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Pliny: So this is what living feels like!


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I used to be a member over at PaxilProgress years ago when I attempted a gradual withdrawal.    I have a story for you all today that some may related to.


I have been on Paxil for 18 years because of Panic attacks.    At first, I was prescribed 20mg.   After 6 months I dropped to 10mg.   After a year of hating the sexual side effects I dropped to 5mg for the next 16 years.   At 5mg, I have no panic attacks and I thought I was living a normal life.....until today.


I am a health nut.   I have a fixed routine for taking my Paxil, blood pressure meds (trying to get off)  and natural supplements each morning.


About a week ago. I started a bunch of oral surgery.   My blood pressure also rose to unsafe levels.   Because of all this my stress was off the charts.  I have been feeling emotional and have even shed tear a few times (I am a married man who is not that emotional).    To top things off, yesterday it was like I found the fountain of youth.    My sexual energy and sensitivity was off the charts to the point my wife could not figure what was going on.    I was shocked also because I felt like an 18 year old.     This was all getting a bit too weird and we could not figure out what was going on.


Today I went in for my normal workout at the Gym.   I felt really energized besides the stress.   But then, I started noticing dizziness and ringing in my ears.   Out of the blue, I felt the familiar signs of a panic attack starting.


After sitting down for a bit, it all became clear.     Years ago I started to ween myself of Paxil gradually and I had the same dizzyness and ringing.   I went to the doctor thinking it was an inner ear infection, which it was not.  Fortunately, another doctor was passing by and heard my conversation.  He asked if I had stopped taking any Paxil.    I told him that yes, I was reducing my amount.  That is when he said "you can't do that with Paxil.  It has to be a very gradual process".


That is the conversation that gave me my epiphany today.   Sure enough, when I got home I realized that my paxil bottle was nowhere to be found.    So, I missed it during my daily rotation with the others.   Most likely, this has gone on for about a week.


So here I sit.   I know from the past that if I don't get back on Paxil really really soon, horrible things are going to start happening.   But for the evening at least, I plan on snuggling up with my wife and remember what it feels like to have sensitivity and tingling sensations (the good kind) again.


I remember reading that it takes at least 5 days for Paxil to complete leave your system.  So, I know that I have been off it at least that long.   Tomorrow I will have to make sure I start the Paxil back up again, or suffer the consequences.    However, after feeling alive like I feel today, I sure would like to feel like this again some day.  So, I think I will make another attempt at cutting back (even from 5mg),   After 18 years, it may take me 1 year to taper off.    


It has been really nice not having panic attacks for the last 18 years (except when I quit Paxil).   But, I had forgotten what it is like to have ALL your emotions and sensitivities back, both good and bad.


Thanks for letting me share.  I feel so strange right now that the Paxil is completely out of my system, even if it is temporary.    I feel like a male Cinderella at the ball and the clock is ticking down to 12am, when it is time to take a Paxil pill and return to what has been the norm for the last 18 years.


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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Pliny: So this is what living feels like!
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Pliny,


Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA), it’s good to see you here!!!  I am encouraged that you had the good fortune to bump into a doctor who is aware that withdrawing from anti-depressants needs to be a very gradual process, unfortunately there aren't too many of them out there!!!  


It sounds like you are familiar with what is involved in withdrawing from anti-depressants and that is good to see.  I would agree that you need to start back on 5mg of Paxil to avoid further destabilization of your central nervous system (CNS).  It will likely take a week or so for your CNS to settle back down and glad that you were able to put two and two together before running into any real trouble.  


In case you are not aware, magnesium and Omega 3 supplements seem to help and if you aren’t already supplementing with these, you might want to take a look at the links I’ve provided below.  Magnesium can help relax the muscles and fish oil can help heal the nervous system.  I have found both of these supplements very helpful. 


Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker
King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)


We’d love it if you kept in touch and once you make the decision to start tapering your last 5mg of Paxil, it would be great if came back to share your journey.  SA is an amazing and supportive community and the site provides a wealth of of information to help guide you to safely withdrawal from anti-depressants.


I encourage you to have a look around the site and familiarize yourself with the protocols recommended by SA so that when you are ready to taper, you will have all of the tools available to gently guide you off.  I'm providing a few links to get you started.


