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Moved from Tips for Tapering Pristiq.


I see this has been updated as of 2011, is there any current updates on tapering Pristiq? I tried to taper off about 2 years ago with no success. I split the 25mg pills for months and slowly reduced but could not discontinue use from that point as too many side affects.  Just wondering if anything new has transpired and if any new recommendations have been suggested...need to discontinue use as I'm losing my insurance soon and can't afford to continue use.


Edited by ChessieCat
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On 2/25/2018 at 3:07 PM, ChessieCat said:

My submission to the Scottish Parliament:



Submission of 5 February 2018


I am a 60 year old female.  Antidepressants for approximately 25 years.


I now believe that if I had received appropriate counselling and support and been taught, and used, non drug coping techniques that I would never have needed to take a psychiatric drug.


My background, year and age:


1976 – 19 – father died, broken engagement

1977 – 20 – mother remarried

1980 – 23 – married

1982 – 25 – 31 year old husband had mild heart attack

1985 – 28 – unexpected emergency caesarean

1987 – 30 – husband open heart surgery for 4 by passes, ended up having 7

1988 – 30 – caesarean after trial labour

1992?  35 – first antidepressant use

1994 – 37 – husband home permanently – Wegners Granulomatosis

1999 – 41 – husband’s death


Originally prescribed Prozac which caused weak muscles.  I ended up having trouble walking because it affected my hips like when you are pregnant and your ligaments loosen.


Long term citalopram prior to current one.  Late 2010 to late 2011 I had about 5 major life stressors.  I had a major breakdown at my daughter’s wedding.  From what I now know about ADs I think that the citalopram may have reached tolerance.


During 2012 I decided to cold turkey citalopram.  I felt great for a few months but then became very sick, basically bed ridden, for about 2 and ½ weeks with what felt like the flu with aches and pains but was not the flu.  I had no appetite and had trouble eating and lost 8 kgs in weight.  From what I now know I believe that this was withdrawal from the cold turkey of citalopram.


Not long after this I was prescribed Pristiq 50mg.  I was told by the psychologist that I would be on an antidepressant for life because it was like a diabetic needs insulin.  I felt okay and had incredible focus but felt no pleasure in anything.  The Pristiq dose was increased to 100mg.  I started feeling more pleasure.


My diastolic blood pressure rose after increasing to 100mg Pristiq and my regular doctor did not make the association between the two and increased my BP medication.


Every now and then my heart would feel like it “flipped”, which other people may use the term miss a beat.


Almost every day I would have a 2 hour sleep and still sleep through the night.

It wasn’t until my dose got lower that I realised that I had been feeling constantly on edge and unsettled.


2015 I realised that I was sweating a lot in the middle of winter.  I also had aches and pains.  I began researching Pristiq side effects and realised that I was most likely suffering serotonin toxicity.  


October 2015 I reduced my dose from 100mg to 50mg Pristiq.  I experienced extreme cog/brain fog for 3 weeks and everything I did required my undivided attention, even walking.  I began researching antidepressant withdrawal.  That was when I discovered the website survivingantidepressants.org.  Several days later  I was unable to type.  Being a professional typist since the age of 16 I knew that something wasn’t right.  It had been suggested by the website moderators that I increase my dose of Pristiq.  When I couldn’t type I took extra Pristiq and after about 4 hours I was able to type again.  Because I had a benchmark I knew that it was because I had reduced my Pristiq too quickly. 


In Australia Pristiq is only available in doses of 50mg and 100mg and the advice by Pfizer is that tablets should be taken whole.  Thankfully other members on the Surviving Antidepressants forum had successfully cut Pristiq tablets and also had them compounded with slow release formula and experienced no problems.  I was fortunate enough to locate a compounding pharmacy which has been compounding my Pristiq for me since November 2015.  Surviving Antidepressants recommends tapering by no more than 10% of the previous dose every 4 weeks.  I have been using this recommendation as a guideline for my taper.


