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What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

ADMIN NOTE Also see How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?

 


 

Doctors are unaware of how bad withdrawal syndromes can be. Doctors who understand psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes are few and far between, even among psychiatrists.

Myths about withdrawal symptoms you might hear from your doctor

  • "You'll get over it."
    Doctors tend to believe that all withdrawal symptoms are trivial and transitory and will tell you to just wait and they'll go away. This is not true.

    Withdrawal symptoms of any type show your nervous system is in distress. If they go on for any length of time, they cause neurological dysregulation -- neurological damage that can last many months. There's no way to fix this, your nervous system will need to repair itself over time.

    If you are suffering from significant withdrawal symptoms, the standard of care included in all psychiatric drug package inserts is to reinstate a partial dose of the medication and taper more slowly.

    If you are in the midst of tapering and you get withdrawal symptoms that last more than a couple of days, you're reducing too fast. (NEVER alternate doses to taper.) Increase your dosage a bit, wait until symptoms pass, and then reduce in smaller amounts at a slower rate. Some people can reduce by only a fraction of a milligram per month.

    You have significant withdrawal symptoms that need attention if any of these apply:
    • You immediately suffer severe symptoms while reducing or after quitting.
    • Your symptoms increase over a week or two.
    • Your symptoms don't decrease over a couple of weeks.
    • You find your symptoms interfere with your daily functioning.
    • You experience brain zaps, insomnia, depersonalization, mania, hypomania, or unusually dire thoughts.
  • "What you're experiencing is relapse."
    Many doctors do not know about withdrawal symptoms at all, call whatever you're experiencing "relapse," tell you it's evidence you will need to be on an antidepressant permanently, and prescribe some other antidepressant that's struck their fancy. Those antidepressants will themselves incur dependency.

    A second antidepressant may not resolve your withdrawal symptoms. You can have withdrawal symptoms from one drug while you're taking another.

    If after quitting, you get symptoms you've never felt before ("I don't feel like me") or they're more intense than anything you've felt before ("I can't seem to get out of this fog"), it's likely you have withdrawal symptoms.

    Not all withdrawal symptoms happen immediately after you discontinue the drug. They can become evident weeks later. It can take the nervous system some time to lose normal regulatory function.
  • "You have bipolar disorder."
    Possibly under influence of the drug companies to deny the difficulty of withdrawal, some psychiatrists have applied a convoluted, misguided logic to explain antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, calling it an "unmasking" of bipolar disorder.

    Withdrawal symptoms are not bipolar disorder of any variety, not bipolar II, bipolar III, or bipolar R2D2. See Disease Mongering in a Top Psychiatry Journal by Dr. David M. Allen:

    23.2 percent of their subjects who had experienced episodes of elevated or irritable mood triggered by antidepressants were also defined as bipolar. This is almost comical. Irritibility is a common side effect of drugs like prozac and has absolutely nothing to do with bipolar disorder....


    and his article Bipolar or Borderline? A rampant case of diagnonsense

    Agitation, akathisia, insomnia, mania, hypomania etc. that you've never had before are well-known withdrawal symptoms that your doctor may attribute to bipolar disorder. This is incorrect. They are adverse effects of medication.

    Withdrawal symptoms come in waves, usually several times a day but possibly lasting several days. A misinformed doctor might call this "bipolar cycling."

    If your doctor diagnoses your withdrawal symptoms as bipolar disorder (or another severe psychiatric disorder), most likely the prescription with be for an atypical antipsychotic (Zyprexa, Abilify, Seroquel). These drugs do not resolve withdrawal syndrome, have serious side effects, and over time cause a degradation in general health (stroke, cardiac problems, diabetes).
  • "A benzo will cure your symptoms."
    Some doctors will prescribe a benzodiazepine for withdrawal symptoms. This poses its own problems as, used frequently, benzos incur dependencies of their own and also need careful tapering.

    Benzos are technically addictive. Often Klonopin (clonazepam) is the prescribed benzo, and is very, very difficult to quit should you become dependent on it.

    Another medical myth is that some benzos are less addictive than others. This is not true. Addiction cannot be predicted on an individual basis. You can become addicted very quickly to any benzo. It's the luck of the draw.

    A benzo may indeed help with some withdrawal symptoms, but only while you're taking the benzo. Since withdrawal symptoms tend to resolve over time (sometimes many months), the benzo is a baby sitter for your nervous system while it does the job of recovery.

