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ChrisC: How do I know if it's antidepressant withdrawal?


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My daughter went off her antidepressant cold turkey just over 2 years ago & she has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I want to be able to help her through the symptoms & problems she's having but am finding it difficult to understand. She believes the majority of her symptoms are from antidepressant withdrawal. My question is how do I know if the problems she's having are from antidepressant withdrawal or BPD as from what I know & have read the symptoms can be very similar.

Concerned Mother

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Chris ,  welcome to the site.


The big differentiating factor with withdrawal syndrome is "Did she have these symptoms before she went on antidepressants?"

Withdrawal can often display with hypo-manic type symptoms which are commonly mis-read and diagnosed as bipolar , so mood stabilizers and often a benzo are added.  If self-harm is a feature of her condition , a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is considered "a good fit" (at least , it was when I worked in Community Mental Health Services in Sydney).


Protracted withdrawal presents additional symptoms that were never there in the initial presentation , only appeared after the AD's were added (a sign of toxicity) or stopped abruptly.

It's not uncommon for symptoms to continue for years.  Many members here are recovering years after stopping cold turkey.


The following is a list of symptoms that can come with w/d  (see  this link  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2390-dr-joseph-glenmullens-withdrawal-symptom-checklist )



That Mimic Depression

1Crying spells

2. Worsened mood

3. Low energy (fatigue,lethargy, malaise)

4. Trouble concentrating

5. Insomnia or trouble sleeping

6. Change in appetite

7. Suicidal thoughts

8. Suicide attempts


That Mimic Anxiety Disorders

9. Anxious, nervous, tense

10. Panic attacks (racing heart, breathless)

11. Chest  pain

12. Trembling, jittery, or shaking


Irritability and Aggression

13. Irritability

14. Agitation (restlessness, hyperactivity)

15. Impulsive

16. Aggressiveness


18. Homicidal thoughts or urges


Confusion and Memory Problems

19. Confusion or cognitive difficulties

20. Memory problems or forgetfulness


Mood Swings

21. Elevated  mood (feeling high)

22. Mood swings

23. Manic-like reactions



24. Auditorhallucinations

25. Visual hallucinations



26. Feeling detached or unreal



27. Excessive or intense dreaming

28. Nightmares



That Mimic the Flu

29. Flu -like aches and pains

30. Fever

31. Sweats

32. Chills

33. Runnnose

34. Sore eyes


That Mimic Gastroenteritis

35. Nausea

36. Vomiting

37. Diarrhea

38. Abdominal pain or cramps

39. Stomach bloating



40. Disequilibrium

41. Spinning, swaying, lightheaded

42. Hung over or waterlogged feeling

43. Unsteadgait, poor coordination

44. Motion  sickness



45. Headache



46. Tremor


Sensory Abnormalities

47. Numbness, burning,or tingling

48. Electric zap-like sensations in the brain

49. Electric shock-like sensations in the body

50. Abnormal visuasensations

51. Ringing or other  noises in the ears

52. Abnormal smells or tastes



53. Drooling or excessive saliva

54. Slurred speech

55. Blurred vision

56. Muscle cramps, stiffness, twitches

57. Feeling of restless legs

58. Uncontrollable twitching of mouth


Please use this thread to ask questions.  Good to have you on board , your daughter is lucky to have you.


Best wishes ,  Fresh

1987-1997 pertofran , prothiaden , Prozac 1997-2002 Zoloft 2002-2004 effexor 2004-2010 Lexapro 40mg

2010-2012Cymbalta 120mg

Sept. 2012 -decreased 90mg in 6months. Care taken over by Dr Lucire in March 2013 , decreased last 30mg at 2mg per week over 3 months. July 21 , 2013- last dose of Cymbalta

Protracted withdrawal syndrome kicked in badly Jan.2014 Unrelenting akathisia until May 2014. Voluntary hosp. admission. Cocktail of Seroquel, Ativan and mirtazapine and I was well enough to go home after 14 days. Stopped all hosp. meds in next few months.

July 2014 felt v.depressed - couldn't stop crying. Started pristiq 50mg. Felt improvement within days and continued to improve, so stayed on 50mg for 8 months.

Began taper 28 Feb. 2015. Pristiq 50mg down to 45mg. Had one month of w/d symptoms. Started CES therapy in March. No w/d symptoms down to 30mg.

October 2015 , taking 25mg Pristiq. Capsules compounded with slow-release additive.

March 2016 , 21mg

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  • 1 year later...

Chris how is your daughter these days.

Is she still drug free.

Any update?

Thought for the day: Lets stand up, and let’s speak out , together. G Olsen

We have until the 14th. Feb 2018. 

URGENT REQUEST Please consider submitting  for the petition on Prescribed Drug Dependence and Withdrawal currently awaiting its third consideration at the Scottish Parliament. You don't even have to be from Scotland. By clicking on the link below you can read some of the previous submissions but be warned many of them are quite harrowing.


Please tell them about your problems taking and withdrawing from antidepressants and/or benzos.

Send by email to petitions@parliament.scot and quote PE01651 in the subject heading. Keep to a maximum of 3 sides of A4 and you can't name for legal reasons any doctor you have consulted. Tell them if you wish to remain anonymous. We need the numbers to help convince the committee members we are not isolated cases. You have until mid February. Thank you

Recovering paxil addict

None of the published articles shed light on what ssri's ... actually do or what their hazards might be. Healy 2013. 

This is so true, with anything you get on these drugs, dependance, tapering, withdrawal symptoms, side effects, just silent. And if there is something mentioned then their is a serious disconnect between what is said and reality! 

  "Every time I read of a multi-person shooting, I always presume that person had just started a SSRI or had just stopped."  Dr Mosher. Me too! 

Over two decades later, the number of antidepressant prescriptions a year is slightly more than the number of people in the Western world. Most (nine out of 10) prescriptions are for patients who faced difficulties on stopping, equating to about a tenth of the population. These patients are often advised to continue treatment because their difficulties indicate they need ongoing treatment, just as a person with diabetes needs insulin. Healy 2015

I believe the ssri era will soon stand as one of the most shameful in the history of medicine. Healy 2015

Let people help people ... in a natural, kind, non-addictive (and non-big pharma) way. J Broadley 2017



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