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freakZ0ne: Off Paroxetine after 13 years and symptoms really suck


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freakZ0ne: Hi folks - I'm a 61 year old guy with lifelong depression precipitated by PTSD from childhood trauma. Prescribed antidepressants 1994. Tried many SSRI's and took Paxil from 2004 to present. Now have tapered off completely. Suffering with various symptoms like brain zaps, headaches, crying spells, black moods, irritability, distrust, paranoia, poor sleep with bad dreams. I want to feel my feelings and not mask myself with any drugs. Want to regain sexual functionality. Exploring using all natural ways of dealing with emotional issues with supplements, herbs, meditation, yoga and the like.


Need support. Thanks!

Paroxetine: rapid taper, off completely as of 4/15/17

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Jip this all sounds like withdrawal and it can take a while to get better . I found that very few things helped I bathed in a cup of Epsom salts but left all vitamins and herbs because they seemed to make things worse. For me it's only time that heals and cbt therapy . I know this is hell to go through but it will get better strongs

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  • Mentor

hi freakZOne, nice to meet someone else my age (61) but so sorry it's under these circumstances


yes the withdrawal can really suck but you've got a head start thinking about ways to help deal with the symptoms such as yoga and meditation etc


I was on 3 different SSRIs for about 20 yrs total I think (the past is so blurry- It was zoloft, then celexa, and then in 2002, lexapro) so I have a long history with these  drugs as well.

I don't want to scare you, as EVERYONE is different in how they heal, but after a rapid taper, you could be looking at a fairly long period of symptoms that wax and wane, the "windows and waves" pattern, as it's called here.


how long since your last dose of Paroxetine?

as a moderator may tell you, it is possible that you could re instate at a very low dose now, if it has not been too long since your last dose, as a way to alleviate some of your symptoms.
Then you hold at that low dose til things stabilize, and you feel better. Once you are feeling better, you can re start a taper at a much slower pace, giving your brain time to heal in a more gentle and controlled way.


for many people, doing it this way means they have a lot fewer symptoms that are much more manageable, Some may have no symptoms at all.

 Lucky them!!


a moderator will likely be around in a bit to advise you, but in the meantime I wanted to welcome you and send good some encouragement your way

because not only was I on SSRI's for about 20 yrs, I have been on multiple other meds since the age of 18, including lithium, anti-psychotics, neuroleptics, benzos and sleep meds, to name a few.

I am now down to basically just the SSRI and in the past 6 mos I have made a HUGE amnt of progress as far as symptoms go.

I had over 40 severe disabling symptoms back last Oct but they gradually got better and better. Each day, some symptom would lessen or go away completely. Each week I felt better and better.

I still have a few symptoms, primarily some sleep issues, but even that is improving.


so  while it may take some time to get thru this, be assured that it is NOT all as hard as it may be at first.


Our brains and bodies were designed to be self-healing "machines" so to speak and they do an awesome job of just that!!


  • pysch med history: 1974 @ age 18 to Oct 2017 (approx 43 yrs total)
  •  Drug list: stelazine, haldol, elavil, lithium, zoloft, celexa, lexapro(doses as high as 40mgs), klonopin, ambien, seroquel(high doses), depakote, zyprexa, lamictal- plus brief trials of dozens of other psych meds over the years
  • started lexapro 2002, dose varied from 20mgs to 40mgs. I tried to get off it several times. WD symptoms were mistaken for "relapse". 
  •  2013 too fast taper down to 5mg but WD forced me back to 20mgs
  •  June of 2105, tapered again too rapidly to 2.5mgs by Dec 2015. Found SA, held at 2.5 mgs til May 2016 when I foolishly "jumped off". felt ok til  Sept, then acute WD hit!!  reinstated at 0.3mgs in Oct. 2106
  • Tapered off to zero by  Oct. 2017 Doing very well, age 62 (total of 42 yrs on psych meds) 
  • Nov. 2018 feel 95% healed, age 63 
  • Jan. 2020 feel 100% healed, peaceful and content
  • Aug  2022❤️ loving life  ❤️  age 66 - and things just keep getting better! 
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Thanks so much for your responses. I'm managing OK and can function relatively well. The biggest issues are the brain zaps and insomnia. Thank goodness I'm not working right now and can focus on feeling better. I do get a lot of relief from herbs and supplements. I'm good at research and have discovered things that work for me, which I'll talk about in an appropriate thread.

