Editorial Note: This post reflects a probably not uncommon reality. There is no doubt people can be left with permanent dysfunction after a short course of SSRIs, or permanent depersonalization, so a permanent change of identity is possible and even likely for some – but features nowhere in the books.
The author initially figured his problems were linked to memory but is now not so sure. He is open to any ideas anyone has. Effects like this don’t necessarily occur in the brain. A lot of memory for instance is caught up in muscles and there is a lot of serotonin in muscles – it may be just coincidence but Tiger Woods appears to have lost his golfing touch around a time when he took medication.
In 2014, at the age of 24, I was prescribed Sertraline 50 mg which I took once a day to deal with a longstanding problem with severe anxiety and social phobia, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) elements, experienced mainly in my work environment, stemming from years of trauma as a teenager.
I had been seeing a clinical psychologist for about 2 years before trying medication, with huge benefits for my insight into my condition, but without impacting sufficiently on my symptoms to deal with an increasingly stressful work situation.
I decided I needed to test medication, to see if my problems were neurological rather than psychological, though I was totally opposed to psychiatric medication in principle, having been subjected to other psychiatric medication forcibly as a teenager.
At the time of my experience with Sertraline I was employed as a trainee solicitor in London, with considerable demands of time and performance on me.
These were nothing however to the social anxiety I felt working around very domineering and confident people, as I was secretly a person with very low self esteem. I had worked my way through education over many years, after working in heavy industry with my hands, only acquiring high school level qualifications in my early 20’s, and I secretly felt inadequate in my new work environment.
On the recommendation of my psychologist, I first went to my general practitioner asking to be prescribed Escitalopram. On being offered only Citalopram instead (cheaper apparently), I decided I wanted a consultation with a psychiatrist specifically, who would have a comprehensive knowledge of psychiatric drugs.
At the subsequent consultation with a psychiatrist, I summarized everything I had learned about my condition from my psychologist, and specified particularly that in my present early stages of my new career, any medication prescribed must not affect my work.
I was prescribed one Sertraline pill daily, and warned that the first week would include side effects of nausea and dizziness, so it was recommended I begin the drugs during the Christmas holiday to avoid difficulty at work.
In the event, my Christmas holiday was spent with family and was delightful and stress-free, so I actually began the medication only the day before returning to work.
On taking the first pill I experienced an immediate (within 15 minutes) cessation of continuous residual background over-processing of events and problems in my mind. My mind just emptied, and a foolish grin appeared on my face.
In the first week, I took a pill each morning before work as prescribed. In the first 3 days I indeed experienced dizziness.
Another effect also quickly appeared. Apparently I could not remember anything. I found myself idiotically and totally unexpectedly stumped to recall famous actor’s names, or things I intended to do, and then I noticed I could not recall characters’ names in books on my bookshelf that I had read 5 or 6 times over. I could not recall any dates of historical events relevant to my particular sporting hobby, in which I was very well versed.
At work, when presented with documents to draft, I discovered my professional knowledge and technique that I’d built up, like a hole which opened beneath me, was missing when I needed it. I did not know where to start with my work.
More than that, I found it impossible to frame in my mind the actual issue or problems of the case I had to deal with. I started to use bits of note paper divided and arranged around my feet to separate out different parts of it late at night, but it took me that first week to produce a substandard version of document I would normally have spent a morning on.
But I was also constantly experiencing a kind of quiet euphoria. My mood was lifted, my attention, was rapidly diverted and I was more outgoing. I felt distractedly and buzzingly like it was my birthday and Christmas at once, and comfortably very lazy.
Problems of intense social awkwardness and eye contact with colleagues were swept away. I became overnight, comparatively loud and boorish instead. I rejoiced in this enormous triumph initially.
In evenings in the gym, I discovered, however, I had absolutely zero ability to push my way through any kind of pain barrier to continue repetitions of exercise. I simply didn’t have the patience or attention to.
I was very concerned about both the benefits and the drawbacks I was experiencing, but not wanting to pay the psychiatrist again, who was also located far away, I did not consult her again.
One morning, about 10 days in, I did not take my morning pill due to the above concerns. I had noticed that the pills lasted exactly 24 hours, and each morning I woke up, I had felt sharp and bright again before taking my idiot-pill, so that day I just didn’t take it. I was right back up to speed again at work. It was great.
Except my crippling social phobia also returned exactly as before, whereas on the drug, I was a new comfortable outgoing personality, one not crippled by exhausting physical nervousness or problems with eye contact.
Calling my psychologist about this, he suggested I should henceforth take Sertraline as and when needed only, to get the social benefits of it when needed, while maintaining my capacity in my job.
I proceeded to take the drug for periods of several days on, and several days off thereafter. For example during this period I had to cover for a more senior colleague at work when she was on holiday. I stayed off Sertraline then, and was warmly congratulated for my good work.
It was the last time I would be.
On the Friday of the week that my colleague had been away, I went for a drink with colleagues in a local bar, and wanting to be sociable, took a Sertraline pill for the first time in 3 days before going out, to assist me socially (though alcohol had anyway always loosened me up).
It was the first time I had mixed Sertraline with alcohol.
Moments after taking it I knew something was up. I felt “flat” again, as I always did when on it, but now I felt like a gear had changed too.
It had been tough decision to take the pill, because on the high of congratulations for a week well done, when I had stood in at higher level, I was contemplating not taking medication ever again. But I hated my socially-phobic self, so I did.
I left the bar early, feeling behind on the conversation, and looked forward to next morning when I would wake up sharp again.
I did not. On that occasion I woke up entirely the same. Fair enough, I had a hangover too, so it was hard to tell, but by the evening nothing had changed, and when I went to work on Monday, I was humiliated in a meeting in which I failed to grasp any of the backstory of the prior several months’ work.
In fact nothing has changed since. Three years have passed and it appears the drug has since that date had a permanent effect on me.
I only took sertraline for 5 weeks. I remain in a condition as if still taking the drug, though I have not taken it since, with both the positive and negative effects remaining.
Being unable to sift problems became typical of my remaining 6 months with the firm, during which time I was moved away from serious work until my contract was up and I was not kept on.
Since leaving my trainee job I have failed every attempt to get back into that field and have traveled sporadically since, and been employed back in my old industry in temporary jobs.
I feel I have remained in the same insulated, though less euphoric state, Sertraline put me in, with the major detriment being to memory.
Psychological tests have shown that knowledge I had remains intact, because I can recognize and be prompted to bring out any particular fact with enough help, but unprompted I cannot achieve recollection.
My capacity to reason remains as before, which is why family didn’t initially notice too much difference in my conversation, but short term memory, useful for reasoning with, is not something available as before.
I have been seeking an explanation for the changes that occurred in me, whether psychological or neurological for 24 months. With expert help we’ve concluded they are neurological and only now do I feel I have enough perspective to put my account on to this website as a warning to others.
Multiple exposure to these class of drugs in a lifetime it seems can cause permanent effects. By stopping medication for days at a time, in effect I was self-medicating. Note, no warning of any kind that breaking medication briefly before resuming it may cause harm, appears on the drug data sheets I had.
Also be aware that 50mg is basically the lowest prescribed level of the drug, so “tapering” dosage. You stop or start by simply forgetting to take a pill.
I’m advised also that while alcohol probably slowed the wearing off of the drug the last night I took it, it probably did not interact in any way with it to “fix” the effects of it, as I have experienced.
My warning then is this:
Sertraline can cause permanent memory problems, particularly if taken irregularly, even at minimum dosage, wrecking careers and friendships.
I mention friendships, because inevitably, relationships with some old friends have changed, because I have changed.
Without the ability to draw on relevant examples of things I want to say in conversation, or on things I may have recently read, detailed discussion can be difficult.
Whereas I used to be highly politically motivated, I’ve found I’m politically apathetic now, and don’t wrestle with issues in the news.
This is a really huge change in me. I find it impossible to feel militant about nearly anything for long. I’ve also found my career ambition has evaporated. Friends I used to engage with in these ways are slipping away.
Regarding the memory problems, after long reflection, I think that when I try to remember something I am in fact distracted from being able to by some other process going on simultaneously.
It feels like this constant messaging uses the same channels as those exercised to recall memories or access to organized constructions of facts I’ve built in the past when studying and learning.
Thus recall of words or facts I want is just interfered with in the moment of recollection, maybe by ‘pleasantness’ continually fired in my brain.
I have described this inability to recall facts on demand as feeling as like having a record player whose needle is unable to get into the groove, and just hovers ineffectually over the spinning record underneath.
I suffer particularly when put on the spot by someone for information – what was that word I wanted? What was the name of that person? I forget constantly things I told myself to do 2 minutes earlier. Remembering lists is almost hopeless and I also entirely forget stories I’ve told people before and repeat myself.
Studying again (learning a language) has been more difficult than previous studying. My attention span remains good and I go about it in the same way as before and I suspect I’m learning the information as efficiently as previously, but bringing out what I’ve learned is problematic.
Further, many people seem to describe feeling “flat” or “empty” after taking SSRIs, or the feeling even of “becoming stupider”. In connection with this I believe that sertraline took from me my capacity to “ruminate” – the capacity to ponder – the constant ticking over and consideration of problems at a low level, below active conscious verbal calculation.
In a way this was as intended, in that my former circumstances were such that all the many elements of social London city were accumulating in my mind to cause me extreme stress, preventing sleep etc.
However as low level thinking is normal, I believe this deficiency could also explain both increased scatiness – forgetting all kinds of minor tasks to do unless physically in front of you, and inability to appreciate context of circumstances, as sensitivity to more distant facts is less and I hold onto them for short periods.
I think the constant messaging in my head drowns out, stops, or prevents being able to hear low level pondering.
Formerly I was aware I used to rely heavily on my capacity to be considering things in the back of my mind when they were not foremost in my mind, for work, having at some stage in my life realized this was what I was doing and that it improved decision making. So I always asked for time to give an answer for difficult decisions.
I feel I experience life now in a pathetically linear way however without being able to “ponder”, and without be able to put information into the context of larger constructions of information I’ve learned.
Instead I focus one task at a time; decision making or opinion forming must all be done at a higher level, on demand, with less depth to consider at a low level for longer.
This amounts to a loss of personality which changes the experience of being me. The world has gone “quiet”. Manufacturers of these drugs have no idea what they are messing with.
Psychiatrists have not the least clue how SSRIs actually work. Incredibly, it is not the concern of their profession to do so. They are concerned only with effect of these drugs on mental states as they define those and so they miss the side effects as I’m here describing.
Four months after writing the above I have been unable to complete the report, because I think I’m unable to actually distinguish or characterize the effects that I complain of, as my temperament has changed so much after sertraline, that I do not know if the difficulties of memory I have are a function of being emotionally different, or a discrete memory problem.
I’m still job hunting, and I still live in temporary accommodation, which I think is a product of my differed outlook, which I want to iron out.
The initial report focuses entirely on difficulty of recall I noted during, and permanently after, taking sertraline. But it now looks like permanently changed temperament and emotions, which I think serve to prevent a consistent, coherent perception of self, or an undisturbed self-interested analytical chronological appreciation of history or stored information.
With a muddled incoherent appreciation of external events and people, and a more blurred appreciation of self, one is unable to draw upon relevant information in a situation, and apparent problems of recall can be complained of.
I used to be fiercely independently minded, but after sertraline I find myself more uncontrollably emotional, talkative and frequently indiscrete, prone to persuasion by emotive arguments, overly bodily-comfortable and harmfully divested of all personal ambition.
Given these enormous changes of personality, I think it can also be conceived how recall, or the energy to locate detail and fact in conversation, might also be affected.
Im desperate to move my life on now, but come up against my changed, weaker self in trying to move on, at job interviews and at work etc.
Would anti-serotoninergic medication help? Could that ‘reverse’ the effect of the SSRI, if excess serotonin is the reason for this emotional, ‘distracting’ element of being able to remember?
I’ve frequently tried using Gingko Biloba 500mg pills for a temporary performance boost. They help recollection, but they have a “super caffeinating” effect, which have made them unhelpful, e.g in job interviews, and when balanced reflection is simultaneously required.
I have guessed they function only to speed up mental processes, so perhaps achieving memory retrieval, before the emotional counter effects I complain of, kick in.
All ideas welcome.
I am not sure how to address you but feel that I want to congratulate you on your amazing report and insight into the problems that Sertraline have caused you. To be able to think through all that has happened, to record it all in plain English ( which trainee solicitors don’t always like!) and HAVE IT ALL MAKING SUCH GOOD SENSE is a MASSIVE achievement – you should be extremely proud of this. I’m sure that very many will read this report and find, at least a few facts applicable to changes in their lives also.
I’m sorry but I’m not here with ideas – why such things happen are way beyond my understanding of things. What I am here with though are a few things from my experience which may ( or may not) mean something to someone somewhere.
As a retired teacher of almost 40 years experience, having now been retired for over 10 years – you can see that I’m OLD! don’t feel old, hopefully don’t hold ‘old’ ideas etc. but I’m afraid that my memory failings are probably the main pointer to my ‘old age’. I’m with you all the way on forgetting things unless they’re under my nose; what I’m about to say is clear in my head until it comes to my lips and it’s then lost – names(which, as a teacher you’re brilliant at remembering) have become problematic and sometimes words.(Interesting point here is, since I’m bilingual, the word I want will often come in the other language and from that I’m able to translate and find the right word to use). Enough about me – all that I’ve said, of course, is perfectly true of all people of a certain age – to some degree or other. It is not a concern of mine – just a nuisance if you’re in a hurry!
