92 responses to “Understanding Antidepressant Withdrawal”

  1. Mechelle

    I had been taking Celexa for three years and was just feeling blah and no emotions at all. I told my doctor and he switched me to Wellbutrin. He told me it would give me a little more energy and help pep me up. He told me just to stop the Celexa and begin the Wellbutrin. I did. After about 3-4 days I started having significant problems. I was very dizzy, could concentrate or think clearly, I was shaking, crying, nauseous, along with many other strange things. I had difficulty focusing on driving and working. I called the pharmacist and he asked me if I had tapered off of the Celexa. I told him the doctor had said just to stop it. He said I was having withdrawals. I called my doctor and he said to come in for a visit. I explained to him what was happening. He told me there were no withdrawals and that it was all in my head and he would switch me to another medication. I started crying and just couldn’t believe he had so little concern for me. A few days later I received a certified letter from the doctor saying he could no longer see me due to the breakdown of the doctor/ patient relationship. I still can’t believe it. Getting off of antidepressants is hell and very difficult. Everyday is a struggle for me.

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  2. Karen Cann

    When Cymbalta caused blepharospasm, a condition where your eyes refuse to open, blink a lot and muscles around the eyes spasm, I decided to stop. Wow! Severe Discontinuation Syndrome sent me to the ER. I thought it was serotonin Syndrome from touching my cats Prozac cream when I applied it to their ears. As SNRIs help my chronic nerve pain, I went on a quest to find a new med that didn’t cause Blepharospasm. But not before I had numerous timely problems getting a new doc to help me. We tried Pristiq that caused muscle spasms and anxiousness. I tried treating the anxiety by adding a small dose of Prozac but the Pristiq didn’t like that…serotonin overload symptoms. My doc gave me Gabapentin to help with anxiety but I was reluctant to take it. So switched to Effexor which caused severe muscle tension for 2 hours after taking it and shakiness the rest of the time (apparently this is considered an initial up to 3 week side effect), so back to Pristiq which For some reason now gave me heart palpitations, muscle spasms and anxiety for most of the day after taking it. So I emailed my doc and lowered the Pristiq to 25 mg. While waiting 3 days to talk on the phone to my MD about how to stop the Pristiq, I needed something to manage the anxiety, palpitations, spasms and emerging Discontinuation symptoms from lowering the Pristiq, so I researched online and discovered that Gabapentin was effective for anxiety and muscle spasms. So I used the Gabapentin and it worked like a charm. But, i inadvertently discovered that gabapentin eased my Discontinuation Syndrome symptoms! And my nerve pain. Maybe I don’t need SNRIs for my chronic pain.

    I am now on day 3 of discontinuing Pristiq after switching to 10 mg Prozac. I have been using the Gabapentin for the discontinuation symptoms (anxiety, muscle spasms, nerve pain, tingling, heart palpitations, muscle tension, lability, brain zaps). The symptoms that I am experiencing (nausea, GI distress, diahrrea, tingling, muscle spasms, brain zaps) started at the 2.5 day mark, just as the Pristiq was totally eliminated fro my body. They began intermittently but have been increasing. I’m wondering if it means I need to take another Prozac 10 mg.

    Unfortunately, there are no psychiatric guidelines for treating SSRI/SNRI Discontinuation Syndrome. They use Gabapentin regularly to treat withdrawal in drug/alcohol treatment. Most of what I’ve learned about this medical problem has been from the internet. My doctors are all a bit clueless. And I just stumbled on the Gabapentin. AnywY, I am taking 1200 mg of gabapentin a Day and simply switched from 25 mg of Pristiq to 10 mg of Prozac. Now that Pristiq is totally out of my system, my plan is to increase to 20 mg of Prozac to hopefully further decrease the symptoms. But the Gabapentin has really helped quiet the discontinuation symptoms. Ask your doc for a script. Really, it has saved my life.

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  3. Alex

    Hi Everyone,

    I just wanted to share some information. I’ve been on SSRI’s for the past 13 years. At one point, I was taking Effexor and stopped it. The withdrawals were so intense I had to be put on another SSRI. Over the years, I’ve switched medications a few times in hopes that one might be easier to discontinue than the other.

    For the past 2 years, I have been taking Zoloft. I heard it wasn’t as difficult to get off, but what I heard was wrong. After day 2 of stopping the medication, I had to get back on it. I spoke with my nutritionist (who is also a non-practicing licensed pharmacist), and she suggested I take 5-HTP CR. I was told to stop taking the Zoloft, and then 24 hours later begin taking the 5-HTP CR in divided doses. The 5-HTP helps our body produce serotonin. I was scared to try it, but I swear by it. I am not on day 5 of no Zoloft and am not suffering nearly as bad as I was during my other attempts to discontinue.

    Every morning, I wake up and take 100mg of 5-HTP CR. It usually holds me over a few hours before I start feeling withdrawals again. Once I’ve waited as long as I possibly can, I take another one. It is important not to take high doses for a long period of time. Yesterday I had to take a total of 500mg in divided doses, and today I was able to make it through with 400mg.