Paroxetine: rapid taper, off completely as of 4/15/17

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome freakZ0ne,

I'm sorry to hear about what you are going through, but glad you found us.


H2H summed everything up nicely in her post. It sounds like you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from coming off paroxetine too fast. We suggest reducing by no more than 10% of the current dose every 4 weeks, this reduces the risk of withdrawal symptoms arising. Please read through this which will explain why:


Why taper by 10% of my dosage? 


Is it correct that your last dose was just 2 days ago?


If so, you are still in the window of opportunity when reinstatement is likely to work.


Reinstatement of a small amount of the drug can often work well to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. According to medical knowledge, reinstatement is the only way to alleviate withdrawal. Reinstatement is best done immediately upon appearance of symptoms. The more time that passes, the less likely it is to work. Once you have stabilized on a low dose of the drug, then a slower, safer taper can be started. Here is some information about reinstatement to help you decide if its something you would like to try:  About reinstating and stabilizing to stop withdrawal symptoms


And here is our topic which explains how to taper paroxetine slowly and safely:  Tips for tapering off Paxil (paroxetine)



If you decide not to reinstate, you will still get better, but it will take some time. Recovery usually happens in a windows and waves kind of pattern with lots of ups and downs. Some days of feeling better and then days of worse symptoms again.


Here is some information about how recovery happens:


The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization




Here is the link to our symptoms and self care section, you may find some useful ideas to help manage symptoms as you recover.  Especially read the topics pinned at the top.


Please could I ask you to add a little more detail to your signature. For example when you started Paroxetine, how you tapered and for how long. Also, any other medications you recently took or are currently taking.


You can use this thread as your ongoing journal to track progress, write about symptoms, ask questions and communicate with the community, add to it whenever you want. Its a good idea to bookmark it or follow it, so its easy to find again.


We will be here to support you whatever you decide.



Edited by ChessieCat
changed member name

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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Hey FreakZ0ne,


I was on Zoloft and zyprexa for 14 years. got off them in 2014. the brain zaps eventually do subside. usually within a month or so, but the insomnia/poor sleep/bad dreams can go on and on. I have had 3 years of it and it has really worn my body down and has caused me a lot of cognitive problems. I even developed huge bags under my eyes from all the sleep deprivation. for the first year I was getting these 3 1/2-4 hr sleeps with weird depressed and vivid dreams and once or twice a week I wouldn't get any sleep. the dreams are two-dimensional and often totally nightmarish. they differ so much visually from dreams I used to have and are often inside of buildings or at night instead of wandering around outside or in daylight or doing strange things.  they are often plain and unimaginative and less surreal compared to usual dreams.  a lot of us get these depressed dreams and it's remarkable how similar they are. I am constantly getting into fights or having confrontations now in my dreams. must be a symptom of depression induced from stopping the meds. my dreams are still depressed/bad 3 years later although I am occasionally able to get more sleep just of a poor quality.


I had the crying as well, at least for the first 1 1/2 years. I would often cry into my food as I ate. it eventually went away when I just got too tired and worn out. I kind of feel like a sponge with all my emotions wrung out of me.


Getting off meds does help unmask your feelings and allow creativity to flourish,  I was able to start writing again ( I write poetry and do stand up) after a long hiatus, but the poor sleep does take it's toll and eventually almost seems to wipe out the gains made getting off the drugs. anyhow, I hope I don't sound too pessimistic, life is possible in wd, but difficult, and healing, at least for me, has not really happened although there is still hope.



Court committed to take Prozac, Paxci, and Respiradol from 8/95 to 3/96.   developed severe akithisia and brain damage.  Was unable to speak and walking in circles 15 hours a day.  Went in for 5 sessions of ECT during a 10 day period in March of '96 and my forced medication was discontinued at that time.  My akithisia and brain damage cleared up within a few days of stopping the meds.


