Withdrawal from Anitidepressants

Updated on July 01, 2008
D.P. asks from Utica, MS
26 answers

I hae been taking the antidepressant, Effexor 150 mgs. for almost three years now. When it was first precribed it had the lowest incident of weight gain of any other on the market. After some further research I have found it has the highest and also kills your sex drive. I made the decision to come of of Effexor and did research on the internet as how to best do this, because I know you never just stop taking an antidepressant. I found some really scarey things to be said about this medication and how difficult it is to come off of. Even my Dr. tells me it is a long hard process. Has any one out there had an experience with this medication and can you offer any reassurance or advice during this most difficult time?

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So What Happened?

The responses were overwhelming! Thanks to each of you who took the time to share your situationw with me. I feel so much better now knowing that I am not "crazy" and you all sent such good advice that I have a lot more resource to draw from. Thanks again to all of you. God Bless you all. D.

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C.S.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Over the past 10 years I have tried Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Effexor. I do have more of an anxiety problem then depression. For the past 4 years I have taken Effexor XR 150mg capsules. I switched to Effexor because Paxil causes too much weight gain and also causes sexual problems. (It is even used in men to stop pre ejaculation) I have found Effexor to work very well for me, but when I was trying to get pregnant, I needed to switch to Zoloft for the saftey of my baby. My doctor gave me a trial pack of the Effexor and I took them backwards to dose myself down and finally off the Effexor. I really did not have any problems coming off of it. I did however start immediately on the Zoloft, and doing quite well. I will start the Effexor again after I have my baby. I think that the weight issue is different from person to person. I lost weight when I got off of the Paxil and did not gain with the Effexor.

Good luck.

C.

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A.L.

answers from Lafayette on

Hi D.!

I was on Effexor for about three or so years and talked to my doctor about the effects it had on my sex drive. We decided to switch to Wellbutrin. I had to be weaned off and then when I got pregnant I had to come off completely. I didn't find it that difficult, but I had the Wellbutrin to take its place. If you don't plan on taking anything else, I would definitly take it slow. The side effects I experienced were dizziness and I become a little emotional. It was the same feeling I got if I ever missed one while I was taking them regularly. Good luck to you and I hope that everything works out for the best.

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L.G.

answers from Little Rock on

I was on it at one time too. It is a hard drug to quit. I followed the instructions to gradually reduce the amount you take to quit. It took me a month to get it out of my system. And let me tell you that I was a total nasty B++++++ . I would
never recommend this drug to anyone and I will not take any other drug if I can help it again for depression. Good luck and I hope everything works out for you.

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P.M.

answers from Birmingham on

I have been on Effexor myself for over six years and find that the side effects are outweighed by controlling my depression. Your doctor can help you come off Effexor and it is a gradual (but not long hard process) that consists of going from one pill a day to one every two days to three days, to eventually stopping all together. etc. If you suffer from depression, as you state "all your life", it is not a shame to be on medication or in therapy. Please seek professional advice for your sake and that of your children and students.

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W.E.

answers from Little Rock on

I am a 37 year old female and I took the same drug and dosage for 2 years while my husband was deployed. My experience was that I lost weight because it caused my body to go into hyperthyroidism. So now I am dealing with Grave's Disease. My sex drive was gone and when he came home that was very sad. Being a little sick of the effects, I quite it one day. I had the sakes and headache for about a week but I didn't want to be on the drug anymore!!! My treatment now is natural with vitamins! DRUG FREE!!

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E.H.

answers from New Orleans on

hi, just stay focused on you becoming drug free. the process can be a little wiered but none the less it can and should be done. when you experience the withdrawel let it remind you that the real you is coming back to life and is ready to shine. my life off of effexor is going just fine and so will yours.

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C.S.

answers from Biloxi on

Hi D.
I have been through the process of the withdrawal from anti-depressants. The first time I did this was several years ago when I stopped taking Celexa. I must admit it was a very hard thing to do. I actually had some very severe headaches that would cause me to be in the bed with serious pain. I went through that for several days before it went away. I stayed off of the Celexa for a few years and then began taking Lexapro. When I decided to stop taking the Lexapro I did it by slowing reducing how often I took them. I would take one every other day for a week or so. Then I would switch to taking one every two days. I did have headaches but it was nothing like with the Celexa. If I were you I would really take it slow to allow your body time to adjust to change. I would also discuss this with my doctor because if there is a chance that you are going to switch to a new medication then they may can help you without you having to go through the withdrawal process. Good Luck!
C. Stork
www.forourkidz.fourpointmoms.com

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M.W.

answers from Little Rock on

Dear D.,
I know from experience about this medication. Personally, I never once had any problems with it. My doctor warned me not to just STOP taking the Effexor due to it causing "brain buzzez" if you did. Unfortunately, due to cost and lack of money at one point - I had no choice but to stop abruptly due to running out. However, I never experience any noticeable ill effects from doing it that way. I also never had any problems while taking it. I have worked in the mental health field for many years and have heard a LOT more GOOD than BAD about Effexor XR. I would love to still be taking it - but am unable to due to cost.

