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FatherOfLewis

Why and when did you decide to come off drugs?

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FatherOfLewis

My experience with medication has been positive. I took Adderall and Lexapro for 9 years and it was the best I've ever felt. I switched to Wellbutrin (+ Zoloft eventually) and was feeling great. I've heard about people taking Antidepressants for 20+ years and feeling fine.

 

I want to quit taking antidepressants mostly because the stories on here make me think:

1. They can't be a long term solution.

2. They'll eventually either make me numb or otherwise mentally uncomfortable.

3. I'll eventually need lots of different drugs just to control all the withdrawal effects or side effects.

 

These are all fear based. I have a family and need to be functional for them, and the meds help me do that. It is a fearful thing to consider that I have to get off of them or else Hell will come knocking.

 

So I wonder if hearing the "why's" could perhaps calm my fears. I'd prefer to do this from a place of peace, not fear.

 

Why do you feel the need to quit antidepressants?

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RockSie

To get answers to your question you just have to read all the sad Storys on this Website.

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SquirrellyGirl

FatherOfLewis,

 

This forum is for people who have chosen to come off psych meds and are at peace with that decision.  It isn't for us to try to convince you to come off of yours if you think you are fine on them.  You can learn about the scientifically-based cons on sites like MadInAmerica.com, rxisk.org and cepuk.org.

 

I chose to come off because I finally recognized the anhedonia and physical fall-out from being on these meds for 20 years.  I tried to come off too quickly and was in protracted withdrawal for 10 months, a terrifying time that left me bewildered to say the least, and when I realized that withdrawal had caused me such devastation, I knew I no longer wanted to ingest a substance that could do that to me if I didn't take it.

 

SG

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FatherOfLewis

Heya SG,

 

My problem is I'd really like to be at peace with this decision. Thank you so much for answering my question :-) . I would prefer to not have to experience anhedonia before being able to work my way off the meds. But maybe it's too late for that :-/

 

Question... is life able to go on while you do this? Do you feel a little bit better every dosage reduction, or is it constant pain/anhedonia?

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oops44

Heya SG,

 

Question... is life able to go on while you do this? Do you feel a little bit better every dosage reduction, or is it constant pain/anhedonia?

 

 

whew lad! tough question. i would venture its the 2nd biggest one on the minds of all who come here, right behind "should i hold/reduce/up my dosage." its one that really can only be answered by you. i can give you my thoughts though.

 

 "is life able to go on while you do this?"

 

life goes on regardless, universal constant and all that. so the question becomes how much life can you handle? some find they can handle less and others more. i personally seem to be throwing myself at life in response to my withdrawal symptoms but i have read about others who retreat out of necessity. its all relative and we do what we must to get through. there is no playbook to recovery, only a few vague guidelines. the rest is up to the individual. listen to your body and don't rush. if you feel you can't handle something life throws at you it might be a good idea to work around it.

 

"Do you feel a little bit better every dosage reduction, or is it constant pain/anhedonia?"

 

judging from what I've read here its a mixed bag. you'll likely experience both in the pattern of windows and waves. much like recovering from a physical injury, there will be good days and bad. no one can know for sure as so much depends on the individual. some variables i have noticed that might factor in would include: age, sex, health, length of time you were on the medication, length of time you took to come off the medication, if you have come off the medication before and gone back on, whether or not you have a supportive spouse, family friends ect…, your own disposition, your own situation in life, diet, determination, past experiences, how you manage stress, how you perceive the world and everything happening in it…… and on and on. i think you get the idea.

 

its all very relative. however this site is a great source of information and support for those who choose to use it. the most important and beneficial thing you can do is assess your situation, research, and make a plan based on informed decisions. be prepared to roll with the punches and don't compare you experience to others. there really isn't a right or wrong way. its your journey and your life and if you choose to continue to use the medication i say more power to you. 

