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Gracee

Gracee: withdrawing from Paxil

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Gracee
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I am a newby here and this is my first post,

I am 73 years old.  I was prescribed Paxil 20 mg. in 2002 for anxiety disorder.  Since then I have tried unsuccessfully to withdraw on three occasions.  The third attempt lasted 11 months; I managed to taper to 5 mg Paxil.  Then crashed.  Returned to 20 mg. (I wish I had tried to hold out on the 5mg much longer, but was feeling awful physical withdrawal symptoms).

 

 Since then, my dosage was increased to 30 mg in 2011,  then in 2018 to 40 mg.   The last increase didn't work.  I began feeling more anxious and jittery.   I have decided to taper back to 30 mg, then re-evaluate  and hopefully reduce to 20 mg.  At this stage of my life I believe I will be on Paxil until I die.  Just want to be comfortable and free of extreme anxiety and severe physical withdrawal symptoms.  I am healthy, active and my only other prescription med is 

25mg hydrochlorothiazide (a mild diuretic for elevated blood pressure.)

 

I began tapering a month ago by pill cutting.  From 40 mg. to 37.5 mg.  Now beginning 35 mg.  Have some mild physical symptoms:  tinnitus, dizziness, jitteriness.  Still manageable.  

 

Reading the posts here over past month has given me hope.

Will try to insert withdrawal history in Signature if I can figure out how. 

 

Gracee

 

 

 

Edited by Gracee
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ChessieCat

Hi Gracee and welcome to SA,

 

SA recommends tapering by no more than 10% of the current dose followed by a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

However, if a person is taking a higher dose of a drug they can sometimes make larger cuts to start with.  As the dose gets lower, many members find that they need to go slower by reducing less and/or holding longer.  Why taper paper: dose-occupancy curves

 

It is better to listen to your body and symptoms than to try and reduce too quickly.  When the drug is taken away too quickly we can get withdrawal symptoms:  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

 

Tips for tapering off Paxil (paroxetine)

 

When reinstating a drug, because your nervous system can become unstable because of withdrawal symptoms, we generally recommend a small dose.  About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

I will provide more information in the next post.

 

This is the formal for your drug signature.   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

 

 

This is your own introductions topic where your can ask questions about your own situation and journal your progress.

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ChessieCat

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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Carmie

Hi Grace, 

 

I just wanted to welcome you to SA too. No matter how slow we taper we will still get some kind of withdrawal symptoms. You can get off these meds, but you just have to go really slowly. I can’t do anymore than 4% to 5% a month myself. 

 

Wishing you all the best with your continued tapering. We will win this fight.💚

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Gracee

Thanks everyone for your responses and suggestions.   Really appreciate the links and I am reading through them and learning.   Trying to set realistic goals and take this taper slowly.   

 

Gracee

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ChessieCat

You're very welcome.  There is lots of really good information on this site.  We are aware that some doctors visit SA to get information to help their patients.

 

5 minutes ago, Gracee said:

 

Trying to set realistic goals and take this taper slowly.  

 

 

As your dose gets lower the side effects tend to reduce.  And any reduction of your drug load is a good thing.

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Carmie

Great to hear you will be going slow Grace, 

 

We can do this. Just because you’ve tried unsuccessfully in the past to taper, doesn’t mean you will fail this time. Coming on and off meds has sensitised our systems so we really need to be careful not to rush it. When going through waves we need to find coping strategies, I’ve got a million distractions that I use. I think I’ve necome a distraction expert.😂

 

I’m glad reading the posts on this site has been helpful. 

 

Sending hugs🤗

 

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Gracee

I suffer from insomnia and have a prescription for Ambien, which I rarely take for fear of addiction.  However, for the past week or two I have taken a combination of Benadryl  and Valerian in the evenings.  It seems to calm  the ever-present tinnitus and also helps me sleep.   I'm wondering if taking Benadryl every night is OK.   Does anyone know?  

