In this post, all about how I used CBD to help me go off of Zoloft and Wellbutrin.
Spotlight on CBD
CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids that have been isolated and identified by scientists. In recent years CBD has gained widespread notoriety for its ability to treat a plethora of lifelong chronic illness and disease. Some facts about CBD:
- CBD is completely non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high.
- CBD is non-addictive, has minimal side effects, and can be used safely by children, adults, and animals.
- CBD can treat schizophrenia, post traumatic stress, epileptic disorders, depression, anxiety, cancer, osteoporosis, nausea, lupus, OCD, Parkinson’s disease, acute and chronic pain, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, psychosis and so much more.
I use CBD for my diagnosed generalized anxiety and major depressive disorders, conditions I have had for my entire adult life. At the end of 2017 I used CBD therapy to successfully go completely off of pharmaceuticals, and I’m eager to share what I have learned with you! I use the “Spotlight on CBD” umbrella to house product reviews (both sponsored and non), in-depth articles, videos, and podcasts about this important topic.
A Brief History of my Crazy
I was “officially” diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder at age 24, but I have lived with those issues since my early teens. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I sought professional help to deal with my intense postpartum depression, and that was when I was first put on Zoloft and Wellbutrin. That was 11 years ago, and I have been on them ever since.
Those medications helped me significantly but neither were able to fully combat depressive episodes. While I experienced these episodes less frequently, they still occurred, and when they did I felt powerless to be the mother I am capable of being and that my children deserve. When I finally rediscovered cannabis in my adult years, I saw that by adding it to my routine, I could live without the depressive episodes I had dealt with since puberty.
So life-changing was that discovery for me, that I built a website and started calling myself The Stoner Mom, to help spread the word of responsible and mindful cannabis use. I started this website in 2014, praising the effect that the combination of Zoloft, Wellbutrin, and Cannabis had on my mental health. Since I finally felt mentally “right” for the first time in my life, I didn’t really ponder a future where I would want to go off my meds at all.
But the years go by, we get older and better informed, and by early 2017 I had become disillusioned with being on both medications. I had found that I felt better on cannabis than on anything else, and so with my doctors approval and my husband’s support, I decided to responsibly attempt to go off both Zoloft and Wellbutrin.
How I Prepared
In early 2017 I visited my doctor for guidance on getting off SSRI’s. She suggested we start with Zoloft, and so over the next several months she steadily lowered my dose. During this time I continued taking Wellbutrin and using cannabis daily, in addition to my now much lower dose of Zoloft. Thankfully I didn’t experience any withdrawals or weird side effects during this time.
By November 2017 I quit taking Zoloft and began the process of lowering my dose of Wellbutrin in the same way I had begun with Zoloft. This is when I added CBD to my daily routine, starting with low doses of various sublingual oils that were sent to me from different companies.
Finally, in January 2018, I stopped taking my Wellbutrin altogether, and buckled in for some gnarly withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawals | Exhaustion, Depression, Anxiety, and Brain Zaps
The first 8 weeks off of my SSRI’s were rough. I experienced a major resurgence of anxiety, which I had always considered the lesser of my two disorders. These anxiety attacks were awful and often led to a full-blown depressive episode. I started sleeping more, feeling chronically fatigued and unfocused, and would often find my eyes welling up with tears as an intense sense of despair took over me.
I also experienced tons of brain zaps, arguably the worst part about going off SSRI’s. The term “Brain Zaps” refers to the electrical shock and brain buzzing sensation that is attributed to SSRI withdrawal. These were nothing new to me, as I had experienced them every time I missed a dose of Zoloft over the last eleven years. But these brain zaps were near continuous, occurring every time I moved my eyes, and were extremely uncomfortable. Brain zaps are especially tortuous while driving, and they contribute to an overall sense of mental fog, confusion, and fatigue. They continued for weeks.
I felt very disorganized and unfocused during this time and lacked the motivation to do all but the most basic tasks. I spent my depleted energy on being a mom and had little strength to do much else other than wait for the day when these feelings would finally end.
I used cannabis and CBD to combat the physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal, but it was still very difficult. I often have a hard time medicating myself with anything while in a depressive state, regardless of how aware I am of my condition, so I am very fortunate to have had my husband there to remind/demand that I take my CBD daily.
A Fog Lifted | How CBD Makes Me Feel
Somewhere in the second month of being off the pills I began feeling better. It was very gradual and I didn’t even realize I was returning to my old self for at least a week after feeling better. One day it just dawned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time I experienced a brain zap. On another day I realized I hadn’t had night sweats since I quit SSRI’s.
With the withdrawal phase over, I began to really feel the effects of CBD in my endocannabinoid system. The mental fog that had been blinding me from seeing positively began to lift and my old self-discipline and happy attitude returned.
I no longer experience anxiety attacks and my depressive episodes have ceased. Better still, I feel very aware of my emotions and mental state, as opposed to feeling “separated” from my emotions like I did when on SSRI’s. CBD doesn’t make me feel “drugged” in any way, in fact, the best way I can describe its effect on me is that when I use CBD regularly I notice a distinct lack of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
I also smoke significantly less weed now, a side effect I certainly did not expect from beginning CBD therapy. In the past I have used cannabis as-needed to pull me out of a slump, but with plenty of CBD in my system I no longer find daily cannabis use necessary for maintaining optimal mental health. This has done wonders for my cannabis tolerance, making me able to enjoy the psychoactive effects of THC in a way that I haven’t since I first started smoking cannabis.
My CBD Routine
I take 100 mg of CBD on most days, usually in the late morning. CBD is non-addictive and there are no withdrawals, so I feel less anxious about missing a day or two here and there. I primarily use a CBD oil sublingually, as that is the quickest and most effective method for absorbing CBD. Sublingual means you apply the oil under your tongue and hold there for a few minutes, allowing it to absorb. Occasionally I switch up my routine by taking CBD capsules or vaporizing pure CBD isolate in a vape pen or dab rig.
During the two weeks before my period I am diligent about taking CBD. My depression has long been triggered by my monthly cycle, and so I’ve learned to over-treat myself during those times when I’m especially vulnerable. This is when I’ll add an additional capsule to my standard dose, vape CBD during the day, or just add another sublingual dose to my regular amount. You cannot overdose on CBD.
CBD is readily available online and there are many trusted companies offering a wide range of products. See my CBD reviews for brand recommendations. The tincture I use daily is from Medterra (use code STONERMOMCBD for 20% off), as its tasteless oil is the easiest for me to consume. Harbor Hemp is a quality water soluable brand with isolate and full spectrum tinctures. I also really like Ananda Hemp’s line of products (see my review here). For capsules I prefer the 50 mg from Endoca. Endoca also makes pure CBD crystals that I am really impressed with and will be reviewing later this month. If you are in Oregon check out Wright & Well. Their full spectrum and THC tinctures are ideal.
A Final Note
Quitting SSRI’s cold turkey is never recommended and in fact can be quite dangerous, so be sure to consult your trusted physician and make a plan together. It may take a long time to go off medications. Getting my mind and body acclimated to lower doses and eventually zero meds took about a year. The time investment was totally worth it however, since CBD treats my symptoms far more effectively than SSRI’s ever did, and now I’m not adding addictive and habit-forming medications to my already complicated-enough body.
CBD has greatly enhanced my mental health, and there is a mountain of evidence that shows it has huge potential to help those with depression or anxiety, in addition to the large list of chronic conditions that it can treat. Of course, we are all complex and unique, so be sure to do your own research before you start your CBD therapy, and like always, I wish you the very best on your personal cannabis journey.