In my work, I spent the last 15 years or so as a Special Needs co-ordinator and teacher. In that role, I spent many hours working and investigating specific learning difficulties including dyslexia. This was a particular interest of mine, having a dyslexic child at home. Everything that you have said could be said about very many dyslexic persons – except, of course, that they did not take an SSRI which seemed to create the problem. For them, that is the way it’s always been. They can be excitable one minute and in the doldrums the next. They can learn something this morning and have forgotten it by lunchtime – problems transferring short-term to long-term memory. They can have word-finding problems or word blindness. They can have social phobias or they can be infuriatingly social (when they should be concentrating on other things). Self esteem and self confidence are always low – due to their own sense of perceived failure to see the world as others see it.
As I said, I have only added all of this just incase someone out there can throw a little light on what it is that lies beneath such difficulties. Dyslexia is NOT a memory problem by the way – but it sure creates plenty of memory difficulties.
I’ve been taking 40mg of Cymbalta in evening for 8months.
My experience has been no more daily crying, which is great. However my bf of 7yrs recently broke up with me for not being able to match his energy. I also have no interest in sex. I’m now back in my original state of depression while still taking Cymbalta.
I just stay in my room and stare off for hours being in my head, replaying things over & over.
I do write stuff down to relieve my repetitive thoughts of the past. As I sit I fantasize about all the stuff I should be doing but I just don’t want to.
I feel very alone and miss laughing.
Thx for reading,
Hey, forget that guy. Anyone who bails when you are having a rough patch, is a lucky break for you, clearing the way for genuine friendship.
This Sertraline article is stunning. I took it for awhile, and I now have memory problems .
It didn’t really help.
So what a price to pay .
I feel exactly what you said… But with zoloft.
You weren’t happy with the person you were in the first place and now you aren’t happy with the person you have become – after Sertraline
This is a big dilemma to all SSRIs and Seroxat
There was a ‘reason’ to take on Sertraline for you
Your very coherent descriptions many can probably relate to
All these ‘changes’ come from the Chemical Persuasion in the gut where the pill is metabolised and then translate to the brain ‘afterwards’ as anxiety, intellectual malfunction, brain fog and the rest – and, as we all know SSRIs and Alcohol are a Death Wish..
We could say you are neurotic, overthinking the SSRI, generally anxious, at large, but, we won’t.
Your Sertraline Experience is well thought out, well written and exemplifies your intellectual prowess
It goes against the Placebo response
Thank you, for this and good luck with Regaining your Confidence Levels –
‘Big Up’ Yourself rather than ‘Down/Drown’ Yourself’
Thank you for ‘over-thinking’ and try not to ‘pressure’ yourself
All those Super Confident and Intellectually Superior folks aren’t really……a load of people develop a Front for Public Use Only and this includes Deluded/First Person Contact..Psychiatrists and Doctors
Thank you for being real and telling us so clearly how this drug impacted on you
We have been there and the history of doctoring is not ‘that impressive’
I have been on Sertraline for a long time now and was advised recently to increase my dose to the maximum. In many ways it has helped me but for the past few months I have become increasingly forgetful and assumed that I was developing dementia as it does run in my family. However I’m now wondering if it might be related to the Sertraline. I can definitely relate to feeling flat, my daughter just had a baby and although relieved both were ok I cannot say I felt real joy or happiness. Although I am not suicidal I do get days when I think what’s the point I’m not really living. I’ve been off sick from work for several months now and am due to go back soon but the way I am is making me anxious about the prospect. It’s interesting to read about your experiences and those of others. It has definitely changed my personality and I have a tendency to see the glass as half empty all the time. Social events often seem like too much effort and tbh the happiest I’ve been recently was during lockdown when I didn’t leave the house for 12 weeks due to underlying health conditions. I even reduced my dosage but after a couple of weeks realised this wasn’t a good idea. Anyway I will consider gradually coming off them altogether even if it means I can’t go back to work….
Hello Fiona. I was not taking Sertraline, but Fluoxetine. The results are pretty much the same and the feeling of “flat” is exactly how I would describe what I felt. After taking it for a while (maybe a few years) I felt nothing. I wasn’t angry, sad, happy…nothing. My memory to this day is terrible and I’ve blamed it on Fibro fog and menopause, but the more I read I wonder if I have permanent memory problems.
I am proud of you and your achievements.
To everyone who contributes on this forum, you are the ‘keys’ to the locks that that needed to be opened a long time ago.
Mary, you must have a very enquiring mind because you are always keen to understand and appreciate the ‘finer details ‘of issues that go deeper than the average mind.
Kudos to you for demonstrating compassion, intelligence and an awareness to want to further understand issues that many are afraid to question.
The Pandora box, once opened, gives one no limits to what they want to learn.
Profound understanding of any subject matter, requires perpetual learning.
From the time we’re born until we die, our DNA is subjected to so much detrimental precursors that impact/alter not only our DNA but future offspring.
All the medical issues/disorders or health problems, in my opinion, have to manifest from somewhere.
God, gives us a perfect mind/body/spirit.
Unfortunately, from the time we are born, some are jabbed, subjected to pollution, contaminated foods, adulterated water, unsafe meds and the list goes on and on and on………………
Past generations have been impacted from precursors also, even though everything seemed simple and less complicated. Altered DNA is passed one from one generation to another. Somewhere, some place, along the way, the fine fabric of life was tampered with in some way, shape or form.
Once one bad precursor is added to another bad precursor, there is no end to the damage it can cause.
Why are some people born with medical issues?
Whilst the foetus was developing, the DNA could have been damaged by:
– altered genes from previous generations
– the ingestion of alcohol
– all the injections the mother has when she is pregnant
– radiation etc………………………………
Problems have always existed since the evolution of man.
DNA and cell structure, are delicate interwoven into the fabric matter of who we are and anything can cause damage to this fine balance.
We can do all the right things however, there will always be something that causes interference to our finely tuned bodies
I now leave everyone with a song to carefully reflect upon.
‘We didn’t start the fire’ by Billy Joel, so courageously and honestly puts forward a message that all the problems we have today have to manifest from somewhere.
From the time our world was created, man has created problems and it still goes on and on and on……………………
Good grief Carla, I hardly recognise myself from your kind words – thank you all the same!
I so agree with your list of likely pre-birth causes of our ills. We only have to see the devastation caused by the Sika virus to understand the truth of your list.
I think that alcohol has an awful lot to answer for very many of our ‘newish’ problems – ADHD, autism, specific learning difficulties etc., to my mind, are as likely to be seen in ever-increasing numbers due to our mis-use of alcohol and other drugs as for any other reason. Sure there were children in the olden days who had problems with learning but this new-age learning difficulties all seem connected to an inability to cope with surroundings such as sound/ light/ order/ communication etc. The children of years ago, say when I first left college, were different – yes sure there were some who found learning difficult but that was, in the main, due to low IQ problems. That is not the case today. Within any classroom of children, you have many more children with average or, in many cases, above average intelligence who have additional learning needs than there are children with low intelligence learning needs.
It is a sad state of affairs that we, adults, are not prepared to take stock and think of the consequences of our actions. To my mind, it is the same lack of forward planning that send us rushing for a quick fix for ailments without considering the possible consequences – by doing so we allow the big companies to prosper without due care, resulting in the loss of life and ruined lives that we are so concerned about.
Carla, you say that God gave us a perfect mind/ body and spirit. That is perfection – the trouble comes with the fact that he also gave us ‘choice’. Adam and Eve made a hash of it and, instead of learning from their woes, we’ve just carried the same pattern on from generation to generation by our greed.
Sorry if this sounds like a sermon but I detest any wrongdoing that can be harmful to children and our lack of accepting our responsibilities.
I’m so curious! Thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry if I missed this – but what’s your name, age, and gender? I’m a 32-year-old woman and have been on and off so many different medications; I’ve just found out, on Friday, that I’m likely neurodivergent. This is very confusing news to me, as I’m currently working on a PhD and never once thought to question my original diagnosis.
Very interesting comment for me as I have just been diagnosed with Pyrroles Disorder, Undermethylation and high unbound copper. I am being treated by a Walsh trained doctor and taking a nutrient protocol to see if it improves my mental symptoms.
I am not sure that the nutrient treatment will help as I have taken Zoloft, Xanax and Valium for decades and worry that the damage is permanent.
Carla, I appreciate your words. I share some of the same beliefs. I began Sertraline about 6 years ago. I had been “stuck” emotionally with alot of big events going on with family and work. I kept thinking that I wasn’t spiritual enough or if I exercised more or whatever. I wanted to change, to get better, to have energy. I wanted to go to work, enjoy people. I also wanted out. I came to accept that I could not change this by myself. I tried for years to change but always came back to the same critical thinking. I gave up and followed my doctors instruction. I am glad I did. I needed the quiet. Zoloft has helped me to enjoy my life and when I lay my head down at night I am happy with myself. I believe that God did make me perfectly imperfect and we all have the purpose to help one another in this worldly existence.
Like I said, it has been 6 years and I do experience the forgetfulness. I suspect being prone to dementia via family genes, and age (67) is in part responsible. However, I believe Sertraline also adds to this. I will talk with my doctor about getting off the SSRI and see how things go. I do not like these strange mental blank spots I get. Again, thank you for your words and I appreciate this forum.
Yep, all of that. Yet another victim, but nothing ever changes. Doctors creating new victims every day. Shame on them. How’s your sex life by the way?
I can’t help re medication / supplement ideas, nor chemical explanations – BUT this “verbal behavior” training program – quite inexpensive – may help. Other “brain training” has been shown not to work – SMART training is based on 35 years of research into basic building blocks of language and cognition = intelligence. Check it out http://raiseyouriq.com/ and the research discussed here – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/iq-boot-camp – i have NO financial interest in this, simply trying to help others.
Rob Purssey – Psychiatrist and ACT therapist, Brisbane ACT Centre
I took a cocktail of SSRI’s for 15 years and I can totally relate. Dr. Peter Bregin and his book Your Drug Might Be Your Problem awoke me to the reality of those drugs. You may want to research him and his books, he’s one of a kind.
YESSSS! I cannot agree more. Thank God we have doctors like him who will speak up even when alone.
The drugs might be the problem alright! My doctor said that my recent development of tinnitus is from hearing loss which I suspect it is caused from long term use of Prozac, as I have read this is definitely possible. Playing with brain chemicals haphazardly is not something anyone should do to themselves unless one is very suicidal. Even then diet, prayer, counseling and exercise can help so much. Of course, it’s so hard to sift through information as it’s so often contradictory, which is why I have to test these theories out on my own by stopping the medication for many different reasons now. I can surely relate to what’s been said though. There are so many side effects of these medications and doctors don’t have the time or the will to narrow down where all these symptoms come from. Maybe it’s not even possible. It’s just so easy to prescribe a pill and get the paycheck. Good luck to everyone struggling with mental health issues.
A comment from Greg Martin (@yablonowitz), via Twitter:
1. @RxISK You claim that there is “no doubt” that SSRIs can cause permanent dysfunction. How does one have hope after seeing that?
2. @RxISK I keep going in the hope that things will improve. Idea that they will not is awful to think about.
Greg’s dilemma in trying to withdraw from SSRI’s and benzos was outlined in a series of blog posts last year, starting here:
A bit more here:
@yablonowitz Wd just say the key word is “CAN” cause. Not inevitable. But those who claim permanent ill effects should not be discounted.
@RxISK No, but “permanent” is a loaded word. I certainly don’t discount long-term. But I need to believe the brain can re-adapt.
@RxISK Heck, I can even deal w/lifelong changes as long as improvement to a level you can live with is natural outcome after stopping.
Very worried that I have permanent disfunction from taking Zoloft.
Have joined Exit International as I am now 68 and feel really hopeless as side effects of Zoloft are getting worse.
I agree with everything you have said, Mary.
Alcohol, causes damage to the developing foetus, also.
We always have to accept responsibility for our ignorance and incoherent behaviour.
Our actions will always have positive/negative repercussions however, we must not always be too harsh on ourselves because some things are out of our control.
Many parents, try to do what is right at the time.
Others, for whatever reason, were never given the opportunity to be shown the skills that are required for life.
Adam and Eve certainly did a brilliant job in the ‘lack of not complying’ department.
Indeed, Mary, we all have a free choice/will and with it comes responsibility.
Somehow, along the way we got side tracked and our vision became obscured.
It is never too late to change.
Any harm done to anyone, is unacceptable. I agree with you, 100%.
And NHS Doctors are handing this stuff out to people as young as ONE!!! Check the story:
How ignorant has the medical profession become? Or are they just plain evil? Unbelievable! They really are the lowest of the low these days.
Whilst waiting for my liquid seroxat the pharmacist came back and apologised for the delay in my prescription. He said they had an emergency request for liquid seroxat for a new born baby. I was shocked then realised that the baby’s mother was probably on seroxat and the baby was in withdrawral. Quite shocking really.
Extremely sad yes. On the other hand, at least the baby was getting a chance to come through withdrawal slowly. Imagine all the babies born to mothers who were still using alcohol right up to the birth – are they going to pop to the pub for a vodka to help those through? not likely, and the results of that are to be seen in pre-school groups and schools all over the country.
When will we learn to respect our own bodies – as well as those of others.
A Case Study with Centre of R.SK
Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, QM Innovation Building, Walden Street, London
With all the controversy surrounding the use of Seroxat, do you think that Seroxat should be on sale?
Do you think that the benefits out way the risks associated with Seroxat?
Is this a useful guide to Serotonin, is this a correct description, does RW relate to anyone here with description under the video?
Cyproheptadine is one of the only anti serotonin drugs available and over the counter.
So sorry to go off at a tangent but where can I find facts regarding evidence-based-and data-based medicines please. I’m sure Johanna mentioned recently that there were, either posts or papers/reports here somewhere on the very topics. Hoping to have a discussion soon with a medical statistician who works ‘evidence-based’ who wishes to hear David’s reasons for insisting on DBM. Obviously, I roughly n
know the reasons but could do with some facts so I don’t waffle my way through!
