|General Discussion Open discussion about Paxil, Paxil Withdrawal, successes and progress, good stories and bad, with and without.|
|07-30-2008, 04:56 PM||#1|
MDMA and SSRI's
A quick story some of you may have seen. This theory is based on the similarities of an SSRI withdrawal and an MDMA (similar to Extacy) comedown:
WARNING... a little long
Now, for a minute forget the stigma and laws attached to illicit drugs
and look at them as simply drugs or chemical compounds that have an
effect on the nervous system, like cocaine, heroin, MDMA-ecstasy,
opium, marijuana, and even legal drugs like alcohol and cigarettes.
Pay particular attention to ecstasy, or MDMA, it will come up a lot.
These all affect the central nervous system, regardless of whether
they are bought at the grocery store, gas station, or on the street or
in an alley. Once again, they all affect the central nervous system,
some with a longer, some a shorter half life.
Now let's look at SSRIs. These too affect the central nervous system,
like cocaine, heroin, opium, marijuana, and even legal drugs like
alcohol and cigarettes. But before we do, let's take a look at the
history of pharmacology in relation to serotonin.
The following is a brief history of the street drug ecstasy, but it
was not always illegal. It was a patented phrama-drug that the
industry thought would help with conditions from bleeding to
weight-loss. A highly psychoactive drug, once taken, produces a
chemically induced manic-depressive episode. One dose provides
profound feelings of joy for approximately 4-8 hours, then a comedown
over approximately 24-48 hours and then a depressive state for
approximately 24-48 hours, then recovery. The same chemically induced
manic-depressive episode is happening to SSRI users. But how? First
we must establish the link between serotonin and both MDMA (ecstasy)
and SSRIs. MDMA first.
A brief history of MDMA ecstasy
Christmas Eve, 1912: The pharmaceutical company Merck files for a
patent on MDMA ('ecstasy'). Their patent application is granted two
years later (1914.) There is no evidence that they were aware it was
psychoactive or intended to market it as a product.
1965: Predicting that MDMA might be psychoactive, a chemist named
Alexander Shulgin synthesizes MDMA while working at Dow Chemical, but
does not try the substance. Shulgin had made Dow a tidy sum of money
with his prior work on an insecticide, and as his reward was allowed
to pursue whatever field of research appealed to him. Shulgin chose to
study psychoactive drugs...a decision that would eventually impact the
November 2, 2001: The US Food and Drug Administration gives approval
for human testing of MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress
disorder to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
MAPS, a group made up of many of the same doctors and researchers that
had originally fought tooth-and-nail to keep MDMA available to
doctors, is conducting the research as part of their plan to gain full
FDA approval of MDMA as a prescription drug. If approved, MDMA will
once again be able to be used openly by psychiatrists. See
I do not have proof; however, I have a strong suspicion that SSRIs
have been reverse engineered from MDMA. After all, it may not be too
far fetched since MDMA was discovered by Merck, a pharma company.
Remember that commercial, 'this is your brain on drugs.' And then they
fry the egg. Well, image that when someone takes a hit of MDMA, it is
like putting the brain in a orange juice squeezer and squeezing out
all the serotonin. Sounds painful, right? Wrong. Most MDMA users will
tell you that it is the best feeling in the world. The highest highs
in the world. But, clinically, it is a manic episode. And as any
physicist will tell you, what goes up, must come down.
Yes, it is possible to manufacture a manic-depressive episode, which
is very different from an organic manic-depressive episode.
It varies with different people, but with extended MDMA use, many will
exhibit signs of depression after the MDMA-induced manic episode. For
more info on the link between serotonin and MDMA go to the Brown
Can SSRIs induce a manufactured Manic Depression episode? I think so.
SSRIs make users feel 'happy' in the beginning, but they somehow
change and leave the user feeling ill. Like MDMA, SSRIs work on the
serotonin system of the brain. Hence the name Selective Serotonin
Reuptake Inhibitor. Here check out this University of Michigan Medical
So if there is a link between MDMA and SSRIs and serotonin levels in
the brain, then the effects on the body could be similar. But there is
one difference. Where MDMA squeezes serotonin out of the cells to
flood the brain, SSRIs block the serotonin from entering back into the
cells, but the effect is similar - both allow more serotonin to
flood the brain, but SSRIs to a much lesser extent. Why? Because they
are engineered that way. SSRIs are engineered not to block the cells
too much, because the user would become manic, much like a Raver on
MDMA ecstasy does. So, these SSRIs are engineered to block your cells
just enough to make you 'happy,' but not too happy, otherwise the SSRI
user would quit work, hang out at raves, suck on lollypops and hold
hands with people they hardly know telling them how much you love
So, what the SSRIs are doing is keeping enough serotonin floating
around in the brain to keep the user slightly manic, not full-blown
raver manic like on MDMA, but enough that they might feel a bit 'off,'
'weird,' 'drugged' or 'high.' This feeling of being high becomes much
more pronounced, if the SSRI user has skipped just one dose or
Now imagine that the brain is like a tachometer on a car, reading 0 to
8. If 0 is terribly depressed, and 2 is normal mood, then these SSRIs
keep the brain revving at between 3-4. The redline on this brain
tachometer representing acute mania.
