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Carpediem - Surviving Paxil withdrawal (kinda long!)


Carpediem

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Well here goes...I've been lurking on here before during and after my taper. I was put on Paxil 20mg for anxiety when I was 18. I had awful start up effects. Thought I was going crazy, hallucinated, etc. Ended up feeling better after a few weeks. I was always introverted and kind of a bookworm. I had quite a bit of anxiety as a kid and didn't have the most stable childhood.

 

I became really extroverted when initially put on Paxil I didn't really care about repercussions of anything. I ended up dropping out of college, drinking a lot, and just thinking everything was fine. At 20 years old, I had a meltdown and of course they just said I needed more Paxil so they increased it to 30mg. I had heard about the horrendous withdrawal and never wanted to experience it. So I stayed on it for 13 years.

 

I gained almost 80lbs during that time and nothing would take it off. The extroverted almost high feeling eventually went away. I felt normal, "baseline" me for about 6 years. Then I hit a wall. Full blown anxiety out of nowhere. It lasted for about 3 months. Couldn't work, drive, or eat. I pulled myself out of that hole and managed to get on with my life. During that time, I was also struggling to come to terms with my sexual orientation (I'm a gay woman) and left my long term boyfriend. I felt incredibly happy and free. Two years ago, I met the love of my life. Soon after we moved in together, I also got a promotion and life was great.

 

Around that time, I decided to talk to my doctor about tapering. He agreed, said we'd go a slow as needed, and we began the process. Taper went like this: October 2014 - 30 to 25, November 20, December 15, January 10, February 7.5, March 5, April 2.5 (crash), back to 5 for a couple months, then 0 in late July 2015.

 

Under 10mg, I was cutting up pills. Called the manufacturer in July and was told that the score line on the pills was "only an identifying mark". So to add to already hellish withdrawal, you never know what you're getting once you start breaking pills. That being said, I have no way of knowing how accurate my taper numbers were.

 

The first symptoms I had started happening after a few months into the taper. Nausea, a bit of anxiety, and some brain fog. Also got a couple days of the zaps with every cut, but they were pretty mild. April 2015 I had a huge panic attack at work. Had to leave and come home. Everyone started telling me I needed to reinstate or try something else. I took a week off work. Did nothing but lay on the couch in a stupor, googling all my symptoms.

 

All this caused problems in my relationship. It still does but to a lesser degree. She's incredibly caring but as we all know, the horror of withdrawal takes its toll on even the strongest bonds. I went to I don't know how many doctor appts and a couple trips to the ER. Even had a head CT. The only thing was that was discovered was iron deficiency anemia, which I'm still struggling to treat.

 

Withdrawal symptoms I've experienced: nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, facial tingling/numbness, INSOMNIA, depersonalization, derealization, micropsia and macropsia (had that as a kid a lot), night sweats, horrible PMS, tinnitus, tachycardia, fatigue, anger, mood swings, depression (never had before), increased anxiety, obsessive thoughts, intrusive thoughts, ruminations, near constant negative thinking, and the most doubt I've ever experienced about my life, love, God, you name it.

 

I stepped down into an entry level position just to keep my job. I go to therapy and try to do everything suggested. It helps. I've tried meditation and deep breathing but it's difficult to have any faith in that for me. We joined a church and I really enjoy it. I drink some "calming" tea before bed sometimes but that's about it as far as supplementing. I take a multivitamin and additional vitamin d because, like the majority, mine is low.

 

I drink about half a cup of coffee in the morning but that's it. I drink a lot of water (always have), eat fairly healthy, and try to get in some exercise. I lost 40 of the 80 lbs I gained in no time. I had no appetite. My appetite is 100% back, haven't lost any more weight, but haven't gained any either. I was glad to see it stop dropping!

 

I still have "loose" bowels in the morning (cortisol no doubt). I work in the med field so I know some about what causes a lot of it. Insomnia and having to pee all the time at night is still there but not as much. I used to get 3-4 hours of sleep a night. Now I probably get around 7. About 3:30-4:00 I usually wake up with thoughts going wild and it takes me a long time to get back to sleep sometimes.

 

I have days/moments that are absolutely beautiful. The days when I feel close to God, in tune with myself, that awesome calm happy feeling, and so in love with my partner. I can now enjoy being with my family and friends. I can now go places by myself. Other times, still too often, it's agony to get through the day. I still just want to know if all this will end and eventually be a memory far from my mind. I don't like the person I seem to be during a lot of this withdrawal. By nature, I'm not angry and flat. I'm kind and good. I find myself missing me. There's my (very long) story. I'll take all the support I can get. I've got some to give too.

