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4peace

4peace: Prozac discontinuation question & Intro

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4peace

Hi,

I am female, 48 years old, and have been on Prozac or Zoloft for 26 years for panic attacks.  There is a lot more to share but, I have an initial question that is time-sensitive...  I went off of 20 mg per day of Prozac  2.5 weeks ago without tapering.  I have been reading that this was not a good idea!  Please let me know what to do now that I have already done it.  Do I start up again with a lower dose?  Do I go back to my regular 20 mg and start to taper off the way you  have described?  My WD symptoms are numerous and ridiculously bad most of the time but, I have been surviving.  I want to stay off the medication but am now worried that my worst symptoms may be in my future.  I would love to know what your thoughts are.

 

Thank you!

4peace

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Songbird

Welcome to SA, 4Peace.  It's great that you've already done some reading around here!  You are right to be concerned about future problems from a cold turkey withdrawal.  Since you are only 2.5 weeks off, a reinstatement is likely to be your best option, although rather than the full 20mg, it might be safer to try a lower dose first, perhaps 10mg, leaving an option to increase it later if need be.  Before doing anything, though, it would help us to have more information.

 

Please can you help us to help you, by creating a signature with your history - see this topic for more info about how to do this: 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/12364-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

 

You say you have had Zoloft and Prozac in the past, but it looks like Prozac was more recent?  How long have you been taking Prozac?  What was the reason for the change from Zoloft?  Were you stable on the Prozac before stopping it?  What symptoms have you been having and when?

 

 

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4peace

I created a short signature for myself.  Please let me know if I need to add more.  I can't see other people signatures so I don't have an example to follow. Thank you for your help and guidance~

Here are some answers to your questions:

I was on Prozac just 20 mg from  age 22 to age 30 for panic attacks. When I became pregnant my doctor told me to switch to Zoloft because it was safer for the baby and I was unable to quit Prozac. I was on Zoloft from age 30 to age 45. Zoloft worked pretty well keeping panic attacks away but seemed to stop about a year before I switched back to Prozac. I had no doctor or insurance at the time so it took me almost a year to get help when Zoloft stopped working. I was very stable on Prozac before switching to Zoloft. I now know that the doctors knew nothing of what they were doing when they switched me from Prozac to Zoloft for "the health" of my unborn child.  I have also been very stable on Prozac the last 3 years.  #1 Reason for wanting to quit: no libido whatsoever and lack of feeling/inability to have an orgasm which is devastating to my husband.  

Symptoms now that I have stopped: intense all-over body itching that has caused me to scratch and bleed while I sleep, insomnia (waking up and staying up for about 3 hours per night), intense leg (nerve?) pain for about 48 hours, very odd jerks in my muscles mainly my legs (restless legs), bouts of crying, irritability, bouts of anger and rage, trouble finding the word I'm searching for when speaking.  Symptoms that I don't know whether they are related: I feel like I am coming down with a cold I have sore throat and congestion and sneezing  (odd for me because I do not usually get sick--two illnesses in the last 5+ years and I work in preschool/child care =petri dish😉).

 

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Altostrata

Welcome, 4peace.

 

If I were you, I'd reinstate a bit of Prozac right away. Even 5mg might help reduce the withdrawal symptoms. Do you have any left?

 

This topic explains how to take a small amount of Prozac Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

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4peace

I have one full bottle left= 30 pills @ 20mg each.  I can make the liquid form per the instructions and start with 5mg. 

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Songbird

That's great.  I would take the 5mg each day at the same time, see how it goes and note any symptom changes - does anything get worse or better - and keep us updated.

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4peace

Update: I decided to go back on 10 mg of Fluoxetine daily and hold that for awhile to help with withdrawal symptoms.  I am doing better in a few ways (a little bit more energy, not so many bouts of anger and sadness) but, have a pronounced worsening in itching on my right arm.  I believe this is Brachoradial Pruritus (a neuropathic itch).  I can not describe how bad it gets.  I wake up with it every night and sometimes wake up already bleeding from scratching in my sleep.  It is truly terrifying to imagine having this long-term.  Any thoughts about this or other that have this horrible symptom?  Any tips?