    To anyone reading, I HIGHLY reccomend researching 5-HTP CR for Serotonin Discontinue Syndrome. It is a great supplement, but be sure not to take to much.

    Here is a site that has more information: http://dominatedepression.com/how-i-got-off-antidepressants/

    Fish oil is also another important supplement to have on hand, and remember to drink tons of water! I pray you all get through the pain and can find peace without the medication. It’s amazing to think that just a small 10mg dose of Zoloft (basically crumbs of a 100mg pill) can cause so many issues.

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  4. Tammy Richards

    I forgot to take my paxil for about a week and now my whole hand and arm is numb. I’m back on it but does anybody know if this numbess will go away or should I worry

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  5. Sam

    Iv been suffering form sexual dysfunction for over a year now and have seen no improvement in that department. a lot of other withdrawal issues have resolved, but the sexual function and anhedonia are exactly like day 1. 12 months on, Im still looking to live my life , wondering if I will ever be with a girl again. I cant feel connected to anyone.

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  6. Terri

    I was on Prozac and apitriptyline for 24yrs for fibromyalgia when I tapered that I was put on Lexapro for sensory overload withdrawals . I was on it about a year . Tapered off that. I chose to go off SSRIs because of side effects. I felt sick on them and not a real person but a zombi drifting through life watching everyone else being normal. I wanted to feel normal too. . I am now 6weeks off everything and I can’t tell you the hell am going through. I can’t breath, head pressure, pain, stomach and bowl issues, don’t sleep, leg cramping, twitching and crawling feeling, weakness, exhaustion, etc. each day gets worse not better. How much longer will this go on??? I’ve almost gone back on drug so many times. But I’ve gone this far I keep praying there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am so terrified to go back on drugs but am terrified of how I feel. Please give advise. Dr said I shouldn’t feel this way. Pharmacist said this is normal withdrawals? Is it??? I feel like I have something seriously wrong that I’m dying?? So scared!!

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    1. Chris Davis

      I to feel weak and shaky after been off Prozac for 14 days. Will it get better.

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    2. Karen

      Hi
      I’ve been off citalopram and Wellbutrin for 7 months now after many years taking. I’m afraid you aren’t going to be feeling well for a long time. The withdrawal is brutal and long lasting. I suggest you look up surviving antidepressants site, thousands contributing on the forums there and much useful information. I do hope you’re not trying to work whilst going through this, I think its impossible. Some of my symptoms have lessened but others keep coming up all the time, you get better then worse, then better again. Last night I had a severe reaction to three tulsi tea! A herbal tea! When I looked online last night many people are having the same reaction. There’s no telling when something will trigger you. I have severe multi chemical sensitivity, I can’t take anything. I’ve had awful breathing difficulties- this is all because your nervous system is completely shot to bits, you feel like you can’t breathe properly and that you stop breathing when falling asleep. Do your research, search online for ssri withdrawal and central nervous system damage. You’ll start to build up a picture. http://Www.survivingantidepressants.org also beyondmeds – good luck, it’s absolutely awful and you’ll need lots of time, rest and support. Don’t take ANY supplements as they can really make you a lot worse, just normal diet and care

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    3. Loraine

      Hi im about 6 to 8 weeks off prozac. I feel horrific, pain throughout my body, migraine and no sleep. My head is making weird spasms too! Thats why im grateful to find sites like this as I wondered what was wrong!!! I was starting Duloxetine but decided I dont want any drugs anymore…not sure I can stay off them if this is the result.

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      1. SLA

        Please visit http://www.survivingantidepressants.org for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information that can be found anywhere on the internet which provides guidance and support to help you to taper safely off of these drugs.

        Reply
    4. Mary

      Terri how do you feel now? I have been on Lexapro for 15 years and it took 7 m0nths to wean myself off. It is not fun and I feel horrible even after that long. I do not want to go back on but I feel like I can’t do this sometimes. I have bad muscle aches and bone pain, tingling all over, and can’t sleep. I feel like I am sick all the time. Since I took this drug so long it will take years to feel better. I went and had blood work done because I feel so bad and waiting for that to come back. This drug has really messed up my body and I pray no one ever takes this drug. It is addicting and it really messes up your body. I am more depressed and have anxiety than when I started taking it. I am trying everything natural I can to get through this. We just have to keep going and not give in to this drug it has hurt so many people. I just pray it has not damaged my body for life.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte

        Hello Mary. I too am having difficulty weaning off of Effexor that I’ve been taking for too many years. I first began by taking Paxil when my marriage failed…that was twenty years ago. Since then I’ve been taking Effexor for most of the time. Now, with the guidance of my psychiatrist (not sure if she is really helping??) I started tapering off November 2016. I finally got down to 37.5 and on June 8th I stopped taking the drug …just stopped, cold turkey…so to speak. I wondered about it, but my doctor didn’t seem to have any other method, at least she didn’t say. It is today July 11th and I’m in agony. I was fine and dealt with the brain zaps into June; but around June 28th my body began to seize up and my muscles and joints became so tight and sore I could/can hardly move. I feel a sort of burning sensation from it seems deep inside and a tingling without. My sense of balance is off and I feel ‘wonky’ and weird. I keep thinking/hoping it will pass, but know I can’t go much longer like I’m feeling…it is very debilitating and painful. Right now I’m at my sister’s beautiful place in the country doing as much as I can physically and looking to some naturopathic remedies with a good diet and as much exercise as I’m able…swimming is good. The fatigue is unlike I’ve ever experienced and rather frightening. So I can relate to everything you are writing about and just wanted to add my two cents worth. When I get back to the city I’ll be reaching out to my doctor. There must be a better way or at least a fix of some sort to help me through this. I’m OK mood wise other than feeling the anxiety over this pain. Without the pain and discomfort I would be fine I think. I want to manage my moods without an anti-depressent…at least try and go from there. All the best. Good to share. Take care. Charlotte

