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Negative Effects of Antidepressants: Is There a Dark Side?


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Reviewed by Vanessa Wong, MD

Here’s a stunning fact about how common antidepressant drugs are: One in eight Americans, ages 12 and older, take an antidepressant, and the numbers seem to be on the rise. (1) These pharmaceuticals are prescribed not only for depression, but also for anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even for off-label uses. (2)

negative effects of antidepressants
Antidepressants can cause negative side effects, and they may not always be effective at alleviating depression. iStock/kieferpix

Despite the widespread use of these prescription drugs (globally, this is a $14 billion business), antidepressants can have potentially negative effects on your health. (3) While they are life-saving for some, for others these medications can trigger side effects and symptoms that can disrupt normal routines, or they may be ineffective at alleviating depression. Keep reading to find out more about potential issues with antidepressants and learn how the Functional Medicine approach to psychiatry can help.

Antidepressants are life-saving for some; for others, they can cause negative side effects or fail to alleviate symptoms of depression. Check out this article for an updated look at antidepressants.

What Really Causes Depression (and What’s Wrong with the Chemical Imbalance Theory)?

Conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical companies have long maintained that depression is caused by an imbalance in brain chemicals. That’s why antidepressant meds are formulated to manipulate the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. There are several classes of these drugs, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Atypical antidepressants

However, depression isn’t adequately characterized by “low serotonin” or “low epinephrine.” In fact, only about 25 percent of people diagnosed with depression have abnormally low levels of these neurotransmitters, while some have very high levels of them. (4) Although these facts don’t rule out chemical imbalance as a factor in depression, they do suggest that it’s not the only one. 

In reality, depression may be a symptom of one or more underlying issues. I discussed in a previous article how inflammation may be at the root of many cases of depression, (5) but other causes of mental health issues can include:

Any treatment plan that fails to address these underlying causes isn’t likely to be effective for someone who is suffering from depression. That’s why it’s so important to move beyond the default chemical imbalance explanation and understand what’s really driving the condition.

Antidepressants May Not Be as Effective as You Might Think

Important disclaimer: If you are currently taking an antidepressant, do not stop abruptly and do not taper off the meds without the guidance and support of your healthcare providers. I’ll discuss more about how to taper off of medication below, but it is crucial that you do not undertake any steps without consulting closely with your doctor.

Given the hype surrounding antidepressants, you may be surprised to learn initial treatment is effective at mitigating symptoms only about half the time. (12) Even after trying several treatments, up to 30 percent of those with depression never achieve remission. (13)

While a large meta-analysis published in 2018 in the prestigious journal, The Lancet, states that all antidepressants perform significantly better than placebo, (14) critics have pointed out that these differences are small and not clinically relevant. (15) The majority of high-quality research studies have shown that SSRIs have no benefit over placebo for mild and moderate depression. (16, 17, 18, 19)

One Problem: Clinical Trial Groups Are Not Representative of Real-World People

One major issue with the research on antidepressant efficacy is the selection process of clinical trial group participants. Because the selection process is not standardized or subject to any federal guidelines, patients with milder forms of depression, chronic depression, or other psychiatric or medical conditions in addition to short-term depression are excluded from studies. (20) In some cases, less than 20 percent of people who apply to be part of an antidepressant efficacy trial do not meet the requirements, meaning that study groups are not representative of a real-world population. (21)

Here is why such exclusions matter: In a normal, clinical setting, many patients with depression have other illnesses, such as diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, or irritable bowel syndrome. It’s not unusual for them to have anxiety and insomnia, as well. In fact, it’s quite possible that a person with depression might be suffering from other conditions that are either contributing to or caused by their illness. 

One study looked at the efficacy of antidepressants in those who did not meet phase III inclusion criteria (phase III clinical trials include and exclude participants based on stringent criteria that would actually exclude the majority of people who take the drugs in real life). Among participants who would not qualify under phase III criteria, researchers found that their outcomes were, unsurprisingly, much worse than those who did qualify for the trials. (22)

It’s important to note the wide variability in individual response to antidepressants. SSRIs and other antidepressants can be game changers for many people, but the reported average response rate in clinical trials won’t shed any light on how one person reacts to a medication versus another individual. However, what’s clear is that these drugs are not a panacea for global mental illness, and that this is a complex topic.

Two Drug-Free Treatments That Can Be as Effective as or More Effective Than Antidepressants

Another important detail to note is that non-pharmaceutical treatments can be as effective or even more effective than antidepressants. Evidence shows promising results for psychotherapy and exercise as effective interventions.

1. Psychotherapy

Substantial evidence demonstrates that psychotherapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), are just as effective as antidepressants for long-term maintenance, for first-line treatment, and even for treatment-resistant depression. (23, 24, 25, 26, 27) In some cases, psychotherapy has actually outperformed antidepressants or added additional benefit to medication. (28, 29, 30)

CBT also might reduce the risk of depression relapse, which is very common. (31, 32) If you’ve had depression once, your risk of developing depression again is about 50 percent. If you’ve had two episodes, you’re 80 percent likely to relapse. (33, 34)

CBT may offer unique skills for preventing relapse. As one review from 2017 states: (35)

“Residual symptoms and relapse risk would decrease if patients in partial or full remission can learn, first, to be more aware of negative thoughts and feelings at times of potential relapse/recurrence, and, second, to respond to those thoughts and feelings in ways that allow them to disengage from ruminative depressive processing.”

2. Exercise

Exercise may be powerful for preventing and alleviating depression. Exercise has mood-boosting effects and can decrease inflammation, improve vagal tone, and modulate neurotransmitters, all of which can help decrease depressive symptoms. (36, 37)

Although not all studies are in agreement, (38) many clinical trials and meta-analyses have determined that exercise can be helpful as an adjunct to antidepressants, or even by itself. (39, 40, 41, 42) Of note, people who already have depression may not have enough motivation and energy to start an exercise regimen, especially on their own. However, perhaps surprisingly, drop-out rates among those who participate in exercise groups generally aren’t higher than drop-out rates for other types of treatments. (43) As exercise boasts numerous health benefits beyond mood improvement, it’s worth considering.

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Negative Side Effects of Antidepressants

Side effects are quite common for people who take antidepressants. More than half of those beginning an antidepressant have one of the more common side effects: (44)

  • Nausea
  • Decreased libido (very common, especially among men: up to 40 percent taking antidepressants experience this side effect)
  • Tiredness and/or insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Sweating

While some of the side effects listed above are manageable and won’t cause serious or long-term health complications, others, such as weight gain or anxiety, may—especially if they persist.

Jitteriness Syndrome, Anxiety, and Akathisia

In the first few months of beginning an antidepressant, “jitteriness syndrome” and anxiety are common side effects. Up to one in four people will experience jitteriness syndrome, and studies have reported a wide range of anxiety incidence related to beginning antidepressants, from 4 to 65 percent. (45) Frequently, those who show anxiety are then prescribed another medication, like a benzodiazepine, with its own risks.

In rare cases, a particular type of severe agitation called akathisia may occur. (46) Akathisia has been shown to increase aggression, violent behavior, and suicide.


In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black-box warning that antidepressants may increase suicidal ideation and attempts in children. A couple years later, they extended the warning to include those up to age 25 and also stated that patients of all ages should be monitored for suicidal ideation, plans, and/or attempts. (47)

The studies surrounding suicide and antidepressants are mixed. Some studies have shown higher suicidal behavior in adults and children (48, 49, 50, 51), while others haven’t. (52, 53) Published FDA investigations state that those under age 25 taking antidepressants have about twice the rate of suicidal behavior compared to those taking placebo. (54, 55) SSRI users might be more at risk than users of other classes of antidepressants, and suicide risk seems highest in the first month starting and stopping the meds. (59)

In general, post-2000 studies show lower rates of suicide among antidepressant trials, despite the fact that suicides have increased since then. (60) Some claim that the earlier studies were flawed or that suicidal ideation is better monitored during trials, but others say that the lower rates in recent studies are due to “enhanced screening procedures and effective exclusion of suicidal patients in clinical trials for depression.” (61) To me, that explanation is far from reassuring. The fact remains that individuals who are actually suicidal will be prescribed antidepressants, but robust studies looking at the efficacy of meds in this population just don’t exist.

