Tag Archives: withdrawal

Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

Antidepressant Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

My Doctor/Psychiatrist told me that I have to take an antidepressant to correct a
chemical imbalance in my brain, is this true?

No, it is a myth, we cannot test or measure the state of neurotransmitters in your brain, the
American Psychiatric Association disavowed this myth in 2011(1). It is a pharmaceutical
company invention (2).

How many people experience withdrawal effects?

It varies according to which drug is used, at what dosage, and for how long. Recent
studies (3) are showing the number affected to be greater than 50% of those taking the
drugs. The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists did their own survey (4) (now removed) which
showed that 63% reported withdrawal effects.

Why does my doctor/psychiatrist keep saying ‘discontinuation syndrome’ when I
mention withdrawal?

Discontinuation syndrome is an invented term (5) which minimises the role of the drug in the
harm caused and steers users away from addiction terminology. While dependence and
withdrawal have some features in common with addiction, they are not accurately
described using just this approach. What you are experiencing is an effect of withdrawing
from a drug, not of discontinuing treatment.

Why does my doctor insist that ‘once the drug is out of my system’ I will be fine?

Because not all doctors understand the effects of antidepressant drugs on the brain (6). A
heavy drinker or smoker may suddenly stop drinking/smoking, but the effects on their brain
and nervous system continue to be felt long after they have quit. Antidepressant drugs
change the brain in ways we don’t currently understand. These adaptations (7) to the drug
are responsible for withdrawal effects.

What does withdrawal feel like?

It’s a highly variable experience ranging from mild symptoms which pass quickly, to
profound symptoms that sometimes persist for many years. In a 2017 survey (8), 46% of
those reporting withdrawal symptoms described them as ‘severe’. Most common reported
symptoms (9) are insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, panic,
depression, agitation. Withdrawal symptoms can sometimes mimic depressive or anxious states but should not be confused with relapse (10).

I am worried about dependence, what should I do?

The most important thing is never stop your drugs suddenly, this can be dangerous. Talk to
your doctor but be prepared as many doctors do not have the information to be able to
help. Withdrawal is a unique experience, with no fixed rules.

There are some excellent and
reliable online sources for help including:
• theinnercompass.org
• madinamerica.com/drug-withdrawal-resources
• survivingantidepressants.org
www.jfmoore.co.uk August, 2018
Antidepressant Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

References (to read these online visit www.jfmoore.co.uk/ltw.html)
1. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/couch-crisis/psychiatry-new-brain-mind-andlegend-chemical-imbalance
2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-depression-just-bad-chemistry/
3. http://roar.uel.ac.uk/7402/
4. RCPsych survey (now deleted)
5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/side-effects/201107/antidepressantwithdrawal-syndrome
6. http://time.com/3399344/antidepressant-changes-the-brain-study-finds/
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4118946/
8. http://roar.uel.ac.uk/7402/
9. https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/370338
10.http://www.stacommunications.com/journals/diagnosis/2006/Diagnosis_sep_06/DS.pdf
www.jfmoore.co.uk August, 2018

What we know about antidepressant withdrawal V1

James Moore

The hidden problem of addiction to prescription benzodiazepines | Wales – ITV News

Health officials have expressed concern over the number of people dependent on a class of prescription drugs called benzodiazepines.

First prescribed in the 1960s, benzodiazepines – also known as ‘benzos’ – are a group of medications used to treat anxiety, agitation, seizures and sleeping problems. But according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, around 40% of people who take the drugs every day for longer than six weeks will become addicted, and withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

“They worry me the amount that people are taking”, said Dr Julia Lewis, Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist at Gwent Specialist Substance Misuse Service. “People that get dependent get very tolerant to them over a period of time and take increasing doses, and because they are associated with sedation, coma and actually ultimately death, if you take enough of them, then that’s a concern.”

Jim, from south Wales, was first prescribed benzodiazepines as a teenager to help with stress and anxiety. 34 years later, he is still taking them.

“I’m a drug addict, but not drugs that I went out and bought on the street”, said Jim. “It’s a prescription drug addiction”.

Full article

.

http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2018-07-13/the-hidden-problem-of-addiction-to-benzodiazepines/

The Dangers of Abruptly Stopping Antidepressants

Are you feeling better and think you’re ready to stop taking your antidepressant? It may seem like you no longer need the medication, but in most cases, it’s contributing to your improved feelings. That’s why it’s important you stick with the treatment prescribed by your doctor. If you think you’re ready to stop taking an antidepressant, ask your doctor to create a plan of action that will help your body slowly adjust to being without the medicine.

