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Daisies24: Prozac - advice?


Daisies24

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Hi everyone. I am new here, and I am so thankful for this forum. I was wondering if anyone could give me any advice or input into what I am going through with Prozac withdrawal right now. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

 

Here is my history with meds: I am a 29 year old female (well, 30 this month). At age 20, in college, I took 5 mg of Lexapro for a year (prescribed 10 mg, but I am very sensitive to meds, so I broke it in half). I weaned off of it very slowly. I took 2.5 mg for several weeks when weaning off, then half of that for a couple weeks, until I was done. Withdrawal for me was miserable, but thankfully the worst of it only lasted for maybe a week or so (it basically made me psychotically enraged at everyone until I was totally off of it). Once I was off of it, I lost weight quickly, I was sleeping better at night, and my only remaining symptom that lasted about 2 years was just this random facial twitching.

 

Then around age 26, I started experiencing horrible panic attacks several nights a week that left me paralyzed in fear and unable to sleep. The panic was situational—I was faced with making some major life decisions, and I felt really stuck, and very alone and depressed and scared of making the wrong decision. I finally decided to try an AD again to see if it would help me to get over my panic attacks, sleep, and move forward. I tried a low dose of Lexapro again; for a few weeks, it worked well and I slept well, then all of a sudden I began having an adverse reaction—the most horrible anxiety and insomnia you could imagine. It was a living hell. I got off of it quickly and switched to brand-name Prozac 10mg. It worked great! I was sleeping well at night, my panic attacks completely stopped, and I took some huge steps forward. I took it for maybe 9 months or so and weaned off of it very easily.

 

A couple years later, after some stressful life events, I felt I should go back on the Prozac for a period of time since it had helped calm me so much in the past, enough to make some changes and move forward. I felt it was harmless since I had no problems on it before and it was very easy to get off of. This was at the end of May of last year (May 2016).

 

Since I have been so sensitive to meds in the past and could do well on a low dose, I started by breaking the Prozac capsule in half and dissolving it in juice and drinking half for 5mg (I used to do this the first time I took it when I felt I didn’t always quite need the full 10 mg, and it worked very well). Part of me was concerned that I may have an adverse reaction (I can’t remember why I was afraid of this, since I had done well on it before) so I thought it was good to begin with 5 mg for a few days/weeks and see how I did.

 

I began experiencing terrible, terrible anxiety in my stomach, as if my stomach was constantly doing somersaults that never stopped. It was also the beginning of horrible, horrible, nightly insomnia. I figured this was just a normal start-up effect, and that it would soon stop once the Prozac built up enough in my system.

 

8 weeks later, the anxiety and insomnia were as horrible as ever, so I quit the med. I was literally on it for no longer than about 8 weeks. So I was done with it by the end of July of last year. I have been off of it for about 6 or 7 months now, but the anxiety and insomnia are still as horrible as ever. They never resolved, and I don’t understand why. They did not begin until I began the medicine. It is like my body has been tricked into thinking it is still on the Prozac. I also wonder if those symptoms would have gone away had I built up to a high enough dose of the Prozac (I know 20 mg is the lowest therapeutic dose, and I was only taking 5mg). Do you think my anxiety and insomnia will ever be resolved without meds? Could going back on Prozac, only a higher dose, help me? Why would I have done so well on Prozac years ago, only to do horribly on it this time? And . . . why would I still be having symptoms after being off of it for 7 months, especially when I was only on 5mg for 8 weeks? I am really not sure what to do. Does anyone have any advice?

 

Thanks for any input. I am really at a loss.

Edited by ChessieCat
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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Daisies,

 

I'm so sorry you've been caught up in this mess.  You ask some really good questions about why you've been affected in this way.  Firstly, I can reassure you that it's not only you.  This is how the drugs work in our systems, and that, combined with ill-informed doctors, leads to big issues. 

 

The troublesome thing with SSRIs is that you can't just flush their effects out of your system.  They change the way your brain works, and that takes much longer to heal.  Suddenly stopping the drug, or stopping too fast, puts your brain and Central Nervous System into shock.  It's like yanking a trellis out of a garden instead of gently untangling the plants and slowly removing the wood – it’s too much trauma for the plants/your brain.  (For the source of that simile, plus further discussion, see http://survivinganti...el-your-brain/)

 

This is why you still feel awful months after ending the prozac.  The anxiety and insomnia are withdrawal symptoms.  Your body is still trying to heal and get back to how it should be.  With something as delicate and nuanced as a brain, it doesn't happen quickly. 