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Gracee
On 1/7/2019 at 7:19 PM, Carmie said:

Hi Grace, 

 

I just wanted to welcome you to SA too. No matter how slow we taper we will still get some kind of withdrawal symptoms. You can get off these meds, but you just have to go really slowly. I can’t do anymore than 4% to 5% a month myself. 

 

Wishing you all the best with your continued tapering. We will win this fight.💚

 

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Carmie

Hi Gracee, thanks for your PM, 

 

Yes, going slower is the only way to success. That doesn’t mean that we won’t get withdrawals and waves though, they will just be a little more manageable. As regards tapering when on the lower doses, some people end up finding that they need to go slower. 

 

I cant remember the exact dosages I tapered off on larger doses as I didn’t keep records. I didn’t know anything about withdrawals then though. I just kept cutting my tablets to the next smallest dose. I went through lots of big waves but I always stabilised again. 

 

The more we chop and change doses the more our bodies become sensitised too, which means every successive taper can be harder too. 

 

I would suggest not starting at 10% this time. Start at 5% and see how you go. When you do get to the lower doses definitely taper no more than 5%,  seeing you can’t tolerate the 10% . It’s all about going really slow and listening to your body. 

 

There is is no reason you can’t succeed in tapering down your meds if you go slowly. Don’t put a calendar or time on it, your body is the indicator of how slow you need to go. 

 

Wishing you all all the best with your tapering 💚

 

 

 

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Carmie

Hi Gracee, 

 

Thanks for your PM. I’m glad that you’re going to go slowly. It’s the only way to do it. I’ve added your tags, sending hugs🤗

 

 

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Gracee

OK, So I have been studying the BrassMonkey Slide (I believe I remember Tom from my days at P.P.).  I like the idea of tapering by 2.5% for 4 weeks, then resting for 2 weeks.  I think the 10% Paxil reductions I did in the past were too much of a jolt especially in lower doses.    I have managed  weekly drops from 40 to 37.5 to 35 by pill cutting.   Plan to experiment with dissolving pills in water over the weekend and trying a liquid taper. Then I'll begin the 2.5% reduction.    Tinnitus and dizzyness are primary  discomforts.  I've been taking one Benadryl in the evening, have some concerns about dependency, but the Benadryl helps a bit with sleep and withdrawal symptoms.   Suggestions appreciated.

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Carmie

Hi Gracee, 

 

Thats great you’re thinking of doing the brassmonkey slide. If you decide that 10% is too much for you, just start off with 5% which is 1.25% a week for four weeks and then a two week hold. 

 

You can experiment and see how your body goes with the drops. I’m going to do the brassmonkey slide next once I’ve crosstapered and I’m going to do the 1.25% a week. I’ll see how I go. I’ll probably tweak things here and there. Our bodies are the best indicator of what we can tolerate, and I continue to make adjustments according to how my body is feeling.

 

Sending hugs🤗

 

Edited by Carmie
Removed white space

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hoppy

Gracee,

There's wonderful, sage info offered here.

 

Check my post to see if you find any insights.  I took 18 months to wean from 5mg.  I've learned to go slow with Paxil and you should just stay on a glide slope off without focusing too much on when exactly you'll be off of it.  Also be patient with thoughts and sensations - they'll come and then they'll go.  They won't harm you.

 

Consider meditation, and consider rigorous exercise on a daily basis.  I swear by them.

 

Lastly, don't sweat Ambien.  I have used it for years on/off and it's not physically addictive.  But, it's easy to feel dependent.  I have found that if I use it more than a week straight, it'll screw with my sleep architecture, from which it takes a couple of nights to recover.  So I try to limit it.  I have gone more than a year between doses, and I have used it during difficult times so that I can get the sleep I need for my demanding job.  IMO, Ambien can have practical utility.  Use it if you need to and stay connected with your Doc.  You'll be fine.

 

Hope this helps!

