "phone anxiety" although I dont know that I would call it anxiety anymore.

Me either!!!!! I hate the telephone!!!!!!!!! I always have!!! I. Hate. Talking. On. a. Telephone. I'm rude about it and used to feel guilty for cutting conversations off shortly even with my own kids.


Anyway, Here is how it worked at my house for the last ten years....phone rings; I let it go to voice mail. If it is one of our kids or my husband and I want to answer ( rarely) I'll pick it up. Otherwise I just listen to them say "Mommmmmm... I know you are hooooomeee" ... and if I don't answer they just leave a message and my husband gets back to them. I've always felt terribly guilty about this BUT GUESS WHATT????

It's not that I wouldn't like to have a pleasant converstaion with them... I just plain hate to use a telephone. I know weird. But I have found something that works!!!

It's called Skype ... I have suddenly discovered that I can talk for extended periods of time to my computer screen!!! Or I should say to our kids/ my mother through the computer screen. And it's cheap. And I LOVE it! Maybe you would too Barbara!! I don't use the video portion ( I hate the way my double chin looks) so just use audio. But there's just something about sitting in a familiar position with my computer on my lap and I don't have to strain to hear... the audio comes out very clearly on the computer and my voice clearly to them.

Yesterday ( or maybe the day before) I called our daughter through skype... she has recently moved to another state and I miss her. We talked for..... wait for it











One hour, 38 minutes and 37 seconds!!! Un fricking believable. She must have felt the love.

Would trying something like Skype help Barbara?

It must have something to do with my metabolism.

I think that you nailed it here too. As a matter of fact I'm nearly positive that you did. That's the catch 22. In order to rev up the metabolism, you have to be more active ... and that is hard for anyone much less one experiencing Anhedonia... a legitimate term for what the drugs are doing to our brains. baby steps. I guess . The way I look at it, when I feel the energy to walk and I really don't want to
( this is personally true "laziness" on my part ) I try to push myself to walk. I do feel better.
Fall 1995 xanax, zoloft. switched to Serzone
1996- spring 2003serzone/ xanax/ lightbox.
b]Fall 2003- Fall 2004? Lexapro 10 mg. Light box /4 mg. xanax.[/b]
2004 - Fall of 2009 10 mg Lex, 150 mg Wellbutrin XL % 4 mg xanax
November 2009- Sept. 2011 10 mg lex., 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax [/b
Sept.2012- July 2012 20 mg Lex 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax
My mantra " go slow & with the flow "
3/2/13.. Began equal dosing 5 Xs /day xanax, while simultaneously incorporating a 2.5 % drop ( from 3.5 mg/day to 3.4 mg/day)

4/6/13 dropped from 300 mg. Wellbutrin XL to 150 mg. Difficult but DONE! Down to 3.3 mg xanax/ day / 6/10/13 3 mg xanax/day; 7/15/2013 2.88mg xanax/day.
10/ 1/2013...... 2.5 mg xanax… ( switched to tablets again) WOO HOO!!!!!! Holding here… cont. with Lexapro.
1/ 2/2014.. tapered to 18mg ( by weight) of a 26 mg ( by weight) pill of 20 mg tab. lexapro. goal is 13mg (by weight OR 10 mg by ingredient content) and STOPPED. Feeling very down with unbalanced, unpredictable WD symptoms.
1/2/2014- ??? Taking a brain-healing break from tapering anything after actively tapering something for 1.5 years. So… daily doses as of 2/2/2014: 18 mg by weight Lex, 150 mg Well. XL, 2.5 mg xanax, down from 26 mg by weight Lex., 300 mg well. XL, 4 mg xanax in August, 2012. I'll take it. :) 5/8/14 started equivalent dose liquid./ tabs. 5/13/14 1.5 % cut.

#36 Shanti

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 06:40 AM

Oh yes, we are experiencing the exact same thing. We talked once here about Phone Anxiety. It has changed for me too, in that I simply don't like the phone. I just refuse to talk on it unless it's something important, like the doctor appointments or necessary things. I have lost my friends that wouldn't let me be. I finally exploded on them and told them I didn't want to talk, and of course they felt jilted by that. Not that I had many to begin with. I also connect more deeply with my animals. However, I do fine with connecting with anyone by email or on Facebook. So anyone that couldn't be content with keeping our relationship electronic drifted away. Last night I did manage to go trim some grape vines. I only did it for about 10 minutes and for hours afterward I had lost fine motor control. If I held my hands out they wouldn't shake, but if I tried to put a cup of water to my mouth or do something like hold a pen and write, my hand would shake wildly, to the point of splashing water. It was like Parkenson's. I took a muscle relaxer and it settled quite a bit. I don't know if it's from my muscles going atrophic or if it's part of this w/d syndrome. However, I am thinking the lack of motivation to move might have something to do with my body telling me the need to rest and heal.
Taper from Cymbalta, Paxil, Prozac & Antipsychotics finished June 2012.
Xanax 5% Taper - (8/12 - .5 mg) - (9/12 - .45) - (10/12 - .43) - (11/12 - .41) - (12/12 - .38)
My Paxil Website
My Intro