long term mirtazapine use - taper/withdrawal so far

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Hello. This will probably be a long post. But i'd like to start by saying this forum has been a great help to me. Thank you for everyone that posts here. I've been on mirtazapine since i was 18. I'm 26 now. worked my way up to 45mg and stayed on that until 2 years ago when i went down to 30.  

I'm going to mention a few things about me that i think are relevant.

after being on amytryptaline i was put on mirtazapine for insomnia and depression when i was 18. In hindsight my insomnia was from the fact i regularly smoked weed and had become dependent on it for sleep and the depression i'd had for years stemmed from a difficult childhood. i don't believe anything was wrong with me in terms of chemical imbalance or an actual disorder that i couldn't  have resolved myself, had i been mentally capable or had someone to guide me.

 i was an alcoholic from 19 to 25 never daily drinking apart from a couple of month long episodes, but 3/4/5 nights a week to excess. I went through an unpleasent withdrawal off that although not at the delerium stage. had a few months where i've drank to much and had slight withdrawals since but for the last 6 months i've only drank a handfull of times, normally still to excess though. The last month i've had nothing and i'm done with that now.

About 2 years ago i had a hernia operation and struggled sleeping afterwards due to the pain. I upped my dose to 60 mg thinking it would help me sleep better. I was at 60mg for about 5 weeks. i didn't notice any side effects but i was on codeine and other painkillers throughout and felt pretty off it anyway.

 went straight back to 45mg and for the next few weeks i noticed i felt quite nauseated and also had something which i wouldn't have been able to describe if i hadnt seen it written on here as "brain zaps". These happened mostly when i was in bed. Having had an operation pushing my bowels around and having being on codeine for over a month i didn't pay any attention to these symptoms and they went within a month.

 I went to the doctor at the start of this January and told him i wanted to start tapering down as i didn't like the side effects it had given me, particularly affecting my social life. I think once i was on this drug i lost my spark and most of the charisma i had. the side effects took a while to kick in and i think because the process was gradual i was unaware anything had changed. People i'd not seen for years pointed it out to me though. My dreams were messed up and i would get dizzy occasionally. For a reason i couldn't work out the doctor didn't think that coming off it was a good idea but i told him i was going to do it anyway and i could do with his advice. He said to halve 30 mg for 2 weeks then stop. He also said there'd be no side effects.

 A few days went by and i started to itch on my back and the lower half of my legs. A woman at work had gone home because of itching the first day i noticed it, so again i thought nothing of it and thought there might be  chemicals around or dust or something like that. Itching got worse and went to my stomach as well even though i'd had a short break from work. Thought it may have been because id switched a brand of supplement i'd been taking or because i was using a different shower gel. I even brought shower stuff meant for babies incase it was that haha

 about 10 days on 15 mg i was starting to get less sleep as well and generally feeling ill so i went back to the doctor and asked his advice again. The only thing i'd noticed about mirtazapine was i slept better on high doses, although that goes against what i read on here. He said to try 22.5mg for a week but from his demeanour i could see he didn't really believe me. He also gave me a speech on how some people think doctors are in on a conspiracy to get us drugged up so they profit from it, and i shouldn't come on forums like this one because they fill your head with rubbish. At this point it wasn't in my mind that reducing mirtazapine was causing me any symptoms other than insomnia. He'd told me there would be no withdrawal, I believed him and id approached it with a positive mind. I'd not looked anything up to do with mirtazapine. That changed when i got home.

 i found this site and it's helped me a great deal in terms of knowing what to expect, to reassure me that i'm not losing my mind and has pointed me in the direction of sources to show that my doctor's recommendation for withdrawal was too fast.

 since January 24th i was on 15 mg and as of last night i had about 2mg. I dont have scales to weigh doses. i break ten days worth of pills into roughly the same size and take them biggest to smallest. the smallest pill is then used as the marker for the next lot that i break. I make them slightly but noticeably smaller than the last of the previous batch then repeat the process. 

 I'l try and keep this short, these are the symptoms i've noticed since january

Brain zaps - occasionally. between 15mg - 7.5mg. none since below 7.5mg

Anxiety - I get nervous in social situations, not overwhelmingly but i can feel myself blushing and i stutter a bit when i speak sometimes. Mainly just with people i'm not good friends with. This didn't happen when on 30mg, i just had no desire to talk to people haha

Sleep Disturbance - nowhere near as bad as i feared so far, waking up a few times a night but getting 5 hours or so. 

