My Doctor thinks I’m Faking It; SSRI Movement Disorders

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
August 2, 2020 | 31 Comments


  1. I too have movement disorders from antidepressants tardive dyskinesia, tardive Dystonia and tardive akathisia. It took me two years to get referrals to neurologist’s and movement disorders neurologist’s after being told by many doctors that my problems were anxiety. I finally got diagnosed and unfortunately the condition’s have not improved much at all in the past few years even after stopping the medication.

  2. Could this be related to Akathisia ? I feel like this on the inside but it’s not visible from the outside.

  3. Stevie’s comment: “Someone whose specialism is the nervous system claims not to know about a drug whose intended function is to alter it?” just about sums up how compartmentalized modern clinical practice has become. No one takes interest in what the other specialities outside their are doing. Thereby, they miss many chances of fruitful cross-pollination of discoveries made outside their field. And to be fair, if they do put two and two together the ‘system’ makes it almost impossible for them to be heard above the roar of ‘Pharma’ generated misdirections.
    Alendronic acid is a class of Bisphosphonates, and are known immune system disrupters.
    After having had immune system problems for some 30 years now, I would lay money on it, that Stevie’s senstivity to thing ate, drunk and inhaled are symptomatic of the immune system over reacting to many chemicals that don’t cause other people any problems. This may have been an pre-existing condition but too mild to be noticed until some time after going on Alendronic acid. Ironically, this boosted immune responses is the reason given for why bisphosphonates are supposed to work. They have even been considered as adjuvants in vaccines. But the results of the trial was not published. Maybe it didn’t go well. [1]

    A dysregulated immune system can also cause conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis and many neurological conditions. The immune system can attack any part of the body when its out of kilter. Even though this has been known for over one hundred years, it is still ignored by the mainstream teaching institutions.
    Therefore, I would suggest as part of a differential diagnosis is to see if this can be ruled out.

    Unfortunately, unless one is lucky enough to be under the care of a specialist, it has to be done oneself (remember: healthcare is a ‘market’ and some practitioners are just in it for the money, whilst lacking any real expertise). This do-it-yourself approach tends to makes one hyper vigilant to changes in ones symptoms and wanting to read too much into them. I know, I had to write mine down, so as to detach myself from them.

    Think its import to point out that what causes doctors and patient crossed wires when it comes to the immune system, is that the word ‘allergy’ for any ‘altered response’ to substances was in common use by the time that medical science decided that ‘allergy’ was to be reserved just for reactions involving IgE (as in hay fever, peanut etc., reactions. There are also ‘false allergies,’ masked allergies, and multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and autoimmune reactions which are all interconnected. These can be caused by pharmaceutical drugs too. This is why drug trials often get repeated until they have a pseudo-random cohort that exhibit few negative reactions. It can take a very long time (months) for some immunological affects to appear and thus cause and affect is not noticed. Like Jordan Peterson who unknowingly, probably developed a problem with metabisulphite additives due to SSRI’s from what I’ve been reading. Bad news is, that despite the claims of commercial labs there are no useful tests for this.

    So complex is this subject, that all I can realistically advise, is that one gets up to speed by reading the following two authoritative books which I have and the best I’ve found. Both are written for the lay reader, so neither gets bogged down in the technical details. Both give good ‘practical’ suggestions and advice on how to proceeded. Only after this, consider exploring adaptogens and amino acids to tackle the SSRI/SNRI’s.

    The first is by psychiatrist Dr Richard Mackarness, who had his clinic at Park Prewett Hospital, Basingstoke, UK. It has become a classic. He naturally focusses on the neurological aspects. And to paraphrase him, he exasperatingly asks “why are more doctors not doing this?”
    The second is by Dr Jonathan Brostoff and Linda Gamlin. Jonathan was in Clinical Immunology at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London UK. Its a more general look at immune problems caused by what passes our lips but chapter 8 is devoted to psychoneuroimmunology (that’s all one word). Vitamin and mineral deficiencies and their involvement are discussed too. The book has quite a few useful appendices at the end. Jonathan also makes the point that in theory, medical ‘belief’ ought to be secondary to scientific evidence and discuss it.

    I’ll have to break off here, so finally. The atypical hand and foot movements has me wondering about the observation that in ME/CFS there are psychoneuroimmunology changes which include reduction of grey matter (GM) and white mater (WM) volumes. Well, it is also thought that WM lesions are involved in Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy due to a weakened immune system, allowing the proliferation of a virus which can cause movement disorders in different parts of the body. Is this what the video shows? Could lesions be caused by immune mediated inflammation by wayward leukocytes (as in ME/CFS) instead of a virus? I’ve found leukocyte involvement with other reports of SSRI/SNRI damage. BUT I’m running the risk of confirmation bias by just dipping in here and there. Frustratingly, no longer have the time to digest the advancements made in resent years, nor have the help of people who can help when I’m out of my depth to play devil’s advocate for me.

    My gut impressions are leaning strongly to SSRI/SNRI’s messing up the immune system.

    [1] The Effect of Alendronate on the Immune Response to Hepatitis B Vaccine in Healthy Adults
    The End Of Bisphosphonates? Bombshell Study Proves They’re Ineffective

  4. Does anyone know of any Doctors in London that will listen those who have been effected badly by these drugs?

    I’ve been thinking of paying to go private, very expenisve but it get’s me a full hour to try and explain to them, I mean it would probably fall on death ears anyway but it’s worth a shot.

