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maxfly: trying to go off Effexor XR


maxfly

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Hi There,

 

I took reluctantly took 150mg of Effexor XR for about 8 months to recover from a work related break down that resulted in high anxiety.  My doctor assured me I had nothing to lose by trying Effexor.  After 8 months passed, and work settled down, I decided to stop taking Effexor.  I tapered to 37.5mg quite easily.  I've spent the last 5 months trying to get past 37.5 - using bead counting reductions.  Every attempt has been the same.  I am fine for about 7 days and then on day 8, I crash with extreme flu symptoms.

 

My last attempt I tried crossing over to Prozac.  I took 20mg of Prozac for a week and then started taking out 5 beads (~5%) from my Effexor capsules.  After week 2 I started to have trouble sleeping - I assume from the Prozac building up.  Towards the end of week 3 I started to feel really strong withdrawal from the Effexor - headaches, diarrahea and nausea.  I was a complete mess so I bailed and took 75 mg of Effexor - the flu symtoms went away the next day.  I stopped the Prozac and I am now sleeping okay just taking 37.5 mg of Effexor.

 

I'm really not sure what to try next.  I've been taking 37.5 mg of Effexor for 5 months and I'm not sure if this dose helps or hurts or does nothing.  Failed tapers are very stressfull so I want to be conservative.    A couple of questions:

 

1) Why do my withdrawal symptoms take 8 days to appear and why are they 'all or nothing'?  Any insight into what's happening over the 8 days?

3) What should I try next?  A two bead taper seems like the only option - but it will take me 5 years to get off the drug.

3) Could it be that opening and reassembling the capsule reduces the effectiveness of the drug?

 

Thoughts?

Oct 2014 - May 2015 Effexor XR 150mg

June 2015 - Effexor XR 112.5

July 2015 - Effexor XR 75mg

Aug 2015 - Effexor XR 37.5 mg - Multiple failed taper attempts

Jan 2017 - Effexor XR 150mg

Aug 2019 - 150 mg - start 5%  every 4 weeks taper

Nov 2020 - 85 mg Effexor

 

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  • Administrator

Welcome, maxfly.

 

I've moved your post to the Introductions forum, to start your Intro topic, where you can track your tapering progress.

 

When did you try Prozac? Since you gave up on that, have you been taking 37.5mg Effexor XR regularly, at the same time each day, or have you tried to reduce your dosage again?

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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  • Moderator

Hi Maxfly-- welcome to the group.  I'm sorry to hear that you've had such a frustrating time with your taper.  Hopefully the five month hold has settled things down a lot.  Delayed symptoms are one of the real frustrations of tapering.  Any dose change, either up or down, takes at least four days to become steady state in the blood, after that the symptoms take their own good time in showing up.  Anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.  This is why we recommend for people to wait 4-6 weeks between drops, to let the symptoms sort themselves out and settle.

 

Opening, sorting beads and reclosing a capsule does nothing to change the effectiveness of the medication.  In fact it is a standard way to taper Effexor.

 

Effexor has a bad habit of sensitizing its users if they make several changes up and down.  With all the manipulations you've done over the past year or so I suspect that is the case for you, so you'll have to be very gentle with any changes you make.  Dropping by two beads sounds like a good place to start.  Yes it will take a long time, but the object is to get off with the least pain possible, not the quickest way.  I'm starting into my fifth year of tapering paxil, and should be jumping off some time this summer.  I can't believe how fast the taper has gone, it really doesn't seem like five years.  When I compare my experience with other members (something we really shouldn't do) I have been relatively pain free compared to the ones who CTed or fast tapered.

20 years on Paxil starting at 20mg and working up to 40mg. Sept 2011 started 10% every 6 weeks taper (2.5% every week for 4 weeks then hold for 2 additional weeks), currently at 7.9mg. Oct 2011 CTed 15oz vodka a night, to only drinking 2 beers most nights, totally sober Feb 2013.