Edited by KarenB
added paragraph breaks

Paxil started February 2002 (anxiety) - 20mg

Fall 2004 - increased to 30mg

October 2014 - taper began 30mg to 25mg

November 2014 - 20mg

December 2014 - 15mg

January 2015 - 10mg

February 2015 - 7.5mg

March 2015 - 5 mg

April 2015 - 2.5 mg (crash - increased to 5mg)

Late July 2015 - stopped

 

April 2016 - much better as a whole. All symptoms a lesser degree. Still battling insomnia, gastro issues, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue

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You came off of that medication sooo fast it's practically a cold turkey considering how long you were on it and at what dose etc.

I did a cold turkey out of ignorance and I'm 28 months out. You will get through this.

Paxil 20mg from 1998-2011 

Paxil 40mg from 2011-2012 while experiencing poopout

October 2013 quit cold turkey

Oct-mid Nov 2013 great window

Late November WD nightmare 

Windows and waves pattern 

Now: 28 months cold turkey...doing decent learning to deal with the windows/waves pattern fighting it every step of the way. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Carpediem,

 

Thanks for painting such a clear picture of what's been going on for you lately. 

 

Am I right that you took your last dose in July 2015?  So 9 months ago?  That's a while in terms of a possible reinstatement, but still worth considering.  We have a thread that discusses it here:http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/7562-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms/  If you decided to reinstate, it would be of a very small amount, say 1-2mg, and once you were stable again you could taper off according to our 10% monthly guide.

 

It does sound as though things have settled somewhat, so if you also think that, then you may prefer to leave things as they are.  I'm just wanting to outline the options. 

 

For some people - most unfairly - w/d does take longer to end.  Here are some tools for managing symptoms:  Non-Drug Techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.  And many people find Fish oil and Magnesium useful during withdrawal.  Multivitamins can be too activating, especially those with Vitamin B in them. 

 

Would you be able to fill out a signature – drugs/dates/dosages etc - so we can see your situation easily whenever you post, and help you more accurately?  Thanks.

 

Have a read of those and then you can come back to this thread to discuss things further.  Things will come right again, and there will be a lot of support for you here.  This can be your journal to record your healing progress, and to ask questions.

 

Welcome to SA,

Karen

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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Thank you both for responding. Thank you Karen for including all the info. I read some and I'll be sure to use it as reference later also. Yes, July 2015 is correct. I made a signature today. I don't seem to have any problem with the multivitamin I take. I've tried fish oil before. I used to have high cholesterol (from the Paxil weight gain!) and took it for a couple years. Might try that again. Never tried magnesium but I take probably 3 Epsom salt baths a week. I know oral mag can cause some gastro issues, which I have enough of right now so I don't know about that yet.

 

I've read a bit on the neuro emotions and Windows/waves pattern. Seems to be in line with all the emotional crap I've experienced. I wish I would've known then, at 18, what I know now. I would've never let them give me the drug. I believe all I really needed was someone to guide me to better coping mechanisms. When I struggled with anxiety as a kid, I always bounced back after I had the confidence I could do it. I also would just get distracted by something and anxiety would fade into the background. I'll find that confidence and distraction now, but it doesn't "stick" like it used to. Instead of beating myself up that I've done something wrong, I realize now that it's NOT me. In the grip of withdrawal, it's nearly impossible to grab the reins long enough to remember that though. It's my body and brain trying desperately to sort out the trauma of not having the drug it was used to for 13 years. I hate not knowing if the emotion I'm experiencing is MY emotion.

Paxil started February 2002 (anxiety) - 20mg

Fall 2004 - increased to 30mg

October 2014 - taper began 30mg to 25mg

November 2014 - 20mg

December 2014 - 15mg

January 2015 - 10mg

February 2015 - 7.5mg

March 2015 - 5 mg

April 2015 - 2.5 mg (crash - increased to 5mg)

Late July 2015 - stopped

 

April 2016 - much better as a whole. All symptoms a lesser degree. Still battling insomnia, gastro issues, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Good point about the magnesium - epsom salts are the gentlest. 

 

I hate not knowing if the emotion I'm experiencing is MY emotion.

 

I tend to think that in each neuro emotion there is a kernel of real emotion.  So in a flood of sadness there is probably a real thing we are sad about, but it's just been blown to full force by the neuro-emotions.  For myself, finding the real heart of the emotion and responding to that helps me to keep calmer.  Because I still need listening to, even if I am all out of whack due to the drugs. 

 

Thanks for filling out your signature.  Do keep in touch with how things are going for you,

 

Karen

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 weeks later...