    It’s so important to get a GP in your corner but it’s hard as nails to find one.

  5. It would be great to have a protest outside of the Royal College Of Psychiatrists in London, if there was enough people to make it effective, I would be there, I feel like our voices are never heard.

  6. Just in case some people (doctors even) are having difficulty seeing how food and chemicals in the air can get implemented in these conditions, think it worth pointing out that is the result of over simplification when it is said that (say) peanuts or some other food stuff ‘are the culprit’. Looked at another way, this is back to front. The usual reason the immune system adopts atypical reactions to a substances is because it has encounter them whilst under stress and misidentifies them as ‘not good’. It is a immune malfunction, simply that, even when caused by something else.

    Another miss understanding is ‘leaky gut.’ This phrase came into use before a better explanation was adopted. Its been proposed that the reason why potato starch appears in the blood stream of volunteers within minutes of them drinking a solution of it is because it enters via the ‘Peyers patches’ (which are specialized areas in the intestines) and not through the mucosal gut wall. This is thought to be so that the immune system can sample what’s in the gut to see if it is harmful to the body. So, its thought that if this coincides with a stressor (say a toxic drug or something else), the immune system gets confused. If it keeps finding something ingested that it has previously miss identified, a conditioned response can form to make one feel sick just from the sight of it.

    Peyers patches are but one path to confusing the immune system, viral and bacterial infections are another. So for example: The antibodies which attack the bacteria during Scarlett fever can also go on to attack the heart valves, as the the proteins of hart valves are very similar to the proteins of the bacteria. As there is no medical condition called leaky gut, this results in crossed-wires between unknowledgable GP’s and their patients who can only describe their symptoms as the leaky gut syndrome and the doctor only thinking in terms of psychiatric explanations. This is exasperated by the fact that some anti-depressants like imipriamine and the chlorpromazine antipsychotics have antihistamine properties too. Benzos can also dampen immune responses (I’m pleased that Jordan Peterson mentioned his own observation). This only goes to reinforces the doctors belief (with positive reinforcement from pharmaceutical sales reps), that patients with such symptoms are psychiatrically generating them, as these psychiatric drugs often show some slight amelioration.

    Well, all this theory isn’t much immediate help to someone that finds eating a truly horrible experience. So… When I couldn’t stomach food, I drank a liquid replacement meal called Enrich (by Abbott) available OTC from pharmacists. They also make Ensure and Ensure Plus (which is almost the same but without the soluble fibre). Symptoms should quickly lose their intensity over time ‘IF’ the immune system has indeed been overtaxed and off kilter. Either way it goes, it is very useful diagnostically, as no improvement at all, means something as well.. Was astonished that my GP wouldn’t proscribe Enrich as I hadn’t be diagnosed with ‘proven’ malabsorption etc. With the benefit of hind-sight, I should have eaten something in the surgery to demonstrate how food-goes-in and food-comes-out-again by the same route. Or a sample of stools in a clear plastic bag, to show that when food did stay down, it came out the other end only partly digested. The only diagnostic test I got was an ‘emergency’ chest X-ray due to such visible and rapid loss of weight between GP visits.

    Other replacement meals like Complan proved no good, as the proteins have not been broken up, like they have to be, for the Abbott products and other replacement meals suitable for ‘inflammatory’ bowel disease. The second best option (which has no lactoses or wheat proteins –which become the main antigens) was Farley’ Soya Formula baby milk powder, mixed up thick so I didn’t have to drink pints of it. The disadvantage with Soya Formula is that the immune system soon learns to attack the soya proteins in that as well, if the toxic substance(s) is not eliminated from the body first.

    If one can get the doctor to think in terms other than psychiatric, you might be able to get him to proscribe sodium cromoglycate as a temporary aid to eating. It has to be in the tablet form (not in a inhaler as for asthma). Taken ¼ hour before eating, it prevents the mast cells from producing histamine and other chemicals that makes one feel so rotten. This however, is not a long term solution.

    • Pogo, thank you so much for taking the time to give such lengthy and informative replies, and also for the book recommendations. I’m sure Sharron and K will find your input really helpful. There are certainly a number of things you say which matches my experience. I agree that SSRIs must mess with the immune system, but definitely not in a way which is recognised by any standard tests. I had tests down to mast cell level and everything was normal. The atypical reactions seemed to come from, as you described, encountering stimuli (which my immune system normally ignored) whilst under the extreme stress of withdrawal and mis-identified them as dangerous. After I learned that my immune system was “normal” I concluded that it the reactions must be nervous system dysfunction. I called them “phobic-style” reactions because they were accompanied by waves of fear, my body felt like it was in shock and I jerked. There was even a room in my house I couldn’t walk into without this happening (yep, I know how crazy that sounds) – by then I knew that my brain had to be classifying (for want of a better word) my normal life as dangerous. I wonder whether it was a form of toxic shock – a chemical overload, maybe? I feel very fortunate that I can eat almost normally now, and my nervous system is much improved, but I’m pretty sure that my gut and nervous system will still react pretty quickly to a drug. The gatekeeper is still on patrol!

      • How long was your withdrawal or to even feel normal. I don’t have the movements I saw in your video but I’ve got the muscle pain/tension all the time. I’ve lost so much weight,especially in my butt. I’ve been to the chiropractor for adjustments because my joints are cracking all over. I’m 13 months off of Lexapro.

