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After 8 years of prescription anti-depressants, I am now 100% pharmaceutical free.  The last few weeks, I have been in "detox" hell, with withdrawal and rebounding symptoms more painful than anything I've ever experienced.    

My doctors, members of the traditional medical community, have been at a complete loss:  inability or unwillingness to identify my pain as an illness; and inability or willingness to offer any sort of protocol for this process.

Yes, it is political.  The American "healthcare" system is under scrutiny, with almost all observers concluding that we have created a monster which falls far, far short of promoting wellness.

Pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to make their quarterly and annual numbers.  Prescribe, prescribe, prescribe -- that's what they encourage our doctors to do.  And the overworked doctors -- that's what they do.  It's very easy to put people on to medications.  But does that mean forever?  What happens if and when it's time to get off?

For those who are still on anti-depressants, want to get off and are afraid of the process, I offer my experience.  I am not a doctor, pharmacist or nutritionist or a food studies expert.  However, I can certainly do a Google search, (apparently better than almost all of my conventional doctors).  I am also very capable of describing what I have been feeling.

First, I do think, as in my case 8 years ago, that there times do exist when prescribing an anti-depressant can be beneficial.  I was an absolute emotional mess.  My thinking and emotions were very sick to the point that I could not function.  I could not get out of bed, take care of myself, get myself to the job.  The anti-depressant that finally worked for me all those years ago did provide emotional anesthesia.

However, keeping someone on anesthesia longer than necessary seems harsh.  I have not shown any symptoms of underlying depression for about 6 years.  After being taught a healthier way to perceive and interpret the world, I was "released" from CBT/REBT based therapy many years ago.   Nevertheless, under the care of MDs/PSYCHs, I was kept physically and emotionally numb.

Interesting, now in my detox phase, that I now use words like numbness to describe how I think these medicines work.  Physically, this gradual, (fuckingly slow and painful) detox process feels similar to that when the novocaine from a dentist visit begins to wear off.  Your body begins to become less numb, and tingling and sensation comes back.  

Yesterday, I even treated myself to a shiatsu-style massage, which targeted balance and accupoints.  My goal was to get that stimulated feeling back - like novocaine wearing off, physically.

(Can anyone out there with a science background explain the similarities between anti-depressants and novocaine with respect to that numbing?)

Has anyone read books on the topic of "numbing of America" or  overprescription of pychopharma medications?  Please comment.

One week ago tonight, my symptoms were so severe that I landed in the emergency room at 11 p.m.  My head was frozen in spots.  I was spinning.  Earlier that day, I had to cut short a client meeting and try to make it home.  The headache and pain and dizziness and sweat made me feel like I was going to pass out.  I found a spot in a Chipotle to wait for a family member to come and help me.  She found me in a state too dizzy to make a subway ride by myself.  I sat there in tears waiting for her help.  I wasn't depressed.  My tears were from physical confusion and pain.

(Funny, I've practiced law for many years -- but not personal injury.  Those of us in the more business oriented legal areas, with a cocky rating game, tend to put look down on those in personal injury.  However, on that day, as I sat in the Chipotle, I learned in a very personal way what "pain and suffering" means.)

My doctor -- psychiatrist -- was very little help.  When I spoke with her, she said that my symptoms were "highly unusual." She suggested that I see a neurologist or consider that I was still suffering from anxiety. Anxiety, well, yes, because don't most people feel a bit of anxiety when they just don't feel well physically and the doctors can't provide an answer?  I would think that's healthy and rational apprehension, doctor?  Overall, however, PSY Doc's advice didn't sound all that helpful.  If it was withdrawal, couldn't she help me feel better by just admitting it?  

That night a week ago in the emergency room, DAY 5 of withdrawal process, they did a CAT scan, blood tests, urine tests.  Conclusion:  That despite my symptoms that had brought me there in at 12 a.m. with my head frozen and in pain and unability to focus, I was not "sick" by any medical definition that they had.  The ER doctor told me it was "very likely" withdrawal from the anti-depressant but refused to make that conclusion.

(Does anyone with a medical background know why everyone I met in the medical community avoided making that conclusion?  Damn!  Cause this was a very good hospital, the same one that helped President Clinton this week.)

