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Leland: Hello! Panic Attacks and Prozac taper gone awry


Leland

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Hey, my name's Leland. 

 

Last May, 2020, I started having Panic Attacks due to life stress, COVID fears, and unhealthy lifestyle habits. After a week of bad anxiety, DP/DR, I was prescribed 10 MG Prozac. The first week was managable, so I increased to 20 MG. Did all kinds of research on the drug to assuage my fears, but my side effects were pretty minimal. Panic attacks continued once a week or so, but began to slowly weaken. After one bad day in late July 2020, my doctor and I increased my dose to 30 MG. After a few weeks of this I felt pretty calm again. For the next few months, my anxiety was hit or miss, but I stopped having panic attacks, and I learned to live with the anxiety that would creep up, so largely that went away as well. I felt pretty detached and foggy with the medicine, but very calm, so it was worth it. 

 

This spring, I had gone 7 or so months without a panic attack, so I decided to taper off. My doctor recommended dropping 10 MG every 2-4 weeks, so I chose 4 weeks. Went from 30 to 20, then to 10 on May 8. On June 1 I took my last 10 MG pill. Immediately I felt withdrawal symptoms. Brain zaps, fatigue, body and head aches, and a feeling like I was underwater. Did some research on my own and found this site! Decided after 5 week of symptoms to talk to my doctor about reinstating and tapering again, from 5 MG. Before I received the liquid medicine, I went on a vacation with family and drank, a lot. Came back to California having new and severe anxiety attacks (not panic attacks, since I gained the skills to stop them from becoming panic). New feelings of DP/DR came from the anxiety. Took my first reinstated dose of 3 MG on July 30. The next week was full of dizziness, anxiety, DP/DR, aches. Came to an understanding with my Psychiatrist that binge drinking while having Withdrawal Symptoms led to my anxiety outburst. Increased to 5 MG liquid on August 7. Since then, my anxiety has lessened some, but I still have daily feelings of feeling underwater, occasional anxiety outbursts, and fatigue. Have cut my drinking by 85%, now only 2 beers per week. Sleeping well, eating well and exercising, walking to lessen my anxiety. 

 

Ultimately, I'm staying on 5 MG liquid for several more weeks before doing the 10% taper. Withdrawal symptoms *seem* better, definitely no more brain zaps. But it's hard to tell with all my new anxiety symptoms. 

 

I want to calm my anxiety holistically, instead of increasing my prozac back up to 10 or 20 MGs. The medicine really worked for me, but I want to be able to remove it from my life eventually as well. Will continue to take care of myself everyday, and hope both the medicine and anxiety symptoms even themselves out over time. 

 

Excited to have found this site!

June 1 - June 8 2020: 10 MG of Prozac for Panic Attacks
June 9 - July 25 2020: 20 MG of Prozac
July 26 2020 - April 7 2021: 30 MG of Prozac
April 8 - May 8: 20 MG Prozac
May 9 - May 31: 10 MG Prozac
June 1 2021 - July 30 2021: 0 MG, withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps, fatigue, bodyache, headache, and fresh anxiety attacks near the end of July.
July 31 - August 7: 3 mg liquid Prozac.
August 8 - now: 5 mg liquid prozac. Brain zaps and aches gone, but new anxiety has created host of other symptoms.

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  • getofflex changed the title to Leland: Hello! Panic Attacks and Prozac taper gone awry
  • Moderator

Hello, and welcome to SA.  We are a peer owned and run forum of people who have been or are getting off of psychiatric drugs.  Unfortunately, few doctors know how to properly taper their patients off psych drugs.  Your doctor tapered you off way too fast.  We suggest a 10% per month taper.  

 

Can you please give us specific information about your drug history for all drugs you are on and have been on, especially for the past 18-24 months?  It would be especially helpful to have the details of your drugs in a concise list (no symptoms), only drug names, specific dates (as best you can say for example early March if you don't recall the day) and dosages of each medication decrease or increase.  Please read the link below for instructions.  This will allow us to give you the best guidance.  

