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Leath: paroxetine withdrawal


Leath

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Hi everyone, this is my first post, and I'm so glad that I found this website since it has changed a whole lot for me - and I wish I had known more about SSRI withdrawal symptoms back in 2011 when I tapered off paroxetine and went through horrible withdrawal symptoms for almost 12 months. My neurologist and other doctors could not answer my questions, they simply shrugged their shoulders and told me that the 'discontinuation' symptoms would only last a few weeks. When I still had symptoms after several months, they said it is impossible that they are caused by discontinuation. There was no one who was able to explain anything to me or who was able to help. As I was completely exhausted by then and at my wits' end, I went back on paroxetine in 2012.

 

Here's a bit more of my antidepressant history:

When I was almost 20, I started taking venlafaxine for depression and several anxieties. As one of its side effects for me was crushing fatigue and sleepiness, I got off venlafaxine again about one year later with only minor withdrawal symptoms (as far as I can remember..). I felt okay and quite stable - but after another year I slipped into a crisis, became suicidal and ended up in a clinic where I startet taking paroxetine (20mg). On the whole, this drug took the edge off my depression and anxieties but on the other hand, it also took the edge off everything else, so that I told my neurologist after some years that I did not feel very much alive - I felt more as if I was in hibernation, waiting for something that's not going to happen.... staring at a blank wall for two hours would have been no problem for me. His answer was "take it or leave it"... So, after almost 10 years on paroxetine, I decided to leave it. That was in 2011. I tapered Paroxetine over three months (and quit) and then had 'discontinuation' symptoms that stayed with me for a whole year.

 

The most prominent withdrawal symptoms with me were:

  • Weight loss, 24 pounds in 3 months despite extra calories.
  • My immune system became a bit dysfunctional and was not able to deal with a virus. Thank goodness there are antiviral drugs.
  • Motoric problems - I tripped and fell very often, things constantly slipped out of my hands, I always had bruises on my arms and legs. Really, I felt a bit like the proverbial bull in a china shop.... more precisely: an agitated, clumsy, quite irritated bull, depressed, upset, dizzy, frightened and in panic, with brain zaps, palpitations and a confused thyroid, who tries very hard to keep up self control and pretends to be invisible (because of social anxiety). Well... you probably get the picture.
  • My pulse in rest was mostly around 90-100.
  • Several hormones got out of balance - a bloodwork showed mild hypothyroidism but maybe my body tried to down-regulate my agitation and rapid heartbeat. I took thyroxine for a few weeks but it only added to the agitation, so I dropped it again (another bloodwork half a year later showed normal levels). On top of everything, I started producing milk...
The worst symptoms though that plateaued on a very high level after the tapering and lasted more than 10 months were agitation, irritability and aggression. Although I'm usually a calm and shy person, I felt like crashing my head into the next wall around the clock - as if I had to get out of my skin. How often can one say 'I went through hell' before it sounds ridiculous? I told my neurologist that I had never felt this extreme way before, and he suggested that I simply could not remember how I had felt ten years before. It does sound reasonable but I was so 100% sure that this situation was different. The problem was that there were no ups and downs with the irritability but that I kept staying on a constant peak level for almost one year. Everything was a physical fight with myself, brushing my teeth, washing my hair, going from A to B... Keeping up my self-control was incredibly hard work but it saved me (more or less) from harm.

 

My neurologist prescribed mirtazapine but the first very low dose made me faint, so I stopped taking it right away. (Sometimes, my reactions to drugs are quite unpredictable, mostly with sedatives. Once, in a clinic, I got a sedative that made me lose consciousness for several hours. I don't know what it was, it's not listed in my report.)

After mirtazapine, my neurologist gave me Lorazepam, but my intuition was that I did not want to solve a problem by adding another problem with a benzo. Well, I did take it several times but only in situations when my panic led to depersonalisation/derealisation.

 

As I was running out of energy, slipping into a 'crisis', I applied for a treatment in a psychiatric clinic. They turned me down because I was too 'unstable', as they put it. Well, I felt very alone and let down... and I went back on paroxetine. A month later, I went to see another neurologist for a change, who simply doubled the dosage (40mg). Ever since, I've been trying to enjoy (again) the dubious bliss of being a paroxetine zombie, who might spend the rest of her life like this. I was really fed up with doctors. And then, three weeks ago, I came across this website, and suddenly, many things started to make sense. It is so wonderful beyond words that this forum exists. It is informative, eye-opening and probably even life-saving. Thank you!!! The fact that there are more people in a similar situation makes me feel a bit less alone.

