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electron

electron, tapering off prozac

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electron

Hello everyone,

 

I have been taking various SSRIs for about 4 years now for social anxiety, beginning with Escitalopram, then Prozac, Sertraline, and now back to Prozac. I first tried to wean off Sertraline about a year ago but failed. I then managed to successfully switch to Prozac in order to taper more slowly. I have read on this site about people's bad experiences switching to Prozac so I will let you know how I did it. I was taking 100mg Sertraline to begin with, I then broke the tablet in half to have 50mg each day. I was then prescribed 50mg tablets so could break these in half also to 25mg each day. I then explained to my doctor what I wanted to do and then managed a straight switch to 20mg Prozac with no overlap.

 

This was about 6 months ago. Following this I tried to wean off the Prozac using the conventional method advised by doctors of alternating days with the medication. I first skipped one in three days for about a month, then every other day, and then every two days. At this point the severity of the withdrawal symptoms led me to switch back to alternating days. These symptoms persisted for about two weeks and I then went back onto 20mg/day. My withdrawal symptoms subsided after about two weeks, but then I started to get withdrawal-like symptoms while taking 20mg/day. This has persisted up until now. I am now on my second attempt at withdrawal. About two weeks ago I switched to the liquid form of Prozac and took 5mL (20mg) for one week then reduced to 4.8mL which I am on now.

 

These symptoms have been with me for about two months now. I'm just wondering if anyone has experienced any withdrawal-like symptoms while taking their normal dosage? It seems strange but hopefully it is an indication that withdrawal from now on will be easier.

 

Thanks,

 

electron

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Altostrata

Hi, electron. Thanks for joining our community.

 

How long were you consistently on 20mg Prozac this second time around?

 

Withdrawal symptoms can persist even if you go back on the full dose of the medication. What are your current symptoms?

 

Sorry to tell you this -- skipping or alternating dosages, even of Prozac, is a risky way to taper. See Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

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electron

I had been taking 20mg for about two months after my attempted withdrawal. I had withdrawal symptoms for a couple of weeks, was fine for a week and then started getting different symptoms (headaches, dizziness that felt different from previous withdrawal attempts) while maintaining the same dosage. I am now taking 4.8mL and am still having the symptoms. From now on I will taper with the liquid and not alternate doses.

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Rhiannon

My guess is that your erratic dosing and previous experiences of cutting too fast have caused a destabilization that is causing your present symptoms.

 

Or, in plainer English, once our brain chemistry is screwed up, just going back on the drug doesn't fix it. Neurochemistry is more complicated than that. Everything affects everything else in complex ways and after a certain amount of mangling it can't fix itself fast. Genes have been turned on and others turned off. Receptors have been removed and others put into place. And when things have been changed back and forth and up and down and this chemical and that chemical added and removed, it's like your brain has been banged back and forth and all around. Evolution has never encountered anything like these drugs before. Our mechanisms for fixing what they do are imperfect and slow.

 

What usually works best at this point is hands off for a while, no more changing things up, just stay where you are and give it time (a few months at least, can take many) to settle down and come to some new kind of homeostasis. If you're lucky, you'll stabilize. THEN it's time to begin a slow, moderate, regulated taper. You'll need to be more careful than ever before because once it's been screwed up once it's super sensitive to any future perturbations.

 

I'm pretty sure that what you're experiencing now isn't because of the Prozac you're taking today, it's because of what's happened in the past, and it takes time to heal from that. The best medicine now is time.

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electron

Thank you very much for your thoughts Rhi :)

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Altostrata

Hi, electron. How is your taper going?

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electron

Hi, it's going well so far (I think!). As I mentioned before I still have some withdrawal-like symptoms while on a normal dose. I'm hoping these will subside as my body gets used to being back on the higher dose and also taking less as I taper. I reduced to 4.4 mL yesterday and have noticed a slight improvement with my brain function (quickness of thought etc.) but also slightly more brain fog. I guess this is normal with tapering off.

 

electron

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strawberry17

Hi Electron, we have a lot in common, I am also in the UK and was also on sertraline for many years, failed attempts at withdrawing off sertraline and switched to Prozac, I am tapering off liquid Prozac. I have been keeping an online diary/blog of my progress (link below in my signature), it's taken me 4+ years to taper off liquid Prozac, I am nearly there now though.

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Altostrata

Hi, strawberry, good for you! I put a comment on your blog.

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strawberry17

Thanks, I've just seen it, now about to examine my syringe and see what you mean LOL

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electron

Hi Strawberry,

 

I actually found out about this site through your blog so thanks a lot for putting the information out there! As I said above I've just started my taper and I'm not really sure if it's going well or not. I still have the same withdrawal-like symptoms from being on the full dose and potentially some proper withdrawals now so it's hard to know what's going on. After your reduction do you gradually start to feel better throughout the 4 weeks?

 

electron

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strawberry17

Hi Electon, that's great you found this through my blog, I love it when that kind of thing happens.

I wonder if you are going a little too fast and that's why you're still getting withdrawals, I found even with liquid Prozac, which has a longer half life, I still would get withdrawals, in fact I failed with liquid Prozac when I got to about 4.60ml and had to all the way back to the top again, stabilize and start again much much slower, I was gutted at the time.

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electron

How long did it take you to stabilise when you went back to the top? After my first withdrawal attempt I went back to 20 mg/day for about 9 weeks and was still getting symptoms.

