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Yushan: Tapering SSRI


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I am now 60. In 2000 when I first took Prozac, it is 20mg. In 2003 when I tapered it off at 2mg every month, symptoms appeared about 9 months later, I am very sensitive to sound. So I retook it again to the previous dose. In the following 4 years. I have tried 3 times to taper it, the last time I am so cautious I tapered it off at 1mg every month. I wish I could succeed. I don't mind waiting. I took more than 1 and half year to go to the last phase, at which I took only 2mg. One day, in a cruise, I have a serious dizziness and can't stand. I thought it is seasick. After that,  the problem is aggravated, I had all the flue symptoms,  say feeling cold, fatigue, headache, irregular heartbeat and highly sensitive to light and temperature. Always felt freezing. No doctors could render me any help. Their treatment is invalid. I was left in deep depth of darkness, I have been struggling for 6 months lying on bed in deep depression until I gave up and retook Prozac again.However,  I have to increase my dose to 30mg from that time onward.


In Hong Kong, no doctors can help patients out with these situation. They are not taught in school nor do they open their minds  to learn the facts. When I consulted my Phsychiatrist  on my tapering symptoms before, he was quite shocked to hear about it.  It seems that it is the first time in his life to hear about this case. And I am the only one who have ever had these withdrawn symptoms.


The Chinese are very prejudiced against people who took any kind of psycho drugs. All these years, I am so lonely and so delighted to find your organization to walk with.


My daughter is now working in London, I visit them very often. I am thinking to find a reliable  neuropsychiatrist to help me to withdraw the Prozac.


Wish someone could give me advice.

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Hi Yushan,

Here in the US, doctors appear just as clueless as the doctor you described. I think doctors who aren't clueless (or don't choose to be in denial) are the exception to the rule.


If you read my story, you will see how hard I have tried, and how little progress I have made with my tapering as well. I do not bother to try and get my doctor to understand. I just tell him what he needs to hear for me to get what I need to taper as I need. Hopefully, you can find a doctor who doesn't put you on an aggressive tapering schedule, and won't prescribe what you need to taper slowly, making adjustments along the way. That's who you need to find. The answers on how to taper slowly, you will get here.


I will leave that technical advice to the moderators, but you are in the right place. No matter how slowly you have to go, don't beat yourself up over it. When you feel so depressed, hang out here, where there are people who care, and understand.


Best wishes,


amitriptyline from 1980-2002, intermittent,  use of benzos over 2 decades

2002-2010 Klonopin 1-2 mg., ambien 10--20, mg, remeron 4 mg. and  trileptal 300 mg

2011 Stopped ambien and crossed over to valium 17.5 mg. (updosing 2.5 mg. to cover ambien C/T ) tapered valium w/ long holds to 12.74 mg. from a high of approximately 20-30 mg/day

2015-present  tapered from 300 mg. trileptal to 98 mg.;  12.74 valium,  4 mg. remeron

had to completely stop tapering trileptal because of other health issues; resumed 2/23, 5% cut to 98 mg.  Currently on hold as I have to cross-over from brand-name valium to generic diazepam.   The diazepam is way weaker, and though I am going slow, I am really sick and my doc wants me crossed over in a month.  Feel full withdrawal despite going slowly. Can't do it in a month as I was not stable to begin with...


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Hi Yushan,

Welcome to SA! I'm glad you found us.

I am very sorry you have been going through tough years dealing with Prozac WD.


I in particular understand how difficult for ppl in such situation in China as I am from China and know the culture.


Before our mods come along with advice, can you add your medication history to your signature so ppl cane see it quick and easy? They will be attached to each of your posts.


Also, how are you feeling now with the 30 mg Prozac?



Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello, Yushan - welcome to SA!  I am so glad you found us!


Yes, it would be nice to put your med history in your signature block so that we can see your history at a glance.  It appears beneath all your posts, and as your thread grows, it will be easier to have context.  Please put your Withdrawal History in Signature.  Please include all meds you take, your history with regards to past usage, dosages, dates to the best of your knowledge.  Thank you!


How much time had passed between coming off Prozac and the cruise?


I am sorry that you have had such a tough time tapering Prozac, with failed attempts and subsequent withdrawal.  Your taper off 20 mg, at 1 mg a month, was arduous and much slower than most doctors would have you do, so I'm sorry that it didn't turn out for you.  It may have been that at the end you were dropping by progressively larger amounts.  I think even when we taper off very slowly, our nervous systems are very delicate, and any big stress can trigger withdrawal that may have otherwise laid dormant. That may have been what happened with the cruise.


Are you stable now?  If so, we recommend a 10% taper schedule, which is based on the previous month's dosage.  So, up front, you will cut larger amounts than you did with the 1 mg/mo taper you did before, but as time goes by, the cuts will get smaller and smaller until at the end, it will be fractions of a mg.  This is important when you consider the paper in this topic:  Why taper?


On page 4 you will see the graph for fluoxetine.  At 30 mg, your serotonin receptors are pretty much saturated at 80%.  As you cut between 30 and 20, starting with a 3 mg cut, you can see that there isn't that much of a change in receptor occupancy.  But look at what happens below 10 mg!  Whoosh!  Big freeing up of receptors!  Prozac's long half life may have padded things out towards the end before, but it has a way of catching up with you.  A cut from 2 to 1 mg is a 50% cut, and the nervous system doesn't like such big drops!


I'm going to include more links that I think you will find helpful.