Antidepressants help balance brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These brain chemicals affect your mood and emotions. An imbalance can cause major depression or anxiety disorders. Antidepressants correct this imfbalance, but it can take four weeks or more to get the maximum effect.

you feel like stopping your medicine because of bothersome side effects, remember that finding the right treatment may take trial and error and some tweaking. Don’t stop taking the medicine until you have spoken with your doctor. It might seem like you don’t need the medication anymore, but if you stop taking it, the medicine will leave your body and your symptoms might return. Quitting without consulting your doctor can be life-threatening. Suicide is a serious concern. It can also trigger withdrawal symptoms and relapse of your depression. If you relapse and start taking an antidepressant again, it can take weeks for the drug to rebalance your mood.

Side effects of quitting medication

Quitting “cold turkey” may cause withdrawal symptoms. Suddenly stopping your medicine may also worsen your depression. Here are some of the possible effects of quitting too quickly:

You get sick. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, also called antidepressant withdrawal, occurs when a person abruptly stops taking antidepressant medication. Many people who experience antidepressant withdrawal feel like they have the flu or a stomach bug. They may also experience disturbing thoughts or images.

You set back your treatment. Stopping medication can set back your treatment plan. It can increase the time it takes to feel better or it can actually cause your symptoms to worsen.

You contemplate suicide. Not being properly treated may increase your risk of suicidal thoughts. It also increases the risk that you’ll act on those thoughts. The most common health problem linked to suicide is ddepression……

full article

Prescription drug addiction: government launches investigation

Public Health England will review prescription of medicines including opioid painkillers

The government has ordered an investigation into the growing problem of addiction to prescription drugs such as painkillers and medicines to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Steve Brine, the public health minister, has acted after it emerged that one in 11 (8.9%) patients treated by the NHS in England last year was given a drug that can induce dependency.

Fears about excessive prescription has also been boosted more than 100% rise in the number of antidepressants prescribed in England over the last decade and the fact antidepressants prescribed in England over the last decade and the fact that prescription of addictive medicines has increased by 3% over the last five years.

Full story – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/24/prescription-drug-addiction-government-launches-investigation

Antidepressant Seroxat tops table of UK drug withdrawal symptoms

Seroxat, the British-made antidepressant which outsells Prozac, causes more people distressing withdrawal problems when they try to stop taking it than any other drug in the UK.

Paroxetine, also known by trade names including Paxil and Seroxat among others, is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class.

Formula: C19H20FNO3
Trade names: Paxil, Pexeva, Seroxat, others

The committee on the safety of medicines, which receives reports of drug side-effects from doctors and pharmacists, has received an avalanche of complaints about Seroxat, one of the class of drugs known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). The SSRIs, including Prozac, have always been marketed as safe medicines which are supposed not to cause the dependence problems that emerged with older drugs such as Valium and Ativan.
Seroxat – known generically as paroxetine – leads the top 20 table of drugs causing withdrawal problems, with 1,281 complaints from doctors under the “yellow card” scheme set up for the reporting of medicines’ side-effects. More reports have been filed about Seroxat than about the rest of the top 20 put together.

Full story – https://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/jul/27/uknews

The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

Two years ago, Dr Chris van Tulleken discovered we are taking more prescription drugs than ever before – a billion prescriptions a year in the UK. He worked with a GP surgery to get patients to try drug-free alternatives – with amazing results.

Now he is on a new mission – to understand why we are giving British kids over three times more medication than we were 40 years ago. As a new dad, Chris has a very personal motivation to explore the reasons behind this explosion in medication. In the series he sets about finding alternatives which might be just as, or even more, effective than drugs. He tackles the shocking rise in teens taking anti-depressants by testing if wilderness therapy can work where the drugs are failing. He investigates why parents are giving out so many over-the-counter meds when they may not be always necessary, and he helps hyperactive kids replace their drugs with mindful meditation.

He also digs deeper into the forces driving the over-medication of UK children and asks whether the drug industry itself could be playing a part in the rise. In 2016 we spent a staggering £64 million on one brand of children’s liquid paracetamol. Chris meets a self-confessed fan who reveals she has bought over 25 bottles in less than two years! As a new dad, Chris doesn’t blame vulnerable parents. His research reveals a pharmaceutical industry that helps create a culture which, he believes, encourages parents to unnecessarily use liquid paracetamol. At a family fair in Bristol, Chris creates a surprising stunt to show Britain’s parents when not to give liquid paracetamol and make sure they don’t waste their hard-earned money giving children drugs they don’t need.

