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cindersoot

cindersoot: two weeks off prozac

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cindersoot

Hi, I have been on Prozac for 22 years. I tapered from 30mgs. to 20 to 10 for about two months on my own.  It has been two weeks now being off fully. I have had some disturbing feelings of extreme anger and then sadness, and horrible depression. Thru it I still go to the gym everyday, exercise makes me feel better. One symptom that is hard to cope with is a weird feeling every time I bend down say to pick something up. Upon rising I feel loopy? Hard to explain, not dizzy but a strange feeling kind of like when you are drunk. Hard to explain. So tired too, and cloudy.

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ChessieCat

Hi cindersoot and welcome to SA,

 

I am really pleased that you have found SA so early after stopping your drug.  I was also fortunate and found SA 2 weeks after reducing my Pristiq from 100mg to 50mg and suffered 2 weeks of very bad withdrawal symptoms.  After reinstating I have since been successfully tapering following SA's protocol and am now down to 4.5mg and only experience mild withdrawal symptoms.

 

You have tapered too quickly and what you are experiencing are withdrawal symptoms.  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?

 

When the drug is taken away too quickly we can get withdrawal symptoms:  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

 

The only known way to reduce withdrawal symptoms is to take the same drug that the brain has adapted to.  Because it's only been 2 weeks since you stopped taking the Prozac, there is a very good chance that reinstating the drug will be successful.  Please read Post #1 of this topic:   About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

Because your brain will have already made some adaptations during the time you have been off the drug, it is better to start with a lower dose than you last took.  It is better to start with a small dose and increase if needed than to risk taking too much.  The idea of reinstating isn't to get rid of withdrawal symptoms completely but to bring them to a bearable level.  You will need to stay as calm and patient as possible and try not to panic.  When we panic we can make bad decisions.  Some members have panicked and increased too much and/or increased too soon and made things much worse.

 

If your last dose 2 weeks ago was 10mg, you could start by taking 5mg.  It generally 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.  However, Prozac has a long half life and it will probably take longer for this to happen.  But you might start to feel some improvement in your symptoms in the first few days.  It's a good idea to keep daily symptom notes on paper so you can see the effect that reinstatement is having on your symptoms.  It is also helpful to provide us with those notes so we can assess whether you might need to take a tiny bit more.  Please do not jump from 5mg to 10mg.  Depending on the effect of the 5mg on your symptoms, we would probably suggest increasing by 1mg.

 

It is also important to take the same dose, every day, at about the same time.  The brain likes consistency.  Do not skip doses to taper.  It will most probably take at least 3 months, if not more, before you would start tapering.  It is better to hold for longer than to risk tapering too soon.  You might consider doing a <10% reduction for the first reduction to test to see if you have stabilised.

 

This topic explains how to get the dose you need:  Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

 

Tapering Calculator - Online

 

 

Please create 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

 

 

I will provide some more information in the next couple of posts.  This is your own introductions topic where your can ask questions about your own situation and journal your progress.

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ChessieCat

Here's some additional 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.

 

The same thing happens when we take the drug away.  That's why it's possible to experience such a vast array of withdrawal symptoms, and they can change, and be of different intensity.

 

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

 

These explain it really well:

 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

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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cindersoot

I really don't want this drug in my system again. There has to be another way....or just deal with it.

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ChessieCat

I can understand your reaction and your desire not to take the drug again.  I wish I could stop taking the 4.5mg I am taking now, such a tiny dose after having been on 100mg, but I know from what I have learned on this website that it is not a good idea and that my brain still needs the drug.  However, reinstatement is the only known way of reducing the withdrawal symptoms.  And unfortunately it may get even worse than it is now for you.  Prozac has a long half life so it may be that in the next couple of weeks your symptoms may increase.  We have members here who have ended up becoming bedridden, having to leave work, had their relationship break down and/or had to move in with relatives or friends because of withdrawal.  I'm not telling you this to frighten you, but to provide the information about what might happen and to help you make an informed decision.

 

Withdrawal syndrome is in the DSM-5.  However, not many medical professionals know about tapering and withdrawal.

 

Altostrata, this site's founder, created this site in about 2011.  She has experienced withdrawal after taking Paxil.  This is a video of her:  Alto Strata's Paxil Prolonged Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome (8 minutes)

 

This is the first part of her Introduction topic.  If you click on the arrow at the top right of the quote box it will take you to the topic:

 

On 3/17/2011 at 1:50 AM, Altostrata said:

I developed prolonged antidepressant withdrawal syndrome after going off 10mg Paxil over 3 weeks in October 2004, at the age of 54.
 
