Stopping the Madness: Coming Off Psychiatric Medications

Kelly Brogan, MD, ABIHM
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Meet Reilly:
“I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling sick with no real diagnosis. I have always been small, and was as a kid. My stomach always ached. I had diarrhea constantly. But it wasn’t until my episode in college that everything went downhill.” Reilly, now a 42 year old woman, is on disability and spends most of her time at home, in bed, watching tv. The “episode” in college was precipitated by a romantic breakup and use of alcohol and marijuana that led to several days of visual hallucinations and paranoia. Because of her long history of low mood, she was labeled with Bipolar disorder, and started on 7 medications (yes, 7) during her first hospitalization. Since that time, she has cycled through most mood stabilizers and antipsychotics on the market, earned the new diagnosis of Schizoaffective disorder, and she has slowly slipped off the ledge of her formerly functional existence, has gained 60 pounds, and has few social contacts.

And meet Sara:
Sara lost her pregnancy weight in three weeks and felt like she could take on the world. It wasn’t until she was about 9 months postpartum that she felt like she’d been hit by a truck. She was sluggish, forgetful, started to gain weight, lose hair – and not just the typical postpartum strands – and struggle to have a bowel movement even twice a week. She felt so overwhelmed that she knew something was wrong with her. In a 15 minute visit, a psychiatrist assured her he knew just what that was. He told her she has postpartum depression and gave her a prescription for Paxil. Within two weeks, she describes planning a suicide attempt. She drafted a letter, and planned to jump out of her window. She had never experienced these feelings before, and she stated, “it just suddenly made sense. I felt calm and certain about it.”

A thwarted attempt, two medication changes and 3 years later, she is told that she can never live life without Lexapro and Klonopin.

Entering the Mill

These and millions of other patients find themselves caught in the web of psychiatric sorcery – a spell cast, hexed, potentially for life. They are told that they have chemical imbalances. They are told that the most important thing they can do for themselves is to “take their medication,” and that they will have to do so “for life.”

As Dr. Joanna Moncreiff states:

“Symbolically, medication suggests that the problem is within the brain and well-being is dependent upon maintaining ‘chemical balance’ by artificial means. This message encourages patients to view themselves as flawed and vulnerable and may explain the poor outcomes of treated depression in naturalistic studies.”

These patients have suffered a crisis of resiliency.

The stress of their life experience outpaced what their biopsychosocial resources could support. Providers are not asking WHY they became sick when they did. They are not exploring root causes. They are not discussing evidence-based alternatives to medication treatment. And they are not disclosing the long-term risks of psychotropics, including worse functional outcome and increased risk of relapse. Let alone the poor integrity, industry-funded and manipulated data that supports the approval for efficacy of these medications.

Most egregiously, patients are sold the belief that medication is treating their disease rather than inducing a drug effect no different than alcohol or cocaine. That antidepressants and antipsychotics, for example, have effects like sedation or blunting of affect, is not a question. That these effects are reversible after long-term exposure is.

Where’s the Exit Door?

If a single dose of an antidepressant can change the architecture of the brain in ways we have no science to appreciate, what are the results of chronic, long-term use?

What happens when patients want out? When they are not happy with treatment? When they make sufficient changes in their lives to support a new approach?

As psychiatrist and activist Peter Breggin has stated, drug withdrawal programs are the most urgently needed intervention in the field of psychiatry.

I have no mentors. I have few like-minded colleagues. Most of what I have learned about psychiatric drug withdrawal, I have learned from patients, and from clinical experience.

I was taught to dismiss patients concerned about becoming “addicted” to psych meds, and to deny the possibility of protracted withdrawal, describing it only as evidence of that patient’s clear “need” for permanent medication treatment.

I was never taught how to taper.

In a rare instance of clinical documentation around approaches to tapering patients, Dr. Jonathan Prousky, compiles case examples of tapers that resulted in varied outcomes. Titled “Tapering off of psychotropic drugs: Using patient cases to understand reasons for success and failure,” he describes, in detail, his approach to these complex cases. He supports the patient’s reframing of their experience of mental illness, their self-care, and a careful dosage schedule that involves decreasing medication and use of natural agents such as nicotinamide (B3), botanicals like rhodiola rosea, melatonin, and amino acids like GABA and l-theanine.

We concur that there is no magic supplement bullet, and that agents with evidence for their promotion of the parasympathetic or relaxation nervous system and modulation of excitatory brain ports called NMDA receptors is the goal. MagnesiumN-acetylcysteinetaurine, and glycine are all natural modulators.

First, Reverse the Cause

The best way to promote resiliency is to bring back a signal of safety to the mind and body. The premise of paleo-deficiency is making its way into the literature, and the relevance of diet*, green exposure, light cycle throughout the day and night, as well as movement, are amassing a literature that supports the efficacy and relevance of lifestyle.