These meds burn out the short circuit of the brain and cause damage to certain parts of the brain.
Many lose their identity because they have lost the emotions/feelings that made them once feel fully human and alive.
Losing past memory, adapting to new ways of thinking and emotional responses to unpleasant/unjust situations can really move the impacted individual to take action and stand up for the vulnerable.
I understand and appreciate this because when one is maltreated it moves you in a way to take action and stand up for those who are vulnerable in our society.
You do get upset with yourself if you are unable to do the things you once use to do without batting an eyelid.
Lack of motivation, lack of energy, health issues that impinge with social relationships etc. suffer because many people do not see the hidden disabilities that these meds induce. Some people judge and assume it is all in your head!
Many make us feel unhuman because some people have expectations and standards of what it is to be human. Yet, some people’s behaviour is totally acceptable when it suits them to abhorrently behave. It is justified!
Data and evidence: there is a difference!
Data and evidence: there is a difference! (a commentary and debate on Healy et al.). [Int J Risk Saf Med. 2013]
Randomized controlled trials (RCT) have made critical contributions to healthcare. They have given rise to an approach to medicine now called Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) . But it is becoming increasingly clear that there are a number of ambiguities in the term Evidence and that for instance practising Evidence Based Medicine may be quite different to practising Data Based Medicine.
Thanks so much Annie. Shall read and digest tomorrow – rather late for that tonight. Have found wonderful illustrations to explain EBM – which are useful as I’m sure I’ll be expected to understand where she’s coming from too. Only thing I could find for DBM was David’s home page on David’s blog. As powerful as that is, I’m not sure how far I can go in convincing her. Not that I expect to do anything more than show her the true picture of the other side of the coin you understand – feel the need to do that in a responsible way though.
Annie, your suggestions are wonderfully helpful. Shall certainly have to ‘swat up’ on them a few times – amazing what we do know but forget until we re-read it! Thanks again.
When I was 14 years old a psychologist (right out of school, inexperienced, and arrogant) mistook the visual disturbance/aura of a migraine attack as “evidence” of psychosis and asked a doctor, who never examined me or spoke to me even once, to prescribe a high dose of Thorazine–not a drug for use on children. This was in the late 1960s when drugging kids was rampant. In researching,
The effect was immediate and devastating within minutes of taking the first dose: a complete loss of the ability to FEEL emotions in the positive range, like joy, pleasure, satisfaction, etc. It felt like a switch had been flipped off in my head. It was so sudden and complete it frightened me and I ran to tell the staff what had happened but they blew it off as inconsequential. I suspect the dopamine receptors in my brain were fried with that first, large dose.
Then came the other serious side-effects (head pulled back in spasm, drooling, extreme sedation, weight gain, etc.) which were also ignored but should have gotten immediate medical intervention. After many months of this the incompetent psychologist was replaced by someone with more experience and I was immediately taken off the drug–with the hope all side effects would stop and the ANHEDONIA would reverse. The side-effects stopped. But the anhedonia was permanent.
I am now 62 years old. My ability to feel emotion in the positive range never returned. I can remember it in instances that took place before the drugging/prolonged over-dosing but that is the extent of it. It did flicker back on, momentarily, in the late 1980s, when my primary care doctor prescribed a diet drug for weight loss, and that gave me hope that this terrible condition could possibly be reversed if someone would study it and at least TRY to help.
And I have tried throughout the years to get help in restoring me to my original condition but, again, find nobody to take it seriously. After all, it didn’t kill me–I am still alive and breathing–so what do I have to gripe about?
Living with anhedonia is very difficult in too many ways to list. I have a dial-tone emotional range. It has taken its toll, socially. I look years younger than I am because emotion never got the chance to carve lines in my face.
Is resuming the 80s weight loss drug not an option?
I’m very sorry to hear of your experience, I do hope you are recovering and your cognitive abilities have started to return / improve. Your article is very well written, I must commend you on that.
I took paroxetine for 5 years and got off this year, apart from months of chornic withdrawals, I was hit hardest by the fact that I’d lost my cognitive abilities. I had mixed drugs, alcohol with ssri’s for 5 years and had given up the process of thinking deeply / critically and reflecting. I am now 6 months off the drug and feel so inadequate and inferior to everyone, they all seem to know things and think certain ways that I have no idea how to do. Everyone seems smarter, more knowledgeable than me. It is very scary to feel like I am dumb, but that is how I am now. I can’t remember easily, can’t focus, don’t have any knowledge, don’t know how to solve problems. I pray things will improve
I was on Seroxat/Paroxetine for almost 4 years, and I had horrible withdrawals and similar experiences to you- the cognitive dampening is awful post- SSRI but it does get better, albeit – it can be painfully slow. You can e-mail me on email@example.com of you want to..
Wow, I find myself in the exact same situation as you! I can’t recall anything if my life depended on it, I find other people a lot smarter than me. I simply sound stupid when I speak because I can no longer put a simple sentence together. I suffered from migraines all my life and was diagnosed with depression when I was in my early 20’s. Recently I decided to stop taking Prozac because my career was at stake, I couldn’t remember words and couldn’t even write a simple email. I decided that I must deal with depression because I can’t lose my job. When I stopped taking Prozac it took around 8 months before I could slowly start remembering simple words, so there is a slight improvement. However, I think when I drink alcohol, all the problems come back as if I’m back on Prozac, I think alcohol is the catalyst in forgetfulness. Alcohol causes inflammation and that’s why it always triggered my migraines. I’ve basically stopped drinking alcohol and stopped taking any and all medications and I’m now pushing myself to eat healthy and exercise… again, some small improvements are taking place, but I’ll never be person I used to be. I considered myself very intelligent and learned everything very quickly, but now I’m just a useless, brainless person – it’s all very sad and I feel for everyone that has lost their intelligence due to these medications.
I feel exactly the same, i regret ever taking drugs. I’ve become stupid.
I’m sorry this happened to you. I’ve had a similar thing happen, I was a fine person until taking Lexapro for a week & a half. Now I can barely function. I’ve been off it for 8 months & still have all negative side effects.
I was not warned about all the possible side effects & wish I never took the damn drugs! I want myself & my life back! I want to live again, feel again, be productive, helpful & fully alive again!
With all due respect, you started Lexapro for an obvious issue that you were having. You didn’t take it long enough to see any improvement. I had to take Lexapro for 3 full months before I began to see improvement. You stopped taking it before improvement when only seeing side effects. And you entered back into the world that you were in when you sought treatment with an SSRI. But you think the drug is the problem?
Same here, feel brain dead.
I have the same issue, I can’t carry a conversation and feel socially awkward making me pretty much antisocial. I regret ever taking depression medication, I’m afraid it has seriously damaged my brain permanently and there will be no way to get back to the person I was before I got prescribed medication. I pray pretty much every night and day that I become as smart and intelligent as I was before I started taking pills.
Please do not use the word “Depersonalization” if you have no idea what it is. In fact depersonalization can be caused by myriad substances, but SSRI’s are not one of them. It can also be caused by severe panic attacks. I suffer from both derealization and depersonalization. If you knew anything about depersonalization, and the horrors of it, as well as derealization and its horrors, you would not be throwing that word around, diluting its true nature. Depersonalization is a shift in the perception and experience of self, where ones consciousness feels detached from the thinking self, and or the body, as if consciousness is observing body and mental thoughts from somewhere else. Your body and thoughts can feel alien and as If not yours. This has absolutely nothing to do with a “loss of identity” in the sense you are speaking of. Depersonalization is a PERCEPTUAL and EXPERIENTIAL SHIFT. It is pure hell. As is Derealization.
You are not quite correct on this. SSRIs can cause profound depersonalization and derealization. Many of those who have PSSD have depersonalization also. Depersonalization and derealization are complex phenomena that have not been explored properly. Its probably the case there are a number of subtly different states that travel under these headings
David Healy, Is it possible that my Complex PTSD and DDNOS, diagnosed in 1996, after decades of taking SSRIs, was actually caused by the SSRIs.
All ssri’s, snri’s, tricyclic and basically psychotropic agents can cause depersonal8zation disorder, ssri’s and snri’s are among the worst for that
Travelling for 25 years
March 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm
If the evidence is lacking, why when asked can your drug cause suicide are companies legally obliged to say Yes. This issue is settled – if there is a controversy its like the ones whipped up by the tobacco industry.
March 12, 2013 at 6:04 pm
I prescribe SSRIs and hope I have helped some people with them. But I think this is an accurate description of the last 25 years. These drugs are less effective than older antidepressants and the evidence shows more lives lost than saved on them and up to one in twenty becoming suicidal on them. Are you part of the camp that says we should have no warnings because these would deter people from taking these drugs?
February 13, 2013 at 3:49 am
On the issue of how to treat psychotic depression, companies making SSRIs had concluded in the 1980s that these drugs did not work for melancholia or psychotic depression. In trials for severe depression TCAs like clomipramine or amitriptyline beat SSRIs every time. In any depression with raised cortisol SSRIs are likely to be ineffective.
The “studies” have not shown SSRIs are good for severe depression. These marketing exercises recruited mild to moderately ill people but excluded severe depression for the most part. No specific effect for SSRIs could be shown at the milder end of this mild to moderate spectrum. It was at the less mild end that some effect could be shown.
As regards the word poison, we desperately need to be able to recapture this word and make sure everyone realizes that all drugs are poisons, especially prescription drugs which are on prescription because we have every reason to believe they will turn out to be riskier than alcohol or nicotine etc.
See We need to talk about doctors. Saying avoid the word poison plays right into Pharma’s hands. In an expert report if I used the words every drug is a poison, lawyers for the company will go out of their way to get this struck off as prejudicial against their client.
February 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm
Angela – part of the problem is SSRIs and CBT get used because they supposedly work. They can both be helpful but neither SSRIs or CBT are suitable for everyone and neither work the way an antibiotic does. Both come with serious side effects and both are delivered in settings that have a serious power imbalance. By how much have we actually advanced in the last 25 years – could we have gone backwards?
I am grateful to the writer of this account about the effects of his use of Sertraline. It has made things clearer for me. As I write, I am sitting beside the South Devon estuary which was my son’s favourite place to be. He used to say that there was nothing like the peace he felt, sitting out on the water in a boat, drifting, watching the clouds flitting by.
He had a lot in common with the writer on Sertraline. The social phobia and OCD would have been something he’d always quietly managed. But like the writer, he was interested in his work, and creatively in the world around him. Initially it was Seroxat that messed him up, given to counteract the low mood effects of RoAccutane/isotretinoin (acne drug, originally a chemotherapy drug). The rot certainly started with Seroxat, then, after a long gap, Escilatopram, then Venlafaxine, then told to stop all that suddenly by a psychiatrist, who later lobbed in Olanzapine. But within weeks, the final addition was Sertraline. I think it was the last two that finally finished him off.
He wrote that he couldn’t remember who he was or where he was. There were terrifying voids in his thinking. (But he left this description of his pain in a letter for us to read, after he drowned). Whilst he was alive, during those last few days (4 years ago to the week today, which is why I am sitting beside the sea in his special place) he was unable to explain his feelings to us. He was just too ill. The psychiatrists told us to leave him alone as his expressions of suicidal thoughts were pure attention seeking moves, just being used by him to frighten us!! Now, having read what Sertraline can do, I can see so well what was happening to him. Why could the psychiatrists not do so? Why couldn’t they have cut him some slack, and supported him and us? One cannot help reliving that last week, over and over again, and longing to have understood. But at least some parents, families etc can now read this Blog and be warned. Go with your gut reaction, do not be beguiled, in your fear, by medics who really can offer nothing but criminal denial. You know better than they, the real person inside, the person that was always there, and hopefully, one day, can be again. Stay close to the one who suffers and assure them they are not mad, but sadly, a world that allows this situation to continue, is.
i am sitting in a corner in the dark crying and trying to decide if I should listen to the dr who told me after listening to me cry for 15 minutes on FaceTime if I should start taking Zoloft.. I am having such severe depression , ptsd, anxiety.. I have tried holistic approaches I even got so involved in yoga I became a certified instructor and I love it and am so sad because I am so down and I don’t want to spread my negative energy and just feel I should be alone.. but I’ve never been on anti depressants because ssri’s frighten me for some reason I can explain I just know I’m going to lose myself im so dark right now and I really just wanted to read more before I go pick up my prescription tmrw. I think this could have been me real easy and I know this can’t have been an easy thing to type and share… I’m so sorry about what happened to your son.. this might have saved me .. that and the original brave and well spoken original response .. thank you so much I’m grateful for you
I am reading this page with a box of Zoloft next to me. I am supposed to start tomorrow. But I am having severe doubts now. I have never used SSRI’s but I was given Ketamine in am ambulance and the next day during an operation and had panic attacks and laughing attacks for 5 hours after the operation which I can’t remember at all. It was 2 years ago and my memory doesn’t function anymore. I forget what I am saying as I am talking. I cannot have a decent conversation because I can’t remember what the other person said or what I am going to say. I can’t focus on work, I am very socially insecure ans my reasoning skills don’t work well without my knowledge present. I feel like a dumb version of myself.
I am35 and am 19 months off of SSRIs after having been on them for 16 years. Four years on Paxil, 10 years on Celexa, 10 months on Zoloft, 5 months on Luvox. I am permanently altered, I feel. I had to stop because of akathisia, thoughts of suicide and weight loss. Now, in this aftermath, I am a severe caffeine addict, have disordered eating, switch between hypersomnia and insomnia and (yes this is true( feel as though I have “ghostly” visitors. I do work my job, but have lost all career ambition, cry almost daily over anything, and struggle to enjoy socializing because I simply can’t focus.
SSRIs are poison. I am BARELY living proof of that.