Does this ever end? It's like I'll be feeling pretty good for awhile and then BAM! Everything goes all to hell. All the work I've done and then the rug pulled out from underneath me. I didn't used to be like this. I'm at the mercy of my emotions. Just whatever they feel like doing. It's so terrifying feeling like a loose cannon. I feel like I can't handle the slightest bit of stress anymore. I have these obsessive thoughts that just play on a loop constantly but more intense when I'm feeling especially bad. Are we all just being naive and need these meds to cope? Is it my brain recalibrating or actually me? I have a thousand questions and have no idea how to live with uncertainty anymore.

Paxil started February 2002 (anxiety) - 20mg

Fall 2004 - increased to 30mg

October 2014 - taper began 30mg to 25mg

November 2014 - 20mg

December 2014 - 15mg

January 2015 - 10mg

February 2015 - 7.5mg

March 2015 - 5 mg

April 2015 - 2.5 mg (crash - increased to 5mg)

Late July 2015 - stopped

 

April 2016 - much better as a whole. All symptoms a lesser degree. Still battling insomnia, gastro issues, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue

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Hi Carpediem.  What you are currently experiencing  is the "  windows and waves" pattern of healing. This could possibly go on for a period of time and although it's extremely disconcerting at times ( when it feels like your emotions are on steroids)  there are various strategies that can help. Some find that meditation is calming. I like Yoga , as it's almost like a moving meditation , which suits me better. Sometimes, you have to try a few things before you find what works for you .

These links might help :

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Tips to help sleep -- so many of us have withdrawal insomnia

 

Guided Meditations, Calming Videos, Sleep Hypnosis

 

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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I broke up with my partner last night. I just couldn't make her understand. Every little thing has me flying off the handle. Sad or angry. She just gets mad and frustrated at me because I'm apparently not trying hard enough. I've tried harder in the last year of my life than I ever have at anything. I had to fight just to survive. I couldn't take it anymore. I left and am staying with family. There won't be as much stress there at least. My heart is broken. I really thought I would spend my life with this person. Maybe now I can actually do the coping techniques that have been mentioned here and in therapy. I haven't felt like I was able to because of family responsibilities in the home etc. Maybe it's time I start fighting for ME instead.

Paxil started February 2002 (anxiety) - 20mg

Fall 2004 - increased to 30mg

October 2014 - taper began 30mg to 25mg

November 2014 - 20mg

December 2014 - 15mg

January 2015 - 10mg

February 2015 - 7.5mg

March 2015 - 5 mg

April 2015 - 2.5 mg (crash - increased to 5mg)

Late July 2015 - stopped

 

April 2016 - much better as a whole. All symptoms a lesser degree. Still battling insomnia, gastro issues, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue

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  • Moderator Emeritus

As the person in w/d, it's hard to take care of one's self while dealing with the physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms *and* doing what's needed to tend to a partner, a relationship, a home, a job.  Now the disruption of the relationship. My heart goes out to you, Carpediem.  I hope your family is giving you the TLC you need and deserve.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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Well, I'm back home now. We talked about a great deal. Communication really is that important. It is in any relationship. I felt like my mental status has become taboo to talk about. My partner is very insightful and kind, but I understand everyone has their limits. This whole experience has tested every limit each of us have. The fact that we can still love each other is really a miracle. We finally discussed the withdrawal openly. She's actually more empathetic than I thought. She likened it to "stepping out of Kansas and into the Land of Oz". After having everything dulled for 13 years on Paxil, then having to learn new ways of coping AND simultaneously cope with the distressing symptoms, her analogy is pretty spot on. I don't know if anyone else had this experience, but for the first few months Paxil free, my senses were incredibly heightened. Colors looked brighter, noises were louder, smells, everything. That's toned down now but it was frightening. I feel like a 5 year old the way I handle my emotions now. It's as if I've been using bottom of the barrel coping mechanisms just to try to survive. I've made a commitment to definitely work on that. A couple symptom updates - night sweats, insomnia, and night time frequent urination are all vastly improved. I was even almost late to work the other day because I OVERslept! It's been over a year since I could say that! Depression feels like it's definitely improved too. Still struggling with anger and OCD like thoughts. As for my relationship...only time will tell. I'm determined that this stupid situation will NOT be our downfall though.

Paxil started February 2002 (anxiety) - 20mg

Fall 2004 - increased to 30mg

October 2014 - taper began 30mg to 25mg

November 2014 - 20mg

December 2014 - 15mg

January 2015 - 10mg

February 2015 - 7.5mg

March 2015 - 5 mg

April 2015 - 2.5 mg (crash - increased to 5mg)

Late July 2015 - stopped

 

April 2016 - much better as a whole. All symptoms a lesser degree. Still battling insomnia, gastro issues, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue

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After looking at my signature, I have to add: the fatigue and gastro probs have lessened more also. That was just last month! Makes me feel great to say that! Now if I can just get this mood swing BS down to a better level....

