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How Do You Differentiate Symptoms?

Discussion in 'Medications & Substances' started by Nicolette, Apr 17, 2011.

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  1. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess Admin ♡
    Staff Member Premium Member

    If you have been on medication and want to go off it - or at least determine if it is of any benefit or not.................

    How do you differentiate between what is a withdrawal symptom (even if only slightly tapering back) or a sign that you should stay at the medication level you are at? What is the difference - being angry due to withdrawal or now being angry because the medication was helping control it?:confused:

    I am sure no one wants to take medication if they don't have to so how do you work out whether you need it or it's a placebo effect or you are genuinely just going through a withdrawal process?:confused:

    I get confused as there are medications for symptoms such as depression but then I hear they can cause depression. How in the hell do you work out which box you are in and if you have been on medication how do you define when to go off it if you didn't really want to go on it in the first place? :confused:
     
  2. externalsmile

    externalsmile Active Member

    All the questions that I want to know as well but there probably is no answers! I've been reading around. All the internet stories seem to say that withdrawal is worse than the initial illness. Then research in professional journals shows........NOTHING! I actually can't find any research on anti-depressant withdrawal. It disgusts me. Especially considering I am a mental health professional I wasn't even aware that there was a withdrawal process from anti-depressants. I just thought it was tapered down because sudden withdrawal effected your blood pressure not turn your life topsy turvey again!
     
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  3. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess Admin ♡
    Staff Member Premium Member

    If Anthony tells me one more time that anti-depressants can cause depression I am probably going to throttle him as without them at the time I couldn't walk out the door to work.......... so they do work for some. And if he tells me going off them makes you depressed or you have withdrawal symptoms like stated, worse than the illness, might as well just keep popping the pills...........argh! Bang head against a brick wall numerous times. :mad:
     
  4. externalsmile

    externalsmile Active Member

    LOL! I am in the exact same boat. Think I am going to sit down later and make a list of positives about reducing/coming off them. Think my biggest positive will be taking control over my moods and thoughts myself rather than letting a substance control them. I need to know that I can do that.
     
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  5. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess Admin ♡
    Staff Member Premium Member

    My problem is my doctor doesn't think I should come off them yet but I hate taking them......who knows best?! I know I can't work if going off them makes me like I was but I am willing to go through the process of withdrawal if I know I will be better off in the long term. Oh to own a crystal ball which worked. :roflmao:
     
  6. Abrasky

    Abrasky I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I'm an experienced antideppressant taker. : (I took Zoloft, went off Zoloft, took Aropax, went off Aropax took another one(can't remember name) went off that one and took Aropax,I was on antideppressants for 9 years then have been antideppressant free for the last 5 years. My experience was that each antidpressant effected me differently. Zoloft made me more depressed and anxious and suicidal. Aropax reduced anxiety and flashbacks and depression, the other one had me driving down one way streets the wrong way and didn't effect my anxiety but effected my mechanical and reasoning skills pretty well. I think I had no idea how they effected me at the time I was taking them, it was only in hindsight after I switched I realised how they effected me. I went off antideppressants too early a few times and ended up not being able to function so I went back on them again. Once many years of therapy had reduced my symptoms, I tried to go off the antidepressants again and I coped pretty well.:)

    Some Antideppressants can reduce anxiety and depression. Some don't. I have heard individuals vary a lot to with how they effect them. It is very dangerous to make blanket statements about antideppressant usage Anthony:p.
     
  7. intothelight

    intothelight Just Being Me
    Staff Member Premium Member

    I agree with what Maze said, that each anti-depressant (or type) can affect each individual differently. In the case of prescribing psycho-pharmaceuticals, the description of "practicing" medicine is best, as it seems the patient becomes test subject in a trial and error process to determine what medication is most effective.

    I have just monitored how I "felt" and kept the line of communication open with my doctor. But I also learned to stand my ground when I felt worse so it wouldn't be dismissed.
     
  8. externalsmile

    externalsmile Active Member

    How about we try go through the ordeal together and be emotional nutbags together?

    I'm hoping my G.P. will give me the ok because I will need to get a perscription for the lower dose! He usually lets me make my own decisions about medication. He makes the suggestion but ultimately I have control of the decision. If it is the wrong decision we just chalk it down to learning. It is an important part of recovery that you are at least given the opportunity to make mistakes and to be there to direct you onto the right path when the mistake affects you.
     
