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Thepaintinglady: How long does the withdrawal hell last? I've lost 'me'

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Hello, I have a 20 year history of antidepressant use following a breakdown. I have been on and off Citalopram and Sertraline which are the GP's 'go to' meds for most of their patients.

However, about 5 years ago my anxiety and depression seemed to get worse, maybe it was something to do with the Menopause? - I spent a small fortune on private counselling, which by the way didn't seem to clear up any problems psychologically. So, on her recommendation I went to see a private psych doc (£300 per hour!) - He prescribed my Venlafaxine which I stayed on for about 2 years. The dose was increased incrementally from 150mg until I was on 375mg daily (quite a big dose for a 4'11" petite lady!) 

I found Venlafaxine a weird drug which gave me horrendous nightmares every night, stomach problems and while it did work for a few weeks, didn't provide a stable plateau in my general mental health.

I decided to taper from Venlafaxine last September (2016) and reduced fairly quickly dropping by 37.5mg every 4 weeks ish. When I was down to 112.5mg Ven, my GP decided to introduce Sertraline 50mg (as I was very tearful) - I continued taking both and stopped the Ven all together in March 2017. My GP increased the Sertraline to 100mg which gave me awful anxiety for 7 weeks, so I reduced back down to 50mg.

I have now stopped ALL ANTIDEPRESSANT drugs completely !!!! I have been drug free for 3 weeks now - what a roller-coaster it has been.These are my current symptoms: 

I cry daily, I feel woozy and dizzy and very tired at times, I have suicidal thoughts occasionally and yet, there are moments of total normality and general happiness!

My depression has never been the 'stay in bed' type, I am very active - I love gardening, cycling, painting, sewing and being a Granny! and I continue to do things even when I feel like crap.

My dilemma is, do I stick with this emotional hell that I feel I am going through at the moment? will it get better? will I ever be 'normal' again without antidepressants? Am I strong enough to keep going? 

Please, please give me some advice. I would love to hear some success stories, I really need some support and idea how long these horrible discontinuation symptoms will last :(

Thanks, Thepaintinglady (currently painting the kitchen ceiling and not a work of art!)

Edited by mammaP
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mammaP   
mammaP

Hi Paintinglady, welcome to SA. I was cringing when you said effexor was started at 150!  That is a very high starting dose, and to be increased to 375 made my toes curl :o. I am a velnlafaxine survivor and didn't have doses as high as yours but was housebound for years. 

You are now suffering withdrawal and the only way to stop withdrawal is reinstatement followed by a slow careful taper. It is early days and could, probably will, get much worse. Venlafaxine is brutal but thankfully the sertraline helped keep the withdrawal at bay but the 100mg was too high a dose. How were you when you were taking 50mg?  

As the sertraline seemed to cover the venlafaxine withdrawal you could try a small 5mg dose of sertraline. If you are ok with it but doesn't help much you can increase it to 10mg, but lots of people find the small dose helps and there is no need to incease. It is also much less to taper once you are stabilised.  It will take around 4 days to reach a steady state in your system. 

 

We ask all our members to fill in their signature, it means we can see at a glance what the history is without having to go back through the topic. You can find instructions here..

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/80-new-to-the-site-please-start-a-topic-in-the-introductions-forum/

 

What is withdrawal syndrome

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/603-what-is-withdrawal-syndrome/

 

About reinstating

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/7562-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms/  

 

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Thepaintinglady

 

Hello, I'm new to this forum, well - I have looked at it lots of times but only just got the courage to join in!

 

Historically, I have been on and off antidepressants for 20 years - mostly Sertraline of Citalopram (these seem to be the only ones GP's know about) 

 

When I reached 50 I had a lot of life changes, lost both my parent's, gave up work, kids left home, was I menopausal? lots of prob's 'down below' - given HRT patches and a Mirena coil :0 

 

I had increased anxiety and depression, although my depression is not so pronounced that I can't function. I always get on with my life, up at 7, shower, make up, hair, busy busy busy.

 

I saw a counsellor for about 6 months - no big issues raised or sorted and she suggested I see a professional psych doc.

