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BecLara: Itchy, crawling skin after going off Zoloft


BecLara

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In January this year, 2013, I ceased my antidepressant medication. I tapered down from 50mg of Zoloft a day to nothing over a period of about a month. I had been taking the medication for 7 and a half years, with a period of time taking 100mg daily. Previously, in 2011, I had tried to cease the medication. At that time I had been taking 100mg of Zoloft daily. I tapered over a period of about a month to nothing. Initially I had dizziness, nausea, headaches and insomnia. This progressed within a month of stopping the medication to extreme mood swings, depression, out of control anxiety and weight loss. At that time, after speaking with my doctor, I reinstated the medication within 3 months of stopping. I reinstated at a lower dose, 50mg daily, which I continued taking until January this year.

 

In January this year when I stopped the medication, I initially had almost no withdrawal symptoms. Within a month of stopping the medication I was feeling confident that I was going to be just fine this time stopping the medication. With the hopes of falling pregnant soon, I was pleased to be off the medication.

 

However, in early April, about three and a half months after I stopped the medication, I became insanely itchy. It started as random, sharp, pin pricking sensations that would move around my body. One moment I would feel a sharp prick in one place, the next moment somewhere else, and the next moment somewhere else again. This has progressed to not only involve the sharp pin prick sensations, but also now includes general itching sensations and skin crawling feelings over most of my body most of the time. Sleeping is almost impossible. It is making me very down. Right now I feel helpless. My skin looks clear, no visible rash. I am taking antihistamines daily to combat the itching. I have tried every type of antihistamine and none have any effect.

 

I have had blood tests that have ruled out other medical conditions associated with itching like this. My doctor was unable or unwilling to say that the itching may be caused from antidepressant withdrawal. The doctor thought that the itching may be due to anxiety and has recommended that I reinstate to my 50mg a day of Zoloft and if I fall pregnant, to keep taking the medication throughout the pregnancy. At this point in time, I do not want to follow these directions as I am concerned about the impact on the baby.

 

Has anyone else experienced this itching, pin pricking sensation with antidepressant withdrawal? It seems strange that it took over 3 months for this to start after I stopped taking the antidepressants. How long should I expect this to last? Should I follow my doctor's recommendations and recommence the Zoloft even though I am trying for a baby, or try and ride out these sensations?

 

I am starting to feel desperate that I will have to live with this long term :(

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I know I've heard people talk about various kinds of skin sensations associated with psych drug withdrawal--pins and needles, prickling, electrical sensations, etc. Hopefully someone who has experienced something like this will share with you about it.

 

What I would like to say, though, is that from all the stories I've heard and read over the years, it seems to be very, very common for antidepressant withdrawal to follow a pattern like it has followed for you. Commonly there are immediate symptoms which settle down, but it's very common then for there to be a return of symptoms three to six months out.

 

Typically it seems people get onset of anxiety and depression somewhere around three to six months out. Usually doctors "diagnose" this as "relapse" but it's so typical of AD withdrawal that we think it's part of the withdrawal syndrome. It will go away over time if treated like any other withdrawal symptom. You can also avoid it by tapering slowly. (Your tapers were both extremely rapid; if you take an AD again in the future and stop it, please read about tapering at the 10% rate.)

 

I really doubt that what you're experiencing now is going to be permanent. It sounds very much like withdrawal. Since you've had a thorough medical checkup and they can't find any other cause for it, I think it would be wise to give it some time and see if it improves or resolves over the next six months or so. Calm and cautious waiting is probably the safest way to approach your condition.

 

I also think it might be wise not to take antihistamines for it if they aren't working. It's probably a sensory type thing due to the withdrawal.

 

And I highly commend you for resisting taking antidepressants or any other drug while pregnant. These drugs can't possibly be good for babies whose nervous systems are just developing for the first time ever!

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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I agree with Rhi that your tapers were very fast ones, indeed!

 

It sounds like your nervous system is causing the itchy feelings. I know for me, I'd get extreme "Scratch-Me-NOW!" feelings on the bottom of my feet (the nerves are the longest down there, and when the CNS is being changed through an AD or AD withdrawal, they react).

 

Since yours seem to occur all over, it must be extremely distressing. :(

 

Do you have the little muscle twitches too? These too are the nerves reacting.

 

I agree that you should be wary about taking anything that would/could be detrimental to a pregnancy. Do all of the research you can yourself (this site is VERY informative), as we can't count on our doctors to give us all of the "Informed Consent" info that their supposed to give us.