Other Side Effects

Other side effects can occur with antidepressants, though some still aren’t well-characterized and many are rare: (62, 63, 64, 65)

  • Numbness or anti-motivational syndrome
  • Interactions with other drugs (ibuprofen and SSRIs don’t mix, for example) (66)
  • Depletion of beneficial gut bacteria (antidepressants have antimicrobial properties)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Personality changes
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding, and dyspepsia (for which antacids may be prescribed)
  • Birth defects
  • Liver injury (very rare)
As with any medication, adequate risks/benefits must be taken into consideration. Even when experiencing side effects, stopping antidepressants needs to be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Weaning off Antidepressants Is Difficult

Antidepressants were intended for short-term treatment of depression, but in actuality, people are taking them continuously for years on end. Half of American antidepressant users have been on them for more than five years, though long-term data on effectiveness and safety are sparse. (67) A review of 14 studies on long-term depression treatment indicated that patients who were treated with drugs fared no better than those who weren’t treated with drugs long-term. (68) In another study of people with depression and on antidepressants for over two years, the patients who did not take drugs after remission had a lower rate of remission compared to those who did. (69)

A big reason that people stay on antidepressants long-term is simply this: Withdrawal symptoms make it very difficult to stop. In a systematic review of patients trying to wean off antidepressants, 46 percent of the participants described withdrawal effects as “severe.” (70) Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Relapse of depression

Slowly Tapering off Antidepressants Is More Successful Than Current Recommendations

One major problem is that patients are weaning off antidepressants too quickly—often at their doctors’ orders. The prevailing recommendation is to wean off completely in a period of two to four weeks. (71) However, evidence demonstrates that decreasing the dose over a much longer period of time results in much lower rates of side effects and results in more consistent levels of neurotransmitters, as imaged by positron emission tomography scans. (72) Several studies have shown the benefits of tapering more slowly (73, 74, 75) including one study that found that patients who slowly came off an SSRI over an average of 38 weeks had only a 6 percent chance of withdrawal syndrome, compared to a 78 percent chance in the group who stopped quickly. (75)

Tapering slowly may take longer, but it’s much more likely to be effective. (76)

The Functional Psychiatry Solution

Do antidepressants have a place in treating depression? As I said above, for some people, they can be game changers. But they don’t work for everyone, and they will not address any underlying issues that are causing or contributing to depressive symptoms.

A better approach to depression and other mental health issues is the functional psychiatry solution, which treats the root cause of a disorder rather than masking symptoms with prescription drugs.

Using a holistic approach, a functional psychiatry approach to depression may involve interventions such as:

  • Metabolic testing
  • Psychotherapy
  • Dietary interventions
  • Stress management
  • And more

By addressing the true underlying causes of depression, the functional psychiatry approach can improve long-term outcomes for people with depression, giving them relief from their symptoms without the addition of any negative effects of antidepressants. 

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Join the conversation

  1. Hi All!!!! I have been on Paxil for 11 years and other antidepressants before that, basically since I was 40 years old and I’m 60 now. I went on Paxil because it helped me with the horrible anxiety I was having at the time. I can honestly say I haven’t had an anxiety attack since I have been on it but I would like to get off of it but I’m scared!!!! After being on it for so long my brain is use to it so I don’t know what would happen if I went off of it. I can only think of the worst thing. My short term memory sucks at times but my long term memory is still really good. I just don’t know what to think anymore.

  2. I used Paxil for 3 weeks, I was then 22 yrs old. My life is destroyed… My memory is bad, concentration, im fatigued allt he time, sleep problems, erection problems and so on… After 8 yrs I still havent recovered…


    • It might have been the best thing for others, but I have been off meds for 4 years after being highly medicated (and more and more suicidal with each meds change) and I’m online trying to figure out why I can’t remember 3 whole years of my life.

  4. Mimi. How is it going? I know you went back on Lexapro after trying to stay off? How you feeling? Do you have anxiety?

    • Hello CC. No. Not much anxiety once I weaned on and got stable. I also worked really hard at therapy and other helpful things such as prayer, meditation, and taking charge of the stressful things in my life. I stayed on 10 mg of Lex for a year and have neen weaning over the past 5 months . Currently at 5 mg and staying there for a while. Life is truly better. Not perfect but that will only happen in heaven. I have gained too much weight but small price to pay. Best of luck.

  5. Hi My name is Linda. I’m 55 years old and have been on antidepressants for almost 20 years. When I first started there was no information, much less public forums on long term use. I originally started when I began teaching in a public school. I was given antidepressants for anxiety attacks where I’ve passed out, many times in hospitals for general tests, and woken up to doctors surrounding me thinking I had died. I was previously a heroin addict and detoxed myself a few times. I got on methadone to aide in learned behaviors as well as addictive tendancies. Nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead due to the extended use of antidepressants. I weaned off a couple of times only to fall into such deep despair that I quickly retreated. I finally decided enough was enough and weaned off and was determined to stay off no matter what it took. I stayed completely off for 2 1/2 years being painfully suicidal and depressed for the entire 2 1/2 years. (I had never been depressed in my life prior to withdrawing from antidepressants). I cleansed my body of toxins, changed to all organic food, took yoga, meditated daily and even went to the Amazon jungle in Peru for a 2 week Ayhausca retreat. I know addiction and the physical attributes of withdrawal. Antidepressants ARE different. They have altered my brain chemistry, thus altering my personality. And they simply don’t work anymore. I am determined to free myself from this synthetic poison. I have great compassion for those who suffer and urge you to work with a doctor who has wholistic knowledge. In my opinion, antidepressants should only be used temporarily and under close watch. There is no such thing as side effects. What the drug does to you IS the effects!!! I went to my primary care physician with my final disposition, taking full ownership for the decision I made to take them and to continue for so long. The best way I can describe his response was defensive. I realized he could not accept what he had condoned directly and under his watch (phycisian assistants). I could see the fear in his eyes of the totality of his professional practice in which so many will suffer. If you must, I suggest you take this drug with great precaution and if at all possible, use natural methods instead. The earth truly does provide all that we need.

  6. I really hate when people post positive comments about antidepressants in articles like this. Obviously you are going to feel better, the same way you would do if you took cocaine or got drunk. You are being drugged only, by your lack of emotional intelligence or wanting to face problems you instead take a pill to hack your brain and make you happy. Stop saying the same bs the psychiatrists do, withdrawal syndromes are not original disease exacerbations!

    • Do you not also feel better when you take insulin, blood pressure meds, eye drops, pain meds, cough syrup, sinus and allergy meds, heart meds, meds to put you to sleep for surgery, wear glasses or hearing aids or use a cane or walker, etc, etc, etc. I agree that antidepressants are used for a lot of wrong reasons, but until doctors get themselves smart enough to figure out how and when to use them, there will be lots of people suffering needlessly, both on and off them. I am sorry to say that I once felt the same as you but I was so wrong. Mr. Carl, are you emotionally or physically intelligent enough to cure yourself of cancer or diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis? Please come see me. I will make you a billionaire. Best to all. Praying for everyone.

      • I am surprised that no one has weighed in on this point of view. Kuldeep, are you Okay? Please check in and let us know. You are and will forever be a friend because of the help and kindness you offered to me and others. I hope you are well.

        • Hi Mimi, the only reason I didn’t weigh in on Carl’s point of view is because apparently he has never suffered with depression or anxiety. If he did he would know that it is not because we lack intelligence or do not want to face our problems or as Carl stated, take a pill to hack our brains to make us happy. People who have never suffered from depression have no idea what we go through. You do not lose 18 pounds because we do not want to face our problems. You do not want to live because we don’t enjoy being with our loved ones. As anyone knows who has taken antidepressants, we know the side effects. Given the choice between taking them and living or doing without and barely existing, I choose living. Carl would never understand that.
          Mimi, I hope everything is good with you. I am also worried about Kuldeep. I hope he is alright.

          • Okay, people. First of all I have studies on medicine and psychiatry. Second, I have spent years and years researching besides what they taught me at school. Third, you don’t know me personally to say I have never had depression when I have been through ten years FUCKED UP by psychiatry itself. Fourth, the only depression I’ve ever had was when I trusted them to medicate me (before school, obviously). Five, I have seen more ruined lives by these medications than “cures and miracles” as you want to imply. Six, antidepressants are not prescribed under very cautious rules and environments as you think, patients ask their doctors these drugs to overcome their psychological problems, if they succeed in having them prescribed then they regret when they have some kind of withdrawal syndrom or permanent or temporal brain damage (I’m talking about years). Seven, if you have depression and take some kind of stimulant, it’s going to be the best day of your life as you are hacking your brain, that is what you are doing because of your LACK of balls to try to face life. Eight, if you have clinical depression (whatever that means, because medicine doesn’t know why, where, when, how but they medicate you) it is due to another whole bunch of factors in your environment that are causing you that depression and suddenly they tell you they don’t know the cure or why but magically they have the pill to manage it. Nine, stop making stupid statements as you do because I seriously doubt you have the real knowledge on the subject.