Five days later, I was still spinning and the head-feeze was still intense.  My internist MD made things worse.  She said there was "no indication" of any illness.  At the suggestion of the psychiatrist, however, the internist offered a referral to a neurologist, or possibly, considering some psychiatric medication.  Well, of course this brought out a bit of frustration, quite rational in the circumstances -- I was going through detox.  

Detox and Rehab:  We see those words all the time.  We recognize detox from alcohol, opiates.  We know there's "withdrawal" from smoking.  We send people to "rehab" for 28 days to get past the physical addiction.  Is that only to treat the symptom of cravings?  Yes, many progressives do make fun of a certain radio host who can't seem to detox or rehab from precription medications.  But many of these substances, created in corporate laboratories, are targeted in their pupose.  Giving them up can be a very difficult challenge.

It was almost impossible to finding someone in the conventional medical establishment would acknowledge my pain.  There was no one in the conventional medical establishment who had a remedy.  

So, I did my own research.  Here's what I found.
First, about 4 - 10% of people who try to get off SSRI/SSNIs report extreme withdrawal, as I experienced.  Note that my source, Quit Paxil has had over 1.2 million visitors.

Second, severe symptoms can be estimated to last 2 - 8 weeks.  The first 2 weeks are hellish, the third begins to ease up.  They are just about all gone in 8 weeks.  Interestingly, this seems to coincide with what people who quit smoking (and other substances?) report -- right GUS?

If you are going to get off from these medicines, set aside a few weeks to feel terrible.  Get the help of family members.  Remember -- your home has become a detox/rehab hospital.  Unfortunately, the medical/pharmacutical companies won't pay you for your time off or the cost of having people help you clean the house, pay the bills, while you're getting better...

Don't get too frustrated by the conventional medical community.  Remember that there are some very talented doctors who are open to listening and taking wellness in new directions.  I had a very open, reassuring conversation with an MD who practices physical therapy and pain management, who found my situation fascinating.  There are others doing appropriate studies.  

Here's some information and links that I found helpful:  

UK MD reporting on Antidepressant Dependency

Nutritional and Supplemental "Protocol"
In the height of my suffering, I reached out for nutritional sources.  I could actually feel that my body was out of "balance" after 8 years on the
pharmacutical substance.

Foods that helped:  

I'm not a nutritionist, but I prefer nutrients and good food because I trust mother nature more than I trust Pfizer. I believe that food cravings are an indication of something the body wants and needs.  

DAYS 1 - 3 - very light foods such as toast.  I drank lots and lots of citrus, such as orange juice.
DAYS 4+ fish; eggs with runny yellow; challah or brioche (which is made with egg yolks)
DAYS 7+ "grassy" and "gamey" meats such as duck, lamb; mushrooms.

From research, I discovered that foods rich in choline (acetylcholine) would help.  That would explain the craving for eggs!

The last day or so, some greens seem to be finding their way back to my plate.

Also -- a few years ago, those of us who listened to Air America here in the big city found their mornings preempted by "the vitamin guys."  In my suffering, I reached out to them.  The conventional doctor said something along the lines of "of course the Vitamin salespeople are listening to you... they want to sell yoiu something."  Doctor -- what about the pharmacutical companies... no?)  Here's what I found helpful:
a very good multivitamin, several times per day; 4000 mg fish oil; add B-12, B-6, folic acid.  Also this one, for some reason the "vitamin guy on the radio" might know, really helped a lot:
Detox product.(active ingredients include NAC and ALA).
I'm also taking L-Theanine to help sleep and chill out a bit.

In ending, I do hope you will share any information you can.  Please recommend this diary, too, so that many others can see and share.  There are people who stuck on these medicines, terrified that they can't get off.  We may be "on our own" with this, but you are not alone.

(This diary is not intended to challenge people who want to continue on medication, but for those who want to get off and want help and information.)

P.s. pLEASE excuse my misspellings and lack of editing.  I'tm in detox.  By the way -- did I mention the insomina????

Originally posted to YuckyToday on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:23 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Celexa withdraw caused a friend to (10+ / 0-)

    experience something she described as brain shivers. Have other experienced this?