With my patients, we don’t touch medications until we have initiated 30 days of dietary change. This diet minimizes antigenic foods like gluten and diary, increases natural fats critical for blood sugar stability, and puts a premium on the sourcing of food eliminating GMOs and carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting pesticides.

Dietary change is a powerful, if not the most powerful means of effecting the microbiome, and gut-brain signaling.  In fact, in Reilly’s case, there is compelling evidence in support of the role of gluten intolerance in psychotic illness. Early elimination of gluten and cross-reactants like dairy might have, without exaggeration, changed the course of Reilly’s life.

I often fantasize about an inpatient psychiatric ward where organic ancestral foods are served, meditation and relaxation response are taught, sleep is supported, and exercise encouraged. I’d love a randomized trials of outcomes as a means of deconstructing the one ill – one pill model.

And what about Sara? Cases like Sara’s are near and dear to my heart because of my personal experience with postpartum thyroiditis as a psychiatric pretender. Yes, when psychiatrists don’t know about psychoneuroimmunology, they don’t test for biomarkers, and they don’t treat it. Sara had classic symptoms of this common autoimmune disease brought on by immune shifts and environmental triggers after delivery. She also was potentially fatally victimized  by the known suicide-promoting effects of antidepressants, particularly in this population, only the subject of three placebo-controlled, randomized trials in the history of time, the analysis of which does not support efficacy.

In these and most cases, psychiatric symptoms are just that – symptoms. They are evidence that the body and mind are struggling. To my mind, medicating these symptoms is the equivalent of seeing that someone is limping slowly down the road and tying them to the front of a race car to get them moving faster. There has GOT to be a better way.

Then, Initiate the Taper

I have learned that the treatment team partnership is critical, and that the most optimal results come from lifestyle change, careful management of dosage decreases, and strategic physiologic support through nutraceuticals. This video by Will Hall describes important steps in the framing of the medication taper experience.

Most patients and supportive practitioners know that the dosages made available by pharmaceutical companies are, unsurprisingly, not conducive to a successful taper. Liquid preparations, compounding pharmacies, and even meticulous removal of beads from capsules are indispensable work-around tools.

Prousky writes:

One helpful barometer of potential success involves the length of PD use. In one report, patients taking PDs for less than six months were more successful at tapering (81%), compared to patients on PDs for more than 5 years (44%), and patients on PDs between six months and 5 years (a little over 50%).32

To improve the odds of a successful outcome, the tapering plan should involve one PD at a time and reduce the PD with the longest elimination half-life first.PDs with longer elimination half-lives (i.e., more than 24 hours) are easier to taper since their withdrawal reactions tend to be less severe than drugs with shorter elimination half-lives (i.e., less than 24 hours)

I will often do a slightly larger, initial “test-dose” decrease to assess for sensitivity to withdrawal effects, which, if tolerated, can accelerate the process, sometimes, by years.

The risk of relapse is often related to the nature of the effects that medication has on the brain and body. In my experience, agitation, anxiety, and insomnia are the most common symptoms of withdrawal that can crop up within hours of a dose change, or sometimes several months after the final dose. They can resolve spontaneously, or they can remit. Long-term damage from these medications is a real phenomenon, and one that is poorly understood outside of patient accounts and peer support groups. Patients are rarely wrong.

Finally, Change Your Mind

Fear is the enemy of health. Fear is what brings people to psychiatrists, pushes the 911 buttons on the phone, and drives an urgent feeling of hopeless overwhelm. As healers, we have the opportunity to meet this fear with compassion and equanimity. We can put aside our obsessive preoccupation with reactive intervention and liability-driven care, and just tolerate what is uncomfortable about a patient’s distress. We must do this, because the data supports the emanant fact that the current paradigm of medication-based intervention is failing, and that it is dangerous.

I believe in transferring a sense of empowerment to my patients. In helping them to access a vital enthusiasm for this opportunity to learn about their own agency and efficacy in their health journey.  I talk to them about this process as being one of rebirth. Of a rising from the ash, and a deliberate step in the direction of wholeness and radiant life.

Because health is so much more than the absence of pills. The fading of a laundry list of diagnoses. Health is liberation. I believe this is a basic human right.

The author acknowledges, with great compassion, that this is a challenging topic for the many individuals who make the difficult decision to begin treatment with psychiatric medication. All patients must be given the most complete and accurate information about these medications, including side effects (risk for dependence, violence, impulsivity, etc), the importance of properly tapering off medication, the institutional incentives for medical doctors, educators, and others to advocate for their use, and the availability of effective non-pharmaceutical avenues of treatment that can address root causes of mental illness and behavioral problems. What follows herein is a discussion of steps that the author believes should be taken in anticipation of any medication taper, and the subsequent taper should be handled by an experienced professional. Despite these considerations, some patients may be unable to taper which, in the author’s opinion, speaks to the important of true informed consent prior to medication initiation. This blog is not medical advice and does not replace consultation with a qualified medical professional of your choosing.

