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ntb: long term withdrawal issues

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Hi there,  I am new to the group.  I was on Paxil for ten years and have been off of it now for about 11 years.


I have some persistent issues and have become more curious about the idea of long-term withdrawal or protracted withdrawal.


I would love to hear from others who might have similar issues and share what is working/helping.

The persistent issues I have which I feel may be attributed to the Paxil and withdrawal:


-hypersensitivity to my external enviornment/get easily overwhelmed

-over stimulated nervous system - feel like I get too easily worked up over everything and everything makes me nervous/anxious

-my brain and ability to work/organize and think still seems impaired

-muscle stiffness

-foul mood

-extreme food sensitivity

-vertigo - my balance and experience of being in my body just hasn't been the same since getting off Paxil

For me personally, it took about two years to feel like I wasn't going to die without Paxil.  Now, 11 years later, and after exploring many roads and a lot of hard work/persistence I am in a much better place.  But that said, I still feel I have a ways to go.

I haven't found/connected with many others who believe they are having long term impact from going off Paxil.  I would be curious to hear more.

All I know is, it was super difficult for me to get off the drug ( I tapered and went off slowly), Post-Paxil, I went through a really challenging and dark phase and while things are better for me, I still don't feel like I am "all the way out" of the experience that began with Paxil withdrawal.

Thanks to anyone for sharing.

• 1993 - 2003 on 30-40mgs of Paxil
• Jan - May 2003 tapered off Paxil
I don't recall the exact timeframe of my tapering period.  It's been a while.
I experienced severe withdrawal issues for about two years after being off.
In the years since have experienced continued issues with extreme food sensitivity, anxiety, overstimulation, feeling like my brain still doesn't work quite right, easily getting overwhelmed.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome ntb,

Thank you for joining and for sharing your story. I'm sorry you are still having symptoms related to paxil, after being free from it for so long. We have several members here who are also long term protracted, from various psych meds, hopefully they will see your thread and respond.


I understand that Paxil is particularly difficult to come off, so its great that you have experienced some recovery and feel better than the first 2 years. I'm sure you will continue to heal, unfortunately for some people, complete recovery can take a very long time, and I suspect that in rare cases, the effects of the drug and the impact of a difficult withdrawal, might possibly cause other imbalances, syndromes or illnesses, which may be treatable, but might have to be accepted and managed, especially for someone older.


Perhaps the use of psychiatric drugs and the impact of withdrawal on our nervous system, might hasten the onset of age related changes which were likely to happen anyway, but just not so soon. My belief is that in the majority of people, complete recovery is possible given enough time.


My personal situation is that I've been drug free for almost 4 years, after being on various anti-depressants and other psych meds for about 14 years. I'm also in protracted withdrawal, but still in a windows and waves pattern and have had times of being completely symptom free.


We have some related topics which you may find interesting:


Protracted Withdrawal or PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome ...


Protracted Withdrawal is a Real Syndrome - Surviving Antidepressants


A Psychiatrist talks about Protracted Withdrawal - In the media ...


Dr. David Healy on prolonged antidepressant withdrawal syndrome ...


There is a protracted withdrawal forum on the benzo buddies site and some members there are also in withdrawal from antidepressants as well as benzos. But you have to be a member there to see that forum.


It would be great if you would put your drug and withdrawal history in your signature. Doing this helps people understand your context, it appears below each of your posts. Here are instructions for how to do it:


Please put your withdrawal history in your signature


Please feel free to write whenever you want, you will find a lot of friendly help and support here.



I'm not a doctor.  My comments are not medical advise. These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I've learned. Please discuss your situation with a medical practitioner who has knowledge of tapering and withdrawal...if you are lucky enough to find one.

My Introduction Thread

Full Drug and Withdrawal History

Brief Summary

Several SSRIs for 13 years starting 1997 (for mild to moderate partly situational anxiety) Xanax PRN ~ Various other drugs over the years for side effects

2 month 'taper' off Lexapro 2010

Short acute withdrawal, followed by 2 -3 months of improvement then delayed protracted withdrawal

DX ADHD followed by several years of stimulants and other drugs trying to manage increasing symptoms

Failed reinstatement of Lexapro and trial of Prozac (became suicidal)

May 2013 Found SA, learned about withdrawal, stopped taking drugs...healing begins.

Protracted withdrawal, with a very sensitized nervous system, slowly recovering as time passes

Supplements which have helped: Vitamin C, Magnesium, Taurine

Bad reactions: Many supplements but mostly fish oil and Vitamin D

June 2016 - Started daily juicing, mostly vegetables and lots of greens.

Aug 2016 - Oct 2016 Best window ever, felt almost completely recovered

Oct 2016 -Symptoms returned - bad days and less bad days.

April 2018 - No windows, but significant improvement, it feels like permanent full recovery is close.

VIDEO: Where did the chemical imbalance theory come from?

VIDEO: How are psychiatric diagnoses made?

VIDEO: Why do psychiatric drugs have withdrawal syndromes?

VIDEO: Can psychiatric drugs cause long-lasting negative effects?

VIDEO: Dr. Claire Weekes




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  • 3 years later...

