View Full Version : Confused over SSRI discontinuation syndrome (worse with ADD meds) any ideas???

03-08-11, 05:21 AM
I was misdiagnosed about 12 years ago with various kinds of anxiety and depression and put on zoloft, it helped for a few months, but then stopped and the side effects took over. I tried effexor, but that made my head feel like it was stretching away from my body and floating around the room, so I settled with Lexapro, which didn't work any better than zoloft, but the side effects weren't so bad. I tried to taper and stop taking lexapro 4 times, but couldn't handle the 'withdrawals'. The last time wasn't so bad and I managed to stay off them for 2 months, but then I went through some trauma and my anxiety went very high and even though the lexapro never really helped, it was all I had and so I thought it would be better than nothing.

Anyway, that was about a year ago and now I have a correct diagnosis of ADHD and have found that stimulant medication helps me with emotional control and getting things done. My anxiety just vanished as soon at I started taking the new meds and I never thought I had depression anyway, I just used to get so tired and despondant from trying so hard but never getting anywhere and having no support or understanding from myself or anyone else.

Now I'm trying for the fifth time to get myself off Lexapro and it seems to be even harder this time, but I can't figure out why or what to do.

The last time when I tapered and stopped I experienced increased anxiety, anger, irritability, some mood swings, but the worst was over in a week and by the end of week two I was fine......until the trauma started after 2 months.

But now I'm on ADHD medication and its different. There has been no anxiety or depression, just ongoing cycles and waves of physical symptoms getting worse not better.

I feel like I have morning sickness, the flu, a migraine, tinnitus, jet-lag, insomnia, menopause, pregnancy, IBS and arthiritis all at the same time. I was Lexapro free for 20 days, but today I suddenly had all the physical symptoms of a panic attack (without the mental anxiety), I couldn't breathe properly and nearly passed out. I reached my limit of endurance and took some Lexapro after 20 days of suffering without it.

I have tried not taking my ADD meds to see if that helps because last time I withdrew more successfully I hadn't yet been properly diagnosed, but when I don't take my stimulant meds I also get dramatic mood swings and extreme emotions as another withdrawal symptom.

More and more foods are making me nauseous, even water sometimes, its just like being morning sick.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any ideas why my SSRI discontinuation syndrome is worse now that I'm taking ADD meds, even though when I don't take them, it gets even more worse.

As I wrote, I took some lexapro today because I just couldn't handle it any more and was thinking of trying to change to Prozac which is supposed to be easier to withdraw from.

Any ideas or comments would be appreciated :)

Oh! I almost forgot, when I mentioned to my doctor about stopping Lexapro he said that I was on such a low dose anyway, I probably wouldn't notice any difference :rolleyes:

03-08-11, 05:33 AM
You might have to taper off very slowly. What you'll have to do is reduce your dose, wait about 2 weeks for any symptoms to appear (if any), wait until the symptoms go away, then reduce your dose further.

And don't be afraid to go the chemist and buy every drug you'll need to counter the withdrawal symptoms.

03-08-11, 07:00 AM
(1) Re: Low Dose.. different strokes for different folks. I assume by "low dose" you mean about 5 mg's a day?

(2) Switching to Prozac: Definitely something to consider, due to Prozaac having amuch longer half life.

(3) Try getting a precription for Xanax for those panic attacks. But make sure you take it at as low a dose as possible, and as infrequently as possible. Benzo withdrawal is a b----.

(4) Hyocine or similar for stomach cramps, painkillers, and as driver said whatever other meds will help with your symptoms.

(5) What ADD meds are you taking, and at what dose (personal interest here)

good luck, btw :)

03-09-11, 04:48 AM
Thank you Driver and Itcomdata for your replies and supportive ideas.
Yes I like you idea of having lots of stuff on hand to counteract all the withdrawal symptoms. I actually do have most things I would need anyway, my house and purse for that matter has always been a bit like a drive through pharmacy. My problem is that when I'm in the grip of overwhelming physical symptoms which I can't seem to predict or understand and they just hit with no rhyme or reason, I get confused and overwhelmed and start to doubt myself and my own perceptions, especially because the 'official' line is that this is not happening, especially when you taper, so my sense of reality starts to blur around the edges and I don't know if I really am out of touch with reality or if I'm just feeling like I am, and if so, is that another symptom of withdrawal, and if it is, which I think it is, how do I then handle everything else and make good decisions through my distorted lense of can all get a bit tricky:confused:

But if I get myself 'organized' before I try again, with a chart of symptoms and a note to myself about the medication and dose to take to counteract it, then I won't get so confused in the chaos of the moment.

