This is a very old post. A more recent post that speaks about difficulties in withdrawal that might also be helpful is: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
Brief note to my readers — why I’m not available for correspondence.
Just want to add a warning to this blog. So that it will be at the top of the page.
Withdrawing from psych meds is potentially DANGEROUS. (see this post too: Some thoughts on stopping psychiatric medications – things to think about before deciding if you should discontinue your medications)
But it doesn’t have to be. If you do it right and if you’re lucky both. But people should be scared, if only to do it right so that they minimize reasons to be scared.
I am very very sick and I for the most part I followed the rules of psychiatric withdrawal—what few there are.
I did follow the 10% or less rule. Cuts of 10% of current dose no more than every two weeks. One drug at a time. That can still be way too fast. Especially if one has a long and complicated history.
I cringe at the thought of all the fly-by comments left by random readers, many of whom I never heard from again, blithely saying how they were coming off of multiple drugs in a matter of days, weeks or a couple of months….
Why did we never hear from them again? I hate to say it but it’s likely they failed. Short of people who have been on drugs for a short time, coming off drugs is potentially dangerous and should be done with great caution and conservatism.
I have learned the hard way. I’m extremely ill. My endochronological system is shot and I have some awful sort of withdrawal syndrome. I am debilitated in a way I wish on no one ever. This physical illness is seen again and again on both benzo and antidepressant withdrawal forums. The other drugs there are not big communities of people coming off of them, so it’s harder to know how common it is with the mood stabilizers and neuroleptics, but given information we can glean from smaller pools of anecdotes it can happen with those drugs too.
Doctors do not understand this phenomena. We must get support from one another and help educate our doctors.
At this point I trust a doctor who tells me she doesn’t know if she can help me a whole lot more than one who thinks they know what is going on. The most helpful professionals in my life have been learning about this with me. And those who thought they could help have all hurt me. And I see this again and again in the groups too. Doctors can be our greatest allies but finding one that is humble enough to learn with us is tricky.
Coming off of drugs is dangerous. It could make you crazy, or like with me, it can be physically disabling.
This site offers valuable insights and resources for withdrawal, but do yourself a favor and really get into the conservative tone of it. Don’t hurt yourself. Especially just because you’ve heard a few stories of people doing it stupidly and surviving it.
And call me a fanatic, it’s been suggested many times, but eating right, nutrition, spirituality, movement and meditation or some combination of similar self-care, will get you through. Don’t even try withdrawing if you aren’t going to support your body through these means. Your body has been ravaged by the drugs and needs special care.
And lastly, take note. I did not do this in days or weeks. I was not reckless by any stretch of the term. I was on six drugs and I’ve been at it almost six years. Most of you are on much less. So take as much time as you need and stay functional.
Some thoughts on stopping psychiatric medications – things to think about before deciding if you should discontinue your medications
Note: In the end it took me somewhat over six years to complete my withdrawal. It’s now 7 months later. I’m getting better, but it’s at a glacial pace. We do recover, in time and not everyone gets sick like this by a long shot, though it’s by no means unusual in the withdrawal forums to see this either.
Some of the folks I’ve met in the withdrawal forums, some of whom were just as ill as I am now have shared their triumphant stories of well-being and recovery here.
For information on the safest methods to withdraw from psychiatric drugs see here: Withdrawal 101
Also see the following post for my history two and a half years after withdrawal on Dr. David Healy’s website: Monica’s story: the aftermath of polypsychopharmacology