            • Hi Carl,
              You seem very angry about this subject and you probably have every right to be. I agree that antidepressants are poison and i’m trying to get off them myself. But I don’t think you should judge others for taking them. People don’t usually choose these drugs because they lack emotional intelligence or the balls to face life. They take them because doctors prescribe them and because they want to feel ok and live a normal life. They take them because they have an illness and don’t know any other way to fix it. They take them because they actually want to face life and live it. If anything I think people with mental illness have to be more brave because of what they go through. Life can be tough but it’s even tougher when you have an illness and no one understands that unless they have been through it themselves. Until they find out more about what causes depression and anxiety etc people will just have to make do with the resources they have.

              • Well said Kim and I hope you can cope without them soon. I also have been on antidepressants, years ago I was seriously depressed and just wished to be gone it turned out (through my own realisation, a dream actually) that it was the contraceptive pill I was on when I told the doc he refused that it could be but I insisted that I should come off them within weeks I was a new person. Because of this experience at 17 I have become super tuned in to how diff things effect me you will not believe it but I have had the same experience from a supplement so I stopped right away, a tearful mess from a supplement!! I have anxiety but deal with it in other ways and was only on antidepressants for a few years and feel more in control now and have clarity. I am so desperate for people to be aware of the long term damage of these tabs, I don’t judge people for taking them and understand why like you the docs put me on them and we all listen to them right!
                I love what Linda said above so inspiring. I just hope the message gets out to more people I recently read that actually antidepressants work for 33% of the people that take them, what about the other 70%?! I recently went to a talk about it and heard that 99% of the time it is due to what we are putting in our bodies (i’ve had that one) and having too many toxins in our body that stops our receptors receiving feel good messages. Rebecca Hintze has written a book called Essentially Happy about it, I haven’t read it yet but its on my list (it was her talk I attended). Anxiety is horrible and I sympathise with anyone suffering with it.

            • Hi Carl ,thank you for your insight.
              I’m 38 and i never used to be depressive.In the last 6-8 months I’ve notice a change…
              I’ve started to have anxiety , depression, i feel it in my stomach. I’ve lost about 20lbs, my appetite is down. Done blood tests in Feb this year and they were the best so far, initially I thought could be something else, you know. Went to Gp explained to whole story and she put me on escitalopram.
              Got home done some research and my god the side effects… Now i’m debating if I should go on this path. To mention that i’ve gone through sexual trauma as a young adult that I’ve blocked all my life and never told anyone in my family. So i’m just wondering if my past could have anything with how I’m feeling right now.I’m married and I have a wonderful husband no kids… i never wanted any kids out of fear of not be able mentally to cope with it. Also i’ve noticed around my period I’m highly highly emotional , sometimes thinking bad things like hurting myself …. which is really weird because when the period is finished I slowly return to normal and I say to myself ” whats wrong with me that i feel and think like that ” …. and i try to brush it off…… but lately it feels like they are intensifying….
              I just need some insights , maybe some good advice …. i dont know
              Thank you

          • I suffer from depression and anxiety. Very nice, very crippling pair.

            As I’ve climbed out of those holes many times, I looked for solutions, or at least ways to manage these things. I’ve studied the data on antidepressants, especially SSRIs, and they are no more, or in the case of severe depression, very slighly more effective then placebo. Certainly not enough to justify the plethora of disabling side effects (1).

            I realised there is no easy solution, no magic pill, no revolutionary therapy that will cure me. My life is my responsibility, and if I don’t help myself no one will.

            It’s hard. Like for everyone, especially those who have similar issues. It’s like getting kicked in the teeth multiple times a day. But depression is also a great teacher of empathy, determination and self-worth.

            If you can learn from it.

            Good luck to y’all, and don’t sabotage your chances with pills that don’t work.

            (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172306/

            • I agree with Carl and Damascus.
              Bottom line , these drugs don’t work long term. They damage . Suck it up , feel your pain and get to know it very well. Accept what you have created and then let it go. you’ll come out the other side a stronger , more empathetic being. Then you will be able to help others not hurt them. Also in my experience, ppl close to me using these drugs become very uncaring , agitated , selfish and quite frankly they hurt the ppl in their life that really care about them! I’ve been verbally abused and had to endure threats of bodily harm ! Others become passive/aggressive. Total personality changes. They also don’t seem to really care how they treat others. I’ve been depressed and anxious about half my life. Sure, I’ve been told by doctors to take drugs and I have but only for short periods. I wouldn’t touch them now . I’ve had panic attacks where I laid on my tile floor and thought I would die. I talked myself out of it and deep breathing helped. It’s scary. I’d rather hurt then inflict pain on innocents. It’s my pain ! It is weakness to cover it up with a dangerous drug . So yes, I think ppl want a quick fix. Too bad for everyone.

          • How right you are. Those who don’t know will cut in with these kind of self righteous statements. Mostly I just skip them and continue reading the contributions of those who KNOW what depressive illnesses feel like….

      • *syndrome. Comparing antidepressants to insulin or a cane it is really useless to say the least because if you knew the damage you would never take those things. Understand, psychiatrists do not know what depression is, they have never gone through it, they don’t understand why it comes, they medicate you, they don’t know what is causing you depression, but the last straw is when they don’t know how their magic pills are acting upon your brain. They have never cured a single “mental” illness whatever that means. Do you think they show you the real consequences of antidepressants in Pub Med or public studies you read? Wrong! Wake up, people, they don’t care about you but they have brainwashed you so well that you think so and even work defending them without a paid.

        • You obviously didn’t search my name on this forum Carl. It is not me but my daughter. She has OCD (and generalized anxiety). She also has a tic disorder, which many people do have comorbidly with OCD (since you say you’ve been to school Im assuming you know these happen in the same part of the brain). The tic disorder should resolve after puberty.

          My grandmother also had OCD (my husbands family has Tourette’s, so our daughter comes by this genetically). Unfortunately for my grandmother there were no treatments for OCD. They gave her electrical shock treatments a few times during my mothers growing up years. Obviously this didn’t help OCD. You have no understanding of OCD or mental illness if you don’t sympathize with someone like my grandmother who self medicated with alcohol her entire life. She was such a sweet woman and OCD is a cruel partner to go through life with.

          You make many assumptions Carl. I’m sorry you had bad doctors. My daughters pediatric psychiatrists have been very up front about medication. They told me they don’t understand why it works. Although studies are showing it is an uptake disorder at the synapse, people with OCD and severe anxiety may not be able to process and use the normally available serotonin, and all they have right now are huge doses of SSRI (OCD requires double doses and double time versus something like anxiety or depression). I am hopeful in my daughters lifetime there will be better medication but for right now, it’s what we have.

          They also told me that for anxiety or depression exercise (especially outdoors) scores as well in studies as an SSRI. They also did give me websites and studies not associated with pharmaceutical companies.

          They also informed me that the gold standard is medication combined with intensive treatment. Which my daughter has been doing. Then once she’s stable for at least a year we can try to wean my daughter off her medication. Because my daughter is severe, they told me she might not be able to be weaned off but only trying will tell us.

          My daughter was not even able to do therapy before her medication and dose was found and given enough time.

          Yes, with intense therapy, she has been “cured”. Not totally. She still has OCD but it’s manageable now. She has not been stable long enough to try weaning the medication. At this point she doesn’t want to stop taking it, she is too scared to go back to the way she was. Once she gets a flare it’s very hard to get back to a liveable state again. When you are a child and you loose months and months to mental illness it’s devestating. So we aren’t ready to try yet.

          There are caring, informative, psychiatrists out there. I’m sorry you never saw one.

    • Its not like that at all. Have you ever had a problem with depression? I have suffered for over 20 years,and believe me the last thing I want to do is rely on a drug to make me(feel normal).

      • That is exactly my feeling. I’ve dealt with this most of my life, and done the reasearch; the drugs don’t actually work, it’s the all-powerful placebo effect.

        Personally, I found great solace in Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. I have a proclivity for unfun depressive episodes, so I tried to find a way to channel them towards something constructive.


        P.S. I know “unfun” isn’t an actual word. Well now it is! Sounds better than “voraciously trying ruin my life”.