Damage to the nervous system from withdrawal


Greetings!  I tapered off of Paxil about 16 years ago now after being on it for ten years. I did this at time when the information I found and the support in the communities wasn't aware of the importance of the super slow taper. While I did taper slowly, it wasn't nearly as slowly as it's recommended today. I earnestly went through extreme withdrawal symptoms and total and utter hell.  It took about two years off before I didn't feel like I was going die, but even then I was certainly just a shell of myself.

Here I am years later with much effort in areas of natural health and diet/lifestyle changes. I am certainly in a better place. But I still feel... impacted.  In revisiting some of the language in the tapering instructions on this site it warns that nervous system damage can occurs.  I certainly feel that may be the case with me.  I am still super sensitive to the world around me, sights and sounds.  I am crazy sensitive to foods and can't eat so many things.  I feel like my nervous system gets fired up way to easily and too regularly.  Even a ripe banana at bedtime can charge up my nervous sytem so much that I can't sleep.  I have adapted my life to accommodate as best as I can.  It makes sense to me that this is at least in part the result of nervous system damage from the withdrawal but I haven't felt confident saying that this was true.

I am curious if anyone has any scientific articles, links etc that talk about the nervous system damage from withdrawal.  I would also be curious to hear from anyone who may feel they are in a similar boat. Thanks for reading!


Edited by ChessieCat
added topic title

• 1993 - 2003 on 30-40mgs of Paxil
• Jan - May 2003 tapered off Paxil
I don't recall the exact timeframe of my tapering period.  It's been a while.
I experienced severe withdrawal issues for about two years after being off.
In the years since have experienced continued issues with extreme food sensitivity, anxiety, overstimulation, feeling like my brain still doesn't work quite right, easily getting overwhelmed.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Damage to the nervous system from withdrawal
  • Moderator Emeritus

So that we can easily see your drug history please create your drug signature.  Please include any other drugs you have previously or are currently taking.  Instructions for what is needed:  please-summarize-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature


This link goes to your signature.  Remember to Save after creating/editing it.  Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature


Thank you.


Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs can leave the nervous system sensitised.  SA's recommended taper (no more than 10% every 4 weeks or so) is to allow the brain to adapt as the drug is slowly removed.  Even after a slow taper a person's nervous system can still be sensitised for several years after stopping the drug.  Periods of stress, illness, a course of antibiotics, poor sleep, some supplements, drinking alcohol etc might cause a person to experience an increase/worsening of withdrawal symptoms.



On 8/31/2011 at 5:28 AM, Rhiannon said:

This is something I posted somewhere else and then saved. I know it's all stuff I've said before, but it bears repeating and further discussion. A lot of people, including healthcare practitioners; in fact, I guess, most people-- are operating from entirely the wrong paradigm, or way of thinking, about these meds. They're thinking of them like aspirin--as something that has an effect when it's in your system, and then when it gets out of your system the effect goes away.


That's not what happens with medications that alter neurotransmitter function, we are learning. What happens when you change the chemistry of the brain is, the brain adjusts its chemistry and structure to try to return to homeostasis, or biochemical and functional balance. It tries to restabilize the chemistry. For example: SSRI antidepressants work as "serotonin reuptake inhibitors." That is, they cause serotonin to remain in the space between neurons, rather than being taken back up into the cells to be re-used, like it would be in a normal healthy nondrugged brain. So the brain, which wants to re-establish normal signaling and function, adapts to the higher level of serotonin between neurons (in the "synapse", the space between neurons where signals get passed along).


It does this by removing serotonin receptors, so that the signal is reduced and changed to something closer to normal. It also decreases the amount of serotonin it produces overall. To do that, genes have to be turned on and off; new proteins have to be made; whole cascades of chemical reactions have to be changed, which means turning on and off OTHER genes; cells are destroyed, new cells are made; in other words, a complex physiologic remodeling takes place. This takes place over time. The brain does not grow and change rapidly. This is a vast oversimplification of the amount of adaptation that takes place in the brain when we change its normal chemistry, but that's the principle.


When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.


With multiple drugs and a history of drug changes and cold turkeys, all of this becomes even more complicated. And if a person is started on these kinds of drugs at an early age before the brain has ever completely established normal mature functioning--well, it can't be good. (All of which is why I recommend an extremely slow taper particularly to anyone with a multiple drug history, a history of many years on meds, a history of past cold turkeys or frequent med changes, and a history of being put on drugs at a young age.)


This isn't intended to scare people, but hopefully to give you some idea of what's happening, and to help you respect and understand the process so you can work with it; ALSO, because you are likely to encounter many, many people who still believe these drugs work kind of like aspirin, or a glass of wine, and all you need to do is stop and get it out of your system. Now you can explain to them that no, getting it out of your system is not the issue; the issue is, you need to regrow or at least remodel your brain. This is a long, slow, very poorly understood process, and it needs to be respected.


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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  • 3 months later...

Hi ntb,


Thanks for sharing your story. I have sent you a PM.





I came off Seroxat in August 2005 after a 4 month taper. I was initially prescibed a benzo for several months and then Prozac for 5 years and after that, Seroxat for 3 years and 9 months.


"It's like in the great stories Mr.Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer."  Samwise Gamgee, Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to ntb: long term withdrawal issues

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