 

The private psych doc (yes, £300 per hour !! - only saw him for 1.5 hrs and the occasional expensive phone call at the same rate!! - let's face it, NHS in England is useless if you need help unless you are sectioned) prescribed me Venlafaxine (Effexor XR) . He started me on 150mg and increased me to 375mg daily (I'm only tiddly 4'11")

 

I didn't think the Ven' was brilliant, ok for a couple of weeks then nervy and a bit miserable, hence the dose increases. The side effects were horrible! Nightmares being the worse - all night and every night .......I could have written a horror book/film upon awakening - all so vivid. Had recurring gastritis too.

 

I began to taper quite quickly dropping by 37.5mg every few weeks. When I had got down to 150mg daily I was getting tearful and so my GP put me on Sertraline as well (50mg) 

I reduced the Ven quicker and stopped completely at the end of March this year. I became tearful and GP advised increase Sert' to 100mg - However, this made my anxiety much worse. 

 

In June, after 7 weeks on 100mg Sert I dropped to 50 again, which seemed to help the anxiety a bit - and then I thought "bugger it, I'm going to get off these bloody medicines" so I did!

So in the month of June, I went from taking 100 daily to 50, then 25 then nothing! I didn't consider this quick - but looking back it was a very fast taper especially after quitting the Venlafaxine  in March.

 

I must also add that I was extremely ill with a pneumonia type of sepsis in March which hospitalised me - I went from a fit 55yr old (don't smoke or drink) to a weak and feeble thing that could hardly walk around the garden. I have steadily worked hard to recover from my sudden illness - my body has certainly been through ****! (that's a medical term!) - the imbalance of antibiotic treatment has given me thrush 7 times since March (I can hear a sharp intake of breath from all you understanding ladies) - and I have felt generally 'out of sorts' all this year.

 

What I am eventually getting round to is - I feel like crap! Since I stopped all meds (July 1st being day one) I have had mood swings (at first anger which I have never experienced in my life) and crying daily and I mean EVERY day. I feel anxious, depressed, I'm all 'in my head' and can't stop thinking about me and how bloody awful I feel. Every minute is like an hour when you feel like shite!

 

At first the crying was just out of the blue without feeling particularly down. Now I am crying so deeply (howling and sobbing) and very low, I have felt as tho there is no end to this nightmare and have even felt a bit suicidal - although I would NOT act on this because I have a loving and supporting family.

 

I contacted the forum a few days ago and had a reply from MamaP which was very kind of her. She suggested I re-introduce a small dose of Sert' which I did. (although chipping a small 50mg pill into 10th's is pretty tricky) - I took this for 4 days and I don't think it helped, infect, I felt worse. So have increased it to 25mg over the last two days.

 

What I would really like to know and to hear from anyone is .........is this normal? when will it end?

I feel like i'm going mad.

I have completely lost the real me, am I lost forever?

I also feel like I'm struggling to swim in a very deep and choppy ocean with no-one around :( I have a loving and supportive husband but he's never been through anything like this.

How long will the withdrawal symptoms last? 

I have read some real horror stories where they go on for months or even years (I don't think Im strong enough to last that long)

 

Looking for some people who have seen the light at the end of the tunnel :)

Love

Thepainting lady

 

Not sure where to put my drug history?

 

6.3.14 Venlafaxine 150

27.3.14 Venlafaxine 225

4.9.14 Ven 375

4.11.14 reduced Ven to 300

26.9.15 Ven 262.5

24.10.15 reduced to 225 Ven

16.12.15 reduced to 185 Ven

9.1.16 reduced to 150 Ven

12.2.16 increased to 187.5 Ven

29.2.16 inc to 225 Ven

10.8.16 red to 188 

10.10.16 reduced to 150Ven

16.1.17 Start Sertraline (50) as well as taking 150mg Ven

21.1.17 reduced Ven by 37.5

27.1.17 reduced Ven to 75mg daily

7.3.17 reduced to 37.5

11.3.17 take 37.5 on alternate days

25.3.17 STOP VENLAFAXINE

21.4.17 increased Sertraline to 100mg daily

8.6.17 reduced Sert to 50 as had 7 horrible weeks of increased anxiety

19.6.17 reduced sert to 25

30.6.17 STOPPED ALL AD's!!!!

 

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mammaP   
mammaP

Hi Paintinglady, I have merged your 2 topics, I think you must have missed my reply to your last one, if you follow your topic you will be notified of replies.