    • Carl you obviously have not dealt with mentally ill family members or dealt with mental illness yourself.

      You can search by my name to find fragments of my story. I won’t repeat them all here.

      To say taking psychiatric medications is akin to cocaine or alcoholism shows complete ignorance on your part. If anything these medications prevent drug and alcohol abuse and allow people to live full productive lives.

      I wish these medications would have been available to my grandmother and father. I liken these medications to diabetes medications. People use to also have to deal with that disease on their own, with no help from medication. To say someone with diabetes should still suffer versus taking the redily available medications is cruel at best.

      • To say psychiatric medications are not akin to cocaine or alcohol (by the way, I never said alcohol…) shows your ignorance. I have studies on psychiatry and medicine and I know what I’m talking about. The most important thing is that I have been through depression myself because they medicated me with all those things and I know what it feels. That was the only time I had depression. People with ONLY psychological problems are prescribed with this sooo lightly and I have seen that myself IN A MEDICAL ENVIRONMENT. I don’t think you are coherent comparing diabetes with this subject. I think you are very wrong, please stop saying nonsense when you obviously do not understand what you’re talking about.

        • Carl, I am truly sorry that you are so angry and unaccepting of anything other than what you want to believe. FYI. I have an advanced medical degree with 35 hrs of experience. And yes, anxiety and depression, along with other mental and psychological illnesses, have physiological causes. And yes, you can compare it to other physiological illnesses. As I said, there is a place in medicine for the use of psych drugs. Unfortunately not all docs are qualified to use them
          Psych medicine, compared to other branches, is still in it’s infancy and a lot of trial and error remain.
          Unfortunately many of us will have to suffer for future generations to reap the benefits. Do yourself a favor and loose the anger. And aim your research into a new direction of unbiased research and self evaluation. And find a good doctor. You know as well as anyone that you can “Prove” anything you want to believe if you look in the right places. I wish you all the best and hope that you can find relief and peace. BTW. Been there and done that and yes I do know what it is like. Boy do I know

          • Mimi,

            I have been destroyed by an SSRI adverse reaction. The medication was Lexapro. I was diagnosed with Lexapro induced Toxic Encephalopathy by a neuro toxicologist who has studied antidepressants. There are many like me bedridden or in nursing homes or dead from one pill. There is barely any mention of this on the internet. But the are in Facebook groups like my Neurotoxicity (Toxic Encephalopathy) Support Group. There are 2500 members that Would love to discuss this with you. Some day the world will know.

        • Hello everyone, and especially Carl, if you could please comment a couple of words, I would really appreciate your opinion. I have been suffering from OCD for 7 years now, I am now 25 years old and I have been taking fluvoxamine maleate (aka Luvox) SSRI, for 3 years. In the meantime I had been having sessions twice a week for 2 years with a psychologist , now stopped for financial reasons, and after every time I did feel a little relieved. I have been to many psychiatrists, heard all of them saying the meds I am taking are safe for long term using. I am worried though, because I have become dull, gained weight and have diminished libido OR motivation among other unpleasant side effects. However, everyone (friends family) is saying they don’t see my anxiety and my obsessions, that I look much less stressed and that they don’t understand what the problem is. but ocd still tortures me loads in my head. So friends, have you heard of fluvoxamine and its side effects? Also, when someone stops taking the meds and after the withdrawal symptoms subside (I have tried it and I did have some dizziness and shaking so I went back on), what should he/she expect? I live in Greece and I apologize for my English, also thank you everyone for reading my comment and ….. be strong!

    • I cannot believe the ignorance on and of this sight! Truely inflexible minds who expect others to change but cling to their own beliefs.

    • This is true because I got extrapyramidal symptoms from metoclopramide which was prescribed for gastric emptying. Talking to many people withdrawing from SSRIs and other medications the symptoms are the same. I have no condition to return to…

  7. Hi everyone…Im new to the whole blogging and reaching out thing but here goes nothing….my name is Brianna im only 24 ,I am a mother of 3 ages 4,2,&1 so ofcourse im always on edge. I have suffered with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Death i believe is what its centered around. Even if i just watch the news and here about someome dying I get frantic emotional and scared. I use to never want my mom to leave because i thought she might never come back. I use to cry scream and throw tantrums.Sadly that wasn’t enough to make her or my other family members know i had a problem. My older brothers And sisters even brought a tape from a tv ad and played it for me and laughed hysterically as it asked “do you suffer from fear and anxiety”? It hurt my feelings so much i was only like 11. So since then i always covered my attacks so that i didn’t feel weird or crazy thus seizing me never getting help. Now they’ve come back like never before and its taking over my life. Although im not a party or out in the streets kind of girl i still love to have fun like take my children places…we love church…we love outings..but sadly i now im afraid to drive and ride in a car thats when i get the worst attacks. I hate it and i feel like no one around me understand my sickness or how i feel…like theyll say we’re going to get you some help or whatever then by next week seem like im a burden. I miss having fun with my babies and being able to enjoy life…i been to a few doctors for my problem and now on medicine.I absolutely positively hate medicine of any kind!! Im on Remerom 15mg which i only take half and effexor xr 37.5 …i have taken them the way i was supposed to for a little while and wound up missing and having these horrible withdrawal symptoms so i started taking them again…now again i have a serious complex with medicines…&is starting to believe its making me worst &especially since i dont have a good support system my family both biological and in laws including the father of my children are big judgers! My life have been hell for like the last 5 or 6 years mostly due to my children’s dad his family and my family …I’ve been through a hell of a lot but i try to stay strong only person i could really lean on is my 4 year old daughter when im having an attack she’ll say it ok calm down and rub my back…but i know she doesn’t really understand what’s going on just want to help her mom…i just want help im tired tired tired and cant go on feeling like this im too young I’m a very talented artist i want to go to school i want to work i want to get better but i cant with feeling like i feel every single day.

    • Oh hunny, please hang in there. There IS help for you. It can take several tries to get the right medication combination. You need to be seeing a psychiatrist, not your family doctor, if you aren’t already.

      Do you have a therapist? There are CBT and ERP (cognitive behavior therapy and exposure therapy) these can turn your life around. Many (most) people as severe as yourself need to get the medication right first, work with a therapist during this time too, then you can go through CBT/ERP for recovery. After you have been stable for at least a year you can talk to your doctor about weaning off medication.

      Please try and find yourself a support system. You will get better, never forget that, there are treatments. Your children are young but if you wanted to go to school, universities have mental health departments to coordinate your care and child care for your children. You have a bright successful future in front of you. You can do this ❤️

    • Hi Bri,
      I too am an anxiety sufferer so I can understand how you feel. And i totally get the not being able to watch the news thing. It must be so hard for you to try and sort yourself out when you have 3 young children. I have 3 children too but they are 12, 8 and 8 months. Please keep trying to find something that works for you. I don’t like drugs at all and i’m trying to get off paroxetine at the moment but it helped me to feel better while I tried to find out what was causing the anxiety in the first place. I found out I had a hormone imbalance so i’m trying to get healthy and balance myself out again. One thing I do know is that having anxiety depletes your body of vitamins and minerals so you should try taking magnesium and b vitamins. Also lavender essential oil can be great for helping you sleep. There are other oils that help to calm and soothe nerves too. Also tissue salts are a natural remedy that I find really helpful. I use a brand called scheussler tissue salts and the type i use is called kali phos. It’s potassium phosphate and helps soothe nervous tension. I would say your body needs lots of nourishment to feel better again. There may be an underlying issue such as poor digestive health. I lot of health problems can stem from this. Your body and mind are connected so if you have a healthy gut then you should have a healthy body and mind also. I hope you find this helpful.
      Kind regards

    • Hi Bri, i know how you must be feeling right now having know supportive person to lean on when anxieties and phobias get in your way of living a happy enjoyable life. I’ve actually been there im a 44-year-old. Female with two adult children had a similar journey you are on,now I was 23,yrs old with two babies to look after i had severe panic attacks always worry about dying. Fears, of death, what helped me to cope with,This? The Bible; reading it day and night!!! psalms is. A very great place to start;Give all anxious cares to our HeavenlyFather (because he care’s for you)He will, help you to,see his abundant power. To rescue you at the right time. You must trust, and believe that he can an will do all things to help you to endure this illness meds alone cannot. Fix, a wounded heart. Or a broken spirit we content with right now. we need true Comfort, He can only provide? In the name of his Son, he gives.Us; undeserved kindness.????

