A Story On Antidepressant Withdrawal

Let's Talk WithdrawalMy good friend, Megan, has been such a blessing to our family during this newborn stage. She brought us several meals, is always eager to hold the baby even when she’s crying, change her diaper and rock her to sleep. When they say “it takes a village,” she is the kind of community and generousity you want in your life. 

Anyway, I have been wanting to share more personal stories of health on this blog. As anyone who has been through chronic pain or unexplained illness or battled continuously against health issues knows, it’s crucial to hear that you are not alone. It is so encouraging to know others in a similar spot and be able to work through it together, even virtually. 

Megan recently shared her health story on a podcast interview.  Once I heard it, I knew I had to share it with you.  While this story is specifically focused on her experience taking antidepressants, I related to it in so many ways- being so desperate to feel better and believing the doctors knew best, trusting that the pills they were giving me would be safe and healing, only to end up worse.
Megan’s story is full of the range of emotions that any of us go through when dealing with chronic pain or an unexplained illness: one day hopeful and the next filled with hopelessness.  If you are in that place and looking for some encouragement today, or if you are on or considering taking antidepressants, you must listen to Megan’s story.  Here’s a summary of what they discuss (from James Moore at Let’s Talk Withdrawal):

  • How Megan had sleep difficulties and how her doctor prescribed an antidepressant for insomnia
  • That Megan didn’t even know what she was taking was an antidepressant
  • After 2 years, Megan started to think about coming off her medication. Her doctor at the time advised her to withdraw over 2 weeks after Megan had been taking the antidepressant for 2 years
  • How Megan found the increase in suicidal thinking the most frightening effect of withdrawal but that she did not realise at the time that this was caused by stopping the drug
  • How no one understood that what Megan was experiencing was caused by antidepressant withdrawal
  • How doctors prescribed more medication to try and counter the symptoms of withdrawal
  • How Megan had to go back on her antidepressant and double the dose to remove the withdrawal effects
  • That the prospect of starting a family led Megan to consider stopping again and she then found an entire community of others who were struggling with the drugs themselves
  • How, having realised that her initial attempt to stop was too fast, Megan then decided to change to a different anti anxiety medication
  • How Megan planned to take four months to withdraw but still found this too fast and she experienced a wide range withdrawal effects
  • How a doctor prescribed an additional three medications on top of the antidepressant and anti anxiety medication
  • How those withdrawal effects forced Megan to go back up to 20mg of her antidepressant, meaning that Megan felt trapped
  • How the website survivingantidepressants.org was a major resource that Megan used to help her maker her tapering plan
  • That Megan used a compounding pharmacy to help her taper but it was expensive
  • How sometimes withdrawal effects can recur years after someone has stopped an antidepressant
  • How people should be very careful to recognize that suicidal thinking can arise from starting, changing dose or stopping an antidepressant

Listen to it at Let’s Talk Withdrawal or on iTunes.

I’m so proud of Megan for being so vulnerable in sharing her story and for her persistence to trust God in finding healing someday.  I hope you will also be encouraged by her outlook and reminded of how important it is to always do your own research before taking pharmaceuticals- they all have side effects.

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Doctored – Healthcare or Sick Care?

I used to be sick… really sick, all the time. I’ve seen dozens of doctors throughout my life and popped too many prescription pills to remember, trying to get better. But y’all, for the first time ever, I feel great.  And I haven’t seen a doctor in years now, or taken medication.  Coincidence?  It certainly doesn’t seem that way to me…

Before I begin my summary/commentary of the documentary Doctored, I want to be clear that it (and this blog) is meant to inform and raise awareness, not offend.  This documentary is an exposé on the business of medicine and the harm it’s caused to many people, including me; it’s not an attack on the healthcare professionals who work with the best of intentions to heal and save people’s lives.  I sincerely hope you’ve had a very different experience from mine, but I know that many of you have not.  This documentary really helped me understand they why behind it all and I feel compelled to share it with those of you who are/have been as frustrated as me with the lack of answers.