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Carmie

Hi 4peace, 

 

How are you doing? Sending hugs🤗

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4peace

Hi Carmie,

 

I so appreciate you reaching out.  I am honestly just up and down.  I got down to 5mg of Fluoxetine and decided that was so low that I was probably just using it as a placebo so, I just stopped taking it...  I did not check on the forum before I did this and really regret it.  It has been so bad.  (i.e. Quite a few months of racing thoughts--and a new symptom of intrusive thoughts which are terrifying; very high anxiety, often followed by cloudy thinking and no motivation/very unproductive at work, intense feelings of guilt and shame for not being able to fully be present and enjoy moments with my kids, feeling terribly alone...being so tired but unable to sleep due to my thoughts makes me very angry which also doesn't help). I went back on at 5 mg about 3 weeks ago and see mild improvement.  Sometimes I have the majority of the day where I feel like my old joyful self though and I want to hold onto it so much!  But, then the weather (my internal "weather") changes and I have no control over it.

Things I am doing to try and help it:. Reaching out more for connection with friends, meditation apps (DARE anxiety app and Head Space), lowered my sugar intake dramatically and am trying to stay away from bread and alcohol (tends to increase my feelings of anxiety I think), trying to walk more and find time to take an exercise class that fits my work and home schedule, etc...Any more tips and tricks that you have to help ease this would be greatly appreciated.  

Thanks again~

 

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ChessieCat

Here's some information which might help you to understand what is happening:

 

Recovery isn't linear it happens in a Windows and Waves Pattern

 

Withdrawal Normal Description

 

When we take a psychiatric drug, we are adding chemical/s to the brain.  The brain then has to change to adapt to getting the chemical/s.  It might have to change something to do with A and then once that change has been made it affects B so another change has to be made and so on down the line.  It is a chain reaction, a domino effect.  That's why it's possible to experience such a vast array of withdrawal symptoms, and they can change, and be of different intensity.

 

The same thing happens when we take the drug away.  These explain it really well:

 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

are-we-there-yet-how-long-is-withdrawal-going-to-take

 

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

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.

 

AND

 

On 12/4/2015 at 2:41 AM, apace41 said:

Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  

 

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ChessieCat

During any taper, there will be times of discomfort.  We strongly encourage members to learn and use non drug coping techniques to help get through tough times.

 

Understanding what is happening helps us to not get caught up with the second fear, or fear of the fear.  This happens when we experience sensations in our body and because we don't understand them we are scared of them and then start to panic.

 

This document has a diagram of the body explaining what happens in the body when we become anxious:

 

https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/AnxietySelfHelp.pdf

 

 

Audio FEMALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)

 

Audio MALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

dealing-with-emotional-spirals

 

Dr Claire Weekes suffered from anxiety and learned and taught ways of coping.  There are videos available on YouTube.

 

Claire Weekes' Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System

 

Audio:  How to Recover from Anxiety - Dr Claire Weekes

 

 
Resources:  Centre for Clinical Interventions (PDF modules that you can work through, eg:  Depression, Distress Intolerance, Health Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Social Anxiety, Worrying)
 
On 4/28/2017 at 4:03 AM, brassmonkey said:

 

AAF: Acknowledge, Accept, Float.  It's what you have to do when nothing else works, and can be a very powerful tool in coping with anxiety.  The neuroemotional anxiety many of us feel during WD is directly caused by the drugs and their chemical reactions in the brain.  Making it so there is nothing we can do about them.  They won't respond to other drugs, relaxation techniques and the like.  They do, however, react very well to being ignored.  That's the concept behind AAF.  Acknowledge, get to know the feeling involved, explore them.  Accept, These feelings are a part of you and they aren't going anywhere fast. Float, let the feeling float off as you get on with your life as best as you can.  It's a well documented fact that the more you feed in to anxiety the worse it gets.  What starts as generalized neuroemotinal anxiety can be easily blown into a full fledged panic attack just by thinking about it.

 

I often liken it to an unwanted house guest.  At first you talk to them, have conversations, communicate with them.  After a while you figure out that they aren't leaving and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them.  So you go on about your day, working around them until they get bored and leave.

 

It can take some practice, but AAF really does work.  I hope you give it a try.

 

 

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ChessieCat
6 hours ago, 4peace said:

I got down to 5mg of Fluoxetine and decided that was so low that I was probably just using it as a placebo so, I just stopped taking it...  I did not check on the forum before I did this and really regret it.