PLEASE READ! HELP! I was on different SSRIs when i was 15 for 1 year until I was put on Zoloft around 16 I am now 32 about to be 33. I only have been off of the 200mg Zoloft while I was pregnant for my two children and for a few years after having them but had to go back on it because I could no longer function in daily life again. I had social anxiety, severe anxiety attacks, ocd, had many phobias, severe depression,manic at times, sometimes sleeps to much sometimes can’t sleep at all, my mind raced and the millions of thoughts jumbled, very emotional. Before I turned 15 and all of these things became me and the struggle just to step out of my room, a constant battle with myself, I was outgoing, loved school, out spoken, opinionated , had goals and dreams, my mind could think rational,I would do things that needed to be done way in advance. I was smart, snappy, I knew who I was, I could remember things and conversations, with that being said however, I did have a part of my early childhood that I don’t fully remember until my parents were divorced at the age of around 11. I only remember bits and pieces of it even before I was ever on the medicine. My father was a sick man and I am guessing I blocked out most of my early childhood without realizing I did it. So I don’t know if its my mind that does this to me with everything now or if its from the medicine. I am now very passive, I procrastinate a lot. I don’t really care about much unless its extremely important, sometimes I feel like I have no emotions at all, I can’t remember a lot of things, I get confused very easily,I feel very stupid, like I can not retain any information.My strengths and skills are no longer there. My short term and long term memory are horrible. I can’t remember whole conversations or things I done in the past. Like I can’t put a whole time line together of my life even as a adult. Its like my life is a fog and i am just getting throu the day to day. Sometimes I want to get off of the Zoloft but I am afraid to because i am afraid I won’t be able to live a daily life and I am single and raising my two kids alone so I can’t let myself fail. However my relationships are not well kept.I don’t kept many people close to me. Thankfully I have close family who put up with the way I am and my at times disconnection, they are always there for me. I had a time in my life where I literally could not cry like at all after my separation with my childrens father.i totally disconnected and was like a robot doing my daily task. I think maybe I am a person that either feels to much or can’t feel anything. Idk. My most recent relationship I am in since the father of my children and I have split up 4 years ago (we were together for 10 years) is now suffering because I can’t remember important things and I can’t remember things from my past. He thinks I lie to him but I truthfully can not remember things and especially not exactly. I do feel like I am a different person then who I was going to be before the medicine but I do believe that my core person is very strong and that’s the reason I can still find bits and pieces of myself. I don’t know I guess I’m just trying to figure myself out and how to be able to feel and remember things and just actually be able to remember my life. Its to a point where my kids don’t even get upset anymore that I forget stuff they just like oh well mom forgets everything. I actually began to rely on them for things I need to remember to do. And of course I make tons of list. Any feed back would be great! Also advice on how to get my mind to work proficient again would be golden!
Everything the writer describes in this account of taking this drug mirrors what I went through taking cymbalta. I felt euphoric and incredibly happy but I couldn’t function when it came to problem solving at work. All my analytical skills and cognitive abilities were gone. I got off it after about two months. It took about 3 weeks of crying and being hurt by everyone around me. The only thing that kept me going was telling myself this feeling isn’t real. This is cymbalta. I think I have returned to normal except I haven’t. My memory is sometimes blank. It used to be particularly acute. In fact people used to ask me how do you remember all that. They won’t from now on. These drugs are toxic. I was put on Cymbalta by a rheumatologist for back pain and sciatica. He never said a word about any of their effects. I am very angry about what they have done to me.
Debbie Hampton took an overdose of antidepressants and end up with brain damage where she could hardly walk or talk. She then learnt about neuroplasticity and how the brain can repair itself and set about the task of getting better. She made a full recovery over two years. Her little ebook is cheap. She overcame her depression too.
Beat Depression And Anxiety By Changing Your Brain: With Simple Practices That Will Improve Your Life, Debbie Hampton.
I can relate. They say once a journeyman always a journeyman.. well, I proved them wrong. I feel like a fucking retard now. Everyone thinks I’m stupid too. I hate it! I can’t even raise my son right. I need some relief. It’s made me more depressed than I was to start with. I took zoloft and a bunch of other shit that I can’t remember the name of. It’s very frustrating, I was a highly skilled craftsman.
Now I just wing it… can’t remember what simple tools are called. Or simple processes and procedures. I gave up on my career seeking relief in isolation. Because I can’t even go into the grocery store let alone handle the competition at work. I’m still a miserable sob.
So running from it d ont help. I’m gonna buy a harley next, cause I ain’t giving up. Besides work sucks anyways.
Dear Bones I can fully relate to your message I too have become totally f—ked by seroxat. Once a Electronics Technician who worked in product development.Having read a test spec I could more or less commit it to memory. Now I can hardly wire up a electric plug. F—king Dr who prescribed I found out had shares in drug companies. Having a work ethic is total shit. I know now on becoming unwell I should have done as my sister, her husband and next door neighbour done, quit and stay at home. Instead having had a strong work ethic, I basically f— myself up.
On looking back at the things I help produce, now like myself now on the scrap heap. Recently to show what shit some Drs have become. Recent appointment with a serious health issue, Dr then starts cracking jokes!!!
Then f—ing said you do not like jokes.
I wish to God I had never gone to see to see the Dr.
Possibly like me and countless other once believed that Drs knew best, do they f—
I have had somewhat of a similar experience with Sertraline (Zoloft). I took it for 6 months about 16 years ago when I was going though a rough patch in life and thought I might be depressed. I started experiencing emotional blunting after being on the drug and my memory and concentration became highly impaired. I didn’t really feel much of any positive benefit from taking the drug and when I tapered it off, my emotional numbness became a lot more pronounced and I was left completely emotionally “flat” and cut off from feelings. I had no positive or negative emotional reaction to anything going on in my life and it was very distressing. Since then I stopped taking any pharma drugs and my symptoms did improve a bit over time but I never returned to feeling the same as I was before I started taking Zoloft. My symptoms very much align with that of depersonalization/dissociative disorder and it is now a permanent disorder I live with and it has profoundly impacted every aspect of my life. Over the years I found plenty of anecdotal evidence in countless online forums where people taking SSRIs have complained of emotional blunting. Emotions are critical to our functioning because that is how we “feel” our way through life and no one really knows how SSRIs mess with our emotional brain. Each one of us can react to this drug differently.
I read some of this because after 2 years on Sertraline, for work related anxiety (mostly any random public speaking meetings) …. I got off the medication when the company closed down. But now 3.5 months after being completely off Zoloft I can definitely tell something isn’t right. I’m not my usual self. I describe the feeling as, permanently feeling ‘half present’. I never felt depressed before for years, now off Sertraline I feel mildly always troubled, sort of depressed, not nearly as excited or motivated about life, and always before bed I look around at the room and quietly comment to myself that I feel ‘half here’. I feel like this medication is way over prescribed. That doctors telling a person who takes Ativan or Valium twice a week for a public speaking meeting, that its way safer to take Zoloft is very in error. Because at least on the small twice a week Valium I felt normal, present in my life. I worry this stupid Zoloft has permanently ruined my sense of being ‘present’ and attached to life the same way I was before taking it. I wonder if after more months this improves ? As right now I am suspecting with Zoloft comes permanent fogginess and detachment even after stopping the medication. I can promise you if the doctor warned of permanent side effects I would -never- have agreed to take it !
I experienced everything the writer wrote. It’s been 3 years since my withdrawal and I am still having difficulties with tasks and feeling myself again. My memory is awful and I have a hard time empathizing with others like I once was. Right now, all I can hope for is for all these things to be healed through time.
Update on the poster of this article please? I hope the op is doing good. I had the same problem with a medicine called anafranil. I still am having memory issues and non existent emotions
I was very moved and interested in this account. My son , whilst a trainee solicitor, was prescribed sertraline -six years ago. His personality changed almost instantly to loud, inappropriate, boorish and completely uncaring which was the exact opposite of how he was. We approached his GP to voice concerns and he said nothing could be done unless he came himself to the surgery and continued to allow my son to order these online without consultations. We persuaded my son to wean himself off them but he felt really low again and went back to one a day-but he began drinking much more eventually to everyday.
This has been the case with some serious incidents. He cannot see what the fuss is about but clearly the sertraline and alcohol have had a very bad effect on him yet he does not see it. We as a family have gone back to the doctor and we are now assured he will not get any more-but what does he get if still depressed ?
Any help would be greatly appreciated , because we are at our wit`s end with the situation.
Damn…reading this made me cry a little. Exactly how I feel, but I’m not scared that it won’t go away, even after stopping my medicine. I’m so sad and mad that maybe the old me is gone forever. And nobody warned me about the side effects. I always took pride from my excellent memory and high intelligence and made fun of stupid people..I guess karma is real and she doesn’t sleep, as I now feel as stupid and “superficial” as ever, without any ability to feel deeper or use critical thinking. Lobotomy at its finest.
I have suspected this for years, but couldn’t get off the meds because I would get physically sick from withdrawal. I have weaned myself off over the last year. I have tiny sparks of memory of who I was, but fleeting at best. Is there any hope for me?
Does it get better? Are there ways to restart and feel again? I was put on Prozac at the age of 8 because I was “shy” and took them until I was 24. I definitely notice that my brain is not functioning correctly or at a normal aptitude when it comes to recalling and retaining information. I’m 26 now and have been off of SSRI’s for only a year. Definitely having issues with emotions as I’ve bever had them in a sense of understanding or being aware of them.. until now. Any information or help regarding “normalizing” the brain afterwards or even ideas, information, support groups, stories etc. thank you
First I have to say thank you for posting this insightful and thorough report. As I read through it I was amazed at your ability to lay out the experiences that happened to you, what you thought about them, and how you saw your life and personality change. I have been looking for answers for my sister, Kaduland Robinson (Kay) for a few years. Kay had been a normal person, just like everyone else for most of her life. She developed a low self-esteem in her teen years that remained with her into her young adult years. I wish I had seen it more. I wish I then knew what to look for, and more that I could have done. But I didn’t know. My family didn’t know. In fact, today I fear that we failed my sister tremendously. At 28 Kay went through the loss of her relationship with her partner. After he left, she was found in her empty home in a fetal position on her dining room floor. Her biological father, whom she was incredibly close to, died that same time frame. He was my step-father. She was sexually harassed on her job. This seemed to set off a new level of depression which was later treated and diagnosed as bi-polar disorder and schizoaffective behavior. My sister had been prescribed a number of toxic anti-depressants, all of which seemed to have very little positive impact on her. None of them seem to work. She got worse. And at 4’11, we were always concerned for her safety in public, as the medications seemed to enhance psychotic episodes. But something happened along the way that changed my sister’s life and personality. She was admitted to a state hospital in Terrell, Texas. There had been previous episodes that required a stint in a hospital, but she had insurance then, and had always been admitted to private institutions. The state hospital was the place that would change my sister’s life in the most dramatic way. Instead of being prescribed Sertraline as you were, she was prescribed Fazaclo, also known as Clozapine without our knowledge. At first she seemed to improve, become more like herself. But one of the side effects is physical, and she started to drag her left leg. Her walking became compromised. and she was loosing her balance. That sense of feeling “flat” or “empty” became more visible, causing my sister to withdraw, and a downgrading of her cognitive abilities, “becoming stupider”, as you say. Not only was she unable to “ruminate,” to ponder, she was nolonger able to have simple back and forth conversations. Today my sister lives in a nursing home at 48. She is incontinent, doesn’t walk, is unable to stand, has little control/use of her left side, and speaks in a whisper. Her reply when asked questions about the way she feels are yes and no. She remembers that she enjoys hamburgers. Legions were found on her brain and she was diagnosed with MS in 2014, and two years ago, breast cancer. I don’t know what happened to my sister, Kay Robinson. Doctors have had very few answers. I am embarking on a new approach to find out what has happened to my sister, and do all that I can to help her find a life of dignity that I know we have access to. Learning from people like you, what you’ve gone through, and realizing that there are far more people than I realize whose lives and personalities have been robbed by the side effects of SSRIs and other dangerous medications helps me put the puzzle together. I do know this. The mind is power. And what we say to it matters. Thank you for sharing your story. You have helped me find more answers today. And I will pass them on to my sister, Kay Robinson.
I have a very different experience than most people here. I have been taking Zoloft for OCD and while I do experience some brain fog, I feel that my personality has been released from the cage of OCD and Panic Disorder rather than altered or repressed in some way.
That being said though, I have strong evidence of my anxiety disorder being biological rather than psychological, since it’s present in most of my family members to some degree. I don’t know if that makes my case different than some of the experiences being shared here or not.
Either way, I will take the side effects of Zoloft and day (which for me is fortunately just some brain fog, some trouble focusing without caffeine, and night sweats) than the hell that is my anxiety disorder. It’s like I have a new chance at life now that it’s no longer a battle for me to go through my day without breaking down because I’m stuck in a loop of repetitive anxious behavior, or losing minutes to hours at a time to sudden, debilitating panic attacks.
These drugs are very powerful, and potentially really dangerous. They are certainly over prescribed, but for some people like me, they’re a far cry better than what our brains do to us naturally.
I’m not discounting anyone’s experience on here, I just wanted to share. I agree with everyone here that these medications are not someone that should just be given out recklessly, but there are definitely situations where they can be prescribed appropriately.
I have just come across this website and just in the last few months have got concerned over increasing memory loss. I found if I was talking to people, I would be getting words mixed up ( only mildly). I was prescribed sertraline ( by NHS GP) in November 2018 and took it for 4 months?. Due to sexual side effects from it , plus a feeling I should stop taking it, I reduced my dose from 50 mg to 25, then stopping it totally. However my memory appears reduced. I am 51 years old. I started taking the drug, after picking up on my husband having an affair. He denied it totally and encourage me to see a GP. My husband called me paranoid, lacking in low self esteem, stressed etc, etc. He has even told our adult children ( living with us) this. I overheard him describing me as ” loopy, but we can’t call it that”, to my son, when he thought I had gone to bed. I now am not taking any medication. I can look back and see how he manipulated me.