  •  Sounds like the doctors wanted to avoid... (11+ / 0-)

    ...getting dragged into any lawsuits, either against the prescribing doctor or the pharma company.

    Bush Bites is a subsidiary of Bush Bites Inc., a registered corporate personhood.

    by Bush Bites on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:42:14 PM PST

  •  Who the doctor is makes a difference. (13+ / 0-)

    I was on medication for migraines. They weren't working so my doctor told me to stop using them.  The sudden withdrawal caused huge headaches.  Ironic huh?  I switched doctors. My new doctor was very careful with how he took me off medications and knew which ones caused withdrawal symptoms with sudden stoppage of the medication and arranged medication changes accordingly.  

    Try getting a better doctor, who can help you ease off the medication.

  •  I was taking Alendronate (6+ / 0-)

    and experienced the severe side effects.  It took a while to figure out it wasn't anything else (This hasn't been my luckiest winter).

    I haven't taken the weekly pill for 6 weeks.  The muscle/joint pain has eased some.  

    I am beginning to wonder if I will ever be back to normal.  I was taking Alendronate to ward off a possible future problem.  Not for any immediate problem.

    This winter has been hell.  

    Do you think choline works for all drugs?

    Corporations are the immortals that are sucking our blood. We have to invite them in.

    by 88kathy on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:46:28 PM PST

    •  vitamins/choline... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy, Wee Mama, dolphin777, blueocean

      I think that's a brain food.  I followed my cravings, and they seem to be right on the money.  I hear that pain-pain typically has to do with inflammation and there are nutrients for that.  

      (My pain was not the same.  Neither aspirin nor advil did a thing.)

      •  I'm all about Ibuprofen (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, Winnie

        I was taking prescription pain killer but that caused a fall and a cut heel.  No broken bones.  Ibuprofen seems to help a little.  At least I can sleep.  I just hate to wake up.

        The pain is strange.  

        Sometimes I think I know what a person with sickle cell anemia would feel.  It's like the drug is trying to stuff calcium in my bones and there isn't room.  

        That was last month.  It has subsided a little.  I just wonder if it will ever be done.

        Corporations are the immortals that are sucking our blood. We have to invite them in.

        by 88kathy on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:15:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Kathy - try the vitamin guy. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy, dolphin777, cynndara

          He's kinda a "guru" in the NY area and talks about nutritional protocol for muscle joint pain.  It's based on fish oil (omegas) and anti-inflammatory foods (tumeric).  

          •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

            Corporations are the immortals that are sucking our blood. We have to invite them in.

            by 88kathy on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:22:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Couldn'd find the vitamin guy. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            That might not work though.  I was tested for all that stuff.  I had about $2,000 (cost w/o insurance) worth of tests.  All normal.

            After everything else was ruled out, I asked my DR if I could stop the Alendronate because a side effect was severe muscle and joint pain.  He said just stop.

            I was hoping you had a way to flush drugs out faster instead of waiting through this half-life thing.

            I am in this mess because I was taking a powerful drug to ward off something that might happen.  Now I feel like hell.  I feel very foolish for taking a drug with severe side effects.

            Corporations are the immortals that are sucking our blood. We have to invite them in.

            by 88kathy on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 04:05:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Sounds like he knows his stuff. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AllisonInSeattle, YuckyToday

            Both quite good for that and many docs STILL haven't gotten the message.

            Fish oil is a good idea for just about anybody who isn't eating fish at least 4 main meals a week.  There's growing archeological evidence that the human species evolved as a FISH-eater; it's our natural diet, and lack of it probably causes a lot of our modern deficiency diseases.

        •  Careful with that stuff (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Charles CurtisStanley

          I know several people who are on dialysis because they used NSAIDs for too long or too often (or both). It's not an uncommon story. Doctors won't tell you about it, it seems, but other dialysis patients will.

          Living kidney donor needed; type B, O, or incompatible (with paired donation). Drop me a note (see profile).

          by Kitsap River on Mon Feb 15, 2010 at 12:43:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  OK, they may be overprescribed (18+ / 0-)

    but for people like myself they are the difference between life and death.

    If antidepressants caused my dick to fall off I'd still take them because of the difference they make.  

