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ClearBrain: Quitting Prozac Cold Turkey


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Hi. I was on Prozac for 25 years. I tried to quit a few times but always went back on pretty quickly. This time, I’m staying off for good. I just don’t want this poison in my brain anymore.   I decided this is a good time to quit because (1) things are going very well with my new (second) marriage, (2) my divorce case, which has been brutal, is approaching resolution and, (3) my career is going much better than it had been. Seems like a good time to get off Prozac once and for all. I’m doing it cold turkey because once I decided I don’t want it anymore, I really don’t want it anymore, not even a drop. I can tell from reading the posts on this forum that cold turkey is probably the wrong approach but it is how I need to do it. I quit one month ago. Since quitting,  I’ve noticed my irritability growing and my ability to deal with stress weakening. Today, is the first day that I feel really depressed. I just hope that I have not reverted to my normal, depressed state from 25 years ago, and that instead this is truly a withdrawal that will improve. I understand from the site that I may be dealing with “Neuro-emotions”, a theory which makes sense to me.  I just hope going off the Prozac does not mess up my career as a lawyer. I have social anxiety and I generally get easily frustrated and irritated. When on Prozac, I am able to deal with opposing lawyers. When I’m off, I get into a rage too fast and get really frustrated about minor interactions that should (and used to) roll off my back.  Regardless, I am quitting, because I do not know what the long-term effects of having this stuff in my brain are and because I want to experience the world with a normal, clear brain.  If I have issues, I have to work through them naturally and should not be relying on a drug anyway.  I already feel better than I did by writing this post.  So thanks and I’m glad to be here. 

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  • manymoretodays changed the title to ClearBrain: Quitting Prozac Cold Turkey
  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to SA, ClearBrain.  I see you've done a good bit of reading on the site.  While, as you know, we don't recommend cold turkey, we are happy to support you and help you in dealing with withdrawal.  

 

There is no way to predict how long withdrawal lasts.  While some improve fairly quickly, others take longer.  The symptoms you mention--irritability and depression--are very typical withdrawal symptoms.  Anxiety and insomnia are also common.  

 

One note: We respect your decision and your resolve and your desire to be free of these awful drugs.   But if you find the withdrawal process too difficult and you change your mind and decide to go back on the Prozac, contact us first so we can suggest a dosage to mitigate withdrawal symptoms; your full previous dosage will be too much for your now-sensitized system.

 

So that you have a better understanding of what you're experiencing and may experience as time passes, here is some information of withdrawal and the healing process.

 

What is withdrawal syndrome.

 

Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF) 

 

The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

When we take psychiatric medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  

 

These explain the healing process really well:

 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

   On 8/30/2011 at 2:28 PM,  Rhiannon said: 
When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.

 

AND

 

   On 12/3/2015 at 10:41 AM,  apace41 said: 
Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium (glycinate is a good form) and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 

 

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 

 

Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.

 

This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

 

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 May 2: 6.1mg

Taper is 92% complete.  

  

Supplements: multiple, quercetin, omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, 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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Thanks so much Gridley.  Those two analogies are excellent. I am ready to fight for this like I've never fought for anything.  It already feels really difficult. Things that did not seem like a big deal before are beginning to feel overwhelming. But if I can just take a meta-approach and think about why I'm feeling these feelings as I'm feeling them, then I think that will be the crucial weapon for me in this war. Thanks again for the welcome and for all of the excellent information.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

@ClearBrain

 

In case you haven't already read it, here's a very good thread on neuroemotions:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/14397-neuro-emotions/

 

 

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 May 2: 6.1mg

Taper is 92% complete.  

  

Supplements: multiple, quercetin, omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, 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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Thanks Gridley. I have seen it. The video you sent was great. Even though short, it's fascinating and profoundly helpful. 

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  • 1 month later...

It's been a little over two months since I quit prozac cold turkey. Up until today, it had been relatively smooth -- at least relative to all the nightmares I've been reading about on this site.  In fact, I had started to wonder if a lot of the descriptions on here were psychosomatic. Yes, I had noticed myself getting irritable more quickly. And I also noticed myself thinking about certain frustrating things that happened in the past and feeling extra-frustrated and angry about them. But overall, I thought I was handling my withdrawal  pretty easily. Today, however, I exploded in an argument with my wife, to whom I've been married for a year and a half.  We have never fought like this, with me yelling at the top of my lungs. Now I realize that my irritability and frustration have  been steadily increasing to a point where I'm jeopardizing my marriage. The pandemic is not helping as it's just about shut down my law practice. All of a sudden, I am terrified about how I'm going to pay the bills, including child support from my first marriage (and subsequent brutal divorce). And I'm worried about my irritability and my inability to handle frustration.

 

Now my wife is in the other room and we haven't talked since our explosive fight and I feel anxious, frustrated and full of regret. Regardless, I don't want to reinstate. I never want to put psych meds into my brain again. But I now understand the nightmares I'm reading about here and fully expect to go through them myself. 

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