    And then you'll have to taper off the benzo, which may take quite a while itself, and may cause similar withdrawal symptoms.
  • "There are supplements to fix withdrawal symptoms."
    No supplement can compensate for a too-fast taper.

    It's always best to control the taper rather than assume you can fix withdrawal symptoms with a supplement or other treatment. Psychiatric medications are much stronger than any supplement, and the neurological damage of withdrawal is something you want definitely want to avoid.

    While fish oil, magnesium, and some other supplements might improve general health and reduce the intensity of symptoms for some people, only time can cure withdrawal symptoms.

What should I ask from my doctor?
Tapering off the original medication is preferable to adding any new drug that may cause dependency.

Go to a doctor with whom you can communicate. Any MD can write a prescription for a psychiatric drug. As calmly as possible, explain you've gone off your medication too fast and you have withdrawal symptoms.

If at all possible, do one of the following:

  • Get a prescription for the liquid form of the medication (if it is available) so you can reinstate at a partial dose, stabilize for a few weeks, and taper more slowly.
  • If the liquid form of the medication is not available, get a prescription for a liquid made by a compounding pharmacy. This may be more expensive, check with a compounding pharmacy first to see if the liquid can be made up and how much it will cost.

    (Extended-release medications such as Effexor XR, Cymbalta, and Pristiq cannot be made into liquids.)
  • Get a prescription for a low dose of the medication, preferably in tablets. You can cut up most tablets.
Edited by Altostrata
added admin note

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Nikki   
Nikki

Unless you are a patient who has a physician who truly understand WD, don't have expectations.

 

Just keeping looking for a doctor who 'gets it". Some of them do.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

And if you find a doctor who "gets it," please let us know!

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

How to tell if a doctor is knowledgeable about tapering and withdrawal symptoms

 

It's very common for doctors to say they know about getting people off psychiatric drugs when they know nothing about it. In general, they do not know what they do not know about withdrawal.

 

Quite a few claim to never see withdrawal symptoms. If this is so, either they're tapering geniuses or they don't pay much attention to their patients.

 

If their answers seem shaky to any of the below questions, I would be wary of their advice about going off a drug.

 

 

Here are the questions I would ask a doctor to find out if he or she knows how to taper people off psychiatric drugs:

 

1) How long does it take someone to go off [insert drug name here]?

 

Appropriate answer: It varies, it can take months.

Inappropriate answer: A week or two. OR It's easy to stop, just quit taking the drug.

 

2) What would you do if I got withdrawal symptoms?

 

Appropriate answer: Stop tapering, possibly increase the dose slightly.

Inappropriate answer: Withdrawal symptoms are a myth. OR Withdrawal symptoms are always mild and temporary, nothing to worry about. OR Withdrawal symptoms are very rare. OR Prescribe a benzodiazepine (sedative).

 

3) How would you taper me off [insert drug name here]?

 

Appropriate answer: Cut up tablets. OR Open the capsule and count out beads. OR Prescribe the liquid formulation. OR Write a prescription for a compounded formulation, liquid or capsules. (NOTE: Few doctors are aware you can make a liquid yourself by adding water to most psychiatric drugs.)

Inappropriate answer: Just stop. OR Skip doses. OR Prescribe the lower dosages of the drug. (NOTE Some drugs come in a range of dosages, but usually the decrease from one dosage to another is quite dramatic.)

 

4) For antidepressants, have you switched the patient to Prozac to go off? How would you do that?

 

Appropriate answer: Yes, I've done that. I overlap the Prozac for 4 days or so, then drop the first drug. After that, I prescribe the liquid form of Prozac to taper when the patient feels ready.

Inappropriate answer: I've heard of it, but I've never done it. OR Take Prozac instead of your next antidepressant dose. (NOTE This is called a cold switch, with no overlap of the drugs. It will take about 4 days for the Prozac to reach steady-state in your system. In the meantime, you may experience cold-turkey withdrawal symptoms.)

 

 

As for this site: We're very clear that we are a peer support group. None of us are doctors, and we do not give medical advice.

 

Here is the rationale for slow tapering: Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

If this doesn't make sense to you, or conflicts with advice given to you by a doctor, you are welcome to follow the doctor's advice if you think it's better.

 

People come to this site because they find the advice given them by doctors doesn't work and they cannot find a doctor who seems to understand their problems coming off psychiatric drugs and know how to taper.