One of the other areas where medication rates have increased the most is treating kids’ behavioural problems – prescription meds for ADHD have increased by 800 per cent since 2000. These drugs do help some symptoms of ADHD in the short-term, but side effects can include loss of hunger, changes in personality and stunted growth. Chris joins a group of hyperactive children as they attempt the impossible – an intense course of stillness and mindful meditation as an alternative to the meds. As the families go on transformative and emotional journeys, they discover, with poignant results, that ADHD remedies do not always have to come in a pill.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b4jjq3

L’s Story

I would like to share my story, in order to highlight the harm that I believe is caused by SSRI and SNRI antidepressants.

In 2008 I suffered the horrendous experience of a depressive psychosis. It was diagnosed by psychiatry as “postnatal psychosis”. I now have a strong suspicion that my psychosis was caused by an SSRI and an SNRI.

My first daughter was born in April 2008. I took citalopram at a steady dose for about 2 years prior to the birth and throughout my pregnancy. In the days after she was born, I read that sertraline was the safest SSRI to take while breastfeeding. I asked the GP about it and she changed me from citalopram to sertraline. In the following weeks I became very depressed. I was changed back to citalopram and the dose was increased. In the weeks following this I became suicidally depressed and developed a florid depressive psychosis. I made several suicide attempts and was sectioned. I continued on citalopram and olanzapine was added. I did not respond quickly to the meds so was given ECT. I had a fairly rapid improvement following ECT and was allowed home. However, after a few months my depressive psychosis returned. I was changed to venlafaxine and quetiapine and after 3 months the depressive psychosis lifted and I remained well until two years after the birth of my second daughter in 2012. I was advised to take quetiapine for some months after this birth. I remained well for 2 years, however, when no longer on quetiapine, I had another episode of depressive psychosis. I remained on venlafaxine but this time quetiapine was not effective. My antipsychotic was changed to amisulpride and after 3 months I recovered. I have remained on a low dose of amisulpride and have not experienced psychosis since then. I now wonder about the possibility that I have a sensitivity to SSRIs/SNRIs and that my episodes of psychosis were actually caused by citalopram/venlafaxine and that the psychosis was only subdued by the addition of an antipsychotic.

I was told on a number of occasions by the psychiatry team that my illness was “atypical”. I do not remember any of the psychiatry team ever mentioning the possibility that my depressive psychosis may have been caused by the SSRI or SNRI – it was always attributed to an underlying illness – “postnatal psychosis” or “psychotic depression”. This has led me to wonder how many other cases of worsened depression and psychosis may be influenced by these drugs, which is why I want to highlight the issue. If psychiatry is not considering this possibility, this potential cause will not be being reported and it could be going unnoticed, meaning it is possible that, like me, some people are advised to continue on the drugs that precipitated their illness in the first place, with further drugs being added to counteract the negative effects of the SSRI/SNRI.

I would also like to highlight the problems I have had attempting to withdraw from venlafaxine. In discussion with my psychiatrist, I decided to come off venlafaxine in 2015, having been well for over 2 years. My psychiatrist recommended a taper which I now believe was way too fast – over several weeks. The withdrawal during those weeks was a truly awful experience. For the whole period of withdrawal and several weeks afterwards, I felt like I had a severe bout of the flu and a terrible hangover. I had electric shock sensations in my head. It felt as if my brain was being constantly irritated by a chemical. I felt agitated and intensely irritable. I felt an intense burning sensation in my head, spine and oesophagus. My body ached all over. I had abdominal pain. I lost my senses of taste and smell. Then approximately 3 months after stopping venlafaxine, I became depressed. I completely lost my appetite and felt a physical sensation of my body and mind being an empty shell, unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was admitted to a psychiatric unit. My bowel stopped working. I was put back on venlafaxine and after approximately 4 months I fairly suddenly started to feel better again. The physical symptoms disappeared. The psychiatry team were convinced the whole episode was caused by my underlying illness – “psychotic depression”, because my depression could not be controlled without venlafaxine. However, I strongly suspect that what I experienced was a very bad case of withdrawal from venlafaxine.