 

The other important concept to understand is that antidepressants work cumulatively on your Central Nervous System.  So the first time we take or discontinue a drug, it may all be fine.  But, using it does cause the CNS to become sensitive.  Each time we start or stop a drug or make dose-changes etc, it adds another degree of instability to our CNS.  Eventually this starts to become apparent, and we feel side-effects, adverse reactions and withdrawal symptoms.  This is why your later uses of the drug gave you more trouble. 

 

For this reason, we wouldn't suggest a higher dose.  (Not that we ever recommend drugs here anyway...)  It's rather lucky you stayed on the low dose, actually.

 

Six or seven months out is 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 of prozac and once you were stable again you could taper off according to our 10% monthly guide.  People do sometimes get relief from this.

 

In the mean time you may like to try Fish oil and Magnesium which many people find useful during withdrawal.   

Keep it Simple; Keep it Slow; Keep it Stable

Symptom Checklist

 

Speaking from my own experience, I believe that there is a very good chance you will be able to resolve the anxiety and other issues without drugs.  In fact, you'll have a better chance once you are free of the drug.  Start here for things you can begin to work into your life:  Non-Drug Techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

 

Have a read of those and then you can come back to this thread to discuss things further.  This can be your journal to record your tapering and 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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KarenB, thank you so, so much for this incredibly helpful and enlightening response. You have given me so much to think about. I never knew the damage I was doing to my body each time I stopped and started ADs!

 

My memory from the second time I took Prozac (May of 2016) is a bit of a blur, so I may have misremembered some of the details of my second time taking it. When I really think about it, I vaguely think that I may actually have gone up to 10mg for a few weeks and quit that cold turkey instead of tapering like I did the first time I took it. I had been told that 10mg is such a low dose that it really does not warrant a taper. But, now I know, this is very wrong! The first time I took Prozac I did taper slowly off it just by mixing the capsule in juice and measuring out the appropriate amount to drink each day. I got down to 2.5 mg per day for maybe 3 weeks before I stopped it completely and that taper did work well for me. I had been on for roughly 9 months and had no withdrawal symptoms. I think you are correct, that I shocked my system by not tapering this time!

 

Here are a few of the other side effects that I have had since quitting Prozac, just for reference/comparison for anyone else who may experience the same symptoms from Prozac to know they are not alone:

 

-pain/tightness in the center of my chest

 

-daily headaches; feeling of pressure behind my eyes/sinuses/forehead

 

-pressure in my ears/feeling like they are plugged up

 

-extreme sensitivity to supplements and foods that I never had before—if I take anything, even a Tylenol, or a hypoallergenic natural supplement without fillers, my ear pressure/pain increases, I get rashes, itching, and hives. The rashes, itching, and hives also happen when I eat foods that used to be benign to me

 

-constant feeling of anxiety in my stomach like my stomach is doing somersaults—I used to only get situational anxiety, that could easily be alleviated through proper CBT, but this is constant

 

-obsessive thoughts/ruminations—now I can be talking to a stranger and suddenly I will get very loud, obsessive thoughts repeating in my head over and over that make it difficult to focus on what the person is saying or how to properly respond

 

These are the main symptoms I am noticing right now; if I think of anymore I will add them.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Daisies, welcome from me too.  Karen has given you some excellent advice and links to information that will help you to understand and cope with what is happening. If you decide to try prozac again I would try just 0.5mg, its been some time off and you could react to it so a tiny dose would be reducing the risk. 

There are no guarantees, it could help but may even make things worse if the dose is too high, which is probably what happened last time. 

 

This will pass, and you will get better even without reinstating or trying any other drugs. It takes time for the nervous system to recover but it will get better. You will probably experience windows and wave as the healing process takes place. 

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/82-the-windows-and-waves-pattern-of-stabilization/

 

I hope start to feel better soon, knowledge is powerful and when you know what is happening it takes away fear of the unknown. There is a difference between anxiety about situations and cortisol spikes, which is what you are feeling and why CBT doesn't help. One is psychological the other physical. You will find things that others have found helpful in the symptoms and self care forum. 