 

Inform yourself. Knowledge is Power.

 

Sending you good vibes.

 

Keep us updated.

 

-Salted

10 mg daily Fluoxetine/Prozac Jan. 2009-Nov. 2012

Went COLD TURKEY Nov. 2012-March 2013

.05-1 mg daily Lorazepam March 2013-April 2013

After approximately 21 days, stopped COLD TURKEY

Doctor put me on 20 mg daily Fluoxetine/Prozac as of 4/25/13

I decided to jump down to 10 mg daily Fluoxetine/Prozac as of 5/08/13

Will stay here for a few months, then taper to ZERO!!

 

 

I am not a medical practitioner, any advice I give comes from my own experience and research and is only my perspective

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I know I've heard people talk about various kinds of skin sensations associated with psych drug withdrawal--pins and needles, prickling, electrical sensations, etc. Hopefully someone who has experienced something like this will share with you about it.

 

Here I am! The queen of allergies, withdrawal itching, stinging/prickling, you name it. (Not an honor I'd like, believe me. Posted Image )

 

I have such bad allergies and sensitivities (not necessarily the same thing, I'm learning) that some things my doctors and I can't really sort out from the withdrawal itching/prickling I've had with my withdrawals. So some things I suggest might be helpful, some might not be relevant to you.

 

I've had huge rashes and hives and more in my withdrawals, so if you don't, it's probably not allergies and therefore antihistamines probably won't help. I agree with Rhi you'd probably be better off without them - I had been on a pretty large dose of Antivert (which is actually an antihistamine, but marketed for vertigo, which is a long-term chronic problem with me pre-dating withdrawal. I had to stop that (and also the nasal steroid for my respiratory allergies) when I went into paxil withdrawal years ago, because I found they exacerbated my many withdrawal symptoms and I felt better without them. (Except for the misery of allergies, of course. But I would have done anything to reduce the withdrawal, so the allergy meds had to go.)

 

Since antihistamines are structurally somewhat similar to SSRIs, you might want to do a slight (not prolonged!) taper off them, but I really don't know that that's necessary. I didn't do that - didn't know to, and felt better without the Antivert (meclizine).

 

If the crawling feeling feels like bugs are crawling all over you, I had that incredibly strong when I went off what I didn't know was a very high dose of benzodiazepines decades ago. Had it again, though less so, after my too-fast taper off paxil in 2006. I learned that it's called (don't laugh) formication, and the medical profession is familiar with it from cocaine/heroin etc. and also alcoholic withdrawal.

 

Don't worry - it goes away. But it's miserable while you have it.

 

I've also had persistent stinging prickling itching, but I've also had bad rashes and hives, so like I said, I can't sort out what was allergies and what was withdrawal. Certainly some of it, especially the symptoms you describe, are from withdrawal - I'd never had some of those before even though I was born with bad allergies.

 

You might want to try a cream called Florasone that's available in some health food stores (and online from Amazon and Swanson vitamins). Swanson is cheaper but you might want to get one tube from a health food store if you can, to see if it helps you before ordering enough to reduce or waive shipping charges from online sources.

 

I honestly can't remember if I've posted about it here or not. It's NOT a cortisone or steroid of any kind. The name is a play on words - it's actually an herbal cream that you apply to your skin as an alternative to cortisone creams. The active ingredient is an herb called cardiospermum and it's probably the one thing on this planet I haven't had side effects from lol. It's believed to be safe for use during pregnancy, though they always say if pregnant ask your doctor. I doubt that doctors have ever heard of that one; I think they're required to say that about everything. It's made by Boericke & Tafel, an old manufacturer of homeopathic remedies. The package calls it homeopathic, but it appears to be an herbal preparation since it doesn't look like a homeopathic dosage to me. Probably depends on one's definition of homeopathy.

 

It doesn't cure anything, but it's a very benign and effective remedy for itching. I buy many tubes of it at a time from Swanson - some for a child in my family who unfortunately seems to have inherited the allergies I did. It works wonders on his bad reactions to insect bites. I found it stopped itching almost immediately without antihistamines or cortisones, but I don't know if it works for everyone. And as with any "anti-itch" cream, you do have to keep re-applying it every few hours or so if the itching recurs. I often have to do that, but sometimes it seems to break the itching cycle.

