I was prescribed Sertraline (Zoloft) in 1998 when I had postnatal depression. I was told to take it for a year to 18 months. I went from deep depression/anxiety to euphoria in the space of about two weeks, I felt pretty damned fantastic, there was nothing I couldn’t handle. As time went on I continued to feel well but my emotions were dampened down, so I was functioning well, no depression, but no “joy” either. After a few months of feeling well I decided I didn’t want to be on Sertraline anymore, didn’t read the patient information leaflet or talk to a doctor, not that that would have helped anyway. I just stopped taking them. My head felt terrible, it began to feel water logged, if I turned my head there was a time lag between my eye balls catching up with the fact that my head had turned, so dizzy, gradually intense sadness would kick in, really really intense sadness and anxiety, oh the anxiety, pumping adrenaline and nerves shot to bits. I went back on the Sertraline.
The doctor told me to do the alternate day thing, alternate days for a fortnight,then every third day for a fortnight, then one tablet a week, I did this various times over the next few years to no avail. I tried a pill cutter and halving the tablet, it wouldn’t break down easily without crumbling so that was unsuccessful. Every time I tried something, I ended up in worse shape than the time before, it was all getting steadily worse. I tried meditation, healing, exercise, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, fish oil capsules, NOTHING touched it. I pressured my surgery to refer me to a psychiatrist for advice,but the psychiatrist had no clue and could only recommend switching to another drug. I did switch to Citalopram for a while, and Mirtzapine, I felt constant fatigue on Mirtzapine, and then back to Sertraline. Yet another psychiatrist recommended halving my dose of Sertraline and taking diazepam to mitigate the withdrawals, so replace one powerful drug with an even more powerful addictive drug.
This is my description of how withdrawal felt from my blog, I only recently found out that what was happening had a name,akathisia:

“5am and for about the 3rd night in a row I’ve barely slept, I can’t stop the adrenaline pumping round my body, my stomach is tightly knotted, I’ve barely been able to eat properly it makes me feel sick. I’m clammy, sweating and crying and P is trying to reassure me, but he has to go to work. I get up and drag myself through all the motions of the day and making sure boys get to school, I feel like the living dead, I make sure they get fed and make sure they and no one else is aware of what’s going on, I don’t hang around at the school gates. Oh I do kind of tell a few people I’m not really feeling right but I play it down.
The constant adrenaline is tormenting me on the inside and I can’t stop it.It’s been building up over a period of months and I’ve been fighting and fighting the feelings but it seems to have reached a peak of exquisite torture.It’s like being at the top of a roller coaster that never stops. Someone else mentioned birdsong, and it was a funny thing, the torture was worse in the mornings and over the summer months while it was slowly building, birdsong in the morning outside the window had become a kind of torture as well. I had to go to work only 2 days a week and God only knows how I managed it. I had taken
my last Sertraline tablet months ago, and come off it as per the doctors instructions, and now my depression/anxiety was back tenfold to punish me for daring to presume I could stop taking it. I must be wired up wrong, no one else feels like this do they? What is wrong with me? Maybe I really am insane, maybe I just can’t cope with life without my tablets, how come everyone else can cope with life, and I can’t? There must be something fundamentally wrong with me. By now the Orwell Bridge was beginning to look a bit attractive and I just wanted to escape the adrenaline surges torturing me, my nerves were in shreds”.
This was 2003,at the end of 2003 I gave in and went back on the sertraline.

