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How to Treat Psych Med Withdrawal/Side Effects

By Mikhaila

I get hundreds of people reaching out to me for help, suffering in insane ways from psych med withdrawal. It’s horrible. It makes me feel awful, I understand the suffering and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It can make people feel like they’re being tortured. They basically are. Please comment if you’ve found a physician or website that is knowledgeable about withdrawal and I’ll add it to resources. I’m writing this because it’s what has helped me, my dad, and a ton of other people. Enough people have had success this way that it’s worth seriously giving a shot.

First off, don’t lose hope, you can heal. You will heal. It takes effort and time but you can do it and your life will be changed when you’re off these things. Don’t lose hope. Don’t do something stupid. I took 40mg of Cipralex (an SSRI) for 11 years. The depression was probably a symptom of my autoimmune disorder. I also took Lorazepam, Lexapro (for a few days before stopping due to side effects), Wellbutrin for 5 years and Adderall. Getting off of Cipralex and my other medications was the best thing I’ve done for myself (other than this diet). My dad took SSRI’s and Wellbutrin for 12 years and then benzodiazepines for 3 years. He is off everything now and has been for years and is traveling the world touring. He’s doing that after experiencing the worst side effect I think there is – akathisia – every day for more than 2 years. He healed. I healed. You can too. And I think and hope you can do it way faster than we did.

Psych med withdrawal can happen to anyone who has taken any type of psych med. Some of those medications include antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-epileptics, and benzodiazepines. 

I had severe psych med withdrawal. My skin crawled, I had restless legs, I hallucinated demon faces like below, repeatedly for more than year.

I felt like I was falling off of a building, sound hurt, light hurt, my heart raced, I had insomnia. It was the worst experience I’ve ever had and it felt like it would never stop. Then I experienced my dad go through psych med withdrawal and his symptoms included akathisia (a restlessness/tortured feeling that makes people unable to stop moving) and that was even worse. 

Both could have been reduced if not completely avoided if we had followed these instructions:


HOW TO GUIDE TO REDUCE PSYCH MED WITHDRAWAL/SIDE EFFECTS

    1. Get on the Lion Diet immediately and do not cheat. If the transition into the diet is absolutely intolerable and worsens your symptoms, wean into the diet by eating only meat and greens and carrots, parsnips, pears, apples, berries and honey for a month – then do the lion diet. There’s always an adjustment period of about 3.5 weeks when you start the lion diet that you have to muscle through but sometimes a taper for a month is easier on people. Check out The Lion Diet facebook page for support.
    2. Get off ALL the medications – if you can stand to taper your medication and you aren’t experiencing too severe side effects wait until you’ve done the diet for 6 weeks then taper very slowly with the help of a compounding pharmacy. 10% dose reduction each time. You may avoid withdrawal entirely if you’re on the diet and you taper slowly. If you’re experiencing severe withdrawal or side effects like akathisia already on medications, you need to get rid of them all ASAP. There’s no point in a taper if you already have akathisia. Those pills need to go. If you don’t have akathisia or withdrawal or side effects too badly it’s better to get on the diet for 6 weeks, then taper slowly.
    3. Wait 6 weeks to see improvement. Your symptoms should be much better (ideally gone) when all the medications are completely gone AND you’ve only eaten beef/lamb/bison and water and salt for at least 6 weeks. Some people also need to remove salt but this is rarer. You need time to heal but this can reduce a lot of the suffering.
 

WHY IS WITHDRAWAL WORSE FOR SOME PEOPLE?

Withdrawal can be made worse by a number of factors:

  1. Length of time you’ve been taking the medication. If you’ve been on it for more than 3 years, it gets more difficult to get off of them.
  2. Dose. Higher doses are harder to get off of.
  3. How fast you tapered. If you stopped cold turkey your withdrawal is going to be much worse (although some people who taper slowly will still suffer unfortunately).
  4. What type of medication you’re on. Long acting benzodiazepines like clonazepam and valium seem to have the worst withdrawal. Antidepressant withdrawal is no joke either.
  5. If you’ve taken multiple psych meds. If you’ve been bounced around from psych med to psych med, to treatment to ketamine to ECT, that can make withdrawal and side effects worse.