 

There are a few such doctors out there. If you find one, we would welcome the addition of the doctor's contact information here http://tinyurl.com/7cp8l8v

Edited by Altostrata
updated

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JanCarol   
JanCarol

Alto needs to write a book.  Yes?  There is so much knowledge and information here, and while some of it refers to other sites or doctors, what is contained here is so complete, thorough, thoughtful, intelligent.  Learned at the schools of hard knocks.  Thank you Alto, our Peer Specialist!

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Rhiannon   
Rhiannon

"If your doctor diagnoses your withdrawal symptoms as bipolar disorder (or another severe psychiatric disorder), most likely the prescription with be for an atypical antipsychotic (Zyprexa, Abilify, Seroquel)." They also might prescribe you a "mood stabilizer," usually Lamictal, maybe lithium.

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JanCarol   
JanCarol

It has gotten so that it is stress provoking confronting any western (allopathic) medicine producers.  I hate being lectured about irresponsibility and noncompliance.  In addition to the stigma of "diagnosed bipolar" I also struggle with the "all my problems are caused by my obesity."  Between these two, it is difficult to be heard.

 

I have found some new practitioners who don't blink when I say, "no statins," (he's young). It helps that my consulting psychologist who writes glowing reports to my pdoc of my growth and aliveness since starting my taper - along with the fact that this is obviously ***not*** an impulse (I am in my second year of s-l-o-w psych drug tapering), my psychiatrist is letting me do what I want.

 

We still disagree on the role of neuroleptics and drugs in general and the problems they cause, and she does not agree that my illness could very well be iatrogenic stirred with some trauma.  However, she is supporting my taper, just based on results she is seeing.

 

So you can train them to be partners, as GiaK says, instead of dictators.  If a practitioner has traumatized you, walk way, find another.  However, if you have a relationship with them, and can use that experience as a foundation for expansion - even if you just teach them that one person can do it - it's a step towards them being able to help another.

 

I don't think that all practitioners can be "trained."  But it's always worth a try.  Even if it DOESN'T work, it may at least plant the seed in the doctor's mind, that the world view taught by the pharmacology MD training is not the only view.  

 

My own world view was adjusted by some things said to me in the 90's by a German and a Brazilian and an Argentinian.  When 911 happened - their words, the seeds of a new worldview, came to the fore and I learned a lot more.  Their words in the 1990's, changed me in 2001.   You never know when a seed will come to fruit; maybe you will never see it - but there is always a possibility that change, learning, and growing will take place.

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nz11   
nz11

Yep i join with the others in saying this is one 'spot on ' thread. 

I'm with  c-p-3-o!

Just learnt a new word 'diagnonsense.' Boy there is plenty of that going on.

 

There is one other statement  a doctor will make and that is if you start enquiring about the unfolding trauma of wdl and say you think this drug has severe wdl symptoms they will deny it and then will shut down the conversation by saying:

'I am referring you to a psychiatrist.'

in which case go back  to the beginning of this thread and start again...adding  new nonsense like 'you have a genetic disposition to depression'  ..these people as the link says only have a hammer (drugs) so everything they see is a nail !

 

I also believe this kind of statement is wrong, 'treatments that prove most effective combine drugs with therapy.' This is just another pharma ploy to get a person hooked...at which point therapy is irrelevant. This is a very clever devious misleading statement which is meant to confuse and entrap a vunerable person.  imho.

A most bodaciously accurate excellent thread. I also vote to make this thread a green sticky.

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compsports   
compsports

I have mentioned this before but for the benefit of the newcomers, I will restate some points.   I simply told my psychiatrist I wanted to taper and wished to do it very slowly using the 10% method.  I felt it was pointless to convince him of WD issues and when I went to my appointments, simply acted like everything was fine even if I felt like h-ll.   Even though he thought my tapering plan was the craziest thing he had every heard (not he didn't say that but it was clear that is what he thought), he totally cooperated and I think near the end of the taper, seemed to grudgingly accept what I had done.

 

Now if I had sensed I couldn't be honest about my taper and each person has to make that call, I would have simply said I wanted to reduce my medications as low as possible which most doctors don't find against.  Or in some cases, people sadly might have outright lie about taking the medications.   Might be harder tapering wise if you can't get the exact doses you need but definitely not impossible thanks to the excellent information on this site.

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nz11   
nz11

Bump, This is such a spot on and important thread. People need to know they are not the only people having their intelligence insulted.

 

Please make this a green sticky.

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manymoretodays   
manymoretodays

Yay!  I printed it off so maybe I can read it all over and condense my thoughts on the matter.........and then use it to help others somehow.  And further heal myself.

 

I am going to have to go do the same with the linked articles.

