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FrenchVanilla: My cold turkey mistake :( (sorry for the novel)


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Hey everyone, this is my story. About 13 or so years ago when I was 13-14 (I'm now 27) I had my very first panic attack which terrified me so bad that literally the next day I was at the doctors begging for meds, I did this because I didn't know any better and I wanted the anxiety GONE... I had health anxiety and every little pain, ache, sensation or feeling whatever it was, had me convinced I had a terminal illness and that I was dying which lead me to the panic attack after weeks of worrying about it, I should also mention I'm not sure where the worry came from because prior to that I was fine..


So I started on 50mg of Pristiq and back then I thought it would work like a benzo and relieve symptoms straight away but honestly it made my anxiety worse, I felt weird on it, for some reason death was on my mind more than ever like I would be down about the thought of me dying one day, my family dying,all these weird thoughts that I never had before and not what a typical13 -14 year old would have..


I stayed on it and for about 2 weeks I was absolutely bed ridden with intense anxiety, I could barely leave my room to pee, finally the tablet kicked in because I woke up 1 day nearly a few weeks in and my anxiety was almost completely gone, not to mention I felt a lot happier than before to, my life was back on track and I even got myself a part time job for after school at a fast food place, life was pretty great I mean I did notice I felt like I was in a dream kind of world but I didn't look to much into it, the anxiety was still there but not as intense, I found myself always getting reassurance which kind of worked but at the time I didn't realise that's such a bad thing to do and makes it worse,


fast forward a few years later I was still on Pristiq 50mg, working and attending school, life felt like it use to, as I got older a pattern developed, out of know where an intrusive thought would come in my head which by the way happened a lot but normally I could disregard, however every so often the thought would be to complex and it would consume me, literally to the point where I would be bed ridden exactly like I was when it first started, this led to me having a dosage increased to 100 mg and being introduced to Zyprexa to help manage anxiety and sleep, at first I only stayed on the Zyprexa a couple weeks and never had it again as it made me to drowsy,


fast forward to recently where I stopped Pristiq 100mg cold turkey purely because I couldn't afford it one week and my attitude was "I feel normal anyways I'm cured from anxiety" that lasted 6months lol, I should mention that withdrawal for the first few days was hard but I got through it but keep in mind, I was regularly attending the gym so that helped a lot and back then I never knew about withdrawal symptoms I thought it was like a week and then it's out your system, and honestly for a while in that 6 month period I actually did feel better off them because I appreciated life a lot more as I didn't feel as emotionally numb, a nice sunny day made me feel joy like never before it was so alien how magnified my feelings became,


anyways after 6 months of course the health anxiety was back as well as weird physical symptoms I never had before, tingling and tightness in my head like a rubber band being squeezed, bowel and tummy issues, intense intrusive thoughts ect... Anyways I ended up back on pristiq but it wasn't like being on them before it felt different, I hated it and got hit with intense suicidal thoughts which lead me back on Zyprexa as well as pristiq, that lasted about a year until I cold turkeyed both :( the Zyprexa was first to go which was so hard to do omg man 😕 a few months later I cold turkeyed pristiq, if anyone out there is considering for the love of god don't cold turkey!!!!


it's been a year to this day since I had a pristiq and a few months longer since Zyprexa, in the last year I've felt: depersonalisation/derealisation, intense head pressures and pains, vision problems, bowel problems to the point I had a colonoscopy to make sure I didn't have bowel cancer, I had a CTscan on my head to make sure it's not a tumour putting me through this hell, extreme anger and depression, extreme sleep problems, sex drives gone downhill a bit, I'm paranoid like it honestly feels like I'm in fight or flight 24/7.. The worse anxiety I've ever felt, the hardest symptoms I've had to deal with and this is what has lead me to join this group, I don't know if I'm hallucinating, but it feels like I can see my own thoughts in my head clearer than the real world in front of me.. I know it sounds strange, I feel trapped in my own mind I can easily ruminate over my intrusive thoughts and visualise them more than I can pay attention to the real world and I hate it :( will this nightmare ever end?Have I done PERMANENT damage?


Sometimes the head pain hurts a lot I feel like I'm seconds from dying from the pain, like it's getting worse I constantly ask myself if I should go back on the meds and taper off but it's been so long plus I hate the meds I want nothing to do with them, any advice would be great I'm sorry for the novel

Edited by Altostrata
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  • Moderator

Welcome to SA, FrenchVanilla. I'm sorry you're feeling so bad.


