Coming Off Anti-Depressants

A few years back, I was in a bad place mentally and physically. I had been burning the candle at both ends, very stressed, eating poorly, exhausted, zero self care and a burning desire that what I was doing was not enough and always wanting to do more, more, more.

I had reached a point of complete despair, mentally and physically, where I just did not want to continue the way I was living. I tried to explain it to my wife but all that came out was actually garbage. I couldn’t even summon the ability to articulate what was wrong.

I just felt completely broken, mentally and physically.

It was around that point that I decided that what I was feeling was not the norm for me and that I needed medical help. I’ll never forget how nervous and agitated I was that first morning going to the GP to try and discuss what was going on with me. It felt like a mountain to climb. A diagnosis of depression and high anxiety followed, along with the prescribed anti depressants, in this form of escitalopram.

In the last few weeks, I have been tapering down my use of these anti depressants inline with my doctors advice. I feel much better these days and I have better tools in my tool box for dealing with life’s stress (read How to Build Resilience to Stress) but as part of the taper I have noticed 2 huge changes.

Persistent Dizziness – Since I stopped the medication I have this feeling of persistent dizziness or wooziness in my head. It feels a bit like when you stand up too quick and you have low blood pressure and feel dizzy. I found this very draining but once I became aware of it as a known withdrawal symptom, it became easier to identify it and manage it.

Alcohol Intolerance – My ability to tolerate alcohol has gone down dramatically! I’m no angel when it comes to alcohol consumption but since I have come off this medication, and gone out socially like I used to, the next few days after the night out have been hell. My mood drops off the side of a cliff, I become really low, depressed, angry with things around me, really snappy and short with the kids and family, tired all the time (abnormally so) and above all else, I have this over riding feeling of not caring about anything or anyone anymore. I expect that I am a nightmare to live with for these few days. This is really scary for me and it reminds me of how I was feeling just before I went on the medication, except this time around alcohol is providing the trigger.

I expect the dizziness to recede over time but I feel I need to really cut back or eliminate alcohol consumption as it is having a super negative impact on me and my family over the days that follow a night out. I do not want to be that person or have that affect on the people that are nearest to me so this needs to change!

In hindsight, I do not believe that my depression and anxiety were the result of a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in my brain, like many people believe. I believe they arose as a result of my reactions to many life events that I was experiencing at that time. I was experiencing complete burn out physically and mentally with a real detachment from the world around me. It is a valuable and hard learned lesson in self care.

If you can relate to this experience, please leave a comment below, it would be great to hear other people’s experience with anti depressants.

Yours in health and happiness,

JP

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