On the other hand, I also had my doctor prescribe Effexor XR for my husband. He did GREAT while taking it. He felt 100% better than he had in years. However, he ended up having to quit abruptly for the same reason I did - lack of money to fill the prescription. He did not have a very good experience with doing this - he was VERY OUT OF SORTS for approx 3-4 days - he was irritable, restless, felt like his head was swimming, his balance was off, he was kind of paranoid, and didn't feel well at all. It only lasted a few days though. He swore never to take it again unless he KNEW for CERTAIN that he wouldn't have to stop like that again.

As with all medications, people do react differently to them. It does take a little while to taper off the Effexor XR, but it should only take about as long as it took for you to get started. They can actually give you a couple of "starter packs" to use to taper off. It is generally recommended that you take a week for each dosage step-down for your body to adjust. Those more sensitive to it may need a little longer. At 150mg, I wouldn't expect it to take more than a month to titrate off - and if it does, it shouldn't be much more. In any case, I hope this gives you some encouragement. Good luck with whatever choice you make and God Bless.

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K.G.

answers from Montgomery on

Not familiar with Effexor, but I came off of 400mg of Wellbutrin for six years and have survived quite well on St John's Wort. (two three times a day) I also take Ginseng & Ginko Biloba which keeps me from feeling blah and sluggish. Good Luck & God Bless, K. in Auburn, AL

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B.S.