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  9. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt!
    Premium Member

    I think that going off medication should be something that a) you want to do and b) you have the coping skills in place to be able to do. In order to tell if the withdrawals are causing symptoms or the meds, that is quite easy but requires patience. You will have to wait the three months of withdrawals and see if your still symptomatic!

    Honestly, if you just started a lower dosage because your weaning off of meds the anger is mostly likely withdrawals. It can get really ugly (do you remember when I had to cold turkey off the Zoloft? shudders)

    If you want to figure out if the meds are causing symptoms, just increase the dosage (under doctor care please) and see what it does. You'll notice within a few weeks or less what is increasing or decreasing with depression, anger, sleep, anxiety etc.

    Anyways, that is what I know from what I have taken and my son has taken. Hope it's helpful!

    bec
     
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  10. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Princess Admin ♡
    Staff Member Premium Member

    I don't think I have the space or time to fall over right now so I'm going to wait a bit longer until I start weaning myself off them to see the outcome.
     
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  11. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt!
    Premium Member

    Probably a good decision for now.. wean off when you know your ready to fall. :)

    bec
     
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  12. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I understand your difficulties Nicolette. I've never been convinced that anti-depressants have had the desired affect on me, and I've tried plenty. I'm currently on 2 (paroxetine and mirtazepine). But for me withdrawal from anti-depressants (SSRI's) is physical, rather then emotional. I take 40mg of paroxetine every morning. If I forget to take my meds, I know about it due to electric shock type feelings. It's a horrible sensation, which I can't easily describe. Maybe 'electric shock' is too dramatic, more like tingling zaps through my arms and hands. But horrible non-the-less.That makes me wonder if I will ever get off them.

    I guess if you gradually reduce your meds really slowly (over months rather than weeks), any emotional withdrawals will become apparent. You can always increase them again gradually, before you get as far as 'falling over', should that happen.
     
  13. amethist

    amethist The Mystic Duck
    Staff Member Premium Member

    This morning we have just reduced one of my hubby's meds by 0.5 mg, he was becoming sluggish and always tired again. The last time we did this was quite a few months ago, but his GP said it was the right time to do it. So here we go again reducing the morning dose again.

    He is still taking the same dose at night, because he fell down too hard and fast when we reduced that one only a few weeks back.

    A bit of my own psychology along with it, telling him the only difference he will notice, is he will feel clear headed again and more alert like last time. :tup:

    Amethist
     
  14. OKRADLAK

    OKRADLAK Well-Known Member

    I think the difference between withdrawal and PTSD is that with PTSD, odd as it seems, it seems like "me" now. I am not me, of course, but this has been a while. When on meds or too much coffee, etc I feel even an even different me. And when going off, it is like craving and shaking and the PTSD on its worse day but all day every day.

    I can sense immediately the PTSD from meds and withdrawal. All I want when getting off something is relief. PTSD does not make me crave relief, it makes me crave inclusion, attachment, my human ness. I want my humanness back. I want to be calm and think about happy things and etc...........That is not the same things as feeling like I am starving, thirsty, wanting to slice a wrist, that my head will explode, etc. Withdrawal feels like the first two weeks of your trauma on a physical sense and mental, too.

    As to the anger---PTSD anger, once the initial trauma has passed, like after two weeks or a month, the anger goes up and down. Often wildly, but up and down nonetheless, key word being DOWN. On meds or coming off it is CONSTANT. Asleep mad, wake up mad, get mad at the clerk!!! And it is underlaying, so even when I am just sitting there, grumbling to myself and always about to self harm. Very scary. No DOWN time. It passes after about 1-2 weeks.

    Well, of course not everyone. I am just trying to describe how it can feel to me.

    I hope that made sense. You can PM me if not and I can try further!
     
  15. scott_1971_h

    scott_1971_h Active Member

    [FONT=Arial][/FONT]
    I've had MAJOR problems with Effexor. Did very little for my depression and made the anxiety (slightgly) worse. That made me even more of an insomnic (*CHRONIC* problem) and when that happenned both depression and anxiety went through the roof.
    Scott
     
  16. Mercy

    Mercy I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I've been on Cymbalta, an SSRI, for years now. It also has the effect of lessening skeletal - muscular pain. My psych DR. and studies done in England show that early trauma has wired some peoples brains not to produce seretonin and dopamine. The dna strands that manufacture what we need are permanently turned off. Those of us in that catagory will need supplements just as diabetics need insulin.
     