        Reply
  7. Thomas

    I have M.E/CFS and had been taking amitriptyline which I had a severe adverse reaction to. Now 5 months later I’m losing the ability to read and all cognitive function. Any advice would be much appreciated.

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  8. Stephanie Carpenter

    I began down dosing velafaxine in July 2016. I knew it would be hell. I would be sick for a solid 2 weeks, feeling crappy but livable until the next down dose. November 6, 2016 was the last day I took a dose. Again, I expected hell, but I underestimated the severity! I was on 225mg at the point when I decided to start the process . Every time I tried talking to my previous doctor about not feeling that it was working, he would raise my mg. It wasn’t working because, after years of fighting, I finally got the diagnosis of being bipolar; I needed a mood stabilizer! After 18yrs on the drug, I am 3mo “clean” and most days feel awful. (I’m also on Lamictal as a mood stabilizer, Vyvanse for ADHD and Wellbutrin for anxiety; all of which I was taking for 2yrs before I decided to stop the Venlafaxine.) We celebrate the “good days” when I’m not throwing up, having stomach pains, diarrhea, migraines or cluster headaches, and severe joint pain; those days have been rare. The bonus is that I no longer have the hair loss, acne, tearing and weak nails. I can’t plan anything because I don’t how I will be feeling day to day. I can’t work because I’m in no way reliable to an employer. On the good days, I will often get surprised half way through the day with the intense nausea and headaches that put me down. As if bipolar isn’t bad enough for roller coaster emotions, adding this and moving forward is tough. My husband tells me that it will get better and I’m trying to think this way. I just want to cry, and do, over the things I’m not able to enjoy. My doctor’s PA is an amazingly supportive and encouraging advocate for getting me the correct treatment, even though she didn’t want me to discontinue for this reason, but knew that I didn’t want to take something that I knew was not helping me. I hear it can be up to a year to feel “normal” again. It is very discouraging. It makes me angry that with the severity of side effects for so many discontinuing this drug it is still so widely prescribed! It’s a problem when the answer to many from their doctors is “if the symptoms/side effects of stopping are too bad, just start taking another dose!”

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  9. Bhaskar

    Hi,
    I have stopped Paxil after 2 yrs use. Prior to that , they gave me generics of prozac, Venlafaxine, olanzapine, qutipin etc..
    It’s been 10 months of hell. And going .. O had got ulnar neuropathy from nowhere. Severe sensitivity in teeth .. almost all frontal. Still sensory issues in hands.. one hand gone under knife and other starting problems

    And Osteoporosis in neck at 27.
    Had to leave job of engineer and sit back idle , keeping shut . Who’s responsible for all this? Me who seemed help for sleep or my family who still don’t know anything about these horrible stuffs… Or the illiterate doctors with Hippocratic oath of “no harm”

    Reply
    1. Jan

      So sorry for your discomfort Bhasker. And we wonder who is crazy!

      Reply
  10. Earl

    I can attest to a tingling / electric buzz symptom. Like a sudden little jolt that comes one randomly or can be sometimes triggered by opening/closing/moving rapidly my eyes and can be exacerbated by lack of sleep or anxiety. It’s been a month since I stopped taking Prozac (10mg) and I still feel this effect. Same thing happened when I discontinued Effexor.

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    1. Jan

      I totally get the electric buzz issue. I’ve been tapering off of Zoloft and my upper lip is going nuts! I had mentioned this to another doc when I missed a dose of Effrexor and she said it wasn’t possible! But I am a nurse who knows the pharmacology of these meds and have done my research. I see this issue online an I wonder why the practitioners aren’t aware of this!

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      1. Karen

        They absolutely are aware of it. Ssri discontinuation syndrome is well documented now. I think they don’t want encourage you to start ‘making up’ a whole load of things they don’t want to deal with. If they don’t mention anything then perhaps you’ll just go quietly.
        Fact is, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people round the world have and are suffering tremendously from withdrawal and it goes on and on

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        1. Crystal

          So glad I found this site. I had been tapering off Setraline/Zoloft for about six months. Last does about two weeks ago and had gone to every other day 25 mg. I am thinking I should have then gone to 3 days, 4 days, 5 days then 1 a week. I was told 25 mg was like taking nothing but I am hypersensitive. I have had everything from the tingling/chills/shock feelings to headaches and dizziness to a rash all over my body. It is as if everything woke up and went haywire. Thinking of trying to go back and do it again but not sure.

