Essential Oils for Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome

Recently I was visiting my doctor and he told me my antidepressant (Cymbalta) was no longer working and explained that I would need to start tapering off of it. He gave me instructions and sent me on my way.

Along the way I developed symptoms of something called Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome. I was getting headaches and what feels like electrical zaps in my brain. It was very uncomfortable and keeping me from resting well.

I’ve always heard about Black Pepper Essential Oil helping with addiction and withdrawals but never had the opportunity to give it a try for myself.

A quick search online for “Essential Oils for Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome” quickly pulled up several blog posts from alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities who have reported that black pepper essential oil can help with this condition, so I decided with my sleepy tired self that now is the time to try it out, I certainly have nothing to lose and sleep and relief to gain.

I was out of aromatherapy inhalers so I used a small wad of toilet paper (that’s the technical term for it *wink*) and sprinkled about 3-4 drops, laid down in bed, and placed my makeshift aromatherapy inhaler below my nose.
As I laid there and breathed normally it occurred to me how gentle the oil seemed. Pepper is usually thought of as harsh, but this essential oil didn’t feel harsh. I said a prayer.

It didn’t have any affect right away, so I was concerned it wasn’t going to work. I was always taught inhalation bypasses the brain barrier and can take effect in 0.006 seconds. That amount of time had definitely passed.

I recalled the recommended diffusing time was 30 minutes, so I thought hey, it’s not causing any harm, I’ll keep inhaling for 30 minutes.

5-10 minutes in I felt the oil take effect. I felt a gentle calm go over my brain. It felt lighter, or less pressured somehow. The brain zaps stopped. I felt a bit of harshness off of the oil, a little tickle in my nose, and followed my intuition that this was the queue for the treatment to stop.

How refreshing it was to be not having intense symptoms of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome. Not surprisingly, I fell asleep shortly thereafter.
The following day I had to know why that worked. I rolled on over to my previous blog post about black pepper. 

I was reminded the active constituents in the Black Pepper essential oil are trans-carophyllene 30.33% and limonene 12.12%. Carophyllene is a natural sesquiterpene and cannabinoid, so the oil is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and calming and soothing to the nervous system.

A shiver ran down my spine at the thought of my brain being inflamed with spasms. All the research I did shows that researchers don't know what causes brain zaps, but that they do not cause permanent brain damage. 

If you're planning to taper an SSRI or SNRI you might consider giving black pepper essential oil a try. 

I also read about aromatherapists using anti-nausea oils like ginger, cardamom or peppermint for another side effect of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, nausea, but it wasn't necessary for me because I really was nauseous as much as having the headaches and brain zaps.