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Josh488: My story and experience with Luvox and Paxil


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I have always had symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was not diagnosed until I was 22.  At that point I was 6 months out of Undergrad and I had terrible anxiety about choosing a career path.  I had earned a B.A. in Psychology and planned to go into Mental Health Counseling but wasn't sure that is what I wanted to do and this anxiety regarding uncertainty in choosing a career made my OCD symptoms much, much worse.  I started obsessing over choosing a career and doing all kinds of research on different fields.  I would read articles on different careers and keep rereading the articles for fear that I missed something and I would spend a tremendous amount of time rereading articles.  I was also constantly checking things like light switches, faucets, etc. 


I was working with a Psychologist who wanted me to do this 3 week OCD intensive treatment program which was based on a book my therapist had.  My therapist wanted me to use the book as a guideline and then create my own treatment program based on the techniques in the book and apply them to my specific symptoms.  This turned into a nightmare because I was obsessing over how to create the perfect treatment program and the very thing that was supposed to help me was taking over my life.  I spent several months trying to create my own treatment program but had to stop because I needed to take time to apply to grad school and study for the GREs.  I was applying to a Mental Health Counseling program and I wasn't sure I wanted to go into the program but had to apply or else wait another year to apply to the program and I didn't want to wait another year.  Several months later in the Spring of 2009 I found out I had gotten into the program and in spite of my uncertainty I decided to accept the offer.  


I started the Mental Health Counseling program in the Fall of '09 and graduated in the Spring of '12.  I struggled in the program because it took me forever to get assignments done because of my OCD, but I made it through. Unfortunately, I had decided towards the end of the program that I didn't want to continue with counseling and was once again faced with the same dilemma I was dealing with several years earlier of choosing a career.  I honestly thought that I would have a job shortly after graduation but that didn't happen.  My OCD symptoms started getting worse again and I just could not motivate myself to look for work.  I was just very burned out, discouraged and depressed from having had a rough time in grad school. 


It finally got to a point where I wanted to take medication for my OCD and did, starting in 03/2013.  My medication history is in my signature below.  I was actually doing alright on Luvox for the first 2 months I was taking it.  My OCD symptoms were not as bad and I just felt more stable.  I realized very soon after taking Luvox that I couldn't tolerate caffeine very well while taking it because it increases the half-life of caffeine in the body from 6 hours to anywhere between 30 and 50 hours.  Paxil does the same thing.  I had almost no caffeine in those first few months that I was taking Luvox and I was doing alright but then I started consuming caffeine again in 05/2013 and that is when I just hit a downward spiral.  While on Luvox I felt very wired any time I had caffeine and I would sometimes skip doses of Luvox to let the caffeine clear out of my body more quickly.  This really messed with my sleep cycle because I would stay up for 24 hours or more when I would consume caffeine while on Luvox.  When I finally did sleep I would sleep for 15-20 hours. 


I just continued on like this; becoming more and more worn down as the months went by when finally I tried to quit Luvox cold turkey around 11/2013 and the withdrawal symptoms were pretty bad.  I was only able to last about 3 days before having to get back on Luvox.  While off Luvox I experienced what was like a pulsating sensation in my brain that was very nausea inducing.  I was also very emotionally unstable and cried a little.  I will not that up until this point I was worn down but I still had enough energy to function during the day.  In 01/2014 I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to get off Luvox because I felt Luvox was not helping me and I felt I would never be able to quit caffeine as long as I was on Luvox.  They then prescribed my 10mg/day of Paxil in 01/2014 because this was somehow supposed to help me avoid having withdrawal symptoms.  