After I updosed I held at 75mg for 2 months.  I then attempted a 10% reduction.  By the 3rd day I had intense and painful ear pressure and a front of brain headache.  I realised that I could not continue to tolerate the pain and pressure and I updosed by 2.5 mg to 70 mg.  This made a big difference.  Again within a few hours I felt relief as the pressure subsided and I only had a very mild headache which lessened over the next few days.  After 3 more weeks I reduced by 2.5 mg to 67.5 mg and only suffered tolerable ear pressure for a few days.


When I got to 50mg I held for 3 months.  I did a 7 week hold at 20mg.


As my dose got lower I started to feel more like my old self.  I started to realise how numbed my emotions had been over the many years on an antidepressant.  In May 2017 I bought a new car and felt some excitement (25mg Pristiq) but it wasn’t until September 2017 (19mg Pristiq) that I experienced real excitement and realised that back in May it had been a dulled excitement. 


As at the beginning of February 2018 I am down to 13mg.  Even though I have been tapering carefully I have still been experiencing withdrawal symptoms.  Thankfully they are mild but there are times when I am unable to do certain things.  It is mainly cognitive things which are affected but I do experience physical withdrawal symptoms as well.  Trouble concentrating and reading, mild anxiety, random thoughts, appetite changes, muscle cramps, occasional sleep issues.


I appreciate the opportunity of relating my experience.



thank you for this insight! I too got down to .5 2of the 5mg tablet at one point and felt so much better. Had to go back up to 25mg as I my husband abandoned our family after 21 years of marriage.  I am now 6 months into healing from that life change and ready to start decreasing my dose again slowly.  Your experience is very encouraging and I plan to duplicate your 10% reduction advise. Thank you again for posting your results, you are such an inspiration!

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Tamtamz and welcome to SA,


We ask all members to create a drug signature.  This appears below every post you make.  Please update it whenever you make a change.  This is the preferred format which makes it easier for us to see your drug history at a glance:


A request: Would you summarize your history in a signature - ALL drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly?

  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.
  • Link to Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.


I'm going to give you lots of links to check out.  Please don't feel overwhelmed, just work your way through them one at a time as you feel able.


SA recommends tapering by no more than 10% of the previous dose followed by a hold at that dose for about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  This is because psychiatric drugs create a physiological dependence, not physical like caffeine or nicotine.


Patience is needed to get off these drugs.  We suggest throwing out the calendar and listening to your body and your symptoms.  If after 4 weeks you don't feel stable or life circumstances are a bit more stressful than usual (for example the Christmas period, winter time, or job change) it is better to stay at that dose for a bit longer until things settle down.


Before you begin tapering what you need to know


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?


Tips for tapering off Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)


Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms


Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization


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

What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?


Brain Remodelling

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery


Keep it Simple, Slow and Stable

Keep Notes on Paper


Rate Symptoms Daily to Check Patterns and Progress

Tapering Calculator - Online


It is best to make only 1 change at a time.  It is also better not to start taking a complex vitamin because if you experience issues you will not know what exactly is causing it.  B vitamins can be stimulating especially B6.  hypersensitive-to-b-vitamin-or-b-vitamin-complex  If trying anything new, start with a small amount to see how you react and build up to the recommended amount.  The only supplements which SA recommends are Magnesium and Omega-3 Fish Oil.  Try a small amount one at a time to see how you react.


Even with a careful and slow taper you will most likely experience times of discomfort.  It is best to learn and use Non-drug techniques to cope


There are many existing topics and discussions on this site.  You can use the site search function on the main page of the site at the top right, or use a search engine and include survivingantidepressants.org in your search string.


As I said, lots of information, but I really want you to have what you need so you can have a successful taper.


This is your own Intro topic where you can ask questions and journal your progress.  We suggest that members visit each others Intro topics so that can support and encourage each other.



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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