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dm668: The beginning


dm668

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Hello, all. I have been on 20mg of Prozac for the past ten years for general anxiety and dysthymia. It had never really been my express intention to be on the medication this long, but when I started on the dose in my very early 20s, I also didn't see it as a particularly short-term thing either.

 

Before my relationship with Prozac, I had had an on-off thing with Paxil for about 5-7 years, starting when I was in high school, roughly around age 15. I had tried different dosages (from 10mg up to 40mg very briefly, but most often at 20mg) and had tried tapering off several times. High school was not a particularly joyful time for me, and whenever I decided I was well enough to quit, some anxiety-producing event would always intrude, causing acute distress and necessitating my return my Paxil regimen. In my high school years, at least, I don't think I ever tapered long enough to really experience the full effects of being "off" the meds. I always went back on very quickly. It was more a game of chicken than anything else.

 

I did one time taper off Paxil for an extended period in college, at around age 19 or 20. I was off Paxil fully for several weeks, and for the first time in several years, I actually experienced life without SSRIs. I remember that it went OK at first. College was overall a much more positive time for me than high school, and there were fewer triggers, whether they were endogenous or exogenous, for anxiety-producing events. I even remember one day on spring break running into a high school friend who I'd not seen in several years and being so overjoyed by the encounter that I was unfamiliar with this emotional response. I had never particularly noticed or minded the emotionally numbing effects of SSRIs (considering this a preferable condition to my persistently depressed unmedicated state), and experiencing true unbridled emotion at this stage in my life was unexpected and almost revelatory.

 

Unfortunately, following this peak, a trough soon followed, and it was decided that resuming my course of Paxil was the most sensible thing. I didn't disagree, and I stayed on the medication until after I graduated college and started my first full-time job in my early 20s. It was at this time that my psychiatrist decided that Prozac would be a preferable medication for some variety of reasons. So, at this time I again tapered off my Paxil, with the understanding that if things got dodgy this time, I'd immediately start a course of Prozac. The goal was ostensibly to go off SSRIs entirely, but there was always a contingency plan (Prozac) in place, and I'm not sure I ever doubted that I'd ultimately wind up on Prozac. So I tapered, got into a pretty bad funk (partly owing to very negative work environment), and became a Prozac man.

 

I have been on that same dosage of Prozac (20mg) since that time. It has been 10 years. I have never tried tapering off nor have I ever really strongly considered it. My life has been stable, reasonably productive and ostensibly "happy". But having entered my 30s a couple of years back, I am increasingly concerned that I will spend the rest of my life in an emotionally handicapped state. I sometimes feel that my life lacks real substance and that everything I do in my day-to-day is merely to maintain my physical organism, and this objective seems to me increasingly unsatisfying. I am not suicidal; nor have I ever been. Even in my darkest moments, I have not wanted to end my life. Perhaps my depression has shallower depths than many people's, but I have always been capable of seeing some version of the light at the end of the tunnel, even if only in the vaguest, most abstractly conceptual ways.

 

If I am to spend the rest of my life on Prozac, so be it, but I think it is time to at least try to see if there is an alternative path for me. I am under no illusions that this will be easy. I may descend into some version of depression or strong anxiety when I begin the taper. But I think my life is as placid right now as it ever will be. There will never be a perfect, 100% stress-free time to taper off. Part of learning to live life, I suppose, is actually living one's life. If this was too difficult in high school and college, I hope at least that the life experience and "emotional maturity" I've gained in the past 15 years has prepared me better for a mental space in which I am somewhat equipped to come to terms with moods and both the internal and external events which trigger them to change.

 

I am encouraged by the fact that I've had it better than many sufferers, but I'm unnerved by the memories of the emotions that I used to feel occasionally. We'll see what happens.

I was on Paxil (ranging from 10 mg to 40 mg) on and off from roughly age 16 to 22. Since then I have been on 20 mg of Prozac continually for the last 10 years.

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  • Moderator

Hi dm and welcome to the group.  I'm so glad you've found us.  Despite your past experience with the paxil you are in a good position to make a successful taper and be rid of these drugs for good.  You didn't mention any specifics on how you plan to go about it, so I would like to make some suggestions:

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Preparing to taper

 

Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

 

Those threads will give you a lot of information about how to carry out a successful taper.  Give them a read and then ask us a lot of questions.

 

Would you please add a signature block with a brief account of your drug history, it really helps us to quickly see what is going on so we can make better suggestions.

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

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

Hi dm and welcome to SA,

 

It's good that you have found SA.  It's members are very supportive and encouraging and there is a wealth of information on this site.

 

The 10% taper of the previous dose followed by a 4-6 week holding period is recommended by SA.  This allows the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  These might help you to understand this:

 

Brain Remodelling


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

It is a really good idea to learn non-drug coping techniques.

 

 
Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)
 
 

Resources:  Centre for Clinical Interventions (PDF modules that you can work through, eg:  Depression, Distress Intolerance, Health Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Social Anxiety, Worrying)

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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Thanks, both. This is good information.

I was on Paxil (ranging from 10 mg to 40 mg) on and off from roughly age 16 to 22. Since then I have been on 20 mg of Prozac continually for the last 10 years.

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Hi  D.M .   Welcome. You have been given a lot to read . It can be overwhelming at times . Have a read of the links you have been given , and come back with any questions that you might have . This is your Introduction Thread , to ask questions , and record your progress.  A  journal , of sorts.

Best wishes , Ali.

Many SSRI's and SSNRI's over 20 years. Zoloft for 7 years followed by Effexor, Lexapro, Prozac, Cymbalta, Celexa, Pristiq, Valdoxan, Mianserin and more - on and off. No tapering. Cold turkey off Valdoxan - end of May 2014

 

                                                  Psych Drug - free since May 2014
.
         

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