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SquirrellyGirl

I will add that if you are currently fine on meds but want to come off, your best chance at maintaining yourself in a satisfactory state is to do the 10% per month taper that is advocated here on SA.  Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

The whole idea behind such a slow taper is to avoid developing disabling withdrawal symptoms:  Introduction to AD Withdrawal Syndrome

 

The ideal way to use these meds is to take them for the short term for the worst cases of depression and/or anxiety.  Beyond the short term, the nervous system makes oppositional changes to counter the elevated levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters so that homeostasis is once again achieved, with the drug built into the system.  Most peoples' depression would resolve naturally without medication, so odds are that you would have been fine anyway and maybe your perception was that the drug was keeping you that way when in fact you may have been fine without it.  "May..."  Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, bought the cool-aid about "needing" the drug for the long term and just kept taking it (them) indefinitely. I suspect the long term perceived positive benefit is largely placebo.  Combine that with people experiencing depression/anxiety when they do try to come off (known WD symptoms, not relapse) people are further compelled to believe they need the meds to be ok.

 

At any rate, by going so slow as to not even notice the change, even though it might take a couple of years to get to zero, wouldn't this be better than staying on the drug indefinitely?  

 

I DO feel better on nearly 50% of my reinstatement dose (and 1/10th the highest amount of Effexor I was ever on) than I felt when I reinstated.  I am not relapsing while tapering, and I am definitely on "sub-therapeutic" dosages of both meds.

 

I have a question for you, FatherOfLewis:  what initiated your taking the meds to begin with?  Were you always plagued by depression from childhood and finally began taking the meds, or were you functioning fine but had an event or chronic stressor that triggered your condition, necessitating meds?

 

If you do choose to come off meds or reduce your dosages (also beneficial), then it would be best to create an Intro for yourself complete with filling in your signature block with your med history:  Read This First.  See the stickies at the top of the list.

 

Again, it's a personal decision.  I have relatives who have been on these meds for years.  One stays on because coming off is too hard, while another is of the belief that they really help him.  

 

Probably the best thing to do to help you decide one way or another is to watch youtube videos of Robert Whitaker or read his book Anatomy of an Epidemic.  I believe he is the founder of MadInAmerica.com.  http://www.madinamerica.com/robert-whitakers/

 

Copenhagen, Denmark. May 14, 2014.

Anatomy of an Epidemic
Part One: The Roots of the Epidemic
Part Two: The Long-term Effects of Psychiatric Drugs
Part Three: Psychiatric Drugs and Children
Part Four: Q & A with Peter Gotzsche

 

SG

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FatherOfLewis

 

At any rate, by going so slow as to not even notice the change, even though it might take a couple of years to get to zero, wouldn't this be better than staying on the drug indefinitely?  

...

 

I have a question for you, FatherOfLewis:  what initiated your taking the meds to begin with?  Were you always plagued by depression from childhood and finally began taking the meds, or were you functioning fine but had an event or chronic stressor that triggered your condition, necessitating meds?

 

 

SG,

Added my signature and have an intro page (http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12543-fatheroflewis-my-meds-roller-coaster-help-and-advice/)

 

I would greatly prefer to just go slow, but what happens if my med poops out while I'm doing it? Otherwise yes, the plan is to get on 1 med, then start tapering... using a compounding pharmacy I guess?

 

I originally took the meds for ADHD, but the Adderall XR made me get super happy then super depressed, so they gave me Lexapro with it :-\. I've had issues with GAD my whole life though; as a kid I'd worry about just about everything. It didn't cause issues until college though; late 2004.

 

I just don't know what to do. I want to get off of meds, but mostly because I read all this stuff on here and it looks like it just can't be a long term option. That seems to be the case in your experience? I've not yet come to the point of being emotionally numbed by the meds, so I'm just going on what I read online and how much I'd like to avoid such numbness... (actually, the zyprexa numbs me, so if that's what it'll feel like when the SSRIs/SNRIs stop helping and start numbing, I don't want it).

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Happy2Heal

My experience with medication has been positive. I took Adderall and Lexapro for 9 years and it was the best I've ever felt. I switched to Wellbutrin (+ Zoloft eventually) and was feeling great. I've heard about people taking Antidepressants for 20+ years and feeling fine.

 

I want to quit taking antidepressants mostly because the stories on here make me think:

1. They can't be a long term solution.

2. They'll eventually either make me numb or otherwise mentally uncomfortable.

3. I'll eventually need lots of different drugs just to control all the withdrawal effects or side effects.

 

These are all fear based. I have a family and need to be functional for them, and the meds help me do that. It is a fearful thing to consider that I have to get off of them or else Hell will come knocking.