Before you begin tapering what you need to know

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms


All the best,


Current Prescription Drugs for Hypothyroidism:  Synthroid 100mcg / Cytomel 5mcg (15 years Pristiq/Effexor)

Tapering Schedule
September 15, 2016 - switched from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor XR 75mg; November 10, 2016 - reduced to 67.5 Effexor XR
December 9, 2016 - reduced 60.75
January 5, 2017 - reduced 54.67
January 30, 2017 - reduced to 49.0
February 20, 2017 - reduced to 44.0 
May 20, 2017 - reduced to 40.25 (holding for additional month due to late onset of withdrawal symptoms after this taper)
July 17, 2017 - reduced to 38.24
August 15, 2017 - reduced to 37.5 (50% of my original dose)

October 15, 2017 - reduced to 35.6

November 12, 2017 - reduced to 33.8
December 15, 2017 - up-dose to 35.6
December 28, 2017 - up-dose to 37.5

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Thank you for the information BaroqueP.


Yes, I am pretty familiar with the potential dangers when trying to ween off SSRI's.    When it comes to the medical profession, it seems like there are some that are simply pill pushers and some really do their research on SSRI's.    I have had both.


I do want to share a quick story about the former, because you never know when it will help someone else.


About 7 years ago my normal GP moved and I had to find a new one.   My new GP looked at my prescription and told me that there was a newer SSRI that did not have all the side effects of Paxil.  He said I could stop taking Paxil immediately and switch over the the newer one (Lexapro).   I asked about having to gradually switch and he said it was not necessary.  At the time, he also changed my blood pressure medicine.   And, he gave me a Klonopin prescription, because I was going through a very contentious divorce with children involved and I was very stressed.


Well, things went OK for close to a month, outside of the divorce stress.   The Klonopin probably hid some other changes that were taking place physiologically.    And then, one night in bed I had the mother of all panic attacks.  However, while panic attacks usually last a few minutes, this one lasted close to an hour and was terrifying.   It was almost like a mini-seizure more than a panic attack. I have never been suicidal.  But, had I had a gun in the house during that attack, I may very well had ended my life just to escape the horror that was taking place.


Things finally settled down and I went to sleep.   But when I woke up after the attack, I had severe anxiety and my body was shaking.   The entire world did not look the same.   I missed work.  I could not eat.   It was completely insane.  I could only eat a small meal after doing about 3 shots of alcohol first.  This went on for weeks.


I went back to the doctor.   His suggestion was more Klonopin for the stress that I was going through (divorce, etc).    I asked if my medication changes could be causing the problems and he said no.   After a few more days, I went against my doctors orders.   I quit the Lexapro and went back to my old prescription of Paxil (only 5mg).    Within 24 hours I was feeling better.  Within 36 hours I was back to normal.


This doctors misinformation could have cost me my life (suicide).  It also nearly cost me a relationship with my current wife, who stuck with me the month or so that I was absolutely crazy.  I even broke up with her for a few days at the time, thinking she might have been the cause.   But, when things did not improve, I knew she was not the reason.    When you are crazy like that, you start looking for anything that might have been causing the problems.


IMO, that is why websites like this are so important.   There still seems to be a lot of misinformation about SSRI's, even in the medical field.   I probably don't have to say that I found a new doctor after that episode.   Fortunately, my current GP is much more educated on the dangers of SSRI withdrawal.


In closing.   Thanks to those who provide a site like this.  I have no doubt that there have probably been lives saved here from reading other peoples stories.

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Hey Pliny


welcome to sa.  I had a similar experience quitting Zoloft and zyprexa cold turkey back in 2014, where after stopping the drugs,  my libido came back to life.  I had fuller erections and also could think more clearly once I quit the meds.  only problem- no wife or girlfriend and I didn't sleep much or well,  but it was nice to feel more complete and like a man again.  I really felt alive finally, but there have been the ongoing sleep issues (insomnia, shallow, depressed sleep) these 3 years from withdrawing that eventually seemed to wipe out most of my gains.  poor sleep for so long led to fatigue and digestive and cognitive problems that are taking a toll on my health on body which are necessary components for making use of an awakened sexual functioning. hopefully it will be different for you or at the very least you are able to make good use of the time off the medication "leash" for the time being with your wife.



Court committed to take Prozac, Paxci, and Respiradol from 8/95 to 3/96.   developed severe akithisia and brain damage.  Was unable to speak and walking in circles 15 hours a day.  Went in for 5 sessions of ECT during a 10 day period in March of '96 and my forced medication was discontinued at that time.  My akithisia and brain damage cleared up within a few days of stopping the meds.