The longer you’ve been on psychiatric medications, the higher the dose, the faster you come off the worse withdrawal is. Long acting benzodiazepines like clonazepam and valium seem to have the worst withdrawal but the suffering that can come after 10 years of antidepressant use is no joke. People commit suicide getting off of these. This is not a joke and if you’re suffering there are ways to reduce and stop suffering. Don’t lose hope, there are things you can do! And the good news is withdrawal does end. If yours doesn’t seem to be ending – get on the lion diet NOW. 

 

IF YOU’RE STILL ON PSYCH MEDS AND WANT TO GET OFF THEM:

If you’re on psych meds and not suffering too badly: Reduce your dose by 10% for each dose reduction. E.g. if you’re on 100mg of a medication, reduce by 10% (10mg) and go to 90mg. Get used to that dose then reduce by 10% again (9mg)  to get to 81mg. Get used to that dose. Then reduce again by 10% (8mg)  to get to 73mg. Then reduce again by 10% (7.3mg) to get to 65.7mg. You can contact a compounding pharmacy near you or use this company and have your doctor prescribe the exact mg and they’ll make you pills. This is much safer than cutting pills yourself or dissolving them in water. It’s more expensive but it’s worth it. It’s the last ¼ dose that’s the most difficult to get off of. Go slow and easy and use the lion diet to help with withdrawal symptoms so you can get off faster. Some people can get off quite easily this way (combined with diet). Some people have more severe withdrawal. It’s dependent on what you’re taking, and for how long, and the dose.

If you’re on psych meds and you’re suffering badly: If you’re on psych meds and you have extreme side effects and you’ve been bounced around to a number of different meds, maybe you’ve even tried ketamine and ECT. You’re still on meds but your life is hell – get on the lion diet. As soon as possible. And get off the meds as fast as you can. My dad was in this situation. He was on clonazepam and had been bounced around every med you can imagine, and had ECT and ketamine treatments. Everything made him worse. A slow taper wasn’t working. The only thing that helped was diet and removing ALL medications. I mean everything. No antihistamines, no sleeping pills, no ibuprofen, nothing. Absolutely nothing except meat and salt and water. And wait at least 4-6 weeks to see some improvement. If you have akathisia – you’re already so fucked you need to get on the diet and get rid of ALL medications you’re on as fast as possible and then wait at l least 6 weeks. There’s no point in tapering if you have akathisia from what I’ve seen. Get those medications out of you and stop eating anything other than beef and salt and water.

 

HOW TO REDUCE/ELIMINATE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS/SIDE EFFECTS:

I’ve typed this page up with all the information I have that helped my dad survive psych med withdrawal (including akathisia) and helped me get through psych med withdrawal. This is everything I know that can REALLY help (if not eliminate completely) psych med withdrawal.

In order of effectiveness:

1. Lion Diet

There is NOTHING that reduces the horror of psych med withdrawal (that I’ve seen) like the lion diet. This is not unique to my father and I. This diet has helped thousands of people get off psych meds (and reduce/eliminate severe symptoms like akathisia). This diet may save your life if you’re really suffering from psych med withdrawal. I would still be suffering if I wasn’t on the lion diet. This is non-negotiable. If you are really suffering I have not seen another way to reduce your suffering that comes close to this diet. If you’re in psych med withdrawal you cannot cheat on this diet at all either. Get on this diet. Only put beef, lamb, or bison and salt and water in your mouth. Get rid of the other foods in your house. And wait. Some people (with akathisia specifically) find no salt is even more effective. My dad still eats salt and he’s fine with it but if you’re akathisic and the diet doesn’t help in 6 weeks, drop the salt. Go on this diet and you’ll see results in 6 weeks. Life will be a lot more tolerable then. Do not cheat. Nothing helps as much as this. There is a transition period and you may feel worse for a few weeks. If this isn’t tolerable, wean into the diet by only eating meat, water, fruit like pears and apples and berries, carrots, parsnips, greens and honey. Do that for a month then start the Lion Diet if you need to wean into it. Going from the Standard American Diet to the Lion Diet can be rough.