**I am not a medical professional, if in doubt please consult a doctor with withdrawal knowledge.

 

 

Different drugs occasionally (mostly benzos) 1976 - 1981 (no problem)

1993 - 2002 in and out of hospital. every type of drug + ECT. Staring with seroxat

2002  effexor. 

Tapered  March 2012 to March 2013, ending with 5 beads.

Withdrawal April 2013 . Reinstated 5 beads reduced to 4 beads May 2013

Restarted taper  Nov 2013  

OFF EFFEXOR Feb 2015    :D 

Tapered atenolol and omeprazole Dec 2013 - May 2014

 

Tapering tramadol, Feb 2015 100mg , March 2015 50mg  

 July 2017 30mg.  May 15 2018 25mg

Taking fish oil, magnesium, B12, folic acid, bilberry eyebright for eye pressure. 

 

My story http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4199-hello-mammap-checking-in/page-33

 

Lesson learned, slow down taper at lower doses. Taper no more than 10% of CURRENT dose if possible

 

 

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Hi Daisies,

 

I can definitely relate to you on all the symptoms you've had since going off Prozac, which is also the drug I came off of recently. Glad I'm not alone in this! We're also very close in age too.

 

Have you decided to reinstate?

My medication -- Prozac
August 2015: Started on 10mg/day
September 2015 to May 2016: Increased to 20mg/day
May 2016: Abruptly stopped 20mg for 2 weeks (withdrawal symtoms arose but assumed it was worsened depression)
June 2016 to August 2016: increased to 40mg (my body reacted very badly to this dose)
August 2016: decreased back to 20mg
September 2016: tapered off 10mg this month alone
September 30, 2016: last day of Prozac
October 2016: month long window
November 2016-Present: WD symptoms (too many physical sxs and some mental sxs)
February 5-20, 2017: Reinstated at 1-2mg // February 21, 2017: Back to no meds

 

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mammaP, thank you for responding and for the excellent advice—I was truly lost about how much Prozac to reinstate if I chose to do so. So this helps me greatly if that is the route I decide to go. Thank you, also, for the encouragement that this will get better. I so needed it! I have been reading others’ stories of recovery all day, which I have also greatly needed to hear.

 

 

Anongrl, I am so sorry that you are going through this, too. I am not sure yet whether I will reinstate. KarenB pointed out that I am pretty far out for reinstating, so it is a tough decision. Last week when I first posted here, I was definitely planning on reinstating and I got a refill called into the pharmacy. But, now I am rethinking that because I have been reading as much as I can on this site, and some people seem to think that this far out, it may not be the best thing to do. So for now, I am just not sure. If I do, though, I would certainly take mammaP’s advice and try no more than the very tiny dose she recommended.

 

 

Are you still battling insomnia? I have become hypersensitive to all medications and supplements and cannot take anything at this point without adverse reactions. Before I realized this, I was taking a magnesium supplement (even pure brands without fillers give me a bad reaction). While my sleep was still very broken on it, the benefit of the magnesium was that I could at least fall back asleep in spite of waking up every hour, so this symptom was at least slightly more tolerable. The other thing that I took a couple months ago that helped my sleep a little more, but I had to discontinue due to an allergic reaction, was Ashwagandha. I took two of the Gaia herbs brand each day and after a couple of weeks, my sleep had improved. Unfortunately I had to stop taking it. I am not sure if that would help anyone else but that was just my experience.

 

 

I do hope that you will hang in there and begin to see signs of healing. I am sorry for all that you are going through with this!

 

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Anongrl, I am so sorry that you are going through this, too. I am not sure yet whether I will reinstate. KarenB pointed out that I am pretty far out for reinstating, so it is a tough decision. Last week when I first posted here, I was definitely planning on reinstating and I got a refill called into the pharmacy. But, now I am rethinking that because I have been reading as much as I can on this site, and some people seem to think that this far out, it may not be the best thing to do. So for now, I am just not sure. If I do, though, I would certainly take mammaP’s advice and try no more than the very tiny dose she recommended.

 

 

Are you still battling insomnia? I have become hypersensitive to all medications and supplements and cannot take anything at this point without adverse reactions. Before I realized this, I was taking a magnesium supplement (even pure brands without fillers give me a bad reaction). While my sleep was still very broken on it, the benefit of the magnesium was that I could at least fall back asleep in spite of waking up every hour, so this symptom was at least slightly more tolerable. The other thing that I took a couple months ago that helped my sleep a little more, but I had to discontinue due to an allergic reaction, was Ashwagandha. I took two of the Gaia herbs brand each day and after a couple of weeks, my sleep had improved. Unfortunately I had to stop taking it. I am not sure if that would help anyone else but that was just my experience.

