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Author Topic: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?  (Read 17576 times)

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Offline joegilbert

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I was reading on another site about withdrawing from Paxil. On this site, they discuss at length how some unlucky ones suffer withdrawal symptoms MONTHS after discontinuing their Paxil, Prozac, Lexapro or other SSRI.  This site helps people who really go thru hell trying to get of these SSRI drugs. In some cases, people are dropping down their dose 1mg at a time while waiting 3-6 weeks for their bodies to adjust due to how severe there reactions are to the removal of these drugs.

Anyone else experience this long withdrawal and then have to deal with months of off/on side effect symptoms due to stopping the drugs?

I'll share my own experience. I was on Paxil for 3 years. I then switched over to Prozac (don't recall why) for another 2-3 years. I was taking 20mg. Well, I got tired of the sexual side effects (trouble reaching orgasm) and stopped taking it. My side effects were the zaps, some minor dizzyness and that's about it. I was put on the Paxil for stress management not for anxiety.

One month off the drug, the zaps eased up. I did notice that I was getting anxious fairly easy. at 5 weeks, I had a wicked panic attack and I had never had one before. A couple weeks later, I woke up with the worse anxiety of my life. I was incapacitated from it! This high anxiety lasted for a few days then eased up.

Anyone else have experience with side effects or withdrawals that kick in a month or more after discontinuing a drug?
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Offline ironmary

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Hey,

I don't know if what I experience were side effects.  I weaned off of paxil slowly and was totally off of it by March.  In April/May, I noticed I was angry, more angry than I have been and would cry at the stupidest things (ie carlton card commercial!!).  In June, I had MAJOR anxiety.  I toughed it out for the whole month, with it not really getting better.  I am now back on paxil again for almost 4 weeks.

So, I don't know if the increased anxiety was from withdrawal or not.  I'd like to think it wasn't, but who knows!
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"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
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Offline JenniferMSD

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2010, 08:20:11 AM »
I think these are rare cases.  And it's hard to tell what is "discontinuation effects"...or if the anxiety is real and the person just got off the drugs too quickly.
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Offline joegilbert

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2010, 10:41:48 PM »
Hey,

I don't know if what I experience were side effects.  I weaned off of paxil slowly and was totally off of it by March.  In April/May, I noticed I was angry, more angry than I have been and would cry at the stupidest things (ie carlton card commercial!!).  In June, I had MAJOR anxiety.  I toughed it out for the whole month, with it not really getting better.  I am now back on paxil again for almost 4 weeks.

So, I don't know if the increased anxiety was from withdrawal or not.  I'd like to think it wasn't, but who knows!

Thanks for the reply. How are you feeling after reinstating the Paxil after 4 weeks? How long were you on Paxil, what dosage and how did you wean? I'm just curious, from what I I've read on another site, what you experienced was in all likelyhood was an extended discontinuation syndrome. 
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Offline ironmary

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2010, 01:28:33 AM »

Thanks for the reply. How are you feeling after reinstating the Paxil after 4 weeks? How long were you on Paxil, what dosage and how did you wean? I'm just curious, from what I I've read on another site, what you experienced was in all likelyhood was an extended discontinuation syndrome.

I was on paxil for 5 years.  I only ever took 10mg, which is a small dose.  For weaning, I cut my 10 mg, well, actually I get 20 mg and cut them in half, so I took the half and cut that, so I had quaters.  I alternated, 2 days at 10, then 5gm, 2 days at 10 then 5 mg.  I did that for a month.  Then I went every second day at 5mg with the other day being 10mg for 1 month.  Then 5mg every day for a month.  After that, alternated between no paxil and 5mg for a month.  Then 2 days without a pill and then on the 3rd I would take it, for another month.  Then after that, I stopped taking them. 

I don't know if that was the proper way of doing it, but that's how I did.

That's interesting that it might be the discontinuing syndrome.  Does make me wonder how I will feel when I eventually come off them.  And you asked how I was doing.  I'm feeling much better now, though I still have some anxiety.  I'm thinking of maybe going up to 15mg and seeing how that feels, but I'm not really too sure.  I am speaking with my doc on Thursday.

