hellish as the experience of withdrawal can be, it is important
to realize that there is an end to it.
this reason, I have included , here, some of the letters
received from visitors who have gone through the ordeal.
My hope is that they will serve as an inspiration.
knew the withdrawal symptoms would
be a rough ride for a bit, but I was prepared
to do "whatever it takes" to be paxil-free.
So, last May, my "new" doctor started
tapering me from 30 mg. to 20 mg. which I did
for four weeks. I experienced some dizziness and
"disconnection" with my body -- an unbalanced
feeling. In June, I went from 20 mg. to 15, and
then 15 to 10 mg. July 1st, I stopped all paxil.
All of a sudden, I felt completely lethargic --
it was as if the life had been sucked out of me.
I experienced "electric shock pulses"
in my brain for a couple of weeks. And I was completely
disconnected from my body and had much trouble
with walking and balance. My doctor advised me
that while getting off paxil, I must eat 3 balanced
meals a day -- get out for a walk in the fresh
air every day. I did not do this, and I think
my withdrawal symptoms were worse because I was
not looking after myself nutritionally or physically.
Anyway, finally in mid-August, I began a 6 kilometre
walk every second day -- I started to eat 3 healthy
meals a day, and I started feeling stronger with
each week that passed. I have continued this regimen,
along with taking amino acids, multi-vitamins
and anti-oxidants and I am feeling FANTASTIC!
I feel "real" again, and I have feelings/emotions
that I can "feel". While on Paxil, I
"floated" over everything -- now, my
mind is clear and focused, my short-term memory
has improved 100%. So, rest assured, the withdrawal
symptoms do pass and it is a huge sense of relieve
to be paxil-free.
P.S. The doctor who helped me get off paxil does
not like the drug, because of the severe withdrawal
effects. He said there are other anti-depressants
that are easier to get off. BUT GETTING OFF PAXIL
IS WORTH IT AND THE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS ARE TEMPORARY.
YOU CAN DO IT
am writing this to all of you who are either A)
contemplating the discontinuance of Paxil B) going
through bad withdrawal symptoms or C) reading
about Paxil and realizing that it is not a very
good drug to be on. Before I embark on sharing
my story with all of you, I first want to acknowledge
that it IS possible to QUIT Paxil. Some of you
may be skeptical of this comment, believe me,
I certainly was at one point in my life after
I had tried and failed numerous times to get myself
off of the drug. Honestly, if it had not been
for all of the success stories posted
throughout this wonderful web site, I probably
would have not had the courage to discontinue
Paxil. Therefore, I am indebted to each and every
individual who has shared his or her story on
this web site. Through reading the stories, I
gained knowledge, strength, and courage to brave
one of the most difficult battles I have ever
faced in my life. With that being said, I shall
begin my tale of Paxil withdrawal.
I had been on Paxil for the
past seven years to treat my social anxiety
disorder. I had tried numerous times throughout
the past two years to quit cold turkey from
my 20/mg a day dosage but did not have success.
With the encouragement of a very good friend
of mine I started to taper my dosage. I decided
to cut my daily intake from 20 mg to 10 mg.
A few days after I made the 10 mg decrease,
I began to experience a wide array of symptoms;
most noticeably, the electric shock
sensations that so many other users have reported.
In addition, I developed flu-like symptoms for
about a week after I quit.
I stayed on 10 mg for another
two weeks and then decided to cut my dosage
to 5 mg a day. This decision was made because
my body had habituated to the decrease and the
withdrawal symptoms had subsided completely.
When I made the decrease from 10 mg to 5 mg
the side effects were not as noticeable. I did
not develop any flu-like symptoms
and there was the absence of the electric
shock phenomena. Once again, I stayed
on this 5 mg a day regimen for about three weeks.
I was very excited about the
progress that I had made, but I was also very
hesitant and worried about discontinuing Paxil
altogether. I had read all of the horror stories
on the net about the hells associated with serotonin
withdrawal syndrome and how getting off of Paxil
is far more difficult than quitting any of the
other SSRIs (read Prozac, Zoloft, etc.)
because of the drugs half-life. I had also heard
that quitting Paxil altogether was synonymous
to an alcoholic ceasing to drink (cold-turkey).
With that knowledge in hand,
I decided to stop taking Paxil altogether. Within
three days, my body was craving the drug. On
day three I started the horrible withdrawal
as described by many on this web-site. I began
experiencing nightmares that seemed incredibly
real, I suffered a terrible headache throughout
the course of the day that would not let up
no matter how much aspirin I took, the muscles
in my back severely ached, I was extremely irritable,
my sense of equilibrium and balance was impaired,
I had intense insomnia as it was difficult to
get to sleep at night and I felt an exhaustion
which I would compare to infectious mononucleosis.