 

 

I do hope that you will hang in there and begin to see signs of healing. I am sorry for all that you are going through with this!

 

 

 

Hi Daisies, 

 

I was questioning to reinstate too because my symptoms are SO bad and I'm now 5 months out from my CT. I ended up reinstating at 2mg the past 2 weeks and I haven't seen any changes or improvements, unfortunately. I probably should have kept going cold turkey ... people were also telling me to stick it out because I am already a few months out. 

 

Since you had a bad reaction to taking the low dose, I am not sure if reinstating would be a good idea but as mammaP and others have pointed out, if you decide to, start at a low dose. 

 

I had insomnia the first 4 months out but now I am able to fall asleep on my own without meds (however it is broken sleep... I will usually sleep from 11pm-4 or 5am and then wake up, go back to sleep, wake up an hour later, go back to sleep, wake up again...). When I did have insomnia before, I would take either one Benadryl 25mg or Melatonin 5mg. I am not sure if either of these would work for you since you say you're sensitive to all supplements. Even though it helped me sleep, I would still wake up with morning anxiety. I am scared to take anything else like Ashwagandha or other supplements that I have not heard of. 

 

I am sorry too that we are unfortunate to go through this. It is a painful experience but at least we know it is temporary even though it feels like forever.

My medication -- Prozac
August 2015: Started on 10mg/day
September 2015 to May 2016: Increased to 20mg/day
May 2016: Abruptly stopped 20mg for 2 weeks (withdrawal symtoms arose but assumed it was worsened depression)
June 2016 to August 2016: increased to 40mg (my body reacted very badly to this dose)
August 2016: decreased back to 20mg
September 2016: tapered off 10mg this month alone
September 30, 2016: last day of Prozac
October 2016: month long window
November 2016-Present: WD symptoms (too many physical sxs and some mental sxs)
February 5-20, 2017: Reinstated at 1-2mg // February 21, 2017: Back to no meds

 

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  • 2 months later...

Hello. I haven’t updated my thread in a while because I really haven’t had much of anything to note. (The only thing I would update is that over the past month, my anxiety had finally died down a lot, but then I used a CES device for a week, and it brought my anxiety back with a vengeance.) However, if anyone reads this and can help me, I do have a question:

 

So, I *think* I experienced what is known as “kindling” in early October 2016. (Please forgive me if I am misunderstanding this; I try to research as much as I am able, but I am far less knowledgeable than most people here.) What happened was this: I was already in withdrawal for 3 months, but I did not know it at the time. The symptoms I was having for those 3 months were mostly anxiety, insomnia, agitation, and irritability (and maybe some others that I cannot remember).

 

In early October, I was trying to treat the insomnia with a high dose of pure niacin (2 or 3g, I believe)—I had read that this can help insomnia. I knew of the niacin flush, but what I experienced was far worse than the niacin flush, and after that night, I was never the same again. I broke out in huge, itchy welts on my feet and ankles that lasted for a few days (I knew niacin could cause temporary itching, but this was worse and longer lasting). I developed severe flu-like symptoms for the first couple weeks—extreme muscle aches and joint point, extreme fatigue, and other symptoms. But, the strangest symptom was after that experience, I could no longer tolerate any vitamin, supplement, herb or medication without my face swelling, turning red and itchy, getting severe pressure in my ears, itchy rashes, and other symptoms.

 

The allergies only seem to be progressing. I developed allergies to foods like eggs, bananas, and other foods I’ve always eaten with no problem. I’ve even just developed an allergy to my wedding ring, which I have never had before. I can no longer use the same shampoos, conditioners, or facewashes I’ve always used—all of which are already somewhat hypoallergenic. They give me hives and itchy rashes.

 

Has anyone heard of anyone experiencing this during drug withdrawal? I am not sure if I am experiencing two separate conditions at this point—withdrawal, plus the development of MCS, which is an entirely separate condition from withdrawal.