Since I wrote this I have continued to decrease my dose by 10% every 6 weeks (2.5% every week for 4 weeks and then hold for an additional 2 weeks). I added in an extra 6 week hold when I hit 10mg to let things settle out even more. When I hit 3mgpw it became hard to split the drop into 4 parts so I switched to dropping 1mgpw (pill weight) every week for 3 weeks and then holding for another 3 weeks.  The 3 + 3 schedule turned out to be too harsh so I cut back to dropping 1mgpw every 4 weeks which is working better.

Final Dose 0.016mg.     Current dose 0.000mg 04-15-2017

 

"It's also important not to become angry, no matter how difficult life is, because you can loose all hope if you can't laugh at yourself and at life in general."  Stephen Hawking

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Maxfly,

 

Just chiming in to say I'm also tapering Effexor.  The only way I seem to be able to do it is very slowly - a 10% reduction caused me two months of horrible w/d symptoms, then a 1.3% cut meant I wasn't functional for a month.  Currently I am making 4 weekly 0.4% cuts then holding for a month.  As I am currently on 133mg, it will take years.  At some point I may try slightly larger cuts, as I sense my CNS is stabilising more and more. 

 

Right now though, I need to be a functional mum so this is the way for me.  You can experiment with those small cuts of, say, two beads and see how it goes.  Eventually you will find your tapering sweet-spot. 

 

There are some things you can do to ease your way through this in the Symptoms and Self-care forum.  Many people find fish-oil and magnesium very beneficial.  And here is the link for tapering Effexor:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/272-tips-for-tapering-off-effexor-and-effexor-xr-venlafaxine/

 

Would you be able to fill out a signature so we can see your med and tapering details easily whenever you post? 

 

It's good to have you here.  Getting through this isn't easy, but it is do-able when you have the right info.  So have a read around the site, and then come back to this thread to ask any questions you may have.  This will be your journal for your healing progress.

 

Best wishes,

KarenB

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi There,

 

I took reluctantly took 150mg of Effexor XR for about 8 months to recover from a work related break down that resulted in high anxiety.  My doctor assured me I had nothing to lose by trying Effexor.  After 8 months passed, and work settled down, I decided to stop taking Effexor.  I tapered to 37.5mg quite easily.  I've spent the last 5 months trying to get past 37.5 - using bead counting reductions.  Every attempt has been the same.  I am fine for about 7 days and then on day 8, I crash with extreme flu symptoms.

 

Hi maxfly, 

 

I am also tapering Effexor, though I am focusing on my Remeron (mirtazapine) taper first and gently nudging the Effexor down as I go.

 

You mentioned you used bead counting, but you didn't say how many beads, or what percentage, you were cutting.  It sounds like it was too much, but more details would be helpful so that we can determine if you were in fact doing a reasonable taper schedule but are just super-sensitized.

 

I count AND weigh beads.  I have found with the Teva brand that I have mostly large beads that weigh about 2.6 mg each, along with some medium sized beads and some extra small ones.  I got sloppy once and scooped up a bunch to get the weight I was aiming for and ended up with WD symptoms, probably because I got too  many little ones in the capsules compared to my usual method of aiming for the large beads.  The volume to surface area of coating changes with size.  Smaller beads mean more surface area to volume than larger beads.  Messed me up.  So, I have to be just that careful.  My p-doc calls it OCD!

 

As I said, I am doing the Remeron 10% per month, doing a weighing session every two weeks.  That means I prepare all my dosages for the next two weeks, putting them in gel capsules I got off Amazon.  I will drop my Effexor by 1-2 mg gross weight each time I do a weigh session.

 

Anyway, we will get you straightened out and on your way!