    I've gone off them before.  I know what the discontinuation is like.  I also quit crack cold turkey and comparing antidepressants to a real addiction is laughable.

    OK, here's the best way to get off Paxil, Effexor or Cymbalta:

    Start taking a low dose of prozac around the time you stop taking the drug with the shorter half-life.  Slowly taper off the drug with the short half life then slowly taper off the prozac.  You'll never feel a thing.

    I run a mental health support forum.  I ended up doing so by accident.  I've been on meds for 15 years.  If anyone wants to check it out it's here:

    You know what other meds have bad side effects?  Chemo.  Why don't people bitch about that more?  Untreated depression kills almost as many people by way of suicide as cancer does.  IMHO if you're at a point where you're complaining about the side effects of psych meds, you're probably not sick enough to need them in the first place.

    Sorry for the lack of coherence, I've had some beer.

    I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

    by VelvetElvis on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:49:26 PM PST

  •  Write back in a year. (8+ / 0-)

    I hope that your regimen works for you;  until at least a year has passed I can put no credence in that your "detox" is successful.  I've done it four times myself, did not experience dramatic withdrawal and relapsed badly within a year each time.  It always seems like I can live without the meds after a year on them and stable, then I go off the meds and crash.

    You complain about "emotional anesthesia" on the meds, which is quite possible.  I have an anecdotal report that Prozac makes you happy-happy;  my experience is that sertraline (Zoloft) simply places a floor under my bad moods but lets me "enjoy" them unharmed.  Should, God forbid, your detox lead to relapse and remedication, be sure to let your psychiatrist and psychologist know about this anesthesia after you restabilize.  

    Yes, Big Pharma can be full of greedy people.  Their products have probably kept me alive for 16 years.

    2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

    by Yamaneko2 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:56:50 PM PST

    •  Difference between relapse and detox. (0+ / 0-)

      Those who are studying the science are documenting that there is a very big difference.  

    •  I think that these drugs do have their place. (10+ / 0-)

      However, I think that they are over prescribed. In hindsight, why would my dr. prescribe lorzepam for simple anxiety? Given the addictive nature of the drug and the gawdawful withdrawal symptoms, I truly wish he would have recommended something else.

      "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

      by mrsgoo on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:03:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That could be a decent point. (0+ / 0-)

        In my own case, suicidal ideation and some of my comments to the intake people screamed "major depressive episode" and I was put on Zoloft post-haste.  I will not presume to comment on your meds doctor prescribing lorzepam nor your wish that he did not for lack of information.  

        2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

        by Yamaneko2 on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 07:57:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What's interesting is that for me, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      numbness is a symptom of my depression at times, and my mood was pretty flat when I was off the meds, but I had very little motivation. I had similar problems with some of the meds I've tried, but fortunately my psychiatrist saw this as a problem and we tried something else. I've gone through dozens of different meds, and been off them for a time as well, before settling on my current combination. I may have to try something else in the future, but for now things are going fairly well.

  •  My dr. perscribed lorzepam in 2001 'coz I was (7+ / 0-)

    having total anxiety attacks during my commute. That SHIT! is hell. And I was only on a .5mg dose twice daily. I realized in '05 that this medication was quite addicting when we went away for Thanksgiving holiday and I forgot to pick up my refill before we left. By day three - I was a effin mess. I finally kicked that crap by stepping down the dosage (pill cutter) for about 14 days. Still wasn't pretty. The biggest suprise for me was the Clonidine which was prescribed for high blood pressure. I kicked that one in the same manner and since my BP was ok, the new dr said - go ahead and discontinue. He was shocked that I just quit it and asked - did you stop taking - no - same method - just halved the dosage until I ran out. I won't take any type of anti-depressant anymore. I'd rather be freakin depressed than hooked on some pharma crap. Good on you and nice diary.

    "I have ferrets with fins" - African Cichlids. And 3 pooties too! Ren, Stimpy (15 yrs) and Rocky (3 yrs)

    by mrsgoo on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:56:56 PM PST

    •  benzos are good for prn dosing (4+ / 0-)

      ie, they are good "in case of emergency break glass" meds, but they really should be a last resort for daily dosing.