* * * * *

*The latest in nutritional psychiatry publications:

The Emerging Field of Nutritional Mental Health: Inflammation, the Microbiome, Oxidative Stress, and Mitochondrial Function. Clinical Psychological Science

Does reverse causality explain the relationship between diet and depression?. Journal of Affective Disorders

Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry. The Lancet Psychiatry

Maternal and early postnatal nutrition and mental health of offspring by age 5 years: a prospective cohort study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

* * * * *

This article also appears on Kelly Brogan’s website.

45 COMMENTS

  1. I profusely thank Dr. Brogan for this blog entry since she acknowledges what patients who have suffered from withdrawing from psych meds already understand.

    By the way, this comment pretty much says it all and is pretty damming of psychiatrists.

    “”I was taught to dismiss patients concerned about becoming “addicted” to psych meds, and to deny the possibility of protracted withdrawal, describing it only as evidence of that patients clear “need” for permanent medication treatment.””

    Not to sound like a broken record but I urge anyone who is looking to get off psych meds to visit http://www.survivingantidepressants.org for support in tapering very slowly at 10% of current dose every 4 weeks. Sometimes, people are advised to go even more slowly.

    The support is free although the site does depend on individual donations. It is not beholden to any commercial interests.

    I would be very careful about regarding supplements since many people who are in withdrawal are quite sensitive to their effects. Just because they aren’t meds doesn’t mean they are harmless.

  2. Great article as usual, Kelly. I would add one caveat about which drug to start with: it may be important to start with the drug that causes the initial side effects that another drug is “treating,” regardless of half-life considerations. For instance, it is common in the foster care population I work with to see kids started on stimulants (and less frequently, antidepressants) and then becoming aggressive. At this point, they are diagnosed “bipolar” and put on antipsychotics. When someone complains that they are overmedicated, it is common to eliminate the antipsychotic first, which then exposes the aggressiveness caused by the stimulant, and the parties draw the conclusion that “he still needs” the antipsychotic. Whereas removal of the stimulant first generally leads to a better outcome, if people are willing to tolerate the brief but sometimes intense withdrawal/rebound period that almost inevitably occurs.

    Thanks for your work – I hope you become a mentor for others who have seen through the chicanery that is modern psychiatry.

    —- Steve

  3. A very thoughtful and helpful article about an issue that needs a lot of attention. I was lucky (haha) not to have been drugged, because when I was locked up in a state hospital for ten years as a child the drugs we have now had not been invented yet. When I got out at age 17 in April 1954, I just escaped them. Two months later, every inmate of just about every state hospital was put on these drugs. If I had been caught, I would be dead now.

    Only in the last year, because of getting to know a few people who had the courage to fight to get off these poisons, have I realized what a terrible and widespread problem this is for millions of people. I think our movement should give this a very high priority.

  4. Just love the article. I have been working in the mental health field for many years, and hate to see the amount of drugs given to teens. It is alarming and damaging. We spend more time on the drugs in America, instead of the prescription drugs, which can be worse. Most people see a commercial and know what drugs to ask for, and then are given. Only to stay on a life time. We need more work.

  5. Good article. If we are to stop the madness, we can’t just set up a safety net with band-aids downstream… the source must be eliminated. Find the robber barons that run Big Pharma and have them brought to justice. Hold psychiatry and the “mental health” behemoth accountable for the suffering that they cause. Take down Goliath, and let the Israelites go free. Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry.

  6. Thank you so much for this. I came off Seroquel rx for depression at my 5th attempt. I did this with no medical help over 2 years. very very slowly. Previously when I had tried, I felt so unwell that I restarted. I never found a doc that would support my withdrawal so I did it myself.
    I used 4 pillars of healing. Mediation, clean food, exercise and working with my thinking. I got my well being sorted while very very slowly reducing the dose
    I have no mental illness or any other psychiatric disorder
    I have significant tardive dyskinesia, dystonia akasthesia as a result of 10 years of seroquel. Thank you psychiatric profession for teaching me about well being by teaching me about helplessness and disempowerment

  7. Thank you so very much for your post and work in this area. This post , like so many others on this site, keep reminding me that what is missing from our society our sanctuaries where people can go to if their withdrawal regime becomes difficult……with sanctuaries I wonder if the overall success rate of tapering would be much higher. I hope programs like Beyond Soteria gather national and international momentum.

  8. Psychiatrists and the rest of medical doctors need to consider first that with any psychiatric symptoms they need to start with a list of all the medications a patient is taking. Of all the psychoactive medications I’ve taken for a bipolar disorder I don’t have, to prevent a harrowing “depression” that was an iron deficiency; the most mind-bending drug I’ve experienced (while taking it and discontinuing it (slowly)) was baclofen. Sensory distortion, depersonalization, anosognosia, hallucinations… It was horrible/ I’ve been off of it for seven months and am still reevaluating myself, my life, my feelings, my relationship with MS, and my past because of the years I spent not actually feeling connected to my life and having malfunctioning sensory experiences as the norm.