        • Hey Tea,

          Id love to connect with you sometime. Im in the exact same boat as you, been on and off for years now but cant tolerate the withdrawals as they are so immense. Ive been off Lexapro for 8months this time due to an extremely slow taper but i get tendonitis everywhere and my joints wont stop clicking.



  7. Stevie – I’m just wondering whether the people you know have checked through their medical records? Were the referral letters totally unbiased? Would it be possible to get a consultation with someone who hasn’t already been given a ‘history’? eg writing to a specialist to ask whether sertraline is the cause has already put a suggestion in her/his mind especially as mental illness is such a useful fob off. Might a totallly new consultation reveal that some had an underlying condition excacerbated by drugs rather than totally caused by drugs? Would that be possible as you say your condition has improved but you can recognise Sharron and K are still the acute phase – Are there recognisable phases which can be identified as the same or similar for most -considering there are some conditions which remit after a period of time? Sorry more questions than anything to help. What is shocking still is the length of time people stay with a doctor they no longer trust and how long people will take their prescription drugs before saying -no more’! for all the understandable reasons well rehearsed by now.

  8. Shaun – quote -‘Antidepressant withdrawal is a serious issue that can blight lives and result in life-changing harm for some people.”
    For more information contact the following signatories: (To letter of complaint to RCP) Might just be worth a phone call or e mail Good luck –
    James Moore (withdrawal sufferer)
    07414 525 200
    rofessor John Read (psychologist)
    07944 853 783
    Professor Sami Timimi (psychiatrist)
    01522 535189
    If a group of scientists and psychiatrists together cannot challenge the RCPsych in a way that leads to an appropriate, considered response and to productive engagement with the complainants, what hope is there for individual patients to have a complaint taken seriously?

    Professor John Read (Clinical Psychology, University of East London) 0208 203 4943 07944 853 78
    Emeritus Professor Mary Boyle (Clinical Psychology) University of East London
    Professor Peter Gøtzsche (Medical Research) University of Copenhagen
    Dr Peter Groot (Psychiatry) University of Maastricht
    Dr Christopher Harrop (Clinical Psychology) University College London
    Carina Håkansson (Psychotherapy) International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal
    Dr Hugh Middleton (Psychiatry) University of Nottingha
    Professor Jim van Os (Psychiatry) University of Maastricht; Institute of Psychiatry, London
    Professor Nimisha Patel (Clinical Psychology) University of East London
    Professor Paula Reavey (Psychology) London South Bank University
    Dr Derek Summerfield (Psychiatry) King’s College London


    Name *

    Email *


    Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

    Politics and health

    Lots of people have been disappointed that those who publicise don’t/can’t give consultations though.
    As you say you are thinking of going private be aware some ask for a GP letter – ask to see it before forking out cash GPs are not obliged to make a referral for a second opinion but there is some entitlement though not nececarily to a name d consultant.
    Guess you have thought of making a Rxisk Report.
    or may be a few tips on
    Managing Effexor and SSRI Withdrawal on Rxisk blog