Paxil started February 2002 (anxiety) - 20mg

Fall 2004 - increased to 30mg

October 2014 - taper began 30mg to 25mg

November 2014 - 20mg

December 2014 - 15mg

January 2015 - 10mg

February 2015 - 7.5mg

March 2015 - 5 mg

April 2015 - 2.5 mg (crash - increased to 5mg)

Late July 2015 - stopped

 

April 2016 - much better as a whole. All symptoms a lesser degree. Still battling insomnia, gastro issues, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Carpediem -- Great news about your symptoms and your relationship! Your partner's got a way worth words -- waking up in Oz is a fantastic (pun intended) description.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

Link to comment

Sorry if I'm not posting in the correct forum for this. If so, move it or whatever. I'm 10 months out (see signature). I'm beginning to think this just isn't worth it. My personal relationships are suffering too much. I can't take it. I don't want Paxil again but maybe try another one? Anyone have experience with going on a small dose of a different SSRI than what they tapered from? I just want to feel happiness again. I don't know that I can "wait it out" for years.

Paxil started February 2002 (anxiety) - 20mg

Fall 2004 - increased to 30mg

October 2014 - taper began 30mg to 25mg

November 2014 - 20mg

December 2014 - 15mg

January 2015 - 10mg

February 2015 - 7.5mg

March 2015 - 5 mg

April 2015 - 2.5 mg (crash - increased to 5mg)

Late July 2015 - stopped

 

April 2016 - much better as a whole. All symptoms a lesser degree. Still battling insomnia, gastro issues, mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Oops, I thought you were currently taking Paxil. Apparently many Paxil users who've had trouble with the last few mg, succeed going off AD/SSRI by switching to Prozac, stabilizing on that, then tapering to zero. There's more detail in this thread: The Prozac Switch

 

Wish I could help.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Carpediem, it can be hard to keep going after so long, I know.  We can't recommend another antidepressant (and obviously most of us believe it wouldn't be a good idea anyway).  There is the chance that starting another could further destabilise your CNS - unfortunately nothing is certain at this point.

 

I do know that people frequently write to us that they hit a tough spot at the 9-10 month mark, so it may be worth considering a wait and see approach for another couple of months.  At least that's less bleak than thinking of waiting for an unspecified time-frame. 

 

There is also this thread which is very worth reading  It gets Better:  Living Well while Being Sick.

 

I'm sorry it's so hard - I too know how hard it is on our relationships.  To be frank, the entire situation stinks, and I can understand why you'd consider trying something new.  Unfortunately what looks like an answer probably isn't.  Personally I believe you'd be better of pursuing natural healing, but I also know that the only shoes I've walked in are my own.  Please know you are not alone in these feelings.

 

Karen

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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I just thought I would chime in as I can completely relate to what you're going through. I'm on 4 months following a CT and completely a mess. I oscillate between "I can handle this" and "I'm falling a part, I need to get back on meds." I know reaching for a new medication *isn't* the answer, but when you're not functioning, seeing your life collapse around you, and feeling lousy every damn day, it's hard not to get back on meds.

Currently: 4G of Fish Oil (4 Capsules) w/ Vitamin E; Sam-E @ 400MG

 

May 1, 2016: CT from .5MG of Risperdal & 1MG of Clonapin 

Feb 1, 2016: CT from 75MG of Nardil (MAOI) - used for anxiety/panic/depression for 2+ years.

 

Prior to 2014: Tried several meds with varying success and generally for less than a year: Lexapro (some success, stopped working); Effexor (worked for a bit); Paxil (worked but lost my sex drive); Zoloft (again, sexual side effects); Cymbalta (didn't do much)

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But, I think you've done an amazing job to date and impressed with your courage... you can do this! :)

Currently: 4G of Fish Oil (4 Capsules) w/ Vitamin E; Sam-E @ 400MG

 

May 1, 2016: CT from .5MG of Risperdal & 1MG of Clonapin 

Feb 1, 2016: CT from 75MG of Nardil (MAOI) - used for anxiety/panic/depression for 2+ years.

 

Prior to 2014: Tried several meds with varying success and generally for less than a year: Lexapro (some success, stopped working); Effexor (worked for a bit); Paxil (worked but lost my sex drive); Zoloft (again, sexual side effects); Cymbalta (didn't do much)

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