Thanks for taking the time to put this information out there. It for sure will help people make more informed decisions. I find people seem to blindly trust doctors, but oftentimes information on the opposing side is lacking.
I am sorry for what you have to go through.
I am in the same case as you, at only 16 old. My physician forced me to take this for 8 months, and now I’m empty after the loss of my skills… looking desperately for a solution to recover…
I also took a neuroleptic during 1 month with a small dose, but I’m still thinking that those both ruined my life.
Strange have been on same medication f o r same amount of time, from 1st month gained dream job. Lost weight, never got angry, panic attacks were completely gone, I could identify emotional intelligence quicker. People were shocked basically because they couldn’t emotionally hurt me. And they did not like that. This medication saved my life from abuse to find strength to not be victum. I’d thank the company in person if I ever got the chance.
Okay as I said before I am crying in a corner trying to decide if I should try Zoloft that was just prescribed to me I am so terrified it will change me and I will just become dependent and unable to function without it .. I have never been on anti depressants but already experience so many of the symptoms described as side effects if they worsened at all or i ever went flatter than I have gone in my own I don’t know what I’d do … I don’t think I’d ever be able to get off them … but now I read this and it sounds like exactly what I need 🙁 I’m so torn I don’t know what to do but thank you for sharing I guess I’m kind of torn again now
It absolutely blows my MIND that a doctor told you to take Sertraline AS NEEDED. That’s not how these drugs work! How is a brain supposed to know what the hell is going on when neurochemicals are being made to fluctuate constantly? What an idiot. I’m sorry you’ve had to suffer so much as a consequence.
Any improvements over the years ? My memory and cognitive abilities have been completely destroyed by the ssri I took(escitalopram/lexapro). I would like to know if there is anything possible to improve the symptoms and get back to before.
OCD is extremely distressing but since I had it since childhood I learned to live with it and I considered it a superpower. I could master anything in a matter of hours, I can simulate and improve in my head, I could play a video game once and the next day be significantly better because the brain simulated it in sleep but it isn’t so good for depression, you can’t ever forget about it and that’s why my parents made me go see a psychiatrist. I was extremely hesitant of medication and never took any medication in my life, not even magnesium pills, and somehow the psychiatrist was able to persuade me to take them. Now everything is mute, I’m impulsive, I can’t analyze, they made me think it’s an illness, I lost my identity and feel like I wasted my time adapting to it for whole my life only for it to be gone in a month. I took joy analyzing everything in my spare time and now I want it back so badly. Honestly I can’t ever get over the worst decision of my life and it just might cost me my life.
I do mathematics all I’m my head without ever writing anything, I could simulate physics in my head to come to the best path to solution, i could memorize complete lesson to the smallest detail and replay it in my head, I didn’t ever need to take notes, I could recall everything from the age of 4 to the smallest detail with all the emotions, I didn’t talk much because my brain was busy analyzing in the background, I was modest and efficient, I constantly needed to feed my brain information or else it will start attacking me and I will forever regret believing there was an easy solution. I spent whole my life trying not to follow the herd and defending myself from people who want me to conform.
Now all the memories I’ve been nurturing are blurred, my performance in school is extremely diminished, I can barely do basic math and i have no spatial memory at all.
I feel like a headless fly roaming through the world, unaware of others intentions, completely lost my my identity and I hope some of it comes back.
I had been taking Lexapro for a month and since discontinued.
I relate to what you said, especially the part about no longer being able to visualize things in your head properly and having your math skills reduced. This is something that I have experienced prior to taking any medication, and I believe was a result of constant anxiety and an overstimulated mind. I believe that what you are experiencing is similar to what I experienced. I also believe that this problem is rectifiable, and is largely caused by your awareness of the problem, and worrying about it. Worrying about your cognitive ability and how well you are able to function compared to before is perpetuating the problem by creating anxiety. You need to begin to do the things that you used to be able to do without worrying about your performance. You should perform those tasks without worrying about how you feel at all, and before you know it will be performing at your previous level. Try the book, At Last a Life by Paul David.
Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story, I can certainly relate to most of what you said. Although I was thrown off when you stated that with your fist pill you started to feel an “empty mind” and you got a “foolish grin” after 15 minutes of taking the drug. This is very unusual because the effect of an SSRI is not instant like a benzodiazepine so I don’t quite understand how you felt that instantaneous effect. On another occasion you said that you “popped a pill” and off you went drinking with your friends thinking that it would help with your social anxiety. I was always under the impression that antidepressants just don’t work on an as needed basis, like Lorazepam or Valium which take minutes minutes to kick in and can be taken as needed. Also, you took this drug on and off for 5 weeks! There is no way that it had a chance to build up in your system. Zoloft takes 6-8 weeks to fully work. On top of that, you were only taking 50MG! I took 100MG of Zoloft for 10 months and I did have the idiot grin but that was clearly over a period of time. I am in no way criticizing you or trying to debunk what you’re saying but I just can’t figure out how such a thing can be possible. What you felt was scary and it you did the right thing coming forward because although your experience with this medication was uncommon, it is important that others know what can potentially happen if they take this drug short term. Like I said I took Zoloft for 10 months after 14 long and horrifying years(no anxiety case exaggeration here) of being on and off Effexor. I have taken Paxil, Pristiq, Cymbalta, Remeron, Cipralex and I did notice that Zoloft performed differently than the others. I found that it just “dropped” be as it was wearing out, it wasn’t graduale like Effexor. I noticed that when I woke up in the morning I felt this hopeless, empty, uncomfortable feeling that I did not feel while taking the other medication. I felt like all my worries about the past, future and present(and more) were all attacking me the minute I opened my eyes. I would then take the pill and yes the grin would appear. Keep in mind I was on 100mg. I made the choice to leave this drug in June of 2020 after 10 months of use because i started to experience mania. I was taking it along side 200mg of Lamotrigine, 100 trazodone at bedtime and 50mg Stratera. Yes I realize that the Statera is an SNRI and that it can induce mania as well so I dropped that to see and I still had mania regardless of the mood stabilizer. I know that I am all over the place with this but i am desperate. I don’t know where I need to post my story regarding my experience with Effexor. I feel alone in this and I could really use some feedback. I was prescribed Effexor XR 37.5 at the age of 23 by my family doctor who diagnosed me with social anxiety disorder. Just like yourself, I was starting a new job and did not feel very confident. I was terrified of people yet I had found a job in the public sector ironically. I was a kid that never got into any kid of trouble and I never drank or did drugs and that changed after two months on Effexor. I went of a rollercoaster of drinking and trouble with the law for 14 long and painful years. I developed an urge to drink and when I drank I became a monster. A real Jekyll and Hide. It took years of seeing family doctors, psychiatrists and 3 treatment centres for alcoholism to receive the diagnosis of bipolar 2 by an internist In 2019 who saw me twice and then got sick and closed his practice. This diagnosis is debatable because it was made while on Effexor and off of Effexor or any ssri/snri I do not have the urge to drink or even the thought. While on Effexor, I had this urge to do was was “wrong”, risky and exciting and that’s why i enjoyed drinking so much because it brought my mania to a whole new level and then straight to jail. I did not have to do any jail time because the law took mercy on me given the circumstances but I was arrested over a dozen times for various incidents caused by being under the effect of Effexor and alcohol. I never drank before I started taking Effexor in 2005. Within two months of taking the drug I started drinking and doing wreckless things because I was finally out of my shell and I needed to let it all out. I felt that Effexor made me function better, my shyness and insecurity transformed into cockiness and arrogance and I loved it. Obviously there was a huge price to pay. For 14 years i was on and off Effexor 150Mg, the longest time being 4 years. The times I would leave it I would feel “good“ for two months and then I would remember when I went on it in the first place. My shyness came back, brain fog, lack of planning and organization, lack of focus and even my stutter came back. What I loved best about being on an SNRI was that it improved my speech and my gathering of thoughts, I wouldn’t stutter or stumble on words, I didn’t get this with the SSRI that much either, hence the addition of Stratera later on. Regardless of the consequences, Effexor did what i wanted it to do and it was hard saying goodbye. I felt that I was more alert, creative, social and much more talkative. The last year on Effexor I was given a mood stabilizer lamotrigine to curb the manic effect but it didn’t work much. I made the choice to say goodbye to Effexor 150mg in September of 2019 and then started Zoloft shortly after. The severe mania and the drinking went away along with it. Please note that the lamotrigine 200mg did not curb the mania at all. Today I am sitting here left very confused, empty and almost brain dead, free of all medication including my trazodone for sleep. I have very little will or drive or motivation of any kind. I am bitter, I cannot organize my thoughts, overly worried, and just plain old fearful. My social anxiety has come back in a big way and at 38 I feel like that scared little 23 year old that went into his doctors office telling him that he was nervous about starting his new job. I have a family doctor who’s knowledge on mental health is mediocre and I cannot seem to find a psychiatrist. Some wait lists are as long as 18 months here in Canada and when you do find one chances are that they are over worked, tired and plain old incompetent. I do not have an official diagnosis of whether I am bipolar or not but since off of antidepressants I have not experienced mania or hypomania so it’s safe to assume(or is it) that my mania is medication induced after all. I am a father of two young children. I no longer work. My job is to raise them to the best of my ability and that is why I cannot afford to take anything that will cause be to be manic. I do however hope that somewhere there is the right professional who will give me the right medication or therapy that will at least help me function like a human being. Yes I know that this is in response to someone else’s post so please forgive me for rambling on but I had nowhere else to do it. I hope that someone will reach out after reading this.
first off i want to thank everyone who posted this makes so much sense as to what ive been feeling since i started zoloft 50mg. its been two months since i started and at first i felt the side effects which lasted a week, then euphoria n loss of social anxiety which is great, also i can stop crying which gave me some control whereas before i would cry for hours and cant stop. but on the downside ive been crying to people i normally wouldnt open up too and would talk about me being depressed and trying to make them feel sorry for me. I also cannot seem to retain information like before and my memory is so bad. I already had cognitive issues from before due to me isolating myself because of my depression and anxiety but now i feel the stupidiest ive ever felt. overall this medication has helped me feeling somewhat good but very stupid and not living to my fullest protentional. Im going to try to ween off it and do psychedelics instead. screw this we only have one brain and i hate to be social but stupid..theres no point… wish my psychiatric was clear about the permanent brain damage this medication causes…anyways wish everyone healing and a life of content.. one love one life
This is a really interesting report, I first began SSRI’s during my first year of college, 2 years ago. I was quite an apathetic person, observant and reserved. i turned into quite a careless, mess in the way i didn’t really care about how i looked socially. i was able to do what i enjoyed very well, at an even better rate than before. my social life was much better and i felt more empathetic and caring of others. as my dose increased i felt as though i was cognitively slowing down, i just couldn’t articulate sentences or involve myself in any kind of interesting conversation. that is totally different to the person i was pre-ssris i felt incredibly stupid and i was known in my class for being dumb, ironically people were asking me to do their coursework because they didn’t understand but whatever (programming). its just the way i conveyed how i felt and thought;
in my first year i drank alcohol a lot with ssri’s and i didn’t really care, i thought that it was toxicity that was the danger in the mix of ssri’s and alcohol and not neurological effects like these so thank you for this.
I am now back on sertraline, and i am on my 3rd day of taking them. this is a great caution to me and i appreciate this well written article.
I started taking sertraline 10 days ago, so this was a very interesting read. It’s confusing that you say you took it sporadically as everything else I have read says it can take up to 6 weeks to work, though I definitely observed an instant cessation of mental chatter with the first pill.
I had taken no antidepressants or anti anxiety meds previously but would describe my mental state prior to taking these as almost the same as you describe yours to be after you had finished with them. Although I had crippling social anxiety on top.
I am wondering if you might need to address caffeine intake, or take the pills for long enough for them to work. Caffeine withdrawal is a huge deal when it comes to concentration and it can take up to 9 days to recover mentally from a higher than usual dose. It also greatly impacts anxiety both in usage and withdrawal.
Would love to know how you are doing now, years after writing this.
Lynds, I was thinking the same while reading this. Not to say his accounts aren’t true, but I have never heard of anyone taking an SSRI on an “as needed” basis, like you would some Benzos for anxiety attacks. Also, I’ve noticed when reading some reviews, the people who it doesn’t work for are typically people who have come across normal life stresses and start taking medication. The medication, I believe, is only intended for people with actual chemical imbalances not caused by a life event. Losing a loved one, or stress at work is not an imbalance in brain chemicals, it is a sadness that is normal. I’m like you, where I feel the way he did AFTER taking them.
Hello, how did you get on with the sertraline?
150mg daily for 4 years. I just thought I was “getting stupider”. What this person has described is exactly what I’ve experienced whilst on Sertraline. I never had issues like this whilst on fluoxetine or citalopram. My recall memory is horrendous and is the main symptom that I’m frustrated with. Others for me are loss of focus, inability to find words to use on queue, brain processing is shot. I’m scared to come off the meds and anxious that even if I do my symptoms will be with me forever. I wish I hadn’t bothered with meds and had just kept on keeping on.
Is there hope? Yes our brains seem permanently damaged, but where do we go from here? There MUST be a solution…
I wish I was optimistic like you, but there is more and more research to show SSRIs and other neuro-psychiatric drugs permanently damage the brain. It’s like having an arm cut off and expecting it to grow back.