    Now I know that baclofen made the spasm and pain worse, too. Meta-analysis shows that there were no really good studies on the drug and that it doesn’t work for the lion’s share of people who take it. yet it’s a first-line medication prescribed first for MS spasm. Because of the mind-bending qualities of the drug, I could never tell if it relieved pain or not— that’s some deleterious effect.

    Next time I see my neurologist we’re going to have a talk about informed consent. When I was preparing to quit, I just happened to find a whole lot more information on it than when I first started taking it. Tapering off two 5 mg doses a day in ten weeks isn’t “abrupt,” but my brain/body thought otherwise.

    I was delirious.

    Do psychiatrists learn the difference between delirium and psychosis and other cognitive dysfunction or do they just reach for the DSM? They should, after being trained as medical doctors, understand all causes of what they consider to be the symptoms of mental illness.

    • I also had psychiatric symptoms due to iron deficiency. Which of course got much worse when I was prescribed Zyprexa and Seroquel. Iron is needed, among otehr functions, for dopamine synthesis so I also got a restless leg syndrome from these drugs. I still sometimes have rebounds although I try to keep a high iron diet and I’m free of drugs for over 2 yrs – these toxins have long-lasting effects (and I have taken them only for a very short time).
      “Yes, when psychiatrists don’t know about psychoneuroimmunology, they don’t test for biomarkers, and they don’t treat it.”
      They are not doctors – they have no idea about medicine, they could not read the results of a blood panel if their life depended on it. Bunch of snake’s oil pushers.

  9. Kelly, when I read these words I was relieved and alarmed:
    “That antidepressants and antipsychotics, for example, have effects like sedation or blunting of affect, is not a question. That these effects are reversible after long-term exposure is.”

    I was relieved because I was reading another doctor admitting that antipsychotics cause blunting of affect. I have been arguing for 20 years that the “blunted affect” of “chronic schizophrenia”, which was taught to me in medical school was a classical sign of the chronic from of the (supposed) disease was caused by the dopamine-blocking drugs that were used to treat “psychosis”.

    I was alarmed because I am one of the people who continues to be injected against my will with depot antipsychotics. I am worried, especially, about the long term toxicity of even the newer drugs. I have appealed against the Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO) that the local hospital has taken out against me, but the tribunal that decides on the matter has a record of releasing only 3% of those who come before it from ITOs in the Australian State of Queensland, where I live. In other words 97% of appeals against ITOs are unsuccessful, and under the Mental Health Act, ITO can be extended indefinitely (with 6 monthly reviews). They are currently arguing that I have “Psychotic Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified” having previously declared me, at various times, to have schizophrenia,, schizo-affective disorder, delusional disorder, hypomania and bipolar disorder).

    Ironically it was my “delusional theory of motivation” and my “delusional theories on the pineal, autism and schizophrenia” that got me locked up an injected in the first place (back in 1995, when I was 34 years old). My “delusional” theory of motivation was that in addition to territorial and sexual instincts humans also have social instincts such as communication, curiosity and play – and that these can be used to formulate treatment strategies in psychiatry and medicine (I was working as a Family Doctor at the time) – for example I theorised that the instinct for curiosity can be fostered to ward off dementia. I also argued that communication is centred on eye contact which can be taught to people with depression and autism as a means to improving communication. Successful communication, I argued, was an effective de-stressor and helps improve the mood. This was the essence of my “delusional theory on autism” and my “delusional theory of motivation”. There was a bit more to my “delusional theory of motivation”. I theorised that we humans have free will (volition) and that this was ignored in the hoary old “nature vs nurture” debate (In behavioural terminology addition to instincts and conditioning we also have free will and voluntary decisions).

    My “delusional theory on schizophrenia” was, as I said, the theory that chronic schizophrenia is primarily an iatrogenic condition (I now think that the whole label of schizophrenia is unscientific and therapeutically harmful).

    My “delusional theory on the pineal” was that with the marketing of the SSRI antidepressants (beginning with Prozac) there was systematic suppression of important information about the pineal and its main neurohormone, melatonin. The information that was suppressed at that time was fact that serotonin is concentrated in the pineal, where it is converted to melatonin. I found that this information and in fact all information about the pineal was completely absent from a range of neuroscience texts that were being used to teach medical students in Australia. At the same time there was a massive propaganda effort, spearheaded by the drug companies to raise the profile of serotonin and promote the “chemical imbalance theory” that links low serotonin with depression. For example, Ronald Kotulak’s ‘Inside the Brain’ (1995) had 20 references to serotonin in the index but none for melatonin or the pineal.

    At the same time there was promotion, in other books and journals, of melatonin for jet lag, seasonal affective disorder and sleep disturbances. There was also research trails on melatonin in Australian universities but the medical students of the time were not learning anything about the known physiology of the pineal. If they did, they would have viewed the SSRIs with more caution.