In 2006 I attempted another withdrawal, but at the same time we found ourselves going through a stressful life event, I tried to tough it out but ended up back on the Sertraline again.
So here I was, several years later and no further forward, and not for wont of trying! Everytime I went in a book shop or library I would try and find anything I could about antidepressants and depression, but nothing really enlightened me. I rummaged around on the internet but couldn’t find the answers. Until one day, I was browsing around Waterstones, and “Coming off Antidepressants” by Joseph Glenmullen jumped out at me, I read it avidly, and discovered TAPERING!!! But, all the examples in the book referred to liquid Seroxat or Prozac, I was really upset to find Sertraline was not available in liquid form. Armed with my new information about the simple concept of tapering, further digging led me to Dr Healy’s protocol of switching to the equivalent dose of liquid Prozac. These two pieces of information became my secret hope, I latched onto them. I decided to take a leap of faith and switch to liquid Prozac. At the beginning of 2007 I marked up my calendar with a schedule, I was going to go down from 5ml to 4.90ml the first week, 4.80ml the next week and so on, as my sons would say “epic fail”. By about mid February the nightmare was unfolding again and I had to give in and go back to the top of my Prozac dose, I was devastated.
Still I hadn’t given up hope, P was sympathetic but he couldn’t understand why I didn’t just give it up and accept I “needed” the drugs like a diabetic needs insulin. After lots more research, and P having interesting and enlightening conversations with a client who was a pharmacist about my problem, I started my taper again in May 2008, this time much much slower and here I am four years later down to 1ml liquid Prozac and still sucessfully tapering. It has needed a lot of self-discipline. I kept this blog/diary of my progress; I’ve been amazed to meet a few others who have been tapering longer than me. Nowadays my withdrawals are fairly benign, but I still feel a bit scarred from the experience,the akathisia has left me still feeling like my nerves are quite raw and very close to the surface but I can live with that now.
There is a huge assumption that these drugs are benign and harmless, they are not; they can cause extreme agitation and internal torture. They are dished out like smarties and people left to deal with the results. Starting them is like playing a game of Russian Roulette, you might be a lucky one who can take them and come off them with ease, or you might not. My understanding was that they were meant to be taken for only a year or so after you feel “well” but many many people are stuck on them for years or forever, I know many people who’ve given up hope of coming off SSRI’s and I hear many people say “oh I’ll be on these the rest of my life”. There is NO support or advice in place through doctors or psychiatrists on how to taper safely off the drugs.....if anyone does find any help in the UK, please let me know, although it’s a bit too late for me now as I’ve almost done it myself, but I know a lot of other people who might like to know!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Positive Comments Mean so Much

I've had some really encouraging, positive and supportive comments lately from people about my progress, on here, by e mail, through Facebook and in person and I just wanted to say that the positive encouragement means far more to me than you probably realise. It makes me feel really positive about my progress. I've also made some great new friends.




Prozac Reduction Timeline

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Dizzy

So I've been feeling a bit like this today:















But it's a walk in the park compared to feeling like:






















Sunday, 13 November 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver (we need to talk about Prozac)




I haven’t seen the film yet, I’m going to see it with my oldest son who is the same age as the fictional Kevin, he’s interested in the book and film as well, but I have read the book twice now. This second time I’ve read it from a different angle, I was interested in reading it from the Prozac and antidepressants angle and the connection with teenagers being prescribed antidepressants and the increasing correlation between SSRI use in teenagers (and adults) and violence and suicide. In the book however it is clear that Kevin has done his research and cynically starts taking Prozac to use it as a defence for his horrific crime. The book is really about the nature/nurture debate and Kevin is every parents worst nightmare.


Whilst it is an excellent book and one that I couldn’t put down, it’s a shame especially now that it’s been turned into a film that it has a negative impact on the debate surrounding the link between SSRI’s and violence and suicide. At the same time I was reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin” this article landed in my mail box about a case where there was a landmark legal confirmation of the fact that the newer antidepressants like Prozac can cause violence and even murder.

Link to this article

Judge confirms Prozac caused teen to murder based on Peter Breggin M.D.'s court report and testimony to the Provincial Court of Manitoba, Canada. Boy sentenced and to be released in 10 months


Peter R. Breggin, MD


"This is a landmark legal confirmation of the scientific fact that the newer antidepressants like Prozac, including the SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, can cause violence and even murder." ~ Peter R. Breggin MD


(PRWEB) November 08, 2011


Final sentencing for the teenager who inexplicably murdered his friend while on Prozac occurred November 4, 2011. The case involved a Winnipeg, Canada teenage high school student with no prior history of violence who, while chatting in his home with two friends, abruptly stabbed one of them to death with a single wound to the chest according to court documents. Provincial Court Judge Robert Heinrichs based his decision upon psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, M.D.'s report and formal testimony to the court according to the Judge's Opinion.


In the case of “Her Majesty the Queen and C.J.P” (Citation #2011 MBPC 62), in the Provincial Court of Manitoba, Canada, Judge Robert Heinrichs gave the boy a three-year sentence, less time already served, so that he has only 10 months remaining in jail. The judge additionally required community supervision for four years.


Psychiatrist and expert witness for the defense Peter R. Breggin, M.D. said, "This is a landmark legal confirmation of the scientific fact that the newer antidepressants like Prozac, including the SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, can cause violence and even murder."



Dr. Breggin testified that the boy’s primary care physician and his parents alerted the prescribing psychiatric clinic to his deteriorating condition, which included agitation, anger and mood swings. But the clinic continued the Prozac and then doubled it. Seventeen days later, the teen knifed his friend to death, according to court documents.


Provincial court judge Robert Heinrichs read Dr. Breggin’s report and listened to his expert testimony in court. In his written opinion, Judge Heinrichs found “Dr. Breggin's explanation of the effect Prozac was having on C.J.P.'s behaviour both before that day and in committing an impulsive, inexplicable violent act that day corresponds with the evidence; as Dr. Breggin states in his report, there was no significant deliberation or organization by C.J.P. that afternoon.”