Confusion - cant explain it other than i feel like i've just appeared in a situation even though i was concious of entering it. My memory is bad, particularly short term. I can get half way through a sentence and i just lose track completely. This doesn't happen often though.

Jittery - my body feels shaky and i'm easily startled. People saying hello makes me jump or if theres a sudden loud noise that i'm not anticipating my hearts jumping around! Any sort of stress or conflict that i witness makes me feel like im vibrating and i feel sick.

Lethargic - I've felt really sedated the past 2 weeks, not much energy and constantly tired.

Itching - a tiny bit, not really a problem anymore.

Racing thoughts - i would have thought i'm losing my mind if it wernt for this site.

Manic - I have moments when i'm really hyper, mentally.

Nausea and lack of appetite - not too bad managing to eat 3 meals a day but i'm not really hungry for them. Feel a bit sick in the morning and after eating

Dreams - when i do sleep my dreams are very intense and sometimes extremely disturbing and graphic. 

Sweats - couple of night sweats, i have a clammy face in the day and look terrible.

Depersonalised - feel a seperation between my mind and body. Weird feeling but i'm ok with it.

 My withdrawal symptoms would be scaring me and i would have been off work a long time ago had i not been through similar before. When i came off alcohol i went to a n e thinking i was having a heart attack. 

Positives - despite being tired i mentally feel more awake. even though that contradicts itself. i do feel more social i just have a little melt down when i talk to most people haha i also have had no craving for junk food and have lost about half a stone.

I'm posting this now as of today i'm stopping taking it altogether. a situation with a colleague at work over the past week (which i've been cleared of any wrong doing by the way, and have been asked if i want to make an official grievance against him) has led to me being able to use my holiday in one go so i have to take advantage of that. Other people causing me stress isn't worth it, but up until now i've have held my job down despite how i feel. The symptoms of tapering so far have been unpleasant but nothing i've not been through before and are manageable. Its the duration of it thats getting me more than anything and obviously i've not stopped taking it altogether until tonight.  A little bit concerned if i'm a bigger mess than i am now when my holiday runs out, then my doctor might not sign me off because "there isn't withdrawal". But both managers i spoke to today were really nice to me after i explained my situation and have said they'll do anything they can to help me so i'm in a good mood. Got no other pressures to deal with so i'm looking forward to it in a twisted way. It will be nice to be able to post here when i'm through it all, so i'm sticking it out whatever happens/ however long it takes.

 If you want to take advice from me i'd say to sort your diet out. I.e no processed foods or ready meals, drink water or de caf tea, get your fruit and veg. Remove anyone that causes you grief from your life. Walk away from any situations with tension. If you are physically capable then be outside as much you can. Exercise as vigorously as you can. Listen to music with a positive message behind it. Don't watch the news or read the newspapers. I don't think it's healthy to be bombarded with stories of paedophiles, people getting blown up or murdered on a daily basis anyway. Let alone when you have this to deal with as well. Focus on the positive things in your life. Even if it's one good thing for every 100 bad, the bad are irrelevant when your mind is elsewhere. Think of what you take for granted at the moment and concentrate on appreciating it. 

 This drug worked initially but i was on it way to long. I also feel if i'd have taken a month off smoking weed and would have had someone in my life who could teach me how to think with a positive mind, then i wouldn't have needed any medication for depression or insomnia. I'm not saying that's true for everyone but i feel for the sake of a quick fix i've been in a fog for my best years and i can't get that time back.

 if you read all this then thankyou, and i assume you're going through the same so good luck to you. Be patient and stay positive.

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  • Posted

    Wow what a wonderful post ♥

    I will be following with great interest. I came off mirt for 30 days and then went back on it as the WD's got the better of me. On reflection I wished I had tried going another two weeks before throwing in the towel.

    Thanks for the great post, I identified readily and will be really interested in sharing your journey

    god bless ♥

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    • Posted

      I'm glad you enjoyed my post. I wrote it all out then somehow deleted it so had to do it all again. Took me 3 hours altogether! I was actually nervous to see if anyone had replied but your first line cheered me up smile

      Did you taper down or did you just stop taking it abruptly? Anything that i've successfully quit has taken me many attempts. I felt like i had failed each time i relapsed but it always made me better prepared for the next time.