    I’m not sure about the need for dietary supplements in successfully withdrawing from psychiatric drugs. Especially with melatonin I have concern that external supplementation may suppress endogenous production the same way cortisone suppresses cortisol secretion by the adrenals.

    Overall, I think more attention should be directed by psychiatrists towards what goes into the brain through the eyes and ears than what goes in through the mouth. Words can be healing, but they can kill, too. Convincing people that they have a incurably sick minds can be expected to shorten their lives and cause suffering.

  10. Thank you for the excellent article article Dr. Brogan.

    I like that you mentioned the antidepressant study that showed only one dose is needed to change the brain. I absolutely believe that because believe it or not I took only a single dose of the very same SSRI antidepressant used in that study Lexapro (escitalopram). I only tried it for anxiety and it was the worst experience of my life. I can tell that I have not been the same person since and that was over 4 years ago. My emotions are not as strong as before and my sex drive never returned to its normal state. The condition is called PSSD (Post SSRI sexual dysfunction). I’m sure though if I would have continued with the drug that it would have made me not aware or not mind it like it seems to do to every other user. Heck I almost feel asexual now. And some researchers believe that antidepressants are contributing to the rise in asexuality in our society today from pregnant mothers taking these drugs during pregnancy and children being exposed to them in their youth.

    The single dose brain change study is of course another vague pharmaceutical drug study and makes no mention of the permanence of the brain change or why the brain wide reduction in connectivity is beneficial. I do find it interesting that when looking at brain scans of a depressed brain that it looks eerily similar to the brain scan of the single antidepressant dose brain. Normal brain scans look like they have much more activity going on in the brain. Where as the depressed brain scans and single antidepressant dose brain scans look like very little brain activity is going on except maybe in a couple of areas.

    These drugs give a person a brain problem rather than correct one and they are responsible for our outrageous suicide rate today. Antidepressants “work” by making a person not care about the real cares they had before. And then they can make a person not care about anything anymore which can make even mentally healthy people suicidal as studies have shown.

    A 2009 Oxford study on SSRIs found that SSRI antidepressants caused almost all participants in the study to feel less empathy, sympathy, and positive emotions. Some reported feeling suicidal due to the SSRI emotional numbness and one participant began to self-harm in an effort to feel emotion.

    A 2011 study found that individuals with high social anxiety had high empathy. The study found that high empathy may make socially anxious individuals more sensitive and attentive to other people’s states of mind. So SSRIs basically “treat” social anxiety by taking away empathy and making a person no longer care how others feel about them.

    These drugs are some of the most evil drugs ever created. Drugs that take away the ability to sadness, remorse, guilt, and anxiety, but also take away happiness, love, sex, and empathy. These drugs are killing people every day and causing people to kill one another as well.

    I can only hope more people like you Dr. Brogan continue to speak out about the dangers of psychiatric medications.

    Thank you and bless you Dr. Brogan. Please continue your good work.

  11. “Providers are not asking WHY they became sick when they did. They are not exploring root causes. They are not discussing evidence-based alternatives to medication treatment. And they are not disclosing the long-term risks of psychotropics, including worse functional outcome and increased risk of relapse. Let alone the poor integrity, industry-funded and manipulated data that supports the approval for efficacy of these medications.” Dr K. Brogan

    My doctors ask why and when. They explore with me a variety of possible treatments. We discuss the risks of meds, their long term side effects and the integrity of drug testing protocols.

    If I had been able to function in school as a child with the abilities I have and can now utilize, thanks to medication, hell wouldn’t have engulfed me at seven. My folks wouldn’t have called me a “god damned son of a bitch kid”, nor would I have been thrown out of classes repeatedly for what, I still don’t know. If I hadn’t had a thirst for knowledge, a true burning and craving to learn, like you, hell may not have been so painful. My love for my parents, my longing to make them proud, to make them understand I wanted to learn, that I wanted to be a good student, that I didn’t know why I was a god damned son of a bitch kid, and I didn’t want to be a god damned son of a bitch, was all in vain. Living hell.

    Medication, like a pair of glasses, brought focus to my world. I could see! I can see!

    • blakeacake,

      You were seven years old, and your parents called you a ‘g.d.s.o.b. kid.’ Then you got on mind-altering drugs and could see things clearly?

      Since seeing things clearly, have you been able to see the level of verbal abuse you underwent as a child? The reason I ask, is because *no* child deserves to be *abused* that way.

      No further comment.

      Duane

      • Great question.

        Hell began as a child. Hell continued for what seemed like an eternity. Hell may not have been as painful as it could have been, though. No doubt I was unable to focus on and to be aware of a great deal of my surroundings. Ironic that I was spared some of the horror by the very inability to attend to anything which is what precipitated much of the suffering, isn’t it?