 

How to List Drug History in Signature

 

Here is some information about how these drugs actually work.  This explains why it is important to taper off very slowly and cautiously.

 

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain

 

 

This helps you understand what withdrawal syndrome is: 

 

 Video on Recovery from Psych Drugs

 

What is Happening in Your Brain

 

What is Withdrawal Syndrome?

 

 

Also, as we are recovering, we suggest keeping things slow, simple, and stable. This is extremely important. 

 

Keep it Simple, Slow, and Stable

 

 

When we recover, there may be times of feeling OK mixed in with times of feeling bad.  This is called windows and waves.

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Here are some techniques to cope with symptoms, especially the anxiety: 

 

Acknowledge, Accept, Float

 

Change the Channel

 

Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)
 

 

Non Drug Ways to Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms

 

 

We don't suggest many supplements, but 2 that many of us find helpful are magnesium and omega-3 fish oil. Here are the links for info about those. It is suggested to add one at a time, and start with a low dose to see how it affects you. 


Magnesium

 

Omega 3 Fish Oil

 

22 hours ago, Leland said:

Ultimately, I'm staying on 5 MG liquid for several more weeks before doing the 10% taper. Withdrawal symptoms *seem* better, definitely no more brain zaps

 

My suggestion would be to stay on 5 mg for at least several months.  It takes a long time for your nervous system to stabilize after a too fast taper.  In the long run, you will actually recover fast this way than rushing the taper.  

 

22 hours ago, Leland said:

I want to calm my anxiety holistically, instead of increasing my prozac back up to 10 or 20 MGs

 

This is great.  There are many ways to cope with anxiety besides a chemical.  Anyway the drug mostly serves to just cover up the symptoms, and doesn't get a the root cause of the anxiety.  

 

I've given you quite a bit of information here.  I hope you find it helpful and useful - I think you will.  Hang in there, and be patient - healing from this takes time and patience.  Healing will happen, as long as you take proper care of yourself. 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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  • Moderator

I wanted to add that drinking any alcohol during psych med withdrawal has a likelihood of making your symptoms worse.  We suggest you avoid all alcohol.  

 

22 hours ago, Leland said:

Increased to 5 MG liquid on August 7. Since then, my anxiety has lessened some, but I still have daily feelings of feeling underwater, occasional anxiety outbursts, and fatigue

It takes a bare minimum of a week to feel the effects of a reinstatement, and can take a couple of months for the reinstatement to fully settle.  Hopefully, things will continue to improve.  It may not totally resolve all the WD, but it should reduce the symptom severity.  

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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Thanks for the reply getofflex. Hopefully my new signature shows up!

 

I'm going to continue on the 5 mg, unfortunately my pharmacy has to 2-week order liquid prozac everytime I request it, so my next batch won't come until I'm out of my current amount. So I either have to skip a few days, or increase to 10, and I'd rather not increase my dosage. I'm probably in for a few more days of withdrawal before I get my next batch of liquid, but I learned my lesson. Order earlier next time. 

June 1 - June 8 2020: 10 MG of Prozac for Panic Attacks
June 9 - July 25 2020: 20 MG of Prozac
July 26 2020 - April 7 2021: 30 MG of Prozac
April 8 - May 8: 20 MG Prozac
May 9 - May 31: 10 MG Prozac
June 1 2021 - July 30 2021: 0 MG, withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps, fatigue, bodyache, headache, and fresh anxiety attacks near the end of July.
July 31 - August 7: 3 mg liquid Prozac.
August 8 - now: 5 mg liquid prozac. Brain zaps and aches gone, but new anxiety has created host of other symptoms.

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  • Administrator
5 hours ago, Leland said:

So I either have to skip a few days, or increase to 10, and I'd rather not increase my dosage. I'm probably in for a few more days of withdrawal before I get my next batch of liquid, but I learned my lesson.

 

This is not a good plan, @Leland We do not recommend skipping doses or taking withdrawal symptoms lightly, they could get a lot worse and more permanent than you can imagine. Read this for other options Tips for tapering off fluoxetine (Prozac)

 

Do you think any other pharmacies in the San Francisco Bay Area might have liquid fluoxetine on hand?