Slowly, I'm getting a bigger picture of what actually happened to me, and tapering off paroxetine some day seems to be possible again (although the thought of it scares me quite a bit.. to be honest).

about 1999-2000: Venlafaxine
2002-2011: Paroxetine, 20mg
Jan 2011: tapered Paroxetine over 3 months and quit
Withdrawal symptoms for 12 months
2012: back on Paroxetine with a doubled dosage of 40mg

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I truly laughed out loud that you were considered too unstable for a psych clinic...and I am truly sorry for the rest. Welcome!

1st round Prozac 1989/90, clear depression symptoms. 2nd round Prozac started 1999 when admitted to dr. I was tired. Prozac pooped out, switch to Cymbalta 3/2006. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder due to mania 6/2006--then I was taken abruptly off Cymbalta and didn't know I had SSRI withdrawal. Lots of meds for my intractable "bipolar" symptoms.

Zyprexa started about 9/06, mostly 5mg. Tapered 4/12 through12/29/12

Wellbutrin. XL 300 mg started 1/07, tapered 1/18/13 through 7/8/13

Oxazepam mostly continuously since 6/06, 30mg since 12/12, tapered 1.17.14 through 8.26.15

11/06 Lithium 600mg twice daily, 2.2.14 400mg TID DIY liquid, 2.12.14 1150mg, 3.2.14 1100mg, 3.18.14 1075mg, 4/14 updose to 1100mg, 6.1.14 900 mg capsules 7.8.14 810mg, 8.17.14 725mg, 8.24.24 700mg...10.22.14 487.5mg, 3.9.15 475mg, 4.1.15 462.5mg 4.21.15 450mg 8.11.15 375mg, 11.28.15 362.5mg, back to 375mg four days later, 3.4.16 updose to 475 (too much going on to risk trouble)

9/4/13 Toprol-XL 25mg daily for sudden hypertension, tapered 11.12.13 through 5.3.14, last 10 days or so switched to atenolol

7.4.14 Started Walsh Protocol

56 years old

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  • Administrator

Welcome, Leath.

 

Have you seen the topic about tapering paroxetine? It's here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/405-tips-for-tapering-off-paxil-paroxetine/

 

It's good that reinstatement after a year worked for you. How long have you been on it this time around?

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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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to the forum, Leath. You'll find lots of good information and gentle, friendly support here. Finding SurvivingAntidepressants was a life-saver for me when I went off Lexapro far too fast as of December 14, 2011. Had I not found this site, I would no doubt now be one of those (unfortunately many) poor souls mistakenly diagnosed as bipolar and put on a polydrug cocktail.

 

Paxil is one of the strongest and possibly one of the worst antidepressants from which to withdraw, so it's no wonder you've had such a hard time. I'm sorry you had to go through all of that, but glad that you found us.

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome Leath! I'm very glad you've joined us. I agree with Jemima, you've come to a good place. The forum has been a life-saver for me as well.

 

I'm sorry about your struggles. Alto has given me better advice than any doctor I've known.

 

Tezza

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Thanks for the welcome, Meimeiquest. Yes, it was a very weird moment when I got the phone call that they would turn me down. I was not sure what to think then but I've been trying to develop a sense of humour with all this - and it helps to boost my self-confidence a bit. I hope I won't become too cynical one day....

about 1999-2000: Venlafaxine
2002-2011: Paroxetine, 20mg
Jan 2011: tapered Paroxetine over 3 months and quit
Withdrawal symptoms for 12 months
2012: back on Paroxetine with a doubled dosage of 40mg

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I think that when those ridiculous things happen, we are being guided to the next thing. I was "doing well" on my cocktail, oblivious to the harm to my family, until we had financial problems. So I asked my pdoc if I could go off the antipsychotic which was very expensive...sounded so simple, but all h--- broke loose. And that brought me here. I would still be Ms. Very Compliant if we hadn't had/have the money problems.

1st round Prozac 1989/90, clear depression symptoms. 2nd round Prozac started 1999 when admitted to dr. I was tired. Prozac pooped out, switch to Cymbalta 3/2006. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder due to mania 6/2006--then I was taken abruptly off Cymbalta and didn't know I had SSRI withdrawal. Lots of meds for my intractable "bipolar" symptoms.