  9. Professor Basant Puri has been invited to talk about his research on these brain function
    disorders by our University’s Family Medicine Department and Department of Psychiatry.
    The talk will be delivered at the Medical School on Thursday 11th December.
    All doctors, phannacists are invited to attend.
    Who is Basant Puri? Professor Sir Graham Hills describes
    him as a ‘distinguished medical scientist who is a leader in
    the field of brain science, and whose researches are of the
    highest originality and offer new and sounder basis for the
    future diagnosis and treatment of depression’ . Besides being
    a consultant psychiatrist, he is also a consultant to the
    Imaging Sciences Department of the Medical Research
    Council’s Clinical Sciences Centre at the Hammersmith
    Hospital. He is also head of the Lipid Neuroscience Group
    of Imperial College.
    A Cambridge graduate, Basant Puri recalls how, when
    he was training in psychiatry, he was struck by a lecture
    given by the now world famous psychiatrist Dr David
    Healy, on the many side-effects of antidepressant therapy,
    as he actively questioned the underlying theories about
    how depression occurs and how it should be treated –
    something not found in textbooks – and challenging
    prevailing medical wisdom.
    After psychiatry and neuroimaging training, Puri came
    across Professors David Horrobin and Ma1colm Peet’s work
    on essential fatty acids to treat depression. Information
    available then, and subsequent research, pointed towards
    one particular marine omega-3 fatty acid, ‘eicosapentaenoic
    acid’ (EPA), being head and shoulders above the others as
    a likely antidepressant. He set out to try EPA therapeutically
    as an antidepressant, and the initial astonishing results were
    followed up with trials confirming that EPA lifts even very
    serious depression.
    He further discovered that EPA improves brain function
    overall. He believes that the human body has a particular
    need for omega-3 fatty acids and that a deficiency is likely
    to lead to many of today’s common clinical problems.
    Western diet and lifestyle may have compromised our ability
    to make our own EPA. Factors such as caffeine, nicotine,
    stress hormones, saturated fats, trans-fatty acids and certain
    vitamin and mineral deficiencies may interfere with our
    bodies’ ability to produce EPA and closely related omega3 fatty acids. Now that this is understood, he recommends
    supplementation with EPA and other fatty acids, particularly
    if plenty of oily fish is not being consumed.
    Professor Puri admits that the path to establish the
    therapeutic role of EPA has not been easy, with the reaction
    from many of his psychiatric colleagues regarding his EPA
    research ranging from sceptic(I] to rlownright srMhine
    However, he is confident that EPA has been shown to work
    and that attitudes are slowly changing as evidence reaches
    a wirler imrlienre
    Depression and other mood disorders are characterised by
    reduced electrical brain activity (,circuit-board
    malfunctioning’), which is thought to be partly due to low
    levels of brain serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Puri’ s
    theory is that neurons and neurotransmitters do not function
    properly because of an insufficient supply of EPA. He has
    demonstrated, with specialised MRI scanning, that these
    brain function disorders are accompanied by shrinkage of
    the grey cortex, and that cortical thickness recovery after
    a few months of EPA supplementation accompanies lifting
    of depression.
    He believes that EPA enhances the brain’s regenerative
    capabilities. Until recently, we thought that brain tissue
    was incapable of regeneration, but recent American
    experiments on rats demonstrated that neurons do regenerate
    in response to brain exercise. Interestingly, his MRI brain
    scans have demonstrated that pregnant women’s grey cortex
    shrinks (possibly because the foetus is scavenging the
    mother’s fatty acids for its own brain development) and
    then recovers its former thickness postpartum. This may
    well have something to do with pregnancy-related depression
    in some women.
    Puri claims that the naturally-occurring fatty acid EPA has
    a strong scientific basis for its success in treating depression,
    whereas pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs do not. He
    stresses that all antidepressants have side-effects (including
    the new SSRIs), ranging from minor ones such as nausea,
    dry mouth and dizziness, to more distressing ones such as
    sexual function loss, to potentially life-threatening ones
    such as convulsions and heart disturbances. He adds that
    EPA can be taken safely with antidepressant drugs, but
    caution should be exercised in conjunction with anticoagulant medication (fish oil has anti-coagulant properties).
    He believes EPA is a more reliable and scientifically sound
    natural alternative treatment for depression than St John’s
    Wort, and that EPA is also useful in schizophrenia and in
    Huntington ‘s.
    Puri has also researched chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic
    encephalomyelitis (ME), a complex controversial illness
    characterised by variable symptoms, including intense
    fatigue, muscle and joint pain, depression, poor concentration,
    disrupted sleep and headaches. There is no definite cause
    for ME, and triggers such as viruses and personal trauma
    have been blamed. He believes there is some link with
    depression, although which comes first, depression or ME,
    is unclear. He and his Hammersmith colleagues have studied
    ME patients’ brains with MRI spectroscopy, and found a
    dear ann ~i nific nt chemical abnormality in these patients,
    which they didn’t find in controls. The abnormality is in
    the phospholipid layer of neuronal membranes, the same
    problem found in depression. He believes ME results from
    viral or other influences that reduce essential fatty acids,
    and that EPA is essential to recovery in the great majority
    of patients

    The Vegepa Club
    Simply the most affordable Vegepa available anywhere whilst automatically donating to crucial BIOMEDICAL research into ME/CFS
    Vegepa ClubSearch
    Prof. Puri
    Medical Conditions
    Price Lists
    Ways To Pay
    Professor Basant K. Puri
    Honorary Clinical Research Fellow, 
Department of Medicine, Imperial College, London, who has published over 150 papers, mainly in imaging, neuropsychiatry, biochemistry, spectroscopy and physics and over 30 books, including textbooks in psychiatry and statistics.
    He holds the Patent on Vegepa which he himself formulated. (But has no financial rewards)

  10. I have experienced hell and back with a cascade of prescribed medicines, test and procedures.
    I do not need to be qualified to relay the horrendous experiences I have gone through.
    It was accumulative within a relatively short frame of time.
    It’s not just medicines that do the damage.
    It is also a combination of: radiation and other procedures and tests, which put me through further risk and harm.
    Try explaining this to a panel of professionals, when they conclude that it is all psychosomatic or inconsequential!
    To think that ME/CFS is all blamed on depression and trauma is still beyond my comprehension. It’s not just black/white!
    Looking at the patients’ medical history and understanding how residual health maladies are sustained, would give many professionals the answers they need (which some already know!) but choose not to know!
    I have tried fish oil and it gave me migraines/brain fog and upset my stomach.
    What may be beneficial for some may upset others.

  11. I came off Venlafaxine in early 2011. Withdrawal was horrendous. I didn’t know it at the time, I didn’t have the vocabulary, but I suffered from akathisia and Diazepam was my bail out drug. By 2013 I’d gone through several trials of psychiatric drugs including the reinstatement of Venlafaxine, all to no good effect. I think it’s likely I was experiencing a condition known as kindling, on the S.A. forum they refer to it as “post withdrawal hyper-reactivity to neurological substances”. It’s an understatement to say I wasn’t in great shape. Somewhere in the final months of 2013 I began a prescription of Pregabalin, I was either in acute benzo withdrawal or close to completing a taper, without my medical notes I’m a bit hazy on dates. The Pregabalin had the most disturbing effect on me. It rendered me incapable of speaking. When my speech returned it didn’t make sense, my speech patterns were bizarre. Some time later, certainly not long after I came off Diazepam, I developed severe abnormal movements that lasted throughout the day and throughout the night. I never got a break from them. My head would jerk, my arms and legs would thrash and writhe and generally take on a life of their own. When I watch Stevie’s video I see similarities except in my case the movements were wildly more exaggerated. I also had lip smacking, rapid eye blinking and terrible brain pressure. I always connected the worsening of my symptoms with eating or taking medications and/or supplements. I got my GP to refer me to a neurologist. His advice when I saw him was to go back to my psychiatrist. I’m glad to say I didn’t take him up on his advice. My present GP tells me these movements were attributed to anxiety. I know what a panic attack feels like and they’ve never led to symptoms such as I have just described. I can’t say which drugs were the main culprits, what I can say is that it doesn’t take a genius to realise that severe antidepressant withdrawal combined with the cumulative effects of around 11 different prescribed psychoactive drugs between 2011-2013, topped off by severe benzo withdrawal wasn’t brilliant for the health of my central nervous system. I’d like to have some answers as to what happened to me during this time. I’m seen a lot of improvement in recent years but the head jerking and brain pressure hasn’t completely disappeared and medications are often the trigger.