And that's it, I believe. SSRIs artificially make the user feel high
by producing more serotonin via the serotonin system. In essence, the
SSRIs override the patient's organic serotonin system. Great idea in
the lab. But what happens when you give these drugs to humans, well
strange things might happen - like a possibly lethal fight for control
of the patient's serotonin system by both 'friendly' and 'unfriendly'
forces once the patient decides to stop therapy. The patient's organic
system being 'friendly' and the SSRI environment being 'unfriendly.'
I strongly believe that those on SSRIs will, over time, become
dependent on SSRIs.
Now remember the Raver, who takes a MDMA pill to party, but in fact is
inducing a bout of manic-depression. He gets high, then comes down,
and then crashes. The same thing happens when you change your dose of
SSRIs or get off them abruptly, but it is happening a bit differently.
I suspect that eventually, all SSRI users will induce a manufactured
The pharma industry wants to call it, serotonin withdrawal syndrome,
but it is also, I strongly believe, a SSRI-induced manic-depressive
episode. But we must further break this down into two subgroups of the
syndrome. 1) SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI-induced Depressive Syndrome. 2)SSRI
Withdrawal/SSRI-induced Manic Syndrome.
SSRI users have been revving at between 3-4 on the brain's
tachometer for months, even years in a perpetually elevated
quasi-manic state. Now, what happens when you take the SSRI user off
the SSRI? The SSRI user moves very quickly to a potentially life
threatening SSRI-induced depressive state. SSRI users experience this
when they quit cold turkey. I strongly believe this is why some SSRI
users commit suicide or have suicidal ideations. This full blown SSRI
depressive state must be avoided and can be avoided with slow, doctor
monitored tapering, which in many cases might involve hospitalization
during the detox.
So now, what happens when a SSRI user, skips maybe one or two doses.
They feel the effects of withdrawal - edginess, irritability, and an
increasing sense of unreality until it progresses to full blown
SSRI-induced depression, coupled with withdrawal phase.
The skipping of doses or a lowing of the dose from say 30mg to 20mg
will cause SSRI uses to exhibit pronounced mood swings, where they may
suddenly and without notice act out against family and friends, which
all SSRI users will say is not in their nature. These mood swings are
a direct result of addition. The nervous system is demanding an
increase in therapy to the original level, the 30 mg dose.
At the time the SSRI user thinks that he/she is 'going crazy,' but it
is the addiction/syndrome. Just ask that raver how he/she is feeling
on the 2nd day after a dose of MDMA, and you will probably find
him/her in bed in the fetal position, depressed and edgy like never
before, unable to do even the simplest task.
But the raver has it good. In four days the trip is over. From manic
to depressive to recovery, and it is all over. Day 5, and the raver is
feeling great, that is until he/she takes his/her next hit.
Unfortunately the SSRI trip is a bit longer and more intense, but like
the MDMA raver, the SSRI user will get over it. Maybe not on day five,
but they will.
Once again, do not equate SSRI-induced Manic Depression with organic
Manic Depression. I strongly believe that everyone on these drugs will
experience the same thing. It depends on a lot of factors. For
example, there are SSRI users that have stopped the SSRI therapy a few
times with no adverse effects, and even skipped doses with no problem,
but now experience full blown SSRI withdrawal and SSRI induced Manic
Depression. What changed? I suspect that the nervous system got
So here is what the SSRI user can expect.
If the SSRI user goes cold turkey, the user will spiral into a full
SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI-induced depressive syndrome. That is everything
the experts are now warning about, from dizziness to electro-shock to
agitation and the list goes on - THIS STATE IS VERY DANGEROUS.
POSSIBLY LIFE THREATENING, AND MUST BE AVOIDED. The industry and
medical community call it Serotonin Withdrawal Syndrome, it is really
a SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI-induced depressive syndrome and should be
labeled as such. And it is very dangerous, and should not be
played-down, by the medical community.
Here is what I believe is happening when users wean off SSRIs. As they
slightly lower the dose, the natural serotonin system begins to fight
for control and produces serotonin, while the SSRI is also working.
So, what they are feeling is the effect of an extra serotonin load,
coupled with the withdrawal. Thus, the feeling of elevated mania
resulting from the increased load, but I believe that the mania is
harmless, as long as it is understood and SSRI users do not panic. For
example, look at the ravers, an MDMA high is not characterized by
violence/panic, on the contrary, MDMA highs are characterized by
feelings of complete joy, or mania.
