AD withdrawal fun
October 20, 2011 5:47 PM   Subscribe

I abruptly stopped Risperidone, Effexor XR, and Epival all at once and now I'm feeling like garbage. Is there anything I can do to mitigate the feeling like arse?

So I attempted suicide two weeks ago and upon surviving the hospital shrink took me off Risperidone, Effexor XR and Epival at once and put me on Zoloft. (I'm also on Trazadone). It's been 13 days since I stopped and each day is getting worse. I have headaches galore, breathlessness, lightheadness, and a feeling of my veins being too full of blood (like someone is cutting off the blood to my head). No one warned me that I'd feel this way and it isn't helping my mood any.

I don't have an appointment with my shrink until next Thursday so there doesn't seem to be anything I can do medically but I was wondering if there was something else I can do to feel even marginally better.

Any help would be greatly appreciated because this is making me ill and not wanting to take any medication the doctor gave me.
posted by kanata to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
IANYD, but honestly you should call the emergency line for your psychiatrist. Tell the doctor why you have stopped taking it, and they may be able to prescribe something to mitigate your side effects until you are through the worst. Effexor has a very rough withdrawal period.

But honestly kanata, please believe me when I say this, if you are hurting, you should really try to give the medication a chance. It can help you stabilize until you are able to hold yourself up on your own. I say this out of experience.

I wish you only the best and success in your recovery.
posted by Draccy at 5:53 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Oh god, that sounds awful. I have gone through withdrawal from Effexor, and that was bad enough. I can't imagine what it's like with those other drugs too. What helped me was taking sleeping tablets and sleeping as much as possible for the two weeks the withdrawal lasted. I did it over my Christmas vacation so I didn't have to work, and just slept all night and most of every day. When not sleeping, I watched crappy TV. If you are going to try sleeping tablets, though, check with your pharmacist first in case of interactions with the other drugs you are on.

Good luck, and hugs.
posted by lollusc at 5:56 PM on October 20, 2011

Call the psychiatrist as soon as possible. If you can't reach him/her or you can't bear it anymore, call the hospital where you were treated and explain what's going on. Something's not right here, it's obviously getting worse for you, and you need professional help to try to put it right. You could be experiencing withdrawal symptoms or you may be having a bad reaction to the Zoloft or something else may be going on entirely. Waiting another week seems ridiculous if the symptoms are getting worse, so speak up for yourself and politely yet firmly request assistance.

Best of luck with this stage of your recovery and all the rest. The internet is here for you :)
posted by zachlipton at 6:00 PM on October 20, 2011

I'm on Effexor XR and man, I feel the withdrawal effects even if I miss my dose by a few hours. You have my greatest sympathy. I'm surprised the ER doc took you off everything cold turkey. From my experience, they seem to like to taper on and off SSRIs. Just last year I landed in the ER for suicidal ideation due to a change in medication. I begged the attending psychiatrist to let me get back on my old medication and not to continue with the current one (he wanted me to see my own doctor first). Was there something in the past that you found really helped you? Could you, like zachlipton and Draccy said, call your psychiatrist and get an emergency prescription of the same class of drugs to help mitigate the withdrawal?

The feeling of lack of blood to your head kind of sounds like the withdrawal effect called brain zaps, or brain shivers. Do you feel like your eyes quickly darted back and forth without them moving? Or that suddenly the earth's gravity shifted, then moved back?
posted by lizjohn at 6:05 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

No, I've had brain zaps before. Had a couple in the first few days of the Zoloft and they went away. It is more that it feels like there is a cord wrapped around me at the shoulder height causing all the blood above that to back up. It is really weird. It just feels like there is too much blood in my neck veins.

I'm seeing a shrink through Mental Health and Addictions up here in BC and thus they don't have an emergency number and he's away tomorrow so I'm on my own for the weekend. The nurse at the hospital who checked me in was mean and pretty much gave me the signal that I shouldn't be wasting ER resources with things like overdoses so I'm not keen on going back and waiting four hours just to get a benzo (which don't help me at all).
posted by kanata at 6:20 PM on October 20, 2011

Your doctor should have an emergency number on their voice mail and if they don't please don't hesitate to go back to the hospital if you feel you need to. You have every right to be there even if the nurses are mean or indifferent.

If you weren't comfortable at the hospital you went to go to another one because the quality of mental health care can vary drastically between hospitals.

Do you have a family doctor you can call? Sometimes they can pull strings to get you to see someone faster. Or you could try a walk in clinic.