  12. My experience with Neurologists has been really unhelpful and even harmful.

    I was put on sertraline and quetiapine, to ‘calm neural excitability’ five months after an assault which occurred in Sept 2017.

    The drugs had the opposite effect; my condition worsened over 6 weeks until a friend of mine who is an Emergency Doctor recognised I was suffering a medication toxicity.

    I was taken to hospital and diagnosed with ‘Serotonin Syndrome’ and ‘Akathisia’. March 2018.

    My symptoms included: persistent jerks, myoclonus, pill-rolling, verbal tics/tourettes, unusual gait. My body was so contorted I couldn’t hold myself upright.
    All of these symptoms had manifested with the meds, worsened commensurate with dosage increase and diminished as I weaned off the drugs over two weeks.
    I was then put on Diazepam, and later Carbamazepine (July 3018).
    The movement disorder and verbal tics never completely resolved and still persist as a feature of my daily life three years later.

    Over time I was referred to two Neurologists.

    Primarily it was for the purpose of assessing a Traumatic Brain Injury (and PET brain scan) from blunt trauma associated with the assault. There was also psychological trauma associated with the assault so I had also been given the diagnosis of PTSD.

    Secondarily it was to provide comment on the persisting movement disorder and verbal tics.

    August 2018
    The first Neurologist glossed over the movements/tics completely. She told me to look up ‘functional myoclonus’ on line. She didn’t even mention it in her report. Very avoidance. She really didn’t want to get into it.

    February 2019
    It was evident to me that the condition was connected with the adverse drug reaction, but the prescribing Psychiatrist said it couldn’t be, because it would have stopped when the Sertraline was stopped back in March 2018.

    He didn’t think to explore whether the ensuing medication (which i complained had no therapeutic benefit and ongoing negative impacts), might be sustaining the movement disorder and other adverse/paradoxical effects including anguish and agitation. Just just like they had been before Serotonin Syndrome/Akathisia had been more aptly diagnosed, they were still being mis-attributed to PTSD,

    The Psychiatrist hypothesised that the movement disorder, (which emerged 5 months after the assault, when I started taking psychotropic drugs), might be a delayed reaction from the traumatic brain injury I sustained during the assault. He wondered if the blunt trauma might have caused basal ganglia damage, even though my TBI symptoms were essentially executive dysfunction (frontal lobe)..

    I couldn’t understand why he wanted to look away from the most likely cause (ie. That psychotropic drugs cause movement disorders), and clutch at other straws instead.

    April 2019
    He sent me to have a PET brain scan which confirmed my known TBI:damage to white matter, along with bilateral frontal lobe hypo-perfusion and hypo-metabolism. No basal ganglia damage. This fits with mechanism of injury during the assault (I was struck bilaterally and repeatedly with a heavy metal object).

    October 2019
    He referred me to a Neurologist who was a specialist in Movement disorders, to provide comment and interpret the PET Brain scan.

    It was a terrible experience for me. Not only did the Neurologist inexplicably cast doubt on the ferocity of the attack that caused my TBI (?!), he said the injuries shown on the PET scan might have pre-dated the assault. He said the cause could be Psychiatric in origin.
    (I do not have a psychiatric condition).

    He named the movements/verbal tics as ‘Stereotypies’ and said they were from PTSD. He provided no empirical basis for such an assertion.

    I am incredulous at the medical response to what has happened to me. It has been harm after harm after harm.

    The second Neurologist seemed to regard me with contempt. He and his peers appear to me to be colluding in Denial – steering attention away from the obvious iatrogenisis and blaming the victims instead. It’s crazy.

    Interestingly though (and thankfully), in his report the 2nd Neurologist did comment that he thought ‘medication would not be helpful and was likely to cause ‘side effects’.

    More like ‘lethal effects’ imo.

    I gradually tapered off all meds 1O months ago. It has been very tough and i am debilitated by CNS dysfunction associated with medication harm.

    But the disordered movements and verbal tics, while still a daily feature, are easing in their intensity and frequency since ive been off all meds.

  13. Have you looked into brain rewiring programs DNRS or dr Farias dystonia rewiring? It seems that the limbic system has been deregulated. The brain can rewire but it takes time. Also Kundalini awakening symptoms. medications can trigger. Here is a web page of accupunture that deals with trauma and can help

    Here are some healing modalities. Remember trauma and unconscious beliefs can trigger body symptoms. I do believe the medications caused this but the body can heal. So here are some ideas

  14. Hi,

    I have had a rather bizarre experience with the lowest dosage of Sertraline. I was prescribed in March of 2019 after experience a panic attack in the lead-up to final exams at university. In the first week I experienced agitation, impulsiveness and compulsiveness. I began feeling tingling, ripples, releases and warmth in my stiff and tight muscles, as well as occasional sweating of the forehead accompanying a release.