        Part of the pain, as I alluded to, was due to an intrinsic sense that they misunderstood me. But, with time I learned to doubt myself, my intentions, my value, my true character and self-worth. Sometimes, I felt sorry for them. They wouldn’t treat me as they were if they had only known I wasn’t trying to be no good. If they knew my heart, they would weep. Sometimes, hatred took over, for them and others and myself. Slowly, I learned to be persuaded that they were right. Slowly, I began to lose confidence that I ever wanted to do right, that there was anything good about me. I must not have wanted to learn and to study and to make them proud. They were my parents after all, older, smarter -much, much smarter- and they would never lie to me.

        I had to try harder, like they said. That was the key. I thought I was trying, but I couldn’t have been, because I would have begun to learn. I kept trying, the best I knew how. But, I was distracted instantly, constantly, whether there were outward distractions or it was perfectly calm. I never realized this at the time. I had no idea what was happening. Yet, it started to sink in that I must be a god damned son of a bitch kid and an ungrateful, lazy, good for nothing spoiled brat. The sweet voice of me as a child that assured me I was good, like every kid is good deep down, faded.

        Later, in a split second, it became perfectly clear what had happened. The moment the drug began to work, I could hear. I could follow what others said. I could read a sentence one time and comprehend it. I was blown away.

        My whole life I had been waiting to live, hoping that I might wake up from my bad dream of a life unlived, but never thought I would.

  12. blakeacake,

    I am glad you had a positive experience with doctors who were willing to discuss the relevant med issues but most people’s experience mirrors what Dr. Brogan has described. Our concerns were minimized and even when we had obvious side effects, they were seen as signs of our alleged label.

    By the way, Ritalin had a positive effect on my life as an adult very briefly until it caused severe adverse side effects. So not everyone’s experience with stimulants is as good as yours.

    Finally, don’t lose sight of Dr. Brogan’s main point. If god forbid, these meds turn on you and you are one of the folks who has difficulty getting off of them, your chances of finding a helpful doctor are slim and none. I had to use an internet board for crying out loud to get off of my 4 psych med cocktail safely.

    The administrator of the surviving antidepressants withdrawal board, Altostrata, has done a great job in finding tapering friendly doctors throughout the country who are very knowledgeable about the slow tapering method. But they are far, few and between.

    Anyway, no matter what your position is on meds, I am sure you will agree that a patient shouldn’t have to struggle so much to find a supportive practitioner who will help them get off of the meds if that is their desire.

      • Being laughed at, being called names like “big dummy”, repeated failures, not knowing what someone just told you (over and over again while you look them in the eye and nod your head at the appropriate inflection or pause-faking attention all your life, hoping to fool people into believing you are hearing what they are saying, hoping you can hear them, not knowing why you can’t except you do know you are a god damned son of a bitch lazy kid), not knowing where to go, what to do next, even when instructed several times in plain English, and on and on every hour, every day, week, month, year, at home, school, on the ball field, on and on and on

        That is hell, too

        • Many here were abused as children. I’m sorry you went through all of that, no child deserves to be abused however,

          this forum is a safe haven for people who are recovering from the negative effects of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. You may want to think about that.

          Whatever works for you, of course.

  13. When I think about how I entered the psychiatric system, I consider it more of a trap or a kind of machine. The kind with big gears that turn and destroy you and make you feel hopeless and mostly, no longer human.
    When I took the book Mad in America to my psychiatrist’s visit back in 2005, I naively thought he would say something like, “wow! This is horrible! I need to find another job because I don’t want any part of this!” Of course I only had fifteen minutes to share what I experienced as a life changing eye opening book.

    That doctor moved away before I read Toxic Psychiatry and Anatomy of an Epidemic, which was when I took action on my own to get out the psychiatric mangler and get off of the drugs.
    I tapered on my own. I had to lie to the doctor to get the prescriptions, and then did the tapering with the help of websites, such as benzobuddies.org.
    Then I cut out the psychiatrist and had tapered so low that my primary care doc wrote the Rx’s. For years I had thought I “had to comply” with the psychiatrist. That is part of the machine apparently, because I was never forced. The threats to my wellbeing were more subtle. ( it was also before I had a good understanding of withdrawal, but, who did?) As my mind and thinking cleared up, I realized the therapist wasn’t that much help. In fact, since I was not truthful to him about my “meds” either, it was not very ethical on my part to keep seeing him.

    I have a problem with substituting supplements for psychiatric drugs. I think that just continues the fallacy that there is an “imbalance” of some sort, and it is nearly as hazy as the neurotransmitter imbalance theory of psychiatry. I have said before that even a “placebo effect” is still a medicalizing of the person ‘s situation.

    If a thorough work up is done before dispensing supplements, hormones would be important, but sleep is probably THE biggest problem for people in distress. In my case, sleep deprivation seemed to make dreams bleed into waking hours and cause confusion. I was desperate for sleep, and thus got caught in the trap.

    I really like the idea of psychiatrists learning how to professionally undo all the damage they have done to people by helping them detox and get off drugs. I don’t know any psychiatrists with the guts to even admit they’ve been living a lie and perpetuating a hoax, but if there are any, that would be a start to dismantle the deadly machine that is “the psychiatric system”.