 

I don't know yet if I am done trying to convince other professionals or not.........sometimes it feels like it might be best.  Trying to get folks to "not totally trust"(and trust is not a good word to use) their Dr.'s and be receptive to something that might help them........that seems more important.   Anyway.......seems stupid to pay someone to go in and try and enlighten them or teach them something new.  LOL.  Maybe I could go in like a drug rep does, with lunch, and just say........"oh hey, I want to talk to you about some interesting stuff???"

 

Although......there are many pros out there who are kind of undercover suffering and using these meds. too........they need to open their ears for their own benefit at least.

 

Anyway.....thankful for a bit of a window here.......

 

Interesting that the package insert has better information than what the person(s) prescribing these substances have.  And it's all written in microtype on this origami folded paper that hardly anybody ever reads.........oh, the irony..........

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Words of wisdom from Rhi:
 
 

....I did just want to jump in with some thoughts about "doctor management." There are a few tricks that I've found that sometimes help when dealing with them.
 
One is, instead of saying "I want off my meds" say "I want to see how I do at a lower dose." Because all doctors know that the lowest effective dose is what you want to shoot for. So "let's find out my lowest effective dose" doesn't set off their alarms as much as "I want to stop taking the drug."
 
Also, they believe these drugs actually are beneficial, and you can use that. Maybe your doc will continue to give you prescriptions and not rush you so much if you say, hm, I want to see how I do staying on this dose for a while. I sure don't want that doggone depression to come back, so I want to just hold here for a while and make sure it doesn't come back because golly gee willikers, maybe this drug is good for me. (at the lowest possible effective dose.)
 
You know, basically, just kind of speak their language so you can get them to give you what you need to do the taper at a speed that works for you.
 
Having that pressure of "I have to get off before I run out" usually leads to trouble, and/or disaster, for people. Much better to have the freedom to taper at the pace your body is telling you is right for you.

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JanCarol   
JanCarol

So - I was reading this book on Narcissitic Personality Disorder (NPD) of which I have been a victim of, and still struggle with the trauma to my self esteem, belief system, etc.  The clever book is by Eleanor Payson, "The Wizard Of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship,"  uses the tales of the Wizard of Oz, and Dorothy's desire to please the "Great and Powerful" (and special) "Oz" until she finds the little man behind the curtain, as metaphors for dealing with narcissists.  CLEVER book.

 

Anyhow, I'm reading along about the "covert narcissist," and she uses this example:

 

"On your first appointment, he impresses you with his interest, professionalism, and expertise.  He seems sensitive to you needs yet clearly in charge of the situation.  You are compelled to be the good patient because you already feel privileged to have his special treatment and attention.  You invest significant time and effort going through the tests he has ordered, and he is now recommending treatment.

 

"The problem for you, however, is that the treatment is fairly extreme, with certain risks involved.  As you muster the courage to ask him questions, he becomes defensive and tense.  When you suggest that you want to give yourself time to consider this treatment option, he becomes cold and detached.  He brutally informs you that unless you follow his treatment, your symptoms will worsen and your prognosis is hopeless.  Furthermore, he lets you know that he will not continue as your physician unless you comply with his recommendations.  With an icy demeanour, he escorts you out the door.  The shock and disbelief you feel are only a temporary numbing of the hurt, confusion and outrage to follow.  You have probably had a close encounter with the 'covert' NPD individual."

 

OMG  anyone else know this guy/woman?  I think we've all seen this doctor at one time or another.

 

And I've read Mad In America, and Anatomy of an Epidemic - I know how psychiatry evolved from its treatments.  But this goes deeper - this is in the whole MD profession - the One-Way Relationship - of "I know what is best for you, better than you do."  How did that evolve?

 

I remember as a young girl, hearing the adults talk, "Oh, the doctors think they are Gods, they have the power of life and death in their hands."  This statement filled me with great awe.  As if every time you went to a Doctor, he could save you or kill you right then and there.  But here's the catch:  he's more likely to kill you than save you - and THINK that he's saving you.  

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pocketnurse   
pocketnurse

Hi all.

 

I have an appointment to see my GP next week to discuss a number of issues which I believe are withdrawal related. I am on a very slow Lexapro (Cipralex) taper. So far I believe I have got off fairly lightly compared with others but the lower I get my dose (I am on 2mgs now) the more I think I am experiencing withdrawal.