    • Poke. Don’t take the meds, they’ll make your downward spiral worse. I’ve seen the medication juggle more times than I can count, and recently helped someone off. It’s about as fun as getting punched in the face all day, and can leave permanent medical issues. If you need to (and feel ready to), get therapy. The first therapist (or three) might not work.

      There are no easy ways out. No magic pill or person. It’s a long way, takes a few years or more, and is mostly about finding your own worth and value.

      I wish you the best.

  8. I presently feeling very depressed. I was always vulnerable to depression but 2016 has been a terrible year for me. They say to reach out for help when you feel that way but the help is not forthcoming. I presented at the emergency of my hospital when a suicide plan and was given an appointment with a psychiatrist for the following week (6 days later). The psychiatrist prescribed Zoloft. After 6 days of taking it, I had to quite became of spasms in my arms and legs and insomnia. Since then, I have been unable to reach the psychiatrist that prescribed it to me. I have looked for help in other places but have been unsuccessful. I am actually skeptical that medication is the answer but I don’t know what else to do. I can’t afford therapy and my life condition is not going to improve on the short term, perhaps not even on the long term. Help.

    • Hi Francine,
      I’m really sorry things are bad for you right now. What I did when I was feeling really unwell was to Google natural remedies for anxiety and depression and find out everything I could to help myself. There’s healthy eating, getting exercise (yoga and walking are great), keeping blood sugar levels stable, taking different supplements (fish oil, magnesium, b vitamins, 5-htp, rhodiola, L-theanine, cbd oil, bioplasma are some i’ve come across), essential oils. Look for books at the library for strategies on how to overcome depression or anxiety. Look at ways to repair an unhealthy gut too. If your gut isn’t working right then your brain won’t be either. You want to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs as your body and mind are connected. I’ve read that gluten intolerance has been linked to depression too so I change of diet might help. I hope you can find out what works for you. Kind regards, Kym.

    • Hi Francine, I too am a sufferer and have been on the Net looking for answers, I haven’t done anything about it yet but please look on YouTube at microdosing and also look for Professor David Nutt (apt name) at Imperial College London also John Hopkins University USA. Hope all goes well for you.

  9. My antidepressants caused severe side effects for 6 weeks and then it was fine. Despite thinking medication doesn’t work, it cured me. I can assure you it’s not placebo or anything that changed in my life. Only the medication. I would be crazy to just stop using them. Everything has risks.

    • Oh my, you have been cured but you can’t stop the medication!!! Seriously, think what you are going to write first.

        • He stated it a bit… ah… too directly. But if you’ve had these awful effects (even if you don’t have them now), and stopping the meds will likely result in… unpleasantness, are they really the answer? Or do they just create more problems?

    • I had side effects from SSRIs that were mild and I did not know severe until I had metoclopramide. Believe me, if you are writing this your side effects were not severe. I spoke to someone whose agitation was so bad they did not sleep for 11 days, I myself went four days without sleep. If you have had some side effects that may mean withdrawal could be bad for you. NICE guidelines recommend short term use and use of other methods first such as counselling. Please be careful, they are not to be messed with. I was glib before this episode.

  10. Dear all. I know it looks like I dropped off the face of the earth. I guess for a while I did. In a nut shell, I had a major breakdown after battling what I thought was withdrawal syndrome for over a year. I was suicidal, agoraphobic, constant anxiety attacks for days at a time, suffered multiple other mind boggling miseries. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or interact with other people. My family banded together and got me to a wonderful family practice physician w ho was the most empathetic doctor I have ever met. He worked with me for several month, got me in with a good therapist, and I am now back on Lexapro at 10mg. I am feeling human and enjoying life for the first time in years. I thought I would never go back on the meds, but it was my last gasp before I gave up completely. You can read my many posts over the past 2 years or so. I was so against the meds and still would love to be without them. I endure side effects of weight gains, sleep disturbances, skin crawling, decreased libido, etc, but I am now functional and somewhat enjoying life. At least much more than before. I agree that there many people on the drugs for the wrong reasons, but there are also people who really need them. I truly hate it for the younger folks who have a lifetime of uncertainties. I have been having trouble only for the past 7 or 8 years and am in my early 60’s. I swore that after I got off them for the first time that I would never go back on them no matter what. I was so wrong. I was lucky in that I found a good doc willing to have an open mind and a lot of patience who probably saved my life. I also learned a lot about how to control my life and not let it control me. As my very wise son said, “I refuse to let anyone or anything steal my joy.” I have found that there several blood relatives who suffer the same miseries, and I feel that in my case, I have a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Do everything you can to remove all the stress and angst from your life, and if that doesn’t work, then you probably need stronger help. I have gained a new insight into mental illness and try to be an advocate for the “Crazies” out there. To all the compassionate people on this site that helped me through some of the darkest days of my life, I thank you with all my heart and hope that I can somehow return the favor. I will pray everyday for those I know and those I don’t. I hope you will pray for me also. Angie, Kuldeep, Lee, Zoe, and so many others. May God bless you all. Keep in touch if you can.

    • Mimi when I hadn’t seen any posts from you or Kuldeep I was afraid there was something wrong. I am glad you are doing better. Living in darkness is horrible and you do what you have to do to survive. If you read my posts below you will see that I am presently going through what you just went through. Several times I was tempted to get back on my meds but I didn’t. For about 4 months my anxiety was non stop without any breaks. It has fortunately eased up a little or I am pretty sure I would have gotten back on them. It comes and goes throughout each day so I am trying to take it one day at a time. We haven’t heard anything from Kuldeep so I hope he is okay. Mimi take care and God bless you dear lady and I wish you the best of luck.

      • Hi Angie, just wondering how you are feeling now and if you eat wheat at all. I recently read that anxiety and depression can be symptoms of gluten intolerance so I am trying to remove gluten from my diet to see if that helps with my anxiety. I had really bad withdrawal symptoms after coming off antidepressants a couple of years ago and after a couple of months I ended up back on drugs. I was trying to slowly come off them last year but ended up getting pregnant so have just stayed on where i’m at with them for the past year. I want to keep weaning myself off them at some stage.

        • Hey Kym, thank you so much for asking about me. I’m not a big wheat fan but I did look into gluten free diets because it seems to help with all sorts of ailments. I don’t think I eat enough to make that big of a difference. I am taking things one day at a time. My doctor is pushing so hard for me to get back on my meds but I am still trying to hold out. It’s like being on a roller coaster. If I wouldn’t get a break every now and then I definitely would get back on them but I hold on to those few moments of peace that I get occasionally. I wish you the best of luck for you and your little family and I truly thank you for your concern. I hate to see so many people suffering but it helps me feel less alone when I know there are others suffering like me. God bless you Kym.

    • Mimi, I was wondering if you have any regrets about getting back on your meds. Every time I think I am beginning to get things under control I face another road block in my life. I keep reading your post and I want so badly to enjoy life again. I just keep going to back to withdrawals. I just wanted to see if you felt the same way or if you had any regrets. Either way I hope you are doing great! Have you heard from Kuldeep yet? I am getting worried about him. Take care Mimi.

      • Angie, my friend. Thank you for your continued concern and I am sorry you continue to be searching for answers. I myself really can’t say that I have any feelings about going back on the meds as I had no choice. It was my only option as I had tried everything else for well over a year. Was it recurrent anxiety and depression or prolonged withdrawal? I do not know. I only know that I had hit rock bottom and had nowhere else to go. I have always been a strong person able to face just about anything, but this was my downfall. I gave up after a truly heroic battle. It took a while of slowly weaning back onto meds, and I was also physically sick as I was doing this. I lost 25 pounds in a matter of weeks. But finally it started to get better and now I am functional and able to do just about anything as long as I pace myself and do not overdo it. My emotions are somewhat blunted at times, and sometimes they are on my sleeve. I also have concentration problems sometimes but manageable. All in all I am much better, but what are the drugs doing to my body? I am in my early 60’s and if this is what it takes to enjoy a few more years of life then so be it. God help the young folks just starting down this road. Too much stress in this life of ours. As far as Kuldeep is concerned, I also have worried about him. I think maybe he has resorted to reinstating and feels like he has failed. I don’t know for sure but would like to know he is okay. As far as you are concerned, life is to short to be miserable. If you manage to overcome without meds, I am so happy for you, but don’t beat yourself up if you decide to go back. I lost better than a year of my life fighting this battle when I had no chance of winning. I do feel better. You deserve to also, whichever way you decide to go. Peace and Blessings to you and your family. M

        • Mimi, like you I recently had to get back on my meds. I was truly heading for a nervous breakdown. It has been mental torture watching my father die a slow death since February and my mind just could not handle it anymore. He was very active and one day he had a stroke that paralyzed his left side and we had to put him in the nursing home. Plus it seemed anything that could go wrong in my life has gone wrong and it was just too much. I fought it as long as I could but I couldn’t go any more. I’m glad I reached out to you because getting back onto my meds has made me so sick. I see it did the same thing to you so I realize it was not my imagination after all. Before I got back on my meds I was so miserable and sick with my nerves. I could not eat or sleep and worst of all, I could not enjoy my 7 beautiful grand babies. My sister told me that I was not doing anybody any good by not taking my medicine and it was true. I can’t wait to get my life back. I’m just taking everything one day at a time. Take care dear Mimi. I wish you peace and God bless you and your family.