 

SG

Started ADs back around 1995 after bad break-up, starting with Prozac.  Switched to Wellbutrin, and then to Effexor in 2002
Effexor XR 2002-2014 up to 225 mg at one point, down to 37.5 mg towards end but back up to 75 mg in 2014; now realize I had W/D as I dropped down, memory very poor about history.  Extreme emotions, poor concentration as I stepped back down, didn't connect the dots!
Summer 2014 reduced to 0 very quickly, was sick of anhedonia/sexual dysfunction due to meds, depression never controlled if not worse. Didn't recognize WD since symptoms built slowly (thought I had ADD! and menopausal on top of it), starting with severe sweats, very bad cog-fog and memory issues, culminating in weight loss, severe anxiety and depression, panic, severe apathy and insomnia by eight months off.  Saw p-doc who put me on Remeron, increased from 7.5 mg/day to 37.5 mg by May 22, 2015; still doing very badly though able to sleep.

June 1. 2015 Reinstated Effexor XR 37.5 mg, Remeron dropped to 30 mg PM. Immediate relief of symptoms, like nothing had ever happened!  Joined SA and began on advice of friend who recognized it was WD all along! Began tapering in July 2015.

Been tapering both meds ever since, focusing on one more than the other or doing no more than 5% of each per month.

12 mg Effexor and 5.8 mg Remeron (mirtazapine SolTabs to make a solution with OraPlus) as of 5/4/2017 

Update 3/14/18: 2.9 mg Remeron and 6 mg Effexor; 6/10/18:  2.6 mg Remeron and 4.9 mg Effexor

 

My intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/9313-squirrellygirl-effexor-withdrawal-etc/page-2#entry196679

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

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Thank you all for you responses.  I tried the Prozac bridge at the suggestion of my Doctor and after reading that it was a fast way to get off Effexor.  I tried between Nov 23th and December 12th 2015.  Since December 12th I've been taking 37.5 mg of Effexor every morning and have stabilized.  

 

The 37.5mg capsules I'm taking have 115 beads.  Sounds like I need to start will a very slow taper.  I think I will try a 2 bead taper and see how that goes.  It's a little discouraging to think I could be tapering for a couple of years but there doesn't seem to be another option.

Oct 2014 - May 2015 Effexor XR 150mg

June 2015 - Effexor XR 112.5

July 2015 - Effexor XR 75mg

Aug 2015 - Effexor XR 37.5 mg - Multiple failed taper attempts

Jan 2017 - Effexor XR 150mg

Aug 2019 - 150 mg - start 5%  every 4 weeks taper

Nov 2020 - 85 mg Effexor

 

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  • Administrator

It probably would be a good idea to postpone dosage changes until after the holidays. Give your nervous system a chance to rest up.

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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  • Moderator Emeritus

Great advice, Alto!  Maxfly, you could actually do 10% per month, which would be about 103 beads to start with.  If that seems like too much, then 5% or about 110 beads.  Have you counted several capsules to see if they are fairly consistent? 

 

Of course, taking out two beads per taper is a nice slow, steady taper that should minimize symptoms.  When you think about the fact that many people have failed tapers and erroneously believe they will have to be on the drugs indefinitely, taking a couple of years to come off doesn't sound as bad as that!

 

I am glad you were able to get stable on 37.5 mg.  Slow and steady wins the race!

 

SG

Started ADs back around 1995 after bad break-up, starting with Prozac.  Switched to Wellbutrin, and then to Effexor in 2002
Effexor XR 2002-2014 up to 225 mg at one point, down to 37.5 mg towards end but back up to 75 mg in 2014; now realize I had W/D as I dropped down, memory very poor about history.  Extreme emotions, poor concentration as I stepped back down, didn't connect the dots!
Summer 2014 reduced to 0 very quickly, was sick of anhedonia/sexual dysfunction due to meds, depression never controlled if not worse. Didn't recognize WD since symptoms built slowly (thought I had ADD! and menopausal on top of it), starting with severe sweats, very bad cog-fog and memory issues, culminating in weight loss, severe anxiety and depression, panic, severe apathy and insomnia by eight months off.  Saw p-doc who put me on Remeron, increased from 7.5 mg/day to 37.5 mg by May 22, 2015; still doing very badly though able to sleep.