answers from Little Rock on

Response to withdrawal from antidepressant Effexor:
Dear D. P.:
You can beat this, it will be hard, but you can make it to get off Effexor and live a healthier, drug free life while you balance all you do with your family and work. Above all, focus on your personal faith and exercise habits to help lift you through this challenge. Not everyone will understand what you are going through and may criticize you a lot, but persist to believe in yourself and your vision for a more positive life. Now is the time, while school is out, to wean off. You cannot go cold turkey, no way, that is too difficult. You will have to cut your dosage in half at first, then gradually break it down as you go. And be sure to talk with your physician, call him to tell him your experience and ask his/her advice. But also trust in yourself and pay attention to how your body and mind feels from this Effexor medication. No one really knows unless they have been through it. I would agree that you need to very gradually wean off of Effexor. It is such a horrible experience to be on Effexor. You need to get off of this terribly addictive, mind altering drug. I have been there and done that. The Effexor experience was so awful, that I would rather be drug free, finding natural proactive ways to fight depression, rather than let some chemical control my mind. I accepted the Effexor prescription a few years ago to deal with the depression after a divorce. It really didn't help me that much, but I kept taking it even though it made me feel very sluggish. My liver started hurting all the time. I gained a lot of weigtht too. Also, I became engaged again, and my fiancee told me to get off that stuff. Yes, Effexor really kills the sex drive for one thing. Another thing was that if we were to plan for another baby, it would be a dangerous medication to be taking as it would affect the fetus. Effexor has been compared to heroine addiction. It is very hard to wean off of it. Most people will not understand what you are going through, but you can and will make it through this battle. You may feel electric shock sensations in your brain, extreme mood swings, impaired equilibrium and blurred vision while you try to wean off as well as shaking. So, be very careful about driving. Just talk to you doctor while you do this, make sure he/she can also write a medical excuse for you in what symptoms you are experiencing or if you are incapacitated for the worst part of it. Most people do not believe it is a big deal because they do not understand. They may treat you with a dismissive attitude during this time. It is an uphill struggle, too. Just keep believing in yourself and that you can be free from this terrible drug. Focus on the positive as much as you can. The weaning down process has to be very gradual, as the withdrawals are so extreme. You cannot just go cold turkey, or you will really hurt yourself. There is a medication the doctor may prescribe only in a very small amount, maybe enough for just a week in an extremely low dose called Xanax. The doctor may be hesitant, as Xanax is also highly addictive. But, just for a short time of a week or two, with minimal dosage, Xanax will help ease you off of the last stages of Effexor withdrawals. It really helped me. Be sure, though to only use a tiny portion of Xanax, and just a half a pill at a time when you do have these severe side affects, including some anxiety. You want your brain to level out to normal and not to need medication any further when you are done with this process. I was very thin when starting Effexor and gained a lot of weight over the two years I accepted the prescription. Thank goodness my fiancee insisted I get off of it. I will admitt to you though, that the withdrawal effects were so extreme. Effexor really hurt my life more than it helped; and my fiancee did not stay with me through the withdrawals. It was too much for him to take, to see how this affected me. It was so hard. But, I am happier and more resiliant today off of Effexor than I was then. The best thing I can tell you to recover from this is, again, since it is summertime now, and you are a teacher, you need to wean off right now so that by the time August rolls around, you will be more stabilized, having been through the worst of it and be more on the norm. Please motivate yourself to excercise regularly and vigorously as much as you can daily or every other day at minimum. This will help get the weight off and also help release healthy chemicals in your brain to fight the depression and anxiety in a natural way. You will need to be super nutrition concious, avoiding sugars for example. Have your protein foods in the morning with a big breakfast, a medium sized lunch, and then a small dinner, or just one bowl of cereal and fruit. You need to have two small healthy snacks through the day. As well, take your multivitains. There are a couple of natural supplements which will help you also fight depression such as St. John's Wort, Sam-E, L-Tyrosine, and Fish Oil with Omega 3 fatty acids. You need to take the Fish Oil three times a day with your meals. It is very good for the brain. And, you may need support from a therapist or a counselor at church. But, keep in mind that it is your life and your journey, your mind and body. You must travel your own road and no one really knows unless they have also had a similar experience. You must try to focus on your spiritual/religious faith, and making yourself especially focus on being grateful for the good. Really try to enjoy your praise and worship music, as well as listen to inspirational and uplifting music as much as you can; and sing along. It will help you feel happier. Do not cast your pearls before swine to everyone and tell so many people the details of your crisis with Effexor, as they will judge you harshly. But, keep believing in yourself and that God will not give you more than you can handle. But, during this time, yes you will definitely feel challenged to keep a happy medium. You can do it, but it is hard. In the long run though, you will be glad you weaned off of Effexor for a more positive lifestyle of proactive healthy habits. Yes, you are busy as a mother, wife, and teacher. You are a care giver; but you must take care of yourself first to be able to continue to care for these other people who need you. The answer is not always in a little chemical pill just so you can function at work and home. It may seem like a quick fix, but can hurt in the long run. The doctor may suggest a different medication, but just like a drug dealer, they do not take these medications themselves, and cannot tell you in detail what the experience will be like. They may quote the general side affects listed on the warning label and that, there are suggestions for how the pills work. So you just have to wait and see the positive and negative affects of the medication; and if the benefits outweight the risks. Sometimes the Effexor only masks and suppresses your depressive emotions and makes things worse overall, as you may be sluggish and still unhappy or sad. When you wean off effexor, you will have to deal with all the negative emotions that were suppressed by the drug as you wean off of the Effexor crutch. I will tell you, it is a horrible experience, but you can make it through this. It takes more effort by natural means to stay balanced and healthy. Just keep believing in yourself and focus on the positive. I have been there and done that. I am so much healthier now living a drug free life. I have to be very proactive in healthy habits, like lots of hiking, swimming, exercise as well as maintaining daily some quiet time for personal meditation/prayer time and reading. Keeping some sort of journal through this is a good idea. I wish you the best D.. I have been there, done that, and won the T-shirt, so to speak. It is a very hard journey, but there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Keep you chin up and hang in there, lady. I know from my own experience of weaning off Effexor, you can make it through this personal battle for victory in your life. :-)

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A.G.

answers from Tulsa on

Boy I really needed to read all these responses. I am also trying to come off a wicked drug called Seroquel. I have been trying to get off the last little bit of it for months now. Everytime I don't take the last dose I don't sleep and I am off the charts in mood swings. I wake up sad everyday and then by afternoon when it is finally wearing off I feel better. I lost my brother to cancer at thanksgiving and nearly had a complete breakdown. I will not be totally drug free even when I get off of this but I will have one less pill to take. I want to be on the minimum I need to function. Ihave 3 1/2 year old twins and have to be able to function. I went into deep depression in feb when I tried to go cold turkey off all my meds. I have accepted for not that I will not be completely drug free but I will get off this horrible drug. hearing you and the others here will help me finish this last cut back until I am totally off of it. would you believe my dr told me to get off but he did not plan any titrating down he just told me to go off due to some very serious side effects i was having. I hope you have a good doctor because I don't feel that I do. I am going to try to work with my PCP to get off this last little bit and ask him not to make me go back to a psychiatrist. Like someone else here said they are pill pushers that is all they do. they don't even take more than 15 mins with you and prescribe these powerful mind altering chemicals. Please be careful I hope your husband is supportive because I have been in mood swing hell ever since I started tapering myself down but I know I don't want this drug in my body anymore. I am not myself and I want the old me back. Pray for god to help you and like someone else said have a quiet time and journal that is all that helps me. and they are right when they say don't tell everyone only people who understand and know what it is like to be on medication. Others will even reject you when you tell them you are stuggling with this. even christians and pastors it is terrible. I made the mistake of enlisting prayer from the wrong people and was refected and ostrasized like I was too much trouble or something. anyway i hope this helped. gail