On Zoloft (200 mg) and Zyprexa (17.5 mg) March 1998- Feb 2014

In between was placed on Effexor 200 mg and Abilify for six months in 2004.  Developed mild akithisia which went away once I stopped the Abilify.  Developed severe GI issues in Dec 2001 and from that time on suffered from fatigue and hypersomnia where I would sleep between 12 and 20 hours a day and rarely ever left my apartment. 


Had tapered to 100 mg of Zoloft and 7.5 mg of Zyprexa at the time of going cold turkey Feb. 2014

Went 5 days without sleep at the beginning while vomiting all over my apt.  Had brain zaps for a number of weeks and also lightheadedness which both eventually went away.  However 2 1/2 yrs later I still struggle with insomnia, depression, and fatigue.





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Here I am, up at 2am after 3 1/2 hours of sleep and a very vivid dream of climbing a mountain :lol:. Strangely, I don't feel exhausted. In fact, getting off Paxil has seemingly boosted my mood and energy level. I wonder if that is a paradoxical reaction or simply a phase of the WD process. Feeling more mentally sharp and able to focus better on tasks at hand. Feeling more myself, as if Paxil had actually numbed me out over the years and masked my true self and now that I'm done with it, the real me is coming out. Don't feel depressed or manic, but there are tough moments that come and go. I'm not freaking out, thankfully. The only prominent physical symptom other than inability to sleep through the night, is the brain zaps. But they come and go, too. 


Petunia, I really appreciate your feedback. I'm only off the Paxil a few days, so I may just be getting on the roller-coaster, lol. I did a fast taper because my doctor said it posed a real risk interacting with Eliquis, a heart med I started recently. If my symptoms start getting severe, I will reinstate but would prefer not to. In fact, the Eliquis has some really crappy side effects and I'd prefer to do away with that, too. I see a new cardiologist today, so we'll see. As far as other meds are concerned, I'm on 10mg Buspar (anxiety), 100mg Naltrexone (alcohol cravings), 120mg Diltiazem (heart) and 10mg Eliquis. My heart issue is AFIB caused by binge drinking and not eating. But I've been sober for six weeks, so no more AFIB episodes. Go figure.


My medication history is long and complex. Due to my alcohol abuse history of periodic binge drinking, I don't remember when and what meds I took over the years. The ones I remember well are Effexor, Lamictal, Seroquel and Abilify, all of which had horrible side effects over time. Oh, and I was on 50mg of extended-release Paxil, which is a high dose. I'm a poster child for side effects from whatever drugs I'm on due to high sensitivity...


poetjester, thanks for your honesty, I think, lol. Your sleep issues sound hellish and I sincerely hope you find relief somehow. I'm hoping I don't have to suffer like that.

Paroxetine: rapid taper, off completely as of 4/15/17

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Glad to hear you are doing well. I've been on Paxil for the last 11 years. 20 mgs at the start and I've cut it down to about 16 mgs for the last year or so. I went down to 15mgs about a month ago. I started getting twitches at night about a week later. I couldnt even fall asleep! Well the doctor thinks it may just be anxiety and not a withdrawal effect. Did u suffer this at all? If so, what helped? Thank you my friend.

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  • 2 weeks later...

How are you doing these days, FZ?

Main thread: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/14472-shakeyjerr-say-hello/

History: Prozac & Lithium from 1999 to 2003. Ended up back on after 4 months because taking a beta-blocker caused immediate depression (just 2 doses - turned out I didn't even need it; I had no other withdrawal symptoms - I might have ended up med and withdrawal-free otherwise :(). - Switched to Effexor (75mg 3/day) and Seroquel (50mg 3/day) in 2010. - Did a self-taper during 2016. - Developed Discontinuation Syndrome 02/17.

Supplements: Magnesium-Glycinate 400mg split into 4 100mg doses throughout the day. Vitamin C 500mg - once per day. Fish Oil 1360 mg (950 mg Active Omega-3) - twice per day.

I'm not a doctor. I use the internet, experience, and trial & error. Seek medical advice if necessary.

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