 

Also, if anyone has seen or heard of this happening during withdrawal, do you know if it is something you have seen or heard of people recovering from? It seems to me that I created a whole separate problem for myself when I took the niacin in the midst of withdrawal unknowingly, and now, regardless of where I am at in withdrawal, MCS may be a whole new health condition that I have never had before that I have brought upon myself.

 

Thanks in advance if anyone reads this can help me—you are greatly appreciated!

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Daisies, that is quite a reaction! I am going to ask the other mods about this because I am not sure what to suggest. It seems quite severe with hives. I had a reaction to niacin and almost called an ambulance. My whole body felt like it was burning and bright red rash, the only thing that eased it was standing under the shower. I came here and posted about it and someone told me about the flush. I never took it again but it settled down within a day. 

**I am not a medical professional, if in doubt please consult a doctor with withdrawal knowledge.

 

 

Different drugs occasionally (mostly benzos) 1976 - 1981 (no problem)

1993 - 2002 in and out of hospital. every type of drug + ECT. Staring with seroxat

2002  effexor. 

Tapered  March 2012 to March 2013, ending with 5 beads.

Withdrawal April 2013 . Reinstated 5 beads reduced to 4 beads May 2013

Restarted taper  Nov 2013  

OFF EFFEXOR Feb 2015    :D 

Tapered atenolol and omeprazole Dec 2013 - May 2014

 

Tapering tramadol, Feb 2015 100mg , March 2015 50mg  

 July 2017 30mg.  May 15 2018 25mg

Taking fish oil, magnesium, B12, folic acid, bilberry eyebright for eye pressure. 

 

My story http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4199-hello-mammap-checking-in/page-33

 

Lesson learned, slow down taper at lower doses. Taper no more than 10% of CURRENT dose if possible

 

 

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MammaP, thank you so much for responding and for asking the other moderators. The only curious thing I have been able to find so far is that CG, the man who had an adverse reaction to Prozac that started his own site and took 7 years to recover (someone copied and pasted his story in the success stories) mentioned to never take niacin, because the flush can cause you to relive your symptoms. I am very curious how he knows this about niacin and why this happens--I think on his site, he specifically warned to only take the no-flush niacin. I am glad that your reaction went down quickly!

 

It may also be important to note that during this time, I was also taking a few other supplements with no problems (vitamin D, inositol, probiotic, NAC) but after that night, I became very allergic to those supplements, as well.

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  • Administrator

Daisies, it does sound like the niacin might have triggered some sensitivities.

 

The flush reaction is very well-known. Usually, naturopaths who recommend it have people work up very gradually in dosage.

 

These sensitivities do tend to decrease over time. Please take care of yourself and avoid triggers in the meantime.

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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  • 1 month later...

Hi everyone. I am just wondering, is there ever a time when reinstating a different type of medication from the one you withdrew from, can help with withdrawal symptoms? I am in month 12 of withdrawal from Prozac, but I actually became significantly worse in late April/early May after using a CES device. I am much, much worse now than I was even in the very beginning, without the slightest hint of improvement.

 

My family made me see a psychiatrist and she wants me to try a low dose of Gabapentin to see if it will help with my sleep. I am aware that it is a horrifying drug to get off of, though I don’t know much else about it. Moreover, there is no guarantee that taking it will even be helpful with that particular symptom. But, if somehow I actually can tolerate it, and it actually does help my sleep . . . Is there any possibility that it might be beneficial to try it for a little while, and then very, very slowly and gradually, taper off of it?  

 

I research as much as I can on this site and I am so grateful for everyone who is willing to share their experience and knowledge on this site. But, I am still far less knowledgeable than most people here, especially on the details of things like when or if it is ever wise to try a tiny amount of a pharmaceutical drug when your symptoms are really bad, or if you’re always, always just going to cause further damage and set back any hope of recovery significantly. Thanks so much in advance to anyone that can offer any wisdom on this; you are much appreciated.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Although 1 year seeems as if it would be long enough, some members who have posted success stories report that they didn't notice improvement until after that, sometimes not until year 3. (There is no emoticon that expresses how sad and demoralizing that is.)

 

When someone wants to try a medication after many months of withdrawal, we usually suggest talking with a doctor about Prozac and then starting to take a very low dose (often lower than the doctor prescribes). The idea there with this is that Prozac can be somewhat easier to taper because of its half-life is much longer than other SSRI medications and that starting with a very small dose allows a person to slowly sneak up on a dose that reduces symptoms rather than overshooting that dose, which can cause further destabilization.

