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Author Topic: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!  (Read 1002 times)

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Offline jenno

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Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« on: November 06, 2010, 12:39:05 PM »
Hello there - I'm new here but not to anxiety!  I'd like to share my story and I hope someone out there will be able to help me out on this!
About 5 yrs ago I started having Panic Attacks.  One after the other for days/nights on end.  My regular doctor sent me to see a psychiatrist who put me on Remeron 15 mgs.  She chose that one because I had lost 19 lbs in 2 weeks.  I had no appetite!  The Remeron helped me with my Panic attacks and my appetite however, it did nothing for my anxiety so she added Ativan .5 mgs.

I still had horrible thoughts of something being seriously wrong w/me health wise. ( i feared i had cancer! )
After several months, I found a psychologist who specialized in cognitive therapy!  With the combination of meds and a good therapist, I was finally able to think clearly.

A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to get off the antidepressant.  My Psychiatrist explained to me how to slowly taper off the Remeron.  WOW is all I can say about that!  Come day 4, I was taking it again. ( i didn't take the ativan - probably would have helped! )

Last week, my therapist told me that she thinks it would be a good idea to talk to my psychiatrist and see about switching my meds to one that is better suited for anxiety and OCD ( the thoughts ).

So, as of 6 days ago, I started taking Prozac 10 mgs.  My anxiety has been pretty bad and I'm pretty sure it's the combination of the Remeron getting out of my system, the Prozac doing it's thing and just my fear of side effects
(that's another trigger for me - meds!)
For a couple of days now, it's been going through my mind again that I want to try and get off any and all antidepressants.  My thoughts are that on bad days of anxiety I can take an Ativan along with seeing my therapist twice a month instead of once if needed.
I was wondering if anyone else who suffers from anxiety has been able to stop their antidepressant and not have daily anxiety??  ( i really don't think i'd have daily anxiety - that's just the anxiety talking! lol )
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!!
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Offline Chronic_Perfectionist

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2010, 02:13:35 PM »
I personally felt like my anxiety and depression got worse when I was on an SSRI antidepressant. (I took Paxil briefly and stopped -- based on a doctor's advice).

I have always had more luck with an anti-anxiety medicine called Buspar. It is unlike many other anti-anxiety medications. I take it for a few months at a time, everyday, until my symptoms calm down enough that I can take over on my own. My doctor seems to not like prescribing it. I basically have to ask for it by name, and refuse any other options. I don't know why, but many doctors seem to not like prescribing it. I personally know of two other people -other than me- who have taken Buspar with good results.

I have never needed more than 15mg a day, which is a very low dose. I start at 5mg daily and move up slowly -- if needed. Buspar does not often make people feel great; it is simply meant to help relieve some of the worst symptoms of anxiety. I have heard that some doctors prescribe it alone, or as a means to help people get off of an SSRI antidepressant (because Buspar tends to have few, if any, withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it). Therefore, it is sometimes used as a 'bridge' to help people get off of antidepressants and then off of everything altogether.
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Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference...

Offline jenno

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2010, 03:32:55 PM »
is Buspar similar to Valium?  I've never heard of it before.  Is it like the other benzo's where you can become addicted to it?
my biggest problem is health anxiety, which also has me fear taking medicines! (afraid of becoming addicted!)
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Offline Chronic_Perfectionist

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2010, 04:17:03 PM »
First, I want to say that I am not a doctor. Therefore, please take my advice with a grain of salt, and talk to your doctor/pharmacist about it.

However, I can say that Buspar is not a benzodiazepine. Some people do refer to it as a sort of 'mild' benzo, but it is not in that family of drugs. Buspar is somewhat in its own category of drugs. That is, the common drugs for anxiety are SSRIs, benzo's, and Buspar (in a category all its own).

Buspar works to help calm anxiety, and has shown to have little withdrawal effects or addiction-risk. I personally took Buspar once for 8 months, and had absolutely no issue stopping it. I know of others who have said the same. Doctors are reluctant to prescribe Buspar because it can be slow to act (2-4 weeks). Therefore, they prescribe benzo's because patients like their almost instant effect. However, this 'instant' fix is what makes them so addicting.

I encourage you to Google Buspar. You can find a lot of information from authoritative sites. Also, some websites have entire forums dedicated to reviewing certain drugs. There are 51 user reviews for Buspar at http://www.drugs.com/comments/buspirone/buspar.html

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Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference...

Offline joegilbert

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2010, 04:31:06 PM »

You were having strong withdrawal symptoms from the Remeron. You then started up Prozac with gave you strong start up side effects.
If you were feeling good enough to stop the Remeron, you might consider just weaning off it VERY slowly. There are lots of sites that discuss this.

I was on Remeron for 5-6 months. I weaned off it and it took a couple of trys. You have to lower your dose and hold for a month or till you stabilize. Expect an increase in insomnia and anxiety. That's what I got.
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Offline jenno

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2010, 04:37:35 PM »
actually, i stopped the remeron on a sunday and the following monday started the prozac.
i've had pretty high anxiety not only i'm assuming from stopping the remeron but having the prozac start up - but mostly because i had anxiety with just the thought of starting a new drug.
i've read that remeron usually takes about 7 days to clear your system.
i was thinking that since i've already started the prozac 10mgs. and it's now day 6 off of remeron that i could start taking only 5 mgs of prozac (instead of the 10) and after several more days just stop the prozac.   i take from what you wrote that that might not be long enough - that i should do it more slowly?
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Offline joegilbert

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2010, 07:57:40 PM »

Prozac has a very long 1/2 life in your system. It has one of the longest of any antidepressants. It is also know (like most SSRI'S) to increase anxiety till your body adjusts to it.  If you were on it for less than a month, then I'd agree to lowering it down to 5mg for 3 days then stopping. I had withdrawal side effects for about one month following my last dose of Remeron. My withdraw was an increase in anxiety and insomnia.