          • Hang in there Angie. Starting antidepressants always made me feel worse before I started feeling better. I hope you start enjoying life again soon! You will be ok.

            • Kym and Angie, yes oh yes, I was miserable. It took around a month before I started to improve. The worst was I felt like failure after over a year off SSRI s. I will never know for sure but I feel that this was an exacerbation of my AD/PTSD rather than withdrawal. Whatever. I feel so much better. Nowhere near perfect but much better. I can enjoy life again. I know you will feel better also. I just know it. We are so much alike. I too have 5 grand babies and love them dearly. Please just have faith and patience. You will feel better. Peace and blessings. Mimi

              • Thank you Kym and Mimi for your support. I’ll be so happy when I can really start enjoying life again. I’ll also be glad when the nausea stops but thankfully I have already noticed a difference mentally. I don’t have the constant what if’s playing in my mind non stop nor the constant fear and worry. I still have them but they aren’t constant and I am so grateful for that. It is also helping me as I go check on my father in the nursing home every evening. The best part is I am starting to relax and play with my babies again. I’m still taking it one day at a time. God bless you both.

              • Hi Mimi, for me I would say I definitely had withdrawal symptoms. I had dizziness, headaches, ringing in the ears, extreme mood swings, difficulty concentrating and remembering things, fuzzy brain and weird feelings at the back of my brain that felt like my nerve endings were being burned, problems focusing my eyes, shaky hands, strange pin prick feelings all over my body, paranoia, feeling like I couldn’t get warm sometimes, and just a general feeling like my brain was shutting down. I’ve noticed that some of these symptoms are the same as ones you can get when you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, so I think seeing a Naturopath and taking supplements could greatly enhance wellbeing. When I told my doctor about the withdrawal he said he didn’t believe that’s what it was and it was probably just my anxiety returning. He said there was nothing he could do about it and told me he had to see the next patient. I left in a state of despair. I have changed doctors but the next one I saw just put me back on meds.

                • And Angie I also had the constant what if’s going on and thoughts just circling through my head all the time. I felt like I just wanted to turn my brain off for a while so I could get some peace. It really is horrible. I hope you feel better soon. Maybe you could try a digestive enzyme to make sure you are getting all the vitamins your body needs.

      • Ive been battling withdrawal off Celexa for 5 months now- I have symptoms Ive never experienced before- insomnia, rage, unbearable menstruations, extreme depression, suicidal ideation. I cant afford therapy so I try to find forums like this because no one seems to understand or care. This issue is serious. I was normal before I went on C. I couldnt get off it for three years. finally did it after pummeling my system with omega, Bs, Theanine and Sam-e , but still – having huge lack of balance hormonally/neurologically.

        • Kara I am so sorry you are suffering and can’t afford therapy ❤

          I think you will really like this book and find it helpful. The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress

          There’s another book, specifically for OCD but honestly I found it so helpful for explanations on how our brains work. There’s one entry in particular that explains unwanted thoughts and how to let them go, I really think it would be helpful to many people. The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD: A Guide to Overcoming Obsessions and Compulsions Using Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

        • Hi Kara. Withdrawal is truly awful and I hope you will start feeling better soon. I ended up back on meds and am trying to taper off very slowly. I was getting to the point where I though if this goes on much longer i’d rather die. Have you tried taking magnesium for muscle relaxation? I read certain meds can deplete your body of magnesium. Also essential oils like lavender can be really helpful for sleep. I have been feeling a whole lot better since taking digestive enzymes and cutting back on wheat, dairy, caffeine and sugar. Keeping blood sugar levels stable can help a lot too. I was also recommended by someone on another forum to eat pumpkin seeds and take bioplasma. You pretty much want to nourish your body as much as possible. And I have found yoga to be extremely helpful too. I hope some of these things might be useful to you. Take care

    • The stories are heartbreaking I am living one myself, trapped in 20plus years of anti depressant use and now cant seem to be off them or on them, the more I try in this go around at 47 the worse it has been with 4,5 days tolerated only to start experiencing severe side effects from drugs like mirtazapine most recently that have supposedly low side effects and induce sleep for many but seemed absolutely poison to my body and mind inducing akathisia type symptoms on small doses of up to 15mg and much less after the drug started quickly becoming intolerable.

      • John, I am so sorry you are going through this. I don’t wish this on anyone but I feel less alone knowing this is not all our imagination but what we are feeling is very real. I had to get back on my meds recently and I don’t ever remember feeling this sick when I would get back on them before. I hope you feel better soon. I wish you the best of luck and complete healing. We are here if you need anything.

    • Mimi, I believe you were suffering form protracted withdrawal from Lexapro. These drugs change our brain structure, the brain remodels itself around the drug, and when that drug is taken away, our brain collapses, like a honeysuckle that’s had the trellis ripped out from under it.
      That’s why you stabilised so quickly bacon the Lexapro. Your brain got it’s fix back. These drugs are awful, an awful indictment of a society where the powers that be invent drugs to keep the masses passive, pliant, malleable.
      I’m suffering from protracted withdrawal still, 14 months after getting off prozac. Every day is a struggle.
      From what I have learned a slow, slow taper from these drugs is best, as it allows the brain to heal slowly without the disabling symptoms from such a massive shock to it’s system as having the drug it’s used to being stopped completely. The drug is malleable, it adjusted to the drugs, it can adjust back. But it takes a lot, lot longer. Sometimes you have to taper over a period of years.
      If you google the forum Surviving Antidepressants you will find a wealth of information, evidence and advice on there.
      I really do hope this information helps someone. We are not alone.

      • Sorry, spelling mistakes1
        Bacon should be ‘back on’
        ‘the brain is malleable’ not the drug!

  11. First of all I was checking and I haven’t seen any posts from Mimi and Kuldeep in a while. I hope y’all are doing okay. Your answers to my posts have helped me so much in the past so I am hoping everything is okay with you two.
    Now to my problem. I had been on almost every anti depressant/anti anxiety pill for over 24 years. I tried numerous times to wean myself off without success because the withdrawal was horrible. My depression and anxiety would get worse and out of control until I got back on my medicine. It took me a year of slowly weaning myself off until I finally got it out of my system. I have been off my meds for a year now but my anxiety has come back with a vengeance. I am fighting so hard to not get back on them but I don’t know how much more I can take.

    • I’ve only been able to get through it with a Naturopathic Doctor. Someone who can get tests on your systems (adrenals, thyroid, hormones, etc) and fix physical problems that might influence the mental. And if you’re going to go the neurotransmitter route, go natural first – I’m on non-prescription 5 HTP and GABA, and there are so many other ways to help your brain without these insane drugs. But you really need to talk to a professional who will help you find the right balance. Too much and you’ll do more harm than good; too little and you’ll spend a TON of money on nothing. It’s expensive, but you have to decide if its worth avoiding the drugs. For me, I got my libido back, and when I went crazy (probably due to Lyme rather than withdrawal) and tried to go back on the meds, I felt WORSE, and the side effects were awful, so that sealed the deal – no going back!
      There’s also cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling; clean or anti-inflammatory eating, and lots of other things to try before meds. If you’ve made it THIS FAR I encourage you to seek a different route for anxiety, the drugs, in my opinion, aren’t worth it.

      • Thank you JeDa. I appreciate your response along with your recommendations and encouragement. I knew in my heart that I shouldn’t go back, I guess I just needed someone to remind me that in the long run it is not worth it. I will look into the alternatives. My state of mind is really in a bad place right now. I hope I can get some relief soon.