When I started Paxil it made me much worse and the effect of caffeine on my body was much worse while taking Paxil compared to Luvox.  I want to note that I still have a caffeine addiction and consumed caffeine almost the entire time I was on these antidepressants.  The amount of caffeine I have consumed has always been consistent (1-2 cups of coffee/day).  When I would consume caffeine on Paxil I would be able to sleep but when I would wake up the next day I would feel absolutely exhausted and feel like I barely slept at all and this is because I believe Paxil was greatly increasing the effect of caffeine my body and wreaking havoc on my sleep stages.  When I would consume caffeine on Paxil I would have to sleep for nearly 20 hours and when I would wake up I would still feel like crap.  I never stopped consuming caffeine so I was sleeping like this all the time while taking Paxil.  I started losing a lot of weight and becoming malnourished because I was sleeping all the time.  I couldn't take it anymore and decided I had to get off Paxil so I switched to Luvox to make tapering easier because Luvox came in larger dosages that could be split in half.


I finally got off Luvox in 08/2014 but my body is still almost as sensitive to caffeine and supplements as it was while taking Luvox and Paxil.  I believe that Luvox and Paxil changed my body in some way to make it much more sensitive to caffeine and supplements and just drugs in general.  I could consume 1-2 cups of coffee/day and take supplements before taking antidepressants and I didn't feel exhausted all the time and had enough energy to get through the day.  I am not currently taking any medication.  I am not as exhausted as I was while taking Paxil but I am still tired all the time.  I sleep 12-15 hours per day and can barely stay up for more than 5 hours without having to take a long nap. 


I am still consuming caffeine and I strongly believe this is a big contributor to my current fatigue problems but because I am addicted to caffeine, I have not yet been able to get off of it.  I have known for a long time that caffeine is bad for me but haven't been able to give it up because it is one of the few things that helps me feel better; even if only for an hour.  It is my emotional crutch.  I just think that my body is very sensitive after having taken Luvox/Paxil and I can't tolerate caffeine and supplements right now because my body is recovering.  My main goal right now is to just get a job but I can't do that until I give up caffeine because caffeine is messing up my sleep and that in turn is causing me to have no energy.  I won't have energy unless I give up caffeine and that is what I am struggling with greatly right now.  Luckily, my parents are letting me live at home with them but it isn't easy.  I don't get along with my parents very well and there is constant tension between me and my father.  I am approaching 30 and terrified that I won't be able to get my life together.  I feel like I am in a free fall right now that I can't get out of.  I believe that things can get better but it is really hard right now. 

Took Luvox 100mg/day (extended release) from  03/2013 to 01/2014.  Took Paxil 10mg/day from 01/2014 to 06/2014.  Started Luvox again, 50mg/day (non-extended release), from 06/2014-07/2014.  This was the start of my taper process.  Took 25mg/day Luvox during 07/2014.  Took 12.5mg/day Luvox during 08/2014. I took these medications to primarily treat OCD with the secondary goal being to treat depression symptoms.  I wanted to stop Luvox in 01/2014 but could not because withdrawal symptoms made me sick.  My psychiatrist then prescribed me 10/mg of Paxil/day in 01/2014 to help me get off Luvox.  I stopped taking Paxil in 06/2014 and then switched back to Luvox because Paxil was making me too tired.  I continued to taper of Luvox until 08/2014 and was able to stop taking it at this time and only experienced mild nausea for a few days .  I now have problems tolerating caffeine, supplements and other medications.  This only started since I began taking antidepressants and I still have problems tolerating these things 20 months after being off of antidepressants.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Josh, 


Thank you for filling out your signature block.  So you have been off all meds (except caffeine) since August of 2014?  Congratulations, that is quite an accomplishment!


A  lot of people in withdrawal have sensitivities to caffeine, alcohol, sugar, supplements, OTC meds, etc.  If you go to the Symptoms and Self-Care forum and type caffeine in the search bar, you will find all kinds of posts mentioning a sensitivity to caffeine.


What was the longest you went without caffeine, and what were your symptoms that made it seem you were addicted?  I know a lot of people get headaches as a main symptom when stopping coffee.  One thing to try to do would be to taper yourself off of it.  If you can calculate what your daily consumption is, then work from that number.  Is coffee your main beverage or do you get caffeine from other sources like energy drinks?  Of course there are varying amounts of caffeine from one beverage to another,  so you'd want to go about this in as scientific a manner as possible to have some kind of consistency.