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J.M.

answers from Baton Rouge on

I'm on effexor as well and have been off and on for 7 years. I personally didn't have too much of an issue with the loss of sex drive. I found that it was less than some of the others I've tried. I've also found that the Effexor benefits faaaar out weigh any of the side effects. It just works the best...for me. Everyone is different.
Effexor is very hard to get off of and I would suggest trying to switch to another antidepressant to minimize the effects. I've taken a combo of Prozac and Wellbutrin which is supposed give you the same results as Effexor and although I didn't find they worked as well as Effexor, the transition was very smooth.
i also struggle with depression...as you can surely tell. I can't imagine getting off the medication but I know timing is everything. Will you be seeing a counselor during your transition?
Best luck to you.

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J.M.

answers from Baton Rouge on

I was placed on effexor 75mg 3xD, I was being treated for anxiety and depression. The more he increased the effexor for depression, the greater the anxiety. I really almost lost my mind!! I decided to quit taking these and all pills. I had no idea how dangerous this could be, but I survived by going to a chinese doctor in Seattle who placed me on detox herbs ad then other herbs and teas that helped me greatly. Of course I was under a Dr's care to ween off of the Psyco. drugs(not at first though) I origanally tried going "cold turkey" and became very ill, so find a compassionate Dr. to help with weening, but find the right natural supplements to help you through this, you may never need anything other than supplements to keep you functioning and content. I am !!!! Good Luck, and remember all the power of the universe is waiting to help you. Best Reguards J. M.

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A.S.

answers from Dothan on

You may want to check out the website Alternative Mental Health, http://alternativementalhealth.com/ . There are lists of physicians who will help you get off the drugs and into more natural remedies. I did this with my son, who was 4 at the time, and after about 6 months, I had a different child.

Hope this helps!

~A.~

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P.K.

answers from Tulsa on

A friend of mine came off of Effexor and the best suggestion I can give you is to work with your Dr. to come off of it. Very Gradually. Everyone is different. Please do not attempt this without Drs. help. You may need to get on another one gradually as you come off of this. Dangerous to do on your own. It should be done very slowly, over a month or two in order to minimize side effects and problems and to do it safely. Coming off of Effexor too fast is dangerous, but under a Drs. supervision, should be fine. Best of luck.-This is just my opinion, I am not a medical person. Just a friend of someone who had problems withdrawing from it too fast.

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W.M.

answers from Decatur on

Hi D.,
I feel for you, I've been there too. Then I joined this company called Arbonne. I have learned how to detox my body, what foods to stay away from, and most of all about natural progesterone cream. If you would like to email me I will send you a easy presentation from Dr. John Lee. It explains so much in minutes you will be amazed!!
[email protected]____.com Hang in there, you can overcome this.

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R.R.

answers from Tulsa on

Hello D.!

First of all, congratulations in this journey you have started to improve your health!

I don't have experience with medications but I've seen the side effects on one of my best friends. Work with your doctor to withdraw from any medication, it might be hard but with God's strength you'll be able to succeed!
In my case I tried to use a herbal supplement to control my anxiety and It didn't help at all so I turned to Jesus for strength and it is better now.
You'll be in my prayers! hope there are other people here than can share their insights on this subject with you!
Hugs, God bless you, R.

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R.L.

answers from Tulsa on

i was on effoxor for 2 years and it was extremely hard to get off of. you have to take a half of your usual dose for a week then half of that for another week and then half of that for another week. if you just stop taking it you could have seizures and extreme withdrawals. i tried to stop taking it by myself and had a very hard time with it. it was only after talking to a new doctor that i learned how difficult it can be to stop taking this med. good luck

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K.C.

answers from New Orleans on

Hi Deb!
I also have taken antidepressants for many years but now I am using a natural product that works great. The company has a 100% money back guarantee.
Call me for more information
K. ###-###-####

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C.O.