 

Please see this topic:  When to end the taper and jump to zero?

 

My compounding pharmacist has a customer who took 1 year to get off 1mg of escitalopram. 

 

Many members find that the lower their dose gets the slower they need to go, by reducing less and/or holding for longer.  Why taper paper: dose-occupancy curves

 

Please update your drug signature using the following format.   Keep it simple.  NO diagnoses or symptoms please - thank you.

  • details for last 2 years - dates, ALL drugs, doses
  • summary for older than 2 years - just years and drug/s

Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature

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Carmie

Hi 4peace, 

 

I’m sorry you’re up and down, that’s pretty much the journey we are all on, windows and waves. One minute we are in a window and the next minute a wave comes crashing down again. It’s a bit like a rollercoaster, isn’t it? 🎢🎢🎢 The rollercoaster ride will eventually stop though one of these days.

 

It can take a while to stabilise on a reinstatement, just check out the link ChessieCat gave you on Are-we-there-yet-how-long-is-withdrawal-going-to-take. There’s a section on reinstatement. Sometimes it can take many months, or with some people even a year or two, but others stabilise fairly quickly. Don’t get disheartened, you will eventually stabilise.

 

Jumping off at 5mg is not a good idea as you can see now. I’ve made many mistakes in my tapering too. I won’t be jumping off until I’m down to 0.0something.

 

Cutting out sugar, alcohol and bread sounds like a good idea. I don’t eat bread myself( I never eat gluten), and sugar and alcohol are bad for our nervous systems as well. Some people are so sensitive to them that even a little bit can send them into waves.

 

Please keep us updated with your progress. You can use your thread here as a journal, and write down how you’re doing, good or bad. We will win this fight! Take care, sending hugs🤗

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4peace

My main question is: do I go back to 10mg to stabilize? Or stay at 5mg and hope for the best? My windows are few and far between since I started back at 5mg on December 10th.  I often feel this illogical but desperate need to run away from myself. Since I own a very demanding business and have a full family of 5, I HAVE to be able to function.  I am absolutely tertified because I can't wait months or years to be free of this torture no matter how much I want to be free of the drug and it's side effects.  I wish I had not listened to the doctor and others who said that 5mg was like a placebo and was probably doing nothing for me anyway...  I feel like I have hurt myself so badly and am so scared I won't ever feel better or like myself again.

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ChessieCat

Going back to 10mg may be too much for your system and could make you worse.

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4peace

When the doctor increases dosages though, he does it pretty fast.  I jumped from 10mg right to 20mg.  Do you mean that it will hurt me because I have already damaged my nervous system by going off it so abruptly?

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ChessieCat

The doctors get their information about the drugs from the pharmaceutical companies.  The pharmaceutical companies use the term "therapeutic dose" which is an arbitrary term ( based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system).

 

SA prefers to use the term "lowest effective dose".

 

5 hours ago, 4peace said:

Do you mean that it will hurt me because I have already damaged my nervous system by going off it so abruptly?

 

Yes.  Your system has been sensitised.  See Post #1 of this topic:  About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

It is better to start with a small amount and increase if necessary than to risk taking too much.  It takes about 4 days for a dose to get to full level in the blood and a bit longer for it to register in the brain.  You will need to patient and stay as calm as possible and try not to panic.  When we panic we can make bad decisions.  Some members have panicked and taken too much and/or increased too soon and ended up making things worse.

 

Please keep daily symptom notes on paper to see how reinstatement is affecting your symptoms.

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Altostrata
On 1/11/2019 at 6:18 AM, 4peace said:

I went back on at 5 mg about 3 weeks ago and see mild improvement.  Sometimes I have the majority of the day where I feel like my old joyful self though and I want to hold onto it so much!  But, then the weather (my internal "weather") changes and I have no control over it.

 

4peace, you may have bumps for a while. Please read The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Are you using liquid Prozac? You might want to increase to 5.5mg and see if that's an improvement. Your nervous system is probably sensitized, a little can go a long way. Don't get anxious and make a big jump up! Always wait to see if you have hit the lowest effective dosage, you won't want to take more than that.

 

Please let us know how you're doing.

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Carmie

How are you doing 4peace?💚

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