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cokemachineglow: Moms and meds....


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Hello to the community,

I've been reading and browsing this site for a while, but hadn't ever formally joined. I've been taking medication (Paxil then Effexor) for the past 15+ years. In the past year or two I've become much more emotionally healthy and have entered a stable place in my life. From many different discussions with different medical professionals (and from personal experience!) I know it is best to taper from a position of strength and relative good mental health and I've fought so so hard to get to where I am. I want to taper off of my medications to recover my emotions and to potentially try to become pregnant. I find that I've become much more emotionally blunted - I am neither happy nor sad about things that would be joyful/upsetting for most people. I am also at the age where many of my friends are having children, and would also love to have a child.


From the literature searching that I have done, I've found many conflicting opinions on whether or not a pregnant woman should take mental health medications - Effexor XR in particular. I've consulted 3 MDs and one naturopathic doctor and have connected with MotherRisk at SickKids Hospital in Toronto.


I have been told the following:

My GP: you should switch to Celexa ( less side effects/ lower risk of birth defects/)

2nd Doctor: keep taking your medication (Effexor) - don't worry about it.

Naturopathic doctor - difficult decision - there is no one right answer and each person must decide the level of risk that is acceptable to him/her and also balance your own mental health needs.

SickKids RN - Keep taking your meds.


Internet research - conflicting opinions, scary stories etc. Some children of mothers taking Effexor are born and have withdrawal symptoms.  


I want to stay out of judgement - I think everyone needs to do what is right for them. Right now, for me it feels right to try and taper. In the past 7 months I've tapered slowly down with the assistance of a mental health RN and Naturopathic doctor who advised supplements for the brain zapps. 


I feel like there are so many people who take medication for mental health, and so many women getting pregnant - but the issue of the two together is very rarely talked about, at least in my experience.


If there is anyone out there who has gone through this issue, or has some experience I would love to hear about it.  I have found a few articles, and I believe there was recently a film made called "Moms and Meds" although I haven't seen it yet... possibly because I don't want to sob quietly for 30 or 40 minutes before bed. 






Taking things one day at a time. Whee... 






h/x: Paxil for 10 years, switched to Effexor XR 150mg for the last 8 years.

Currently attempting to taper off of Effexor XR. 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to cokemachineglow: Moms and meds....
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi, cokemachineglow (like that name) and welcome to SA.


In the upper-left of your post, just under your name, you will see six black bars, two of which deal with pregnancy.  If you click on them, you will go to discussions on SA about pregnancy and antidepressants.  That will be a start.


We ask all of our members to fill out a signature so that all of your information can be read at a glance without having to go to this original post each time.  Your signature will appear at the bottom of each of your posts.  This helps moderators understand your situation.

Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature


 •    Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
 •    A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
 •    Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
 •    Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
 •    Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.

To get you started, and familiarized with the protocols followed by SA, I am linking a couple of topics so that you have a better understanding of what is recommended here and the steps that you can take to minimize your withdrawal.  


What is Withdrawal Syndrome?

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

Gridley Introduction


Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.


Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium 

End 2021  year 1 of Valium taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of Valium taper at 2.75mg 

End 2023 year 3 of Valium taper at 1mg

Jan. 24, 2024: Hold at 1mg and shift to Imipramine taper.

Taper is 95% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan.-Sept. 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Jan. 24, 2024: Resume Imipramine taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 22: 7.6mg

Taper is 90% complete.  


Supplements: multiple, quercetin, omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotics, zinc, melatonin .3mg, anti-candida, iron, serrapeptase, nattokinase

I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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Hi coke! I'm in awe of your research and thoughtful approach to your health and the thought of tapering. Goodness, if the majority of us had followed your lead this site would be a whole lot emptier :)


I'm glad you're in such a good space right now, that's awesome! It reminded me that I too had been very happy for quite a number of years when I started my disastrous taper. It's amazing how a poorly executed taper can ruin an otherwise delightful life! That won't happen to you though since you're so well informed and here!


How was your move from Paxil to Effexor 8 years ago?


For what a personal story is worth, I suffered prenatal depression with all my children (5) and was actually prescribed paxil to get through that! I took it for pregnancy 1 and 2,  from around 7 weeks to around 16 weeks and then stopped CT with no problem both times. By the time I experienced the same thing with baby 3, I had learned that the feelings of despair would pass so didn't medicate. No meds for baby 3 and 4 and by the time I was pregnant with baby 5, well, I'd been taking paxil for 4 years by then and just kept on taking it. 


Obviously, I wouldn't have taken medication at all if I had known what I know now - not in terms of the child's health, but in terms of my own. I've since learnt that if I feel bad emotionally, medication is not the answer for me. 

I truly hope that in the future we don't discover that these drugs negatively affect unborn/breastfeeding babies. However, there is much research to show that a baby that is cared for by a primary carer that is anxious/angry, depressed and withdrawn is likely to negatively affect the outcomes for that child. So whatever a person did in terms of pregnancy and drug taking, it's important not to have a baby while suffering from significant withdrawal symptoms. But I guess I'm preaching to the choir since you already are well aware of a sensible taper etc :)


Very very best of luck! xxxmollyn


Drug history

  • 20mg paxil in 2001 - 4 months use  
  • 20mg paxil in 2003 - 2 months use 
  • 20mg paxil in 2008 - 8 years continuous

Withdrawal history:

  • March 2014 - disastrous alternate day taper
  • Jan 2015 - 15mg to 10mg. Disaster
  • Sept 2015 -  10mg to 5mg. Disaster. Reinstated to 6mg. Relief
  • Oct 2015 - started slow 10% taper 
  • Oct 2016 - at 4mg- stop taking paxil (not recommended)


I'm not a medical professional. Seek advice from a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi MollyN,

Sorry for the delayed reply - I hope my reply shows up!


Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have to say my extensive research is usually driven by lots of anxiety - I find looking things up and talking to people sometimes* reduces the anxiety. If I don`t look things up and do lots of reading on something, I get very anxious because I don`t feel prepared. I used to think that if I could come up with all of the various permutations and outcomes of future bad events, I could plan for and avoid them all. Needless to say this takes wayyy too much time, so I`m trying really hard to reduce my worry research with mixed results.. lol


As for tapering of the Paxil... I really didn`t. One day in the summer of 2008 I decided that I was done with Paxil and I wasn`t going to take it anymore. I would never ever suggest that anyone consider that. I was sick for 3 months with the brain zaps and all of the other typical symptoms. I also had lots of horrible suicidal thoughts and found out why some people call withdrawing from Paxil  pax-hell, which brought me to figure out that I needed to get back on something .... so Effexor.


Thank you for sharing your personal story - it is really helpful to know that there are other people out there who have gone through something similar, and lived to tell the tale! I`m so glad that It worked for you. 



h/x: Paxil for 10 years, switched to Effexor XR 150mg for the last 8 years.

Currently attempting to taper off of Effexor XR. 

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  • 3 months later...

Hi cokemachineglow, I just read your message on my story from a few months ago. So sorry for the delay in the reply. Thank you for your kind words and positivity. 

Began Paxil in 2004 at 20 mg

Attempted to stop Paxil in 2012 but had to reinstate within 2 months

Began correct reductions of 10% in 2012 and have been reducing since then

March 2017 0.8 mg

October 2017 0.4mg 

March 2018 0.5 mg

Worked slowly up to 3.2 mg by May 2019 

January 2021 still at 3.2 mg 

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