On Zoloft (200 mg) and Zyprexa (17.5 mg) March 1998- Feb 2014

In between was placed on Effexor 200 mg and Abilify for six months in 2004.  Developed mild akithisia which went away once I stopped the Abilify.  Developed severe GI issues in Dec 2001 and from that time on suffered from fatigue and hypersomnia where I would sleep between 12 and 20 hours a day and rarely ever left my apartment. 


Had tapered to 100 mg of Zoloft and 7.5 mg of Zyprexa at the time of going cold turkey Feb. 2014

Went 5 days without sleep at the beginning while vomiting all over my apt.  Had brain zaps for a number of weeks and also lightheadedness which both eventually went away.  However 2 1/2 yrs later I still struggle with insomnia, depression, and fatigue.





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  • Moderator Emeritus

There is a very important survey on drug WD at the moment. We might finally get some acknowledgement for all the suffering these drugs caused us.


Adding your experience would be very valuable. It only takes a few minutes. They extended it because they got so many replies after Alto mobilised our members here but the more people join, the more powerful we are.


I even invited my friends who are not on the forum and some of them were not even aware that what was happening to them was a WD... Every vote counts.



Current: 9/2022 Xanax 0.08, Lexapro 2

2020 Xanax 0.26 (down from 2 mg in 2013), Lexapro 2.85 mg (down from 5 mg 2013)

Amitriptyline (tricyclic AD) and clonazepam for 3 months to treat headache in 1996 
1999. - present Xanax prn up to 3 mg.
2000-2005 Prozac CT twice, 2005-2010 Zoloft CT 3 times, 2010-2013 Escitalopram 10 mg
went from 2.5 to zero on 7 Aug 2013, bad crash 40 days after
reinstated to 5 mg Escitalopram 4Oct 2013 and holding liquid Xanax every 5 hours
28 Jan 2014 Xanax 1.9, 18 Apr  2015 1 mg,  25 June 2015 Lex 4.8, 6 Aug Lexapro 4.6, 1 Jan 2016 0.64  Xanax     9 month hold

24 Sept 2016 4.5 Lex, 17 Oct 4.4 Lex (Nov 0.63 Xanax, Dec 0.625 Xanax), 1 Jan 2017 4.3 Lex, 24 Jan 4.2, 5 Feb 4.1, 24 Mar 4 mg, 10 Apr 3.9 mg, May 3.85, June 3.8, July 3.75, 22 July 3.7, 15 Aug 3.65, 17 Sept 3.6, 1 Jan 2018 3.55, 19 Jan 3.5, 16 Mar 3.4, 14 Apr 3.3, 23 May 3.2, 16 June 3.15, 15 Jul 3.1, 31 Jul 3, 21 Aug 2.9 26 Sept 2.85, 14 Nov Xan 0.61, 1 Dec 0.59, 19 Dec 0.58, 4 Jan 0.565, 6 Feb 0.55, 20 Feb 0.535, 1 Mar 0.505, 10 Mar 0.475, 14 Mar 0.45, 4 Apr 0.415, 13 Apr 0.37, 21 Apr 0.33, 29 Apr 0.29, 10 May 0.27, 17 May 0.25, 28 May 0.22, 19 June 0.22, 21 Jun updose to 0.24, 24 Jun updose to 0.26

Supplements: Omega 3 + Vit E, Vit C, D, magnesium, Taurine, probiotic 

I'm not a medical professional. Any advice I give is based on my own experience and reading. 

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Bubble.  I will absolutely partake in the survey.   Somebody needs to start listening to the people who have actually gone through the experiences.


Poetjester.   Yeah, there are tradeoffs for sure.  I went on Paxil so many years ago for the panic attacks.  And, the Paxil did fix that problem.    But, I was shocked at how much alive I felt even after getting off 5mg (temporarily) last week.   


One thing that angers me about doctors prescribing SSRI's, is that I think most start way too high IMO. Actually, this is probably true with all medications.   At 5mg of Paxil, I have no panic attacks and still have some semblance of feelings and sex drive.    Why on earth is the initial suggested dose of Paxil 20mg (which is what they started me on years ago).    At 20mg, I was nearly a Zombie.  Why don't doctors start at a much lower dose and ramp up as needed ?    If you look at Drugs.com, the suggested targeted dose for panic disorder is a whopping 40mg.  Really ?

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