    After about a week, the impulsiveness led me to take certain decisions by which I began experiencing euphoria and feelings of lightness.

    After about 10 days from the time I began taking the medicine, one night, each time I tried to relax into sleep, the body would automatically leap out of bed and start writhing into strange positions. In my pitch black room I was terrified that I was possessed, but, somehow, not once did I hurt myself. Instead, it felt like a violent extraordinarily energetic and remarkably efficient physiotherapy. It continued for hours. The movements and breathing pattern changes are similar to what is experienced in certain kinds of somatic therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, yoga and other healing modalities. As I have learnt more, I realise that I am often pressing acupuncture meridian points, or that my breathing patterns are not dissimilar to yogic, Wim Hof or other healing practices.

    Imaging that I had experience a miracle, a full-blown manic episode ensued. I would have these fits for hours at a time, and I could also induce them with intent alone. This only ended 10 weeks later, after spending two weeks withdrawing from Sertraline. In those two weeks, I was shaking so much, and was so totally out of control in both body and mind, that I was pretty sure that I was going to die very soon. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

    I exited from the pharmaceutically-induced mania, but forever changed:
    – I became far more emotionally self-aware, having been emotionally very repressed prior to these events.
    – I became emotionally hypersensitive, so that I could cry at anything.
    – I continued shaking and having bizarre fits (though less energetic) as emotional or physical tension release episodes.
    – I continued being able to induce these episodes with intent.
    – I can focus on an image, memory or statement that is triggering and, with intent, dissolve it: this produce a weird kind of impersonal crying, anger and, finally, a laughter of release. The laughter can go on for minutes.

    My understanding is that Sertraline and certain life events overwhelmed my nervous system positively, opening the floodgates for repressed emotions to come forth, but they did so in a manner that made my nervous system and body hyper-reactive. My sympathetic nervous system having been so overloaded for many years with anxiety, perhaps the parasympathetic is now being hyperactive as well to balance things out, as per any traditional medical model.

    I never bothered seeking treatment from Western doctors for the simple reason that I presumed they would refer me to a psychiatrist who would offer me some medication to numb this. This was confirmed when I spoke to a psychiatrist informally, and to some general physicians.

    Instead, I have looked at (Muslim) prayer and spiritual principles, yoga (see ‘involuntary movements + yoga’ on Youtube and Chinese medicine for insight. I have learnt to control my movements better through slowing them down with intent, i.e. mental control over the body, and focusing on slowing down my breathing. A year and a half later, I am doing much better, even if the fallout of the Sertraline episode was perhaps the most traumatic event of my life, and I seem to have benefited a great deal from the episode at the same time. I am hoping that this is a phase in which my system is clearing out rubbish and that I will find a new balance eventually. I suspect that mental training will really help to control the movements in my case, as well as the spontaneous emotional releases.

    I am taking advantage of the benefits of this ‘disorder’ by using my heightened sensitivity to do exercise (a bit like Tai Chi). The body seems to automatically find old injuries and do weird things that gradually heal them. ‘It’ also seems capable of massaging others with no engagement of the mind beyond intent. Further, I go about my day and when I notice myself getting afraid, angry etc. at something, or recalling a traumatic event, I focus on it, allow certain movements in my body to take place and allow the release to occur, until I often no longer feel afraid of or angry about that thing. I am experimenting and seeing what I can do with this, before attempting to close it off.

    Whatever the case, I am not planning to get some medication from some Western doctor who cannot even explain to me how the first medication (Sertraline) even works and why it nearly killed me or turned me insane! Sertraline took a couple of years of my life, caused me to miss my exams, altered my career path as a result, destroyed my concentration, destroyed some of my relationships, made me deeply confused, damaged my self esteem, and caused me to lose proper control of my body. Reading this page shows me that it is a rare blessing that Sertraline has also benefitted me remarkably. I will try not to complain and to remain grateful for that. I also encourage people to look for a genuine master of Chinese medicine or some other traditional healing modality for guidance on your own conditions. It looks as if these systems are very good at healing the nervous system, but one has to be patient. Best of luck.

    • this is all quite tragic and it is sadly obvious what the issue is – although I very much doubt that any of you would seriously address it for an instant.

      what we have here is an obsessive focus on certain symptoms and the fixed belief that they are the result of drug side-effects to the exclusion of all other possibilities.

      the “doctor-shopping” where a string of different specialists are all pronounced as useless and lacking in knowledge is also typical. the fact that your symptoms are so atypical that you have trouble finding them described anywhere.

      then of course the comfort found in a group where people share their similar experiences and commiserate about how dreadful and useless doctors are and how terrible the drugs are that caused the side-effects from which you are suffering.

      all of this is very unfortunate and the suffering is all very real – but it is not due to side-effects and the symptoms are not physical. it is all unfortunately very characteristic of a psychsomatic illness.
      look up something such as Morgellons – where people are convinced they have parasites burrowing from under their skin and where they will bring these alien fibres to their doctors which turn out always to be harmless strands of fabric and nothing more. yet nothing will convince them that they do not have parasites or alien creatures burrowing inside their bodies because they “know” that they do.

      the fact that you just “know” that your symptoms are “real” and could not possible be anything other than what you believe them to be is honestly not proof of anything at all. your mind can fool you into believing anything at all. reading all of your stories is just typical of people who are convincing themselves of this fact.