You should really take the medicine you're supposed to because you don't need to be coming off even more drugs at once.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 6:47 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

spacewarp13 is right, the answer here is to get into action and get some help. don't accept the belief that you're on your own for the weekend. keep bugging people until you get what you need.
posted by facetious at 6:53 PM on October 20, 2011

God damn you mean nurse! Is there anyone you can get as an advocate for you?
posted by lizjohn at 6:56 PM on October 20, 2011

I used Valerian Root to help me out when I stopped taking Effexor XR. It helped, but I was still basically a quivering lump on the couch for 6 weeks.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:04 PM on October 20, 2011

As someone who has tried all the anti-D's on the market, I can only advise that you hang in there. The symptoms will pass and, for me, every day was better than the previous. Exercise abundantly, walk, walk, walk, it will take your mind off the symptoms. Hydrate frequently, all day long, tea is very helpful, herb tea better, fruit juice very good. Stay away from sugar, excessive caffeine, eat a healthy diet. Read books. This too shall pass.

P.S. YMMV but I'm not a fan of Zoloft personally. I wish you the best though.
posted by middleport at 7:06 PM on October 20, 2011

The effacer alone should be an ass kicker depending on the length you were on it. Respiterol(sp) has a huge side effect of suicidal tendency so that's a major brain one to really kick your ass too. The trazadone should slightly fill those and, at least knock you out, assuming you are on100+ it's also for anxiety. The zoloft I have no idea but it has less side effects. Just reading this makes me feel yucky. Def take the zoloft, it takes at least 3 days to get in your system. I feel for you dude. Feel free to mail me:/
Best wishes, call your doc. He should give you a benzo to mellow you out and *take the edge off* ( clonopin 5 mg prn)
Lol, I'm not a doc, FYI:)
posted by femmme at 7:26 PM on October 20, 2011

I've taken Effexor XR and gone off of it and the only way I was able to do it was by opening the capsule and dumping out half - taking that for a week - and then cutting it back by half again and then not taking any at all. It took almost a month to make the transition. I'd stopped cold-turkey before and had to go right back on after the abrupt change not only made me feel physically shitty in a very epic way, but lead to a bit of a break with reality. Tapering off was the only way I could do it.

If you're really in rough straits, go to an Urgent Care if there's one in your area. I see you're in Canada, so I don't think you have to worry about insurance. I don't know how things work up there, but if you can find a clinic type setting (not an ER where you'll just wait forever) and explain your symptoms and get help *now,* that will absolutely be in your best interest.

Also: that nurse was totally offbase. If you have a history of suicidal intent and your meds aren't working for you, you do in fact have an *emergency* and absolutely deserve help. If an ER is your only option and you absolutely can't take the symptoms anymore, just go.

Drugs do have side effects, but as someone who depends on anti-convulsants and anti-depressants both to stay on this side of sane and conscious, there are ways to manage your medication that also allow you to live a life that doesn't include feeling like shit. It takes patience and trial and error, but if you keep working at it, you'll get there. You do have to be your own best advocate and really push for improvements rather than just accepting whatever's been handed down - but with the right doctor and the right meds, you can make it work.

Hang in there and keep us updated!
posted by sonika at 7:28 PM on October 20, 2011

If you need additional resources in the meantime, beyond us here at AskMe - There Is Help is an extensive list compiled by MeFites of ways to get, y'know, help.

Again, hang in there and all the best.
posted by sonika at 7:33 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

The discontinuation effects I had from the antipsychotic they took me off of a few weeks ago were sort of helped by looooooong showers, lots of sleep, and letting myself eat and drink whatever I wanted. I blasted comforting music, vented a ton on Tumblr, and didn't leave the house for days. Still miserable, but I was able to avoid getting stuck in the "I'd rather die than wake up to another day like this" thing for the most part.

I also can't believe they made you stop cold turkey. That's just cruel.

And suicide (and suicidal ideation) is an emergency. You might consider calling one of these numbers if talking (as opposed to immediate medical intervention) might help. They may also have a good idea of who you can talk to (doctor/prescription-wise) in a hurry.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 7:55 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


If that seems too obvious... how many minutes in the past hour have you had food within arm's reach?

I wouldn't recommend overeating in general but when the alternative is a boot stomping on a human face forever, too many calories isn't so bad.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:03 PM on October 20, 2011

You're in hell, or so it seems to me, it's damn sure been hell when I've been in it. I'd have a nervous breakdown just thinking about it except that I've been through it too many times to be nervous about it "Oh goodie, another walk through the scorching blazing, damning fires of hell, tra la la dee da."

I'm awfully sorry that you're in it; I know that hours can feel like days, days like weeks.

Being tossed to the wind as you're trying to find a new medical regimen after a suicide attempt is pretty much malpractice, which isn't to say that it doesn't happen all the damn time. No one would do this to you if you were in crisis from a very dangerous cancer but seems that even people who work in the field just don't really get it.

Coming off of Cymbalta was an ongoing mess for me, no specific physical symptoms (like your cord wrapped shoulder height etc) but just that I'd looped the goddamn loop. It really caught me unawares, as I'd been on and come off prozac and maybe 3 other ssri with no problems, though I'd not been on them as long as I'd been on Cymbalta, maybe that was part of it.

A friend of mine, a recovered coke addict / alcoholic told me that for her, cleaning up off of cocaine and drinking was like a girl scouts field trip compared to getting off of Cymbalta.

