Mom had been on antidepressants for 25 years when she decided enough was enough. I was to be honest, afraid for her to quit. I have read so many horrible stories about those who skipped their medication or quit cold turkey, and ended up in suicidal or homicidal hell. But at 86, mom decided she was old enough to make her own decisions, and I have to say, she was stubborn about it.
First she tried quiting several times without telling me. She would just skip pills, or stop taking them for a while. I would figure it out after a while by the way she was acting. She would get ill: overwhelmed by bronchitis, apathy, and eventually, have suicidal thoughts. And then she would say, "well I did skip my pills, because I just don't want to be taking so many things..." I would have to tell her that you CAN NOT just willy nilly quit. How strange, for a Scientologist daughter to have to lecture her mother on NOT skipping her Paxil. She would come for a visit. I'd have to say, "Mom, did you bring enough Paxil? Make SURE you have enough in case you stay longer." I kept warning her of the danger of quiting without doctor supervision. And she would decide to just stick with/put up with the drug.
Then one day this past summer, a terrible set of circumstances, oddly, led her to a solution that worked: Mom suffered a terrible fall. She thankfully did not break any bones, but was very shaken up, and in pain for two weeks. She was miserable with that, plus debilitating hot flashes and night sweats. Those started two years ago when her doctor switched her from Prozac to Paxil. With an accute flair up of bronchitis on top of that, she could not bear it. I couldn't bear to see the suffering. I offered some solutions that mom decided to try as she was willing to listen to anything at this point. Here is what worked:
1) Mom got a prescription for bio-identical female hormones: Progesterone, and Estrogen. She was dancing (literally) a few hours later, and saying loudly; "I feel better!" Her mood changed, and she actually became stably cheerful. She later was able to drop off the Estrogen and now only takes a small dose of Progesterone. I'm convinced that had she been taking this all along, she NEVER would have chosen to get on anti-depressants in the first place. Her hot flashes and night sweats are now gone. Her mood is so much better, and she seems younger. The mood change was pretty much instant, and observable by all.
2) Mom went to the Pierce Clinic of Chiropractic. She was assessed as having acute damage from the fall but a chronic injury before that. She was not getting enough blood flow to her brain. This is a special chiropractor who ONLY adjusts the very top bone of your spine- the axis. I first showed Mom a video of Montell Williams receiving this treatment, which is painless and effective. Its called Advanced Orthogonal. Mom got ONE adjustment by Doctor Fowler, and instantly felt that her balance was improved and she was more stable on her feet. She has gone back for checks, but in three months, has not needed another treatment. She's held the original adjustment beautifully.
3) Mom was now wanting to quit Paxil. She felt that she was not depressed and did not need that. She consulted with a doctor who put her on a personal program of weaning off the Paxil by taporing off it little by little. She was told to take vitamin B-12 to help with depression, and a multi vitamin and mineral formula. I was told to keep her with my family for at least a week while she did the first taper from the drug, to ensure her safety, and for successive tapers.
Was it easy? No. Were there reactions? Yes. But a lot less than I expected. The balancing of the female hormones and nutritional support seemed to get her through the withdrawal without the horrible mood swings that she had while trying to do it on her own. The female hormones in particular. Not sure mom sees it that way, but that is what I observed.
Overall, she is doing well. She is now off Paxil completely, and she is really happy about that. She had a lot of determination and Chutzpah. She accomplished her goal. As an aside, she lost the tremor in her right hand. For the first time in several years, she can write a shopping list, and actually be able to read it!
***While reading about the subject of coming off of antidepressants, I came across an excellent website called The Road Back. I recommend it for helping someone to safely come off psychiatropic drugs.