Update and warning

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.

Way back when I started my blog I understood this. I linked to a paper by Joanna Moncrieff that makes plain as day the dangers. I said it was a scary paper and withdrawing is scary.

The dangers can be mitigated with research and care.

I became very very sick and I, for the most part,  followed the rules of psychiatric withdrawal—what few there were at the time I began. What I didn’t always do was listen to my body—that is a much more subtle thing than following printed out proclamations of good practice.

Listening to the body is a practice. There is a big learning curve involved.

What I did follow was the 10% or less rule. 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.

Other than people who have been on drugs for a short time, coming off drugs is potentially quite risky and should be done with great care and conservatism.

I have learned the hard way. I became debilitated in a way I wish on no one ever.

ADoctors in general know nothing about withdrawal. Demand that they educate themselves if you want to come off drugs. Bring to them some of the books and articles I point to.

Eating right, nutrition, spirituality, movement and meditation all help.  Your body has been ravaged by the drugs and needs special care. I say this from watching many people do it right on one specific withdrawal email list. Most of the lists are dangerous in my opinion at this point.

UPDATE:  *it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care.  Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up

It’s become clear to me that whenever it’s possible that it’s helpful for folks who’ve not begun withdrawal and have the time to consider a carefully thought out plan to attempt to bring greater well-being to your body before starting the withdrawal. That means learning how to profoundly nourish your body/mind and spirit prior to beginning a withdrawal. For suggestions on how to go about doing that check the drop-down menus on this blog for ideas. Anything that helps you learn how to live well can be part of your plan. That plan will look different for everyone as we learn to follow our hearts and find our own unique paths in the world. Things to begin considering are diet, exercise and movement, meditation/contemplation etc. Paying attention to all these things as you do them helps too. The body will start letting us know what it needs as we learn to pay attention. 

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 

22 thoughts on “Update and warning

Add yours

  1. Thank you so much for sharing all the info that you have. I am new to this site and I have been doing much searching and researching about the Lamictal that was prescribed to me. I am now searching for withdrawal information to arm myself with knowledge about my approach to getting off Lamictal. I am glad to have found more information from people who have used or are using Lamictal and that my issues are valid. Thank you all for sharing. As a newbie, I am reading as much as I can here, and I just wanted to let you know how valuable this information is to me. I will heed your precautions about withdrawal carefully. I know its a very late post, but as you can see your info is nonetheless very important. Thank you

  2. Hey there Gianna,

    I know I am late to this post. Here is hoping that you pull through and feel better. I have no advice for you as you seem to be doing all the right things. Please take as much as time as you need for yourself and take care.

  3. Gianna,
    I treasure hearing your words, your sincerity.

    I look forward to a time, hopefully soon, when all of this is behind you.

    If there is anything I can do, please let me know

    with love,


  4. Withdrawl can be hell, I learned the hard way. Without a dr.s help, more because of one. I had been on a sizeable amound of Klonopin. I moved to a new town and had to find a new Psych. doc who would not give me any, none, not any to even ramp down.
    Withdrawl from a benzo is like kicking heroin. Two weeks later I was still sick. Luckily I found a doc who prescribed a small dose and then we ramped down and I was able to kick it in the proper way. Thank god.

    Good Luck.


  5. I just want to add this information because people might not be aware that suicidal ideation is related to withdrawal and has nothing to do with depression, a condition that by the way, I never had.
    It is from the review of the UK Parliament “The Influence of Pharmaceutical Industry”

    5.Problems with Seroxat and other SSRIs
    Prozac and Seroxat are the best-known examples of SSRI and related antidepressants, but others are widely used.The introduction of SSRIs led to a threefold increase in antidepressant prescriptions between 1990 and 2000.Prescriptions for antidepressants now match those of the benzodiazepine tranquillisers at their peak,25 years ago.
    Almost from the outset, there was concern about two main problems with SSRIs. First, there was suspicion (initially centred on Prozac) that these drugs could induce suicidal and violent behaviour – infrequently, but independently of the suicidal thoughts that are linked to depression itself. There was also concern (centred on Seroxat)about a risk of dependence; some users found it impossible to stop taking SSRIs because of severe withdrawal symptoms. The MCA/CSM formally reviewed these problems on several occasions.The suicidality problem was first investigated in 1990/1;withdrawal reactions were investigated in 1993,
    1996 and 1998.In 2002,the MCA organised a further intensive review of both problems. This review was abandoned in April 2003, following criticism about conflicts of interest involving key figures on the review team. p. 87

    David Healy’s Protocol also claims the same.

