Psych meds side effects / withdrawal symptoms blow!
There are luckily ways to manage psych meds side effects / withdrawal symptoms 🙂
I do think there is a place for psychiatric medication, no doubt about that. They have helped me get back on track a few times. It’s important though not to stay on these meds for longer than you need to. They can cause horrendous side effects, and the long term safety of these medications is not yet fully known. Withdrawing from medications such as anti depressants, anxiety meds, pain killers, sleeping meds, benzodiazapines, PTSD meds etc can be equally stressful.
Here are some of my experiences with psych meds from over the years (I’ve included opiates too):
Citalopram is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Citalopram is available on prescription as tablets and liquid drops that you put in a drink of water.
For more information on Citalopram, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/citalopram/
I emigrated to Thailand while I was on the 60mg dose, and to my horror I soon found out that I was unable to get this medication anywhere! So I basically went from 60mg to 0mg daily – I do NOT recommend this, the withdrawal symptoms were awful (I don’t think I ever got over it until I came back to the UK 10 years later and went back on this medication).
I self medicated while I was in Thailand due to feeling low in mood, with xanax and locally grown cannabis, which helped greatly. Thailand has perhaps the best cannabis in the world (just my opinion).
Sertraline / Zoloft:
Sertraline, also known as Zoloft, is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Sertraline comes as tablets, which are available only on prescription.
It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for sertraline to work.
For more information on Sertraline, please visit https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/sertraline/
Stayed on it for 6 months then tapered off fairly quickly and commenced with citalopram, which works well for me. Each to their own though, for some people it’s been a life saver.
Mirtazapine, sold under the brand name Remeron among others, is an antidepressant primarily used to treat depression. Its full effect may take more than four weeks to occur, with some benefit possibly as early as one to two weeks. Often it is used in depression complicated by anxiety or trouble sleeping.
As I recall, I was on this drug for no more than 3 months. The reason I took it in the first place was to help move on from years of taking xanax. Taking mirtazapine 15mg at night certainly helped with insomnia, but the next morning I felt like I’d been hit by a bus and it was nearly impossible to get out of bed until lunchtime.
The other side effect was a huge increase in appetite – the local shop made a small fortune from me as I’d be in there all the time buying junk food.
I don’t remember any significant withdrawal symptoms with this drug, apart from eating less.
Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medicine that affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with anxiety. Buspirone is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, such as fear, tension, irritability, dizziness, pounding heartbeat, and other physical symptoms.
I started on 5mg daily, then went up to 10mg. There may have been a slight improvement in my anxious feelings at first, but this was not nearly as effective as I needed to treat my PTSD. Main side effects for me were coming out in a rash, and sweating like Gary Glitter waiting for his laptop at PC world!
No real issues coming off this med – they were having no beneficial effect on me, just side effects, so was delighted to stop taking them.
I started on 150mg pregabalin per day to help with my PTSD, 18 months later I was taking 600mg per day. I can honestly say, only the first couple of doses gave me any relief, after that it was a complete waste of time and detrimental to my health. At 600mg per day, which is the maximum dose, this drug gave me no beneficial effects whatsoever, only some very nasty side effects (shortness of breath, chest pains, low mood, weight gain, rashes, bloating of the body, sweating, memory loss, hallucinating and seeing weird things out of the corner of my eye to name but a few). The existing knowledge about the discontinuation of pregabalin is limited. However, the existing case studies suggest diaphoresis (sweating), tachycardia, hypertension, tremors, diarrhea, agitation, paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mutism, self-mutilation and suicidal attempt as common symptoms of pregabalin discontinuation.
I knew it was time to come off this drug when it started to affect my speech, I’d randomly lose control of my mouth (I thought I was going to have a stroke!) so I discussed it with my GP, and tapered off completely within 4 weeks. Withdrawing from pregabalin was a fairly grim experience, brutal at times.
Zopiclone is a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agent used in the treatment of insomnia.
Zopiclone comes as tablets. It also comes as a liquid for people who find it hard to swallow tablets, but this has to be ordered specially by your doctor.
This medicine is only available on prescription.
Zopiclone takes around 1 hour to work.
Zopiclone is usually prescribed for just 2 to 4 weeks. This is because your body gets used to it quickly and after this time it’s unlikely to have the same effect. Your body can also become dependent on it.
Common side effects are a metallic taste in your mouth, a dry mouth, and daytime sleepiness.
Do not drink alcohol while you’re on zopiclone, crazy thing will happen.