 

Adding a medication to "treat" withdrawal requires a high degree of commitment from the prescribing physician who must carefully observe and monitor this treatment by

  • listening to you carefully
  • trusting your reports of symptoms, asking clarifying questions if necessary
  • working WITH you not ON you
  • being open to learning and to
  • being available for short-notice appointments to respond to issues that arise.

When someone having protracted long-term withdrawal finds a doctor who meets ALL of those characteristics, we suggest that the person and the physician CONSIDER low-dose lamotrigine. Altostrata has posted about the caution required in using this approach in several important posts on the first page of the topic and in other replies posted later. Please read the topic in its entirety.

 

 

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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Hi Scallywag, thanks so much for the helpful response. I had an adverse reaction to Prozac before I stopped taking it, so unfortunately, Prozac is out of the question for me (as are the other SSRIs). I did read the thread about Lamictal and I asked the psychiatrist about it. She said that she would consider allowing me to try that, but she is insistent that I try Gabapentin first.

 

Are very low doses of Prozac and Lamictal the only two drugs that you would ever recommend considering to people trying to ease withdrawal symptoms (other than the original drugs)? Do you know if other people have had success reinstating any other drugs that were not one of these or the original drugs they withdrew from, and then very slowly tapering off those? Thank you so much for your wisdom and help. This is a very frightening place to be and a scary decision to make. I am very scared to try the Gabapentin, while at the same time the doctor has tried to reason with me that I really should give it a chance. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

There are some situations where we might suggest another medication to consider for reinstatement. Your situation isn't one of those.

 

Why does your doctor think that you should start with gabapentin?

Are you satisfied with her reasoning?

Is your doc looking at a very low dose of gabapentin? 

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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Hi Scallywag, 

 

The doctor says she has never heard of Lamictal being used to help people sleep, especially at such a low dose, but that if I really want to try it, after trying Gabapentin, she is open to it. She says that because I am allergic to so many medications now, and because Lamictal has a risk of causing rashes or Stephen-Johnsons (?) syndrome, she thinks it is a more dangerous drug for me, personally, to try. She prescribed 100 mg of Gabapentin. She feels strongly that I do need to be back on something (there is more to the situation than not sleeping, but I am not comfortable sharing too many personal details on my thread yet). I understand her reasoning and agree that she has a point, but because my brain and body have been so destroyed by psychiatric drugs in the past, it is very scary to consider trying a new one, even at a low dose.

 

What are the kinds of situations where you do think a person should consider another medication for reinstatement?

 

Thank you again for your helpful responses--I am very grateful.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Both medications, gabapentin and lamotrigine (Lamictal), are anti-convulsant medications. In the US, neither are approved for sleep disorders, though lamotrigine has been approved for a very narrow, possibly-related use in diagnosed bipolar disorder.

 

My point: using EITHER drug to "treat" your concerns is OFF-LABEL prescribing -- meaning that there is no scientific research supporting the usage of the drug to treat anything other than the conditions the FDA approved them for.

 

Lamotrigine (Lamictal) does risk skin rashes and S-J syndrome.

 

Typical starting dose of gabapentin is 300 mg, and the lowest commercially available dose is 100 mg.  At least your doctor is listening to you, giving you good explanations for her recommendations, and is advising/has prescribed a low dose.

 

I hope you'll consider trying a dose less than 100 mg to see if that settles your symptoms. If you're going to have a negative reaction to gabapentin, the reaction will be less severe at a lower dose and you'll be able to stop more comfortably. Given your concern about potential reactions to medications, I'd lean toward starting at a very low dose, maybe even 25 mg. (one-twelfth of the usual starting dose of 300). Take 25 mg for 2 weeks; if no improvement, increase to 50 mg. Repeat holding dose  and monitoring symptoms for 2 weeks until you've reached 100 mg. It's unlikely a doctor will object to this cautious approach given her already stated concern about your sensitivity to medications.

 

The method of creating a non-standard dose depends on the formulation of the medication.

  1. Is your prescription for generic gabapentin or brand-name Neurontin?
  2. Ask a pharmacist what you would get if/when your prescription is filled -- is it a tablet or a capsule?

Here's some information about gabapentin:

Tips for tapering off Neurontin (gabapentin)

General patient information on gabapentin.