  6. markps2,
    I’m not saying after withdrawal you will keep remembering it for the rest of your life.
    What I said is that during the process of withdrawal it’s impossible to focus your attention on something else and pretend that the brain zaps are not happening and all the other symptoms.
    You must be very careful and yes, pay attention and be alert on your feelings.
    I almost killed myself because of suicidal thoughts during withdrawal. If I was not aware that this suicidal ideation was caused by the withdrawal I’m not sure if I would be here now. I prepared everything to kill myself but fortunately I kept in my mind: “This is not me. This is withdrawal.”
    That’s all.
    And thanks the Lord you are off drugs. I’ve spend 2 years tapering v-e-r-y s-l-ow-l-y but had to go back to the drug for I could not stand the withdrawal.
    I don’t think about it anylonger.
    But I have sympathy for people who are in pain due to a process I know quite well.

  7. re Ana Lima “How can you ignore pain? ”
    I have withdrawn from psychiatric drugs, and experienced severe Akathisia in a locked psychiatric ward. It is a faint memory that I don’t want to remember.

    I know you are angry at feeling-having withdrawal symptoms etc but what else can you do besides try to ignore them? Take more drugs? Get more/continuously angry?

    I didn’t create this bull**** system.

    My comment “people are resistant to change” was in reference to the people around the “mentally ill” person who may want the person on psychiatric drugs. If the “mentally ill” person is argumentative, the question “Have you taken your medication is used” to stop emotional discussions. When in fact the mentally ill might have legitimate grievances.

  8. Gianna–

    I’m so sorry you are at the end of your rope here. It is so hard. You have taken such good care of yourself. It is probably hard to remember right now how far you have come.

    You have worked so hard at self-care, and made so much progress, but implicit in most alternative approaches is the idea that if you just do enough, and do it perfectly, it will all go well and you’ll feel 100%, and that if you don’t it is somehow your own fault. Do whatever you can to release yourself from that pressure. There is no way to do it perfect. As you know, there is hardly any good information out there, and so much of it is contradictory.

    Sending you rest and healing

  9. “The positive placibo effect has been documented, undoubtedly there is a negative placebo effect (if you do not believe in something it will negatively influence the outcome).”

    “Try to ignore withdrawal symptoms, as focusing on them may make them stronger or powerful. People are resistant to change.”

    Dr. Vincent Bellonzi

    I’m amazed! It only shows me once again that people still don’t have a clue about withdrawal.
    Ignore withdrawal?
    How can you ignore pain? How can you ignore brain zaps, mental distress, feelings that you cannot even express in words?
    People are resistant to change…
    I beg your pardon?
    It has happened to me. The psychiatrist told me that withdrawal symptoms were “psychological”. She even asked me to see her that very same afternoon cause she would prove me that it was psychological.
    Placebo effect?
    So I guess what it’s needed to withdraw is psychological help and we should have a therapist helping us to cope with withdrawal symptoms.
    “-Your inner self want to be on drugs and you are having all these symptoms because you fear being out of drugs.”
    Fortunately my psychoanalyst trusted me when I reported the terrible withdrawal symptoms.
    The last thing I needed was someone telling me the “it’s all in your head” way of ignore my pain.

  10. gianna,

    i do hope you get the rest you need…you sound horribly stressed. like others said…this blog will still be here when you feel well enough to return to this. this all is exhuasting even for someone who is not trying to get well through detox. you’ve been working double time here and with the support group.

    you’ve helped me and so many others where little help could be found. i went to bed last night, for the first time in over 11 years with out taking my benzo. it’s been rough going and i know i’ve been on a different schedule but i couldn’t have come this far without you in my support circle online. i can barely tend my blog or keep up what everyone is doing out here…i don’t know how you do it.

    i hope you will find respite…please take care of you…you have so much to give others, but you can’t do it when you’re so sick.

    as always, my thoughts and prayers are with you…
    sending you a supportive hug…and by all means, call if you want. i know you can do this.