 

So I wonder if hearing the "why's" could perhaps calm my fears. I'd prefer to do this from a place of peace, not fear.

 

Why do you feel the need to quit antidepressants?

 

 

I'd been on meds since I was 18yrs old, and I am now 60.

Depression is a self limiting disorder, there's no reason on God's green earth for me to have been so heavily medicated nor for so long.

on some level, I always suspected that I was being drugged for no good reason, but assumed the drs knew best, and besides, every previous attempt at going off the drugs was a disaster.

 

But the ultimate deciding factor for me was that I was sleeping up to 20hrs a day, could not feel anything at all. I knew that I had to be over medicated and I was right. I had been on lexapro for over a decade at this point.

 

I am now off lexapro since May- the middle or end of May, if I recall correctly, so it's only been a couple of months.  And I am probably about 80% recovered I believe, from the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.

I would have been better off going slower but I found that out too late. and it's been ok. Not a lot of fun, mind you, but ok.

 

I know you will read stories of ppl on here who have had symptoms for longer, but remember, the ppl who are suffering the most have the most reason to come here and post.

 

The good stories, the ppl who don't have as much trouble, they tend to just go on with their lives and forget to update or really, don't have any reason to come back here.

 

I would not be here today, in fact, If a post had not popped up on FB!!

 

 

I have very few "waves" now, it's mostly wide open windows. I now can feel things &  I only sleep when I'm actually tired. Amazing!! lol

I have some issues with mild anxiety but I'm finding ways to deal with that, I listen to meditation/hypnosis tapes at night. Try to eat right and get some mild exercise and just take care of myself.

 

Now, If I feel a little down, the first thing I think is: have I been eating too much sugar? (usually that *is* the reason!!) if I"ve been eating well then I wonder, do I have any unresolved feelings of grief or loss (which can be anything, not just a death, I have feelings of loss for the years I was over medicated, for example)

If I start to think negatively, I force myself to change my focus, go out into nature, watch a comedy show, call a friend, etc

 

these are the things I wish someone had taught me decades ago, instead of literally shoving drugs down my throat.

 

my first diagnosis at age 18 was "adjustment reaction to adolescence" or in other words, having a hard time as a teenager - but I was forced to take stelazine (one of the earlier anti psychotics) against my will.

it only got worse after that :/ so many drugs, so many side effects, so much of my life lost- no, stolen, from me.

I leave the full list out of my signature because I find it both depressing and extremely infuriating. it was wrong, it was all wrong.

 

these drugs were never meant to be taken long term, NO long term research was ever done on what they do to your brain.

For me, that's reason enough not to be on them long term.

 

I hope my story gives you hope. I can tell you, I entered into this with the positive outlook that whatever came my way as far as WD symptoms,  I could handle it

and that it was only going to be temporary

as my brain healed

 

and it **has** healed and continues to do so.

 

I think that may help, just like the placebo effect, in the outcome that you have, if you decide to go off the drugs- to have that kind of a positive outlook.

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Junglechicken

1) Because they do more harm than good.

 

2) I would have been better off with long-term counselling/psychiatric care (blah blah).

 

3) These are toxic substances that can and do de-stabilise your CNS unless tapered 100% correctly.

 

4) Knowing whether you are tapering correctly is like playing Russian roulette. Everyone's brain chemistry is different, as is their reaction to each AD(s).

 

Therefore I have regrets because I did not ask the MD questions re: side effects etc., I trusted that this medication would be risk free.

 

Equally, I think MDs are negligent for NOT giving patients the heads up re: what the risks are if they do decide to opt for AD treatment as opposed to counselling.

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PatriciaVP

Hi FOL,

I think you ask a very good question. When I first found this site, I was wondering the same thing. I had read Anatomy of an Epidemic and You're May Be Your Problem. I understood the evidence for the problems these drugs cause as demonstrated in those books, but I wanted to know how this all was playing out in actual people's lives. What was spurring people to make this huge change that ran so contrary to popular culture?

