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isobel77 Prozac withdrawal after only a week?


isobel77

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I'm a 37-year-old female and have been taking generic Prozac for almost 8 years now, currently at a dosage of 60 mg (I started at 20 mg and worked my way up to 60 over the 8 years). Prior to that, I had chronic recurring depression from the time I was a teenager. During my 20s I also tried Celexa and Wellbutrin, but from what I remember they didn't help me very much and I didn't stay on them long-term (maybe 6 months each). I didn't have any significant difficulty discontinuing either one. I was started on Prozac after a stay in the psychiatric ward and it helped me immensely, and the psychiatric nurse practitioner I worked with essentially told me that given my history of relapse it may be a good idea to stay on medication long-term. I've felt pretty stable for the 8 years I've been on the drug and never gave any real thought to discontinuing it since it seemed to work well for me.

 

Recently I complained to my current psych nurse that I was suffering from increased anxiety. Since the Prozac seemed to be "pooping out" as they say (I had tried adding a small dose of Abilify to counter this but discontinued it due to weight gain and feeling like it wasn't helping all that much), she suggested I switch to Zoloft. She told me that I didn't need to wean off the Prozac because of its long half-life, so I stopped taking it and started a relatively low dose of Zoloft (25 mg for three days, then up to 50). Within a week I was experiencing severe depression and uncontrollable crying. I couldn't function well at all and it felt like a relapse to the depression I'd experienced before being admitted to the hospital 8 years ago. I thought it was the Zoloft and cut that back to 25 mg, but this didn't make a difference. Finally after two weeks of suffering I have quit the Zoloft and gone back on the Prozac and noticed an immediate improvement -- I'm starting to feel more "normal" again after just one dose.

 

I'm confused as to whether I could have been going through Prozac withdrawal after such a short period, as from what I've read it generally takes longer than that for symptoms to set in. Could it be that it's because I stopped cold turkey? The whole experience has shaken me up quite a bit and made me question my reliance on a drug that could have such adverse effects from discontinuation. I'm starting to wonder if I've become complacent in taking it for so long (my husband's view) and whether I could be addicted to it now. It's served me well but after 8 years, I'm considering whether I should try slowly tapering off. My husband and I have also been talking about trying to get pregnant and this seems like further incentive to try getting off the drug now rather than later. 

 

I appreciate any advice or insight into my situation!

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Hi Isobel

 

I'm glad you found this place before getting into deeper water with other prescriptions.

 

Yes, my withdrawal hit after the 3rd day off, so yes, this is what it is, most likely.

 

This site advises tapering at at rate of 10% of your previous dose per month but really just listening to your body (I really should take my own advice)!

 

Someone will more knowledge and experience will be along soon.

2000 - sertraline for job anxiety low confidence (17 years old) ..which turned the next 16 years into nightmare!

 

On/off sertraline severe withdrawals every time. 2014 - felt better as reduced dose of sertraline no more inner restlessness. Doctor rushed off again. Hit severe withdrawal. Lost the little I had in life. Couldn't get stable again on 12.5mg. Was switched to prozac. Had severe reaction to prozac..came off in November 2015 at 6mg as felt more confused and damaged on it..Even more withdrawal ..rage, depression, dyphoria, near constant suicidal ideation, self harm impulses, doom, concrete block in head, unable to do much of anything with this feeling in head..went back on 6mg of sertraline to see if would alleviate anything. It didn't..reduced from December to June 2016 came off at 2.5mg sertraline as was hospitalised for the severe rage, suicidal impulses, and put on 50mg lofepramine which in 2nd week reduced all symptoms but gave insomnia which still have..psych stopped lofepramine cold turkey..no increased withdrawal symptoms new symptoms from lofepramine except persistant insomnia which has as side effect.

 

Taking Ativan for 8 months for the severe rage self harm impulses 1-3 times a week (mostly 2 times a week) at .5mg. Two months (I'm unsure exactly when the interdose started to happen) ago interdose withdrawal seemed to happen..2 days I think after the Ativan.