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  11. Jenn

    OMG I swear I’m dying! I’ve been onProzac (10mgs) for 12 years and I’m at the ed of my first week of tapering down from 20mgs back to 10. Went up in dose. The past two days I wake up shaking sooooo bad and is lasting all day. Very tired and muscle weakness. Will this go away soon??

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    1. Jan

      Lisa I hope things are better since you posted in November! I’ve been on ATD for over 20 years and finally said, ENOUGH!” OMG is it ever hard! My doc doesn’t take inusrance and I was sooo tired of paying him every 2 months. How sad that we aren’t considered actual patients.

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  12. Cara

    I stopped Prozac cold turkey on 9/15/16. I had taken it for depression for over 5 years (I’m 60). I got an ‘atta girl’ from my GP, but I doubt he has any idea about withdrawal from SSRIs. Everything was fine for the first two weeks, then overnight I developed stomach pains and horrendous gastrointestinal issues. The issues continue throughout the day, normally starting within an hour to 90 minutes after eating, then continue into the night when I’m up five or six times. It’s almost like my digestive system has gone into overdrive. It’s exhausting and, yes, depressing.
    It has been almost six weeks now since the first symptoms of withdrawal. I’m at the end of my rope, my husband is pushing me to go back on, if only to rid myself of these withdrawal issues. I feel I’ve come so far.
    I should also note I had taken antibiotics for 50 days out of five months for two minor dental surgeries and the flu which turned into walking pneumonia between March and August this year. So, I’ve been trying to encourage healthy gut flora, drinking kombucha (GTS and homemade), kefir and taking probiotics. Luckily, I’m staying hydrated, but the gastro issue is crazy. I’m not overweight and not losing any either. Infection has been ruled out.
    Any thoughts or recommendations?

    Reply
    1. kathleen

      Hi Cara,

      I’m not in the medical field either, but I have experienced horrible diarrhea and dehydration when I have delayed or forgotten my dose of Paxil. Now, as I wean myself off of Paxil, I’m also experiencing bouts of gastrointestinal discomfort. If your symptoms continue, I would advise going back on a lower dose of Prozac and gradually tapering from there, even 10% a month, if necessary. You may need a prescription for a lower dose of Prozac and/or a pill splitter. The National Health Service (?) in the UK offers reasonable guidelines for tapering off antidepressants. Unfortunately, I have not received much good advice from physicians, even psychiatrists. It’s a very individual thing, but I think that tapering off, as opposed to going off cold-Turkey, is the key to long-term success.

      Reply
      1. Jan

        Kathleen I took Paxil 20 years ago and gained 30 pounds! My doc was finally run out of business. She was crazier than her patients! You are so correct about tapering off these very strong drugs. Right now I’ve decided to stop paying exorbitant amount of money to psychiatrist to continue feeding big pharma!

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        1. Jan

          opps sorry about those typos!

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    2. Chrissy Cochran

      Cara:
      Keep informing yourself about the “gut-brain axis.” I can relate about long-term antibiotic usage. If you’ve not heard of it, check out a heavy-duty probiotic called VSL#3. I’d heard of it when a relative was very ill from cancer, and I myself order it when I can afford it, which has only been one time so far! I could tell a big difference after 2 days. // The gut is known to produce about 90% of the body’s (peripheral) serotonin, and certainly med changes can affect it. I also can recommend a fabulous book (read it w/in the last 2 years) called Gutbliss by Robynne Chutkan, M.D., FASGE.
      I have been on SSRIs, in one form or another, for at least 20 years. I’m on generic Prozac at this time (fluoxetine) and am weaning down from 10mg to 5 this week. Of all the SSRIs, I like it the best, but b/c I better understand the nature of my mental issues and trauma, I feel confident in seeing who I am on the other side of the meds! Best wishes!

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    3. Carol Ann Howell

      I also experienced severe gastrointestinal problems when I tried to go off Effexor,
      symptoms nearly identical to yours. I could not work, and kept getting sicker till I had gall bladder issues. My gall bladder was extremely inflamed so I thought after I had it removed I would feel so much better. I didn’t! The symptoms continued until I gave in and went back on the Effexor. I had to go back to work and I was concerned that more body parts would need to come out. I think Effexor masks a lot of issues, and after I was totally off of it, my gall bladder issue was blazing . . . or, did going off the Effexor cause the Gall Bladder to become inflamed …? No one has been able to answer that. Now I am changing to Cymbalta due to issues of high blood pressure with Effexor. I’m having some issues, like diarrhea as I taper onto Cymbalta. Effexor really saved my life, but I had been taking it for 17 years with blood pressure issues occurring, and my doctor would not consider that it was the Effexor! So, I insisted on changing antidepressants and my doctor tried to talk me out of it. (Because he knows that it is very difficult) Yes, in 2008 I took 6 months to taper off Effexor and still I got extremely ill. With about 2 doses of Effexor, I was completely well again. I went from 140 pounds to 96 pounds at that time. It was a nightmare. I am so sorry for your suffering … I know what you are going through and my heart goes out to you. I wish there was something I could do for you.

