Sunday, May 31, 2020

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  • Hi, Douglas! Thank you for sharing your experience(s) with SSRI induced Akathisia-a syndrome while taking Effexor. My 23-year-old daughter had suffered great trauma after finding her father’s body when he passed away unexpectedly a little over a year ago. My daughter was prescribed Effexor 37.5mg daily for depression about a year ago. I witnessed her experience symptoms such as: having a lot of energy and anxiety in the beginning. She seemed to believe that Effexor was working bc of her sudden onset of extreme hyperactivity that gave her the energy to feel like getting up and completing tasks (initially, her depression symptoms included: having no energy, tired, emotional etc). Along with her being extremely hyperactive, she started exhibiting high levels of anxiety with noticeable uncontrollable shaking, agitation, eye twitches, anger outbursts, aggressiveness, which was quickly getting out of control. As a concerned parent, I voiced my concerns about her behavior, which made her very angry, enraged, and she expressed her anger towards me through tantrums and outbursts of inappropriate behavior and vulgar language. She is 23 & has never behaved in such a manner. I wasn’t sure how to handle what was going on with her and her rather disturbing behavior. She was obviously struggling with something that was beyond her control or her ability to see how much her entire demeanor had changed. She talked to her Nurse Practitioner who then put her on Buspar for anxiety along with an increased dose of the antidepressant to Effexor XR 150mg!?!?

    I’m somewhat familiar with medical/psychiatric issues due to having medical professionals in my immediate family (my mother is a nurse) and I am a medical transcriptionist. I also have major depressive disorder with anxiety and panic attacks… I had been put on Prozac in the early stages of my treatment. I am familiar with the signs and symptoms of adverse side effects. My reaction to Prozac was somewhat difficult to recognize for me. The mind is quite tricky sometimes & it was difficult for me to notice the warning signs until I shouted something out loud to the TV that was completely out of character for me (I was having homicidal ideations along with suicidal ideations). I have had suicidal thoughts from an early age but I have never had homicidal thoughts, never. And when I shouted something that is against everything I am against, it occurred to me then: Discontinue Prozac, immediately. Once I was stabilized after discontinuing Prozac, I was placed on Zoloft, which worked like a charm for me. That being said, I know that if it was difficult for me to realize I was having dangerous thoughts/side effects; it has to be very difficult for my daughter to even see, much less understand why she is behaving in such a manner. But I also know that there was a breaking point for her to go through before she would be able to come to me about her symptoms/side effects. She recently explained to me that she only takes Effexor to prevent the very painful and flu-like symptoms caused by Effexor withdrawals. I’ve read a lot of material about Effexor & the complications people suffer through even if they go just one day without it. I have never heard of such horrible withdrawal symptoms associated with an antidepressant… These withdrawal symptoms sound more like coming off opioids or heroine!

    At 2:00am this past Saturday, I got a call from her very frantic fiancée, extremely upset, scared begging me to come over immediately to help her before she followed through with her suicidal attempt. He told me that my daughter had locked herself in the bathroom with a loaded .38 that she had inherited from her deceased father. It seemed as if my worst nightmare was about to unfold. I immediately jumped out of bed & drove to her house, praying and begging for mercy. My baby has been exhibiting very unusual behavior, sometimes acting like a mad dog; but she never told me she had been having thoughts of suicide which has been going on for nearly a year. She even said that something inside her head told her not to tell anyone, especially me, and she told me that she heard something telling her over and over to “just do it…” daily.

    Once I had gotten to her house, it took many knocks on the door to get in. I could hear them both screaming at each other & I was literally on the verge of knocking the door down to gain entry. Finally, her fiancée let me in. I could still hear my daughter screaming and crying, inconsolably in another room. She was full of rage, anger and fear. My first thought was, “Thank God, she hasn’t pulled the trigger.” My second thought was to assess the situation, considering I was walking into my daughter’s home knowing she was somewhere in the house possibly still armed with a loaded gun. I had several scenarios on what might happen & with each scenario, I had a plan on how to react. Her fiancée gave me a hug & he was crying and trembling… I ask him in a low voice, “Where is my daughter & is she still armed?” He said that he broke down the bathroom door, got the gun away from her and unloaded it. He told me my daughter was in the den and she was unarmed. I calmly walked into the den where she was sitting, crying uncontrollably. It was at that time she finally told me that she had been having suicidal thoughts on a daily basis along with all the other side effects since she had been placed on Effexor and is only taking it to avoid the overwhelming withdrawal symptoms.

    At this point, I insisted on her making a survival plan and she agreed. I have also insisted that she talk to her NP about her concerns about Effexor & ask for a plan to begin tapering down the Effexor with a plan to start