I also had sepsis and was in hospital critically ill for 6 weeks, also had the thrush :o (ouch)!  And also decided to come off the drugs when I went home from hospital!

Sepsis takes it's toll on the body and my doctor told me it would take up to 2 years to recover so it's no surprise you are feeling so bad with withdrawal on top! 

 

As I explained in my previous reply you may benefit from reinstating a very small  5mg dose of sertraline. Tablets can be made into a liquid for tapering, it is easy to do when you have the hang of it.  

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2693-how-to-make-a-liquid-from-tablets-or-capsules/

 

How to put history in your signature. 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12364-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

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Gussy   
Gussy

Hi painting lady. I'm sure others have already told you but i will too. What you're feeling is normal for this situation. I tapered effexor (only from 150 though) too quickly out of desperation (complicated story) and felt everything you're feeling. Mammap also replied to me which i appreciated very much as i'm sure you did. I've been off it for 3 months now and i've improved a lot in that time but still have a long way to go. The first two months for me were hell but in the last month the waves are less intense than earlier and there are actually good times too. Mainly late afternoon and night i'm at my best. Hopefully you will get to this point too. After a while you might work out that you're best to avoid certain things to help your emotions. For me the worse ones are too much noise, tv too bright, music or singing songs and annoying people. I avoid this stuff pretty hard. What you're feeling is normal for this but i had to reply as i've seen improvement in me. It's hard when the only people who understand are others who've done or are doing what you are. My anger and out of control emotions are less intense now and in the end it passes to a more peacefull place. I'm sure the moderators can give you a lot more strength/advice than me however. I don't know if you've already watched them but if you look up toxic antidepressants on youtube they have some clips that provided me with strength and hope at the worst times. Just keep your volume down incase the music sets you off, it did for me anyway along with knowing that everything i was feeling was real. On this site there's a really good write up about what your brain has to do to re balance which helps. If no one gives you a link i'll try and find it for you. Stay strong, it does get better even though it feels like it never will. Slowly though. Everyone's withdrawal timeline is different though according to advice i was given. I hope you can gain something from this.

Gus.

 

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Thanks for your kind words Gussy. Nice to know I'm not alone in this hell hole. Had THE most horrid day yesterday which culminated in a crying fest ?  

I have upped my sertraline after reintroducing a teeny spec of 10mg for five days which didn't help much although did stop the dizziness.  I am on day 4 of 25mg now. Today is much better than yesterday so far! 

Like u said, it's a long road to recovery which has taken me totally by surprise! 

Thanks for your message- may the good times return for you soon 

thepaintinglady

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Update: I have increased my Sertraline dose to 25mg for the last 10 days. Still going through hell tho!

I am tearful and feel more depressed, also the anxiety is fairly constant too. I am very tired and my eyes are quite blurry. (not helped by the crying!)

I would really like some advice regarding my reintroduction - should I be feeling better by now? have I done the right thing? do I need to up the dose?

WILL I EVER FEEL NORMAL AGAIN? 

I'm sinking in a very deep ocean and although there are some windows - there are some tsunami's as well :(

Please tell me this is going to pass - It has been 6 weeks since I stopped AD's and 3 since I started the reintroduction. 

Could do with some support and positive feedback from someone please xx

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scallywag   
scallywag

TPL: It can take at least two weeks before seeing results. Only a very lucky few notice improvements before then.  Please read:

How long to stabilize after reinstating or updosing.

 

On 2017-07-21 at 6:07 AM, Thepaintinglady said:

I have now stopped ALL ANTIDEPRESSANT drugs completely !!!! I have been drug free for 3 weeks now - what a roller-coaster it has been.These are my current symptoms: 

I cry daily, I feel woozy and dizzy and very tired at times, I have suicidal thoughts occasionally and yet, there are moments of total normality and general happiness!

 

8 hours ago, Thepaintinglady said:

Update: I have increased my Sertraline dose to 25mg for the last 10 days. Still going through hell tho!

I am tearful and feel more depressed, also the anxiety is fairly constant too. I am very tired and my eyes are quite blurry. (not helped by the crying!)

