SSRI Discountinuation Syndrome

Mar 14, 2009 - 4 comments

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SSRI discontinuation syndrome








self esteem


bad relationship




suicide thoughts











I'll have two more days on the 25mg after today... then I'll be stuck with only the 12.5mgs.

I'm still feeling it. Like, I can still feel that weird feeling like my brain is swooshing around inside my head. I don't know what that feeling is or how to describe it better. Maybe it's a pre-pins-and-needles feeling. Maybe it's related to blood pressure... like a ringing in my ears thing. But... it's very different from anything I can describe other than a withdrawal symptom.

There are lots of withdrawal symptoms that are similar to other things... like night sweats... that happens when you have a flu. Lots of withdrawal symptoms are flu like. Also, a lot of withdrawal symptoms are sort of like pre-migraine symptoms.

But... the brain swooshing in the head thing... it's very unique to withdrawal. So is squirming on the floor. Thankfully that hasn't happened yet. I think it's because I am trying to go down in such tiny amounts this time. When I went down from 70something mgs to 37.5mgs... I spent so many hours squirming on the floor in so much pain and with so much anxiety and feeling so uncomfortable... it was horrible. That hasn't happened this time and I am very grateful. It's a horrible experience and I really got a glimpse into what it must be like for someone who is addicted to really addictive drugs.

I mean... technically, effexor isn't really "addictive" because it's not mentally addictive. Yes, when I start going through withdrawal symptoms I want to take my medication because I don't want to feel terrible. But... I never crave it otherwise and I don't ever want to take more than was prescribed to me. So, that's why it's not classified as an addictive drug even though it has documented withdrawal symptoms and even though there are documented cases of patients never being able to go off the medication because of the withdrawal symptoms (see... withdrawal symptoms can actually KILL a person or be too disabling to lead a normal life with... hence why some countries have methadone programs and stuff for people addicted to heroine and stuff... because sometimes it is actually safer to just go on relatively safer drug... anyway...).

So. Yeah. Not technically addictive because once you get off effexor I'm pretty sure that people never have a problem "abusing" it in the future. It's just... a near impossible drug to go off of because of the horrible awful physical withdrawal symptoms.

When I was very young, a doctor put me on paxil. I was tired a lot suddenly when I was about 13. I was worried about side-effects before agreeing to go on it. I asked about side-effects and if it was addictive or anything like that. I was told it was safe and that it was not addictive. I was a child. I agreed to go on it. Adults knew best. It turned out I had mono... that was why I was tired. I wasn't depressed at all. I became suicidal... a side-effect of paxil that they discovered years after I finally went off it. I insisted the drug was making me feel worse. I told them the paxil was making me crazy. I finally convinced my parents. Going off of it was hell. The doctors told me it wasn't addictive, it couldn't be hell. I told them it WAS. I told them what I was going through. Everything I was going through. Finally, at one appointment, the doctor conceded to a point... but explained that wasn't really addiction... I yelled, I screamed, I cried "I AM ADDICTED TO THIS DRUG! HOW CAN YOU SAY IT IS NOT ADDICTIVE!?"

The day that "SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome" was finally legitimized in the medical world was a day of triumph for me. The day that it was reveled that children should not be prescribed paxil because it makes them suicidal was another day of triumph for me. I was vindicated. At last. At long last. It took almost a decade... but I finally knew that I wasn't crazy and that others had suffered like I had and that others would not in the future because of people like me... I had been the next generations guinea pig.

I don't blame the doctors. I don't blame the medication. I don't blame the science. I don't blame my parents. I don't blame anyone.

I have also found meaning in my experience. No other child will suffer in the same way because of what I, and countless other children, went through. And many many more adults who are in a desperate situation will find the answer that they need in paxil. Paxil has saved so many lives. It has saved so many more lives than the lives it has taken. And it has improved so many more lives than the lives it has ruined.

It is a slow system that slowly evolves. And... a system in which patients need to become informed consumers. Where patients need to weigh the pros and cons. And where patients and parents of young patients need to ask questions and read the patient information that comes with every medication prescribed to them.

And, it is also a system in which doctors need to learn to explain the possible side-effects to their patients, in order for their patients to become informed consumers.  

And... as an informed adult consumer... I was in a desperate situation. Aware of the possibility of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome, I had fallen into dark hole that I couldn't get myself out of. I had lost my self-confidence. I felt as if I was losing my grip on sanity (of course, the doctors told me that the fact I felt this meant I wasn't... I was merely depressed). I was in an awful relationship with a compulsive serial cheater. And, I didn't know how to heal those wounds on my own.

I do now... in fact, I believe that these chronic migraine headaches have helped me learn what is important in life... and how I don't need to destroy myself for someone who doesn't appreciate me.

It's easier now, to see that. I have such a small amount of pain-free time... time to do stuff... that I want to spend it with people who I know care about me and people who I enjoy and have fun with. I don't need That sort of negativity in my life anymore and it's easy to brush off now because when you don't have a lot of free time, for whatever reason I guess, it becomes easier to brush off the losers in life (such as people who don't respect you and cheat on you).