      I know full well that each of you will react by going into full denial and refusing even to consider having any kind of assessment by a psychologist or having any kind of open mind about any of this – which ironically is actually even more proof that your beliefs are actually delusions and not real physical manifestations.
      Which is sad – because the only way you could get any real help is by acknowledging that there is in fact a very real psychological aspect to al odf this and getting some real help for it.

      As long as you remain in denial then you will remain without any kind of real help for any of this. Which do you want? To remain “right” and in pain or to accept that you may be wrong and get some genuine assistance and so relief from your genuine suffering – because that in itself is very real?

      • ‘John – Anon’

        I think readers of this post and many of the other posts on RxISK will be very familiar with the points being made here and the sneer.

        There are unquestionably mechanisms through which SSRIs and related drugs can produce neurological manifestations. They can drastically lower blood sodium levels and this in turn can lead to osmotic demyelination syndromes, which depending on which part of the brain or nervous system is affected will give rise to a variety of neurological manifestations. These typically can resemble parkinson’s or steele-richardson syndrome or other conditions with neurologists often unhappy because these are not quite right.

        Neurologists used to be very good at diagnosing by the bedside. All too often now if there are no findings on an MRI they conclude the disorder is fake when commonly it is not. Very few neurologists or neurology clinics are equipped to adequately test peripheral sensory function even though drugs are likely the commonest causes of peripheral neuropathies – which can give rise to weird symptoms. What’s a psychologist, most of whom know nothing about the nervous system, to make of all this?

        There are tens of thousands of people with enduring sexual dysfunction from antidepressants, finasteride or isotretinoin ( a tardive syndrome) – these are nervous system issues but where are the neurologists? Where were the neurologists for tardive dyskinesia or tardive akathisia? There are similar problems affecting people’s vision but there is no neurological input.

        In my experience, neurologists have a blind spot for drug induced side effects. Some like John Stone have done useful work in picking out the rare functional neurological syndromes that come their way but these clinical pictures differ from the ones you see here

        David Healy MD

      • How ill-informed and condescending. I’ll give you an update, since I’ve seen psychologists and psychiatrists at this point, and since I have developed much better control over those symptoms with the help of a psychotherapist trained in somatic work.

        I have not ‘doctor-shopped’: most of them fully acknowledge there is something interesting going on. I have seen three general physicians including my sister who lives with me. I have seen a psychiatrist, and then a second, and a third, and a fourth. All have cleared me of any psychiatric condition, and have suggested that there is no need for any medication. However, they have NOT denied the real presence of symptoms. Their diagnosis from a Western psychiatry perspective has been anxiety, and their suggestion has been to use the mindfulness techniques, Tai Chi and other such modalities that I’m already using, to get a handle on my relatively benign symptoms (in comparison with some of the above). They have made no dismissive assumptions about my presentation of symptoms unlike yourself, but have instead understood them as manifestations of an organism trying to resolve chronically heightened arousal of the CNS due to chronic trauma and resultant anxiety. One psychiatrist also confirmed that he has seen something similar, and there seemed to be a similar trauma history in that patient to my own.

        I actually do NOT ‘have trouble finding [my symptoms] described anywhere’. I know someone with the same presentation of symptoms but much more control over their movements who happens to have had them triggered when practising Kung Fu, i.e. a practice that involves manipulation of and tinkering with breath and attention in a way that allows access to different parts of the brain/alters the nervous system. I have found online stories like mine (which might differ from the rest of the above comments) that typically relate to practitioners of meditation, yoga and tai chi, or otherwise people who developed my sorts of movements and subsequently became interested in those systems because of the quite spectacular experiential education they thereby received in the validity of the aforementioned systems. Moreover, I have spoken to two masters of martial arts and Chinese medicine who have assessed me and diagnosed my condition just as I have: as a process of psycho-physiological healing taking place in a way that is showing up in specific ways known VERY WELL and described in DETAIL in classical Chinese medicine textbooks. At this point I know multiple people in person who have had these ‘symptoms/skills’.

        You have a shallow understanding of the term, ‘psychosomatic’. You clearly know little about how the body stores trauma–even though many psychiatrists do–and you are thus unable to conjure anything meaningful from an actual medical perspective in your comment. You can read Bess van Der Kolk’s book on the body and trauma for a start. Then you will understand what ‘psychosomatic’ actually means. (Not only is it possible for a psychological matter to present as a real physical issue, but it is EXPECTED to! If someone’s neurology is disturbed–which is perfectly reasonable and common on SSRIs–there’s no reason why that mind-body relationship can’t manifest in strange ways like mine.)

        Finally, I have also seen two psychologists, each of whom confirmed that what I describe is very real, rather than dismissing it. And, sure, I continue to work with one of them. That doesn’t mean my symptoms aren’t real.

        If someone here is close-minded, it’s not me. I’m not the one dismissing people’s symptoms just because I’ve never heard of them or seen them before. At any rate, I have the acknowledgement of healthcare professionals who have observed my symptoms live, including physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, alternative medicine practitioners, as well as online information. I have even demonstrated my heightened sensitivity in the form of automatic, unconsciously directed massage skills to a family friend, a highly experienced and not-at-all cooky physiotherapist. He was stunned by what I could do with no training. He is not the first person to be stunned.