(1) My Lexapro RX is for 20mg, but I've never taken more than 10mg a day, its quite easy for me to cut down from 10mg to 5mg and for the last 9 months or so, that's what I've been taking at night. (5mg) Its a crumb, looks like nothing.

My doctor was talking about 10mg when he said I probably wont notice any difference if I just stop taking it, so of course I believed him in relation to 5mg, he said that 5mg was below the 'theraputic' level and and that it probably wasn't doing anything anyway. (nothing particularly helpful anyway, apart from stopping my body going into withdrawal from 'it')
(3) I've got xanax, several bottles of various strengths and some serapax too. Before my ADHD dx my doctor would apologetically offer me all kinds of pills and try and give me more of the things he was 'allowed' to, even though they never really helped me much or for long.

I was thinking that Inderal (propranolol) would be more likely to counteract the feelings of panic because for some reason, my ADHD meds have blocked most mental/emotional anxiety, which is what benzos did for me.....block the fear emotion, or perhaps blocks the part of my brain that thinks scary thoughts.....along with other thoughts....all thoughts. If I can't think properly about anything, then I'm not going to think about things that scare me either.

The panic I got yesterday was pure physical sensation - room swaying around my eyes, heart beating too fast, the air in my lungs not being enough to do the job, feelings of nausea rising from my stomach up into my throat, heat pulsing through my body and face, sweat oozing from my pores, my peripheral vision getting narrower until it was like I was looking down a tunnel straight in front of me. I wasn't particularly 'scared', and I wasn't thinking "omg I'm dying", or "oh dear, I've fallen into a parallel dimention and I can't get out", which was the sort of things I used to think before I learned what a panic attack was, it was more like I was annoyed, angry, confused and just completely sick of being sick and having no control over my moment to moment experience of life which after my recent proper diagnosis of ADHD and treatment, seemed like a particularly cruel thing for 'theuniverseGodwhatever' to be doing to me.

I mean I've struggled to live for 48 years, with a hidden, undiagnosed disability, and I've suffered horribly because of all the anxiety, shame, frustration and confusion which has come from never being able to do what myself and society expected I should be able to do, but never knowing why and always blaming myself, until I finally got diagnosed a few months ago. But only because of my own stubborn refusal to give up on myself when everyone else had either lost interest or faith or both. When those who are paid to help, have really given up and barely cover their irriatation and impatience with required platitues, gestures and cliches in an attempt to ..... whatever their primary agenda really is, I still kept looking for clues about the 'real' underlying cause of my inability to be able to make my talents and intelligence work for me in spite of trying my best 99.9% of the! I seem to have forgotten what my point about this point was (smile)
(5) I'm taking dexamphetamine, 5mg every 2 hours. I'm in Australia and our health department must have a lot of documents with important rules in their cabinets, huge rolls of tape and big sticks to keep us hedonistic, driven to self destruction Australian types under control (for our own good of course), because there are not many medication options here. We got dex IR or Ritalin. I think that Ritalin XR has just become available here

Or perhaps we are limited for choice because those are the only two which are out of patent and can be bought cheap (by our govt) and covered by our national health scheme. My doctor says that I must have good kidneys because they throw medication out of my body fast, but I have a suspicion it might also have something to do with ph levels, I tend to be too acidic and from what I have read, acid destroys stimulant medication. That reminds me of conversations I used to have with my daughter when she was into Pokemon and she was trying to teach me about the different types and how to make my deck better...... which was destined to fail right from the start, I only liked the grass ones because I thought they looked the cutest :o

(3)....part 2 .... ( I remembered)
I was thinking that inderal (propranalol) would be better for panic than xanax because its just the physical symptoms of anxiety I'm getting which really are mostly an excess of adreneline and inderal blocks certain symptoms of too much adreneline like high blood pressure, sweating, fast heart beat, tunnel vision, GI distress (when not related to something else).

I did for a moment consider going back onto BuSpar to help me through SSRI withdrawal, but then I realized that even though I'm one of the 40% of people who do get a reduction in anxiety from BuSpar, it works the same as the benzos without the addictive factor and only really targets mental anxiety, which I'm not getting as long as I keep taking my ADHD meds.