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strawberry17

Oh dear it was back in 2006 and I think that I always stabilized fairly quickly, I would go back to the top, feel euphoric for a while then stabilize, it was always getting off the damned things I had a problem with.

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electron

During my first withdrawal I went down to one tablet every 3 days then the symptoms were bad enough that I went back to one tablet per day. Then I felt different symptoms as if I had gone back up too quickly and there was too much serotonin in my system. This is the only way I can explain these symptoms.

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Altostrata

Taking doses inconsistently is the next best way to provoke severe withdrawal syndrome.

 

Your nervous system thrives on stability. Whatever you do, take a dose every day, don't skip days, not even with Prozac.

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strawberry17

Yes I can vouch for the alternate day thing being rubbish and making you feel rubbish, why do doctors always say to do that?!?! It never works.

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electron

I feel like my previous attempt has made me more sensitive to the med and the symptoms I have now are a new side effect rather than withdrawal symptoms.

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Altostrata

That is possible. You may wish to keep a record of how you feel after each reduction to see what symptoms are due to the reduction. Listen to your body and go at a rate that will minimize withdrawal symptoms.

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jr1985

Hi electron, I've just been reading through the thread, and I noticed you said you had new symptoms after you updosed. I had the same thing - after reinstating Effexor, I had a metallic taste in my mouth, jaw trembling and the nerves in my arms and legs feel like they are tingling/burning. So far, the metallic taste has virtually disappeared, but the other symptoms remain to a lesser degree. I've noticed they flare up when I try and reduce the dose, so I suspect Altostrata is correct when she says your nervous system needs stability. I plan to stay on my current dose for longer to see if the symptoms go away completely.

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Altostrata

Hi, electron, how are you doing?

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electron

Hi, I'm doing ok thanks. I made my largest drop so far (.5 ml) a couple of weeks ago and it took about a week for the symptoms to come out. They were also worse than I had experienced previously. I have dropped today by .3 ml due to this and am finding it ok so far.

 

I also had some issues with obtaining my meds on the NHS however these have been resolved now. I'm not sure about the US but two 70 ml bottles of fluoxetine cost about £35 over here.

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jr1985

Hi, I'm doing ok thanks. I made my largest drop so far (.5 ml) a couple of weeks ago and it took about a week for the symptoms to come out. They were also worse than I had experienced previously. I have dropped today by .3 ml due to this and am finding it ok so far.

 

I also had some issues with obtaining my meds on the NHS however these have been resolved now. I'm not sure about the US but two 70 ml bottles of fluoxetine cost about £35 over here.

 

What happened to the w/d symptoms you had while still on the full dose? Did they go away eventually?

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strawberry17

That's interesting, always wondered how much my liquid fluoxetine was costing the NHS! I've been lucky that my doctors surgery have made no objection to me having the liquid.

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electron

I still have side effects but they seem to be going as I reduce.

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jr1985

My surgery sent me a letter saying theyre changing my brand of venlafaxine. I'm slightly worried that about the differences in weight, etc

 

. As for liquid Prozac, if they try to pull the old "it's too expensive" I'll inform them that Effexor costs more. Also, they were willing to prescribe concerta, which costs ALOT more.

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electron

For a start, the liquid Prozac may be fairly expensive for the patient but I doubt it costs that much for the NHS compared to other medications they prescribe. Secondly, if it is available on the NHS why not allow it to be prescribed? And lastly, if you're wanting to taper off the medication using this method the doctor should respect your wishes and allow you to do it this way. In the long run the NHS will be saving money as they won't be having to prescribe you medication indefinitely. If you have trouble persuading them, it might be worth showing them the leaflets available from Mind as they are very detailed and contain information about withdrawal using liquid.

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strawberry17

Absolutely Electron, yes get the Mind leaflet and show them jr1985.

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jr1985

Could you link me this mind leaflet please? I tried looking on their website but couldn't find it.

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xDebbiejo

Jr

If you go on to the mind website then go to shop, on the left hand side you will see booklets, it has quite a few pages in it. They cost £1 each, I ordered some and have given them out to GPs etc.

 

My GP admitted she did not know about tapering so I gave her one of these booklets.

 

Debbie x

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xDebbiejo

Thanks Strawberry

 

Why didn't I think of adding the link, bit slow me, lol

 

Hope you're well strawberry

 

Debbie x

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strawberry17

Yes I'm keeping well thanks!

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electron

Hi guys,

 

Just wanted to post an update on my withdrawal progress and ask for some advice. I'm currently down to 0.8 ml. My taper has gone well so far but I'm experiencing more dizziness and nausea at the moment than I have before. Does anyone know if the taper generally gets harder as you near the end?

 

electron

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strawberry17

Hi Electron

I recently got to 0.85ml Prozac and have had to reinstate back to 1.05ml because I started getting horrible anxiety/insomnia, which seems to be clearing now I've gone back to the slightly higher dose. It has totally blindsided me because I was doing so well and I feel as it's now clearing that this was withdrawal. I'm taking a break and staying at this dose now for a few months at least but may do a micro taper for the last bit next year. That's just my experience and no way does this mean it will happen to you as you seem to have been able to taper much faster than me anyway.

I'm interested in the answer to your question about "whether it gets harder at the end" to see what others think.

Strawberry

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