My main problems are gastro related with bloating, wind and bizarre tenderness of my abdo muscles I think but I can't quite tell what actually hurts. I am also having real problems staying asleep at night. I go to sleep then wake an hour or two later and cannot go back to sleep. As I work full time I am struggling with the sleep issue in particular as I feel so tired during the day.

I am not really sure what to expect and indeed what if anything he suggests. My biggest concern is that he totally disregards my views on withdrawal and thinks I am neurotic. I have a good relationship with him and to be fair to him often responds to my suggestions and is far more open minded than most of his colleagues. What I want to avoid is him playing down or belittling the whole withdrawal symptom thing resulting in me becoming anxious that there is something else going on and coming away feeling demoralised and frustrated.

Can anyone advise me on how I can get my point across and ways where perhaps I can educate him a little more about withdrawal and how severe it really is.

 

Love to all PN x

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Aria   
Aria

I would take a friend with you to this appointment. Is he the doctor who originally prescribed the Lexapro? You could lay out your current symptoms were not there before you started tapering. I totally get the awful sleep issues and how it impacts your ability to function. He may offer you sleep meds thinking you're stressed but then again he may listen. My distrust of physicians is huge because of their group ignorance of w/d and wanting to say w/d is your depression returning. Good luck.

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brassmonkey   
brassmonkey

Hi PN--  it's pretty clear what you don't want to get out of the appointment, but I can't really tell what you do want to get out of it.  Going in with some clear idea of what you want will help you express those needs and increase the chances that you will get what you're after.  Written  notes will help keep things on track while you're talking to him.

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pocketnurse   
pocketnurse

Hi Aria and Brassmonkey 

Thanks for your reply. To be honest I am not sure what I want out of the appointment either. I think secretly I want him to agree that my tummy issues are W/D related and not some terrible disease however I guess he is more likely to think of some other disease than W/D!!!! I would appreciate maybe something that may calm my gut down. Like everyone else I am looking for a magic cure that doesn't exist.

 

PN x

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compsports   
compsports

PN,

 

I agree that it is pointless to convince your doc of WD issues.  Even the most enlightened ones will usually blow it off.

 

I would focus on what he can provide that meets your needs.  If all he can do is just prescribe the prescriptions doses you need, then be thankful for that since many doctors don't cooperate in that area.

 

Best of luck.

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nz11   
nz11

Dont forget this one...............

 

"You're a person who is sensitive to drugs ...an outlier ...unique and atypical"

 

In that case why wasnt i given a 'person who is sensitive to drugs test' before you drugged me?

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NearlyMedlessKate   
NearlyMedlessKate

So I had a cluster of symptoms that I now believe are related to withdrawal but that people were worried was cardiac. I went to the ER and was kept overnight and given all sorts of cardiac testing. Now I think my CNS was just going haywire. Anyway, I did not tell them I was currently withdrawing from Lamictal. I was worried for two reasons, I didn't want to end up getting treated on the psych unit (my major worry) and I was afraid they would send info to my doctor and she would find out. I'm nowhere near ready to deal with her reaction to the news that I'm tapering. The end result is that I did not tell them what might have been pertinent information. I don't know whether I made the right choice so any feedback is immensely appreciated (even if it starts out with don't lie to the ER.) I really don't know if I made a smart decision.

Edited by KarenB
merged similar topics

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mammaP   
mammaP

I told my doctor I wanted to taper a drug, he said there was no need and should just stop, THEN CANCELLED MY PRESCRIPTION!

Told another I wanted to taper (different drug)  and was told to take every other day for a few days, then half the dose every other day then stop. Gave me a script for 7 of the lower dose THEN CANCELLED MY PRESCRIPTION!  Rinse and repeat several times with different doctors, always end up in withdrawal and different drugs. When I discovered real tapering I told my psychiatrist and he said I would need the drugs for life and would get worse as I get older. Then labelled me 'non compliant'. Told my GP I was tapering and needed liquid for the last few mg. he said I am making things worse and should just stop but I insisted that I have the liquid, calmly but firmly and respectfully. He did give it to me but was very annoyed. I had an allergic reaction to it  and had to carry on tapering by opening capsules and counting beads but that was ok because I had enough to last me to the end. I didn't tell him I tapered any of the other drugs, just collected my scripts then stopped when I had finished tapering. 

 

I now have a new GP who is very impressed that I took control and congratulated me for tapering off effexor because it is such a hard drug to quit. She knows I stopped the others because of side effects but didn't tell her I tapered them. She is the only one who has understood my sensitivities and supported my decision to be drug free.  