  14. Excellent article. After spending ten years on SSDI, due mostly from complications with psych and other meds, and now off of it: I am compelled to continue to persuade doctors, assuming they need persuading, to make cannabis more available as, at a minimum, an option to alleviate the negative symptoms of withdrawal. Getting off of MAO Inhibitors, Benzodiazepines and Vicodin was a bear, and I don’t think I could have done it without cannabis. I no longer need it, but am crying out in the hopes that this information may benefit the next poor guy who has to go through what I did.

    • beckys11,

      Shinah House puts a focus on nutrition, along with holistic approach:

      http://www.shinahhouse.org/communityCentrePrograms.html

      Earth House uses Orthomolecular (nutritional) Medicine:

      http://www.earthhouse.org/index.html

      My apologies, Dr. Brogan for jumping in before you had the opportunity to comment, but after reading the question, I wanted to give her some hope.

      Duane
      https://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/holistic-treatment-centers/

      Please excuse the interruption, but I thought

    • beckys11,

      With all due respect to discoverandrecover, I would be very careful about going to any residential treatment place that claims to offer psych med withdrawal programs inpatient. I know several people who have been burned badly going to places that allegedly had a good reputation only to be proven to not be the case. In fact, they turned out to be quite harmful.

      I don’t want to take away your hope but I know from personal experience when I am desperate, I do things that may not be wise. So that is why I am expressing caution because knowing people who were burned very badly in your situation.

      And not to sound like broken record, but I would be very careful about taking supplements in high does. Just because supplements aren’t drugs doesn’t mean they are harmless. And when you are in withdrawal, you might be even more sensitive than usual.

      becky, I would check out http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/index who can offer you a very supportive way to slowly taper off of the meds. And it is free.

      They also have a list of taper friendly psychiatrists throughout the country so you might want to look and see if one is near you.

      Best of luck.

      • As for supplements: I’d recommend doing a blood panel first. Then you really know if you have a deficiency (or borderline deficiency – still in the norm but close to the lower limit) and are not in risk on overdosing. Most microelements and vitamins are toxic if taken in too high dosages.

  15. Dr. Brogan,

    Do you believe that ADHD not only doesn’t exist but that it cannot exist, it cannot ever be a real condition? ADHD, as defined, is impossible? The brain cannot “tune out”? That the brain cannot be distracted pathologically under any circumstances? That there is no such thing as deficits in “tuning in and tuning out” and there can be no such thing for any reason? And nothing like that could be corrected through any medicine, even if it did exist?

    Do you hold that every one can direct his attention exactly as he would like, all the time? Every one can adequately screen out extraneous signals? Every one can redirect his attention as needed–to zoom in and zoom out without any debilitating interference at all, ever?

    These questions go out to all of you doctors, not just Dr. Brogan. My questions are intended for all doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, all the PhDs for that matter.

    I will assume that no answers would be a yes, that is your belief.
    Thank you

    • “I will assume that no answers would be a yes, that is your belief. Thank you”

      That is not the assumption to make- why not give people a chance to reply to you?

      Why not peruse the articles here?

      I think you are looking for continued justification to take meds-

      Nobody here is going to tell you to stop. That’s a personal decision.

  16. I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia since 1999 and on psychiatric medication since 1999. I think it was because I masturbated since then, that caused it…now I have stopped masturbating my symptoms will slowly decrease. My main part is that I don’t get sleep at night. And I’m being forced injections. I have mainly been on Clopixol medication. I havent had a relapse since 2009. Once the police came and took me back to hospital. As I was refusing to go back to hospital with a nurse. Also, an ambulance took me back to hospital too. Its like you have to get fully discharged from there ways. Once they kept reducing the medication and then I was on low dose of clopixol tablets and I stopped taking them so then they put me back on injections. two months ago they increased my injection as I told them I wasn’t getting regular good sleep at night. Even wen I have a bad day like not sleep for 1-2 days, my father tells the male nurse. My injection is once every two weeks. Hopefully once I stop masturbating, the symptoms will decrease and then I will get off the medication by reducing it regularly.

  17. “I often fantasize about an inpatient psychiatric ward where organic ancestral foods are served, meditation and relaxation response are taught, sleep is supported, and exercise encouraged. I’d love a randomized trials of outcomes as a means of deconstructing the one ill – one pill model.”

    I have the same thoughts… My Mom was diagnosed with bi-polar 20 something years ago, and the cocktail of meds she has been on over the years has not helped. If anything it has made her worse… Now she has all the side effects of taking these meds for decades, and I wish there was a way to get her off all these meds. I feel completely helpless, and I just want to help her.