 

I was a little let down when I started reading individual stories on here because most of them focussed on the difficulties of withdrawal, and very few mentioned why they were putting themselves through this hell to begin with. In retrospect it made sense. Most people only find this place when suffering severe withdrawal symptoms. It literally takes up your entire consciousness.

 

So anyway, I'm pleased you brought it up.

 

I, personally was not doing well at all on the meds. I was working out 1 hrs a day four days a week at one of those "boot camp" programs and eating nothing but lean protein and vegetables. Physically I was probably in the best shape of my life. I was also taking a butt load of amphetamines, but still managed to sleep most of the day away. I didn't care about anything or anyone. I forgot what it felt like to get excited about anything. You could tell me I won a million dollars and I'd just shrug and think of all the potential problems it would cause.

 

Something was obviously wrong. I remember lying in bed one day thinking that if this was all my life was ever going to be, I really didn't want to bother. It was then that I stumbled across the two books I mentioned previously, and knew I had to try to get off the drugs.

 

It hasn't been easy. I've made lots of mistakes, but slowly I've been regaining so many things I thought I had lost forever. I know I'm already so much better off than I was when I was overloaded with all those drugs, and I'm excited to see where the rest of my journey will take me.

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SquirrellyGirl

It hasn't been easy. I've made lots of mistakes, but slowly I've been regaining so many things I thought I had lost forever. I know I'm already so much better off than I was when I was overloaded with all those drugs, and I'm excited to see where the rest of my journey will take me.

 

Patricia, this brought tears to my eyes, and how wonderful it is to feel such emotion!  It is amazing how we somehow don't have awareness of the fact that many of us can't feel real joy on these drugs.  Your description about winning the lottery was dead on for me!  Apathy.  I felt excited to read that you are starting to regain so many things lost to the meds!  

 

I've said it before, but Peter Breggin calls it "spellbinding," when we simply don't notice the negative impact the drugs are having. 

 

SG

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RoxanneS

For me personally the antidepressant worked very well and I regret coming off it.

Not only is my anxiety worse than before the meds but I'm stuck with withdrawal symptoms for God knows how long :(

If I had known I would have taken it for life. Or never started it at all.

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FatherOfLewis

Hi FOL,

I think you ask a very good question. When I first found this site, I was wondering the same thing. I had read Anatomy of an Epidemic and You're May Be Your Problem. I understood the evidence for the problems these drugs cause as demonstrated in those books, but I wanted to know how this all was playing out in actual people's lives. What was spurring people to make this huge change that ran so contrary to popular culture?

 

I was a little let down when I started reading individual stories on here because most of them focussed on the difficulties of withdrawal, and very few mentioned why they were putting themselves through this hell to begin with. In retrospect it made sense. Most people only find this place when suffering severe withdrawal symptoms. It literally takes up your entire consciousness.

 

So anyway, I'm pleased you brought it up.

 

I, personally was not doing well at all on the meds. I was working out 1 hrs a day four days a week at one of those "boot camp" programs and eating nothing but lean protein and vegetables. Physically I was probably in the best shape of my life. I was also taking a butt load of amphetamines, but still managed to sleep most of the day away. I didn't care about anything or anyone. I forgot what it felt like to get excited about anything. You could tell me I won a million dollars and I'd just shrug and think of all the potential problems it would cause.

 

Something was obviously wrong. I remember lying in bed one day thinking that if this was all my life was ever going to be, I really didn't want to bother. It was then that I stumbled across the two books I mentioned previously, and knew I had to try to get off the drugs.

 

It hasn't been easy. I've made lots of mistakes, but slowly I've been regaining so many things I thought I had lost forever. I know I'm already so much better off than I was when I was overloaded with all those drugs, and I'm excited to see where the rest of my journey will take me.

 

PatriciaVP, thank you SO much for your response. I was thinking of getting back on Adderall because it was a wonder drug for me for 9 years and I only got off of it out of fear that it and the Lexapro were causing long term harm to me. But your story makes it sound like it's possible for this lethargy to push through Adderall. This makes me both sad and feel better informed.

 

could try getting back on Adderall and an SSRI, in hopes that perhaps my body is different, and it'll work for the rest of my life. But I'm not sure I can count on that.