 

Most doctors don't know the need for tapering, and most of us here just collect our scripts so we can get on with it. They don't understand withdrawal and are puzzled when we show up at the ER with serious symptoms but all tests are clear. They tend to throw more drugs at us when all we need is stability, to keep things stable so that our nervous system and brain can work on rebalancing naturally. 

 

They need to know if we are taking a drug, that is important, and can tell them the dose we are at but expect some rolling of eyes that we think we need such a low dose that they believe to be a placebo! 

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SquirrellyGirl   
SquirrellyGirl

I don't know that they think it is a placebo - I think they think those low doses are unnecessary because "they have no effect."  Well, we definitely know they have an affect when you look at the occupancy charts!  Why taper?

 

Anyway, I agree with mammaP, that the information beyond telling them you are on the medications would only complicate matters.  They might have said your symptoms were caused by anxiety which is proof that you need to be on the drugs!  Seems like a lot of people get that here, symptoms being dismissed as anxiety.  

 

So, the main thing is that you were tested out as 'normal' and therefore nothing nasty was happening, so yes, withdrawal. Don't be feeling guilty - all's good!

 

I do think it is important that supportive people in your life know that you are tapering so that if you start behaving oddly, they can look out for you. We want everyone here to be safe. The worst case scenario is that tapering leads to deep, dark neuro depression that puts you at risk.  We don't want that happening, and the slow taper should prevent that.

 

SG

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NearlyMedlessKate   
NearlyMedlessKate

Thank you, MammaP and Squirrellygirl! I have not told my GP or my psychiatrist that I am tapering and do not plan to. I will let them know when I am off and they can deal with that news however they like at that point. I am glad to know I made the right decision with the ER doctors. The last thing I need is to be on a psych ward for a medication "adjustment" and that was my fear, that they would say I was relapsing and needed to be admitted to psych for stabilization. I feel much better about my lie of omission now.

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NearlyMedlessKate   
NearlyMedlessKate

Oh, and they *did* try to attribute the symptoms to anxiety and I had to be very clear that I have never had anxiety present in this way. Ever. At all. Not happening.

 

Interestingly though, when they asked me if I was still on all the meds I was on last time I was there and I told them, no to this one, no to that one, and the nurses and doctors were all impressed that I managed to get off so many and was only still on one. So at least they were supportive in that sense. I still didn't trust them and wasn't willing to tell them I was currently tapering. But they surprised me with how happy they all seemed that I was only on one drug now. So there's that. :)

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MaryDavid   
MaryDavid

Oh, and they *did* try to attribute the symptoms to anxiety and I had to be very clear that I have never had anxiety present in this way. Ever. At all. Not happening.

 

Interestingly though, when they asked me if I was still on all the meds I was on last time I was there and I told them, no to this one, no to that one, and the nurses and doctors were all impressed that I managed to get off so many and was only still on one. So at least they were supportive in that sense. I still didn't trust them and wasn't willing to tell them I was currently tapering. But they surprised me with how happy they all seemed that I was only on one drug now. So there's that. :)

Wow!  :)

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desertchild   
desertchild

Hi everyone

 

I'm not sure whether this is the right place to post this topic?

 

I will have the opportunity to see my doctor on Monday and I called her this morning to ask her whether she would be willing to look at information I want to send her to talk about protracted withdrawal. It will come as no surprise that eyebrows are raised in the medical community when this is mentioned. I've been in an awful state of withdrawal since December and every visit ended with her wanting to put me back on different medications to ease symptoms, help with anxiety, etc. 

 

Once I found SA and realized what was happening to me, I tried to explain protracted withdrawal, but she is very tongue-in-the-cheek about it, almost humoring me. I took the Ashton Manual withdrawal schedule with when I wanted to make a cross-over from alprazolam to Valium and had the same response. The last time she saw me, she asked me how my 'regime' is going!. 

 

I think 7 months into this journey I can ask, respectfully, for her to please hear what I am trying to explain. 

 

I don't feel empowered enough with information, nor strong enough, because of withdrawal, but I can at least go and try. It could be a beginning or she might close the door on me.

 

Will you please be so kind to help me with this. Thank you so much.

 

desertchild

Edited by KarenB
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savinggrace   
savinggrace

Hi desert child,

 

No, none of what you said is surprising. Most of us have to cajole our doctors into helping us taper the way we want to.

 

It does take courage. It's hard to predict whether she will listen to you at all.

