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Why I want to stop my meds and why I'm going cold turkey on my SSRI/Sertraline.

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starzzzzz

Guest
Why I want to stop my meds and why I'm going cold turkey on my SSRI/Sertraline.

For 3 years I have been taking mirtazapine and sertraline for depression and anxiety. These drugs have worked really well for me and I have been doing great for the last 18 months at least (except when I try to stop treatment).

I want to stop the mirtazapine because of how much it makes me sleep. I need to take it about 12 hours before I want to wake up otherwise I will sleep through my alarm. I've tried using louder alarms/more than one alarm etc. but nothing works. If I take the mirtazapine too late, even if I hear the alarm, I don't care about anything else but sleeping and cant get up. I was always late for work until I started a new job a few months ago. I didn't want to be known as unreliable/always late so I started taking the mirtazapine at 6.30pm. Because of this I'm asleep by 8.15pm! I hate this. I feel like I'm sleeping my life away. I can't do anything in the evenings and I feel like such a boring person. I would like to have hobbies/socialise/go to the gym/watch TV/ go to the cinema. I can't even join in conversations with my colleagues about what was on TV last night! I just sleep. Once I get up, I'm fine. I'm not tired in the day.

I only started the mirtazapine because the sertraline is really stimulating for me! I couldn't sleep at all when I started the sertraline on it's own. I quite liked the energy it gave me but the lack of sleep was a major problem. Hence the addition of mirtazapine.

Now I'm better I want my life back. I don't want to spend 12 hours a day in a mirtazapine induced slumber. To stop the mirtazapine I need to stop the sertraline first.

I have tried numerous times to slowly taper of the meds but I end up feeling rubbish (low/down/depressed/like a loser/self-conscious/unattractive/unsociable/pathetic/negative/pessimistic/tired etc. etc.).

So, I have 10 days of work and I'm going cold turkey on the sertraline. Today is day 3 without it. I know this is not recommended but I'm doing it anyway. Tapering hasn't worked for me so I need to give this a go. I've had the worst side effects today. Brain Zaps, Vertigo, anxiety and really don't want to make eye contact with anyone. I can tolerate this at the moment. I'm ready for some acute withdrawl symptoms. I need my life back. But does anyone know how long this will last? If it hasn't passed by Monday, when I go back to work, I may need to rethink my plan.

Once I'm off the sertraline I will tackle the mirtazapine.

I know this is not recommended and I'm not promoting cold turkey or recommending anyone try it. I just wanted to share what I'm going through, with anyone who will listen.:confused:
 

cpuusage

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I know this is not recommended and I'm not promoting cold turkey or recommending anyone try it. I just wanted to share what I'm going through, with anyone who will listen.:confused:
i think the thing with all these areas is that it is all so individual & complex - everyone has a unique psychology & physiology (biology) & individual circumstances. There are so many variables involved.

i stopped all medication twice for 4 years each time. But after the 3rd time i was put on medication, i've not been able to stop it - i tried 3 times, with disastrous results. The last attempt was with a 2 year tapered reduction, & i ended up in ways the most ill i've ever been. For me personally, for the past 10 years i've accepted having to take a low dose of this medication.

Just recently i have wondered about very slowly reducing again, & seeing what happens - But if i were to, i would do an incredibly gradual reduction over years. Am not sure if i can get off it at this stage - & feel ideally i need more support to try.

i think this book looks good, although i haven't read it -

'Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal' A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families By Peter Breggin, M.D.

i think people ideally need a lot of understanding & support with all this. Do be careful.
 
R

Rose19602

Guest
Hi Snow White,
I answered your introductory post and remember it well.

I had a "relationship" with SSRI's and trying to withdraw from them following packet instructions and those from my GP for years. Each time I tapered over a max of two weeks, or missed out one tablet every other day.....gradually reducing. It never worked and I became convinced that the symptoms were indicative of worsening mental health.

When I was taken off them by my GP after 5 years I did the slow taper over 3 months, not on GP advice, but from my own research. I fared better, but the last week when the withdrawl symptoms started I just stopped the final drops of the drug. I was in trouble again with severe withdrawl symptoms that got worse and worse. I won't go into what happened for now....but it was serious.

I'm not sure that there is a right amount of time for tapering these drugs. It depends on the drug, dose, your individual dependence on it and the sensitivity of your nervous system. Mine was clearly very sensitive!

I tell you this because you need to listen to your body instead of setting yourself goals. Try to rethink your rigid timescale, particularly as it may be unrealistic. I had withdrawl symptoms for months despite a 3 month taper, although I now acknowledge that other drugs (steroids and heart drugs) complicated things and elongated it.