      I take 3mgs clonazepam a day, but I went through something like 40 different meds before agreeing to daily benzo dosing

      I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

      by VelvetElvis on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:11:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  REBT/CBT was my real medicine. eom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama
      •  CBT may do more harm than good (0+ / 0-)


        That's mostly speaking of self-help books but it always left me feeling worse than when I went in, like it was all my fault that I was depressed.  

        I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

        by VelvetElvis on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:48:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It has worked for me and millions of others. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And yes, you are responsible for your thoughts -- and your behavior.  

          Now, I'd like to end debate with you.  Your behavior is quite negative, detrimental, almost angry.  Please stop it.

          •  You're the one giving scientificly unsupportable (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            advice that can kill people.

            So I'm going to sit here and correct everything you say to make sure nobody dies until this diary sinks off the front page.

            I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

            by VelvetElvis on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:54:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  as the article said (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            it's harmful for people with ruminations.

            IMHO physical depression and psychological depression are likely two different things.  You've got depression that responds to meds and not to therapy and depression that responds to therapy and not to meds.  They likely have little in common.

            I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

            by VelvetElvis on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:57:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  CBT has been shown to be (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, murrayewv, wa ma

          effective in similar rates to antidepressants, but especially when used in combination and under the care of a trained therapist. I found it very helpful when I was involved in an intensive CBT outpatient program, but unfortunately I didn't keep things up after I left the program and had some fairly bad relapses.

          •  not in cases where there are rumuniations (0+ / 0-)

            and I get ruminations so bad I need an antipsychotic

            I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

            by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 07:08:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course, no solution works (0+ / 0-)

              well for everyone, and can be counterproductive in some cases. I'm not exactly sure at what point ruminations, which could just be a mild tendency, cause this sort of therapy to be counterproductive. Also, a therapist could adjust the approach to take those ruminations into account, whereas a self-help book can't interact with the patient in that way.

        •  There is a lot of "therapy" (0+ / 0-)

          that leans heavily on the old Protestant mantra of Personal Responsibility.  Which is perfectly useful if the person involved has some power over what is driving them crazy.  However if they have little or none, then it ends up imposing an additional burden of guilt and shame, in an illness that's usually characterized by, uh, incessant and uncontrollable feelings of guilt and shame.  REAL useful, yeah.

          BTW . . .I'm a witch, not a doc, but I did spend seven years teaching Phds in psychopharmacology how to write coherent papers, and another seven setting limits on docs use of human guinea pigs, at a major research university.  And of course, being a witch, I know how to brew up interesting psychoactive potions out of roots and leaves and berries, and something of how they resemble OTC, prescription, and illegal pharmaceuticals, and how to render immediate assistance for all sorts of psychotic states whether drug-induced, detox, or otherwise.  But serious mental illness is serious mental illness . . . it's a difficult, longterm problem, and requires different treatments and solutions for every individual.  Witches, docs, shrinks, psychs, priests, and self-help groups all have different toolkits, so pays to look for the best fit.

  •  You are still in the early stage of (6+ / 0-)

    getting off a prescription drug.  Congratulations!  I know just how hard that can be.  I watched someone I loved go through absolute hell while getting off a load of prescription pain killers.

    That being said, please continue to be careful.  Please monitor your moods and stability closely.  Make sure you have someone close to you who is aware that you might be going through changes over the next several months.  Someone who can check in with you from time time to ensure you are staying mentally healthy.

    The problem is that folks can think they are heading in a positive direction and then find themselves unexpectedly depressed and in a black hole frame of mind.  It can sneak up on you.  It has cost many their lives.  

    I believe what you are doing often can and should be done.  I also know that it is important to monitor, monitor, monitor over a period of many months.

    Again, Congratulations.  

    I can also confirm the overall unwillingness of other medical professionals to say much at all in these cases.  It seems like everyone just wants to get away as soon as possible while saying almost nothing confirming your experiences or assisting with advice.  

    We managed completely on our own.  A bit of advice and assistance from a Natural Health Food store owner but that was it.  My ex spent several weeks on a mattress on the floor in a back bedroom.  He was more or less unable to function.  It was hell for him.  It was very frightening for me.