June 1. 2015 Reinstated Effexor XR 37.5 mg, Remeron dropped to 30 mg PM. Immediate relief of symptoms, like nothing had ever happened!  Joined SA and began on advice of friend who recognized it was WD all along! Began tapering in July 2015.

Been tapering both meds ever since, focusing on one more than the other or doing no more than 5% of each per month.

12 mg Effexor and 5.8 mg Remeron (mirtazapine SolTabs to make a solution with OraPlus) as of 5/4/2017 

Update 3/14/18: 2.9 mg Remeron and 6 mg Effexor; 6/10/18:  2.6 mg Remeron and 4.9 mg Effexor

 

My intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/9313-squirrellygirl-effexor-withdrawal-etc/page-2#entry196679

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

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Thanks for filling in the signature.  I hope you take Alto's advise to wait till after Christmas before starting to taper as it's not long since your last changes. 

 

You might also like to buy a micro-scale as the contents of the capsules vary a lot.  If you weigh them yourself then you can keep things more accurate, and it's easier than counting lots of beads.  Starting low is a good idea.  If you discover there are no issues, then you can try increased cuts, but just be careful not to go over the 10%.  The last thing you want is w/d to catch up with you sometime down the track. 

 

KarenB

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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  • 2 months later...

I tried the Prozac bridge at the suggestion of my Doctor and after reading that it was a fast way to get off Effexor. 

 

What happened when you tried the Prozac bridge? What made you think it was not working? I'm also on Effexor and I'm thinking about doing the Prozac bridge. I would be very grateful if you could tell me about your experience.

 

If my switch to Prozac is unsuccessful, I will micro taper.

 

Alenka

On venlafaxine since 2001. Three cold turkey WD attempts unsuccessful.

In 2012 I slowly tapered from 75mg. Less than a year after taking the last grain I developed extreme anxiety and pseudo dementia.

After all clear neuro tests in 2013 I was put on Effexor 150mg. Instant improvement. 

In 2014 I tested positive for chronic mercury poisoning. I'm chelating using Andy Cutler's protocol, www.noamalgam.com.

Tapering Venlafaxine Actavis 150mg: Mar 10%, May 10%, Jun (eyeballing) 3 quarters of capsule, Sep slighlty over half of capsule. End Oct exactly half capsule. Feeling great when chelating and being very hopeful that this time I will succeed!

My intro & updates

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  • 4 years later...

I've slowly tapered from 150mg to 100mg with the following dosage drops roughly every 6 weeks (142.5, 132.5, 122.5, 112.5, 110, 105, 100)

 

The main side effect is fatigue.  Anyone else feel extremely tired when tapering?  I can basically fall asleep when ever I sit down on the couch.  Need to keep myself active and stimulated. 

 

The issue is that the fatigue is strongest in weeks 4-6 after the dosage drop.  It makes it difficult to taper because I need to wait 6+ weeks for my energy to return.  Any suggestions / thought on how to deal with the fatigue?  Why is it the worst in weeks 5 and 6?

 

I know the answer may be that "that's just how it is for me" and my taper will be very slow and prolonged but wondering if anyone has had experience with drawn out fatigue.  @Altostrata - would love your guidance on this.  thanks, maxfly

Oct 2014 - May 2015 Effexor XR 150mg

June 2015 - Effexor XR 112.5

July 2015 - Effexor XR 75mg

Aug 2015 - Effexor XR 37.5 mg - Multiple failed taper attempts

Jan 2017 - Effexor XR 150mg

Aug 2019 - 150 mg - start 5%  every 4 weeks taper

Nov 2020 - 85 mg Effexor

 

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  • Administrator

max, I moved your post here to update your topic.

 

Congratulations on getting down to 100mg Effexor.

 

What happens in weeks 1-3 after a dosage drop? Why did you decide to taper at 6-week intervals?

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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  • ChessieCat changed the title to maxfly: trying to go off Effexor XR
  • 6 months later...