 

To clarify, did she give you Valium to cross-over? If she did, at least that shows she is willing to try. If she didn't, I am not at all sure if you can persuade her into helping you do a proper taper. You may just have to take what she gives you now, and shop for a doctor who is more open to this withdrawal reality. Personally, I think doctors choose denial, because they prefer not to face the devastation they have caused people with the drugs they pass out like candy. I would go in with a plan of exactly what you hope to come out with...which drug and the strength and tell her how you plan to taper. Write it down and hand it to her. You have to muster up all the courage you can to get what you need.

 

I know how anxiety-producing these appts. are. I just had one. After 15 years my doctor just gives me what I ask for though he told me I was psychotic once and tried to give me ability. Sometimes I actually take his scripts and pretend I tried them to appear more compliant.

 

Good luck

Grace

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Lilu   
Lilu

Why don't Psychiatrists know about Tapering & Antidepressant Withdrawal?

 

For those of us who are veterans of this site, this might seem like a silly question. However, most people out there in the world, trust their doctors and have a hard time believing that a doctor doesn't know what they're doing and can actually harm them.

 

A close friend of mine has heard my whole story and horrific experience with antidepressant withdrawal and yet chooses to do what her doctor has told her to do.  I have shared my knowledge with her countless of times.

 

I've explained to her that psychiatrists don't taper antidepressants slowly enough and that they are wrong when they advise patients to skip days as a tactic of tapering their medication.  That it's like playing ping-pong with your brain. Why do doctors advise patients to do this??? (One prominent psychiatrist told me that this is how they taper people off of heroin.)

 

But since I'm not a doctor, my words hold no weight. The countless hours of reading on this site and on the web, clinical papers and personal accounts, as well as my own experience seems to mean nothing without a medical degree.

 

I want to help people but they just don't listen to me. After 7 months on Prozac 40 mg, she quickly tapered down to 30, 20. 10, and then stopped. So of course she's experiencing withdrawal now. 

 

She, like many other people, still asks, "Why don't Psychiatrists know about proper antidepressant tapering? Why didn't my psychiatrist offer me liquid medication?"

 

I told her that psychiatrists/doctors are not taught in medical school the whole truth about antidepressants because pharmaceutical companies suppress this information by rigging clinical trials and paying off researchers. I explained that pharmaceutical companies don't acknowledge that these drugs cause withdrawal, but instead call it "discontinuation syndrome". They tell psychiatrists that this syndrome only lasts two weeks, and that if its any longer, it is a relapse.

 

I don't know if that is the right answer. What is the right answer to this question?

 

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Lilu   
Lilu
Here's a letter a woman wrote to her psychiatrists asking the same question that I ask, Why don't doctors know?


(www.madinamerica.com/2014/04/dont-know-letter-doctor/)

 

I need to ask: why?

Did you know this was possible? Did you know there was a possibility I would suffer like this if and when I tried to rid myself of this evil drug? And if so, why wasn’t I warned and if you didn’t know, why didn’t you?

Why was I prescribed this regularly for six years when the FDA recommends only four weeks? Why is a severely toxic mind-altering drug given out for burning tongue, restless leg, tinnitus and a host of other simple ailments?

Why, when this drug is only recommended for two to four weeks and there are no FDA follow-up studies on long-term side effects (at least that I am aware of), are patients being disregarded, questioned, and scoffed at when they report these symptoms as withdrawal? Shouldn’t the FDA, doctors, and drug companies be alarmed and searching for answers? People on the forums are regularly blown off by their doctors and ridiculed. My own neurologist, after hearing all my symptoms and reviewing my test results, shrugged his shoulders, gave me a quizzical look, and walked out.

Why, when I experienced insomnia and panic as the result of one stressful period in my life and had no prior history of mental health issues, was I put on three mind-altering drugs and left on them (and more) for seven years? How is this O.K.?

Why, when I asked if the electric current I was feeling was my body needing the drug, didn’t you say, “Maybe it is”? Instead you said, “No, that’s the anxiety.” I was convinced I had an incurable chronic case of severe anxiety.

Why, when I asked if I was becoming addicted to the drug did you say, “No, you don’t have an addictive personality”? Why didn’t you know about physiological dependence, or if you did, why weren’t you honest with me about the possibility?

Why, when the depression began in 2009 and I asked if the drug might be causing it, did you dismiss my question and keep playing Russian roulette with my brain, convincing me I had clinical depression and trying more and more drugs?

Why didn’t you realize that the side effects of benzos and other psych drugs can mimic what our society calls “mental illnesses” and keep patients in a zombie-like, drugged state until (hopefully) one day they say “Enough!” and fight their way out?

