Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Coming Off Of Antidepressants

Day two went superbly.

Day two of what?

Of coming off of an Antidepressant.

Am I depressed. NO! I'm not depressed, in fact, I believe most people on antidepressants aren't depressed. (Though if you are, there is no shame in it... clinical depression and manic depression are very serious illnesses that should be treated and should not be taken lightly). 

In my mid 20's I found myself with 2 gorgeous little boys, aged 3 and 18 months, they were my everything. I was married at the time and we decided we would have a 3rd child. I lost my 3rd child to miscarriage, I was 10 weeks pregnant and it was horrific, I had labor pains and began to "pass" my child (as the nurse said to me), I had an emergency D&C and was devastated. The loss of a child that you so desperately wanted and already loved is beyond comprehension. The worst part was my husband left for Italy a week later and he was gone for 3 months, he was in the Air Force and was gone 8 months out of the year, leaving me alone in South Carolina, 1500 miles from family. After my loss I did go to stay with my family while my husband was away, but shortly after that is when I started having panic attacks. Anyone that has had panic attacks knows that they stop your world. Full Stop. And it doesn't move much after that. Especially when you have them daily, or a few a day. It was a hard time for me and I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder. Thus began my journey of finding the "perfect" medication. I haven't had a panic attack in 12 years. Effexor was my miracle drug.
Before I go any further, I want to talk about the bad rap that antidepressants have. Bad Bad Wrap. Because lets face it, if you have to have a medication for your brain, there must be something seriously wrong with you.
Right?
WRONG.
Nothing is likely "wrong" with your brain. Just like it's not your fault that you might be a diabetic, would you take insulin if you were a diabetic? Of course you would, or you'd be dead! Though you're not likely to die from the causes that require treatment with antidepressants, you may very well "feel" as if you might.

Primary (approved) uses of antidepressants are for the treatments of:
  • Agitation
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD)
  • Childhood enuresis (bedwetting)
  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Manic-depressive disorders
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
Some "off-label" uses of antidepressant (for an unapproved indication) include:
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Chronic urticaria (hives)
  • Fibromylagia
  • Osteoperosis pain
  • Hot flashes
  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Hyperhidrosis (drug-induced) - sweating too much
  • Premenstrual symptoms
  • Ruritus (itching)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Migrains
  • Snoring
Snoring? Hives? Do you get the picture? I'm not a Doctor so I can't say if antidepressants are over used, but they are used for so much more than mental health.
My Antidepressant works, in fact, it works very well! I NEVER have panic attacks. So why do I want to come off of it? Well ... It's been 12 years that I've on this particular drug, and my body has become addicted to it. The one thing that Doctors don't tell you (And they won't call it "addiction"... but it is truly an addiction) is that you will go through withdrawals if you come off of certain antidepressants. If you go through physical withdrawals coming off of any drug... You're addicted. Coming off cold turkey leaves your brain feeling like nails on a chalk board. I once ran out of my prescription after I moved to Texas and had to change Doctors... 

Withdrawal symptoms begin within hours of missing a dose of this medication, I never let my prescription run out again. 

Common symptoms of stopping an antidepressant abruptly?
  • Terrible nightmares
  • Trembling
  • Sweats
  • Diarrhea 
  • Tremors
  • Extreme Mood Swings
  • "Brain Zapping" Effect
  • Buzzing Feeling
  • Nausea
  • Complete Loss of Appetite
  • Dizziness
It's very serious business coming off of an antidepressant, namely Effexor. 
My reason? When I moved to Austin I got a new Doctor, he told me that because of my life circumstance I may have needed an antidepressant at the time, but he feels that it's a very good likelyhood that I no longer need medication to treat panic attacks any longer. He told me that coming off of Effexor would take time, possibly 6 months of time... maybe sooner. 

Ironically enough, as I talk about withdrawal symptoms, I found this photo on a google photo search!
Doctors fail to mention what it feels like coming off of antidepressants, but they sure don't mind giving them out like candy! 
And so another journey has began for me. Life is, after all, about the journey.

My Doctor completely cut my medication dose by half. I do feel the withdrawal symptoms, however slight, but I'm feeling good. I work out at the gym at least 6 days a week, I eat insanely healthy, I've started looking at life with more of a "holistic" view and I'm in the right mind set. 

The good news is, I'm not afraid to fail. If I start having panic attacks again, I won't have any problem whatsoever with re-looking at the whole anti-depression route again. But I'm the kind of girl that likes to take it one day at a time. So far. So good. 

If you would like to know how to help a friend that is having or has panic attacks, check out this ARTICLE... It's pretty cool!

What IS an Antidepressant, exactly? Medical News Today will break it down.

Mental Health is as important as Physical Health, I only wish that people wouldn't judge and turn their backs on the truth about psychological disorders. There are many intelligent, strong and incredible people that suffer with various disorders, they aren't "weak", I know many personally and they are some of the strongest people I know! They have to work that much harder to live with joy.
I'm seeing my son this weekend after being apart from him for 6 months... Life is good.
In fact, life is very good!
I hope you are having a fantastic week!
Tammy x

18 comments:

  1. Good for you, Tammy, for trying to get off the anti-depressant. You will know if you need it or not. I am so glad that you take it with no hesitation and that you are talking openly about it. My neighbor had panic attacks and it was awful. I often ran errands for her because being out int he stores seemed to trigger them.