  11. Sorry to hear that you are suffering so much, Gianna. Please remember that your suffering will not be in vain. By being a pioneer in this area, you are helping countless others, now and in the future.

    From my reading and the experience of people like yourself, it certainly sounds like the advice you give about cutting, then waiting to return to a sense of feeling “normal” or better than normal is the key to cutting medication safely.

    I plan on doing a video on your article here, mixed in with some stuff from Mad in America, at a future date.

  12. The adrenal exhaustion is something all on its own very dehabilitating and this is the time that you should–most definitely–take time off. Of everything. This blog won’t go away, it can sit here for 6 months , 12 months— you are the important part of this. I think it’s time to give yourself permission to walk away from it now. We will be here when you return.

  13. I have two comments for drug withdrawal, might be worthless or stupid I don’t know.

    For an example on my thinking of drug withdrawal analogy, (1) is remember regular people who (food) diet. People used to diet, this is no longer done because of the yo-yo effect. People lose say 50 pounds, look great, then gain the 50 pounds back. Up and down. This is bad for trying to maintain a regular constant weight. Same thing for psychiatric drugs I think. Don’t see-saw on and off them, it will probably make things worse.

    Second remember the psych drugs are/were for your mind. The positive placibo effect has been documented, undoubtedly there is a negative placebo effect (if you do not believe in something it will negatively influence the outcome). If you believe in it, it can/will come true, and we are not in control of all of our beliefs. There are conscious and unconscious beliefs, in these are fears and worries. Fear of failure (my inner ego/id secretly want-needs drugs)/fear of success(who will I be when I succeed?). Want of failure/want of success.Analogy here is seeing human face
    where there isn’t one. Try to ignore withdrawal symptoms, as focusing on them may make them stronger or powerful. People are resistant to change. The people that support and surround a person who take psychiatric drugs in general want that person on drugs, as the general public has a belief in the success and “goodness” of drugs from Pharma Co.

    In conclusion, remember you are an animal as well as a human being. You need healthy food , exersize , etc like any other animal.
    Best youtube video Gianna showed me.
    Dr. Vincent Bellonzi Youtube LINK

  14. Dear Gianna–

    I’m so sorry you’re having such a rough time. I see so much hope shining through your writing. Hang onto that hope with everything you’ve got–it can see you through the dark times and help you reach the light on the other side. With time, gentle care, and a good doctor, I feel certain that things will get better for you.

    Take care!


  15. Dear Gianna,

    You have been an inspiration to me over these last months, as I travel my own journey in search of a life free from toxic psychiatric drugs.

    Your eloquent writings have been crucial to my successes along that journey. With or without your regular updates, doubtless I will continue to visit this wonderful blog for answers in the future.

    I am so glad you have found a doc with modesty (a rare thing) who you trust to help you. I feel sure you will make it through. You have an incredibly strong character.


  16. I understand the pitfalls you are pointing out to others withdrawing from psychiatric drugs only too well, Gianna. I was on multi drugs for 20 years and know the harm others, who have been unfortunate enough to believe in longterm use of them, can do. I am now, thankfully, free from the chemical lobotomy, which resulted from being a prescribed drug addict for 8 glorious years. All they do in fact is add to psycho/social problems. It can become a nightmare for some to withdraw when they become aware they can do such serious damage

    But it is not impossible. Hope and patience are virtues which are vital to succeed. It may take some time but it is worth it. Bodily awareness is, in my opinion, a great help and this is not easy for one who is withdrawing too.

    Thank you, Gianna for taking the time to share your own personal awareness with others and in doing so helping them to succeed also.

  17. Gianna, it is distressing to hear that after all of your work and your help for other people, you are still having to deal with the physical side effects of withdrawal. Thank you for writing to us about it, and I hope that you will overcome this obstacle as you have overcome other obstacles in the past. And I hope you will come back and write to us again about what you have learned and what you have to teach us.


  18. Dear Gianna,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re so ill. You’ve been such a trooper during this extraordinarily difficult withdrawal period. It’s got to be unbelievably difficult to try and do this on your own. But once again, you’re reaching out and giving great advice to people who need it. All my hopes that your new doctor can help you!


Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