 

 

Nightmare that could have been avoided!

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Thanks LoveandLight. I appreciate your reply.

 

One other question for whoever is knowledgeable enough to answer. I've been off the Prozac for three weeks now. I wonder if starting back up at 40 mg instead of 60 could be a first step in tapering, or if it's better to go back at my regular dose of 60. I would probably hold at that dose for a few months, at which point I will be seeing a new psychiatrist who I would talk to about doing a gradual taper even further. I've taken one dose of 60 mg so far but have been reading information here about reinstating at lower doses, which is what gave me the idea to try 40 instead. Or is that too big of a change? I have 40 mg and 20 mg capsules and don't really want to mess with trying to divide the capsules for a dosage between 40 and 60.

 

I've only cried once today, which is an improvement, and have been managing to hold back the tears for most of the day. I'm feeling better but also a bit weird knowing that the improvement is due to going back on the drugs.

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  • Administrator

Welcome, isobel77.

 

Your experience of withdrawal syndrome even though you had switched to Zoloft is not unusual. It is possible to get withdrawal symptoms from one drug even though you're on another.

 

If you can take 40mg Prozac, that's less for you to taper later. 60mg is an extraordinarily high dosage.

 

After stabilizing for a few months, you may wish to start tapering. See

 

What is withdrawal syndrome?

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

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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my prozac withdrawal kicks in on third day, so yes, it seems that you got hit with withdrawal. 

in 2002- 0,5 tablet cipramil for half a year, ended it uneventfully. in 2006 - citalopram for half a year, ended in horrific state, ditched the drugs CT. 2007-2008 not feeling well but drug free. in 2008 prozac 20mg + quetiapine 25mg. 2009 tried to stop, ended up in hole after couple of months, started zoloft. 2009-2011 zoloft 50mg. went to 25mg in 2011 summer, it resulted in half a year horrible suffering. reinstated, changed drugs, nothing happened. by 2012 beginning suddenly felt great and CT meds. after 4 months came suddenly most horrible human suffering that's possible. was started on prozac and questiapine. started tapering slowly, GFCF diet and Hardy Nutritionals vitamins in 2013 summer. 

current medications: 1) fluoxetine and quetiapine since Aug 2012; 2) Daily Essential Nutrients by Hardy Nutritionals 7 capsules / since May 2013 + omega3; 3) Gluten-free-casein-free diet since june 2013

 

Started withdrawing slowly since april 2013. Mostly around 10% cuts. 

April'13 - March'14: fluoxetine 40mg -> 19,5mg; quetiapine 50mg -> 40mg
April'14-March'15: fluoxetine 19,5mg -> 14,4mg; quetiapine 40mg -> 22mg

April'15-March'16: fluoxetine 14,4mg -> 7,4mg; quetiapine 22mg -> 15mg

April'16-March'17: fluoxetine 7,4mg -> 5,0mg; quetiapine 15mg -> 7,25mg

April'17-March'18: fluoxetine 5,0mg -> 4,0mg; quetiapine 7,25mg -> 0 (as of 1st Feb 2018)!!!!

April´18-March´19: fluoxetine 4,0mg - > 2,3mg. Jumped off fluoxetine 1,4mg due to pregnancy in July 2019. Oct 2019 severe withdrawal syndrome started.

Took mistakenly a complex for hormonal support that included pregnenolone dec2019-april2020. Stopped it april 2020 and immediately severe akathisia started. Have had life threatening akathisia since, 100% disabled, suicidal, very hard to hold on. 

 

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Thanks for your responses. I've been taking 40 mg Prozac for a few days now, down from my original 60. I still don't feel great but I'm able to function at least and don't feel like a basket case anymore.