I was prescribed this medication to help with insomnia, a knock on effect of my PTSD. At first it worked well, giving me about 6 hours sleep. The side effects of taking zopiclone included memory loss, a very bitter taste after taking the tabet, and stomach / digestion issues. They also gave me a headache. I soon had to double the dose I was taking (3.75mg to 7.5mg) as the 3.75mg dose had stopped working. After about 9 months the 7.5mg dose stopped working too. Be careful things get strange fast on this stuff, and definitely avoid alcohol when taking it (and switch your phone off, you may well wake up in the morning and see texts that you’ve sent yet can’t remember sending them).
There were no significant withdrawal symptoms other than once they stopped working, my insomnia was worse. This is when I switched to Temezepam.
Temazepam is a hypnotic benzodiazepine used to treat insomnia. It is sometimes sold under the name Restoril.
The only side effect I had when I was taking them was that they gave me a very sweet tooth – 15 minutes after taking one 20mg tablet, I’d be putting on my shoes to go and buy ice cream. I was taking 20mg Temazepam in tablet form until recently, I’d been on them for about 20 months. They worked at first, giving me about 6 hours sleep, but like with most drugs, I developed a tolerance and after about 6 months or so, they didn’t work too well.
I tapered off by lowering my dosage to 10mg then 1 month later to 5 mg, then at the end of that month I stopped completely.
During the tapering off period, I adjusted my sleep hygiene procedures, and changed my diet slightly. I also used CBD oil to take away the side effects of anxiety. I now sleep well 🙂
I first started taking this drug when I was living in Thailand. At first it seemed like a wonder drug, straight away I felt calmer and more relaxed than I had been in quite a while. Quite quickly though I needed to take more to get the same effect, until I was taking too many.
Extreme caution required when taking this drug!
The main side effect I experienced while taking xanax was severe memory loss.
I went through withdrawals when I came back to the UK and the xanax that I’d brought back with me had run out. I went cold turkey, which was brutal. I do not recommend this! I couldn’t sleep for days on end, even then only getting the odd hour of sleep here and there. I was also really on edge, my nerves were jangling. It took a good 3 months to get over xanax withdrawals. Try to avoid any stimulants like coa cola and coffee, as this will exacerbate any anxiety you are feeling. A premium CBD oil, omega 3 fish oil (highest dose available) and gingko biloba supplements will also help. Rest assured, things do get better eventually.
I won’t be taking them again that’s for sure.
What is an opiate or opioid? Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to two types of narcotic‑pain-relieving drugs with similar actions and side effects. Traditionally, opiate describes drugs that come from opium. Opium comes from the opium poppy plant Papaver Somniferum, and has many historical uses including treating pain and inducing sleep along with a long record of abuse. Opioid refers to drugs that are entirely or partially synthetic, or man-made, and mimic the effects of opiates.
Opioids and opiates can be prescription medications often referred to as painkillers, or they can be so-called street drugs, such as heroin.
Many prescription opioids are used to block pain signals between the brain and the body and are typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. In addition to controlling pain, opioids can make some people feel relaxed, happy or “high,” and can be very addictive. Additional side effects can include slowed breathing, constipation, nausea, confusion and drowsiness.
I’ve withdrawn from opiates and opioids a few times (opium which I was smoking while living in Laos, Tramadol and dihydrocodeine. It’s always been an uncomfortable experience, though The symptoms can be managed.
Below is a short video by Dr. Tom O’Brien, herbal specialist, where he talks about the 20 herbs he suggests using, to treat opiate addiction:
OK, here’s a few effective tools from my toolbag to help with both side effects and withdrawal symptoms, in no paticular order:
- Think positively
- Be grateful (count your blessings)
- Avoid junk food – please see Food for Thought
- Drink plenty of clean water
- Pay no attention to the news, it’s mostly lies
- Focus solely on your breathing whenever possible
- Be kind
- Take notice of nature and admire it’s beauty
- Be strong and help those who are less strong
- De clutter – both your possessions and your thoughts
- Avoid sugar as much as possible, psych meds tend to make you crave sweet foods and drinks, but try to resist
- Limit your caffeine intake, as it can increase your anxious feelings – try herbal tea like valerian and chamomile
- Love yourself
- Get plenty of rest
- Be humble
- Never give up, even if you have a blip
- Use a quality CBD cannabis oil
- Have faith
- Listen to your intuition
- Learn from within – take the time to meditate
- Do your best
- Buy an ice bong and smoke some CBD flowers
- Never be afraid to step out into the unknown
- You can change
- Be yourself and don’t try to be like anyone else
- Dwell not on the past
- Meditate – to stabilise the soul
- Exercise – whatever you can manage
- Try to do some yoga
I’d love to hear from others who have been through the experience of psych meds side effects / withdrawing. If you want to ask me a question about my experiences, please get in touch or leave a public message below 🙂