This story is long and complicated, but I'll attempt to keep it short. I've struggled with OCD, anxiety, and depression issues since high school. Over the years (I'm now 31) I was on various SSRIs - most recently on Paxil/paroxetine for the last seven years or so. Along with the paroxetine, I took Buprenorphine/Suboxone for many years. Last year, I was able to taper down from and eliminate the Paxil with no ill effect whatsoever.. I honestly didn't even notice, which I understand is NOT the conventional experience after a decade of anti-depressant usage.
Only after getting off of the buprenorphine (which itself is a detox nightmare) months later did I begin to experience the persistent symptoms of what I believe to be SSRI withdrawal / discontinuation syndrome / low-serotonin in the synapse.
- Loss of memory
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
- Word finding issues
- Blurry vision
- Horrendous rebound anxiety
- Random crying spells
- Uncontrollable anger
All of these symptoms rapidly diminish with a day or two of taking any SSRI/SNRI (Paxil, Viibryd, Cymbalta, etc). However, the problem is that I absolutely despise how I feel on any of them that I have tried. It had been so long since I was SSRI free, that I didn't even realize how emotionally suppressed I was. After becoming medication free (despite the crazy discontinuation syndrome symptoms) it was like being a new individual. I could actually FEEL again. Excitement, despair, elation, anger, etc. My empathy for others returned, and I found myself crying in emotional situations that I normally would have almost experienced intellectually. and music.. MUSIC! It sounded so great!
.. And as soon as I jumped back on an SSRI, all of those emotional feelings, along with the discontinuation symptoms faded. I spent a lot of time in the last few months doing research online to see if anyone else has overcome this.
The following left me feeling like a lobotomized zombie again:
- Adding Wellbutrin to low dose Paxil
- Adding Cabergoline to low dose Paxil
- Switching to Viibryd
- Adding Wellbutrin to Viibryd
I tried Nefazadone, but it didn't do anything (I assume because it has a different mechanism of action than the SSRIs).
I tried Cymbalta as some people don't feel the same emotional detachment on SNRIs, but all it did was give me terrible anxiety.
From what I gathered online, most people who feel flat and emotionally disconnected on any SSRI feel the same on all of them, and most SNRIs and TCAs as well.
So I finally decided to try a MAOI, Nardil, after reading about all the experiences on this website. It was a nightmare stopping the Viibryd again for a two week washout, but I made it.
I'm still in the first few days of the Nardil, so I realize it is early. But I haven't felt any change or relief. I'm desperately wanting to know if the eventual serotonin increase from the Nardil is going to attenuate/eliminate the SSRI discontinuation syndrome symptoms! I assume it will when it kicks in, but I'm very concerned at this point.
Has anyone hear been on a long-term SSRI and switched to a MAOI? How quickly after starting the MAOI did it begin to lift your serotonin again to where you weren't experiencing symptoms of SSRI withdrawal?