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Ok, About me....


I suffered from mild melancholia thru HS and college. I've had some tragedies in my family from an early age and never really bounced back 100%. Directly after college graduation I went into a severe depression and was prescribed prozac in varying doses over the next several years.


I went thru one difficult change in career and two difficult marriages during which prozac no longer did the trick. The doctor I was seeing at the time changed me to Effexor XR. I stayed on that drug thru the end of the second marriage up until early 2012. Altogether I was on antidepressants for about 20 years straight.


Finally, over these last few years things started looking good for. My outlook on life was good. I found interest in religion again. I had a great relationship. Things were going well for me. I got tired of the side effects of the AD's. Most days on AD's I felt dull and unemotional most of the time. When I became physically exhausted however I would get edgy and prone to over anger and impatience.


Towards the end, oddly enough, I started to have crying jags every so often. I thought maybe the Effexor was beginning not be effective anymore as well. Especially when things were going so well for me. I decided at that time that I was strong enough and had enough of antidepressants and would try supplements and other natural ways to deal with stress and depression.


At that time I was taking 75mg although I had taken as much as 150mg at periods of high stress. I talked to my doctor and got his ok to taper off of the Effexor. My doctor suggested a plan of on one day and off one day and for a few weeks and then on one day and off two days and so on.


But I had already done some research on tapering and read horror stories about that, as well as my own experience of nightmares and head zaps and whooshes when forgetting to take the drug for a day. After much reading in this and other forums I decided a plan of tapering over several months, separating the capsules and reducing the granules by 25% every two-three weeks.


Things were wonderful during those days. As the dosage was reduced to half I actually felt alive again. I had energy again and a really positive outlook. Shortly after completely weaning myself off, however, there was a shakeup at work and my body went in to a state of constant anxiety and panic attacks. That was several months ago.


Since then I have fought to regain my footing. As time has progressed after AD's I have gone thru periods of relapse in depression. My heart was beating so uncontrollable that I went and had a stress test done to make sure I didn’t have a problem with my heart. I've had all the tests done and blood work for various problems as well. I even had my cortisol levels checked. Everything so far has come back normal according to my doctors. They say that I am very healthy physically.


I was prescribed Xanax which I took for a a few weeks to get me thru the stress at work but I made sure I didn't take more than one a day (they prescribed 2-3) so I didn't become accustomed to that drug. So far during this whole process I have had massive headaches. I start weep at times. My heart beats so strong that's its distracting. I bought a portable blood pressure monitor. I use it when I feel these heavy heart beats. My doctor says the results show normal blood pressure even when I feel these heavy heart beats.


I have had incredible difficulty concentrating. I went back to talk to a psychologist who I had worked with previously. He's a great guy but I was surprised that he had not heard of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome. He insists that most symptoms from withdrawal should have passed after several weeks. This has been nine months.


I'm trying to look on the positive side. I acknowledge that the headaches are less severe than previoulsy but it still feels like my brain is turning to concrete. My panic attacks have gone away but my heart is still beating like I've got a bull's heart in there (and I'm not a big guy). I'm concentrating better but I still feel lost. During this time I've tried a bunch of herbal and natural remedies for my residual depression and lack of sleep.


I'm determined not to go back on AD's. So far I've tried St Johns Wart. This didn't do much for me. I stopped taking it and I was really about to give up and go back on AD's when I decided to try Sam-E. So far Sam-E has been working for me really well.


I continue to take this supplement and will report my progress here. Did I mention I can't sleep??? So far I've tried melatonin. It did nothing for me at any dosage. I tried Valerian Root which seemed to make my heart beat even harder. I've tried holy basil and that did the same thing. However I may have overlapped the holy basil with the valerian root so I'm going to try the holy basil again soon.


Magnesium seems to work for me a little. But it only seems to work for an hour or so and then I wake right up again. I go to bed at 10PM and at about 10:30 or 11PM I'm wide awake again until about 3-4AM. My body will not shut itself down at night. I really need to get my sleep back. If I could get more than 3-4 hours of sleep I think I could handle the headaches and heavy heart beating a little better. Bottom line, after 9 months I'm still struggling to get back to some sort of normal.

Edited by Altostrata
added line breaks for readibility
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  • Administrator

Welcome, Clamshell.


Yes, you have a fairly classic case of prolonged withdrawal syndrome. Very few doctors of any type acknowledge this exists. Quite frequently, tests will show nothing. Because of withdrawal-induced hypersensitivity, drugs and supplements will often have a paradoxical effect.


There are topics in our Symptoms and Self-care forum that might help you deal with symptoms. One thing that's important is getting regular gentle exercise, such as walking at least one-half hour a day.


Are you able to walk or maybe swim every day?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Thanks for the reply Altostrata. I can definitely walk. I actually bought a treadmill recently. At first I tried walking a brisk pace for 30 minutes. Early on after doing this I actually broke down in tears a few times. So I've tried lighter exercise like walking in the local mall or around the neighborhood at work. I'm also eating a lot of organic foods. I bought a juicer and started drinking fresh vegetable juices. I'm trying to get as many healthy meals as possible and I've given up a lot of junk foods. I tried holy basil again last night and ended up being really depressed today at work so I think I've given up on that supplement for now. I'll check the Symptoms and Self-care forums and keep updating my status.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Are you still taking Xanax? It can be problematic because it is very short-lived in the bloodstream and you can actually get withdrawal symptoms in between doses, which could be aggravating your symptoms. If you take Xanax or any benzo daily, it doesn't matter how small a dose you are taking, you will develop dependence within four weeks or so, sometimes faster. So do NOT stop taking it abruptly, if you're still taking it. You'll need to taper it too.

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.


Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 


I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Rhi, No I stopped taking Xanax after a fews weeks early on. I knew I didn't want to complicate things by taking and then stopping Xanax.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to the forums Clamshell16, it sounds like you are doing all the right things, but it's just unbelievably rough isn't it? especially the sleep deprivation, and so hard for others to understand what it is we're going through in withdrawal. You'll find lots of info and support here, definitely worth trawling through the symptoms forums for ideas.

*** Please note this is not medical advice,discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner***

Original drug was sertraline/Zoloft, switched to Prozac in 2007.
Tapering from 5mls liquid prozac since Feb 2008, got down to 0.85ml 23/09/2012, reinstated back to 1ml(4mg) 07/11/2012, didn't appear to work, upped to 1.05ml 17/11/2012, back down to 1ml 12/12/2012 didn't work, up to 1.30ml 16/3/2013 didn't work, bumped up to 2ml (8mg) 4/4/2013 didn't work, in July 2013 I reinstated Sertraline (Zoloft) 50mg, feeling better now. 

A few months down the line I switched to 5ml liquid Prozac and tapered down to a compromise dose of 3ml liquid Prozac and have stayed there ever since, no withdrawals and no emotional blunting/loss of libido.


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