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  13. Claire

    Hi. I have recently discontinued the ssri sertraline. I am also on meds lamotragine and quetiapine for bipolar. I was on Prozac 13yrs ago and had no withdrawal coming off that. With sertraline it’s been awful. I was taking 100mg for over 2yrs and developed a painful rash on both arms and pain in my lower joints. I am in pain just walking and I struggle climbing stairs or even getting out of a chair. I stopped around 2 months ago and the rashes cleared up within a couple of days.I had sweats, brain zaps, dizziness and d&v. However in the last couple of weeks the pain I have in my lower joints is all over my body and is as bad in my wrists,fingers and hips. It’s so bad that I limp. Its like in my bones and it hurts when I am touched or knock myself. I have been taking paracetamol regularly but the pain is there all the time along with fatigue. Is this normal? And how long does sertraline take to leave the system? I would be grateful for any advice. Thanks Claire.

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    1. Keith

      Your GP will be clueless to withdrawal. They have been taught you need more meds. Only someone like Dr David Healy etc will know. You could look up the Bristol and District Tranquilliser Project on Google. They are experts in withdrawal and have a helpline….Best of luck You can bet its withdrawal

      Reply
    2. Chrissy Cochran

      Dear Claire:

      Been on those as well. 🙂 I only have to take quetiapine about 3 times a year now, thank God, as it makes me want to eat like 5 people in one, and I surely don’t need any further extra weight. (The times when I am having “dysregulative” crying and can’t stop is when I take it.)
      You may know that in some patients, lamotragine is known to cause a rash, so, perhaps it and the setraline had something to do w/ one another causing such. Also, I do know that setraline can cause some problem (not quite sure I understand exactly what it is) with one’s platelets. // I agree w/ Keith above in that hardly ANY GPs or family doctors will know “jack” about withdrawal/tapering, etc. Most of them are very ill-informed about the truth of SSRIs. Read Joseph Glenmullen’s books. Also, what has helped me tremendously is learning about CPTSD, narcissistic abuse recovery, and how living with borderline affects me. GOOD LUCK TO YOU!!

      Reply
  14. CAROL

    I took 20 mg of fluoxetine for 3 days. I could not handle the nausea and anxiety so I didn’t take anymore. My question is it has been 7 days since I stopped, would it be out of my afternoon now? I keep getting tingling in my legs and arms and not sure if this could be from the fluoxetine.

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    1. CAROL

      *out of my system

      Reply
  15. frustratedgirl

    hello! I’ve taken antidepressants in the past 5 years to help me with my severe PMS, i initially took cymbalta then it was shifted to escitalopram 10mg/tab, I took it daily but failed to taper it. I got off from it around July then weeks after I noticed myself having troubles with my memory and concentration. Before taking it my memory was still sharp and retentive, the only time that I get to experience brain fog is when I’m a week or 2 away from the day of my period but now that I stopped taking it, my memory has become terrible and it’s really frustrating. Is there any way my memory could go back the way it was prior to taking this drug? hoping for your reply soon… Thanks!

    Reply
  16. Terri A

    Coming diwn off of 150 mg of effoxor (generic) i have beeb comin down for 4 weeks now, terrible body aches, like I just hurt my abs, taped up now, terrible body aches, electric feeling shocks in my head all of the time, very emotional, if I t seems to be getting worse, how lomg does it last? I can’t work, function, or anything else, literary in a fetal position shacking like a junkie coming off heroin or something any one know should i just put my big girl panties on and let it run its course, I really don’t want anything having that much control over my life.

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  17. lisa read

    Hello all, been on Effexor for 15 years roughly, four weeks ago I decided to go off the anti-depressions due to liver & kidney problems . Saw a doctor & the weening process begun..
    This all started with a sexual assault in my childhood, after having a hysterectomy in my late 2os the depression kicked it , nightmares began bringing back the horrors of my childhood. Saw several doctors & cancellers in the meantime going downhill, had suicidal thoughts and two little children so had to pick myself up quick..
    Started on the 75ml Effexor appeared to be ok until my marriage break down where I once again began to go downhill, I upped my dosage to 150ml that was 11 years ago. I have now meet a fantastic man whom is supporting through this difficult time in my life , my beautiful children and their partners have a full understanding of my situation the continual support of my aunty k has helped me come this far.. Work random people in all honesty the more support the better.
    not without the withdrawal’s I have experienced headaches to the point I want to rip my head open & take my brain out , sweats , dizziness , dry mouth, brain zaps , emotional , rages , confusion , forgetfulness, extremely tired eg 10 hours a night .
    my aunty k has studied this as she has been through a breakdown and on anti-depressions previously, as a result she’s found natural methods and advised me through this process I started on 150ml & 75ml every other day, following buy 75ml then 75ml & 37.5ml in my last week 37.5ml all week , while taking vitamin b (all the bs) women’s multi vitamin’s, this week I have also added magnesium, drinking warm water & lemon every morning , an oral spray for calming was brought to my attention I have also started listening to relaxation music and doing what makes me feel happy . Really hope my story will help someone, anyone remain positive people we can all do this!!!!!