A site I could suggest for supporting you through withdrawl with lots of information and resources is "surviving antidepressants". They don't support cold turkey withdrawls, but they do have a wealth of personal experiences to draw on and some pretty good advice IMO. Coming off two ADs is more complicated, so may be worth a look?

The brain zaps, tiredness and anxiety are all classic withdrawl symptoms. I developed severe anxiety in withdrawl...nothing like the anxiety I was originally treated for and seriously terrifying at times. The tiredness and brain zaps also affected me for months. Other symptoms - dry mouth, dry eyes, leg jerks/restless legs, rages, unstable behaviour patterns and many other symptoms which I traced to my nervous system came and went unpredictably and convinced me I was going mad. In later withdrawls, when I was placed back on ADs time and time again, I developed withdrawl symptoms which were symptomatic of bipolar disorder! It became more and more difficult to get off the drugs.

Google protracted withdrawl and withdrawl syndromes to find out just how long mis-managed withdrawl can last. For some people it can go on for months or even years....if you are unlucky.

Go carefully. I understand your concerns about tapering and understand the urgency you feel, but ultimately you are taking a large risk with your health and nervous system IMO and considered, educated tapering may still be your best option....I know it's not what you want to hear...sorry!.

Sorry to lecture .... but I speak from bitter experience.
x
 
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starzzzzz

Guest
Thanks for your replies. Cpuusage (good name!), I will try and get a copy of that book.

MissKitty, your post is making me rethink my plan. I'm messing with my brain chemistry I know that. Thank you for sharing that with me. I had a friend who a few years ago stopped his ssri suddenly and had a psychotic episode and like you, bipolar like symptoms. I've got that in the back of my mind. But I'm assuming this is a rare effect. I'm telling myself that won't happen to me. When you've been well for some time it's easy to imagine that mental health issues are permanently in the past. The anxiety I had before starting these meds was pretty scary. The Dr was going to put me on olanzapine, but luckily the antidepressants worked for me. I'd hate to go back to that place. Hmmmm, not sure what I will do now. You've certainly given me something to think about. It's a bit of a Russian Roulette I guess. I might be fine with the cold turkey or it could go badly wrong. Do I want to take that risk? Im not actually sure I want to :confused:
 
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Rose19602

Guest
Read the info on the surviving antidepressants site and maybe consider asking for their support. I wish I'd known about them.

I have a pacemaker now following withdrawl from escitalopram....at a very, very low dose. Don't risk it!
...you don't want to go on olanzapine either if you can help it....that will be even hard to get off!

I went through loads of problems with withdrawl, postulated MH diagnoses as a result and eventually found out why I was having so much trouble. Educate yourself! Then make a plan that stands a chance of working but be prepared to listen to how your body reacts and slow things down if necessary.

I'm now free of SSRI's, the anxiety went away, the bipolar symptoms went away....but it took a long time and with the right knowledge from the start I would have fared a great deal better and avoided a lot of crap along the way.

Look after yourself Snow White. You can PM me anytime for support if you think I could help you. If not google David Healy - psychiatrist and his papers on SSRIs and withdrawl syndromes and access the info on surviving antidepressants.org. Those are good places to start your education if you really want to withdraw from these drugs successfully.

I'm glad I made you think!
Thank you for listening.
x
 
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starzzzzz

Guest
Thank you so much. I'm going to get back on the sertraline. I will go and do some research. I am a bit disappointed that I wont be getting my med free future as soon as I had hoped... but I knew that this was a bad idea that I needed to be talked out of. I feel proper anxious now but hopefully I feel normal again soon.
 
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Rose19602

Guest
No need to feel anxious. Nothing has happened apart from a bit of minor withdrawl to date. You'll get there SnowWhite....slowly.

IMO, you are doing the right thing....take it easy OK and don't be too disappointed. This isn't going to be a quick fix. I'm proud of you for being so sensible.

If we can support you along the way, just ask. Only too happy to be here for you when ever you need me.

...and that book CPU suggests is well worth a read....he knows what he's talking about when it comes to trying to get off the antipsychotics. Really difficult and not always successful either....

Do your research, then do it sensibly. I was given drops which meant I could withdraw very, very slowly. Ask your GP / psych if this is being done with their consent?

x
 
D

Deliah

Guest
Hello Snow white, I don't have this experience, but I wonder if it would help you to do some mindfulness training. I think it helps us all to be able to manage our minds a little. I feel that you are more likely to be successful if you do this mindfully and don't get into reacting to it all. Love D xx
 
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