Why wasn’t I told about informed consent?

Why, after I (stupidly) cold-turkeyed three drugs in 2006 and told you it felt like bugs were crawling all over me, did you tell me I “sounded like a six-year old” when I now know it is a side effect called formication. Why didn’t you know that?

Why are there tens of thousands of others suffering alone, without medical support?  Why isn’t this acknowledged in the medical community?

Why are we told there is a “chemical imbalance in the brain” when there is no diagnostic test to prove this?

Why was it OK for you to keep assaulting my brain with multiple mind-altering drugs without any proper accountability and even, it seems, awareness of how disabling they are?

Why, in our modern day, educated, socially networked society is this happening?

Why haven’t you looked on the internet to find out what is really happening in the lives of innocent victims of psychiatric drugging? (And if you have, what are you doing about it?) People are losing jobs, marriages, homes and lives trying to break free from the hold of these drugs. Is ignorance bliss? I hope not.

Why does the human experience need to be labeled? Why can’t someone be sad, anxious, melancholy, agitated, pensive, shy, hyper, aggressive, rebellious, irritable or just “different” without it being a “disorder”? Without it being drugged? Is it about money? Power? Pride? Ignorance?

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nz11   
nz11

Wow that is a great letter.

That is a question we are all asking.....

I wonder if there was a reply?

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UnfoldingSky   
UnfoldingSky

  • "You have bipolar disorder."

    Possibly under influence of the drug companies to deny the difficulty of withdrawal, some psychiatrists have applied a convoluted, misguided logic to explain antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, calling it an "unmasking" of bipolar disorder.

     

    Withdrawal symptoms are not bipolar disorder of any variety, not bipolar II, bipolar III, or bipolar R2D2.

 

 

Um, Alto, but what about the reality that they have evidence that some people who took the drugs and reacted to them really did have a propensity to be "bipolar R2D2" because of the C-3PO genes and not due to the drugs themselves?

 

While it may be that most people who take the drugs aren't "bipolar R2D2" if they have a reaction and so aren't the droids they are looking for, there are still others whom I think this diagnosis fits...

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brassmonkey   
brassmonkey

Unfoldingsky--  There's bound to be life in other galaxies far far away, only because of the shear number of stars.  Because of the numbers it's has to happen. But even according to the fabled PDR "make a psych diagnosis of a patient on Vraxzoan one will not, as scrambled by the drug their brain will be".  There will be that one in a million Storm Trooper who truly is disturbed but the rest are merely Clones. Having helped balance The Force in many an altered Clone I have yet to meet one who was truly disturbed, but I'm sure we could fine one at the Cantina.

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nz11   
nz11

David Healy had a delightful blog post this week,

I really like number 4.

 

 

Surrendered doctor

  1. Accept that when it comes to the side effects of treatment the patient (or the in-laws) are likely to know best.
  2. Accept that my job would be more interesting if I learned to co-ordinate the research efforts of my patients rather than continued to dictate to them.
  3. Accept that patients continue to come to me not because I am good at my job but because society has made it impossible to get medicines except through people like me.
  4. Accept that my actions are dictated by ghostwritten articles and inaccessible data mediated through guidelines that I haven’t the guts to stand up to.
  5. Recognize that far from being founts of wisdom and compassion my colleagues and I can get incredibly nasty if questioned. I am an obstacle to work around more often than a source of support.
  6. Medically Unexplained Symptoms point to limitations in current medical knowledge or perhaps my medical knowledge. The term is not a euphemism for hysteria.

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Mort81   
Mort81

This is correct just had an another awful experience at the ER . I've had trouble breathing for almost 3 weeks. I suspect it's from body producing extra acid inflaming my esophagus from my last wave which lasted 3-4 months. After being in the ER for the second time in a week. The person that took me to hospital thought it was a good idea to say that I've been under extra stress from side effects of antidepressants. She later felt very bad about doing this as my care completely changed. I was pushed back for hours as I struggled to breathe and had my throat CT scan which was clear but nobody checked my esophagus. Than I was told the usual this is anxiety and he needs a physchiatris and more meds. . Eventhough I've still not been checked in my esophagus yet. You absolutely cannot mention anything about WD in an emergency room. This is very important. U can say u had a bad reaction to drugs years ago, but probably don't even say a brain med. The standard of care is very reckless. I now have to wait another week to be scoped and I haven't been able to eat properly or breathe properly for 3 weeks.

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AliG   
AliG

Unfolding Sky . You're kidding - right ?  :)

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