So, as the SSRI user slowly weans, the natural serotonin is getting
stronger, but the SSRI user will continue to exhibit signs of mania,
but this should decrease with further slight reductions in milligrams
over an extended period of time.
I believe that a sudden discontinuation, results, within a few days,
in the total collapse of the serotonin system, hence the terrible
panic and depression and possible risk of suicide. Why does the system
collapse? Not sure. I think that the natural system does not boost-up
in time to replace the serotonin that had until then been manufactured
by the SSRI. In other words, as the SSRI leaves the system, the
patient's natural serotonin system remains idle. This collapse leaves
them in SSRI-induced depression, coupled with withdrawal. A situation
that must be avoided - weaning is the solution.
The SSRI user must go to a specialist to be monitored during the
weaning process. The problem is that many doctors do not know about or
believe in the severity of the SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI Manic Depressive
syndrome. Thus, SSRI users must seek out a mental health professional
with a specialty in addiction and Manic Depression.
What to expect from weaning.
The process can take a long time, therefore it is imperative that the
SSRI user remain under medical supervision for the duration of the
As the SSRI user weans off the drug, they will feel high, but it is
manageable, they might say that they feel a bit 'weird' a bit 'off.'
If they start feeling really awful like electro-shocks, numbing,
dizziness, then they must slow down the weaning process, the
electro-shocks are the nervous system's way of telling them that they
are going too fast.
The SSRI user must tell their loved ones and employers, with the
specialist present if possible, that they are weaning and what to
expect. Tell them that they are detoxing from a highly addictive drug
and that they might exhibit odd (manic) behavior from time-to-time and
seem a little high. This will include, restless energy, forgetfulness,
bouts of being very talkative, followed by bouts of seeming lost in
thought, among others. They should also do exercise under the
supervision of a doctor, because there is going to be a lot of nervous
(manic) energy to expend. Or even listen to music, and jump around the
room. It sounds funny, but it might help. The SSRI user should expect
to be 'high' during the process.
The SSRI user will experience panic attacks, but can overcome them. I
believe that the panic attack is nothing more than a sudden surge of
serotonin or serotonin storm. The raver experiences these serotonin
storms while coming up on MDMA, but does not panic because he/she is
aware that this is to be expected. I believe that the SSRI user
panics, simply because an unexpected serotonin storm is a frightening
event possibly triggering adrenaline to surge alongside the serotonin.
A mix of serotonin and adrenaline would throw healthy person into a
A day in the life of a SSRI weaning patient
Warning: No reduction should be undertaken without the consultation of
an expert in manic depression and addiction. (This is my personal
I believe that the patient should wean with a pill in the morning, not
evening. Here is my example of a typical day of weaning.
9-10 a.m. - Patient takes reduced milligram of SSRI (Celexa) (-5 mg
from original therapeutic 10 milligram dose) for example). Absorption
in small intestine takes place.
10-12 a.m. - Patient enters serotonin storm. Patient exhibits, nausea,
faster heartbeat, sense of fever, and manic feeling (Patient should
not confuse the manic feeling with a panic attack, it only becomes a
panic attack, if the patient does just that, panics. The patient must
remain calm as to not allow a rise in adrenalin. Remember this simple
equation: increased serotonin equals mania (which is quite manageable,
some would argue even enjoyable). Increased serotonin plus adrenaline
(from fear) equals a panic attack. Even if the patient does panic, it
cannot last long, since the adrenal gland can only pump a finite
amount of adrenaline before it must replenish itself.
12-2 p.m. - Patient will peak in manic state, and then descend into a
slightly depressed, but manageable state
2-3 p.m. - Slightly depressed, but manageable depressed state
3-4 p.m. - I believe in this phase that the Patient's organic
serotonin system boosts up. Patients may feel emotionally balanced
during this phase.
4 p.m. - 9 a.m. (next day) - Patient will remain in a slightly
manic, but manageable state until the patient takes the next reduced
SSRI dose. Patient should feel slight pressure in head, but no numb
hands, lips, or electro-shocks.
Day 2, cycle begins again until patient is stabilized on 5 mg dose.
(for some patients a (minus)-5mg deduction might be too drastic,
medical professional must make that determination on individual
Cycle begins again at 9 a.m. Cycle continues for as many days required
for patient to stabilize on 5 mg dose.
A typical day in the life of a patient weaning off SSRI mirrors a MDMA
induced 'trip'. The symptoms are virtually the same. This cannot be
disputed, I find. The problem is that the SSRI user experiences a
MDMA-like 'trip' each day until he/she stabilizes at the lower dose.
Once again, this is why slow weaning under doctor supervision is
Many SSRI users who have gone through an unsupervised 'cold turkey'
complain that they continue to exhibit panic attacks. This is entirely
plausible. I believe that it is a panic attack brought on from fear
that they will once again go through SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI-induced
Manic Depression, but they did not know at the time the nature of the
syndrome and many are still unaware of what exactly they experienced.