       What did you learn from the 30 days that you didn't know before? Even if its just the realisation of how hard its going to be then you've taken something from it.

       Iv got no relationship, no kids, a job that can be replaced if it has to come to it. I wouldn't have stuck it out this far if i had any proper responsibilites. In terms of building for my life in the future, i've done nothing up to now. If after a few weeks/months im going mad from insomnia, itching all over and haven't left my house (which i don't think will happen but who knows...) nothing apart from myself will be falling apart and even though it won't feel like it i know every day of suffering will be a day closer to this being over with.

       Im lucky i can just drop everything and dissapear (if i need to) for a few months with no consequences. People who have a life will have to pick the right moment to try this and i imagine that will add extra stress as well.     

       Thanks for replying 

       

       

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    • Posted

      Hi muleton

      I really like your positively andd determination. The 30 days I stopped taking mirt, left me presenting as a weeping and angry mess! I did get the itching but that went after a couple of weeks.

      I spent a lot of time reaching for diazepam and isolating in my room. Hunger turned to couldn't eat a thing. Kept going to the loo! Guess our bodies try to detox. I had an overwhelming sense of fatigue and depression. Insomnia and a few hand tremors. Reflecting on it after day 25 I was getting good days or good afternoons. What i have learnt is next attempt to hold out a little longer! Importantly to remember that WD is time limited. I am really interested to see how your wd journey goes and really hope it goes quickly and smoothly.

      God bless ♥♥

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  • Posted

    Thank you so much for detailing exactly how you feel when coming off Mirtz it really helps and like you said makes you realise you are not losing the plot its just the tablets.  You are nearly there cant wait to hear how you feel in a week or so.  And i loved your advice on how to stay positive, I will try very hard to remember that.  Good luck
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    • Posted

      I actually left quite a bit of detail out as i could see how long my post was getting. if there is anything i've put that you would like me to expand on i can put it on here or send you a pm.

       The posts i've read with more detail have helped me a lot so i wanted my post to be similar to that for anyone who reads it. It was also quite theraputic to write it out as i dont talk to anyone in real life about this.

       To be honest, although i've been cutting down since January and i've been feeling the effects, from what i've read, i think my withdrawal is going to start properly any time in the next few days. I think it's going to get a lot worse physically and mentally before it gets better. Also, if i'd followed my original tapering plan i would have still been taking it for another 2 months, but with my work situation it has to be now.

       The positive thinking is something i've been actively working on for a few years. Its not going to make withdrawal (or life in general lol) painless, but in the past i've let situations get the best of me and resigned myself to just being the way i am. You know, i've always been miserable theres nothing i can do about it etc. Only you can make yourself strong, or stronger, mentally. It's not in many other people's interest to do that for you.   

       Your brain is your best mate or it hates you. With work you can control it a lot more than a lot of people would think. There is always something you can do to improve your situation, even if it's just the smallest thing smile 

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    • Posted

      I know I can make the changes to my outlook on life but when that horrible black cloud comes over its really really hard to imagine there is blue sky underneath!  I attended a group on mindfullness last night and oh my god I had no idea what they were talking about it made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, I dont think that will work for me but as long as I can come off these horrible tablets and lose all the weight I have gained whilst on Mirtz I think I will be a happier person altogether.   Please keep posting on here how you are feeling and I wish you loads of luck, take it easy and be very proud that you are just going for it x
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    • Posted

      I'd never heard of a mindfullness group until you mentioned it. I've just had a quick look now. I understand how that could seem quite daunting and completely changing your outlook may seem like an impossible task. 

      The fact is though, you are looking for ways to help yourself and that's something you should be happy about, so dont be down that it didn't seem right for you. 

       I wish i could give you some good advice but this is about the best i can manage. If you struggle to just generally be happy then start by purposely not reacting badly to things that are really insignificant but normally stress you out. I don't know what winds you up but stuff like , getting cut up when driving, someone not saying thanks when you hold the door etc Anyway you can practice controlling your emotions, even on insignificant events is important. If you purposely avoid reacting (physically or mentally) to these things eventually it will be a habit and you'l do it naturally. Then just work on to slightly bigger things.