I think dropping the caffeine would be paramount to feeling better.  It may be difficult initially but worth it.  Not nearly as hard as kicking the ADs and you did that!


Do you have symptoms that you feel are withdrawal related?  What other medications are you having trouble lowering, as mentioned in your sig block?  Are you on other non-AD medications?


Many find that cleaning up their diet, reducing or eliminating sugar, alcohol and gluten along with caffeine makes them feel a lot better!



Started ADs back around 1995 after bad break-up, starting with Prozac.  Switched to Wellbutrin, and then to Effexor in 2002
Effexor XR 2002-2014 up to 225 mg at one point, down to 37.5 mg towards end but back up to 75 mg in 2014; now realize I had W/D as I dropped down, memory very poor about history.  Extreme emotions, poor concentration as I stepped back down, didn't connect the dots!
Summer 2014 reduced to 0 very quickly, was sick of anhedonia/sexual dysfunction due to meds, depression never controlled if not worse. Didn't recognize WD since symptoms built slowly (thought I had ADD! and menopausal on top of it), starting with severe sweats, very bad cog-fog and memory issues, culminating in weight loss, severe anxiety and depression, panic, severe apathy and insomnia by eight months off.  Saw p-doc who put me on Remeron, increased from 7.5 mg/day to 37.5 mg by May 22, 2015; still doing very badly though able to sleep.

June 1. 2015 Reinstated Effexor XR 37.5 mg, Remeron dropped to 30 mg PM. Immediate relief of symptoms, like nothing had ever happened!  Joined SA and began on advice of friend who recognized it was WD all along! Began tapering in July 2015.

Been tapering both meds ever since, focusing on one more than the other or doing no more than 5% of each per month.

12 mg Effexor and 5.8 mg Remeron (mirtazapine SolTabs to make a solution with OraPlus) as of 5/4/2017 

Update 3/14/18: 2.9 mg Remeron and 6 mg Effexor; 6/10/18:  2.6 mg Remeron and 4.9 mg Effexor


My intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/9313-squirrellygirl-effexor-withdrawal-etc/page-2#entry196679

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Josh , welcome to the site.


The meds. you took have changed the way your central nervous system is able to metabolize and tolerate a whole

range of substances , including caffein , even though you only took them for 18 months.

This is not unusual , and may continue for some years to come.


You will need to taper off coffee rather than stop abruptly if you want to avoid withdrawal.

See the Symptoms and Self Care section for discussions about specific supplements.


The sooner you give your body what it needs , as opposed to what destabilizes it , the sooner

you'll be well enough to work again.


Best wishes , Fresh

1987-1997 pertofran , prothiaden , Prozac 1997-2002 Zoloft 2002-2004 effexor 2004-2010 Lexapro 40mg

2010-2012Cymbalta 120mg

Sept. 2012 -decreased 90mg in 6months. Care taken over by Dr Lucire in March 2013 , decreased last 30mg at 2mg per week over 3 months. July 21 , 2013- last dose of Cymbalta

Protracted withdrawal syndrome kicked in badly Jan.2014 Unrelenting akathisia until May 2014. Voluntary hosp. admission. Cocktail of Seroquel, Ativan and mirtazapine and I was well enough to go home after 14 days. Stopped all hosp. meds in next few months.

July 2014 felt v.depressed - couldn't stop crying. Started pristiq 50mg. Felt improvement within days and continued to improve, so stayed on 50mg for 8 months.

Began taper 28 Feb. 2015. Pristiq 50mg down to 45mg. Had one month of w/d symptoms. Started CES therapy in March. No w/d symptoms down to 30mg.

October 2015 , taking 25mg Pristiq. Capsules compounded with slow-release additive.

March 2016 , 21mg

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