    • Angie, I have been off a ton of psychiatric MEDS since July, 2014, & am only now dealing with severe anxiety but will research, hunt & do anything I can to avoid any of those medications again. I had been on psychiatric MEDS for 28 years & had NO IDEA that I had been a walking zombie until getting off the MEDS in 2014. Talk about an eye opening revelation!!!!! I did not know the MEDS were making the depression & ALL the problems worse plus I was 100 lbs overweight & had numerous physical problems, only to discover, AFTER getting off those medications, the other physical conditions disappeared! I am now 60 years old taking a probiotic & that is ALL!!!! The weight fell off with no dieting. When the weight came off my cholesterol & stomach problems also went away. I do have some aches & pains due to arthritis but I will deal with the arthritis & be aware of it because I am ALIVE & AWAKE for the first time in 28 years! Looking back, I can understand what drug addicts are trying to achieve by using drugs….NUMBNESS & that is exactly what I had been unknowingly living prescribed by a doctor. If I ever questioned the medications or mentioned feeling bad, the psychiatrists would tell me that I needed another med or increase the dosage of an already prescribed med. I was even on the highest prescribed dosage of Klonopin, 6 mgs daily. I got off the meds totally by myself & by accident only due to financial hardship faced in 2014. The withdrawals were horrible, especially the Klonopin. It took months to get the MEDS out of my system but I have NO REGRETS!!!!!! I actually love life for the first time!!!!! I agree with JeDa who replied to your question. Yes, I am having a tough time with anxiety, at this time, but I am awake & know what has triggered the condition. I AM AWAKE SO I CAN THINK & REASON!!! I will find a solution but NOT with psychiatric medications. I want you to find the joy I have found & those medications are NOT the answer. It took 6 months to be able to see how getting off the medications had changed me in a positive way & I mean those first 6 months getting off the MEDS were hell!!!!! You hang in there & do some research for various other ways to help yourself rather than taking psychiatric MEDS.

      • Thank you Debbie. I am trying to take it one day at a time. Some days it is almost unbearable but I am still trying not to get back on them. I had been on my meds for 24 years. Every time I would try to get off of them the depression/anxiety would double and triple back on me. Even though I have been off of them for a year that is how I feel right now. My anxiety levels are through the roof. I have 7 beautiful grand babies who live within walking distance of my house and I can see them every day but my tortured mind is keeping me from truly enjoying them. I try to hide it from them. The oldest is 13 and the other 6 are 6 years and younger with the baby being 9 months old. I just feel like I am missing out on so much. I thank God every day because I have a very supportive family which helps me so much. Praying helps me a lot too but it is like a constant battle within my head. Even when I am comforted, my heart is either racing or pounding or the adrenaline is steadily flowing non stop. I reread your comment about research. I have a job that gives me a lot of free computer time and that is all I do, research anxiety. I am afraid of taking all these ‘natural’ OTC meds. I worry because what happens if I get off of them and I get the same reaction that I did from my meds, my anxiety doubling and tripling back on me. I just started taking a probiotic so hopefully that will help. I will still continue to take things one day at a time.

        • I am going to have to unsubscribe to getting notices. I’m starting to hate Chris Kresser and those like him for perpetuating the suffering of people like you Angie.

          My Grandmother had OCD and Anxiety. She was born in 1920. Back then no one even knew what OCD was, even in the 50’s all they had for her was shock treatments. How amazing if she lived today and could take medication and have therapy. Is the medication perfect, no. It’s not perfect. My 11 year old has severe OCD as well, like her grandmother. But it’s the best we have right now. There’s research going on right now and maybe in my daughters lifetime they will find out the mechanisms that cause it and have even better medications.

          Thank god we don’t live in a world that still exercises demons, literally. Not long ago that’s what we did for mental illness, think about that for a second. That’s how little we knew. It’s not perfect today but think how far we’ve come.

          I feel like Chris Kresser and other sites are going backwards, to where we were 50 years ago in research. My daughter might have to take medication her entire life, we don’t know. She’s done amazing in her CBT/ERP therapy but the fact is her OCD may come back if we wean her off but it will be NO FAULT of hers and science just doesn’t know enough right now but they do know they SSRI’s help people with severe anxiety. They just aren’t totally sure why. They readily tell you this.

          Get a psychiatrist you feel comfortable with, not a primary care doctor. Enjoy your grand babies. Enjoy life. Please. I knew my grandmother was mentally ill and it breaks the heart of those around you to know you won’t help yourself. Look up Bunmi Laditan on Face Book. She wrote a wonderful thing. The same organ that is sick, is the same organ that needs to make the decision to take your medication everyday.

          I don’t know if my response will be deleted but please get help Angie, from a doctor and not from people like the Chris Kresser’s of the world. Don’t forget, for Chris Kresser – THIS is how he makes HIS money. On articles like this. Don’t forget HIS motivation for writing things like this. Does he believe them? Sure. Probably. But he is one voice with a lot of monetary incentive so say such things. Be well Angie.

          • You have not felt it on yourself but people who do write here. Chris is not paying us. I have taken more than half of SSRIs available and antipsychotics. I have no symptom heart racing before effexor, not the super insomnia .. not rage before paroxetine .. I am 27 and suffering for PSSD. I was told that these side effects will go and it’s been a year I am going through hell even after stopping them. Still you want to believe, your wish – we are here the first hand sufferers … and not the said doctors who refuse to agree the suffering.

            • You mistake me and I am so sorry you are suffering. I truly am. I have a mentally ill child. Do you think I want to harm her? I have turned down more meds then I have given her and she has been doing cbt/erp therapy 2-3 hours every single week all this year.

              When I talk about the money, I only mean to say that while people talk about the drug companies and money, don’t forget everyone has motives, and don’t forget other peoples motives are not always as angelic as you would hope.

              I can only speak watching my grandmother and father suffer mental illness and self medicate. Their lives were destroyed by mental illness and if there was medication available (and they would have taken them) maybe their life and by default my mothers and then mine could have been “normal”. We will never know.

              Watching my daughter, I did everything we could before medication. She was trapped inside the house and her mind with her OCD. The only turn around came when she finally got on the right medication at the right dose. She told me she feels like a normal child for the first time in her life. She can live as a normal child, not trapped by her rituals and numbers. She still has backslides, she still has OCD, she still does therapy, it’s not perfect. But I would no more take away her medication then I would take away her medication if she had a heart condition or type 1 diabetes. I hope we can wean her medication and her psychiatrist fully supports that but if her OCD and anxiety comes back, she will be going back on because she can’t live a normal life without the medication. We do *everything* else in addition: yoga, mindfulness, diet, supplements, homeschool, and she’s getting a service dog.

              I wish you only the best and healing <3

              • Lizza, this site has been incredibly useful in helping me feel not alone and has given me insight (the internet and professionals seem to be SILENT about the awful side effects of these drugs so there’s not much out there for help in this) by reading about very similar experiences. Chris has created a platform to help us communicate, not send us back to the dark ages. I’m wondering why you would write a post that is so biased/black and white?

                • There are better sites to find useful information for one thing (mental health daily dot com has an active forum for withdrawal).

                  Second because there are truly mentally ill people that need these medications and the exact people that need them grab onto information like this to prove it’s better to be mentally ill. I know several people that won’t take their medications and their life is in shambles because of it and their children suffered because of it. One I had to cut off communication with. She would have literally printed out this article as to the reason she wouldn’t get help and then tell me she wants to walk in front of traffic. You see I live in an area where Chris Kresser is a practical guru (in the religious sense). Then they won’t seek medical help. Maybe other areas of the country are cut off from alternative medicine but in my area this is the norm not the exception. It’s great for people that don’t need real help.

                  I was only frustrated because someone not able to enjoy their life, or loved ones, need help. Many people lead normal lives because of these medications and to deny that IS going back to the dark ages. Where the only thing they had to offer my grandmother was shock therapy.

                  There are genetic testing you can do now to see both how well you will respond to an SSRIs, which ones work best for you, or if you will have a lot of side effects. These are accessible tests.

                  Natural and alternative medicine is wonderful. Unless it’s not.

                • Lizza,
                  This is for the people who have taken those SSRIs and found themselves in hell. I am one of them who was not mentally ill but stamped. Always bright both ways in academics and athletics. Some physical problems and they put me on Paxil. Now I am numb .
                  Off paxil 10 months, I cannot explain what I am going through and while on it what I had gone through.
                  Hell lot of medication changed, one after another.
                  Now if someone is mentally ill, if it helps calm down then it’s ok.
                  But the reality is far from this.. they are creating mental illness and there is no one to listen.