-bk

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Gracee
On 1/11/2019 at 11:29 AM, Carmie said:

Hi Gracee, 

 

Thats great you’re thinking of doing the brassmonkey slide. If you decide that 10% is too much for you, just start off with 5% which is 1.25% a week for four weeks and then a two week hold. 

 

You can experiment and see how your body goes with the drops. I’m going to do the brassmonkey slide next once I’ve crosstapered and I’m going to do the 1.25% a week. I’ll see how I go. I’ll probably tweak things here and there. Our bodies are the best indicator of what we can tolerate, and I continue to make adjustments according to how my body is feeling.

 

Sending hugs🤗

 

Carmie,

I can't thank you enough for your suggestion of dropping 1.25mg we for four weeks, followed by a two week hold.   It is so much easier for me than having to calculate 2.5% of each previous weekly dose.   Thanks for staying in touch.  You are a huge help.

HUGS

Edited by Carmie

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Gracee

Thanks @ChessieCat for checking in on me.  Updated signature.  Still learning my way around this new neighborhood.  Really like it here and am feeling more comfortable posting.

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Gracee

@ChessieCat @hoppy  Do you have any advise/suggestions about taking Benadryl to help with sleep and withdrawal symptoms?   I have been taking one tablet before bedtime with Valarian.  I have never been a good sleeper; insomnia is in my genes.

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ChessieCat

If you are using a phone to view the site you can't see the drug signature.

 

Your drug signature:

 

[2002 - 20 mg]  [2011 - 30 mg]  [2018 - 40 mg for three months and poopout]

Hydroclorhothiazide 25 mg for elevated blood pressure. Ambien (3 mg) on occasion.

Multi vitamin, Calcium Citrate, D3,  Magniusium, Ginger Root, Flaxseed Oil, Benadryl, Valerian

2002- Paxil - 20 mg 

2011- Paxil - 30 mg

2018 - 40 mg.   Pooped out

Dec 26, 2018 -  37.5 mg

Jan 2, 2019 - 35 mg

Jan. 11 - 33.75 mg

 

Plan to taper by BrassMonkey Slide philosophy

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Carmie

Hi Gracee, 

 

 I meant 1.25% a week, not 1.25mg

 

Do you need help with calculations?💚

Edited by Carmie

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hoppy

Gracee,

No experience with Benadryl, sorry.  I use a micro-dose of Ambien if I really need it.

 

For me, meditation, breathing technique and exhausting exercise (like running, cycling - outside is best) typically does the trick.  Are you engaged with any of these activities?

 

Regarding Paxil dose increments for weaning, I just naturally used 1.25mg as it easy to apply to a physical pill.  In my experience, that increment never produced any side effects, but I appreciate that everyone is different.

 

-bk

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Gracee

OK @Carmie, Got it now. I misunderstood.   You did indeed suggest 1.25% per week.   I'm OK with the calculations.   Dowloaded the taper calculator from this site. Today  I dissolved the 33.75 Paxil dose I am currently taking into 33.75 ml water, refrigerated it and plan to start on that tomorrow morning.   Have no idea how it will taste and whether to mix it with juice.  I guess in a few days my body will let me know what's going on.

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Gracee

Hi @hoppy  Thanks for getting back to me again.  Yes, I do a little mindful meditation daily focusing on breathing and walk about a mile a day during January.   By summer, I'm up to three miles a day.   Not fond of walking when it is chilly out.   Same with cycling, but not in the cold.   

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ChessieCat
5 minutes ago, Gracee said:

I think at some point, our body reaches a tolerance with a drug and the dose stops working.

 

tolerance-or-poop-out-or-tachyphylaxis

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Carmie

Hi Gracee, 

 

Hope all is going well with your tapering💚

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Gracee

Hi @Carmie, Thank you for stopping by.   I have been following your withdrawal and plan to be mindful of your discovery that our bodies react differently to a same dose taken in liquid form compared to pill form.   So, even though I practiced dissolving pills in water and measuring with 10 mil and 1 ml syringes, I plan to stick with my dose in cut up tablets since that is the devil I know and am comfortable with.   I'm having the expected dizziness and tinnitus and some trouble concentrating.  Will stay at 33.75 mg for another 3-4 weeks or longer if necessary.   