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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Possibly, but I'm down to two days of medicine left and I'm very busy this weekend. I don't see what choice I have. 

June 1 - June 8 2020: 10 MG of Prozac for Panic Attacks
June 9 - July 25 2020: 20 MG of Prozac
July 26 2020 - April 7 2021: 30 MG of Prozac
April 8 - May 8: 20 MG Prozac
May 9 - May 31: 10 MG Prozac
June 1 2021 - July 30 2021: 0 MG, withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps, fatigue, bodyache, headache, and fresh anxiety attacks near the end of July.
July 31 - August 7: 3 mg liquid Prozac.
August 8 - now: 5 mg liquid prozac. Brain zaps and aches gone, but new anxiety has created host of other symptoms.

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What i do have is some remaining 10 mg pills. Do you have recommendations for dissolving those to carry me through the next week? 

June 1 - June 8 2020: 10 MG of Prozac for Panic Attacks
June 9 - July 25 2020: 20 MG of Prozac
July 26 2020 - April 7 2021: 30 MG of Prozac
April 8 - May 8: 20 MG Prozac
May 9 - May 31: 10 MG Prozac
June 1 2021 - July 30 2021: 0 MG, withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps, fatigue, bodyache, headache, and fresh anxiety attacks near the end of July.
July 31 - August 7: 3 mg liquid Prozac.
August 8 - now: 5 mg liquid prozac. Brain zaps and aches gone, but new anxiety has created host of other symptoms.

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  • Moderator

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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Thanks for that link. My psychiatrist was able to find me 20 mg/5 ml liquid right away, so I'm able to take that for the next few days until my 5 mg/5 ml comes in. Crisis averted this time. I'll check in in a few weeks with an update on symptoms. 

June 1 - June 8 2020: 10 MG of Prozac for Panic Attacks
June 9 - July 25 2020: 20 MG of Prozac
July 26 2020 - April 7 2021: 30 MG of Prozac
April 8 - May 8: 20 MG Prozac
May 9 - May 31: 10 MG Prozac
June 1 2021 - July 30 2021: 0 MG, withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps, fatigue, bodyache, headache, and fresh anxiety attacks near the end of July.
July 31 - August 7: 3 mg liquid Prozac.
August 8 - now: 5 mg liquid prozac. Brain zaps and aches gone, but new anxiety has created host of other symptoms.

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  • Moderator

That’s wonderful.  I’m glad to hear that. It sounds like a good plan. Be sure you take 1.25 ml of the liquid for your 5 mg dose.  

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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@Leland I ran in to that with my liquid prescription. My pharmacy couldn’t get it and I got comfortable with them always having it and hadn’t been stockpiling so I almost got in a pickle. 
 

Most pharmacies in US will fill a monthly script at 3 weeks. Some big chain pharmacies will start calling you at 2 weeks to fill it because they want you business. 

 

If you can call 2 weeks in advance and explain to your pharmacy that you need that medicine on your script date and can’t wait 2 weeks they should order for it to be there on time. That’s what I had to do with my pharmacy 👍

 

2000-2013 Paxil - 1 year fast taper

2013-2018 drug merry go round with dr. 
zoloft, cymbalta, lamictal, Prozac.

 Nov. 2018 lexapro 15 mgs,

Dec. 2019 to  Mar. 2020 lexapro 10mg. Jul 2020 to October 2020 8.5 ml.
Oct 2020 reinstated to 9 ml.
Apr 2021 to Jul 2021 7ml. Oct to Nov 2021 6.3ml. Dec 12 2021 6.2 ml, Dec 19 2021 6.1 ml, Dec 26 2021 6 ml, Jan 2 2022 5.9 ml, 

present Celebrex 200 - 400 mg daily as needed, Pepcid 20 mg, zinc L carnosine , Prilosec very rarely if desperate 

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Okay so an update on my symptoms. 