Recently I decided I would like to try to withdraw from venlafaxine again, but this time much, much more slowly. I found a Facebook group dedicated to venlafaxine withdrawal. It has approximately 3800 members. Time and time again people report that they were not warned about the difficulties that many people have withdrawing from venlafaxine – indeed most medical professionals seem completely unaware of the problem that so many of us experience. The recommended taper advised in the group is a maximum of 10% of the dose at a time, with a hold of at least 30 days or until all withdrawal symptoms have resolved, before tapering again. For many of us, particularly those of us who have been taking it for a number of years, it would seem that to have the best chance of getting off venlafaxine and staying well we must reduce the dose very gradually over years. There are members of the group who, like me, came off much more quickly on the advice of their psychiatrist/GP, did not reinstate the drug quickly enough and who have suffered a protracted withdrawal over years, with a whole host of symptoms. I can’t help but feel that if there could be a much greater understanding of antidepressant withdrawal amongst medical professionals, including revised guidelines for withdrawal in the community, then more of us would receive the support we need to come off venlafaxine and other psychiatric drugs, rather than suffering intense withdrawal symptoms and being told that they are nothing to do with withdrawal but are the return of our original illness.

I find it very interesting in relation to my suspicion that I experienced SSRI induced psychosis that, since reducing my venlafaxine dose from 150mg to 100mg, my thoughts seem less distorted and obsessive, I have less anxiety and my thinking is much clearer.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

L… G….

MJG’s experience

I started taking Klonopin 15 years ago for anxiety which I’ve had all my life. After taking multiple other medications that didn’t work for very long or they caused more anxiety I thought I had finally found the answer in Klonopin. At one time I was up to 3mg a day, this was many years ago and I got myself down to 1.5mg which worked well for about 9 years then it started causing anxiety attacks and constantly crying.

I had a doctor label me as benzo dependent which made me furious. To me he was saying I’m a drug addict. After a lot of thought I realized I am dependent on this! So I started my journey tapering off. At first I was cutting my pills, things seemed ok for a week or two until the withdrawals began. My body temperature isn’t regulated, I’m constantly sweating or freezing. My thoughts are all over the place and I can’t remember anything half the time. I have muscle cramps, heart palpitations, headaches, stomach pain, sleep to much or none at all. I wake up on a panic since my cortisol level is all over the place.

My brain and body are trying to heal from Klonopin leaving me feeling absolutely insane half the time. On good days I can function and feel great other days I can’t do anything but pace. My vision is blurred and I can’t tell how far things are so my perception is also messed up. I have vertigo causing the world to move around me but I’m still which makes me nauseous. This makes driving and even walking very hard. My ears ring so loud I can’t hear anything but the buzzing noise in my head so I have the tv or radio on at all times just to try to drowned out the buzzing but noise is like a ice pick to my brain. Some days I get a glimpse of myself and that keeps me going other days I don’t know who I am. I have fits of rage and I know that’s not me it’s just my brain trying to figure things out. I’m not done tapering yet I still have .26mg to go. Nobody understands if they haven’t been through this so I’m very thankful for the online support group I joined. Doctors don’t realize the horror of coming off klonopin so like many I’m doing this on my own.

I’ve been to the doctor many times for physical issues and after tests it’s proven I’m fine so I keep pushing along to get off this horrible medication. I don’t understand how a medication that can cause so much pain and distress can be prescribed! Especially long term. There are no real support groups for this and it’s much needed. Problem is many of us can’t leave the house but I’m sure a virtual session would be packed with people looking for help and answers.

TMR’s journal entry

Trigger…

My journal entry today:

Now I’m losing it. Huge fight with my SO last night. WD is messing me up so bad. I can’t function at an type of normal level. Getting worse by the day. Going crazy. I need out of here where there’s nobody so that I won’t have anyone to verbally attack during horrifying fits of rage. I need help desperately. I don’t know what or where to get it from. Crying crying crying. So upset. If this is how it’s going to be, I don’t want it. I can’t do another year or two or three of this.

Why is this so hard? I’m killing relationships with everyone around me and I can’t seem to stop. I want out. I didn’t sign up to get my life ruined. Is it this bad for everyone else? The anger has taken over my life. And now I’m losing my relationship with my SO. Because of me. My mind is not right. Falling apart at the seams.

The suffering is unbearable a this point. I want to give up and escape from the torture in my head. Derealization is unbelievable and unbearable. I need to escape from myself. I’m not me anymore. Tina does not exist anymore. Someone else has taken my place. My mind is cracking. Splitting. Desperately need some support.