        Anyway, as you point out rightly, I’ve little reason to take you seriously when I don’t know who you are, you offer no medical substance in your comment, and yet you are so confident. But I still reply here so that no one with unexplained symptoms gets disheartened by taking your comment too seriously.

      • I would just like to mention one thing. The phenomenon of psychosomatic symptoms is absolutely a real one and to be frank, I don’t doubt that this particular case here can be labelled appropriately as such… However, to dismiss every side effect of a drug we don’t fully understand as they are recognized in people taking specific drugs as beyond a shadow of a doubt psychosomatic or related to another condition that just coincidentally started either upon initiation of the medication or upon discontinuation, especially when there is no evidence of a particular fixation or obsession about symptoms prior to them appearing, is the absolute worst thing you can do to a patient in medicine. That sort of gaslighting in medicine only leads to patients being left untreated and betrayed. It’s absolutely plausible for a disenchanted neurologist or psychiatrist to label a condition they don’t understand with the most convenient disorder in their arsenal. Whether the whole conspiracy about big pharma’s marketing team brainwashing and coercing physicians into doing their bidding is a whole other topic of discussion… However we know that serotonergic medication can cause dyskinesias, namely akathisia. None of these people here seemed to have known such a thing was possible before starting.

        I agree that these sites bringing attention to these conditions can encourage unhealthy obsession with non-existent symptoms but I doubt that every single person here claiming to be suffering from movement disorders caused by SSRIs is just imagining it. This website didn’t form in a vacuum.

    • Hi Sara i have the same problem the jerks at night were so bad i had a hernia stress made it worse, muscle’s moving day and night arms flung head jerking it drives me crazy, i hope to change my meds, i had taken Dalmane for 37 years coming off that was a nightmare my twitching started during withdrawal the Sertraline 100 mg has made it worse i will reduce it slowly hopefully i can get a better replacement,
      Whilst in hospital i was treated badly because of the movement’s it’s not nice eating breakfast is a mare take care guys good luck 🤞,


  15. I also have movement disorders. They started around 1.5 years after stopping SSRIs. My legs involuntarily kick and the left skool my face droops. The leg kicking is normally preceded by circling of my feet and hands.

    I did see a neurologist who had never heard of SSRI withdrawal and charged me a lot to tell me it was likely due to my original symptoms prior to taking SSRIs (that was burnout and insomnia, so totally unrelated)

    I have a movie of my leg kicking. It seems to be improving after 7 months. It also seems to be triggered by high histamine foods (spinach and shellfish)

  16. So here we are, roughly 11 years since I scoured the planet looking for help with an SSRI-induced movement disorder. It’s still a constant companion. Three years ago, my housemate broke his ankle in three places. Since then, his walk has reduced to a shuffle, his other foot has developed a Chaplin-esque outward rotation. His balance is shocking. Today he met with an Accident Compensation Commission orthopaedic assessor re his ankle. The assessor noted that although the ankle injury was severe and has had life-changing impacts, the poor balance and shuffling gait are “something else”. My money is on the Quetiapine prescribed to help him sleep. Every night, he dutifully swallows that little pill. An hour later, he’s more of a fall risk than ever – and almost incoherent. Anyone care to comment?

  17. This is reference to the editorial note….SSRIs can cause Multiple System Atrophy?? Is there an article that can be linked to show this??

  18. In November last year, I was dealing with a lot of stress and I went to a doctor hoping to get a Xanax prescription (I had already taken in before fot awhile). But he seemed to think I was also depressed and insisted on prescribing me Sertraline. I was prescribed 50mg a day and that’s exactly what I took. Within the first 4 days I developed all kinds of symptoms, my skin was yellow, my sweat smelled weird, I had headaches, nausea, eye pain, very dilated pupils and blurry eyesight and I was so weak I couldn’t press a button. The list of side effects is I’m afraid too long for me to write here. I wanted to stop taking it right away, but the doctor kept convincing me that the side effects go away after the first 5 days and kept asking me did I combine any other substance with sertraline (which I didn’t). After just 4 days, I decided to quit and took 25mg on the 5th day and then stopped. Immediately afterwards I experienced extreme muscle spasms and jerking movements and tics, which ended up in radial nerve compression and caused (thankfully) temporary arm paralysis. The paralysis and muscle spasms kept coming back at times and it took months to recover. I still experience them daily but rarely and they are quite mild.

  19. Hi,
    I was prescribed 100mg Sertraline while breastfeeding and was consistently reassured it was safe by more than one doctor. My son failed to wean and, due to my GP disappearing on maternity leave, I ended up breastfeeding him for 20 months while on the medication. As I was left unsupervised, I accidentally abruptly came off the medication in November, after forgetting to take it several days in a row.
    My son is now developing tardive dystonia, the initial teeth grinding started not long after I came off the medication, but I’d attributed this to teething because of his age. Now his feet have started moving in an involuntary way. They twist and turn when he walks and his toes constantly flex and curl. He walks on crunched toes and is also have speech disturbances.
    Does anyone know of any way of healing this please? Any medications, or is it a case of time? I’m prepared for the worst, but can’t believe this is happening to my beautiful sweet boy.
    Do ssri-induced dystonias ever heal with time?
    Thank you 🙏

Leave a Reply