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  18. Robert

    Well, this is my one and all final getting of Cymbalta (duloxetine) SNRI and Opiate Pain medication once and for all (HOPEFULLY).
    I’m a young adult and have been taking cymbalta for roughly 2 years. I am presently having some rather nasty withdrawal symptoms. Nothing new though, I have to say going the cold turkey route from opiates and cymbalta does get easier each time in a way ha.
    All joking aside, it does get unbearable, it is frustrating, and honestly if you don’t have the willpower to cold turkey a 120mg Cymbalta/day and 10-20 daily Vicodin pill routine whilst dealing with mental illness, cfs, arthritis, and broken bones that are still healing…
    I repeat DO NOT ATTEMPT.

    If you live in a state that has medical marijuana, I honestly would say give capsules a shot. 5-10mg of thc can work wonders for cfs, pain, and other ailments.

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  19. mike

    HI Lisa! Thanks for writing this great article on SSRI withdrawals. Indeed, “antidepressant manufacturers have adamantly denied that the drugs are addictive or habit forming”… and so have doctors!

    My doctor was so kind to tell me that taking a pill ( Paxil ) at age 30 will help me feel more “open” to people (even though I’m an extravert 😉 and help against my exam anxiety; each time I tried to stop one year later, I got crying fits (something I never had before), so I continued. Moreover, I come from a good background, am well-educated, sporty and am handsome man! 18 years down the road I had to stop Paxil due to chronic fatigue, “emotional numbness”, (no emotional intelligence), less conscience and the dangers this represents!

    The first quit attempt (1 month of weaning off) was a catastrophe as I became extremly suicidal within 3 months. Back on Paxil on low to high dosage did not work, neither did 4 other SSRI’s SNRI’s we tried. My doctor and a pharmacist said: you must take Paxil for life – it is a habit forming drug (even though they are not addictive). I could not accept taking this nasty stuff any longer. A 3 months reduction 1 year later was successful but with horrendous withdrawal symptoms (sleeplessness, high anxiety, hyper-sexuality, muscle/joint pains, brain-zaps, concentration-memory problems, real suicidal ideation (even though I love life and have a wonderful wife, house, boat etc.). These withdrawal symptoms lasted for more than 6months and are gradually diminishing. I attribute them to the withdrawal as I did not have these symptoms whilst I was on Paxil or before.

    Thus, withdrawal (discontinuation syndrome) is real and in some cases very long lasting! My doctor (not the one who prescribed it initially) said that the symptoms were my “depression” returning … I knew it was not as I never had severe depression … but that he was confusing the withdrawal symptoms with “disease”. This “great” doctor did not even know how to set up a proper tapper schedule. Doctors are surprisingly good at selling the drug “we will put a plaster on you” or “you need to take it for life like a diabetic needs to take insulin”, but they are also surprisingly uneducated about withdrawals, why should they? They are usually not aware of conflicts of interests or ghost publishing as they are also manipulated by the industry! I still feel the great damage these chemicals have done, I struggle to live, and I am unable to work. The only hope I have is that the brain can recover naturally.

    Reply
    1. Alison

      Thank you for posting your comments on this story. I have found both the comments and story really helpful.

      I stopped my antidepressants (Wellbutrin and Citalopram) about 2 weeks ago. The reason I stopped was financial; I could not afford them any more. Once I stopped the the medication I immediately noticed (within 24 hours) that my desire to do things, and my ability to actually follow through and complete things (i.e. my motivation) was much higher than I recall it ever being in recent memory. I felt like a light switch had turned back on inside of me and honestly it feels amazing! I didn’t realize how low my motivation was until I stopped taking my anti-depressants!

      So, since stopping my anti depressants I have the benefit of saving money and being motivated to do things that I have been apathetic about for years.

      I did some research and found that there is a consequence of being on anti-depressants which is it can cause “induced indifference” i.e. it can cause you to not want to do things, which is strange because this is one of the problems anti depressants are meant to treat with depression. Once I realized that this induced indifference was something that had insidiously crept into my life over the past number of years I became angry and determined to stay off my anti-depressants. I feel like I have been cheated out of years of being “present” in my life, if that makes any sense.

      In addition to the positive benefits of saving money and being more motivated, I am experiencing withdrawal. I am exhausted, feel like I have a foggy head, have “brain zaps” throughout the day, achey joints and muscles. I am determined to push my way through this withdrawal and hopefully emerge at the other side of it clear headed, no more brain zaps, and less achey. I quit my medications cold turkey so I know that my withdrawal is going to be rougher than if I had done it with a tapered approach, but I am willing to just grin and bear it.

      I do not want to go back on the medication because the motivation that has returned to my life well offsets the withdrawal symptoms I have at the moment, but I know its an individual choice we all need to make when we balance the benefits and the risks for ourselves.

      I want to wish everyone the best with their own personal circumstances and thank you all for sharing. It is only on sites like this that we can learn about these things because the drug companies certainly don’t teach us.