 

It looks to me as if your symptoms are somewhat the same as when you first posted, and that some have changed.  Are you keeping track of your symptoms and doses?  Please keep notes on paper of your symptoms and the times of your dose(s). This post has a useful format for a daily log:

Take notes of doses and symptoms.

 

Please add your reinstatement to your signature (date & dose) and the increase you made after (date and dose)

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Hello, Just thought I'd check in again with your support group.......I need a bit more help from someone if possible :)

Also, thank you for getting in touch with me regarding the drug withdrawal survey in the UK, i have indeed participated!

I am now nearly 4 weeks into the updosing of sertraline (up to 25mg daily) and still feel as though it doesn't do much. Although, when I truly look at my symptoms from a few weeks ago, they have actually improved a bit. 

My non-stop crying episodes have reduced to maybe a little cry every other day. The anxiety is still here, mostly in the mornings. However, the depressed mood is fairly constant and probably worse. I don't seem to find joy in much, I keep myself fairly busy and don't let it stop me from doing anything - but the world is a very grey place at the moment and all I can think about is how bad I'm feeling  (seems so pointless when I really have nothing to be depressed about! I am lucky in life with a very close and loving husband and family and the most adorable granddaughter - yet, I find it very difficult to smile and laugh)

I also have fatigue more than I ever have done, is this to do with the anxiety and depression zapping my energy?? 

I would dearly love some advice regarding the continuation of Sertraline. I know it is up to me what I do, but when I find it difficult to make any decisions (do I buy white or brown bread?!?) I could do with a knowledgeable expert.

So basically, do I continue with the 25mg Sert to see how it goes over the next few weeks - maybe give it a total of two months to see? or do I start to taper off this 25mg in the hope that my body can adjust by itself to find Utopia?

I am a fan of reading Dr Claire Weeks books regarding nervous illness and she advises to allow time to pass and not fight anxiety feelings, also to keep occupied to avoid depression - could I really heal myself without any drugs??

I would love to have faith in myself in the hope that I could ever feel 'normal' again or in fact to actually 'feel' - these bloody antidepressants have dampened my feelings for so many years I can't remember what it is to feel real love or real happiness.

Sorry this sounds like 'me,me,me and the importance of me' but would like some advice if you could please.

Thanks 

xx

 

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mammaP   
mammaP

Hi PL, you've been on so many drugs and a lot of changes this year. It will take some time for your nervous system to stabilise, even after reinstating. It is good that you are not feeling any worse, and feeling better, even if it is only a bit, is great.  I wouldn't change anything else right now, it is still early days although it doesn't feel like it to you. Often we feel that we have to do SOMETHING when the best thing to do is NOTHING! You will improve, but will take time. This will get better. Every time drugs change, our brains have to readjust, when there are multiple changes one after the other it becomes more chaotic. Our Rhi explains it beautifully here. 

 

While your brain is recovering you need to take good care of yourself. There are lots of suggestions in the symptoms and self care section. Most of us here respond well to fish oil and magnesium, I wouldn't be without either. Fish oil is good for brain stuff and magnesium is calming.  

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/?view=findpost&p=100596&hl=magnesium

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1300-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

 

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Thank you so much MammaP, your quick reply is just what I needed today. And of course, everything you say makes sense, I certainly needed to read/hear it from someone who knows as my foggy brain is finding it difficult to see clearly. 

I have looked at Rhi's post before and found it very informative, I'll have another look and try to take it in - will also take some supplements too. You've given me some hope 😊

Thank you 

xx

 

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Having a few really bad days :(

My depression is defo getting worse. I have joined a gym so it's not as if I'm giving up the fight - but have had a truly sh*tty few days

I am now 6 weeks into my 25mg Sertraline, doc says it'll take 6-8 weeks (but what does she know?)

I know that I shouldn't measure my progress by the day, and generally I am better than I was when I first withdrew completely, two months ago.