Hi @Altostrata,  Just realized this post got moved to my intro topic.  The strange this about my taper (~5% every 6 weeks) is that I really don't notice any withdrawal effects in weeks 1-3.  I think everything's fine and then on about day 18 or 19 I get headaches and fatigue.  I wait a couple weeks to feel better and then taper again.  Hence the 6 week tapers.

 

Is it unusual for withdrawal effects to take 2 weeks to appear?

Oct 2014 - May 2015 Effexor XR 150mg

June 2015 - Effexor XR 112.5

July 2015 - Effexor XR 75mg

Aug 2015 - Effexor XR 37.5 mg - Multiple failed taper attempts

Jan 2017 - Effexor XR 150mg

Aug 2019 - 150 mg - start 5%  every 4 weeks taper

Nov 2020 - 85 mg Effexor

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Putting this here for your history:

  

36 minutes ago, maxfly said:

Anyone have experience switching Effexor brands?  Did you notice any difference on the new brand?

 

The brand I've been taking for 4 years, Teva, suddenly stopped making Effexor XR.  I switched to a brand called APO.  I chose this brand because it has 450 beads in a 75mg capsule and should be good for tapering.  I've noticed my sleep has been shallow and interrupted and I have mild headaches.  It's been 3 weeks.  Could this be due to my system getting used to the new brand?

 

Thoughts?

 

  

Just now, ChessieCat said:

Generally when switching drug manufacturer we suggest doing a cross over because it is gentler on your system, each combo for 3-7 days (longer if needed):  3/4 + 1/4, 1/2 + 1/2, 1/4 + 3/4.  No reduction at the same time.  Good information to have if needed down the track.  Also a good idea not to leave getting the next prescription filled at the last moment.

 

However this obviously cannot be done if you haven't planned for it and they switch brands.  Very frustrating.

 

Yes, some members do notice a worsening of symptoms when changing.  Some even when doing cross over.

 

change-in-drug-manufacturer-or-generic-substituted-for-brand-name-drug

 

It's best to hold on the current dose until stable:

 

Stability

 

WDnormal
 

 

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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  • Moderator Emeritus
7 minutes ago, maxfly said:

The strange this about my taper (~5% every 6 weeks) is that I really don't notice any withdrawal effects in weeks 1-3.  I think everything's fine and then on about day 18 or 19 I get headaches and fatigue.

 

Quote from post about changing brands:

 

37 minutes ago, maxfly said:

I've noticed my sleep has been shallow and interrupted and I have mild headaches.  It's been 3 weeks. 

 

Q:  Did you make a reduction at the same time as changing brands?

 

If you did then, because you made 2 changes at the same time, it is difficult to know the cause.

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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I held the dose at 85mg for the brand switch to APO.  I'll wait 2 more weeks (4 in total since I switched) and see how I feel.  If my sleep is better I'll start my slow taper again.  Will try 2.5mg every 4 weeks and see how that goes.

Oct 2014 - May 2015 Effexor XR 150mg

June 2015 - Effexor XR 112.5

July 2015 - Effexor XR 75mg

Aug 2015 - Effexor XR 37.5 mg - Multiple failed taper attempts

Jan 2017 - Effexor XR 150mg

Aug 2019 - 150 mg - start 5%  every 4 weeks taper

Nov 2020 - 85 mg Effexor

 

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  • 1 month later...
  • Moderator Emeritus

Just responding to your question from the PM.

 

Have you checked out the Brass Monkey Slide

 

You can choose what percentage you reduce by.  You might find that you can reduce by more than 3% per month.

 

And the only supplements which SA recommends are magnesium and omega 3.

 

There are topics about those.

 

It's best to try one at a time and start with a small amount.

 

And it's better to take things as a single thing, not a complex.  Be aware that some members find B vitamins activating especially B6. 

 

To search for them use a search engine and add site:survivingantidepressants.org to the search term.

Please DO NOT TAG me - thank you

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions. 

  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:    (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq      on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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