Modern western medicine came about to get rid of “quacks” who were scamming people into dangerous treatments.  It was created to give regulation and science to the methods of healing people. Morris Fishbein, the American Medical Association’s Executive Director from 1924 to 1949 felt that only doctors should treat people, but he was also clear that “Medicine is a profession; it must never become a business or a trade, never the subservient tool of a governmental bureaucracy.”  Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is now a far cry from that.  

Medicine is sick care, not health care. 8 out of 10 people will die of a chronic illness.  These illnesses are treated with medication that may fix the symptoms but ultimately sustains the problem, rather than healing it. Let’s be honest: if drugs cured us, then we would stop spending money. According to the World Health Organization, the United States spends more on health care per capita ($8,608), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.2%), than any other nation (according to 2011 figures, the most recent I could find).  Approximately 98% of the advertising revenue for medical journals in the United States is provided by pharmaceutical companies.  This seems like a slight conflict of interest to me.

“Medical school doesn’t teach doctors to address the root of the problem.  It teaches doctors to treat the problem.  It’s a practical science with practical aims… medicine is different from other sciences because more than being a science, it is first and foremost a business.”

– Dr. Cate Shanahan on her disillusionment with the industry of medicine and her desire & reason to become a doctor in Deep Nutrition

In my experience, the physicians that I have seen couldn’t figure out my problems.  Unfortunately, rather than trying to figure out why I was sick, they came up with ideas and prescribed medication to see if it worked.  But I got worse, not better.  And often, I was diagnosing myself.  Isn’t a doctor supposed to tell you what medication you need rather than you seeing a commercial, then going to the doctor to say you have the symptoms and need that pill?  When we are sick, we want the shortest route to the quickest fix.  And too often, so do our busy doctors.  The easy answer? Medicine.

Over the past year, I have seen dramatic healing by visiting my new chiropractor regularly.  I used to suffer from back and shoulder/neck/hip/foot/leg pain daily, (honestly, almost constantly).  Through regular adjustments and sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet, I have seen 95% improvement in my pain frequency and intensity.  It is simply remarkable and life changing.  What I have found incredible about fixing my spine is how much it also affects your overall nervous system and your brain, and thus the health of my body as a whole. Could the problem be that doctors just aren’t taking a hands-on (literally) approach with their patients anymore?  

Now, you’re considered a quack if you don’t prescribe drugs.  Doctors who try to help someone naturally, like chiropractors, are often considered quacks because they are trying to help their patients while avoiding the dangerous and potentially fatal side effects of medication.  Every year, 125,000 people die of properly prescribed drugs.  I am surprised that number isn’t higher, since I’ve personally known 3 people in the past 5 years fall victim to it. But pharmaceutical companies are never charged with murder.  Rather, the (vicious for us) profitable cycle continues.  I talk to people all the time who are on one medication for one issue and then on 3 more to combat the side effects of that medication. How many of you can relate?

Now time for the real controversy: the epidemic of cancer as the ultimate example of medicine as a business.  This documentary tells a couple of compelling stories about the governments efforts to fight possible cures for cancer (FDA vs Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplaston therapy) and promote chemotherapy/radiation (Utah prosecuted the parents of Parker Jensen for refusing to treat their young son with chemo after his tumor was surgically removed).  Think about it: if there was a cure for cancer, there would be lots of people without jobs.  That’s all I’ll say about that topic… please, watch it for yourself.

The documentary ends with a commentary on how the health of a nation is in direct correlation to health of it’s soil.  Our minerals and nutrients come from the soil where are food is grown and animals graze; we need active and alive food to stay active and alive.  As I’ve mentioned before, GMOs and pesticide-ridden food are now pervasive in our grocery stores. In fact, since GMOs  were introduced, the instances of autoimmune diseases have increased 400%!  It’s more important than ever to pay extra special attention to your diet and where your food comes from as a cure for your health.

To close, Doctored emphasizes the hope that with more patients pushing for real answers, healthcare is, in many cases, becoming more patient-centered and doctors are now collaborating with holistic practitioners for alternative healing methods.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

– Thomas Edison