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KimT1717- Fears with last stage of Pristiq taper- help!


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Hello All-


Thank you in advance for any tips or support you can provide.  I found this forum by accident, and am really struggling.  By way of introduction:

I am currently 27 years old, and was misdiagnosed in my adolescent years, sending me into a dreadful spiral of reliance on antidepressants and psychoactive drugs for over 10 years.  About two years ago I found a wonderful doctor who saw that these were unnecessary and has been guiding me through the process of tapering off of ALL Medication.  I have already been able to completely go off of Lamictal (originally 300mg), though it took me a year, and am now in the final stages of tapering off of 100mg Pristiq (has been an ongoing process since this past summer 2015).  


As of yesterday, I was taking (roughly since they're tough to cut without crumbling) 6 mg of Pristiq and since I cannot really cut them any smaller, today is Day 1 of being at 0 dosage.  My doctor was transparent with me in that this may get messy, and it is difficult to predict how anyone will react to this final cut.  All along with the cuts I have experienced:

  • extreme anxiety (subsides as my body adjusts)
  • Depersonalization or feeling totally light-headed and "stupid"
  • Headaches
  • Terrible stomach upset

I am so fearful of this last cut because I know it will be the worst....yet I know that the positives of my doing so will outweigh whatever costs I need to incur to get there. 


Does anyone have any insight for folks who have been on high doses of Pristiq for 8+ years and may give me an idea of what to expect?  I feel that's the worst part- not knowing what to expect.  Many of these posts involve folks who have been on for just a few years, so I am curious as to how the long-term dependence will manifest itself for a case like mine. 


I am grateful for any words of wisdom you can provide. 

Thank you!!



"Nothing worth having comes easy."


Misdiagnosed in adolescent years and have been on the long road to recovery and total independence from psychoactive drugs.  

Started withdrawal from Lamictal in Spring 2014 from 300mg to now zero as of August 2015.  :)

Have been on 100mg of Pristiq for 10 years; currently on last phase of taper and really struggling with dosage and withdrawal symptoms.  Tapered by 10% cuts since July 2015, and now starting attempts to get to zero.  

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi, Kim. Welcome to the forum. 


Although I've never been on Pristiq, I was a long-time user of many psychiatric drugs, and like you, I also started very young. I spent 30 years on them and am now medication free for almost a year. So I can assure you, you will feel much better in time. 


Thank you for already filling out your signature. Please also include any other medications and supplements you're using. You sound like you're already familiar with the 10% rule, and I'm going to give you some links regarding Pristiq withdrawal specifically and what to expect in general after coming off of psych drugs. 



Tips for tapering off Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)


Experiences after tapering to zero 


What is withdrawal syndrome? 


The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization


There's also a section of the forum to discuss and research your symptoms:


 Symptoms and Self Care Forum


And this link will give you plenty of ways of handling your symptoms without meds:


Non-drug Techniques to cope with emotional symptoms


This thread is your place to update your symptoms and to ask questions. You'll find plenty of information and support here.





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*topic moved from symptoms forum


Does anyone out there know what is recommended from an exercise standpoint while going through a taper? I am the very end of tapering off of Pristiq (one week now totally medication free!), and it has been admittedly pretty difficult.
Exercise has always been a great release for me- I am a runner and competitive socce player. However, I wasn't sure if it was recomm need to continue with physical activity when your body is under stress from the taper? I would have to give this up completely, as it is such a great release, but want to be sure I am smart about it...

Edited by Petunia
added note

"Nothing worth having comes easy."


Misdiagnosed in adolescent years and have been on the long road to recovery and total independence from psychoactive drugs.  

Started withdrawal from Lamictal in Spring 2014 from 300mg to now zero as of August 2015.  :)

Have been on 100mg of Pristiq for 10 years; currently on last phase of taper and really struggling with dosage and withdrawal symptoms.  Tapered by 10% cuts since July 2015, and now starting attempts to get to zero.  

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There are many of us ex-athletes here.


The less strain you put on your body the better. Your CNS has a lot of healing to do and will become temporarily further destabilised with each dose drop.


Swimming and walking are both good low impact activities, but you will soon get a feel for what is too much for you. Too much exercise can land you in the grips of another WAVE.


It's hard to accept that until we are healed we will not be able to resume our athletic pursuits.


I used to run marathons.

Dose History: 19 Feb 2014 - Escitalopram 10mg daily June 2015 - Started taper, 5mg every other day July 2015 - 5mg every 2 days August 2015 - 5mg every 3 days September 2015 - 5mg every 4 days Sept 14th - Completed tapering, but at 7 weeks "drug free" I suffered serious WD symptoms as a consequence of "incorrect" tapering. Nov 25 2015 - Re-instated Cipralex @ 2.5mg daily. WD symptoms faded. Held at this dose and experienced "windows and waves". 12 Oct 2017 Reduced dose to 1.25mg. 13 Mar 2018 Reduced dose to 0.625mg (approx.). 16 April 2018 0mg. Windows and waves triggered by stress (IBS/reflux, headaches, sinus issues) Aug 2019 Mirena coil fitted 6 Jan 2020 MAJOR Wave hit 19 months following last dose (protracted WD).  Symptoms listed below Mar 2020 Mirena coil removal.

Therapy: Nov 15th 2016 Re-started therapy Jan 19th 2017 Started CBT Dec 2017 Started listening to Hypnotherapy CD (self-esteem). Nov 2019 Started couples therapy.

Supplements: "Bioglan" Biotic Balance Ultimate Flora 10 billion CFU, live Bacteria, Probiotic, suitable for Vegetarians, with Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium Longum"Pukka" Vitalise a unique blend of 30 energising botanicals.