       I'm going to post here at least every week, probably every couple of days so i'l keep you informed of how it goes. Are you coming off it as well? or are you preparing or just curious?

       

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your advice I will definintely give it a go.   I dont get annoyed at things, Im just really sad.  So many things happened to me at once, being made redundant and having to find a new job, my partner leaving me and being so cruel when he didnt need to be and my mum being diagnosed with Leukaemia all within a few months and I just dont think my brian could take it!!  Luckily I managed to get a new job straight away and really love it, it took me a very long time to get over my partner leaving, my confidence was completely crushed and still is.  Mum is still really poorly but I am managing to cope a lot better with that now.   I think sometimes your jar gets too full and you can fit anymore in!!  I am so much better and the only thing I need working on now is my confidence not sure how you ever get that back?!  I have cut down from 45mg to 18.75mg I have been changing every 3 weeks and have had really blurred vision, felt very emotional, complete exhaustion, crying and the dark clouds have come back.  However, thanks to this site I realise its just the tablets and not me so fingers crossed I can be off them very soon and lose all this extra weight which is really getting me down and knocking my confidence even more.   Thank you for writing keep yours coming I will love to see how you get on.
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    • Posted

      For me it's always been harder to deal with sadness than anger. You've really been through a lot, and if it was all recent then it's not surprising you have the dark clouds back. Particularly with withdrawal taken into account as well. 

       In terms of getting confidence back, i think thats something you don't really notice at the time or on a day to day basis. You'll end up looking back in a couple of months and realising youve improved. 

       You've done well cutting down to what you have, and i'm sure everyone on here can share what a long and frustrating process it can be. I annoy myself because it's i make a decision to quit something but then forget that it takes a really long time to achieve it. It's not as simple as just saying you are quitting an then it happens.

       The hardest part is the beginning because you have it all to go through yet. You are past that bit, but just remeber with everything, whether its getting over grief or getting over putting something in your body, when you wake up tomorrow you are one day closer to success than you were today.

       It's a lonely pocess though but it's you that gets the rewards at the end smile

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your message.  Over the weekend I have cut down to 18ish mg and so far OK apart from the blurred vision which has come back.  I would really like to stay on this for just 2 weeks and then down to 15mg for 2 weeks.  I cant stand the weight gain its really getting me down more than anything else, i have always been a size 8 and now Im just a fat heffer, dont even recognise my body anymore!   I know you have cut down quite quickly, is it really that bad??  and do the side effects from the withdrawal last for days/weeks?   Thank you for your advice, I am hoping confidence will come back once Im off these evil drugs.  I wish the doctor had said you can take these, they will help you sleep but in the long run you will end up twice the size you were before, I would have definitely not taken them!!  Good luck with yours, how are you feeling today?
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    • Posted

      How are you coping on the 18mg? 

       How bad it is depends on what you are used to and what you have handled previously. i have been much worse off physically and mentally than i am now so it's not that bad for me.

       I don't think pills can help you 100% to get confidence back (although successfully withdrawing will naturally help a bit). It's like taking steroids (not that i ever have lol) not exercising but still expecting to look like a body builder. It won't happen unless you put the work in. Something needs to change about you while you are on them. 

       Without going into much detail, i was suicidal for years. i genuinely had a long term plan to drink myself to death by 25. i could only quit drinking after i wanted to live. I can only quit smoking when i'm regularly playing football. I can only get off mirtazapine once i accept i'm in control of my brain and a large portion of my mental well being is in my hands and it's up to me to bring it out.

      You also have to take into account how the effects might hinder other parts of your life. I'd imagine someone without young children to look after would have it easier than if they did have kids. Whenever i quit something, i write a month off. I don't expect to feel anything other than aches and misery. I accept that as the baseline to how i'm going to feel and anything better than that is appreciated rather than expecting the good parts to last and being upset when i feel rubbish. 

       From my experience, i noticed effects on sleep 1 or 2 nights on from initially cutting down and everything else in the days after. This was worse for me at the higher levels but i came down drastically 60mg to 45mg (i put myself on 60 to assist sleep after an operation) and 45mg to 30mg. About a week after cutting down it would be the worst then gradually start improving. Feeling jittery and generally weird was in the lower doses. At no point since january have i felt normal or well but i'm calm and happy. Other people might not be able to be calm and happy if they don't feel normal or well. I've not been at work since i came off altogether either.