Again, you should consult with a doctor but most simply throw more meds at you. You need to learn how to cope with your anxiety w/out meds. Meds cover up the symptoms, they don't cure anything. Some folks are able to stop their meds with out a return of their original symptoms.

Either way, you need to relax and realize that you probably will have some withdrawals from both the Remron and the Prozac.



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Offline jenno

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2010, 08:49:01 PM »
thank you for your post!  i do plan on talking to my doctor after the weekend is over, explaining how i wish to stop all antidepressants.  i know she'll be fine w/it, she pretty much let's me decide what action i should take.  she just recommends certain drugs. 

i feel really confident that i can do this w/out the help or side effects from SSRI's!  thanks again!
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Offline constantmover

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2010, 01:12:36 AM »
Hi Jenno,

I took Remeron for about six years and at one point I decided to go off it and try life without medication.  I too, took ativan on an as needed basis. I only used the ativan when I was in a particularly stressful situation which in my life at that time was pretty often.  I made the decision to go off without discussing it with my doctor and stupidly, reduced too quickly.  Needless to say, after two weeks, I caved and went back on Remeron swearing that I would never go off it again.  Two years later, after moving into a new place and having a lot of family health problems along with the stress of moving and a whole lot of other "stuff" going on in my life, I realized that I was having to take the ativan more frequently and that made me think, why am I taking Remeron for GAD and panic when it is the ativan that is really what is helping me.  This time, I went off the Remeron extremely slowly.  It is a great drug but after six years, I realized that it probably wasn't doing as much good as the ativan.

Even going off really slowly was difficult for me. At first, I felt pretty good, but as I got closer to ending it, I started having a few panic attacks.  None the less, I still felt overall better, like my spirit was lifted.  I felt more emotion, happy and sad, and everything in between.  I'm being really candid here and remember these feelings are personal.  Just because this is what happened to me doesn't mean it could happen to you.  By the time I was completely off medication (Remeron), I started feeling nausea and flu-like symptoms that lasted for at least a month.  I could eat nothing but the BRAT diet.  Diarrhea, aches and nausea were constants and I started suffering from more headaches.  Sleep became a constant problem, but that is when I really used the ativan.  I limited the ativan to only when I absolutely needed it.  In time, and the loss of 30 lbs., I was able to eat other foods without feeling like throwing up.  The aches went away and I still felt happy even though I was still getting the odd panic attack.  The biggest problem was the sleep.  The headaches were a problem too, but that is something I have struggled with for years so I can't really count that as being a part of this.  Anyway, I realized that I was starting to take more ativan than I was comfortable with, so I talked with my doctor and we decided that because I had in the past tried many SSRIs and practically every other medication one uses for GAD and panic with little or no positive results, I was better off staying on a benzo, but a long acting benzo, clonazepam.  I had been off Remeron for six months by the time I made the decision to switch from ativan that I was starting to take increasingly and go to a long acting benzo that I wouldn't increase once I found my appropriate dose.  I haven't changed my dose in the almost three years that I have been on it. 

I understand you wanting to go off medication and that is exactly what my plan was too.  I hope you do have success with that, but if you do decide that you find it too tough or that you life becomes restrictive just because you want to be medication free, then revisit your options.  Someone on here suggested Buspar.  Who knows, that may be a good drug for you if you need something but don't just start taking something because you think one is better than another regarding "addiction". 

All medication needs to be taken with caution.  I find it interesting that many people worry about the additive properties of benzos when no one thinks that SSRIs or SNRIs or any other medication is not addictive.  You have to wean off all medication if taken for a long period of time.  Plus, not all benzos are created equal.  Misuse of short acting benzos is what gives all benzos a bad rap.  A long acting one like clonazepam (klonopin) or Valium, these are long acting benzos and once taken on a daily basis, and the appropriate dose is found, most people don't ever have to up the meds as one would have to do if they stayed on a short acting benzo like lorazepam (ativan), Xanax, etc. 

I still carry ativan (sublingual type) with me just in case of a panic attack.  I can just slip one under my tongue and with in a couple of minutes it takes effect.  Frankly, I haven't used an ativan for that purpose in months.  I have used one on occasion when I have had a migraine for many days and advil hasn't done it's job.  I would then take an ativan before bed and in the morning my migraine would be gone.  I only use it when I've been through three days of headache, not before.

Anyway,  as I said, if you can get off of Remeron and forget about taking the Prozac, good on you.  BUT, don't feel like you have failed or be disappointed if you do need medication.  It is better to be on medication and have a life than to be able to say that you aren't on medication, but never leave your house out of fear.  Some of us just don't have the chemical make up that others have who can go through life without taking some sort of medication whether it be for a mental health issue or some other problem.  There is no shame in taking medication when it can help you live a good life.

No matter what you decide, ALWAYS discuss it with your doctor and then make an educated decision.
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Offline annemc

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Re: Yes or No to Antidepressant? Plz Help!
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2010, 02:00:06 AM »
I have attempted to go off meds on 2 occasions and have crashed both times, HARD. I also have always carried back up xanax "just in case", but have gone YEARS without having to take it. I personally feel like when I am on a medication that is working, the need for xanax is very small........
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