Diet: 16 April 2018 Detox cleanse / anti-candida for 90 days. Jan 2020 Started "small plate" diet (i.e child size portions).

Exercise: Stretching, Yoga, Pilates, Spinning, Elliptical/upper body workout, walking.

Medical Test Results: 4 Jan 2017 Homeopathic Treatment starts 24 Feb 2017 Started weight loss program 24 Mar 2017 Naturopathic Treatment + anti-Candida diet started due to suspected Candida Related Complex (CRC). DETOXED for 7 weeks to "re-set" gut. April 2017 "Genova Diagnostics" Comprehensive Stool Analysis NEGATIVE; Full Blood Count (Normal) / Blood Cholesterol: 5.6 (Borderline) / Blood Sugar (Normal) / 28 Jun 2017 FSH 8.2 / 14 Nov 2017 FSH 17.7 Dec 2017 Blood Cholesterol: 3.9 (Normal) / Kidney Function (Normal) / Blood Sugar (Normal). December 2017 "Genova Diagnostics" Food panel allergy (bloodwork) analysis - a few "VERY LOW/VL" allergens; Mar 2018 "Genova Diagnostics" SIBO urine analysis: High Level of Yeast/fungal markers found in small intestine but NO SIBO.  April 2018 Thyroid (Normal) / Full Blood Count (Normal) / FSH (Normal). 16 April 2018 Started anti-Candida diet - 3 month protocol.   25 March 2020 All test results "Normal". CRP" 5 mg/L (normal range to 0-5 mg/L).

Symptoms:  Flu-like symptoms, anxiety, anhedonia, sinus headaches right-side (severe), IBS issues/reflux (severe)**, tinnitus, fatigue, inner tremor, nausea, chills/hot flushes, pounding heart, muscular issues including stiff left hip flexor, intense anger, PSSD (ongoing).  **Histhamine intolerance (suspected).

Major Life Events: 

Re-located to UK from Canada: Jan 2016

My father died: 5:05pm, Monday 5 Feb 2018 Last Lexapro dose: 16 April 2018 (its now been over a year since I quit ADs)  Moved house: Friday 23rd February 2018  "Divorced" toxic Mother: Monday 26 March 2018 Starting working again: 19 November 2018  Diagnosed with: 5th August 2021 PTSD/C-PTSD Diagnosed with: March 2022 Interstitial Cystitis (IC)/Painful bladder syndrome

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I am afraid you are very close to having full blown wd syndrome as your taper off lamictal was way faster than we would recommend: its 10% of the PREVIOUS dose no oftener than every 4 weeks and only if relatively symptom free. Now you are rushing off pristiq and by your own admission you are having a rough go of it.


You have given your body virtually no chance to adjust to lower and lower amounts of the drugs. In this situation, exercise over and above a gentle 30 min walk daily is likely to de-stabilize you further (it happened to me).


I don't have the links handy but hopefully a mod will see I bumped this post and will rush in and help you start an introductions topic and give you the links you should read.

What happened and how I arrived here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4243-cymbaltawithdrawal5600-introduction/#entry50878


July 2016 I have decided to leave my story here at SA unfinished. I have left my contact information in my profile for anyone who wishes to talk to me. I have a posting history spanning nearly 4 years and 3000+ posts all over the site.


Thank you to all who participated in my recovery. I'll miss talking to you but know that I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines, suffering and rejoicing with you in spirit, as you go on in your journey.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Kim,

I moved the topic you started in the symptoms forum to your introduction thread here because it was related to your own situation specifically. Please use this thread to track progress, write about symptoms, ask questions and communicate with the community, add to it whenever you want. Please bookmark it or follow it so you can find it again.


Here is our exercise topic:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10726-exercise-do-more-do-less-do-nothing-what-worked-for-you/


I'm also concerned that you may have tapered too fast. Did you see the links that Shep posted for you?


Are your symptoms getting worse now that you are drug free?

I'm not a doctor.  My comments are not medical advise. These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I've learned. Please discuss your situation with a medical practitioner who has knowledge of tapering and withdrawal...if you are lucky enough to find one.

My Introduction Thread

Full Drug and Withdrawal History

Brief Summary

Several SSRIs for 13 years starting 1997 (for mild to moderate partly situational anxiety) Xanax PRN ~ Various other drugs over the years for side effects

2 month 'taper' off Lexapro 2010

Short acute withdrawal, followed by 2 -3 months of improvement then delayed protracted withdrawal

DX ADHD followed by several years of stimulants and other drugs trying to manage increasing symptoms

Failed reinstatement of Lexapro and trial of Prozac (became suicidal)

May 2013 Found SA, learned about withdrawal, stopped taking drugs...healing begins.

Protracted withdrawal, with a very sensitized nervous system, slowly recovering as time passes

Supplements which have helped: Vitamin C, Magnesium, Taurine

Bad reactions: Many supplements but mostly fish oil and Vitamin D

June 2016 - Started daily juicing, mostly vegetables and lots of greens.

Aug 2016 - Oct 2016 Best window ever, felt almost completely recovered

Oct 2016 -Symptoms returned - bad days and less bad days.

April 2018 - No windows, but significant improvement, it feels like permanent full recovery is close.

VIDEO: Where did the chemical imbalance theory come from?

VIDEO: How are psychiatric diagnoses made?

VIDEO: Why do psychiatric drugs have withdrawal syndromes?

VIDEO: Can psychiatric drugs cause long-lasting negative effects?

VIDEO: Dr. Claire Weekes




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