Sorry for being pessimistic, but I’ve been in this rabbit hole for ~5 years after 8 years on escitalopram/Lexapro and a recent traumatic experience turned me into an adult that feels handicapped at the age fo 33. These medications shouldn’t exist and yet more and more people are getting it prescribed. This is like a terrible dream we can’t wake up from… but we can hope right?
hi , im 17 and i take sertraline … and my parents don’t believe im forgetting things . simple things like putting the milk in the fridge and not the pantry. they think im doing this for attention and it’s frustrating because i cant explain how easy it is to forget.
I was on Sertraline for 6 Weeks and I too have been left with no concentration and a lack of a conscious thought Process.
I can only describe it as becoming a “Zombie” and you cannot ruminate…there’s nothing there.
It’s a horrible situation to be in.
Hello, I’ve read your article on how sertraline causes memory loss/problems.
Is this something that can go back to normal after a period of time, or is it permanent?
Was on it for 2.5 months 5mg lexapro. I’m now 7 weeks off it and lexapro completely fried my brain and thinking abilities. I now feel like an emotionless zombie living in a haze. Pre lexapro i was always thinking of incredibly detailed and abstract ideas and did loved how i processed information. But that is completely gone and unless im forcing myself to have a some kind of thought i dont have any at all in my idle state. I can stare at a wall and just be completely blank. Its a nightmare.
“Psychological tests have shown that knowledge I had remains intact, because I can recognize and be prompted to bring out any particular fact with enough help, but unprompted I cannot achieve recollection.
My capacity to reason remains as before, which is why family didn’t initially notice too much difference in my conversation, but short term memory, useful for reasoning with, is not something available as before.”
This is what has happened to me, I do not know what I know until someone tell me that I know it. then . oh yeah
it takes me about a week to write up an essay that I would previously do in 3 hours.
things are familiar but I may not remember them.
(TL;DR). SSRIs have profoundly changed my personality, to the point where I feel I won´t be able to be who I used to be before. I´ve lost the skills to empathize with people around me, and I have no ambition in life. I will quit the medication and hope for the best.
Hello Mary, thank you for starting this conversation, you are incredibly brave. Also, thank you for allowing so many of us to share similar experiences. Do you have any updates that you would feel comfortable sharing after five years?
My story is not too dissimilar to what many others have described. I was prescribed an SSRI to treat clinical depression more than a year ago, and told by my psychiatrist that I could expect some secondary effects, which I did. They explained to me that in some people, SSRIs can produce muscle aches, migraines, and dizziness, but those would subside in a matter of days. I was never told that I would have such profound changes in personality as I have. Now I fear they might be irreparable.
Before starting the treatment, I was experiencing a feeling of deep sorrow and despair for the future and I was constantly avoiding social interaction. Despite being depressed, I used to be remarkable at remembering almost everything from my past as if I was watching at a photo album. I had the ability to retrieve information from diverse backgrounds to build strong arguments during a conversation, both in English and Spanish. I would write down papers with ease and on time. However, what I am most proud about is that I was that one empathetic friend to whom you confide secrets and ask for advice. You might already see where I´m heading.
I am an international graduate student at a large land grant university in the US. I excelled in my work for a couple of years, up to the point where I was in charge of coordinating large scientific projects, and I was fine with it. Last year, as if a switch was turned off, I fell into the deep abyss of clinical depression. I now understand that my condition reduced my productivity on research, so I was advised by my doctor to consult with a psychiatrist, let’s call them dr. G.
After a couple of visits, dr. G prescribed me escitalopram, an SSRI that is of common use in psychiatric practice nowadays. After a couple of weeks my mood improved, my social skills went up again, and I was looking at everyone straight in their eyes again. However, I noticed something was off with me. Even though I didn´t feel sad, I didn´t feel happy either. I entered what I now call the “undead hover”, or UDP for short. To be more detailed, I feel as if I am hovering through life. I don´t feel anxious about doing work, but I don´t feel stressed about not meeting deadlines either. I am unable to feel empathy for my friends or relate to my significant other. I have lost almost all ambition in life.
You might imagine that one of the most important skills for a Ph.D. student in science is being able to convey ideas in writing. I was good enough at this, but now the ideas come and go without order, I can´t focus enough to finish a paragraph, and I forget the line of thought very often. My supervisor suggested I should leave the program because I won´t be able to “deliver” on time.
Now, after reading your thoughts, dear Mary, I can relate to everything you described in your original message, and I don´t feel misunderstood. I hope things have gotten better for you. The next message will be to dr. G, so we can discuss a healthy way to get off the medication without falling to a new depressive episode.
After lots of Google searching I found this article – it mirrored my experience of taking an SSRI and the sequalae thereafter. It is very difficult to explain and obtain the understanding from others relating to the changes to function and personality I’m describing – and why would they understand? – before I’d experienced the effects they would have been abstract and unrelatable. So this is a cathartic exercise for me…sympathetic eyes.
Firstly think it’s important to acknowledge that SSRIs have undoubtably saved lives and have provided valuable management of various disorders for many. However the full mechanism, pathways and interactions of these drugs are still being characterised by research.
The below are my experiences and assumptions, none of which are definitive.
In 2013 I started to feel anxious and stressed, mainly relating to acting up in role at work, staff shortages combined with my twin sister being unwell also. I’d feel an anxious ball in my chest and could not relax. One evening while at home this anxiety was heightened and would not settle – was like being stuck in a constant frightened state; tried walking it off, but nothing. Was pacing around the house, mind running and just couldn’t calm myself. Never experienced anything like it before.
The next day went to my GP and explained how was feeling, was prescribed some beta blockers, given a leaflet on stress and a weeks sick leave.
That weekend I went to a friends for dinner – although felt anxious, once got in and had a drink, relaxed and enjoyed the evening as would have normally: recounted amusing stories, was interested in company and felt the warm glow of interaction/friendship when left (this is an important point to cite – as although was enduring a period of extended anxiety/stress, I still felt like ‘me’ and still responded to situations/stimulus as always had).
However for the duration of a couple of weeks still continued to feel very anxious, so made the decision to see a consultant at a well know UK private provider of mental health services.
At my first appointment completed a series of psychological tests/indexes. These confirmed the extent of anxiety, but these did not show any significant depression – which was no surprise as did not feel depressed and had never experienced depression. I was, however, desperate to feel relief from my anxiety.
The consultant prescribed me Sertraline and a course of CBT.
My Sertraline Experience:
The first weekend of taking Sertraline was strange – I felt very odd, still anxious, but also empty and withdrawn (this came on about 24 hours into taking the drug). I couldn’t swallow very easily and had absolutely no appetite. Over the next couple of weeks I lost about 2 stone and continued to feel ‘out of sorts’….I put this down to the anxiety as thought was just getting worse/running its course.
Slowly over the next few weeks my anxiety did lift and after 3 weeks I was back at work.
I was aware of feeling emotional detached from people and also from activities: there was the absence of feeling good, of being able to enjoy and the reward of doing something – was like no endorphins being released at all. Also my memory was foggy and found it difficult to recall. Researched online and read that feeling ‘flat’ was a common side effect of SSRIs.
Notably when went to a friends for dinner one evening I had a glass of wine, and was really aware of the absence of the warming, relaxing and euphoric sensation it would normally provide – was like having a glass of water; no effect. Felt detached from the group.
Where am I now?
I have now been off Sertraline for over 6 years (took it for about 9 months). While my acute anxiety receded, it would appear that my previous pre Sertraline self has not returned – in as much as I find it difficult to feel the warmth of social interaction, activities (tv programmes, films, socialising, going out to clubs/bars) that would have got me excited and held my attention, no longer do. I find it difficult to feel emotion. Whereas I would once recount stories, be ‘witty’ and want to stay in the company of others (engaged), I now don’t have the drive to do that, and get tired from interaction.
My cognition is not what it was, I find it difficulty to think dynamically – once I would be thinking ahead for new questions or analysing what someone has said in conversation – now it is very 2D, my brain gets stuck and forgets words. All very frustrating.
I’ve reflected on the chain of causation: timings of events, changes and how they relate to taking Sertraline. Although can never be definitive, am sure that had I not taken the drug I would not be experiencing this anhedonia. The difficulty here is the length of time from taking the drug, eg why did the feelings etc did not return after discontinuing the drug…why they endure and through what mechanism. My assumption is that it somehow unregulated/downregulated/changed neurological pathways, and has had permanent repercussions.
I ruminate on how I can return to feeling excitement, joy and connection like my pre sertraline self. When reviewing articles online relating to ‘anhedonia’ (which is the term I’m using to describe my symptoms) the connection is with major depressive disorder and SSRI is the mainstay treatment.
My difficulty is, in my experience, the SSRI caused the depression/anhedonia (akin to a Sertraline induced anhedonia) and therefore why would I wish to potentially have treatment with an SSRI again – particularly with the notorious emotionally flattening effects.
Very much view my life through the lens of pre and post Sertraline.
This leaves me stuck with options, I really don’t know what to do next. I’ve seen emerging use of Ketamine infusions, this is normally for SSRI refractory depression.
I swing between trying to research pharmacological options and accepting that I’ve experienced something similar to a brain injury and need to navigate how to live with this.
Any advice or perspectives would be greatly appreciated.
i’m really glad this page exists; these side affects are never mentioned during the initial prescription, and are likewise absent from any documentation i’ve been able to find thus far.
i had a very similar experience to you, though fortunately cessation seemed to clear things up for me. to be honest, i didn’t realize how much it had changed me until i stopped.
historically i’ve always been a very curious & studious person; i’m a self taught musician & engineer, and it is my life’s unending dream to make & sell my own synthesizers someday. i mention this only because of how utterly integral it is to who i am as a person – before starting sertraline, i would wake up every day, furiously excited about what i was going to learn that day, or to try new ideas out when i returned home from work. some weeknights i would be so infatuated, i would stay awake until 3am or later, studying mathematics or working on circuit design, with no regard for how tired i’d be the next day. the fire in my heart kept me going, and i took solace in that, for i knew (or felt) that no matter what, it would always be there to push me forward.
initially the affects seemed to be positive – i suffer from OCD pretty intensely, and the first few weeks of zoloft cleared things up almost instantly, while initially leaving that fire intact. it felt impossible – could i really be free from that constant suffering, while still retaining the capacity to embrace the wonder and passion that i felt in all my pursuits?
unfortunately, that answer came on its own accord, though i didn’t even notice it at first. i figured i had just entered a rut, so to speak, but that rut grew in time. and as it did, i became – for lack of a better expression – “normal”. i was content to go to work, come home, and do whatever until the next day to do it again. i tried to get back into my passions, but whatever had driven me before just wasn’t there, and it felt like labor without joy. it seemed like i had lost it, the spark inside of me that made me who i was. i thought this was just me. i thought my passion was genuinely transient. and it was honestly kind of traumatic. to feel utterly certain of yourself one month, only to find yourself a depressed husk of that being a few months later – inverse progress. i was terrified that this was my new life. something had changed, and all i knew before was just a fluke.
as you can imagine, this accentuated my imposter syndrome quite a bit, and depressed me even more; i don’t know how i got through it to be honest. not only did it dampen my passion, but it seemed almost to have removed my ability to feel, in a general sense. a pervasive flatness in all respects, no real sadness, no real joy. just empty dissociated misery all around.
i stopped taking my dose abruptly about 2 months ago now. best decision i’ve ever made in my life, period.
within days i felt that energy returning. it scared me at first, because it had been so long – was it another fluke? i didn’t know. but i went with it. and i found the love again, the passion, the curiosity, the ceaseless drive to explore. it was still there – love for my friends, family, and little moments of serenity and peace. the rain falling on my skin, the bite of a cold wind from my window, the feeling of being alive & loving it simply for that – no anxiety, no flatness, no fear. just feeling ^^
i was only on it for less than a year, and i am grateful that it was not longer. i’m not really sure what could have happened then. but i wanted to write this to share a bit of encouragement – i see a lot of these stories ending negatively, with the effects lingering long after cessation of use. obviously the path unfolds differently for each of us, but i wanted to let you all know that not all is necessarily lost, even if it feels that way for a time. SSRI’s got nothing on you ~
It is truly saddening and frightening to see so many other people going through the struggles of post-SSRI usage, and the fact there are probably millions more consuming these drugs not knowing what will happen to them once they get off this drug.
I took escitalopram/Lexapro for 8+ years since I was 21. Now that I’m 33 and being almost 5 years off it, I feel as though I have lost my true identity. Whereas what I feel now is like a false image of who I am and how people perceive me. I don’t feel me, I don’t remember me, I assume this can be categorized as depersonalization. Albeit I had anxiety before starting this SSRI, it was managable and I did not feel crippled by it; whereas now, it’s debilitating and makes it hard to not get overwhelmed by daily stress of interactions of the workplace. My cognitive abilities from multiple facets are shot, and I also experienced what many people above mentioned such as unable to think like the pre-medicated version of themselves. I miss the ambitious and intelligent man I once was, and would gladly take my original issues a million times over then to be who I’ve become today.
Hopefully one day, people will remember us as warriors who had to battle this hidden devastating war. Hopefully one day, the world will know the extent of the evilness of these pharmaceutical companies. Maybe one day, we will find a cure. But at this point… will we be even be able to trust any cure?
I wish us all the best through all this.
Which one is better for cognitive functions, Sertraline (SSRI) or Venlafaxine (SNRI)? Venlafaxine known better but SNRI can cause LTP impairment in hippocampus.