2. Get rid of all the medications you’re on

All of them. Even if you’re left with a tiny tiny dose of a medication that you think isn’t doing anything, if you’re still suffering it could be and probably is contributing. If you can taper, taper. If you’ve been tapering and it’s not alleviating symptoms and you’re in bad shape, just get rid of the meds. The only way to survive this for some people is to remove everything you’re taking, get on the lion diet, and wait 6 weeks. If you’re really suffering, some people find a low dose of an opiate helpful to reduce suffering until the withdrawal is less severe. In Canada hydromorphone, morphine, T3’s and even over the counter T1’s can be very helpful for psych med withdrawal. In the US morphine is the only medication that I’ve found can be used (due to the the painkillers in the US using a preservative called sodium metabisulfite that can worsen withdrawal symptoms). If you can avoid pills though it’s way safer to only use diet and lifestyle to treat withdrawal.

3. Infrared Saunas

These saunas used to reduce my suffering by 20%. My dad thought it improved him by 20% as well. This helped a lot but not as much as diet. It helped more than exercise or cold plunges. Far infrared is important. You can get one like this. You can also find them near you. 

4. Cold water plunges

This can help but can also be extremely difficult if you have nerve damage. Something to work towards, not a cure.

5. Sleep and exercise

Go to sleep at around 10:30-11pm. Exercise as much as possible. Both will help, neither are cures or even remotely close to what diet can do.

 

Resources:

Dangers of psych meds:
https://rxisk.org/

Tools if you’re on psych meds (interactions, etc.):
https://rxisk.org/tools/

Doctors that understand the danger of akathisia and psych meds: https://rxisk.org/about/team/

Doctors that can help (I’ll keep updating this. Hopefully this list grows):
https://outro.com/

UPDATE: 2023 – DO NOT overlook biotoxins in your environment. I’ve put my experience up at biotoxin.com with ways to look for mold/bacteria due to water damage in your home. Most homes have been water damaged at some point from some sort of leak or flood. I believe a good percentage of people who are on psych meds are on them to treat an immune response from mold/bacteria present in water damaged building air. This is something to take extremely seriously. So while getting off at meds, and doing the lion diet, do not forget to check and thoroughly clean your environment. Also a note on getting off of meds – if you can tolerate weaning please wean slowly and carefully monitoring your symptoms. Withdrawal is horrible and can be avoided sometimes with a slow wean. To people who are reacting to the actual medication – this is when things get tricky. Water damaged houses can also cause chemical sensitivity which can make you react to the medication.

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4 Comments

  1. I was on anti anxiety meds for 15 years. I felt I didn’t need them anymore so I weened myself off them. 2 weeks later my appendix burst and I had to have emergency surgery. After spending 7 days in the hospital on painkillers I went home and experienced intense depression / anxiety. The doc put me on a different medication which made things worse. The next doc put my on a different medication. Which didn’t have any improvements. A third doc put me on 2 different meds. Which didn’t help either so I went back to the one I was on for 15 years. Now I have constant ringing in my ears and a constant restless feeling. I can’t handle anything stressful. This blog post (and one other post on here) has so many similarities to my situation it’s scary and comforting at the same time. Going to start the lion diet immediately.

  2. Good luck to you Grant. I used cannabis to help with me stop taking depression meds (yes, they were depressing, not Anti depressing), cannabis helped significantly. And there was no addiction to cannabis, and it was easy to stop using that as a medicine too. Some might scoff at my cannabis mention, but it worked for me… like a charm. Also Chinese “curing pills”/”culling pills” are da bomb yo! Combined with the Lion’s Diet too… which sounds expensive… but also sounds VERY effective.

  3. Mikhaila,
    The things you have suggested people do may be good for support. I help folks deprescribe in my office regularly. Sometimes it can take over a year to get off of medications. If a lot of medications for a long time, even longer. Dr. Heather Ashton detailed ideas and some of the difficulties with benzodiazepines in her manual (https://www.benzoinfo.com/ashtonmanual/). I use those ideas and some other things I’ve come up with for many other psychotropics. No person is the same and understanding that getting off the medications may take a while is important. Another site https://deprescribing.org/ also has information on getting off of the medications.

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