To learn what antidepressants are, visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/ssris/art-20044825. Do you think you are experiencing antidepressant withdrawal? If so, you’re in the right place.
Antidepressants or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) work on depression by “increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain”. Though this may be true, depression is not linked to just serotonin. The “chemical imbalance” theory itself may not even be true.
Most of the time, a person taking these medications will be tapered off way too fast by their doctor. Most doctors tend of underplay the severity of withdrawal, claiming the drugs do not cause dependency. This is simply false.
The best way to avoid antidepressant withdrawal is to taper 10% of your dose every 4 weeks.
Severe symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal
An ominous feeling like something isn’t right.
This feeling can be mild, moderate of severe. The feeling is hard to describe unless you’ve felt it before. The level of distress this bizarre symptom causes depends on how fast a person was tapered off of their medication.
This sensation can only be described as an internal anxiety. Unlike situational anxiety, this anxiety is more intense in nature. It could feel like profound grief or fear experienced in a nightmare.
This antidepressant withdrawal symptom could cause a person to go to the emergency room. The unnerving sensation that something isn’t right feels different from “normal” anxiety. The person afflicted may assume there is something physiologically wrong with them and seek help.
Internal restlessness & agitation.
This antidepressant withdrawal symptom may be the most distressing out of all.
Unlike situational anxiety that comes and goes, this “internal restlessness” creates an fear from within. Agitation arises from the inability to sit still or relax. The need to pace may cause the sufferer to pace in circles all day long.
Restlessness and agitation may last around the clock, or come in “waves” at certain times of day. As a result, the inability to sit still can cause feelings of desperation.
Small tasks can feel overwhelming when in a state of agitated anxiety. The distressing nature of this symptom is the reason so many end up hospitalized.
There are few things that will bring relief to the sufferer. The only “cure” is time.
When someone has severe agitation, waiting may not be an option. Every minute feels unbearable.
Feeling like you’re going “mad”.
During severe antidepressant withdrawal, a person can easily think that he/she is going mad.
The previous two symptoms can easily lead a person in withdrawal to believe they will lose touch with reality. In some cases, a person in severe withdrawal may become so distressed they decide they have to stay on the medication.
The sensation of losing one’s mind is not an easy thing to cope with. Lasting one day in this state can feel like being tortured by an internal force. You may find it impossible to get up in the morning or do daily tasks because of your symptoms.
A feeling like you are falling into oblivion.
Antidepressant withdrawal can make you feel like you are falling into oblivion. You don’t know what “oblivion” even is, but you’re falling into it.
It can make you question your sanity. Symptoms can feel so unnatural they scare you. Sometimes, withdrawal symptoms can make your mental illness symptoms seem mild in comparison.
Similar to the “impending doom” one feels during a panic attack, withdrawal can create a constant doom-like feeling. You may be convinced you’re dying or going completely insane.
Symptoms of moderate antidepressant withdrawal
This symptom could be considered severe, moderate of mild. Antipsychotic withdrawal is notorious for causing severe insomnia. Some people find they either wake up extremely early in the morning, or do not sleep at all. Others have difficulty falling asleep in general.
This symptom is distressing because the longer one goes without sleep, the more anxious they become. Daytime stress increases with less deep sleep in the night. Sleep deprivation is terrifying, especially when nothing seems to bring relief.
Morning cortisol “dumps”.
Another symptom of antidepressant withdrawal are “morning cortisol dumps”. A person in withdrawal may find that their morning anxiety levels are off the charts. Mornings could be absolute Hell because of an abnormal amount of cortisol upon waking.
Certain chemical processes happen in the body that help us fall asleep, and help us wake up. When the body is in antidepressant withdrawal, the nervous system becomes sensitized. The sensitive balance or chemicals and hormones becomes disrupted, causing imbalances in stress hormones.
Severe morning anxiety could cause a complete loss of appetite, acid reflux and other stress-induced symptoms. The need to pace and move from restlessness could increase in the morning as well. Morning symptoms typically feel more severe than evening symptoms, where a person may find an hour or two of relief.
An inability to perceive a positive future.
Antidepressant withdrawal can easily warp one’s thoughts and feelings. The all-over nervous system instability can lead to an increase in depressive symptoms. The loss of ability to see a positive future can make the sufferer feel as if there is no hope.
This symptom is particularly dangerous because suicidal thoughts could arise out of the loss of hope.
It may feel like you are trapped int his new state forever. Thoughts such as, “My life is over,” or, “I’ll never be the same again,” could feel intrusive in nature. Frantic anxiety increases as one falls into despair.
This one goes without saying. Sometimes the symptoms of withdrawal can peak and cause fierce panic attacks. If you find you are having unexpected panic attacks, you may be in withdrawal.
Panic attacks may also increase as a result of sleep deprivation caused by withdrawal related insomnia.
Mild antidepressant withdrawal symptoms
Nausea is extremely common during antidepressant and antipsychotic withdrawal. It is usually the first symptom to emerge. The severity of nausea can be severe, moderate or mild.
Loss of appetite.
Loss of appetite is a relatively common symptom of antidepressant withdrawal. Nausea and loss of appetite may go hand in hand. A drop in blood sugar could further exasperate the symptoms of both.
Acid reflux is yet another symptom of withdrawal. Antacids only work so much, and most of the time this symptom will go away with time. Acid reflux itself can lead to an increase in both nausea and loss of appetite.
An increase in anxiety and depression.
This symptom is listed under “mild,” but in reality, it varies. The extent to how much withdrawal increases anxiety and depression depends on the person. This is an extremely common symptom of antidepressant withdrawal because of the chemical changes happening within the brain.
Headaches and migraines.
Intense pressure-like headaches, brain zaps and other bizarre symptoms are extremely common during antidepressant withdrawal.
The head pain may be severe, moderate or mild.
What helps alleviate the symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal?
When the nervous system is sensitized, adding new supplements and medications may further distress the CNS. You want to be extremely careful, and not add too many new things. The best “cure” to withdrawal is simply time.
Two things that are safe to take while in withdrawal are magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Natural Calm can be found here. Take this in moderation, as stomach upset and digestive issues may occur when too much is taken at once.
A fantastic supplement for omega-3’s can be found here.
What to do if you are in antidepressant withdrawal
One of the best resources I have ever found online is the site https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/. Surviving Antidepressants is an amazing forum where thousands of people discuss their withdrawal symptoms.
The forum admin’s are experienced in dealing with withdrawal effects, and may be able to help you.
If you are having symptoms of psychosis, please speak to your doctor immediately.
Like this post? Be sure to check out http://circumnavigating-madness.com/2019/11/05/what-does-it-feel-like-to-live-with-generalized-anxiety-disorder/ to read about what it feels like to have generalized anxiety disorder.