  18. I have been on 7 different psy med over the the past 17 years. I have also gone off my meds 3 times during the past 15 years – I was doing well and figured I didn’t really need them. All three times I tanked- self harm – suicide attempts, psy wards the whole nine yards. I can attest that the meds do work for me. I also have fibromyalgia, and scleroderma morphia and and in pain daily. Yesterday, my primary care physician suggested that I go off all my meds and see how I feel. Well that has sent me in a tail spin – just the thought of it – it is like someone discounting everything you feel – he called me a professional patient… So I really don’t suffer from a mood disorder, fibromyalgia, scleroderma, and the 49 surgeries and procedures I have had in the past 10 years have all be for nothing – self created….I am crazy and might as well just jump off the nearest bridge since I am no use to society. I called my mental health practitioner, and psychotherapist who both told me to “breath” and they would be calling my medical doctor. I can feel the bottom beginning to drop out already. Psy meds do work for some people. I have proof – 3 different time…
    On another note, where would someone suggest going if you wanted to get off your meds that would provide around the clock care and the proper diet, counseling, supplements. etc?

  19. Hello, I hope that others are still around to have a conversation about this topic. I am truly suffering. I have been to 3 different psychiatrist over the last year or so. I have suffered severe post-partum depression/psychosis. I’ve been on a high dose of zoloft and klonopin. It did help me in the beginning, but then Oct 2017 a traumatic event happened. I kind of spiraled back to where I was…maybe worse including PTSD. My doctor prescribed me an antipsychotic to go with the other drugs I’ve been on. I havent slept in a week, maybe 2-3 hours per night. Yes, I have spoken to my psychiatrist and was told to wait it out because the beginning is tough.

    I do NOT want to be on these medications anymore. I understand they cannot be stopped cold turkey, but I feel like if I had a psychiatrist who can look at my body as a WHOLE and integrate nutrition and the psychotropic drugs…I will be better off.

    Would you call this kind of doctor a “holistic” or “integrative” psychiatrist? I live in South Florida. I am desperate to find someone who can look at the whole picture and not just feed me drugs.

    Thank you!!

    • It is hard to find a holistic doctor. Most would not call themselves “psychiatrists.” PTSD is one label that can be addressed by talking therapies along with good diet, exercise, meditation, and many other approaches that don’t involve drugs. The Zoloft and Klonapin are both potentially going to make things worse in the long run. The lack of sleep may very well be related to Zoloft.

      I wish I had a great idea, but it comes down to searching and searching and interviewing people and seeing who is available and sane in your area who might be able to help. Perhaps finding peer support groups that are not psychiatrically oriented and talking to the other members can be helpful?

      Wish I had more to offer. You can see how how completely incompetent and delusional these psychiatrists and their allies really are. They have NO idea what they’re doing and you’re just a “brain experiment” to them. Get as far away from them as you can! Best of luck to you!

      — Steve

      • Thanks for taking the time to reply!! The one thing my current psychiatrist did tell me is that I am a walking zombie because of the Zoloft. They did agree I need to come down. I actually saw a resident (which is fine) and then accompanied by the primary doctor. They sat there for a good 20 minutes contemplating and chatting on what meds would be good for me. Putting me on a new med and talking about adding ANOTHER one next week. I’m so over it.

        I called around to many offices in my area. I actually did find 3 integrative psychiatrists! However….they don’t take insurance and charge an arm and a leg!

        I finally found a holistic and functional medicine doctor. And she takes my insurance. She does a micronutrients test and some hormone tests. She has experience with mental health! An individual plan will be made. I am so relieved I have an option.

        • Wow, that sounds like just like what you need! It’s really incredible, isn’t it, how they just talk about what they’re going to DO to you right in front of you, as if you don’t even exist? Stunning that they’d even admit Zoloft is screwing you up, but of course, the solution is another drug or another. Glad you’re getting away from them!

          • Yes! it was very strange!! The resident also went over her notes in a 5 minute brief on what I talked about for the last hour. I’m sitting there like….uhhhh wow when you put it like that, I’m pretty messed up heh. When I asked them about vitamins and if they could order blood work, they looked at me like I wasn’t speaking English. I literally just started going to them on Monday and extremely pleased to be going elsewhere.

    • This is the best way to come off the drugs but get a pill crusher from amazon:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGNb5LetgDw

      Sertraline inhibits a number of CYP450 enzymes (metabolise the drugs) which means you should avoid food stuffs herbs and spices that also inhibit CYP450 these are: black tea, garlic, black pepper, curcumin in turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, grapfruit. NEVER take Nytol or any ‘natural’ sleeping aid that has valerian… it blocks CYP450 and can push you into akathisia. Do a search for more.

      Take magnesium citrate 100mg in capsule powdered form on your tongue, cut the capsule in half and put the powder on your tongue to dissolve. Mg is vital for controlling the transmission of glutamate the major excitatory neurotransmitter. You can also dissolve it in carbonated water to help get it into you faster as well. If you swallow the capsule you are more likely to have a rear end problem, dissolve on the tongue… less likely.

      Stop all food with MSG and only eat foods low in glutamate which means no cheese.