Zyprexa started about 9/06, mostly 5mg. Tapered 4/12 through12/29/12

Wellbutrin. XL 300 mg started 1/07, tapered 1/18/13 through 7/8/13

Oxazepam mostly continuously since 6/06, 30mg since 12/12, tapered 1.17.14 through 8.26.15

11/06 Lithium 600mg twice daily, 2.2.14 400mg TID DIY liquid, 2.12.14 1150mg, 3.2.14 1100mg, 3.18.14 1075mg, 4/14 updose to 1100mg, 6.1.14 900 mg capsules 7.8.14 810mg, 8.17.14 725mg, 8.24.24 700mg...10.22.14 487.5mg, 3.9.15 475mg, 4.1.15 462.5mg 4.21.15 450mg 8.11.15 375mg, 11.28.15 362.5mg, back to 375mg four days later, 3.4.16 updose to 475 (too much going on to risk trouble)

9/4/13 Toprol-XL 25mg daily for sudden hypertension, tapered 11.12.13 through 5.3.14, last 10 days or so switched to atenolol

7.4.14 Started Walsh Protocol

56 years old

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Yes, I've seen the topic about paroxetine - thank you, Altostrata! I think I read it through last week and then tried to find out how I would manage to taper paroxetine in the future. Cutting up tablets in quarters will definitely be possible. Tablets that are covered by my insurance are available in dosages of 10, 20,30, and 40mg. If I find a cooperative doctor, I might even get liquid paroxetine, it's available here in bottles of 150ml (2mg/1ml).

 

After reinstating paroxetine in January 2012 with 20mg (40mg three weeks later), I've been on it ever since (on 40mg). It took about two weeks for the feeling of anger to fade a bit, which was really a great relief. The other symptoms stayed a bit longer (I'm not sure I can remember correctly as to what stayed how long.....) but I started to gain weight again three months later, very slowly in the beginning and a lot faster after 8 months...

Being on paroxetine again this time does feel quite the same as it did the first time. It's far from being a real help for depression, anxieties and panic but at least I don't have to bear those horrible withdrawal symptoms at the moment... phew...

about 1999-2000: Venlafaxine
2002-2011: Paroxetine, 20mg
Jan 2011: tapered Paroxetine over 3 months and quit
Withdrawal symptoms for 12 months
2012: back on Paroxetine with a doubled dosage of 40mg

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Jemima, thank you. I guess, I will need weeks to read through all the interesting discussions and articles in this forum, but I should also feel better prepared for tapering off more slowly next time. The first time round, I simply did not know that three months were not slow enough (my doc had even suggested a faster taper..). It's great that you got off your meds.. and I hope to get there one day too :)

As for the "mistakenly diagnosed", I've sometimes wondered how little it seems to take for doctors to adapt a diagnosis. For instance, my doctor told me once, that he would like to change my diagnosis because he had expected a more successful development with me (reduction of anxiety) after a given period of time. So, I asked him why he would change my diagnosis when only one single parameter changed..... He could not say why and came around to say that he found it very difficult to make a diagnosis because my symptoms would fit in any category. That made me feel a bit insecure..

about 1999-2000: Venlafaxine
2002-2011: Paroxetine, 20mg
Jan 2011: tapered Paroxetine over 3 months and quit
Withdrawal symptoms for 12 months
2012: back on Paroxetine with a doubled dosage of 40mg

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Thanks Tezza! Having come to a good place feels good.

about 1999-2000: Venlafaxine
2002-2011: Paroxetine, 20mg
Jan 2011: tapered Paroxetine over 3 months and quit
Withdrawal symptoms for 12 months
2012: back on Paroxetine with a doubled dosage of 40mg

Link to comment

I think that when those ridiculous things happen, we are being guided to the next thing.

 

That is something I've only just started to learn - how to accept that I let myself being guided to the next thing sometimes. I'm very good at avoiding and ignoring things, also at "freezing in", when I think I cannot cope with situations. Glad to be here.

about 1999-2000: Venlafaxine
2002-2011: Paroxetine, 20mg
Jan 2011: tapered Paroxetine over 3 months and quit
Withdrawal symptoms for 12 months
2012: back on Paroxetine with a doubled dosage of 40mg

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