But... I was younger when it happened, I had not experienced these chronic migraines. I didn't have a good sense of self. And, I just wanted a boy to love me... even if it was the wrong boy.

The effexor got me out of that state. And, it was a choice. It was a choice because I didn't feel I had another choice. I had tried all the other ways of getting out of depression that I could think of. I had brought religion back into my life. I was meditating on a daily basis. I was taking me time. I was volunteering. I was exercising. I was "pretending" to be happy with friends. I had started to go to therapy and it wasn't improving my situation. I was doing everything I was supposed to do to get better. And I was still becoming suicidal. I was afraid for my life. My doctor told me that effexor was the most effective drug on the market for people in the deep depression I was in, especially since I was suicidal. We were both afraid for my life.

I am alive today. I am happy today. Even with these migraines. I am not depressed. I get down. I have bad days. I sometimes feel sorry for myself. I sometimes cry. When the pain gets to a 10/10 level... I sometimes lose my head and I just want to get out of pain and mistake that for suicidal thoughts... but, I do not ever want to die.

I don't get depressed in the same way. I am not a depressed person. I don't let people walk all over me anymore. I don't let people hurt me in the same way. I don't hurt myself anymore. I am strong and I have hope that these migraines will go away. And... I know that my migraines aren't that bad compared to what could be wrong with me. I am so thankful that I don't have any other serious medical problems. Rationally, I know that my life isn't that bad and I know that it probably will never be that bad because I live in Canada... a country with a social safety net, so even if I never get better, I know that my country will look after me. So... just being born here makes me lucky. And... I know all that now. And being on the effexor gave me time to get to know that.

I don't regret going on the effexor. Even if it turns out that the effexor is what caused the migraines to become like this in the first place. At least I'm alive.

I just wish it was easier to get off of it now that I feel better about myself and about life. I've been trying to get off of it for so long now...

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Avatar universal
by inslady09, Sep 10, 2009
I had been on Effexor XR for 9 yrs due to some generalized anxiety disorder related to my marriage.  Recently I decided enough was enough and wanted to discontinue it.  I was very skeptical because I have read so many things about discontinuing SSRI's, and specifically Effexor XR, and the side effects that come with it.  Instead of weaning myself off, I stopped taking it cold turkey.  I am on day 5 now, and only have mild withdrawal sx's.  these include some insomnia, constant buzzing in my ears, a little blurred vision.  In exchange for the medications, I started exercising daily, eating better (no carbs's at all) and have lost some weight.  5 days and going strong.

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by marileew, Sep 10, 2009
i'm glad to hear that your symptoms are only mild! if it's been 5 days already for you... you should be able to get off the effexor no problem hopefully! for me it was years and hell. i couldn't go cold turkey because i would have seizures and stuff... but, it's good that you were able to do it with symptoms that for you are mild... it's also happy to hear that you have come to a place in your life where your anxiety is not so bad anymore :) i hope the side effects stay mild and go away completely very soon! :)

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by deebelle3, Sep 10, 2009

I hope you have talked with your Doctor about discontinuing the Effexor. Its not the side effects that worry me, its whether you are well enough to go off the meds. Sometimes we feel great and think, "oh, I am fine. I don't need these stupid meds anymore!" The reason you are fine is BECAUSE of the meds!! Please don't fool yourself. Some of us do get well, and don't need meds...others, like me will need meds the rest of our lives. I have been on antidepressants for 20 years. I was a fruit cake without them. Of course, I thought it was the guys I dated, or my bad luck, my parents, my friends,, it was me and the disease. The meds have given me a life I would not have had. I forget how much these meds mean to me when I go back and think of the last twenty years and the years before the meds. I have taken them for granted. they have been lifesavers to me. !!!!


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by marileew, Sep 11, 2009
Yeah... it is very important to make sure that you go off the meds with your doctor!! It can be dangerous to go off any medication without talking to your doctor first.

In my case... I switched to a different anti-depressant, I didn't go off anti-depressants. An anti-depressant that was a much better fit for me... it wasn't the sort of emergency super-strong anti-depressant that effexor is... but, what I take now, it works now, for what I need it for now. Well... I didn't really switch to a different anti-depressant... I was taking two anti-depressants for a long time since I couldn't get OFF the effexor for sooo long since the withdrawal symptoms were so bad (like, i honestly felt like i was going to die... like, uncontrollable shaking and night sweats and not being able to do anything but just shake on the floor for days every time I went down by a few mgs... oh it was just awful!!!) But... yeah, I finally got off the effexor so I could be on just the ONE anti-depressant, the one that both my doctor and i knew was the right anti-depressant for me... and NOT an SSRI (although for many people ssris are the perfect fit... they just weren't for me! but, i would never suggest that a person not take an ssri if their doctor and them thought it was best for them)! (and btw welbutrin is what i take now and i love it... it helps me so much in so many aspects of my life!)

But yes... what Dee said... always make sure you consult your doctor when going off a medication or switching medications! :) :)

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