 

I've also had to cut out some foods that I hadn't been allergic or sensitive before, but that would only apply to someone predisposed to such problems, I would think. These meds and especially withdrawal intensified my pre-existing problems with food and other allergies and sensitivities, which I've found has happened to many - though certainly not most - other people in withdrawal.

 

The "bugs crawling feeling" went away with me when the more acute stages of withdrawal started to subside. Persistent stinging itching (especially inside my shoulder blades and - heaven knows why - my nipples :(:angry: ) have gotten enormously better much more recently when I discovered I have salicylate sensitivity and reduced my levels of foods high in those.

 

It's extremely unlikely that applies to you. Just mentioning it because I'm starting to think more and more that withdrawal can kick up predispositions, and finding those by trial and error and taking steps to minimize them has brought me so much relief, I wish I'd realized it much earlier.

 

Again, that latter probably doesn't apply to you. Just putting it out there in case by chance it does, or might help someone who reads this in the future.

 

Oh, another thing that sometimes relieves itching when it's over much of your body, is soaking in a warm tub with a handful or so of baking soda in it. Again, not a cure, but can give some relief.

 

I hope you feel better soon.

 

However, in early April, about three and a half months after I stopped the medication, I became insanely itchy. It started as random, sharp, pin pricking sensations that would move around my body. One moment I would feel a sharp prick in one place, the next moment somewhere else, and the next moment somewhere else again. This has progressed to not only involve the sharp pin prick sensations, but also now includes general itching sensations and skin crawling feelings over most of my body most of the time. Sleeping is almost impossible. It is making me very down. Right now I feel helpless. My skin looks clear, no visible rash. I am taking antihistamines daily to combat the itching. I have tried every type of antihistamine and none have any effect.

 

I was "TryingToGetWell" (aka TTGW) on paxilprogress. I also was one of the original members here on Surviving Antidepressants

 

I had horrific and protracted withdrawal from paxil, but now am back to enjoying life with enthusiasm to the max, some residual physical symptoms continued but largely improve. The horror, severe derealization, anhedonia, akathisia, and so much more, are long over.

 

My signature is a temporary scribble from year 2013. I'll rewrite it when I can.

 

If you want to read it, click on http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/209-brandy-anyone/?p=110343

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Cure for Itchy Skin or any type of rash....

 

Take oatmeal (dry) pulverize it into a fine powder. You can put some in your hand and add some water so you get the consistency of mayo and apply it to the affected area and leave there for awhile. Shower it off.

 

You can use it as soap and shower with it.

 

You can use it as a soak for the bath.

 

Works wonderfully.

Intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1902-nikki-hi-my-rundown-with-ads/

 

Paxil 1997-2004

Crossed over to Lexapro Paxil not available

at Pharmacies GSK halted deliveries

Lexapro 40mgs

Lexapro taper (2years)

Imipramine

Imipramine and Celexa

Now Nefazadone/Imipramine 50mgs. each

45mgs. Serzone  50mgs. Imipramine

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Thank you to everyone for your supportive and helpful responses. There are a few ideas here that I will pursue. It is nice to feel that there are others out there who have had similar experiences and who understand. Thank you so much.

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  • 2 years later...

Oh my god! You describe my symptoms completely.  I was on Zoloft from 1997 to 2013 and started itching all over a couple months of being off it and still itching to this day.  It won't stop.  I am not allergic to anything and no rash accompanies this over all itching with prickling sensations.  The only relief is an ice pack which I go to bed with.  Doctors have done a battery of tests to no avail.  Are you still itching or did you actually find out what was wrong?

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I had a lot of these symptoms your describing.  Many of them have disappeared completely, others are very tolerable and sometimes I don't notice them.  I'd say I'm 50% recovered from all the weird sensations.  Before I exacerbated my neuropathy about a year ago, I was like 80% recovered from these weird feelings.

 

So recovery is definitely possible.  I would just advise you not to take any drugs or supplements to help with these sensations.  Aside from vitamins and minerals, I've found that many supplements and all drugs at the very least didn't do anything - and at the worse made things MUCH worse.  Well after you've recovered, these sensations may be lying in wait for you to ingest or take something that can activate it again - so a change in lifestyle from casual to cautious and healthy is almost certainly required (at least it was for me).

 

Hopefully with time this will go away and become less noticeable for you.  I don't have too many good pieces of advice in regards to how to deal with them.  There's nothing I found that helped.  Sleep is helpful, because you don't have to deal with it when you're sleeping.

 

Time and patience should help you out a lot.