How are you feeling lately?
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"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
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Offline joegilbert

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2010, 08:03:22 AM »

Ironmary-

After I "crashed" from the Prozac, I had about 8 months of a med nightmare. I saw different doctors/psychiatrists in an attempt to get my anxiety back to normal. I reinstated Paxil in November of last year along with some other meds that were helping me sleep from all the drug changes/issues. Since January of this year, I've weaned off all the drugs except for Paxil. I now experience good days and bad days since dropping all the other meds. I've lowered my Paxil from 30mg to 25mg to 20mg. I did those drops over 6 weeks time. My understanding now is those reductions were too big. I shouldn't be dropping my Paxil down more than 10% per drop. At about 14-15 days after each drop, my anxiety increased a fair amount and this lasted for about 7 days until it eased up again. When I dropped to 20mg, the same thing happened. At 14 days, my anxiety really elevated (stronger this time) and has lasted now for 8 days although yesterday it felt like it eased up some. My goal is to quit this drug and stay off all of them. At one point I was on multiple anti-anxiety drugs. It didn't help and I was still for the most part anxious and had a TON of breakthrough anxiety. After dumping all of them accept the Paxil, again, I have been greatful to have days again where I feel almost normal.

It appears that anywhere from 20 to 40% of people who use SSRI's have some really strong withdrawal or discontinuation symptoms. Some people struggle to quit these drugs, if at all. The sad part is, most doctors and psychiatrist don't share the potential horror of stopping these drugs that they are so quick to write prescriptions for.

Anyway, my goal is to do a 10% taper (and waiting between 3-6 weeks between each drop) off the rest of the Paxil. As for you increasing your dosage, I did up till 30mg. I didn't see any measurable difference as I increased the dosage. What did happen is the side effects of this drug increased significantly.
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Offline ironmary

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2010, 11:31:14 AM »
I'm glad that you have some good days.  I have good days too when I am just on 10mg.  It sounds like a tough road ahead when coming off paxil.  I am ok with that.  I know the paxil is helping me.  The only side effect that I notice is very vivid dreams at night.  I wake up sweating!  I don't like it much, but if I remember correctly, those dreams went away after a few months...though it seems strange to take a few months!

Being off all meds is a good goal.  I imagine you have some good techniques to help you with your anxiety.
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"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
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Offline eduk8or

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2010, 01:14:06 PM »
I too have withdrawn from Paxil only to have to go back on it.  I was weaning, got down to 10mg and had my anxiety all come crashing back really bad, so I had to go back up.  I have been as high as 40mg.  Warbird, you know this whole story, but now I have weaned off Paxil and am taking Luvox.  While weaning off Paxil this time, I had the anger issues that you mentioned ironmary and also what I would call depressive episodes where I just felt big despair and would also cry easily.  I have never been depressed before, so these episodes, which would last for a few hours, were quite distressing.  I didn't like the anger feelings either.  I am wondering what the heck Paxil has done to my brain!  It scares me to think it may have made me bipolar...that is where my "what if" thoughts take me.  I have now been off Paxil (but on Luvox) for about a month or so and I am wondering if I will ever be able to be SSRI free with how the withdrawal makes me feel...
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Offline ironmary

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2010, 02:48:09 PM »
Eduk8or,

I know how you feel.  I do wonder myself if I will be SSRI free, however, I like how I feel when I am no meds.  I don't worry about every little thing!!  Though of course, it becomes complicated when I want to become pregnant (Though it'll be awhile since I don't even have a partner!!  LOL)

I've never heard of Luvox before.  I'm assuming it's an SSRI as well.  How are you feeling?
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"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
Dr. Seuss

Offline eduk8or

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2010, 06:11:43 PM »
I am actually taking the generic of Luvox, fluvoxamine.  Luvox isn't sold in the U.S. anymore because one of the kids that did the Columbine shootings was taking it and after that happened everyone was afraid to take it, but they still sell the generic!  Hahahahaaa!  Anyway, it is supposed to more specifically treat OCD, which is the type of anxiety I have.  It is really just an SSRI like all the others though.  I am doing o.k.  since I made the switch although I have had a few episodes of break-thru anxiety where I get these panic-like rushes, but they don't go all the way in to a panic attack.  I am not sure if this is because of the Paxil withdrawal or if I am at too low a dose of fluvoxamine. I want to give it a bit more time at this dosage though before I run in to get it increased because it has really only been a month and most SSRIs take 6-8 weeks to fully kick in.  I switched because the Paxil wasn't helping all that much and I had a lot of side effects.  So... we'll see how it goes.
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Offline Sail-A-Wai

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2010, 11:04:43 PM »
Before this 3.5 year return to anxiety symptoms I worked with people detoxing from psychiatric meds for over 15 years.