I just feel like crying a lot of the time, I'm tired and can't remember the last time I actually laughed naturally :(

I sway between thinking "I'm going to stick this out and find the real me without the AD's and believe in my body to heal itself" and "quick, get me to the GP to prescribe me an AD that can get me out of this hell hole"

In reality, I know there isn't a quick fix - I'm just feeling sorry for myself 

Would love some advice from anyone out there

Thanks

xx

 

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powerback   
powerback
1 hour ago, Thepaintinglady said:

Having a few really bad days :(

My depression is defo getting worse. I have joined a gym so it's not as if I'm giving up the fight - but have had a truly sh*tty few days

I am now 6 weeks into my 25mg Sertraline, doc says it'll take 6-8 weeks (but what does she know?)

I know that I shouldn't measure my progress by the day, and generally I am better than I was when I first withdrew completely, two months ago.

I just feel like crying a lot of the time, I'm tired and can't remember the last time I actually laughed naturally :(

I sway between thinking "I'm going to stick this out and find the real me without the AD's and believe in my body to heal itself" and "quick, get me to the GP to prescribe me an AD that can get me out of this hell hole"

In reality, I know there isn't a quick fix - I'm just feeling sorry for myself 

Would love some advice from anyone out there

Thanks

xx

 

HI TPL  good on you going gym while like this ,going for acupuncture later myself ,you've got solidarity with me and the depression ive had a terrible week since Tuesday but its lifting somewhat today .

I think we know now not to listen to MDs ,if youd of said 10 weeks shed of said 10-12 weeks .[well I'm finished listening to them because ive done my home work and confident now to make my own healthier wise  choices ].

Don't judge the crying ,stick on some music and let it flow .

What you say about laughing is interesting ,my partner had a good belly laugh last night but it just irritated me ,what the hell is that about ,dam withdrawl has me like a demon ,the guilt I felt for being like that ,but I trust its the withdrawl :(.

I see you on meds 20 years are you reading up on tackling life and emotions without drugs ,I personally think this is a must because the day the meds start they numb us and don't leave us with the normal ability to process feelings and emotions ,tap into all your feelings without judgement .you see doctors treat humans like robots but we are far from that ,we have feelings and emotions that need to be nurtured and dealt with .ide be going to a phycologist a million times before meds .

Take care,

PB

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Hello fellow sufferers

I can't seem to make any decisions! my anxiety and depression are muddling my brain

I came off AD's three months ago (Venlafaxine and Sertraline) but had to re-instate due to extreme withdrawal symptoms

I have now been on 25mg Sertraline for 9 weeks and still feel like crap. 

Overall, the extreme symptoms immediately following stopping have improved. But recovery is very slow.

My dilemma is, do I continue with 25mg or try to wean off completely in order to clear my body of the poison?

I would love to hear from anyone else who has been through this. I am assured that things will improve, but can't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet :(

Thank you

Thepaintinglady

 

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

Thanks for your reply ChessieCat.

I have had a little look at your links, still not quite sure if I have stabilised or not!

I have far more anxiety and depression than I had before coming off the drugs, but have only re-instated at half dose (25mg)

My quandary is, do I have to up-dose again to get back to 50mg and hope that my good days eventually outnumber the bad - before doing a slow taper. Or do I stick it out on 25 for a few more weeks in the hope that the minute improvements continue?

I defo have windows and waves, ALWAYS have choppy waves in the morning, and usually feel better by evening.

I have lost any kind of creativity in myself - I guess that's the bloody depression :( I do hope that my body can heal itself and eventually get me back to my default settings (i.e.: Normal!)

Success stories and reassurance are always a great help!

BTW, do others suffer from fatigue? I'm so exhausted all the time and it seems to be getting worse!

Hope to hear some cheery news from someone who has survived! :)

thepaintinglady

x

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ChessieCat   
ChessieCat
On 8/21/2017 at 9:05 PM, mammaP said:

you've been on so many drugs and a lot of changes this year. It will take some time for your nervous system to stabilise, even after reinstating. It is good that you are not feeling any worse, and feeling better, even if it is only a bit, is great.  I wouldn't change anything else right now, it is still early days although it doesn't feel like it to you. Often we feel that we have to do SOMETHING when the best thing to do is NOTHING! You will improve, but will take time.


The fact that you have noticed improvements is a good sign.  But it is going to take time.  Trying to keep ourselves calm so as to not add stress and being patient are things that can help.

 

Non-drug techniques

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Thepaintinglady   
Thepaintinglady

👍🏻

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