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  17. njray

    njray Well-Known Member

    This is directly quoted from Cymbalta USA website

    Although the exact way that Cymbalta works in people is unknown, it is believed to be related to an increase in the activity of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are two naturally occurring substances in the brain and spinal cord.
    Cymbalta is in a class of medications called selective SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors).
     
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  18. sterre

    sterre Well-Known Member

    Ah, thanks Nicolette for starting this topic :tup:. The questions you raise are very current for me nowadays.

    For over 16 years I take AD's. Last year when I joined this forum, I was off AD's for the first time in 15 years. At that time I took Wellbutrin XR 150 mg. Because I was on the lowest dosage and because of the XR ( extended release) function, there was no way to wean them of slowly.Breaking them in two would have messed with the XR function of the medication.
    So I weaned of of them very rapidly. I did have some physical withdrawal signs that I could determine to be physical, like headaches, naussea, ect. The thing that bothered me most was that I had a feeling like I was floating and in a kind of dreamy state. Like my head was filled with cottonwool or something. I felt distant and surreal. This didnt pass but turned into a full blown PTSD symptoms overload.
    I'm still not sure if it was caused by the withdrawal effects from coming off the meds or if it was a PTSD outburst on its own.
    ( I appologies for not communicating clearly, but I cant find the right words to describe what I mean)

    After that I returned to the first AD I ever used, Fevarin. I felt defeated that I had to take medication again because I still was/ am not sure if the symptoms were caused by withdrawal or not.
    When I started again on Fevarin, after a couple of weeks my anxiety symptoms were reduced to almost zero. Dissociation became less frequent and irritation and depression started to calm down.

    Now after a couple of months on using the fevarine I experience a lot of nasty side effects, wich I am more aware of because of the short break I had not taking any medication.After 16 years of AD's I could not see what were side effects and what was me. I thought the constant tiredness, loss of sexual functions, blurry sight, flatness and sluggieness, muscle and joint aches where part of me, instead of side effects from my AD.
    Beside all these side effects I am also experiencing rapid weight gain.

    So I want of them again. Currently I have lowered my daily dosage from 100 mg to 50 mg in almost two moths time. At this moment I again feel foggy, I find it hard to concentrate, and when in crowds I feel easily overwhelmed.I feel off tune. At this moment I could get lost in a shopping mall, I feel like I am in some sort of dream state most of the time.( it feels like dissociating)
    But when I take my daily 50 mg, ( wich I take at night after dinner,) I feel normal again, till the next morning when the AD wears down.
    I also feel more creative, more active and my sexual functions are much better.

    I dont know how to watch out for signs that I will get the full blown PTSD symptoms again because I cannot determine if I feel this way because of withdrawal or if it's because my PTSD symptoms are surfacing again.
    I just don't know.

    The thing that makes me believe it must be withdrawal effects is that the symptoms dissapear when right after I take my daily dose of 50 mg.

    I don't know, am I overlooking something?
    What should I watch out for, what are the early signs of PTSD breakdown?
     
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  19. Simply Simon

    Simply Simon Mada mada dane
    Staff Member Premium Member

    I cannot tell I am withdrawing until I have totally lost my mind and I'm on the front lawn drunk at 3am asking WHAT THE F*CK EVERYBODY IS LOOKING AT.

    Or something like that. >.<
     
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  20. Mercy

    Mercy I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Thanks for the correction, njray! I always get the initials mixed up.
     
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  21. Srain

    Srain "Please don't tell me not to cry."
    Premium Member

    Nicolette, it's a very rough question to answer and the fear of going off can be so heightened. I was sooo reluctant after having been on them for years and it having taken me literally years refusing to go on them. Then I hated to think of going off but one dr thought I would do better. My suggestion would be to start documenting how many "good" days you actually have on them a month.

    I would set my fears of withdrawal aside, as going back on 'something' is ALWAYS an option, and quite frankly I would personally ask for an anti-anxiety to help come down off of whatever you are coming off of. Some are horrible to go off(per personal experience only) but there are 'tricks of the trade' (benedryl seems to be a wonder pill for the "brain zaps of withdrawal that come from Effexor) to get through it all easier. I have learned so many just by asking others online, then triple checking ;). There is hardly a one I have not tried at one time or another, always searching for some relief to my constant symptoms of severe depression and suicidal ideation. Actually I think some of the fears are overstated in my humble opinion.

    I know there are studies that show that this that and the other will cause depression but if you feel better taking them, take them, if you don't then ease off (and I'm not talking about 6mos either, it shouldn't take that long, that would be mental addiction) and replace them with exercise and or something else. It's YOUR decision. Research this stuff yourself. You are such a bright woman.