However, these panic attack should subside, once they understand the
nature of the syndrome and that their serotonin system should rebound
over time. The ravers' serotonin systems rebound as well. I believe
what is giving these former SSRI users panic attacks (attacks many did
not exhibit before going on SSRIs) is a latent memory of a sense of
'loss of control' Once this 'loss of control' is explained to them in
terms of SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI Manic Depression Syndrome, I strongly
believe that they will be able to move on to a healthier mental state.
Once again, the SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI Manic Depression Syndrome is a
manufactured, engineered event, unlike organic Manic Depression,
however it mimics organic Manic Depression. And it is very closely
tied, I believe, to MDMA-inducted Manic Depression.
I wrote this theory as a process to understand my SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI
Manic Depressive Syndrome clinical state. I hope that this information
benefits those suffering from SSRI Withdrawal/SSRI Manic Depressive
Syndrome. This is not a guide to withdrawal. BEFORE SSRI DETOX, EVERY
SSRI USER MUST SEE A COMPETENT MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. NO DETOX SHOULD
BE UNDERTAKEN WITHOUT STRICT MEDICAL SUPERVISION. IF FEELING SUICIDAL,
SSRI USERS SHOULD CALL 911 (OR EMERGENCY HOTLINE IN THE COUNTRY THAT
THE PATIENT RESIDES OR GO DIRECTLY TO NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM.
This paper is for all SSRI sufferers; adults (like myself) and
children, and to all those who have lost loved ones or friends due to
what I and many others believe was SSRI-induced suicide.
This paper is also for a somewhat (not all, but many) hostile medical
community that largely ignores SSRI sufferers' cries for help. I call
on the pharma industry, FDA, and medical community to review this
This paper is also for Joe Paxil (many may know Joe from the
Quitpaxil.com website and Rant page) "Sorry Joe, you are the lemming."
Best to all, get help and get well soon,
MK a.k.a. Scatterbrain
I'm sick and tired of hearing things/ From uptight, short-sighted,
narrow-minded hypocritics/ All I want is the truth/ Just gimme some
truth - John Lennon
|07-30-2008, 05:38 PM||#3|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Re: MDMA and SSRI's
I think your theory is VERY interesting, especially the day in the life of someone weaning. I do have a question though. Since SSRI's don't manufacture serotonin, our natural serotonin system is the one making the serotonin even on an SSRI. Our serotonin balancing system is basically overridden by the SSRI which demands that more serotonin stay in the gap and not be reabsorbed. As we wean and the SSRI dosage decreases it makes sense that the amount of serotonin would decrease as more is absorbed. The question I have is mainly a clarification. Is your theory that our natural system increases its production faster than the decrease in SSRI dosage inhibits the reuptake?
I think I just used up all my brain cells for the night writing that one! I hope it made sense! I think your theory is well thought out and thanks for posting it.
Started Paxil 1999 for anxiety
Stopped in Apr 2003 after tapering from 30 mg
Started Paxil again in Mar 2005
Oct 2006 tapered to 5mg too fast and flamed out
Now at 20mg
|07-31-2008, 02:27 PM||#4|
Re: MDMA and SSRI's
Cindy, I want to point out this is not my theory, but something I found on another site. I wanted to post it because I have heard others comparing MDMA to SSRI's
|07-31-2008, 06:05 PM||#5|
Join Date: Feb 2006
Re: MDMA and SSRI's
To be really really fussy, this isn't a theory in the true sense, as it's not based on actual data (or rather, it starts off with some data then takes a big leap of faith). "I believe" counts for nothing scientifically, and there's an awful lot of "I believe"s in there, right before the bits that sound scientific - it's just something someone has thought up themselves. It's interesting though. It's fine to speculate on what happens in the brain in SSRI withdrawal, because we don't have enough information to know for sure, and besides, it may be impossible (with current technology) to find and analyse the exact source of what we all know as withdrawal.
I'm not sure I agree with this person though, as my own experience of withdrawal had little in common with his idea of a typical day. I don't think his ideas about "a manic-depressive state" are accurate - what he means is an altered neurological state, but there's nothing to suggest this state is biologically similar to manic depression, even though there are some obvious similarities. But it's definitely interesting to compare SSRIs and MDMA. The long-term effects are similar in some ways - there are a lot of people who took Ecstasy every day for months and months in the late 80s, when it was new and people thought it was completely harmless, and when they stopped they had symptoms pretty similar to long-term post-SSRI stuff. They're not exactly the same drugs, and the after-effects aren't identical, but the damage that can be caused by heavy long-term use of Ecstasy highlights how dangerous it can be to mess with the serotonin system over a long period of time.
I see my light come shining, from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now, I shall be released