Earlier in the year on September 16, 2011 Judge Hendrichs issued his opinion that the sixteen-year-old should be tried as a youth instead of an adult. The judge found that “his mental deterioration and resulting violence would not have taken place without exposure to Prozac." Also confirming Dr. Breggin’s lengthy report and testimony, the judge found , "He has none of the characteristics of a perpetrator of violence. The prospects for rehabilitation are good."


In his report and testimony, Dr. Breggin found that the boy's symptoms were consistent with a Prozac (fluoxetine) Induced Mood Disorder with Manic Features and that he would not have committed the violence if he had not been given the antidepressant. He also testified that the teen had improved dramatically when removed from the Prozac after a few months in jail and that he was no longer a danger to himself or others. He brought numerous independent scientific studies to court confirming that a large percentage of youth exposed to the newer antidepressants will develop these hazardous adverse drug reactions. He also noted that the observations and even the wording of his own earlier scientific publications had been included into the information now found in the official FDA-approved labels. Dr. Breggin’s scientific articles concerning antidepressants can be found on his website at: http://breggin.com.


The defense attorney in the case was Greg Brodsky of Manitoba.


Peter R. Breggin, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York, and the author of dozens of scientific articles and more than twenty scientific and popular books. His two most recent books deal with medication induced violence: Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition, and Medication Madness: the Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime. Dr. Breggin's home website is http://www.breggin.com where many of his scientific reports on antidepressants and other subjects can be retrieved. On April 13-15, 2012 in Syracuse, New York, the annual conference of Dr. Breggin's 501c3 nonprofit international organization,the Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, will be held. The conference will include a panel of lawyers, experts, survivors and families concerning antidepressant-induced violence, suicide, and crime


It’s great though that someone like Peter Hitchens has written about this book and the need to talk about antidepressants and I suppose I’ve more or less duplicated what Peter Hitchens has written.

Link to Peter Hitchens article

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Stigma - Or You Wouldn't Know it to Look at her Would you?

Or maybe I’m flattering myself and you did always suspect there was something? So I’m not clinically depressed now but it’s always “there” lurking in the background.


I’ve been thinking a lot about stigma lately because it came to my attention again this week that I still find it really difficult to talk about depression/PND to people in real life who don’t know about it. The irony is that I actually find it quite easy to share on a blog with strangers and potentially the whole wide world. How ironic is that?
Why is it so easy socially to say “I’m diabetic” or “I have asthma” but nearly impossible to say “I have post natal depression” or “depression” or “anxiety”?

It feels so excruciatingly uncomfortable so the easiest option is to batten down the hatches so no one can see and take yourself off to the doctor for some pills to fix it. Far easier than explaining to people around you that you’re depressed and would really appreciate some help and support, and risk them telling you to “pull yourself together” and “what have you got to be unhappy about?” or “it’s all in the head”, like you would actually CHOOSE depression as a lifestyle choice. Once you are taking the pills, if you do have to tell someone you can explain it away by saying “I have a chemical imbalance in the brain that needs correcting, much like a diabetic needs insulin...”, sounds better than saying ”Without them I feel like life isn’t worth living, and falling asleep and not waking up again actually seems like an attractive option”. Or “I can’t cope with my anxiety levels”

There’s a feeling that you’re somehow letting the side down, with PND or depression, it just wasn’t in the script, it happens to other people doesn’t it? It leaves you with a feeling that you are somehow fundamentally flawed, weak. Other people are strong and you are weak. Other people cope with life and you don’t. Other mum’s are coping with new motherhood and you are not. Other people don’t need pills to cope with life and you do. Except maybe, they do as well and you just don’t know it....


Friends

Peter had his 3.5 hour Diploma exam today and I was his scribe, it was very intense, and we were being watched on CCTV. Then over a very late lunch I broached the subject of my next reduction and we agreed to go ahead.
When I got home later Carol had left loads of messages on my web site and my bestest friend Shazz had also left something on my Facebook wall as had Carol and they were so timely and made me really appreciate my friends. Shazz has been my bestest friend for about 16+ years and we have been through many of life's ups and downs together and we both continue to support each other although our paths are very different in some ways.
 This one was from Shazz.




























This one was from Carol who writes this:Everyone's Gran Blogspot



Prozac Reduction Timeline

1.40ml at last!

OK so we have agreed that I am going down to 1.40ml tomorrow, it's been a good 3 months I think since the last reduction, I think I will go to about 1.30ml at Christmas, and you never know, by this time next year I might be all the way off! So it's back to the small syringe to measure 1ml and then .40ml every morning:
















Prozac Reduction Timeline