As I think you realize, you are suffering from protracted withdrawal from your cold turkey of pristiq and zyprexa.  After a year, it would be somewhat risky to reinstate pristiq (it could make things worse), though it is a possibility.  If you decide you want to reinstate, please let us know so that we can suggest a dosage.  You should not go back to your previous dose, which could overwhelm your system.


About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms. -- at least the first page of the topic


The symptoms you list are typical withdrawal symptoms.  The damage you've done is not permanent, but it will take some time time for you to heal.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict the amount of time.


So that you have a better understanding of what you're experiencing, here is some information on withdrawal and healing.


What is withdrawal syndrome.


Glenmullen’s withdrawal symptom list.


When we take medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery


Here are some techniques to help you cope with anxiety.

Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)


Audio:  How to Recover from Anxiety - Dr Claire Weekes

VIDEO:  Peace from Nervous Suffering - Claire Weekes (1 hour) (http://sendvid.com/vgquc1dg)

Anxiety Stuff - all kinds of stuff about anxiety attacks and things that help …


10 minute Restorative Yoga for Relaxation | Up the wall


We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 


Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 


Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 


Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.


If you're in need of a ray of hope, as we all are at times, take a look at the Success Stories about 3/4 down on our main page.


This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.









Gridley Introduction


Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.


Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium  

End 2021  year 1 of taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of taper at 2.75mg 

Current dose as of Feb. 25, 2023 2mg

Taper is 89% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Taper is 87% complete.  


Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg

I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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Thank you I will be sure to check these out, as for if I'm planning on getting back on Pristiq, at the moment the answer is no, my doctor and family want me to but knowing what I do now about what it does to your body has put me off them..

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  • Altostrata changed the title to FrenchVanilla My cold turkey mistake :( (sorry for the novel)
  • Administrator

Welcome, FrenchVanilla.


Venlafaxine is Pristiq's sibling, a few beads from an Effexor XR capsule might help you to feel better.


However, you went off Zyprexa with a lot of problems prior to cold-turkey of 100mg Pristiq. I hate to suggest any antipsychotics, but you might reinstate 0.25mg Zyprexa instead. Incredibly, these low doses are often effective. If you're having problems sleeping, it could help you.


Whichever reinstatement you choose, you'll taper off by tiny amounts after stabilizing for some months.


Never cold turkey or skip doses of a psychiatric drug, please.


Also, would appreciate your using end punctuation.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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To be honest with you, I don’t want to take anything if I can help it, but I feel as if I’m I’m losing a battle almost like there is no choice but to take the meds.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/15/2020 at 10:31 AM, FrenchVanilla said:

To be honest with you, I don’t want to take anything if I can help it, but I feel as if I’m I’m losing a battle almost like there is no choice but to take the meds.

Hi French,


I took Sertraline for only five days and am in a similar boat to you. The dp/dr for me is horrible. Whilst getting better, I still get bad boats where I even feel ‘out of my own head’, everything looks too real, too bright (either photophobia or dry eyes).


I’ve just got from Uni and thought it wise to have gotten only 30 minutes of sleep last night; bad idea, I feel like where I was at the start of this.


I’m prepared to drop out of University (second year) if it means that I have the time/peace of mind to recover and take myself out of the norm for a while, so I think I speak for a lot of people, it’s best just to wait it out even if it means putting some happenings on hold for a while. It’s just a matter of time for us all, yours will be soon;)). Reinstatement can be risky, I had an adverse reaction from one tablet that I initially tried and assumed that my anxiety had worsened (didn’t link the two) so took it for five days again around two weeks after that one pill; probably the worst mistake of my life.


I hope you’re doing well, hang in there,



Early September 2019 - One 25mg dose of Sertraline taken.

Early October 2019 - Five 25mg doses (pills) of Sertraline taken for five consecutive days.

Withdrawal/reaction happened on the 27th of October (2019) in the evening.

Symptoms that have gone: Joint and muscle pain/weakness in my legs, phantom senses, chemical dread, chemical fear, DP/DR has gotten a lot lot better than what it is now, it was one of my worst and all-encompassing symptoms when it started, awful aphasia, parkinsonism, head pressure, pressure in my frontal lobe when trying to think/work out something, inability to plan or execute anything//feelings of being literally scatterbrained, inability to think in my head other than slight acknowledgements - the voice in my head sounded weak and 'small' like it was restrained to a much smaller area of my brain, constant fatigue, emotional numbness, constant eyestrain, and changes in perception of colour/contrast in sight.

Main remaining symptoms: Visual Snow/HPPD, derealisation, tinnitus, and brain/cog fog.

Drug free.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to FrenchVanilla: My cold turkey mistake :( (sorry for the novel)

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