I very slowly and painfully recovered from the autonomic nervous system damage over 9 years. For the last 5 of those years, I was unable to work due to prolonged withdrawal syndrome.
 
I started taking Paxil in 2001 for what I now believe was symptoms of menopause aggravated by intense work stress. After 3 years  with side effects on Paxil 10mg, I "tapered" under medical supervision at University of California San Francisco and immediately suffered severe antidepressant withdrawal symptoms.
 
My doctors at UCSF did not recognize acute and severe withdrawal syndrome and treat it properly by reinstatement of Paxil even though I requested it in January 2005. I had found information about diagnosis and treatment of antidepressant withdrawal syndrome on the Web. (The recommendation for reinstatement in cases of severe withdrawal symptoms was added in the package insert by GlaxoSmithKline in December 2001 during a widely publicized lawsuit regarding Paxil withdrawal syndrome; the FDA has caused similar advice to be added to antidepressant package inserts ever since.)
 
Instead, I was prescribed Wellbutrin; when that didn't work, a parade of other drugs I refused.
 
Ironically, the notes from UCSF include a diagnosis of "prolonged withdrawal syndrome." After 10 months, in July 2005 I left the care of UCSF Psychiatry and started my search for a doctor who might be able to help me. That proved to be near-impossible.

 

 

And it has nothing to do with how strong we are as a person.  The drug we have taken has changed the way our brain works and without the drug/chemical the brain goes haywire trying to fix things.  The withdrawal symptoms happen because the brain is in chaos and trying to regain homeostasis.  It is trying to make all the adjustments that it needs to because it isn't getting the drug.  And it is in so much confusion that it isn't able to do everything and that is why we get withdrawal symptoms.

 

Nobody knows how long your symptoms will last, or how severe they will be.  It is an unanswerable question.

 

Please read these posts written by one of our moderators how is no +1 years off Paxil.  He was a member of another, now closed, website prior to SA and is familiar with a lot of people's experiences of getting off psychiatric drugs.

 

CT and Fast Tapers



Reinstatement

 

Please also go back and read / re-read the information that I have provided.

 

I've had two completely different experiences of withdrawal from drugs.  Relating these might help you understand how the brain and nervous system can respond.

 

I CTed citalopram and felt great for a few months then got hit with the withdrawal flu and was bedridden for 2.5 weeks and lost 8kgs because I couldn't eat.  It wasn't until I joined SA that I made the connection that it was withdrawal.  My counsellor didn't know about withdrawal and I ended up on Pristiq.

 

I reduced my Pristiq from 100mg to 50mg, and for several days I had an upset stomach, which I put down to a stomach bug but now believe it was a withdrawal symptom and for 2 weeks I experienced severe cog fog, and even walking took my whole concentration.  I joined SA but didn't updose as suggested because I was trying, through the brain fog, to learn about what was happening.  A couple of days after joining I got to the stage that I was unable to type.  Having been a typist for 40+ years I knew that something was really wrong.  I was very thankful for SA's suggestion.  I went and took extra Pristiq.  Astoundingly after only about 4 hours I was able to type again and the brain fog was lifting.  Because I had a benchmark I knew that it was because of the drug.

 

Edited by ChessieCat

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cindersoot

And this happens to everyone?

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ChessieCat

Does "what" happen to everyone?

 

The information that is provided on SA has been put together from the experiences of people trying to get of psychiatric drugs.

 

You might find this helpful from a non-SA source: Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs Harm Reduction Guide

 

 

Edited by ChessieCat

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cindersoot

These horrible side effects you mention?

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eymen23
14 minutes ago, cindersoot said:

These horrible side effects you mention?

 

Cindersoot,

 

Everybody recovers in their own unique way, with some people experiencing more intense symptoms and some people experiencing less intense symptoms. 

 

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict what will happen, and whether you will be one of the ‘lucky ones’ who experience milder symptoms for a short time and then feel ok again. That’s why we recommend a slow taper for those trying to come off psychiatric drugs, and reinstatement for those who came

off quickly and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. 

 

In an ideal world, we could perform some kind of test to see who is going to recover more quickly and deal with less symptoms, and perhaps suggest those individuals make good candidates for faster tapers and not reinstating their drugs. However, we simply don’t know who might be headed for a very long and difficult recovery, hence we advise all members to use the harm reduction approach. 

 

The guidance and experiences shared here can seem overwhelming at first, but ultimately they can help you to reduce the risk of severe protracted withdrawal symptoms. Please read all of the resources Chessie provided and consider reinstatement. 

Edited by eymen23

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