 

 

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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Hi Scallywag, 

 

Thanks again so much for the helpful response. If I do decide to try the Gabapentin, I will not try more than 25mg at first. I am in a scary place right now. Thanks again.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Daisies, your doctor may think the idea of starting at 25 mg is "paranoid" or "hyper-something."  If you tell her and get a negative reaction, I suggest asking, "What's the harm of being cautious?"

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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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Daisies24: Prozac - Advice?

Thank you; I will tell her that if she is critical.

 

One thing I am not totally understanding though, is that once your brain has been so changed that you are in a protracted withdrawal and can no longer even tolerate drugs that once helped you, does that mean that you are now at a point where in most cases, NO drug can help you anymore due to all of the changes in your brain? Like, it's not just a matter of refusing to take more drugs because you hate the side effects and don't want to be on drugs anymore, but now it's actually a matter of not taking them because they cannot work anymore on a brain that is in withdrawal? 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

There is some truth to that Daisies.  I really recommend you read Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker.  You'll get a thorough look at the big-picture of psychiatric drug use. 

 

This drug-induced sensitivity to drugs is why when people reinstate, we get them to aim for the lowest dose possible.  It's a matter of finding the balance which brings stabilisation and fewest side-effects.

 

It's also why we encourage people to start learning a raft of self-care techniques for dealing both with withdrawal and life's difficulties.

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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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Daisies24: Prozac - advice?
  • Administrator

Daisies, doctors know a lot more about gabapentin because it has been heavily advertised. They think it's like a benzo and good for just about everything.

 

Lamotrigine is an old drug that hasn't been advertised.

 

A micro-dose (less than 5mg) of lamotrigine may help your sensitized nervous system calm down. When it calms down, your own natural sleep mechanisms can work. A little melatonin at night can help, too.

 

See Lamictal (lamotrigine) to calm post-discontinuation withdrawal symptoms

 

At very low doses, far lower than 25mg, lamotrigine is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. All of the psychiatric drugs, including lamotrigine, need to be slowly tapered if taken for more than a few weeks.

 

What is your symptom pattern, other than sleep problems?

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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Hi KarenB and AltoStrata,

 

Thank you both for the responses. I will take a look at the Robert Whitaker book!

 

Alto, thank you for letting me know about Gabapentin. Everything I read about it indicates it is a scary drug to take and to withdraw from.

 

At this point, the severe anxiety and very loud song-looping, dark thoughts, scary images that are constant and very vivid in my mind are my worst symptoms. My heart pounds non-stop. This only began recently.

 

Foolishly, I used a CES device in late April thinking it might help with my sleep. Up until I used the device, my symptoms were at a tolerable level, in spite of being annoying. After the CES device, I had a severe reaction that landed me in the ER, very, very severe akathisia, heart pounding and complete, total insomnia for a week straight, and that was when the racing thoughts/loud looping in my head began. The severity of the akathisia died down after a week, and I did go back to being able to doze on and off for a little bit throughout the night, but the constant noise in my head has not died down, and it has gotten much louder to the point it has become very frightening. It seems to get progressively worse as the days and weeks go by.

 

Before the CES device, in spite of having constant stomach anxiety for a while and broken sleep, I had been having a calm, quiet mind. My anxiety had almost totally disappeared sometime around March or April. My sleep had even slowly become deeper and more restorative, in spite of still being broken.

 

It has been 2 months now since my adverse reaction to the CES device and my nervous system is more stimulated than it has ever been. I have not experienced anything even close to this the whole time I have been in withdrawal. It feels like the CES device caused a permanent change in my brain, because there has been literally zero let up of this symptom, and in fact a gradual worsening.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi guys. Can anyone offer me any hope or encouragement at all on this? I have never improved from my adverse reaction to the CES device I used at the end of April. It spiraled me so far backward into withdrawal, and at this point, I am so afraid the effects of the device are permanent.

 

Does anyone have any reason to believe the effects are not permanent? I was reading some studies that people who used the device even for a short duration and had positive effects, retained those positive effects even two years after treatment. But these were not people with sensitized systems in withdrawal. The device severely overstimulated me and before the device, I had finally began having consistent daily windows, a clear mind, no depression, concentration was back, anxiety was gone, full of peace in spite of still having broken sleep. I am now worse than I have ever been and as much as I hate to write things like this, truly on the brink of despair. Not even occasional windows anymore, and in fact more terrified than ever. 

