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Any additional help with SSRI Discontinuation Sundrome

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First off, this is something my girlfriend is suffering from.

She took anti-depressants ever since she was little. I don't remember exactly how long. But, I do know some possible contributing factors: she had scoliosis and required a back brace (she never mentioned about being made fun of at school), her sister was abusive because (the sister) "claimed" that (my girlfriend) was using the brace as an excuse to slack off, and her father was never around except for 6 hours on the weekends. There were other traumatic events later on. But, I'll hold those until someone suggests I add them. When we started dating (in high school), she told me that she was taking Zoloft. Some time after high school, she got a new doctor and was prescribed Sertraline. She started exercising more when she got a new dog. After she was put on Sertraline, her doctor noticed that her cholesterol (either that or her blood pressure) went up. She originally thought it was because she was snacking on fries. But, they determined it was the Sertraline. But, instead of getting a different prescription, her doctor decided that, because she was working out, she didn't need anti-depressants anymore.

So, starting May 4, 2010, she started weening off of the anti-depressant. She gave me a weening schedule and I calculated that she would have discontinued it around June 12, 2010. She had some physical side effects at first like dizzyness and nausea. That went away and was replaced my mood swings. On a date we had in July, she got mad at me for not knowing something. Then, she emailed me that she wanted to discuss something with me. She came over with a letter (she wanted to be able to tell me stuff to my face, but had a hard time saying the right words). It was stuff like she felt like she wouldn't be a good enough wife, our families had problems, and other pre-marriage jitters. Basically, she felt paranoid. I tried reassuring her. But, it was just something that she would have to get over.

We were planning on getting married for several years. We were just waiting for one of us to get a job so that we could be self-supported. I brought up the topic of money at the beginning of September. For some reason, that triggered some kind of paranoia in her mind and she broke up with me. She apologized and said that she never had any other man handle her money and the thought of me handling it scared her. The next week, she was feeling sick alot. Then, when she went shopping, She ran into my mom and sister when they were out shopping. She talked about how she was looking for a new stylist and my mom and sister suggested the one they go to. She took it as being condescending.

As the week went by, she kept on getting more and more paranoid about whether or not we could possibly stay together considering how different our families are. Eventually, she couldn't stand communicating with me and suddenly cut off communication. She apologized and asked if we could just be friend (with the possibility of having a relationship at some point in the future). Well, that worked for a short time and included a brief moment were she was feeling some affection towards me again. But, with her emotions going all over the place (she felt paranoid, that she needed more friends, that she needed to become a volunteer to become more outgoing), she decided that she couldn't stand communicating with me because it was too emotionally involving and broke off all communications indefinitely.

I figured that, with the small amount of knowledge I could find on the web about SSRI Discontinuation, I could make an approximate guess as to how long I would have to wait. I figured that she could get better by November or December 2010. No change. The only result I got was when I sent her and ecard for Christmas. After finding an ecard to send, the website that sends the ecard sends out three messages: 1) the sender gets a "receipt" saying that the message has been sent and they'd be notified of when the receiver read the message, 2) the receiver getting the message (name of sender and their email address included in email message) and clicking on the link to the ecard, 3) the sender getting an email message saying that the receiver saw the ecard. So, I know she knew it was from me before she even clicked on the link to the ecard.

It's now March. I figure I need to wait until, at least, June or July before I do anything major. Although, any advice would be welcome. Until then, I'm continuing to send her emails once a week saying that I care and am praying for her (I even include a small note about what happened to me for the week).
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replied March 6th, 2011
Especially eHealthy
Renegade637,
First, Zoloft is the brand name for sertraline - they're the same medicine. Sounds like you have waited long enough for the medication effects to be gone. Since your girlfriend has taken mood stabilizers for such a long time, she may never have developed the ability to deal with the emotions she is now feeling. If she is not seeing a psychiatrist, she probably should. One that is well versed in psychopharmacology would be best. You might also consider couples counseling or counseling for yourself (not saying you have anything wrong with you, but to help you cope with your girlfriend's actions). Hope you two find your way. Good luck.
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replied March 6th, 2011
Gaelic,
Thanks for your input. I do have further information in regards to some of your suggestions.

Gaelic wrote:
Sounds like you have waited long enough for the medication effects to be gone.

I have found information all over the place in regards to how long it should take someone to come off their SSRI medication. The information has ranged from just a few weeks after discontinuation to upwards of 2 years or more. So, if there is a "standard" time it takes for the syndrome to wear off, I'd love to hear it.

Gaelic wrote:
Since your girlfriend has taken mood stabilizers...

I don't recall her ever saying that she took mood stabilizers. I know she took birth control pills (sorry for not mentioning that before) and that helped with the fact that she suffered from PMS (she was breaking up with me almost once every 30 days until she started taking the pill (this would be in 2007)).

Gaelic wrote:
...she may never have developed the ability to deal with the emotions she is now feeling. If she is not seeing a psychiatrist, she probably should.

She has told me that she won't see a psychiatrist because she's afraid that she'll be giving her family a bad name. Although, I wonder if that might change with the fact that she was acting irrationally in her last message to me and her mother has decided to intervene (she's still living at home). Don't quote me on that, though. I haven't heard from her so I don't know.

Gaelic wrote:
You might also consider couples counseling or counseling for yourself (not saying you have anything wrong with you, but to help you cope with your girlfriend's actions).

As far as couples counseling goes, we actually read a book called The Love Dare back in 2007. Now, I don't know if that is considered counseling material. But, it brought out a positive change in her, definitely. I don't know if it helped me other than to remind me to be more mindful of her feelings. And, as far as how I'm coping with this, it's mainly just the wait. I had suffered a traumatic event in high school which left me with PTSD. It was 5 years before I managed to recover 90-95%. Now, the way I cope is by viewing things analytically.
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replied March 18th, 2011
I won't need anymore help with this. She's talking to me again. Plus, she appears to have completely recovered.
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replied September 1st, 2012
I'm going to post this here as well as another post due to this being over a years since this occurred. Obviously, you can figure out she spoke to me again based on the last post. What it, basically, said was that she wasn't ready for a relationship, she was interested in us being friends, she felt like she needed to focus on God, and just wanted to be a dog mommy (she had a dachshund for a pet) without worrying about kids.

I attended a Bible study she invited me to. Wasn't anything special. Actually, I think she was trying to see if she could take seeing me again. She had changed. She shortened her hair and put blond streaks in it. The next day, she emailed me and told me she thought she could take seeing me again after separating from me over a year and realized she wasn't ready for that. So, I stepped back and started sending her an e-card every few months and she reads them (123Greetings has a setting where I can tell if someone reads my cards I send).

It's now been a year since that last inter-action between us. I still hold out hope that she'll come back again. However, I've stuck that at the back of my mind and just focused on the fact that she needs a friend first and foremost. I was going to send another e-card. But, I'm wondering if I should take the chance of calling her instead to see how far that will get me. But, if she's still going through SSRI, is that really such a good idea?
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