Introduction to AD Withdrawal Syndrome

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Symptoms Checklist
Symptoms:  Important topics about symptoms


When you begin tapering, it is important to track your progress on paper daily, documenting dosage changes, time you take meds, times that symptoms arise, when they disappear, etc.  This will help you gauge what your pattern is like relative to a cut.  This makes things feel more predictable in the future.


Meanwhile, your Intro is the place for you to ask questions about your situation and give updates.  Bookmark it so you can find it more easily.  Click Follow above so that you will be notified when someone responds in your thread.


So have a read, and then come back with questions!



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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I used to keep a detailed record of my tapering. However, after my failure of my 4th attempt. I was totally in despair and I threw all the records away. I believed that I would not succeed to withdraw Prozac and will take it for the rest of my life.


The followings are the rough dates I try to remember




Since 2000                    20mg


2003-2004                     tapered to 2mg


2006-2007                     the 4th attempt  - taper to 1mg  (withdrawn symptoms burst out after the cruise)


2008-2016                      increase dosage to 30mg


Now is working and living normally in Hong Kong

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 Thank you Shep ! So glad to hear from you guys  your valuable advice and experience. Thank you for the useful links that you suggest, I wish I can understand those medical terms and graphs.


In the long road to withdrawal, wish you guys can give me consistent support.


Again, could anyone give me some information on doctors in London or in UK that they can help tapering anti-depressant?

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hey Yushan, welcome to SA!


The doctors who understand safe tapering and withdrawal are few and far between.


At best, we can often find a doctor who will cooperate, while scratching their heads in disbelief.  At best, sometimes we have to lie and say we are taking full dose, please prescribe, until we are safely tapered off.


Did you understand what Shep was saying about straight line taper?  For example, if you are on 30 mg, your first drop will be 3 mg to 27 mg, and hold for at least a month (or until symptoms settle) before tapering again.  Your second month, from 27 mg, will be 2.7 mg to 24.3 mg.  You see how your decrements will be smaller each time your taper?  This makes for a gentle curve, and makes it possible to get off the drug. 


We prefer this gentle curve, and when your symptoms are minor and your dose is below 1 mg, you can then discontinue.  It takes longer - but as you know from your 3 years experience, it is better to take 3 slow, steady years, than to bounce up and down like a basketball!


Please resist the doctors who will tell you "this is relapse" or "this is your original condition."  In our experience, withdrawal effects can continue for well over a year, and sometimes significantly more.


How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?

What Should I Expect From My Doctor About Withdrawal Symptoms?



Here is where you can find a few SA recommended doctors:  Recommended doctors, practitioners and clinics


There is another site, called Mad In America, which also has a list of "anti-drug" doctors (but they may not be as savvy about tapering):  http://www.madinamerica.com/service-directory/


You are lucky:  Prozac is available in a liquid, which can make it easy to taper by tiny amounts.  


Here are some things to think about while you are getting ready to taper (if your trip to London is only a visit, I do not recommend tapering while travelling - but if you can get enough liquid Prozac to take home to Hong Kong, that may be an option for you):

Preparing to Taper

Psych Central 6 Ways to Prepare for Antidepressant Withdrawal

Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

Healing from Antidepressants: Patterns of Recovery (Toxic Antidepressants)


Additionally, when stopping psych drugs, it is vitally important that you replace them with a toolkit for dealing with emotional symptoms.  These tools, while meant to help you in withdrawal - also are awesome tools for managing your mood so that you never need to consider taking the drugs again.  My personal favourites are Mindfulness, Yoga and Tai Chi, but your toolkit will look different from mine.  Start by looking here to find tools and practices to replace the drug for management of mood:  Non Drug Techniques for Coping with Emotional Symptoms


I am envious of your trip to London, I haven't been there since the late 90's, and really wish I could've seen more!


Please keep us posted on what you decide to do.  And please complete your signature:  How to complete your Signature or Complete your Signature from Phone or Tablet  It really is important for us to have your history in your signature so that we can better understand everywhere you post.  


I am sorry there are so many links, I know it is quite overwhelming.  But you have some long flights coming up  ;) and may be able to be well versed by the time you have read them all!

"Easy, easy - just go easy and you'll finish." - Hawaiian Kapuna


Holding is hard work, holding is a blessing. Give your brain time to heal before you try again.


My suggestions are not medical advice, you are in charge of your own medical choices.


A lifetime of being prescribed antidepressants that caused problems (30 years in total). At age 35 flipped to "bipolar," but was not diagnosed for 5 years. Started my journey in Midwest United States. Crossed the Pacific for love and hope; currently living in Australia.   CT Seroquel 25 mg some time in 2013.   Tapered Reboxetine 4 mg Oct 2013 to Sept 2014 = GONE (3 years on Reboxetine).     Tapered Lithium 900 to 475 MG (alternating with the SNRI) Jan 2014 - Nov 2014, tapered Lithium 475 mg Jan 2015 -  Feb 2016 = GONE (10 years  on Lithium).  Many mistakes in dry cutting dosages were made.

The tedious thread (my intro):  JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium

The happy thread (my success story):  JanCarol - Undiagnosed  Off all bipolar drugs

My own blog:  https://shamanexplorations.com/shamans-blog/



I have been psych drug FREE since 1 Feb 2016!

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Thank you so much Jan!! I will read the links bit by bit. I am now gathering information on it and wish I will have a more solid plan in near future.


Just read your history. Feel glad and joyful for you because you manage to be drug free after that long long 30 years. Wish you succeed in knocking the Lithium out!

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