 

This experience has really turned me upside down. Although the withdrawal was brief it was traumatic. I'm torn between feeling like maybe the medication is the best thing for me, since it kept me stable for so long when before I had struggled for years with chronic depression, and on the other hand feeling now like I have some sort of addiction that I wasn't even aware of before. I've decided to at least try working my way down to a lower dose to see how well I'm able to do on that. I will probably eventually try weaning off completely but I am very apprehensive about how that will go -- whether the withdrawal will be too hard and even if it's not, whether I will revert back to constant, low-grade depression as a way of life.

 

It is funny how my psych nurse just assumed that my symptoms were the result of my underlying condition returning. To me it seems obvious that it was some kind of withdrawal, because it hit me so hard and fast; it just felt so removed from anything other than the fact that I'd stopped taking the drug. I worry about finding anyone to work with who will actually take the idea of withdrawal seriously.

 

Thanks for this forum, it has really opened my eyes to a problem that I had never been truly aware of before.

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  • Administrator

No, you are physiologically dependent on Prozac, and reductions give you withdrawal symptoms.

 

After all these years, it's impossible to tell if it has any "therapeutic" effect on you. These drugs were originally intended to be taken for much shorter periods.

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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Well, I've decided to throw in the towel on my experiment to reinstate at a lower dose. Things are not getting better and I feel like a total wreck with severe depression and constant crying. I know it might get better if I wait long enough but I'm practically unable to function right now. It's just awful, some of the worst depression I've ever had. It's really scary.

 

Once I've been stable for a while (fingers crossed) I'll get serious about doing a very gradual tapering program. I'm glad I found this site and will return here for guidance once I get to that point. I have really mixed feelings about going back on my full dosage of meds but it's clear that my body is going to need a much gentler approach if I am to try life med-free. I'm optimistic and apprehensive at the same time but I feel like I should at least give it a try. If this terrible experience of quitting Prozac cold turkey has done one thing, it's made me really question my unthinking reliance on it for all these years. I wish I had tried going off of it before this point. Oh well, better late than never.

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  • Administrator

Good luck. Please do come back and let us know how you're doing.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

It's me again. I've been back on my original dose of Prozac for about a week and a half, after only having been off of it for a couple of weeks. I feel like the withdrawal is continuing. Is this possible even after going back on the meds? My symptoms have progressed from severe depression and crying spells to severe morning anxiety. I wake up every morning feeling like I'm having a prolonged panic attack. Some days I can get it under control with hot showers and deep breathing but today, for instance, I'm continuing to have hyperventilation, weakness, trembling, and feeling like I'm in a daze, even hours after waking up.

 

I've been missing work off and on and some days things are just so hard that I have thought about checking myself into the psych ward. I am hanging on by a thread right now and my husband doesn't know how to help me anymore; I know he is losing patience. Everything just seems so awful and I don't know how I can deal with it for much longer. I feel like my life is falling apart.  

 

I know there's probably nothing anyone can say or do to help me, but thanks for letting me vent.

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  • Administrator

Did taking more Paxil help at all?

 

What time of day do you take Paxil? Do you take any other drugs?

 

If your reinstatement of the full dose is helping, it can take some time before your nervous system settles down.

 

If your symptoms got worse after increasing your dosage, it's possible it's too high a dose for you.

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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Yes, going back on the Prozac has helped. The main problem now is the intense morning anxiety, which I had never experienced before. Otherwise I am starting to feel more normal. When I wrote that last post I was freaking out due to the anxiety, but by the end of the day I was feeling ok. It's like being on a rollercoaster.

 

I take the Prozac in the morning, which is what i've always done. I don't take any other drugs, just vitamins and supplements (started on fish oil and magnesium from the advice on this site).

 

I suspect you are correct that my nervous system just hasn't settled down yet. I think the anxiety is just really throwing me off, and the fact that it kicked in after I went back on the meds is unsettling.

 

I really appreciate your thoughts and advice. Thanks.

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  • Administrator

Sorry, I meant Prozac.
 
What day did the anxiety start? Does it happen before or after you take the Prozac?
 
See The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

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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