    Regarding cravings - He went several days only eating Tootsie Rolls.  I will never figure that one out?????  Huge bag of Tootsie Rolls, he ate them all.  My tongue in cheek advice for anyone giving up pain meds is buy lots of Tootsie Rolls. LOL

    I joke but it is terrible what we are left to figure out on our own these days.  It does end up costing some their lives.      

    Nobody held a wake for America's manufacturing industry, and now we are supposed to give a fuck about these assholes in the insurance business? - Playon

    by blueocean on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:24:18 PM PST

    •  Healthy thinking. (0+ / 0-)

      That's the real medicine.  

    •  Oh please (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      antidepressants and rx painkillers aren't in the same league.

      Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in America and bullshit like this scares people away from getting help and causes needless death and suffering.

      I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

      by VelvetElvis on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:49:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AllisonInSeattle, DvCM, blueocean

        with great respect for the difficulties you have overcome . . . one of the problems is that "help" in this country, comes in extremely uneven quality, with virtually no way of determining provider competence when seeking that help.  It's very much a matter of rolling the dice, whether the person you choose (or have chosen for you by your health plan or access)will cure you, kill you, or in most cases, simply dope you up until you aren't a "problem" for institutions and authorities.  Very few have your best interests at heart, and of those, only a few actually know what they're doing.  On the other hand, if it's really bad, not getting help can be fatal.  So no matter what you do, you're reduced to tossing darts blindfolded.

        Yucky's way seems to be working for her(him?) . . . and yours has worked for you. And I'm happy that there's two who have managed to pull it together, to set against all the hell that still exists on Earth.

    •  This is an interesting comment... (8+ / 0-)

      I have battled severe anxiety and depression for as far back as I can remember.  Sometimes it is 'triggered' by a major life change; other times it can come seemingly out of nowhere.

      One of my major 'breaks' came my senior year of college.  I thought I was having a heart attack because of chest pains.  Called the on-call doctor, who was quite nasty and told me to just 'take a benadryl and sleep' - after all, she had never heard of a 21-year-old dying of a heart attack.  (ummm - that is not true at all)

      That just made me worse.

      Anyway, back to my point.  While I was going through the horrific throes of wave after wave of anxiety, I got a massive craving for chocolate.  What is even more strange is I had no appetite for anything else at all - I actually lost 20 pounds within a couple weeks.

      So instead of tootsie rolls (although those would have worked too), I couldn't stop eating bag after bag of rolos, and also cadbury caramel bars.

      And I normally have no appetite whatsoever for chocolate and sweets (yes, I must be missing something in my female DNA).

      I read some articles years later that said the if your body is very deficient in serotonin, it will do everything to try and restore it.  And chocolate is something that will give you a quick serotonin fix.

      So my guess is that when your ex was withdrawing (which is a MASSIVE beeyotch to experience), his serotonin crashed; thus the massive chocolate cravings.

      Total supposition on my part, but it does make some sense.

      Oh yeah, this was back in 1988 - they loaded me up on the new 'wonder drug': XANAX!  The docs swore up and down that it was NOT addictive at all.

      Yeah, right.  Within days, I noticed that if I was even 10 minutes late with my dose, I started getting the shakes, and, ironically, rebound anxiety.

      I made the 'genius' decision to quite the Xanax cold turkey.  I made a descent into hell for 3-4 days, with the shakes, nausea, and a feeling that I was completely losing my mind.

      When I had post-partum depression several years later, prozac was now available.  Had to take a huge dose, but I can honestly say it saved my life.

      Had to get off of it when baby #2 was on the way, and then afterwords, it never worked again.

      I think the anti-deps work best with major cases of anxiety/depression.  My doc wants me on a low dose all the time to prevent a relapse, but that doesn't seem to work

      Sorry for being so long-winded.  Having fought this all my life, I feel like I know more than the docs about these things sometimes!  ;)

      YEE-HAW is not a foreign policy.

      by molls on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:52:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You probably DO know more (5+ / 0-)

        than most docs about this subject.

        No personal experience with antidepressants or antianxiety drugs, but I've watched others dealing with them...and I never heard of a competent doctor who would rec going cold-turkey.  I thought the established way to get off of things like Xanax was to cut the dosage slowly, over time.  Someone above referred to this as well.

        GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

        by Youffraita on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:24:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Chocolate + Sugar (0+ / 0-)

      Not hard.  Methylxanthines increase the flow of sugar to the brain.  Clearly his brain was signaling that it was starving, and needed an energy supply any way you could provide it.  Chocolate (predominately theobromine, plus theophylline) also has more positive mood effects than its sister-drugs coffee (predominately caffeine) and tea (predominately theophylline plus caffeine).  That's why it's the sovereign remedy for attacks by Dementors.

  •  Pack a day smoker for 37 years. (5+ / 0-)

    I quit cold turkey almost 4 years ago. Swore to myself I'd never take another single puff and haven't.

    Everybody is different. In my case I found the addiction, for me, was broken in 5 miserable days. The habit took over 2 years to fade. That feeling of 'now would be a good time for a cigarette'. I got thru that with the Kojak method, substituting lollipops for cigs for a couple of months. After 2 months it became increasingly easier to just say no to that feeling.

    Thanks for your important diary, tipped, recced.

  •  I just reported this diary to admin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    text of message:

    This diary contains unsound medical advise, encouraging psychiatric patients to go off their medication, something could potentially result in death.

    The diarist is not a physician and has no business giving out medical advice.

    Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States and encouraging people to go off their antidepressants is flat-out irresponsible.

    I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

    by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:06:56 AM PST

    •  Don't assume everyone (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AllisonInSeattle, Lorikeet

      is as extremist as you seem to be.  You have jumped into this diary like a panicked person on a mission and blown it way out of proportion.  It is YOU, not the diarist who has bombarded this diary with defensive, singularly focused proclamations.

      "Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it." Robert F. Kennedy

      by enough already on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:20:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's no different than an anti-vax diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I flame those to hell for being unscientific claptrap that put lives at risk as well.

        I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

        by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:24:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So: You've never met (3+ / 0-)

          anyone who was addicted to psychiatric pharmaceuticals?

          I have.  It ain't pretty.

          GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

          by Youffraita on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:26:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Other than benzodiazapines they are not addictive (0+ / 0-)

            I've been through real addiction.

            I've come off crack cocaine and I've come off about 40 different psychiatric medications.  It's a different ballgame.  You don't real about mothers selling their babies or sucking dick for zoloft.

            Which the exception of benzodiazapines, anyone who says psychiatric medications are addictive has no idea what addiction fucking is.  As someone who has struggled with real addiction a couple times in my life I frankly find the comparison offensive.

            I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

            by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:30:25 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  real = read (0+ / 0-)

              I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

              by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:31:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  It's OK for you to make medical pronouncements? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Other than benzodiazapines they are not addictive

              Or you're a MD, so that's OK?

              This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

              by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 05:21:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  MDs aren't holely vestiges of medical knowledge (0+ / 0-)

                Anyone can look this shit up on the internet.  In my case I did before committing to being on medication for the rest of my life.

                I voted for Nader in 2000. That's how I know progressive purity tests don't work.

                by VelvetElvis on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 06:48:26 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Was pointing out your double standard. (0+ / 0-)

                  Your reply makes it even more obvious. This thread starts with you accusing the diarist of dispensing medical advice.

                  You literally said:

                  The diarist is not a physician and has no business giving out medical advice.

                  Not to mention that the person was not telling people what to do, mentioned by other commenters, instead recounting their own story.

                  This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

                  by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 12:41:28 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Read more carefully. The diarist is NOT (4+ / 0-)

      NOT advocating people get off their meds. It is clearly stated that these med can and do serve a purpose.

      The diarist does indicate the ongoing debate about how long people should take these med and the vested monetary interest pharma has in keeping them on it. But that is NOT the point of the diary.

      The point is the diarist's experience in getting off these medicine which have done their job and are no longer needed. It is a word of warning backed by research.  

      I just wanted to vote in the primaries. Honestly, I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

      by WiseFerret on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 01:35:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went of my meds a couple years ago (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllisonInSeattle, LynneK

    and the withdrawal symptoms weren't a major problem, but I can say that I was not functioning well without them. Other people could see this better than I could. I am on different medications now and am doing better, although I still have significant issues to deal with. Fortunately, the side effects are not major, although I have to be careful what I eat.

