I’ve been taking pills to contain chronic depression (dysthymic disorder) for three years; depression itself has been my companion since 1973. Five weeks ago my GP concurred that I was well enough to discontinue one of the meds (Cipralex) and I tapered the dosage down to zero within ten days.
Since then I’ve experienced a string of weird sensations: sleep pattern out of whack; disorientation from below-the-skin twitches; dulled concentration from headaches; and frequent nightmares the moment I fall asleep. Overall, I feel spaced out, listless, and physically weak. See also yesterday’s post and the recent cane-wielding incident.
To prevent pain & discomfort from spiralling into suffering (as in “poor me”) I asked Dr. Google for a list of known withdrawal symptoms. They include —
aggression, anxiety, balance issues, blurred vision, concentration impairment, constipation, crying spells, depersonalization, diarrhea, dizziness, electric shock sensations, fatigue, flatulence, flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, hostility, highly emotional, indigestion, irritability, impaired speech, insomnia, jumpy nerves, lack of coordination, lethargy, migraine headaches & increased headaches, nausea, nervousness, over-reacting to situations, paranoia, repetitive thoughts or songs, sensory & sleep disturbances, severe internal restlessness, stomach cramps, tremors, ear ringing or buzzing, tingling sensations, troubling thoughts, visual hallucinations & illusions, vivid dreams, speech changes, worsened depression.
Woa! Having one or two of these might be a passing nuisance, but eight or nine in a 24-hour period would make even a saint, well, hostile, nervous, and jumpy. I’m especially troubled by what feel like taps with a mallet to the back of my head, something the literature calls brain zaps, head shocks, and cranial zings of unknown etiology.
Following on-line advice from several sources, I’m again taking the little white pill and expect to start another, slower cessation schedule. (I’ll also consult my doc on Monday; fortunately he does email). It appears that what I’ve been experiencing is not uncommon — and not of my own fabrication. Not crazy after all: phew!
p.s.: here’s what my dear GP said, by email, on a Sunday: “… it appears that you are one of those people who take longer to withdraw from Cipralex. There is biologic variability in these things. I would now suggest a month’s worth of tapering, perhaps 5 mgs daily for two more weeks, then 2.5 mgs for another week, then 2.5 mgs alternate days if you can manage that. As for the person who suggested caution in the winter months (see comments), there is some validity to that, but I think with you it would be fine to try it at this time of year as you really do seem better.” I’ve received concurring advice from a friend who’s got a PhD in pharmacology. image credit: soulfunkjazz.com