Psych meds side effects / withdrawal symptoms blow!
There are, luckily, some really effective 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 60mg daily, 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, initially with xanax, which helped.
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/
I took this med for 6 months then tapered off fairly quickly, it wasn’t helping me and has it’s fair share of side effects. 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 my 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 to collect 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.
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. I lost 8kg in 3 months after I stopped taking pregabalin!
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.
I was prescribed this medication to help with insomnia, a knock on effect of my PTSD. At first it worked fairly well, giving me about 6 hours sleep. The side effects of taking zopiclone though 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 (best to switch your phone off too, 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 and 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 – 7 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 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 effects I experienced while taking xanax were severe memory loss and black outs.
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 harsh. I don’t 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 coca cola and coffee, as this will exacerbate any anxiety you are feeling. A premium CBD oil, good quality omega 3 fish oil (highest dose available), gingko biloba and magnesium supplments 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. Side effects can include slowed breathing, constipation, nausea, confusion and drowsiness.
While I was living in the Golden Triangle area of South East Asia, it was fairly easy to get hold of opium. I used opium to self medicate, and there’s no doubt about it, it does ease pain and suffering, however once you’ve been using it for some time, the withdrawals are in the post…
Withdrawing from opiates is always 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:
I first started taking Diazepam in South East Asia, where they are widely available on the black market. The danger with that though is that you are never 100% sure that the dose you are taking is accurate, and whether or not there are any other chemicals in the tablets (fake meds).
Diazepam, first marketed as Valium, is a medicine of the benzodiazepine family that typically produces a calming effect. It is commonly used to treat a range of conditions including anxiety, alcohol withdrawal syndrome, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome (ironic!), muscle spasms, seizures, trouble sleeping, and restless legs syndrome. It may also be used to cause memory loss during certain medical procedures. It can be taken by mouth, inserted into the rectum, injected into muscle, or injected into a vein. When given into a vein, effects begin in one to five minutes and last up to an hour. By mouth, effects may take 40 minutes to begin
Common side effects include sleepiness and trouble with coordination. Side effects include suicide, decreased breathing, and an increased risk of seizures if used too frequently. Occasionally excitement or agitation may occur. Long term use can result in tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms on dose reduction. Abrupt stopping after long-term use can be potentially dangerous. After stopping, cognitive problems may persist for six months or longer. It is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
They helped me to zone out from the inner anguish I was experiencing at the time. You have to be really careful when taking this drug. One time I was in Bangkok, and had to catch a flight to Yangon, Myanmar. I got to Bangkok airport to find that I had missed my flight by hours, so I went back into Bangkok city and caught a flight the next day. Once I got to Yangon, I had no recollection of missing my flight or getting to Yangon! I was on Valium for about a year or so, towards the end I started to feel that they were poisoning me, and the black outs were scary as.
I found it’s best to taper off diazepam gradually.
Well, that’s about it!
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 (banish all negativity from your life)
2. Be grateful (count your blessings)
3. Avoid junk food – please see Food for Thought
4. Drink plenty of clean water
5. Pay no attention to the news, it’s mostly lies
6. Focus solely on your breathing whenever possible
7. Be kind to yourself and others
8. Take notice of nature and admire it’s beauty
9. Be strong and help those who are less strong
10. De clutter – both your possessions and your thoughts
11. Avoid sugar as much as possible, psych meds tend to make you crave sweet foods and drinks, but try to resist
12. Limit your caffeine intake, as it can increase your anxious feelings – try herbal tea like valerian and chamomile
13. Love yourself
14. Get plenty of rest
15. Be humble
16. Have faith
17. Use a quality CBD cannabis oil
18. Be honest
19. Read the book called ‘The secret’ by Rhonda Byrne – it’s about the law of attraction
20. Learn from within – take the time to meditate
21. Do your best
22. Never be afraid to step out into the unknown
23. Meditate – to stabilise the soul
24. Dwell not on the past
25. You CAN change
26. Exercise – whatever you can manage
27. Swap some bad habits for some Healthy Happy Habits
28. Try to do some yoga
29. Trust your intuition
30. Eat food rich in magnesium, this will help to soothe your nervous system
32. Never give up, even if you have a setback
I’d love to hear from you, to talk about your experiences of psych meds side effects / withdrawing. If you want to, get in touch or leave a public message below 🙂