        I think doctors should talk more about side effects and withdrawal as well. On other forums i've read discussions where the majority had little to no effects coming off. One or two did have problems and this was met with suprise haha Most people don't die if they eat peanuts but some people do. Everyone should know that potentially there are risks to any medication, and if you go on it for a certain condition, the rebound withdrawal effects can make that symptom initially come back worse. But with people struggling to get appointments in places and time being limited for duration of appointments, it's pretty convinient to leave out the bad parts of something that makes them money. Not saying that people don't benefit from medication or that doctors are evil. Just makes me laugh that people can be terrified of the effects and withdrawal from 'street drugs' but then take something from a doctor with no care in the world. And i'm an idiot because i'm sceptical of this stuff but trusted my doctor when they said there'd be no withdrawal. My only defense is i was 18 at the time i was put on them.

       I'm rambling now so i'l leave it there and i realise i mis read your point on confidence and withdrawal so i'm sorry half of this isn't what you asked haha  Hope you are well

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  • Posted

    You've come along a long difficult path and hopefully your journey now will be a positive one.  I'd like to say well done to you, you've known really hard times and self prescribed in all sorts of ways.  I wish you strength and hope for the future, and also as you sound so optimistic, that you can now realise your goal.

    I will watch with interest over the next coming weeks and hope all is well for you.  I too am doing a slow taper (sincer October last) and so far all has been ok, the fatigue being the hard part.

    Wishing you well Muleton 

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your kind words, they are very much appreciated and i wish you all the same as well.

       Good luck with your taper, ideally i'd liked to have done it a bit slower than i have done. Can i ask what amount you are taking now and what amount you started at? Do you have a planned time for coming off altogether?

       Fatigue is something that didn't bother me initially but after the first few weeks it is quite maddening. Time seems to move slower for me and it's very easy to get frustrated and agitated about things.

       i really like your username haha Calmness is a handy trait to have when your going through this. I'm reminding myself to be calm several times a day! 

       good luck to you

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    • Posted

      Hi M

      Yes I'm happy to share with you ~ I was on 15 mg for a year, my plan was always to be on it for a year then taper.  I had chronic insomnia which lead to anxiety and finally agitated depression.

      So I dropped 5% every 2 - 3 weeks depending on how I felt, I think this is key to a successful taper, if after 2 weeks I still feel low (low kicks in for me around day 7 after a taper) I will go longer.  Sometimes I do 7 or 8% which goes against my own rules really, but if I have a hard time I do a realistic 5% next time.  No I don't have a date for the finish line, just praying I get there lol ... without insomnia !  

      Thanks, my username is partly my name so I can remember it (!).  

      How are you now after little sleep last night?  Are you UK?  I am, you might want to get some Phenergen in case you get insomnia, its available over the counter.  And if eating becomes a problem the protein shake (preferably the good one's withouut sugar) with a banana might be palatable if you still have any sickness.  

      Wishing you well M  

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  • Posted

    Slept about 4 hours last night. Was awake at 1am and woke up at half 5 by a motorbike outside.

     I was quite nervous going to bed as i was aware this is the first time in my adult life i'm not taking a medication i've come to believe that i need. My thoughts were racing quite a bit as well which made it quite hard to switch off. I don't feel any worse than i did yesterday but i'm not expecting to dramatically worsen for a few days yet (fingers crossed it doesn't happen at all).

     Felt a bit sick this morning so i forced myself to eat a curry for breakfast as i only had two meals yesterday. Still feel sick now but don't think i actually will be. Going to try and stick to eating at 9am 1.30pm and 5.30pm. If i don't eat il just be getting more lethargic so although i don't like eating at the minute it needs to be done to keep myself as health as possible.

      

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    • Posted

      One major positive that i've completely missed is a huge increase in creativity. If you play an instrument, write or draw or if you used to do anything like that but gave it up, id highly recommend taking it back up again!
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    • Posted

      I'm also tapering off mirtazapine in fact I took my last one last night and I'm also scared of the effect this will have on my sleep and mood. 

      I loved mirtazapine and how it got me through a really difficult patch but the weight gain has proved too much for me. I'll be watching your post with interest so please let us know how you're getting on xx

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    • Posted

      Hi Gill i must have missed your post the other day. How are you getting on are you still not taking any? 

       Good luck to you

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