    Great post btw :)

    Rain
     
  22. Iam

    Iam I'm a VIP

    I slowly weaned off citilopram and I had the electric zaps too CB. On the flip side I found that I no longer had the horrible muscle pain and spasms. I had no idea those were side effects until I did a search on withdrawal symptoms.

    I know this post was a couple of months ago Nicolette, but in response to your above comment.....then you really shouldn't wean off until you have the coping skills in place. I went off at the recommendation of my therapist because I was emotionally numb and unable to access emotions. The problem was I came off while in intense therapy and couldn't handle the emotions that bambarded me. You may remember that I ended up in the hospital due to intense suicidal thoughts. It was NOT the right time to go off them completely.

    The psych in the hospital convinced me to try wellbutrin. It helped, but I started having muscle pain again. I wasn't sure if it was the wellbutrin or if it was somatic pain due to some heavy EMDR sessions. 6 weeks ago my dr. suggested we up the dosage from 150 mg to 300mg because I was still struggling with depression. He also said we'd be able to tell if it was causing the muscle pain as it would get worse. Not only did the muscle pain worsen, but I got sick as hell with flu like symptoms. I went off of it completely last week and the muscle pain is gone. Problem is, I still am sick as heck and now am very suicidal again. I called to set a med check appt with my pMD, but he doesn't have an opening until July 5th. I left a message for him to call in a reduced dosage for me to get by until then.

    I guess all this to say that the effects and side effects of different meds vary from one person to the next. Dosage plays a huge part in it too. All we can do is experiment under our doctor's supervision until we find what works best for ourselves.

    Good luck to you and keep us posted on how you're doing with it :tup:
     
  23. NutritionNerd

    NutritionNerd Active Member

    There are some studies done that is leading many scientists to believe that antidepressants work by promoting neurogenesis and that depression and anxiety are due to neurotoxicity.

    Pre PTSD I was on Effexor for 10 years - at times a very high dose - it is extremely hard to get off of. I used Tyrosine and 5 HTP supplements to help keep from getting depressed. I can't take those two supplements post-PTSD.

    I researched for over a year before I took any medication for PTSD - I found tianeptine (Stablon) and some recent research showing it having a positive effect in PTSD and less side effects than SSRI's. It supposedly works by promoting neurogenesis in various portions of the brain and by regulating glutamate in others.

    I took it for 2 months before I ran out and it was definitely helping alleviate reactivity and anxiety. The day I ran out and the next was pretty horrible with constant anxiety. I didn't intend to run out but it has to be ordered from overseas (in the States) and the order took longer than originally proposed. So that is how I know it worked, and it had an effect even after I stopped taking it I was more stable than I had been before the 2 month trial. It is kind of subtle feeling - almost not noticible - in other words sort of normal feeling. Strong triggers combined with extra stress still reach me so it's not a magic bullet.

    It is out of patent so no one did the FDA stuff to get it approved. It is undergoing FDA trials now to be used for IBS, so hopefully will be available in the States soon.

    I was also taking an herbal extract of Holy Basil. It has a good reputation for anti-stress, however I found many herbs recommended for antistress don't work when you have PTSD and may actually be opposite in effect. Anyway I lost my bottle while on vacation and haven't made any more and am definitely noticing it's effect now that I have been off it a month. One of it's effects was antispasmatic and I am noticing much more body tension.

    I think it best to understand exactly what actions and how any herb, supplement, or medicine works before taking it.
     
  24. Mercy

    Mercy I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I've been on Cymbalta for 8 years. I know it helps me with depression and suicidal ideation. Now I have moved up the time of day when I take it to 1:00pm. I'm all right in the morning, but evenings into night is a particularly suicidal time. Moving the timing to pm has let the dosage be available at dusk.

    I also take metformin for diabetes, cyclobenzeprin for clenched muscles at bedtime. Laying on a bed is hard sometimes. I take clonapin to help me sleep, lunesta and sonata also for sleep, three different high blood pressure. Perazacin (SP?) is a not very effective bp med but it is a great nightmare preventer. Most of the meds say do not drink with this med. All I know is that one good strong mixed drink lowers the anxiety at dusk almost instantly.

    That's a lot of pills but I have no idea if I should be trying to get off so many meds or not. How do you recognize when the time is right. The med bill for last year with insurance was over $4,000.00.
     
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