          • Hi Lizza,

            First I think I should state that, unlike some people, I do believe that there is a place for psychiatric medication and that obviously some people have benefited from it and they should not feel bad about that. I know that sometimes people in the natural health community (and elsewhere) can sound rather judgmental on the topic. I am so glad you have found something that helps your daughter. Unfortunately, for many of us, these medicines don’t help, in fact, they make things worse. And some people never really needed them to start with, but a doctor was too quick to reach for the prescription pad and now they are suffering from side effects and discontinuation symptoms. So for these people, information about alternatives and forums like this one provide a real service.

            In my case, I have suffered from depression and anxiety for almost as long as I can remember. My first experience with an antidepressant occurred back when Prozac was brand new and too pricey for my health plan so I was prescribed a tricyclic, desipramine, which gave me seizures. This scared me off these meds for over a decade, but since then I have been prescribed, at various times, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Ambien, Klonopin and Adderall (because bonus for me, I also have ADD!) Which ones worked for me? Unfortunately, none of them. If they had, I’d still be taking them and never question it. But honestly, they made me worse, not better. Prozac made me so numb and indifferent that I couldn’t enjoy anything, not even my favorite hobbies that have always brought me solace, like reading and birdwatching. When I talked to other people, it’s true I wasn’t anxious, but that’s because they didn’t even seem real to me. My husband said I “seemed dead” and that’s how I felt. Wellbutrin did improve my mood but I suffered constantly from dizziness, muscle aches, fatigue and sore throat, just not worth it. I could mention a similar story for each thing I tried.

            And what did my doctors say? Obviously I needed more drugs! When one of them tried to prescribe Zyprexa off label as a sleeping pill to counteract the insomnia I had as a side effect of another drug (I have never had symptoms that would call for an anti-psychotic) and when I expressed concern, he just said off hand, well, it can cause weight gain but so what cause I’m skinny–suffice to say, said no thanks. At that point I went to the internet and found this site and have appreciated it for what it is–another point of view than the prevalent one bombarding people to “ask their doctor” to prescribe them more meds. And it has been helpful to me. Nor have I paid anyone a dime to read and post here. We are all so different in how we react to medication but it can be so very frustrating trying to explain this to a doctor.

          • Thank you Lizza. I truly appreciate your concern. I had a nervous breakdown when I was 31 years old. I know anti depressants helped saved my life back then. For over 24 years I would be doing good so I would try to get off my meds. My depression/anxiety would double and triple back on me with other horrible side effects, so I stayed on them. 2 years ago I was losing my insurance and knew I couldn’t afford my medicine so it took me a very long year to slowly wean myself off. Before I got off my meds, I truly was worried that I had Alzheimer’s. My family was concerned also because they noticed it too. After being off my meds for a year my memory is coming back (although there is still so much I can’t remember) and my concentration is better but not perfect. Withdrawal is a very frightening experience. For the most part my anxiety stays low but like right now my father had a stroke and is paralyzed on his left side and won’t eat or drink enough to keep himself alive. I am watching him die a slow death and that is what triggered my anxiety (that plus everything that is going on in the news). When you have time read the blogs on here. Everyone has similar experiences like mine with taking these meds. I knew in my heart not to get back on the meds that is why I turned to this website for reassurance. I don’t know, maybe one day I won’t have a choice and I will need to get back on them but for now as long as I can keep functioning I will stay off of them. I wish you the best of luck and complete healing for your little girl.

            • It is heartbreaking to have a child with mental illness. I wish cbt/erp would have been enough for her (she actually couldn’t even do it before meds, it caused horrific panic attacks). Maybe she can wean. Maybe not. I’m taking her to the OCD annual conference this next year in San fransico so she knows she’s not alone. I never thought to tell her she wasn’t “crazy” but one of her first therapists told her that she wanted her to know that and my daughter said “thank you” that was heart breaking to think she thought she was crazy.

              She doesn’t remember a time she’s ever lived without OCD. It’s been her constant companion. My husbands family has Tourette’s and my husband suffered for a few years as a pre-teen but out grew his Tourette’s but not his ADHD (he doesn’t take medication). If you look up OCD / Tourette’s / ADHD they are all connected. With my family history and my husbands, my poor daughter never had a chance I suppose. I’ve resisted any diagnosis of ADHD. I feel its the anxiety and her psychiatrist hasn’t pushed it.

              I came here, ironically, because I too am not pro-meds lol. And they do reach for them too fast. But for some people, like my daughter, or someone that is housebound or literally not able to enjoy life without them, they can be a godsend. I do think there’s something they don’t understand yet going on and for a lot of people the SSRIs help. OCD requires double doses unfortunately. In children we are limited but I won’t give her an anti-psychotic but with max dose and ridiculous amounts of home based therapy she’s doing really well!

              I have a library of books I read to help her – and me – it’s tough as a mom and honestly it’s hard to even be around someone living with so much anxiety and children with OCD entwine a parent into their rituals and before you know it, it’s a dysfunctional dance neither one of you can stop. Anyways. There are two really good books. One is specifically for OCD but honestly I found it so helpful for anxiety, the author has OCD and is a therapist and the way he explains what happens in the brain I personally found helpful. Both are mindful CBT.

              The mindful way workbook: an 8 week program to free yourself from depression and emotional distress

              The mindfullness workbook for OCD

              I wish you well Angie! Have you looked into CBD oils? I don’t know if the legal in all states hemp based oils work as well as if you live in a legal state but it’s worth a try!

              • Thank you Lizza. From what I have researched, I guess my next step is to try CBT Therapy. I am just leary because I haven’t had too much luck with psychiatrists and therapists but maybe it’s because I haven’t found the right one yet. I don’t know about the CBD oils, I’ll see. Thank you and I appreciate you taking the time for your recommendations. I also wish you and your precious daughter well.

          • I am glad you are genuinely concerned for the mental well being of others. I do feel as if you are misguided. You have stated that you think that Chris is doing this to make money. Really? The people out to make BILLIONS in PROFIT on medicating millions of humans are the Pharmaceutical companies, medical & psychiatry professionals! What is really needed is the proper testing! Just to name a few….nutritional evaluation, heavy metal testing,behavioral investigation and discovery of trauma.
            Then diagnosis, then treatment. Which is mostly NOT the case when psychotropics are prescribed. There are so many things that get overlooked, one biggie; HEAVY METAL TESTING. Almost NEVER is this the course taken. There are a gamut of other tests that need to be done for a proper diagnosis and treatment for an illness, condition,disorder, however you word it? We are only treating the symptoms, without knowing the cause! And when you are medicating the precious minds of humans, it is much more dangerous than the illness alone. We will discover & believe this one day, as fact . I am terrified that in the meantime, we are destroying the physical and mental health of the masses. Chris Kresser is NOT out to do this, he is trying to get people to believe in themselves and educate people who are being deceived by “The system” May I kindly suggest you do the same and really research the drug(S) your precious daughter is taking. There are alternatives. I wish you and yours the best.

        • Angie. I have been off Effexor and ADD meds brought on by the Effexor. The most important factor for me getting better was HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY! This is not uncommon. I am 90-95% better when I went to a natural bio-identical hormone. Susanne Sommers wrote about finding them in Compound Pharmacies. They are popping up everywhere. Originally I used a gel called Estrogel that replaces Estrodiol as a close bio-identical answer but now I am on four hormone creams. One of my naturalpath’s didn’t agree. She is in a small town and limits her therapy to certain answers. I was crying everyday for 11 months. It took several weeks for the hormones to kick in but I am functional. I just visited my dying father in law and didn’t break down. I have heard of MANY women in menopause and after experiencing this. If you can’t find a compound Pharmaceutical who makes the product to fit you. Then try your regular dr and the gel. I got my tests and info through Tahoma Clinic in the Seattle area. They do a lot through the mail but cannot accept insurance. The other new discovery is a machine that uses magnetic pulses to restore neurotransmitter activity with very few side effects. It has been in use for the last 8 years and these clinics are popping up nationwide. Do your research, it is expensive. It may save your life. TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION. My daughter discovered the research in college when getting a neuroscience degree.

          • Thank you Julia. I had uterine cancer and my gynecologist is trying his best to keep me away from all that. I will check out Suzanne Somers book and I just googled Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It looks like something I would like to look into. I recently started meditating and that is helping me calm down a little when I feel like I am losing control. I am just taking everything one day at a time. Thank you for your help.