The vast majority of return anxiety symptoms are not native anxiety but withdrawal induced. With SSRI's it can take 6 months to 3 years to heal from the medication neuroadaptation. Benzos are typically 12 to 24 month but can go on much longer.

Most doctors/patients falsely believe that the return of anxiety symptoms are the patients native anxiety - any drug that reduces anxiety can be a profound cause of anxiety once you stop. Every second you take the drug the brain is creating new receptors that can cause anxiet once the drug is no longer bonding to them....so the withdrawal anxiety can be 100 times worse than your own. Many people who stay the course find they no longer have anxiety once the withdrawal is over.
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Offline joegilbert

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2010, 01:02:16 AM »
Before this 3.5 year return to anxiety symptoms I worked with people detoxing from psychiatric meds for over 15 years.

The vast majority of return anxiety symptoms are not native anxiety but withdrawal induced. With SSRI's it can take 6 months to 3 years to heal from the medication neuroadaptation. Benzos are typically 12 to 24 month but can go on much longer.

Most doctors/patients falsely believe that the return of anxiety symptoms are the patients native anxiety - any drug that reduces anxiety can be a profound cause of anxiety once you stop. Every second you take the drug the brain is creating new receptors that can cause anxiet once the drug is no longer bonding to them....so the withdrawal anxiety can be 100 times worse than your own. Many people who stay the course find they no longer have anxiety once the withdrawal is over.

Thanks for the information. Do you know of any sites that discuss this in more detail? Feel free to PM me the links if you have them! I'd be very interested.

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Offline Sail-A-Wai

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2010, 10:14:12 AM »
There are many - just google withdrawal and SSRi or benzos
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Offline WiSp

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 01:35:14 AM »
Warbird, you're still searching about the truth with psy meds uh? I'm interested too. You know, when I stopped zoloft my anxiety has gone crazy and I often wonder if it lasted for months because I was on it since more than a year, and then by trying celexa I was also trying to fight this new induced anxiety. Celexa boosted it again. I think I got the bad side of those 2 experiences.

However, I still think that those meds can do a difference. They can help and they can be a mess too. My psych will deny that a withdrawal can be longer than 4 days. We know that it is true for the thing to be out of our system, but the changes take much more time to turn back to normal.

God I take those things since I'm a teen and I really asked myself often how much those induced mental changes influenced my anxiety. But I think some people have no choice. They can't live fine by their own. But if those bad changes are true, if they last for this long, the solution is to stay on them, or take the chance to detox from them and suffer for a long long time, and risk that the natural anxiety gets back. After all we started to take those things because something was wrong at our natural state. I think the cost is too high...It's probably painless to take something that work and live on it...
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Offline joegilbert

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Re: Withdrawal symptoms that last for months after discontinuing an SSRI?
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2010, 07:47:23 PM »
Warbird, you're still searching about the truth with psy meds uh?

Hey Wisp,

Actually, I believe I've found the truth. I'm about 95% sure my anxiety went crazy after I cold turkey quit the Prozac that I'd been on for a few years for stress management. Prozac has the longest half life of any SSRI. It can take up to 6 weeks for all it metabolites to fully leave all our tissues. I CRASHED with extreme anxiety at that point. Had I done a slow taper over a few months, I'm quite certain I wouldn't have experienced this.

I'm only on one drug now. Paxil. I was on 30mg and dropped it 5mg. At 14 days, my anxiety spike for 6-7 days. It did this again after I waited 2 weeks to drop to 20mg. I've been at 20mg now to stablise for a month. I plan on dropping my dose down 10% and waiting 3-5 weeks until I'm done with it. No hurry.

Also, I don't know If I agree that some people 'need' these meds. How did some many of us live our lives until one day we had that panic attack or are anxiety blew up. I think in many cases, anxiety is a situational issue that heals itself when the trigger or stressors reduce. I had two other outbreaks of high anxiety when I was 20 years younger. In both cases, I was drinking too much caffeine and dealing with too much stress. I made adjustments to my lifestyle and the anxiety resolved itself after a few months without meds...
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