 

Love and hugs.

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  • 9 months later...
  • Member

What I would not give to get a peek at the server logs for SA to see how many times this particular thread is read. It has to be coming up in a search and I'll bet people are shocked that it is on a site about coming off psych drugs. It used to be on the first page of google results, now it has dropped way down and only comes up on the second page if you tell google to search 'verbatim'. It's number one if I include the thread starter's name. Wonder how she is, by the way? Only 3 posts over 3 years ago then poof, nothing more. Hopefully recovered.

 

BecLara come back and tell us how life is for you now!

What happened and how I arrived here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4243-cymbaltawithdrawal5600-introduction/#entry50878

 

July 2016 I have decided to leave my story here at SA unfinished. I have left my contact information in my profile for anyone who wishes to talk to me. I have a posting history spanning nearly 4 years and 3000+ posts all over the site.

 

Thank you to all who participated in my recovery. I'll miss talking to you but know that I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines, suffering and rejoicing with you in spirit, as you go on in your journey.

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  • 2 years later...
On 5/30/2013 at 7:32 AM, BecLara said:

In January this year, 2013, I ceased my antidepressant medication. I tapered down from 50mg of Zoloft a day to nothing over a period of about a month. I had been taking the medication for 7 and a half years, with a period of time taking 100mg daily. Previously, in 2011, I had tried to cease the medication. At that time I had been taking 100mg of Zoloft daily. I tapered over a period of about a month to nothing. Initially I had dizziness, nausea, headaches and insomnia. This progressed within a month of stopping the medication to extreme mood swings, depression, out of control anxiety and weight loss. At that time, after speaking with my doctor, I reinstated the medication within 3 months of stopping. I reinstated at a lower dose, 50mg daily, which I continued taking until January this year.

 

In January this year when I stopped the medication, I initially had almost no withdrawal symptoms. Within a month of stopping the medication I was feeling confident that I was going to be just fine this time stopping the medication. With the hopes of falling pregnant soon, I was pleased to be off the medication.

 

However, in early April, about three and a half months after I stopped the medication, I became insanely itchy. It started as random, sharp, pin pricking sensations that would move around my body. One moment I would feel a sharp prick in one place, the next moment somewhere else, and the next moment somewhere else again. This has progressed to not only involve the sharp pin prick sensations, but also now includes general itching sensations and skin crawling feelings over most of my body most of the time. Sleeping is almost impossible. It is making me very down. Right now I feel helpless. My skin looks clear, no visible rash. I am taking antihistamines daily to combat the itching. I have tried every type of antihistamine and none have any effect.

 

I have had blood tests that have ruled out other medical conditions associated with itching like this. My doctor was unable or unwilling to say that the itching may be caused from antidepressant withdrawal. The doctor thought that the itching may be due to anxiety and has recommended that I reinstate to my 50mg a day of Zoloft and if I fall pregnant, to keep taking the medication throughout the pregnancy. At this point in time, I do not want to follow these directions as I am concerned about the impact on the baby.

 

Has anyone else experienced this itching, pin pricking sensation with antidepressant withdrawal? It seems strange that it took over 3 months for this to start after I stopped taking the antidepressants. How long should I expect this to last? Should I follow my doctor's recommendations and recommence the Zoloft even though I am trying for a baby, or try and ride out these sensations?

 

I am starting to feel desperate that I will have to live with this long term :(

I went off my sertraline (25mg) for four days and I was extremely itchy all over. It felt like I had hives or bites all over my body. There were no rashes or redness. I would also feel little prickly feelings like a mosquito bite or flea bite but again there were no bites and I completely welp up if I get a bug bite. It would just be random and out of the blue. My scalp, eyes ...weird places itched that told me there was no way it was contact dermatitis from a lotion or something like that. The only thing I could really compare it to is an allergic reaction when you eat a food and histamine is released all over. I got back on the sertraline (25mg) and it got better after a day or two. Showering helped a little bit but only temporarily. 

 

Aside from the itching I felt like shock waves were going through my body every now and then especially when I’d stand up or be doing a physical task. I felt fatigue and sometimes light headed and dizzy. Sometimes I just felt disoriented like you’d feel from heat exhaustion. I experienced some nausea but not too bad. 

 

Emotionally definitely was more weepy and depressed. 

 

I took detailed notes so hopefully this will help someone who reacts like I did. 

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  • Altostrata changed the title to BecLara: Itchy, crawling skin after going off Zoloft

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