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FatherOfLewis

Anyone else want to share their reasons for getting off these drugs? I'd love to hear more!  :)

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SkyBlue

 

Peter Breggin calls it "spellbinding," when we simply don't notice the negative impact the drugs are having. 

 

 

 

Hi fatherofLewis, 

Great question. 

 

For me personally: 

1. Wanting to get off Paxil because it just wasn't working anymore and hadn't for years-- I was having depression and anxiety. Wanted to come off for years but knew how hard it was to come off. 

Missing a dose *one time* made me feel so awful that I didn't repeat that mistake for ten years. 

It also really made me think, Good Lord, this stuff is that powerful that it makes me feel like that if I miss one dose? (head swooshing, nausea, etc.)

 

2. Being diagnosed with and getting treatment for sleep apnea solved a TON of my anxiety, including virtually eliminating my OCD. That is what REALLY made me say, okay, I know I can do this. And I got a new doctor and began tapering. 

 

3. The drugs really are spellbinding, as Peter Breggin says as quoted by SG above. I'm sleepy now so can't think of an example, but in recovery and healing, I've noticed many things that are just better now that I didn't even realize were so awful on the medicine. 

 

I actually haven't read Robert Whitaker -- I will someday, but not for some time, as a) I already know the drugs are awful, and I'm already coming off of them (don't need to be convinced) and B) it will bring up a lot of anger at having been on these drugs, which I *will* deal with in time, but am dealing with plenty right now. 

 

Best of luck to you in your decision. 

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Tootsieroll

I was really hoping to create a Poll type post but I'm not sure how to make one.  I'm really curious how many people decided randomly one day to come off.  Was it like an epiphany or just wanting a change in life?  Some people realize the meds are making them sick and they make the choice to eliminate the poison.  Some aren't so lucky.  Some hit tolerance and no medication works anymore.  Or some have life changes that force them to cold turkey or taper, such as pregnancy.  What was your reason?  Was it just a random choice? Thanks for reading.

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LisaK

I think this is an important question, one that all of us have had to answer for ourselves. My concern is the potential long term damage that taking SSRIs may have had (and continues to have) on my brain and entire neurological system. I have been on Celexa for 20 years now, and I don't even remember what I was like before taking this drug. I feel I'm at a pretty stable place, and I'm used to the side effects. I'm not sure if I'm naturally more optimistic or energetic - but I do feel that Celexa dampens my emotional range and contributes to a low grade malaise that I feel. What I'm most concerned about though is the impact this long term use has had and continues to have on my overall health. I've developed thyroid issues, eye issues, hearing issues, digestive issues, skin problems, weight gain, muscle weakness,  and gluten intolerance over the past five  to 10 years, and I wonder how much of these issues have to do with taking an SSRI for over 20 years. I've read about the correlation between long term SSRI use and dementia, diabetes, blood clots, intestinal bleeding and tardive dysphoria. I'm in my 50s now and could live another 20 to 40 years. I wonder what my brain will look like after 20 more years on Celexa. I found this video helpful:

 

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FakeItTilYouMakeIt

I am truly having a hard time figuring out if I can/should taper my AD. I mean, I still believe I have depression but I think it's from Ativan withdrawal (last Ativan was three months ago).  But it IS depression. I do not feel like my normal self. I feel okay but in the back of my head is the constant feeling that I am not myself. I cannot watch TV shows I used to love, plan vacations, or work for long periods of time.  I posted in another section with my whole story and I hope some will read and respond. 

But I don't think I should have ever been put on an antidepressant but now I am on one and I don't want to be. If I have depression, should I stay on it until the depression lifts and THEN taper? I feel like it's messing up my brain and I will be brain damaged for life.

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Altostrata

Hi, FakeIt. I attached your post to a similar discussion.

 

In your case, my guess is almost all your symptoms are drug-caused (iatrogenic), starting with Ativan withdrawal syndrome. Prescribing additional psychiatric drugs to treat withdrawal syndrome is a terrible idea, but physicians do it all the time because very few of them understand anything about psychiatric drug withdrawal and what to do about it. Many don't know how to recognize it at all. So they call it a psychiatric disorder and treat it that way.

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