      Reply
      1. Maudess

        Alison!
        You were taking exactly the same medication as me! After long tapering I quit both 4 months ago but I’m having horrible withdrawal. Currently I’m in bed with painful leg cramps and muscle tremors. I suffer from sweats and chills constantly, insomnia and hypersensitivity to any type of medication which affects my nervous system including cough meds, sleep meds and marijuana.
        If you get this message could you please update me on how you are doing? I’d be very grateful
        Thank you

        Reply
    2. Karen

      Hey, thank for sharing that, we don’t get so many men with their stories. I’m 7 months down the line after stopping and have been through absolute hell. I am feeling slightly better but still have days where I can’t manage anything, it’s affecting all my relationships, my 11 year old son find it hard especially. When I feel ok I’m up, I do things and make the most of it but you can guarantee I’ll be back in bed soon after. So awful. I’m very very angry I’ve been so debilitated by these awful meds

      Reply
  20. diane

    Hi Lisa,

    I’ve been taking 150mg of sertraline for just over a year. My doctor and I are starting to reduce. I’ve gone done to 100mg 6 days ago.

    I’m wondering how long the withdrawal systems will last. My body is in so much pain, especially my feet. I feel uncomfortable in my body.

    I haven’t been on them for a long time, should I be expecting a long withdrawal?

    Thank you for your help

    DIANE

    Reply
  21. nichole hendren

    thanks for that… the most severe side effect is chronic fatigue am really missing energy the most and have nausea and dizziness from withdrawals from my meds that included mostly ssri’s (about 20 years!) any idea how much longer withdrawals last for long term use or any articles about coping with would be a help too~thanks sincerely nichole

    Reply
  22. Kim

    I was on mirtazapin 45 mg,quetiapine 300 mg,venlafaxine 150 mg.been on them for 2 years,I stopped taken all of them since Sun.omg I’m shivering the muscle spasms are so bad.how long will this last for.plz

    Reply
  23. Eileen

    I took my self of fluoxetine 4 weeks ago feel good in my self but ache all over my body when I wake up or get up from sofa must be side affect i went cold turkey was on them for 5 years and 5 years on citalapram

    Reply
    1. Maxine

      Ive just stop 40 mgs of fluxotine after 6 years a week ago not too bad feel restless and have a ringing in my ears

      Reply
  24. Carolyn

    I’ve been off venlafaxine for 4 weeks. Cold turkey. Thought I wasn’t going to have any problems – not so! Now I have nausea, flu symptoms, and the most painful red ugly rash on my back, chest, and arm. The rash is only on the right side of my body. The “brain zaps” have turned into what I call “body zaps”. Is there any information about “why” rashes appear? I’m now trying to do for myself what the venlafaxine did by eliminating my depression, rages, and crying spells. I wish I’d been able to do that before and maybe I wouldn’t be in withdrawing pain now.

    Reply
  25. Susie

    I have chronic pain since going off Lexapro. I don’t want to go back on. Lexapro screwed with my brain. I wish I could sue the makers of SSRI’s. Will I ever be normal again?

    Reply
    1. Chicago77

      Susie,

      I have so much body pain too after getting off Lexapro 5 months ago. Joint, muscle, bone pain all over my body. Plus, I’m super stiff everywhere. I’ve never had any pain in my life until stopping Lexapro. It’s terrible! Susie, has your pain gone away yet?

      Reply
      1. Neil

        Hi, I thought it was just me. I too have chronic pain, I’m stiff all over. My legs muscles feel like I have run a marathon. I was on 10mg lexapro for 8 years. Doctor tappered me off over 6 weeks.

        This is unbelievable, my body feels drained.

        Reply
        1. Chicago77

          Neil, how long have you been off Lexapro? I hit 7 months and still have pain and this burning skin feeling. How are you feeling now?

          Reply
  26. Kate

    Hi, I currently take a lot of medication. Thyroxin, antidepressants,seroqel, lamotrigine and aldactone. I have had surgery to remove my large bowel and now get the runs at least 20 times a day four days a week. I am getting withdrawal symptoms that bad that I feel faint, can’t move my head without feeling dizzy, extreme echo type throbbing in my head, tingling hands arms and legs, weak legs . I am unable to lye flat in bed as my head pounds. I feel like my heart is skipping every second beat. Then…
    Three days I’m fine until it starts again. I seem to pass the medication whole when the runs. I am struggling and Drs don’t seem to have any answers.

    Reply
  27. yvonne

    I have recently stopped my Prozac 40mg for over 20 years, I did it slowly. now I am so tired, aches and pains all over, walking around like someone 90 yrs old. headaches from hell. do you know how long these symptoms will last please.

    Reply
  28. emily

    I was on 20mg of Prozac for 10 years, I tapered off them myself over 6 weeks, then just stopped, the first few weeks I felt great, then bang, I have had, irritability, extreme fatigue, short tempered, muscles ache all over my body, when I clean my house I get exhausted sometimes to the point I could cry, so I went to my Doctors and he gave me amitriptyline, these have helped my body aches but I feel dizzy some days and I still get really cross with myself as I feel so lethargic. I have had blood test once a year for the past 4 years with my Doctor and they all come back fine. I have also noticed I have a pigmentation along my top lip! I am 44 years old so what is going on with me. Please advise. Emily xx

    Reply
    1. Christian

      Emily,
      I’m experiencing the same. Have you improved at all?