 

I am trying to cling to some hope that even though the positive effects are usually permanent, that my body will recognize that I don't like this overstimulation and somehow it will start to try to regain its original balance. It's like my body thinks this overstimulation is not a problem and it's not even reaching toward a more calming state. I am sorry to write things like this and I hate to burden people. I am trying so hard to cling to hope. Does anyone have any input on this?

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Moderator Emeritus

The human body fights very hard to survive and to re-establish homeostasis (equilibrium).  Your severe adverse reaction was a setback, not unlike a too-large dose decrease, destabilizing your CNS (central nervous system).  Nobody can tell you how long it will take to stabilize; it is almost certain that you will, however stabilize.

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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Thank you for the response, Scallywag.

 

I finally took a tiny dose of a different type of AD to see if it could help stabilize my withdrawal symptoms, but I had a serious additional adverse reaction to that, too. My heart is so crushed.

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  • 1 month later...

I took 2.5 mg of amitriptyline four times over the course of 10 days in July. My psych said it was okay to use it as-needed, similar to a benzo (WRONG!). I took it those 4 times in the month of July to see if it would help calm me down and help me to sleep. But, by the last dose I began having extreme heart palpitations and extreme anxiety among other symptoms. Now I've been off of it for 8 weeks and still having horrible anxiety and heart pounding (and many other horrific symptoms I don't care to describe right now). I have talked to other people who apparently never recovered from the anxiety triggered by this drug. I am wondering if I was having an adverse reaction from the beginning, or if with it's long half life (something like 50 hours), taking it those few times was just enough to get me dependent on it, plus the fact that I've already been in withdrawal from Prozac meant that where most people wouldn't react to such a low dose, for me 2.5 mg apparently was HUGE.

 

Do you think at this point it is worth trying to reinstate a tiny, tiny amount to see if it will relieve the horrific anxiety? I don't seem to be improving after 8 weeks. But if it's an adverse reaction, is it worth it to try something like clonidine or atenolol or something? I am so lost. 

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Can anyone who has suffered with this and recovered say how long it took them to recover? I know we are all different, but just curious if it's normal to suffer with this for years, months, or what. 

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Hi daisy. I suffered a severe withdrawal from Prozac that I took for many years. I saw dr Healy who suggested a low dose if clonidine and gabapentin, he has seen good results with a few people with this 

Effexor 37.5mg 1999-2004 cold turkey. 2004- prozac 20mg untill 2014 then cold turkey. Very unwell since. 2018 November started 30mg propranolol. Feb 2019 started 0.5 lamotrgiene 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

From Daisies drug signature:

 

"developed strong allergies and intolerances to all supplements, medications, vitamins, herbs, chemicals, etc."

 

I doubt very much that trying more drugs would help.

 

I suggest you check out this area of the site:  Success stories: Recovery from withdrawal

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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Hi. I wasn't suggesting drugs i just wanted to share what dr Healy wrote to me and advised my dr to try. He gave me a case review when a lady has been totally relieved of her very difficult withdrawal from ssri with low doses of the drugs and was back to normal function . X

I

Effexor 37.5mg 1999-2004 cold turkey. 2004- prozac 20mg untill 2014 then cold turkey. Very unwell since. 2018 November started 30mg propranolol. Feb 2019 started 0.5 lamotrgiene 

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No problem good luck and let me know if you want to see the letter I'll try and find it out. I'm still suffering as much at 3 years as I was at 1 but I was on Prozac a lot longer and I CTd and I'm older so I think the odds are in your favour 

Effexor 37.5mg 1999-2004 cold turkey. 2004- prozac 20mg untill 2014 then cold turkey. Very unwell since. 2018 November started 30mg propranolol. Feb 2019 started 0.5 lamotrgiene 

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Thanks! I am sorry you are still suffering so badly. I CTed Prozac at 10mg after being on it for 8 weeks. The worst of my suffering actually just began very recently when I took 4 tiny doses of amitriptyline over the course of 10 days--just enough to get my body addicted to it. It is a very powerful drug and becomes very addictive, very fast, especially for us with highly sensitized nervous systems. I am suffering tremendously, much worse than I have ever known through this whole experience or my whole life. I hope you will begin to see improvement soon.

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