Does anyone else have any theories about why I might be finding it more difficult to withdraw from SSRI meds now that I'm properly diagnosed and treated for ADHD.....Specifically, why my body is finding it harder to make enough of its own serotonin now, when the only significant variable change between now and when I did so much better last year, is that now I have enough dopamine in my brain and last year I didn't.

Anyone? Any thoughts, ideas.... even far fetched, off the wall ones ;)

03-09-11, 07:53 AM
SSRI withdrawal can be a horrible thing, and depending on which SSRI you're talking about, it can be even worse. What you're experiencing doesn't sound as complicated as all you've written - it sounds like classic SSRI withdrawal.

Unfortunately, the solutions are limited to not quitting, switching to a different medication, and riding it out. Oh, and the fact that you've had benzos in the mix doesn't help, because those have some nasty withdrawal symptoms, too, and you might feel them even in between doses if you cut back in amount or frequency. (For example, you take x number of milligrams at night to sleep, and take half that instead, and 8-12 hours later you're having panic attacks.)

Lexapro/Celexa in my experience were so horrible that I couldn't even take them, worse with side effects than Paxil. Withdrawing from Paxil was awful, and I still had lingering effects from that more than a year later. What you're describing sounds like what that was for me, plus or minus a thing or two. I eventually began taking Cymbalta, which was not only effective for my depression (which came back with a vengeance) but also was far easier to discontinue when I was tweaking my prescriptions later on.

Stopping Xanax was pretty awful, too, but once it was over, it was over. You're giving yourself at least a double whammy, altering your medication schedule on both antidepressants and benzos at the same time. Using the second regularly while stopping the first might be a good idea if you can handle taking anti-anxiety medication during the day. (And make it the same one at the same dose at the same times.) Whenever you change things, you should change them one at a time so you know what's helping and what's causing a problem.

Best of luck to you. Keep us up to date - knowledge is power!

03-09-11, 12:17 PM
I definitely felt more relief and better under control while taking cymbalta . I've been taking lexapro and can barely manage the dose. It helps in some ways but my ability to focus is not as good and I feel kind of anxious. I suspect that increasing my dose would be some peoples method but due to the fatigue I just cannot really increase further. I feel when I'm sedated like that my body starts to become symptomatic. Anyways , I feel as though when taking cymbalta I had no physical muscle pain like I do with lex and celexa it's really not cool.

03-21-11, 02:55 AM
Just in case anyone is interested, thought I would update about my progress with withdrawals....oops! I mean the discontinuation syndrome.

Its been just over a months since I 'officially' took my last lexapro 5mg. But at day 20 I felt so bad, after reading and posting here, I decided to go back onto it at a lower dose and continue to taper more. Took 2.5mg which was an eighth of the tablet and within a couple of hours, I was feeling much better. The next day I was still feeling fine, so I didn't take another dose and decided that I would take 2.5mg every second day for a while. But day 3 arrived and I was starting to feel some nausea, dizzyness, hot flashes, but instead of taking lexapro, I took 5mg of propranolol. (which is a medication used to prevent migranes, to lower blood pressure and it blocks adreneline I think). Within 30 minutes I was feeling about 50% better and well enough to carry on with what I was doing. So for the next week or so, when symptoms hit me, and there have been a strange bunch of assorted things, I just took the appropriate symptom relief and/or propranolol if it was anxiety related.

Right now I can say I'm definately over the worst of it, still feeling a bit dizzy at times, very slight nausea and 'heat waves', but it usually only lasts about 20 minutes. My general energy levels are not back to 'normal', but this is manageble and I'm so happy to have stuck to it, got off them finally and know I'm heading back to being my 'real' self. Or rather my new and improved real self now that I got a proper diagnosis and the right treatment.
Thank you for your comment, just wanted to clarify. I wasn't using benzoz, probably confused you because I wrote about them, someone had suggested that I get some and take them and I mentioned that I already have some. I agree with you, those things can cause a whole new set of problems all by themselves. I only kept them for 'emergencies', often, just knowing that I had them was enough to calm me down. Never took more than one dose, usually half a dose, within 48 hours. I was actually more scared of getting hooked on them than anything else.

Thanks for all the comments and support.

04-24-12, 12:50 AM
Stop and go to the local ER