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Zoloft (or any antidepressant) Brain Zaps, please give advice!
cle123 posted:
I have OCD and anxiety and I recently went to see a psychiatrist that diagnosed me with both. She prescribed me 50mg of Zoloft, and I have not taken them yet as I am scared, extremely scared! At first it was just the nausea and the idea/fact that I would be depending on something to make me feel "normal" and if I would ever be able to feel normal without them. Well, after researching over the internet, I found that so many people have experienced complications from antidepressants. The most frightening was the "brain zaps", "brain shock", "brain shivers", "2-3 second blackouts", "brain shifting" and many other descriptions of the "discontinuing syndrome" . Some have even described the feeling of disorientation for a few seconds, not knowing what or where they were. Some describe the numbness of their brain, but most of the descriptions lead to some sort of zap or shock of the brain. Moving eyes from right to left causes the zaps to occur frequent and some complain or fear of driving and being zapped. Most of the people describe the zaps as withdrawal symptoms when weening off of the drug. However, some people have complained of having the zaps during use also. Some have even complained of the zaps occuring for months even years after stopping the SSRI's. I took one half of one pill (the directions say to take half of pill for 4 days then whole) so I basically only took 25mg of Zoloft and then after research I haven't taken the pill. I have an appointment scheduled with a therapist in 7 days so I will attempt to go without the pills and try therapy first. I just want to know some experiences or what you think I should do. Should I take the pills or should I just do therapy? My psychiatrist told me therapy will help the OCD but the anxiety may not be helped and the pills will help that.

Also one other question. I have built a good connection relationship with my psychiatrist and she knows me well, even though we have only met twice she knows everything about me. However she gave me a card and i looked at it the other day and her official title is "Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist". I am 22 years old and she was not my child psychiatrist (I never saw a psychiatrist during childhood). Should I be seeing an adult one? As I said before she is a good one and she knows me but I was just wondering to be sure.
Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
Perhaps a few things need to be clarified. For example, OCD is an anxiety disorder, so you don't have two diagnoses but one. Second, I don't know how you came to the conclusion that after only two appointments this psychiatrist knows you thoroughly. It would seem to me that it would take a bit of time for two people to get to know each other very well. Of course, I may be wrong and you may feel that she does totally understand and know you.

Since you are 22 years old, you are a bit out of the "child and adolescent" range and you might want to ask how many young adults she treats since this is an important factor in therapy. Certainly, this is quite a different stage of life than when someone is in their teens. I'm assuming that you may have been referred to her by someone else and that's how you came to make the appointments.

Medications can be quite helpful, but it is my belief that the most conservative approach should be taken before considering medications. It may be that you do need medication, but I think this needs to be determined after you have had sufficient interactions with a licensed psychologist or other appropriately licensed mental health professional. It is the usual case that diagnoses are, initially, what are called "working diagnoses" until there is enough information to arrive at the final diagnosis.

Many people do have problems with medications and, in fact, finding the appropriate medication that will work best for anyone is always a trial-and-error process. There are no medical tests which can determine the medication that would be best for anyone or even for anyone's specific symptoms.

You have to make the decision regarding whether or not you will follow this psychiatrist's recommendations regarding the medication she has prescribed. It is your decision and you need to make it after being fully informed about both the benefits and the possible side effects. I see that you have done quite a bit of research on your own and that's a good thing. Being an informed consumer is the best way to proceed in anything.

I hope that things do work out well for you and that your therapist and you can work effectively on the difficulties which you are experiencing.

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