Join Date: Oct 2006
| | Effexor Withdrawal - another survivor needs help!
I am sorry about the length of this post, but I am really looking for help and though it wise to give some history.
I have had chronic depression with major depressive episodes since my late teens, I am currently 48 years old, single and unemployed.
I have been on anti-depressants for about 10 years, started with Prozac, did well for a few years (at 60 mgs), then it stopped working.
In Jan 2003, I signed myself into the hospital, because I knew I was at the end of the proverbial rope. They switched me to Lexapro (10 mg) and Seroquel, after 2 months I had no marked response, switched to Zoloft (100 mg), which caused insomnia and anxiety, so we added Trazadone and Buspar, 2 1/2 months go by, still no marked response, switched to Celexa (40 mg) still with the Buspar, August comes and I'm still not feeling good, I decided if I was going to be depressed ON drugs, I might as well stop taking them. I tapered off slowly (on my own) but not slow enough, I crashed and burned. (At that time I did not know about the discontinuation problems, I just felt like I was going crazy, the brain shocks, etc)
I lasted about a month off drugs and couldn't cope. Went back to psychiatrist and she put me on Effexor, that was Oct 2003. By Jan 2004 I was taking 300 mg of Effexor along with Buspar for the anxiety caused by the Effexor. I did read the drug info on Effexor before taking it, but did not research others experiences so did not know about the problems. I did wonder about the symptoms I would get when I was late taking my dose or forgot it, but the doctor either didn't know about the problem or pretended not to, which made me feel like I was nuts. I never really felt all that much better while on the Effexor but was fed up with medications and my psychiatrist and just kept taking it. In 2005 I finally researched and found out what a problem Effexor was, I also found out about the information that the FDA made them add to the drug info about discontinuation symptoms, I tried to get off the drug twice with a different doctor's help, but couldn't get past the brain shocks.
This year in March I quit my job, (very out of character for me) I was feeling physically unwell and slightly more depressed then usual, but did not know what was wrong. I went to an MD for a minor infection on my finger and they were concerned about my paleness, took blood and found that my iron count was 14 (the normal range is 35/175). So far I have it back up to 23, so that's still a problem and adds to my lack of motivation and lousy (or nonexistent) energy level.
By April I had fallen into another major depressive episode, I stopped looking for work, spent all my time sleeping and went out less and less.
In late May, I decided to go to a new psychiatrist, and thankfully found one that understood about Effexor (!) He started me on 20 mg of Prozac along with the 300 mg of Effexor for one month, then we dropped the Effexor to 225 mg keeping the 20 mg of Prozac for the next month. It was not easy, but it was much better then without the Prozac, the brain shocks were minimal, I also had nausea, dizziness, stomach cramps, headaches etc. along with the expected mental symptoms, I retreated further into myself and found it difficult to even go out to the store. The third month I dropped to 150 mg of Effexor and raised the Prozac to 40mg. I was having anxiety, insomnia and difficulty concentrating. The fourth month he decided to accelerate the process and I went to 75 mg of Effexor for one week (keeping the 40 mg of Prozac throughout), 37.5 the next, then 37.5 every other day the next, finally quitting the Effexor on 9-9.
I had started to feel hopeful again in late August, just a little, but it felt like maybe there was light at the end of the tunnel. On Sept 21 I began feeling the future again, ideas started coming into my head, projects to begin, life to be lived, it got brighter and better every day. I interacted with people, I went to the pottery studio and was creative, I thought the darkness was past, it lasted for a week, and then I slid back to grey.
Now I am stuck here again and it feels terminal.
Is it still the Effexor messing with me? How long will it take to get better? I don't have much longer before I am out of money (maybe 3 months)
Has anyone had a similar progression?
I may have a chance to be in a TMS study, I am waiting to hear if I fit the protocol, I am fed up with drugs, but don't know if I can exist without them now, after so long. My psychiatrict supports the idea of the TMS study even though it means going off of all meds, but if I don't go into the study he wants to increase the Prozac to 60 mg and try that then who knows what if that doesn't work.
I'm feeling close to the edge again, but still willing to keep going, just wondering if I am grasping at straws and maybe this is it. But that taste of feeling better was so good, why didn't it stay?
Ok, I'll stop for now. I just hope that someone who has been through this reads this and writes back, I hope