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Gracee

Something about my WD symptoms I want to document:

For me, discomfort begins on day 2 of new taper, ramping up to day 5, with day 5 being the most uncomfortable.   Discomfort begins to lessen on day 6.  I plan to pay closer attention now to when discomfort dissipates and make notes of the number of days into taper.     I want to consider this for timing for next drop in dose to avoid appointments and social interaction during first week.   

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Gracee

@Carmie I think my most difficult WD symptom is lack of energy.  After a few active hours in the morning, remainder of day and evening, I'm lethargic.   The other symptoms: dizziness, fuzzy head, disorientation...come and go.  Tinnitus, while always present, is stronger in the evenings.   I'm determined not to taper again until energy returns.

 

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Carmie
5 hours ago, Gracee said:

@Carmie I think my most difficult WD symptom is lack of energy.  After a few active hours in the morning, remainder of day and evening, I'm lethargic.   The other symptoms: dizziness, fuzzy head, disorientation...come and go.  Tinnitus, while always present, is stronger in the evenings.   I'm determined not to taper again until energy returns.

 

 

I’m sorry to hear about your lack of energy Gracee, 

 

I’ve had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for over twenty four years and I’m bedbound a lot of the time. I’m also dizzy and faint most of the time, so I can definitely relate. My blood pressure gets so low, sometimes it’s 80/60. When I’m out with friends I have to put my feet up all the time or sit on the floor. 

 

I’ve suffered with severe brain fog all the time too, it’s not withdrawals, it’s CFs. It’s like looking through Vaseline, I don’t feel like I’m really here. 

 

I don’t have tinnitus. I’m sorry you have that. I’ve had it occasionally, so I know how it feels, but it never lasts more than a minute or two. It must be horrible to have it all the time. 

 

Sending hugs to you and wishing you all the best in your recovery from these meds🤗

 

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Gracee

Hi @Carmie,  I never understood CFS until I was in my 50's and met a woman who suffered from this.   She became a good friend and I learned a lot from her.   I sincerely sympathise with your discomfort.  I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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Carmie
12 hours ago, Gracee said:

Hi @Carmie,  I never understood CFS until I was in my 50's and met a woman who suffered from this.   She became a good friend and I learned a lot from her.   I sincerely sympathise with your discomfort.  I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Hi Gracee, 

 

Yes, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel sometimes is very long and dark though. 

 

I hope you’re coping okay with the tinnitus 💚

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Gracee

Dropped Benadryl and Valerian a few nights ago.  That combination seemed to help with sleep for a few weeks, then it didn't.   I think I develop a tolerance to things pretty fast.   I'm now sleeping sort of OK with no assist from meds.  Never was a good sleeper.  Still wake up a lot but manage to get back to sleep soon enough.

 

@Carmie, I do believe I'm stuck with the tinnitus for the long haul.   It's annoying but doesn't interfere with getting on with my life.  Looking forward to my other WD symptoms settling down though.   Really need a window.  

 

I keep thinking of my last taper attempt seven years ago.   It lasted 11 months.  At that time, I tapered from 20 mg Paxil to 3 mg.   Yes, I must have gone too fast and was sick nearly every day.  And, I caved in and went back up to the 20 mg I started with.   Getting down to 3 mg seems almost impossible now, especially from where I am and at the age I am.  I know I'm staying put at 33.75 mg for as long as necessary and when I reach 30 mg, I may take a rest for several months.  At least I will have made a reduction.  OK, enuf rambling for now.

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Gracee

Window!

Finally have the window I've been hoping for.  For the past two-days, WD symptoms very light. Going to stick with plan to stay at 33.75 mg for awhile.

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Gracee

@Carmie, Thinking of you, hoping you are feeling WDNormal and hoping you enjoyed the Phil Collins concert.   I'm coasting along pretty well.

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