    My hubby takes anxiety medication and he keeps going off them and doesn't go back on them until I "catch him"-and I can tell by his actions and his shortness of temper. He hates the thought that he HAS to take meds. AND he works in a profession where he tells people every day that they need to take their meds. lol Go figure.

    You can do this, Tammy. One day at a time and I am praying for you and for NO panic attacks in your future- xo Diana

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  2. Take care, take great that your taking control. That is going to be great to see your son.

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  3. Such an open and honest post Tammy. I hope it goes well for you, and that you get through the withdrawal as soon as possible. CJ xx

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  4. Hey Tammy,
    This is an important post. There is still so much mythology surrounding mental health issues, and thedrugs used to treat them. I have recently lowered my dose with a view to stopping them in another couple of months. You write with great honesty and clarity. I found your experience of anxiety and panic very moving. Best of luck with the withdrawal. You are so right about the addictive properties of the medication. It is not often discussed when these happy pills are prescribed. You sound strong. - mind, body and spirit. Good luck with the process of stopping the pills. Holistic is the way forward - something I am trying to achieve in my life after many years of anti dependants. I am bolstered by this post and your honesty . sorry about the ramble! take care xxx

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  5. Good for you! I`m glad to hear from you since I`d wondered what happened to you after our earlier email exchanges. I`m glad to know you are doing well and moving forward. Nice that you get to see your son too. I`m sure both of you are looking forward to it! xx

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  6. Good for you Tammy, I salute your courage in telling your story too. Like the pic says: You Got This.
    Hugs & love xx

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  7. thank you Tammy, interesting article. Good luck with the coming off them. All those endorphins from the gym should carry you through anything!! Heather x

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  8. A number of years ago I was on antidepressents and when it was time for me to get off, we started a little fast. BAD move. Yes, it is a long, gradual bit. We did it a half pill for a long while, then a quarter, then spacing it out. But all you say here is very important and good education for people who think it's silly or they can handle things themselves. Excellent points made. Good for you, and good for your withdrawal. You know they are always there if you need them, but somehow, I don't think you will!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your story Tammy and wish you well with your journey towards coming off your antidepressants. Take it slowly though, very slowly. You're not in a rush and you must let your body get used to the withdrawal. Good luck and enjoy your reunion with Joshua.
    Patricia x

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  10. This was a fascinating post Tammy. I only once tried anti depressants when my marriage broke up and have to say they didnt do anything for me. It took time but I got better on my own eventually. Good luck XX

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  11. You are so good to share this story with your readers Tammy, by talking about these things we make them more normal and less secretive, and making it normal is a good thing. So, I salute you for taking this action, and for sharing it with us. I really hope that everything goes well for you, one day at a time! How wonderful too that you will be reunited with your lovely boy (well, man really!), I hope that you have a great time together. xx

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  12. You know Tammy, your honesty and strength makes you such an inspiring woman. Take it steady and good luck.
    Bet your reunion with Josh was an amazing and emotional time! M xx

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  13. Tammy, I hope it goes well for you, take care of yourself (it sounds as though you already are though!) xx

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  14. I had no idea about this, you have explained it all really well. I hope that you do manage to come off them as it would seem to me not to be a good idea to keep taking something that you don't need any more. Good luck with it.
    Best wishes Lizzy x

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  15. Hi Tammy what a moving post. I am so sorry to read that you went through such a difficult time, but I am also equally pleased to hear that this drug worked for you and got you through it all. There is most certainly a time and place for these drugs, despite what people say or write. I too have been an anti depressant user for the last four years now and I have tried to reduce several times, but without any joy. Another condition you can most certainly add to your list is M.E as a very large majority of people with M.E are on them, for me at the moment it is to help me sleep, but we all have a differing reasons and for many of us they come as life line at a very difficult time. I am so pleased to hear that you are having a safe journey coming off them and I wish you all the best for making it through the other side. Having panic attacks aren't easy to deal with, I know as I had them for the first year of my illness. Enjoy the time with your son, I do hope he got our card and little gift in the end. Sending you much love xoxo

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  16. That was such an interesting post and you're very brave to talk about depression, so many people consider it a taboo subject. I hope you continue to be ok, good luck and have a wonderful weekend, say Hi to your son! x

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  17. You know what I think half the battle is... your mindset! And I think you have the perfect mindset for this :) When people medicate issues they forget sometimes that they need to be positive about the experience and not think of it as a failure or that they are permanently broken... they must be accepting that there will come a time when it's time to stop or at least try anyway!!

    Maybe it's because I am a positive (or at least try to be) person and I always LOOK for the brightside... I never wait for it to appear. That's you here, yes you know it's tough, you are bracing yourself for stormier days but you are so positive... you have found your brightside! All of the love, to you Tammy xxx Hazel x

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  18. Ooh, good luck! I don't think you'll need it, but I wanted to say it anyway. I think you're smart to try and taper off since your life circumstances have changed so much. Why take something you don't need, right? I hope it continues to be an easy transition for you. I don't know much about prescription drugs {none of us ever take any} otherwise I'd try to offer you advice, but it seems like you've done your research. :o)

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Thank you for your positive comments!