      Reply
  29. shaikh

    I was on Fluvoxamine for almost 9 months , now im tapering down it and i also feels the same memory and concentration problems

    Reply
  30. irfan

    hi
    i hav come from antidepressant one month ago
    now i am experining withdrawl symtoms like
    lack of concentration in my work
    hopeless
    weak
    unable to learn new things .
    memory problems etc.
    what should be done by me to cure this ?
    pliz reply immediately
    thanx

    Reply
  31. Ruthann

    Hello,
    I went off Zoloft, slowly, 4 years ago. Had been taking 6 years. A few months after stopping I started experiencing joint and muscle pain, BAD…… I put up with the pain for 9 months. One day so much discomfort I had a panic attack, which I had never experienced before. Many more symptoms started: severe fatigue, constant muscle and joint pain, no muscle recovery from doing the smallest task. Ringing in the ears. so very sad, crying, sleeping, napping. Blood tests normal. Long story short. I have been on Cymbolta and Wellbutrin for three years now. Some improvement. Waiting on another set of blood tests. Dr. says I don’t have Fibromyalgia. I feel at times I am going crazy. I am a strong, tough, non complaining person. This condition and symptoms have challenged me to the point, I didn’t want to wake up in the morning.
    I am doing better than three years ago, however, far, far, from how good I felt before getting off Zoloft. Before stopping Zoloft, I felt great, in control, thought it was time to be on my own, off the drugs…… guess not!
    If blood tests come back “normal”, what do I do? Is there an antidepressant that would help more with the muscle pain, fatigue, and muscle recovery? The reason I posted is not to complain, but to hopefully help someone else that feels they are going crazy with pain, feel not so crazy, and there is hope.

    Reply
    1. Blair

      ruthann I’ve felt the same symptoms. Went off Zoloft and Wellbutrin 3 weeks ago after being on them for almost 2 years. I didn’t exactly taper because I lost my job and insurance about the same time I ran out of my pills. I owed my dr money and he refused to refill my prescriptions.. But I had been tapering on my own, taking halves of pills and such for a few months because I didn’t want to be on them anymore.
      The body aches are unbearable. Headache stomach upset, nightmares and sweating. Have no energy.
      I already began researching fibromyalgia bc it began mimicking the disease!
      You said that you started Wellbutrin and Cymbalta.. But did the symptoms after stopping Zoloft not stop?? I guess what I’m getting at, is do you think that Zoloft somehow caused some damage to your body that the other antidepressants aren’t fixing?
      I’d really appreciate a response. I’m kind of freaking out 🙁
      Amanda

      Reply
    2. Krissy

      Ruth Ann I am experiencing the same exact symptoms. I went from Zoloft 75mg to a newer anti depressant that my therapist wanted me to try and I kept getting worse so I’ve been taking 25mg of Zoloft daily now but I am so tired it takes effort to just move and my knees are aching so badly. Did you try to go back on Zoloft and if so did things improve?

      Reply
      1. Rainn

        Wow. I am crying as I read your post. I am going through the exact same thing. My husband lost his job with no warning, lost our health insurance, can’t afford COBRA, was up for renewal for my zoloft rx, had a mammogram(!) The insurance didn’t pay.Mammogram was before husband lost job. Thank goodness it was normal…guess they figured it was elective. Ha! So now I owe money and can’t even get it renewed over the phone, which she used to do without hesitation.

        It’s been less than a week but I feel like I’m going to die. My teeth are tingling, I’m running a low grade fever, and my FM is raging like it hasn’t in years. I can’t walk up or down the stairs without excruciating pain when I get to the top or bottom. I have nightmares every night and am exhausted by noon.

        As this article states..this is NOT the anxiety disorder for which I am taking Zoloft. I keep thinking it’s just the stress of the situation but the physical symptoms have become unbearable. As i said before, my FM has been in remission for about 8 years. Now it’s back but with even worse and different symptoms, including the awful tingling teeth and the electric shocks to random body parts. They are the worst!

        I can’t and won’t take opiates but I know they are horrible to withdraw from. I’m sure this isn’t THAT bad, but still pretty bad for what I thought was a fairly benign med.

        Anyway, sorry for the novel but this article and these posts have helped me tremendously. I’m going to work up the guts and energy to call my doctor and beg her to give me the time to pay my bill so I can get one more month on my prescription.

        Thanks for listening!

        Reply
  32. Denise

    Hi, I have been off of Effexor XR for 4 weeks and I am still experiencing withdrawal. I am extremely moody ( agitated,angry outbursts, crying, etc.). How long can these symptoms be expected to last and what techniques can be used to cope with them.

    Reply
  33. Robert

    I have been off of Effexor for 2 months 75mg for the majority of the 11 years and the last year 37.5mg. Effexor “pooped out” on me. I still gradually tapered but having a hard time in the meantime. I’m experience insomnia, anxiety, brain fog, headache, nausea and no libido or motivation. Been on vitamins and supplements and fish oils in the meantime. I’m seriously contemplating on going on another AD, but don’t know what would be best with the least side effects. Would Prozac be of a possibility?

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Christian

      Robert,
      Just curious if you went on another med?

      Reply

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