Neither are good for cognitive function
The original writer and many after are describing my experience taking 20 mg of Lexapro the last 9 years. Ive never been able to articulate what it feels like to anyone or really about anything in general to people. I barely empathize or have feelings, I never cry or feel excited. I’m just existing like I’ve lost my soul, my brain is empty. By the time I figured out I couldn’t emphasize with anyone anymore I was seriously researching if I was a sociopath, how to find my soul, or if I have early onset dementia. It’s sickening to me that I thought the drug was Heaven sent when first prescribed because I’d have rather felt numbness than how I felt before. Now I’d give anything for those feelings at least I felt like a person. I always had so many emotions and so many important feelings for others. I’ve been alone with this for a long time now until I found this page. Little of a relief to know I’m not crazy. I’ve tried to stop taking meds a few times before but I get so sick with brain zaps every few seconds, a tick sound and go basically incoherent. Does anyone have any tips for coming off of lexapro? Also does anybody here dream or remember them? It bothers me I can’t seem have them.I think I use to before the meds but I don’t know. I also recently found out that some people actually can see literal images of what they are thinking in their mind and I can’t. I know what something looks like to describe it but can’t actually see it. I’ve been wondering if I had that ability before and just don’t remember it. Those could obviously be unrelated but curious to know if they do.
I experienced many of the same memory issues and recently started taking citicholine and it has been helping with memory. It is the precursor to acetylcholine- a neurotransmitter: “ As summarized in Figure 1, acetylcholine may enhance the encoding of memory by enhancing the influence of feedforward afferent input to the cortex, making cortical circuits respond to features of sensory stimuli, while decreasing excitatory feedback activity mediating retrieval.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2659740/#S3title I hope this information is helpful.
I started Celexa (citalopram) 7 months ago, due to the passing of 2 close family members, living on my own during a pandemic, on top of pre existing social anxiety with bouts of depression. Regarding my pre-medicated self, I’ve always lacked motivation, my memory wasn’t that great (probably due to trauma) lacked confidence, felt stupid compared to others, and always felt like the “odd man out” in society. I knew abuse and pain since I was in the womb (currently 26 years old). My mom was abused verbally when I was in the womb, when I was born she was physically abused, and ever since I have been in situations that caused me to think differently to survive. And since the recent events (stated in the beginning) that was my tipping point to try a new approach to coping.
First week on citalopram felt a difference. I work at a call center and my hands do not profusely sweat during calls. I can make eye contact and I feel like I can keep up with society without being crippled by fear. I still cry, I still have a high sex drive, and feel emotions, but I do find that my memory isn’t as great, and to an extent I do not care about people’s reactions anymore like I used to. But for me and my lifestyle it works. It gets me through my day because pre-medicated me, I was exhausted by the end of my day. Now, I can leave work and go to the gym and I don’t feel completely spent.
Trauma and abuse has changed the way my brain works. I feel like my flight-or-fight mode has never been turned off. The need to survive was introduced since I was in the womb and for the last 26 years as well. For me, I’m not too worried about being more forgetful and feeling emotions less intensely. Because my human experiences (not all) caused me to live in crippling fear. And my emotions were out of control. Pre-medicated self, maybe there was predisposition to memory loss and depersonalization. As trauma and depression over time can lead to this as well. Maybe it is the SSRI that will cause this. But I don’t know this for sure. I won’t ever know the definite answer. But it helps me, and this thread help shed light on what doctors don’t tell you about SSRIs (memory loss, depersonalization, loss of self). But it’s the risk I personally am willing to take because I still want to survive in this world. I still want to feel like I’m alive even if it’s missing some emotion and memory. To me that is still living, compared to feeling like I’m just barely surviving. Best wishes to all.
Thank you for your report and honesty. I was looking for answers on Sertraline and brain fog and came across your article. I really needed to read this. Your experience is what I am currently experiencing.
I hope that you’re doing well. Thank you again for sharing. You have helped a lot of people.
I have been on Sertraline for a number of years for depression and anxiety. I’ve had some stressful life events so my dose has fluctuated, but now I am on the maximum dose and they don’t,t seem to be working.
I was referred to a psychiatrist as my GP didn’t want to change them, but the shrink doesn’t want to either! I think I have been on them so long, they have stopped working as well. Previous to this episode I had been well for nearly a year and was coming off them but I had insomnia, anger and probably hypomania.
The psychiatrist prescribed lithium as well but I felt tired and bloated so she changed it to queritine but I had fatigue, aching legs and a sudden jolt in one of my legs so have stopped them also. I just wish she would try me on another anti depressants.
As for memory issues I put this down to anxiety from going over stuff in my mind.
Have any of you tried another anti depressant?
So what I’m getting from this post is that there truly is NO HOPE for regaining our old thinking skills and becoming intelligent again? Like not one person has been through this stage of becoming/feeling dumber and has come out of it as good as a person as they were pre medication? Please if anyone has a true success story or solution to this problem reply to this post no matter how long the process has taken.
The problem you have/had is cognitive impairement from ssri withdrawal. It is a common symptom. Advise you to visit the site survivingantidepressants.com.
You will eventually heal. It can however take some time. How is your situation now?
My situation at the moment is just a feeling of not knowing or having anything to say at times where I know I normally would have the knowledge to say words and complete sentences amid pre medication. Like even when I write this it is taking a lot longer to find the words to explain my situation and condition because I feel like my thinking skills and vocabulary has diminished. I started taking an SSRI called risperdone in January and started to notice the side effects of loss of cognitive functions/intelligence near mid April. Since then I have been in contact with my health specialist and we have decided to dwindle off of the medicine ever so slightly and not just cold turkey for obvious reasons. Long story short I have been off of the medicine for about a month and a half and still am noticing slowness of my brain functions. I don’t know at this point if it is all in my head though and I am just thinking that my intelligence has taken a hit due to the pills, or if I’m perfectly fine and the same but just feel as if I am different because I am constantly telling myself that making me believe it even more. All in all I just would say that I used to be a very smart individual who didn’t have to think so hard about my next sentence in a conversation or my train of thought or even listening in general and now I feel I struggle a lot more with those things. Another thing to add is that I was also taking another manic depression medication at the same time called carbamazepine which I have been free from for about 3 weeks. My doctor told me that it would take some time for the pills effects to wear off and I have accepted that but I still am skeptical of when I am going to be back to normal. Because I feel like this whole situation is affecting my life greatly, I am trying my hardest to be myself but I still struggle with holding conversations, starting them, listening and keeping up with convos, etc. this charade has gone on for months now and it just stinks and I was looking into some nootropics to see if I could get some relief quicker and more concrete. I know that these can contain side effects and I will look into them but I seriously just feel like if there’s something out there that can get me to feeling good about myself again then I can deal with the side effects no matter what they are because I just can’t see myself feeling worse than I do now. I just hope to get better soon and I am Open to any recommendations and words of wisdom, thanks!
Im so relieved other people experience this. I have it horrible.
The situation is almost identical to what my family member is going through, can relate to nearly everything. What’s shocking is that to get a prescription for Sertraline we didn’t even need to see a doctor – all done via NHS online form followed by a short call from the doctor approving it and later increasing the dose based on 0 data. Cannot believe such potentially dangerous drug being handed out so freely.
I too am on Sertraline and have a terrible memory/recall I have recently reduced dose from 100mg to 50mg and hope to see an improvement Has anyone come if them and improved cognitively ?
I am a 27 y/o male. I struggled with a serious bout of body dysmorphia in 2018 that led me to believe I had gynecomastia. This then led me to book 6 appointments with 6 different plastic surgeons around the country. I cancelled all of them and received a full refund each time. The last appointment I made was for December 26th and that was when my parents decided that I should go to our primary care doctor for my “depression” … I wasn’t depressed, I just had a medical condition – or thought I had – that I was trying to decide on whether or not to have fixed. When I went to my GP, he said there’d be minimal side effects like erectile dysfunction and others.
Fast forward 4 months after starting 25-50mg and I get punched at a bar (very lightly). There was a point where I was taking 50mg, but I went back down to 25mg because I told my doctor that I didn’t feel right. When I was punched, my jaw broke. I later read that SSRI’s can cause a decrease in bone density, so there’s that.
Anyways, I stopped after about 8-months of treatment, then I wrecked my car. I remember calling my mom telling her I didn’t want to live anymore. I still feel that way and am seriously contemplating suicide here. I am more or less afraid of the pain, but I am worried that I will ruin my family, and especially my siblings (I am the oldest of 4). But then why God, why did you let me do this? I guess I have no one else to blame but myself. I guess this is all just a part of my life, but it doesn’t have to be. I can end it if I want to, sure, but is that the right move? Well, God, I could ask you the same thing. What would you do if you were in my shoes? Also, I don’t even think I believe in you anymore like I once did. You have completely forsaken me, or at least enabled me to think this way. I have never been this low before and yet you stay silent.
please don’t hurt yourself. if you feel that way, see someone and speak to someone. you need a support network. you’re definitely depressed, your parents are correct. even if you have another medical condition, that won’t change that. don’t worry about your parents or siblings, worry about yourself. You are not responsible for them. you need to focus on yourself. you’re also very, very young. you might not see that but you are. i felt old at 27 and i regret it. I had no sense of perspective. I’m in my 40s now. nothing is fatal, things can be improved if not reversed. You seem to be in fatality mode – catastrophising everything. It’s not that serious.
don’t worry about God but if you think he helps, go to church and meditate. Otherwise, I recommend Buddhism.
I hope you’re well. please take care of yourself.x
I’m too a changed person after taking Sertraline at 100mg for 4 months. I started on it for panic attacks at the beginning of COVID quarantine in October 2020. I had a very successful salon and was a highly capable business person prior. According to doctors I had always had OCD tendencies, but they had mostly benefited my business mind. Sertaline did take away the panic attacks, but it instantly took away my OCD tendencies too! Good ones like my list making and intense organizing rituals. I realized I was in trouble when I started a new temp job that should have been a no brainer and I couldn’t do it- any of it. It was so embarrassing when I had to quit! I thought I’d return to my old self – super organized, ambitious, career focused and able to handle a huge workload with very good skills. I can barely take care of my basic household functions now. It’s been 2 years since I stopped taking it and I still feel like my brain in broken. I’m so glad to have come across this post and everyone’s stories. I can’t work now, I can’t find a job or focus enough to start a new business. 8 years of university and I’m not sure I could hold down a cashier job. Is there a class action lawsuit or something? It’s taken my life away. Thank you for sharing your stories!
Not to be “that guy” but, well known top 2 rules of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety meds.
#1. DO NOT MIX WITH ALCOHOL
#2. It needs to be taken consistently, and if you want to stop taking it you must step down gradually (suddenly stopping can be disastrous in some instances).
You can’t just take it willy nilly when you feel down, it isn’t Xanax, yes it leaves your system in 24 hours, but it takes up to two weeks for your system to even notice you’ve started taking it.
You are lucky it was a low dose, you could have caused yourself more harm.
Also, find better doctors or be honest with us, things don’t add up at all.
However if all you say is true I do not believe Sertraline is your problem, I think you have some other things going on. I’m not a doctor, just a fellow zane brain.
On the sunny side, have you ever tried embracing who you are without medication or doctors telling you how to think? As someone who can 100% relate to your story with the anxiety and social stuff and highly analytical non-stop brain, embrace it. What I have come to realize is it’s like a super power, that dull thoughtless feeling you get on sertraline…..thats how the general public go about life….is that who you really want to be? Nah, you were given mental tools as gifts, learn to use them, focus them, and they will serve you well. If you don’t control them well you have the problems you are having, which I also had. For me the control came with age and experience, and simply paying attention to who I am and not who I think I am supposed to be. Yes I have anxiety, no I’m not very social. But the anxiety keeps me motivated and my mind sharp and fast, and I’m an introvert I could not care less if I’m alone for any amount of time really. I take my vacations alone in the mountains in Maine for a week. I’m guessing that your difficult youth included someone who told you how to think or told you you were wrong etc.. etc.. those people, are the idiots who only do so to keep more people at their level. Popularity, likeability, personability. These are terms used for making money by pretty much every industry, they are also terms society says we should aspire toward having ourselves. None of those terms have anything to do with progress, evolution, problem solving, technology, advancement of society and the human race as a whole. Political correctness?? a huge waste of time deemed necessary by people who forgot we are adults. Use that beautiful brain of your to your advantage and rule this zombie apocalypse, well, keep it local, I’ll cover my area.. KEEP IT REAL>
I don’t want to be that moderator but…. Some of the comments later on are good but the initial ones aren’t. SSRIs can cause alcoholism – so the idea of don’t mix with alcohol doesn’t compute. Some people end up with no choice while they are on the pills. What you also aren’t told is why you shouldn’t mix with alcohol – because the combined disinhibition can lead to crimes of various sorts. Without being told why – its not clear that this is advice to take seriously.
Second – the SSRIs work instantly. Your body notices them within minutes. Your sex life is changed in 30 minutes.
Re stopping – the problem here is dependence which is something we don’t understand. Lots of people simply can’t stop no matter which way they try.
As soon as you said you took it when you were young I knew where this was going because of how many other people on SA and Reddit have had months or even years in between anti-depressants and then had an adverse reaction when they try one again. Your Dr who recommended an antidepressant BID needs to be out of business!
One likely explanation / theory for what you experienced is a form of kindling & your brain is now sensitized to many psych meds or mind altering substances. Potentially altering gene expression, some people think gut, others believe it’s permanent or semipermanent down regulation of receptors, nervous system dysfunction or inflammation. So I’d steer clear of supplements or drugs that modulate neurotransmitters too much. But that’s just my opinion from reading all the failed drug anecdotes from others who are worse off or temporarily better then even worse again.
Your problem with activating substances is also common – like Ginko or caffeine are also not well tolerated and can cause anxiety and a bigger come down later that day, rather than the way it works on non-kindled brains.
Some people use Adderal or Ritalin with at least short term improvement anyway but use at your own risk. The short term advantages cause dependence and deficits longer term for many & those withdrawals are no joke & have caused the same symptoms in others.
