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ComplicatedChart: Withdrawal from Anafranil


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Hello everyone, I'm ComplicatedChart (CC for short).  Thank you for letting me join and hopefully get some advice on my own journey.


A bit about me: 33f who has been on Anafranil for 3 years.  It was prescribed for panic disorder/OCD (turned out to be PTSD, long story...)  I have a genetic mutation that causes medications to effect me stronger than an adult of my height and weight.  So 50 mg of Anafranil had the same effect as 150 mg on a regular person.  


I have had very bad weight gain on this drug, to the point that doctors have deemed it dangerous and I need to taper off.  I have now been on 25 mg for a year, and need to make that last step, but am prone to severe withdrawal symptoms, mostly physical in nature.  Headaches, extremely stiff neck, extreme hunger (I think it is blood-sugar related), heart rate and blood pressure issues all result, as well as the development of allergies.  (Who knew Anafranil was an antihistamine, urgh.)


(It's worth mentioning that I have several medical conditions, including encephalitis which causes seizures, and need to be very careful about these symptoms being exacerbated by the withdrawal.)


My question is: does anyone have any advice for proceeding?  I have tried doses less than 25 mg, and the withdrawal symptoms still persist unless I go back to 25 mg.  I am very concerned about the headaches in particular, because I do not want another brain injury from intercranial pressure.  Any advice is appreciated!!



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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello, CC, and welcome to SA.  I'm glad you found your way to us.  


To start, in order to give members the best information, we ask them to summarize their medication history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly.
At Surviving Antidepressants, it is recommended that a person taper by no more than 10% of their current dose with at least a four week hold in-between decreases.  The 10% taper recommendation is a harm reduction approach to going off psychiatric drugs.  Some people may have to taper at a more conservative rate as they are sensitive to even the smallest drops.  I suspect, based on what you wrote about your sensitivity, that you may need to go more slowly than 10%.  Some people taper by 5% per month.  Your bad reactions when you tried to go below 25mg likely stemmed from tapering too fast.  Slow tapering takes longer but is much gentler on your system.
In your case, 10% of your 25mg dosage would be 2.5mg, which subtracted from 25mg would make your first drop 22.5.  There are some links below that explain how to make these nonstandard doses.
Some members use a 2 1/2% per week taper for four weeks with a two week hold.  This can be gentler than the 10% method.  Some members taper by 1% per week.
If your doctors is cooperative, you can have your doses made by a compounding pharmacy.  Or you can make the doses yourself, either by making a liquid solution or using a scale, such as the Gemini-20 scale available on Amazon. 


Using an oral syringe and other tapering techniques
How to use oral syringes, gelatin capsules, powdered tablets, and do-it-yourself liquid solutions
Using a digital scale to measure doses
Digital scales can measure less than 1mg by weight


This is your introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community.  I hope you’ll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation.  

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 April 1: 6.8mg

Taper is 91% complete.  


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