answers from Lawton on

Hi. I do not have experience with Effexor, but I do have experience with Zoloft. Let me tell you, I quit taking it too quickly and it was BAD. I did not know what was wrong with me. I thought my sugar was out of whack and was convinced that my hypoglycemia had turned to full-fledged diabetes. I felt drunk all the time and dizzy. I was sick to my stomach and so much more. I started looking on the internet and figured out what the problem was, so I went back on it and instead of weaning off in two weeks this time, I have been weaning off for about 4 months this time. I am still in the process. I now am taking half a pill every 3-5 days. When I get up the nerve I am going to just stop taking it after every 5 days. I am just worried because of what happened last time! Those symptoms have not returned so far except for once and I just upped it again a little and slowed down on weaning. Also, if the mood swings get too bad, my husband gently tells me and we discuss it, then I up it just a little and wean off again slowly. Please be careful and have someone who knows you well and will be honest with you about major differences in yourself. Good luck and know that there are tons of us out here who are right there with ya! ~C.

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C.D.

answers from Oklahoma City on

i am C. and i also have had depression all my life too. i am bi-polar level 3. i was on effexer awhile back. it done ok for awhile. but then i started really feeling depressed. how my doctor done it to take me off of it was; less mg. a day for a week then lower them again for the next week and so forth. then slowly start on a new med at a low dosage and raise it week by week if needed. it worked. however, everyone is differant. i now take zoloft and been on it for two years and know others that take it and it works for them and for me. if can print this letter and take it to your doc. hope this helps

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C.W.

answers from Huntsville on

I can only speak for myself, but I, too, was on this drug for some time. Due to a miscommunication between myself and my doctor's office and an impending vacation, I found myself quitting cold turkey. I had no ill side effects and was very surprised by how easy it was to walk away. I had also read all the horror stories about coming off Effexor and was prepared for the worst. Even my husband agrees that it was no big deal for me. Good luck to you!

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A.H.

answers from Biloxi on

Hi D..

I have taken Effexor in the past. It did not work for me. What I found that worked miracles for me was Paxil. It is amazing what a difference it made in my life! Talk to your doctor about it. I was your age when I was on it. I noticed a big difference within a short time. I am 55 now and have been drug free for years now! If it doesn't work for you, keep trying until you find something that works. You don't need to be on them forever!

What my doctor recommended to me was to gradually taper off. Take daily for six days one week, then 5 days the next week, every other day for the third week, three times for the fourth week, and so on.

Best of luck to you, dear!

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D.G.

answers from Little Rock on

I've been fortunate enough to have never been on antidepressants. I started using Natural Progesterone cream to help my acne and discovered that it completely controlled my anxiety attacks, mood swings and suicidal thoughts. My face is still a mess, but I am hormonally balanced!! I feel great except when I forget to use my "happy cream". Be sure to use a Natural (USP) Progesterone Cream. (I prefer the ones with a pump dispenser. I found the best prices on amazon.) Your doctor will probably want you to use a prescription, but they have many bad side effects, which is what you were trying to avoid in the first place. There are no bad side effects to the natural cream so you should be able to start the cream as you wean off of the antidepressants.
Good Luck

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J.C.

answers from Jackson on

Hi, I was also on Effexor XR, for about 1 1/2 years. I kept wanting to get off it, but my doctor kept wanting me to take a higher dose. By the time she was through with me, I was taking 300 mg a day. Finally, I switched doctors (thank goodness!!!), and my new doctor put me on Lexapro. Honestly, it is the best thing that ever happened to me. I had tried it before, and it made me nauseated and dizzy, but I gave it another try, and after 2 weeks, all side effects disappeared and I feel better than I have in years. I have also struggled with depression for most of my life, and I definitely feel your pain. It is my understanding (and I may be wrong), that you can start another antidepressant as soon as you stop the one you're on. That's what I did with Lexapro, and it worked out great. So there is no withdrawal. See what your doctor says, but I highly recommend Lexapro. There are sexual side effects at first, but after 2 weeks, it gets better, and the longer you take it, the less of a problem it is. I've been on it now for a year, and occasionally have a little dysfunction in that department, but not often. I just try to relax and not get upset about it, and everything is fine. I so hope you find a good solution for yourself. :) Take care, and feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or concerns. Barbara

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T.T.

answers from Lafayette on

You have to be very careful when discontinuing antidepressants. There are ways to help with the withdrawal symptoms. The best product that I have found is an all natural juice product that can be ordered off of the internet. I have patients who have successfully replaced their antidepressant with this juice, and report feeling better with the juice than the drugs. There are knock-off brands of the juice, but only one that has the whole-fruit, and that can be found at: www.drtina.gomangosteen.com. I hope you will try it, and you can call me if you have any questions.

T. Theriot, D.C.
[email protected]____.com
###-###-####

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