The only people who really understand it are those who've been through it too. There are chat rooms -- I'm awfully partial the the crowd of people in one manic depressive support chat room in particular, great people, some of whom I've known online for years and really trust. It won't much matter that you're not manic depressive, it's an inclusive place to be sure, and there is mostly someone around 24/7/365 -- I mean, come on, we're manic depressives, half of us up all night. Plus there's sometimes people from Europe and also Australia -- tell Kase I said hello if you go in, she's one of the wisest people I know and one of the best, a real sweetie but tough as an old boot, been through hell and survived the trip, though it does seem to have affected the language centers of her brain -- if you ever talk to her on the phone you'll see what I mean, she talks real funny and calls things by the wrong names, like instead of miles she says hectares or some such jive, and then when you try to help her she gets all fussy.

Anyways, I do know the territory you are in, big trouble and no docs to be seen, no place to run, no place to hide. If you're in a large enough city there are perhaps support groups -- no telling. They're real helpful, in my experience. Dig in, dig deep, hold tight, treat yourself as well as you can ie warm bath favorite food nice walk pet the cat or whatever it is that floats your boat. If you have anyone that you can level with about this, tell them that you're in it, but only people that're not going to get all Pollyanna about it "Oh, it's not that bad, you silly goose you!"

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 8:11 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

you're in BC? - have you looked at healthlink?
it says that there is a line you can call 24hrs to talk to a nurse. even if they can't do much more than say "wait it out, you'll get better", hopefully talking to someone will get rid of the mean-nurse bad feelings that you're dealing with?

I hope you feel better soon
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:55 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please stay hydrated (with water--not soda or juice or alcohol) and eat as healthily as possible.

If you're having constipation or other discomforts, consider addressing those, with pharmacist oversight, even with o e-the-counter.

If you have a friend who can massage your shoulders or give a massage, even better.
If there's someone you can do something nice for, it might distract you and take you outside of yourself, even if its just picking up litter in your neighborhood.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:16 AM on October 21, 2011

Man nobody should go cold turkey off Effexor. My doc tried weaning me off too quickly from 150 to 0 while switching to another drug and I felt miserable. I would push as hard as possible to get attention from a doctor ASAP. All doctors have backups/emergency numbers/etc. Tell them you are experiencing "SSRI discontinuation syndrome" which is a nice way of saying "withdrawal." Nobody likes to talk about it but they all know how hard it is to get off that stuff.
posted by radioamy at 9:37 AM on October 21, 2011

Thanks for your answers. I managed to get some sleep last night as the 400mg trazadone helped a bit. This morning I feel like I'm burning up but still have cold chills and a constant headache. I decided to phone my family doc and am waiting for him to get back to me. The receptionist couldn't get me an appointment but said since I was just out of the hospital she'd get him to phone me. Hopefully he can help.

I'd go to a walk-in but there is none in my town. Heck, a large part of town doesn't even have a doctor as there is a shortage here. And there is only one hospital. The next closest is 120km away.

I'm taking the zoloft though I don't want to and feel that I'm just a fool for trusting doctors who put me in this situation. I've been treatment resistant for a long time and the doc who gave it to me said I'd be depressed forever and zoloft might give me a 4 out of 10 level of happiness and that's all I can expect. I've worked my way through a lot of other ADs so I really don't have hope any more for any of them. I'm not sure why I keep taking them. I should stop it now before I get too addicted to it too.

Anyway, it helps to know that it isn't just me alone who feels like this when off the meds and that others also think its nuts that they yoinked me off all three at once. Course I was in the ICU when they did it so I didn't get much say in it.
posted by kanata at 10:19 AM on October 21, 2011

Glad to hear from you today. Keep plugging along. I do not like your doctors and hope you can soon find someone who's a better fit.
posted by librarina at 10:44 AM on October 21, 2011

Effexor is notoriously brutal to withdraw from. You should not have been taken off it cold turkey; a reduced dose would be enough to mitigate the withdrawal without being messing with the Zoloft.

Do you have old Effexor scrips on hand, or ooutstanding prescriptions at local pharmacies? Pharmacies with which you have a rrelationship may be willing to provide you with a few days' worth of a low Effexor dose, because they know Effexor is notoriously brutal to withdraw from.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:20 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

All my scripts have been cancelled on me and I have no extra pills around as I used those to OD on. I did have some clonazepam that I gave to my therapist for safe keeping but he can't give them back to me now that I OD'd.

My gp got back to me and phoned in a script for some Ativan to help but I'm pessimistic about it as they pushed Ativan on me in the hospital and I never felt it doing much. Everyone is leery to give me anything that I can hurt myself with so he only gave me enough to get through the weekend. Same reason I can only get a weeks worth of medication at a time now. Sigh.

I'm thankful I guess that he gave me anything. I'm feeling really shaky tonight and my mood is in the gutter. It feels like the worst flu ever.
posted by kanata at 7:29 PM on October 21, 2011

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