 

I am having waves of severe anxiety daily at this point. Symptoms are light-headedness, dizziness, depersonalization, stomach aches, headaches, and a feeling of tension. Some days the waves last for hours and are debilitating. At no point are they becoming Panic Attacks, because I don't react to any symptom with fear, but I am definitely frustrated. It's fair to say the anxiety began as a symptom of the withdrawal, but it's more difficult to treat this anxiety when I don't feel calm or rested in between anxiety attacks like I did when I was taking the medicine. My nervous system is damaged, and I didn't do it any favors by binge drinking back in July. Does anyone have any suggestions? Happy to provide more clarity on my symptoms. 

June 1 - June 8 2020: 10 MG of Prozac for Panic Attacks
June 9 - July 25 2020: 20 MG of Prozac
July 26 2020 - April 7 2021: 30 MG of Prozac
April 8 - May 8: 20 MG Prozac
May 9 - May 31: 10 MG Prozac
June 1 2021 - July 30 2021: 0 MG, withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps, fatigue, bodyache, headache, and fresh anxiety attacks near the end of July.
July 31 - August 7: 3 mg liquid Prozac.
August 8 - now: 5 mg liquid prozac. Brain zaps and aches gone, but new anxiety has created host of other symptoms.

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  • Moderator

I'm sorry to hear that you are having the waves of intense anxiety throughout the day.  Have you tried the magnesium and/or the omega 3 fish oil?  Check the links in my first post for info on how to introduce these.  Magnesium is calming for many of us.  I can certainly understand why you would be frustrated.  Our nervous systems are incredibly complex, and they are intricately tied to every other system in our body, so it takes a very long time to heal from this.  

 

Are you taking your 5 mg liquid prozac every day at the same time?  Are you completely avoiding alcohol and other mind altering substances?  These things are important. If you are doing these things, then all you can do is take care of yourself the best you can every day.  Have you looked at the link for non drug coping techniques?  

 

Are you having any other symptoms besides the anxiety? How is your sleep and your eating?  Are you able to function in your day to day life? 

 

It takes at least several weeks, and up to a couple of months for a reinstatement to completely settle in your system. It is highly frustrating, but often the only thing we can do is wait for our system to heal, which requires massive amounts of patience.  You might try, if you are physically able, to take a 30 minute walk each day.  I believe that this helps me a lot with anxiety.  Many people have good luck with medication.  I use prayer and my faith in God to give me peace.  Here is a link on meditation.  

 

Meditation for Stressed Out Nervous System

 

Hang in there, and keep us posted on how you are doing.  I know this is really hard, and its very frustrating that it takes so long to get better.  

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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Hey thanks for the reply, I appreciate the support. 

 

Yes I'm taking my medicine everyday at 4 pm, I am avoiding drinking and do not take other drugs. I walk and meditate everyday, as well as other therapeutic activities like reading, exercise, playing the piano, doing a puzzle, etc. Some days like today I feel calmer and more in control, and I am very grateful for these moments. I have no other symptoms other than generic withdrawal symptoms like brain fog and fatigue. I am sleeping and eating quite well lately, which has been helping. 

 

I will continue to be patient and forgiving to myself in the meantime, and I will try the magnesium/fish oil! 

June 1 - June 8 2020: 10 MG of Prozac for Panic Attacks
June 9 - July 25 2020: 20 MG of Prozac
July 26 2020 - April 7 2021: 30 MG of Prozac
April 8 - May 8: 20 MG Prozac
May 9 - May 31: 10 MG Prozac
June 1 2021 - July 30 2021: 0 MG, withdrawal symptoms of brain zaps, fatigue, bodyache, headache, and fresh anxiety attacks near the end of July.
July 31 - August 7: 3 mg liquid Prozac.
August 8 - now: 5 mg liquid prozac. Brain zaps and aches gone, but new anxiety has created host of other symptoms.

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  • Moderator

This is great Leland.  It sounds like you are doing everything right.  I'm glad you are having a window today!  Let us know how the magnesium and fish oil go.  

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 '02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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