Indicators of Antidepressant Withdrawal
Indicators of Antidepressant Withdrawal are the symptoms that occur during the process of withdrawing from antidepressants. Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are the drug-induced withdrawal phenomena which occur as a result of reducing the dosage, or stopping antidepressants altogether. Antidepressant Addiction occurs when dosage is resumed in order to remove the symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal.
Most people expect that the side effects of using any drug will disappear when they stop taking that drug. However, antidepressants have the paradoxical property that some of their most debilitating withdrawal symptoms mimic many of the conditions for which they are often prescribed.
For example, someone may have been originally prescribed antidepressants for mild anxiety, yet when they attempt to stop taking the antidepressant they experience a debilitating spectrum of much more serious physical and emotional problems.
Tolerance to Antidepressants
Increased tolerance is associated with all addictions. For drugs, increased drug tolerance is a natural biological response to the ongoing presence of the drug in the body.
When taking antidepressants the body senses antidepressants as causing imbalance. It naturally adjusts its metabolism to restore normal balance. SSRI antidepressants grab hold of the "serotonin level lever" and heave it to increase serotonin levels. Detecting the increased serotonin levels the body naturally responds to this disturbance by pulling the level against the pull of the drugs, hauling on the "serotonin level lever" to bring it back in the other direction. Over a period of months the body naturally develops what is know as "tolerance" for antidepressant drugs, with a balance being caused by the antidepressant drugs being balanced by the body's natural metabolism balancing activities. The body stops trying to produce serotonin naturally because it detects a vast supply of it present from elsewhere.
When naturally produced by the body serotonin is the end product of a complex chemical reaction involving a wide range of nutrients, for want of a better word. When the body senses that it doesn't need to produce serotonin it also finds itself with an excess of the nutrients which it previously needed to produce serotonin. The body becomes proficient at discarding more and more of these now unneeded nutrients as the active ingredients of antidepressant drugs accumulate in the body. Antidepressant drugs accumulate in the body, which is why they often takes weeks to start having any effect. The body's capability to discard unneeded nutrients is like a train gathering speed. Naturally occurring serotonin in the body is a complex chemical process that involves many chemical precursors and nutrients.The longer that antidepressants are used then the greater momentum the body gains in countering their effect, and expelling and re-balancing the levels of many previously needed nutrients and other chemical precursors to serotonin.
If someone stops putting antidepressant drugs into their bodies then the effect is that the drugs let go of the "serotonin level lever." This massively unbalances the body which is still pulling hard on the "serotonin level lever," and many other chemical precursor levers, in the direction to reduce the serotonin levels. The train-like momentum that the body has in getting rid of all the nutrients/precursors needed for the natural production of serotonin maintains the speed of this process for some months. Since the nutrients required for serotonin production are now at low levels the body experiences serotonin starvation. The body rapidly tries to counter this starvation by pushing the levers for serotonin, nutrients, and chemical precursors alike back in the opposite direction. This immediately results in an over-supply of the chemical precursors and nutrients which create a wide spectrum of chemicals involved in the functioning of the brain and nervous system. The levels of many brain chemicals and the brain itself are put seriously out of balance when antidepressant drugs are stopped.
The process of withdrawing from a single antidepressant drug causes brain imbalances involving many brain chemicals. This has a correspondingly wide range of emotional and physical reactions.
Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms
The wide-ranging disturbance of the brain and nervous system caused by withdrawal from antidepressant drugs can result in a plethora of both emotional and physical problems.
Emotional symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal
Emotional symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal, caused by withdrawal from antidepressant drugs, may include problems as minor as mood swings up and down; crying spells; anxiousness; grumpiness; trouble sleeping; confusion; disconnectedness. More serious emotional indicators of antidepressant withdrawal include: suicidal thoughts; self-harm; suicide attempts; agressiveness; homicidal thoughts; nightmares; hallucinations; impulsiveness; homicidal actions such as shootings and stabbings.
Physical symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal
Physical symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal, caused by withdrawal from antidepressant drugs include: dizziness, headaches, electric shock sensations, nausea, diarrhea, fevers, sweats, numbness, cramps, twitches, restlessness, and many other physical ailments.
Misdiagnosis of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms
Most patients and many doctors don't recognise the physical symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal as being caused by stopping or reducing the dose of antidepressants. Many people fail to make the connection between the symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal, and the fact that these symptoms of are caused by antidepressant withdrawal.
Testing for Antidepressant Addiction
If any of these primary or secondary effects occur within the first few days after stopping antidepressants, or reducing your dose of antidepressants, then they are very likely being caused by withdrawal of the antidepressant drug. To test if this is the case simply resume the dose of antidepressant you were on, and observe whether the symptoms go away. If the symptoms disappear quickly then it is highly likely they they were caused by antidepressant withdrawal.
Be very cautious of accepting any different drugs to treat symptoms caused by antidepressant withdrawal. Keep it simple, and always test for the indicators of antidepressant withdrawal first.
Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms are NOT relapse
The emotional symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal often mimic the conditions for which the antidepressants were originally prescribed, tricking the user into thinking that they are relapsing into depression or anxiety.
AntiDepressant Addiction occurs when the symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal are mistaken for relapse, and antidepressants are started again to treat the incorrectly perceived relapse.
Successful Antidepressant Withdrawal
Successful Antidepressant Withdrawal is the process of becoming free from addiction to antidepressants.