I have the same cognitive issues and have been told by a neurologist that it’s called “pseudo dementia” and blamed it on depression rather than going on and off Prozac (and about 20 other meds over 25 years) of course. However I don’t actually feel depressed per se, I know what that’s like, I’m just more blank & dull like you describe with very little ability to think critically with some emotional dysregulation difficulties I compensate for. Oddly I don’t have the depression or anxiety I was using them for originally or even during use. I have to compensate by counting on my fingers or writing things out, I can’t do math in my head anymore, it’s like my brain won’t form working memories. However I also had severe withdrawal for about 8 months and fibromyalgia-like pain and tendon issues in addition. But those are slowly improving a bit over a year and a half. My first major withdrawal experience (Cymbalta) prior to this in 2017 took about 2.5 years to heal from despite using low dose Prozac. Prozac also didn’t improve the memory issues in 2017 only time did. Now the more recent withdrawal is the Prozac.
Anyhow, I wanted to add it’s potentially not permanent. Sure some stuff might be & you will probably never be the same (I won’t) but many including myself have a snails pace improvement every 6 months or so in some aspect or another. Other people have improved slowly over years as well.
Maybe it sounds glib but I lost everything I thought was valuable in society and I’ve found acceptance very helpful. I didn’t expect to be dealt this hand but when I started to focus more on everything I still have and can do (albeit very simple) I actually enjoy many days or at least have hours of feeling content. I like walking outside, petting my dog, eating good meals, talking to family, meditating, helping others harmed by drugs, listening to audiobooks (I’ll never remember most of). Don’t get me wrong I have chronic pain and a lot of difficulties but I’ve adapted so I’m not miserable anymore.
I’d recommend the book/audiobook Why Buddhism is True – it talks about secular (non religious) Buddhist ideas that can help overall outlook on dealing with identity & accepting change. Also cognitively, meditation has also helped me gain some focus back. You don’t need to be spiritual to use sny of those things. Also forcing myself to read & do things I don’t want has brought further small improvements.
Glad your story is out there, thanks!
I am really glad to have come across this post. I have a story of permanent brain damage from these drugs. It happened in 2001 when after taking Prozac for a year, I felt I had lost a whole lot of my personality, my ability to think and feel. I became a shell of who I was before. I was in a Ph.D program and I had to drop out. I cannot work now because I just lack the ability to socialize. Even in my family, people comment on my huge personality change and how quiet I have become.
Regarding initial post…..SAME problem!!!!!! I am so lost and have severely declined in my mid level healthcare position. Life is now horrible! Relationships are hurting!! I’d love to know how to reverse the changes!!!
Oh my goodness I feel bad for saying this, but thank god, I’m not alone. The bit about being indiscreet too. I feel really mortified at some of the things I’ve just blurted out at the most inopportune moments! It’s like I have no filter between something in my head to just announcing something out of my mouth.
I lost the ability to sculpt or have any creative thought whatsoever! Therefore no income.
I had complete dissociation for a good ten years and it’s only just started coming back….very slowly. I felt nothing, unless I was crying, I didn’t laugh for years and I do love a good laugh.
My neurologist told me that some people never get back what they had previously.
These drugs are dangerous. You really fall down a psychological rabbit hole.
I came across your post while searching for the reasons for my recent memory loss and other complications. I am 57 and a lifelong heavy drinker, so we have blamed that. I have been taking Zoloft/Sertraline for several years, and it has worked well to quell my extreme emotions like sadness, crying at emotional shows and angry outbursts. I am retired and actually very happy and enjoying a good life. My problem is taking a lot of extra motions to get things done because I forget steps along the way. I forget what I went to the garage for and return without it. The most frustrating part is that many times a day, I open the wrong drawer, refrigerator drawer , stove, etc… I thought it was just a bad coincidence at first, but as it has gotten worse, it is almost compulsive to open the drawer next to what I need. I did stop the Sertraline for a couple weeks, but quickly returned to crying during movies, stories, etc.. I did however notice that my memory and OCD issues got better without it. I am now looking for an alternative. I hope this helps someone.
I experience this *precisely*, but seem to return to normal once I stop taking the pills.
The quieting of the mind after 15 minutes after the first pill is predictable and incredible. I swear I can feel a gentle warming of the brain as serotonin floods in for what seems to be the first time in ages.
The rumination goes away just like that. But with the rumination also goes part of my intellect, and critically the part of me that is motivated to think deeply about issues and change my life circumstances.
I also have aphantasia, so no “mind’s eye”. When reading OP’s post I couldn’t help but wonder if he too has aphantasia, as there’s no mention of visual memory anywhere – just not being able to recall facts.
I wonder if this chatter we both experience could be a channel of mental focus in the absence of a mind’s eye. And so the quieting of the chattering becomes detrimental to memory and work performance, and quite possibly the brain itself.
Interesting article. Rumination cessation has been a godsend for me personally. As it enabled me to tune out negative thoughts, that not only lead to depression but violence as well due to past trauma, and possibly a genetic inclination [( my father would throw hands with his family and strangers weekly before my mom left him, and strangers only, presumably, (as he started a new family after) until he was murdered after she left him].
I have a lot on my plate, father (im 29) of 3, renter, with an ailing wife who is physically disabled due to auto immune disorders and severe full body rheumatoid arthritis (she’s 26). And so I quickly became a resentful angry depressed person.
However Sertaline, I recently started self medicating at 50mg every other day, this is day 4. Stress and anxieties and hopelessness and anger have all but melted away leaving behind the true generous altruistic heart I always knew was core to my soul.
Loss of memory, loss of motivation.
Due to my previous self medication with nootropics and research thereof I realized the brain does a dance with the various neurotransmitters including seretonin, epinephrine, dopamine, and acetylcholine. Basically when one of these decreases the others increase. When one increases the others decrease.
It is primarily acetylcholine that is the workhorse of the human intellect. It also plays a huge role in motor movements. And, barring any accidental serotonin syndrome permanent damage, incorporating acetylcholine boosting medication could alleviate some of the intelligence problems associated with increasing other neurotransmitters in the brain. Nicotine for example, which I’m sadly addicted to, seems to perk my intelligence up during these last 4 days much more so than usual. It binds to and activates acetylcholine receptors in the brain and increases acetylcholine, and dopamine. Years ago there were easily available (in the US) racetam research chemicals which were a reconstructed form of gaba which greatly increased and activated acetylcholine production and activity. They have since been scheduled probably due to many incidents of people misusing and abusing these chemicals, causing self harm, but there are other options still available as supplements or research chemicals for those wanting to gain some mental acuity.
In Conclusion SSRIs are very powerful medications, with side effects and are obviously over prescribed. They have to be weighed pros and cons just like everything else. But if you are doing fine and are just bored and a little sad, while your doctor would be quickly ready to write a script for them at the mention of the word sad or anxious it might not be the best option for you.
I sincerely hope this finds who it needs to, SSRIs should be the last line of defense, not the first option in obtaining happiness.
Your wife’s situation sounds similar to Mikhaila Peterson’s. You might find her recovery story useful
Have you heard of/tried the Lion diet? I haven’t personally (yet) but Jordan Peterson and his daughter have an amazing story of recovering from damage caused by SSRIs. His daughter has a website dedicated to it
I only took this tablet twice and I am still feeling the effects, 2 years later. These include:
– Disconnection from self (my senses feel non existant). I am still rebuilding myself. It’s like I am teaching myself how to be human again.
– Rash (didn’t realise it was connected)
– Motormouth (I’m interrupting people a lot)
– This one is going to sound nuts and there is no evidence for this but basically, ADHD. I did not have this before. I did have very mild symptoms but after taking this then coming off it, it has amplified. I cannot do anything.
I just don’t quite know what has happened to me. It could also be the effects of lockdown, it’s hard to say but I didn’t really think how much of an effect this tablet might have had on me. I’ve gone from feeling everything intensely to not feeling much at all. Don’t get me wrong, I badly needed to take it – I couldn’t calm myself down but I didn’t want this. It’s like being an alien.
——————– INTRODUCTION ——————
I have been taking Zolotrin (it contains the same substance as Zoloft) since December 2019, i.e. for almost 3,5 years. I am now reducing the dosage on my own (my psychiatrist is unprofessional and has lost control over his schedule since 1,5 years ago, resulting in him being unavailable, until I decided to take matters in my own hands). I have experienced some unpleasant side effects that held me back. Of course, there had been other changes in my life apart from the pill; COVID19 and the transition to actual adulthood.
——————– HOW I STARTED WITH ZOLOTRIN ——————
At the time I had started it, I was experiencing intense panic attacks due to overthinking and focusing on worst-case scenarios.
I had been to psychotherapy, but I was not satisfied with the results, and after having 1-2 severe panic attacks (to the point that I was restless 24/7), I decided to visit a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist immediately prescribed 50mg of Zolotrin and 2 months later transitioned to 100mg.
——————– RESULTS OF THE MEDICATION ——————
Immediate Results: During the first 3-6 months I was experiencing relief from the stressful reactions. Of course, I was coupling the drug with psychotherapy and personal development. The only side-effects that I can think of where: a bit of weight gain and stomach-aches.
Mid-term results: After about 6 months I started noticing that my sexual drive was beginning to drop. It posed a problem in my relationship with my girlfriend since I did not seem to have any drive toward her (or even any other woman on the planet). That was a bit frightening for me.
Long-term results: the sex drive had decreased even more (after 1-1,5 years). At this point, a new side-effect had appeared: “flatness” in my feelings; I could not feel much joy or sadness/stress. Even though I was, for the most part, stress-free, I did not like myself at that point. I believe that pain and sadness is a part of life that should not be removed; feeling our feelings is important for our growth.
——————– DECISION TO STOP ——————
I was trying to bring this to the attention of my psychiatrist, but he had lost control over his schedule and became very unprofessional (over-worked with too many patients now completely flipping-off during COVID, at which point I guess that I was not a severe patient for him), in that he was not responding to my concerns. He was even telling me that “Zolotrin is not known to induce sexual problems, only with rare exceptions”.
——————– MY EXPERIENCE WITH REDUCING THE DOSAGE —————–
However, at some point (about 5 months ago) I had enough of that drug and decided to stop it on my own. I am reducing it by 25mg/2-months, which I consider safe enough. I am already experiencing an increase in my sexual appetite and my emotional responsiveness, both good and bad, and I feel very relieved about it.
I am now about to reduce it to the final 25mg (have been taking 50mg for 2 months now) and I am curious to see what the results are going to be.
——————– THE VERDICT ——————
— Permanent damage:
I cannot say that my memory has worsened. I’d argue that it has gotten slightly better, but at the same time I have been building good habits for note-taking and concentration, therefore it’d be possible that this would counteract any slight decrease in my memorization capacity.
I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there is still some way to go. I will come back to this comment and edit it in about 6 months 😉 But before I started reducing it, the difference had been quite stark
—- Energy levels
In general I have been complaining about my energy levels since more than 5 years. For most of my life, I had been an overachiever and at some point, I noticed a drop in my energy. It is, however, difficult to say whether the drug had anything to do with it. I’d say that after reducing it to half its quantity that I feel a bit more energetic, but it could be a result of the elevated emotional responses I have. I was quite lethargic when on 100mg.
—- Cognitive ability
Here’s where I am scared. I have been feeling less creative since I started the drug. I do not feel less smart; if I try to think about any concept/argument/problem, I am confident that I’d be able to find a solution in a similar fashion to how I used to (with the difference stemming mostly from added experience). However, I am less driven to sit down and find a solution to a problem. You could argue that I am less “hungry” and approach some matters slower than how I used to. But again, this is a complex problem. I used to find fast solutions to problems when there was time pressure, but now that I am less stressed, maybe that edge has been suppressed (stress is not without its benefits I guess). I haven’t discovered myself that much to be able to give a clear verdict.
—————- PERSONAL GROWTH ——————–
— Around the time I started my medication
——– Working with my psychiatrist
During the time I started my medication, I had an excellent collaboration with my psychiatrist. He helped me identify and reduce the pain from “what-if” and “worst-case scenario” thoughts, focus on simpler things than excellent academic performance and finding the perfect career and sharpened my critical thinking when it came to identifying my own problems. Too bad COVID-19 revealed how much of an unprofessional f*** he was.
——— Reading books
Choosing some FACTUAL self-help books gave me perspective and prompted me to experiment with some methods/habits. The ones that helped me the most were:
– “The Organized Mind” (believe it or not)
– “Thinking, Fast and Slow”
– “Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets out of Control”
Writing down our thoughts and encounters helped me create better self-awareness, but also a control of my own thoughts. As a person, I tend to think a bit too fast; not in a sciency, genius-like way, but more like a panicky, fight-or-flight mode. Journaling helped me: 1. slow down (in a purely literal sense), 2. challenge my own thoughts (I would try to think of the opposite argument) and 3. categorize my thoughts (what thoughts were Biases, which ones were trauma-related and so on).
———- Finding a sport I liked (crucial for knowledge-workers)
Even though for most of my life I exercised, I had never been a fan of it. I would go running, do push-ups, sometimes go to the gym, play basketball, but I’d always try to fill myself with motivation before that (like listening to uplifting music, telling myself “no pain, no gain” and the like). After the 2nd quarantine, I had to find safe ways to get out of the house and decided to take up tennis. My life turned for the better after this; I am now playing 4-5 in a week and I never have to motivate myself to go there, because I am fascinated by the sport, its kinetic intuitions, the intensity and hypefocus you need to apply in order to play. What is more, I can still allow myself to eat things I want, since the frequency of my practice allows it.
—————– CONCLUSION —————-
All in all, the takeaway message is that, yes, I did feel better now that I have reduced my dosage from 100mg to 50mg. There are some clear differences I can notice (see previous section). However, life is complicated. Long-term effects are difficult to identify because, to my opinion, life factors, such as circumstance (in my case COVID and job dissatisfaction), personal growth/decay.