    •  Eating well. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I honestly believe that one of the key factors that has helped me was a diet switch.  I go for organic foods, learned to read labels and avoid all feedlot proteins, including dairy and certain kinds farmed raised-fish.  My nutrients come from the sun.

      •  AHhhhhh (0+ / 0-)

        "My nutrients come from the sun."

        If you are solar-reactive, I know THAT one from personal experience.  The solution is to turn off the TV.  Better yet, get it out of the house entirely (I moved to a rural town where there isn't any reception and I'm too cheap to pay for cable, so that worked).  This removes the temptation to stay awake late and get insufficient sleep, leading to not waking up with the sun the way your body REALLY wants to, or going to sleep when the darkness triggers your melantonin surge.  And that upsets serotonin cycles, and THAT can cause depression.

        Go to sleep two hours after sunset and wake up when the sun rises.  Get at least an hour of fresh early-morning sunshine, or if that's impossible, rig up five 42-watt "150 equivalent" Daylight CFs in a chandelier fixture designed for five 60-watt incandescents (hurry, they're taking those fixtures off the market and replacing them with ones that won't tolerate the 42-watt bulbs!) to give you 10,000 overhead lux in a good bluewhite spectrum.  No drugs necessary -- give your pineal gland the light signal it's looking for, and it will adjust your biochemistry for you.

        As a witch, with a lot of supposedly useless knowledge on history mixed with biochemistry rattling around in my head, I suspect that one cause of the high level of mental illness in our society (other than our intense overcrowding, which we know causes anxiety and aggression in rats and desperate migrations leading to mass suicide in lemmings)is our complete disentrainment from natural light cycles.  Humans have had barely a century to get used to continous artificial lighting, and evolution just don't work that fast.

        •  Sorry. I meant "sun" in the food cycle. (0+ / 0-)

          IMO, our US food system, big agriculture, relies on petro-chemicals  instead of healthy soil.  By chosing organic and "off the grid" food, I look for foods that get enery (ie food) from sunshine.

          That's all I meant.  Not sitting in front of the sun.

      •  Eating well isn't really what I meant. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm sure if I controlled my diet better I would be better off in lots of ways. Exercise is also very important, and that's something I don't do enough of. But my point was that there are certain dietary restrictions with some of the medication that I take (MAO inhibitor.)

  •  This TED talk relevant, many people post med info (0+ / 0-)

    at a website, which then allows people to understand how different illnesses are responding to different treatments.

    Amazing idea, great results.

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 05:13:34 AM PST

  •  If you bothered to research anti-depressants (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparkalepsy, LynneK, cynndara

    before you stopped the drug, you would have known that withdrawal was common, you would have known what withdrawal symptoms to expect, and you would have known that you need to ween off of them very slowly. I was taking a very low dose (sub therapeutic for depression) for a chronic pain condition. When it was taken off the market, I was informed as to what to expect before I spoke with the doc and I asked how to ween off. Doc was knowledgeable (or so I thought) and weened me off over 6 weeks. I still was totally unable to think or follow conversations for a day and a half after no meds, I had brain zaps that lasted for a month, and my heart went nuts that left me with a permanent arrhythmia. After talking with a psychiatrist down the hall (I worked at an academic health center) I learned that even a 6 week ween was too fast and I should have been weened over 3-6 months.

    Having said that, the FDA has cases on file of several patients that after many long ween attempts were never successfully weened from one particular drug. Also approximately 15% of patients develop arrythmias while withdrawing from anti-depressants. Of that 15%, the arrythmia is permanent in approximately 3%. When the doc asked if I wanted to try another AD, the answer was no - I'll deal with the pain thank you very much.

    A diary advocating a cold turkey approach is totally irresponsible and is not supported by clinical data.

  •  Neurotransmitter synthesis (0+ / 0-)
    Pyridoxal phosphate-dependent enzymes play a role in the biosynthesis of four important neurotransmitters: serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and gamma-aminobutyric acid[3]. Serine racemase, which synthesizes the neuromodulator D-serine, is also a pyridoxal phosphate-dependent enzyme.

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