In addition, a few times in a day for no apparent
reason I would begin to panic for 30 seconds
or so and then I would be fine. All of the aforementioned
symptoms grew in intensity from day 3 of my
discontinuance and peaked at approximately day
I have now been Paxil free for
28 days. The majority of my withdrawal symptoms
are behind me as the only ones that my body
is now exhibiting are mild muscle aches (only
in the morning), headaches, a slight feeling
of fatigue and off and on nightmares. Conversely,
I can honestly say that I now feel the best
that I have in seven years.
It is strange, as I feel as
if I now have more energy than I have ever had
before. In addition, my mind is more alert and
sharp than it ever has been and I feel as if
everything is incredibly clear. It feels as
if a heavy fog has been lifted from my life
and the sun is finally shining through. When
I listen to music, it sounds clearer and seems
to flow better, and, it sounds better than it
ever has before. I feel as if I am actually
living now and I feel as if I can experience
emotions again. I can feel and experience extreme
elation or happiness. I actually feel more emotionally
stable than I ever have and my sense of self-confidence
has greatly increased!
In addition, I have noticed
that my appetite has increased (luckily I am
not gaining any weight, in fact I think I might
be losing some weight), my vision seems to be
clearer, I seem to be able to recall things
more quickly and with more ease, and my encounters
with other people now seem to be actual interactions
instead of chores. Basically, I am happy, full
of energy and vitality, and I feel full of life.
A good quote to describe how I am feeling is
my cup runneth over.
I now feel emotionally strong
and I feel as if I am ready to take-on and handle
the world. I experience a sense of peace and
fulfillment that I havent felt in a very
long time. I seem much more interested in the
things that I used to love and I feel as if
I am now actually living.
In conclusion, it should be
known that I do not despise the makers of Paxil.
Paxil helped to give me some of the tools that
I needed to get over my social anxiety disorder.
In the same breadth, I find it very unfair that
SKB manufactured the drug without disclosing
to the public that people do experience withdrawal
symptoms upon discontinuance. Would I recommend
this drug to any of my family or friends suffering
from depression or anxiety disorders? Certainly
Lastly, an excellent tool that
helped me when I was experiencing withdrawal
symptoms was to just tell myself that each day
that I was off of Paxil was another day closer
to being Paxil-Free. I also convinced
myself that I did not need drugs to help me
cope with day-to-day life. Getting off of Paxil
has been one of the most difficult things that
I have ever experienced in my 23 year old life
thus far, but, the feeling of being able to
conquer such a feat only gives me that much
more confidence. Thus, if you are reading this
and experiencing withdrawal symptoms, dont
give up, hang in there, it is tough, but trust
me, in the end, you will thank yourself that
you are Paxil-Free.
To anyone who made read this.
I am now on day 20 without paxil. I decided
to quit after being on this medication for 6
years. In 1996 I had a terrible epidsode of
panic attacks which quickly spiraled into panic
disorder. I was placed on Paxil 20mg and it
helped me immensely. But what was meant only
to be a short term crutch to help me get through
a crisis became problematic in ways I could
never have imagined. Many of you know the drill.
I was afraid to go off the drug simply because
it had helped me so well. And I thought why
not stay with it? But after a few relapses of
panic attacks over several years I realized
that this so-called miracle drug wasn't really
helping me overcome my illness, it was masking
it and not successfully really, but it was treating
symptoms and not a cause. Depression, anxiety,
panic, etc. are all very complicated illnesses
and are probably caused by a combination of
things in our lives. So it seems unlikely that
altering one thing --which is very probably
a symptom itself and not a cause-could really
work long term. At least, that's how I see it.
I was lucky to have been introduced
to a very very competent cognitive-behavioral
therapist a few years ago, and in the past year
I also have discovered that yoga (at least a
form of Hatha called Iyengar yoga) helped me
learn to trust my body again. With hard work,
progress and relapse, including a couple of
failed attempts to quit paxil, I was ready to
quit again. Not because I was afraid of the
medication but because I didn't need it any
more. But of course there was another hurdle
because of the withdrawal symptoms, and believe
me, I have had most of the symptoms if not all
of them. I had awful nausea every day all day
long, headaches, lucid nightmares, pain, fatigue,
depersonalization, panic attacks, depression.
I also had the "less frequently reported"
symptoms of heart palpitations, "trails"
(or what they also call "delayed vision"),
numbness/tingling in my face and extremities,
LA LA LA. Oh and that "scratching"
noise too. That has been extremely annoying
as it sounds much like someone rubbing a balloon
inside my head. Or a duck quacking or something.
ANYHOW, it has been awful but it has subsided
and every day is better.
Please tell yourself to be brave and that you
are okay and you can get through it. And if
you can, listen to Frank's audio message as
I found it very comforting! Good luck to you
all and don't judge yourselves. Your symptoms
are real and it is understandable that you are
angry and afraid but you can do it.
everyone out there who is wondering whether they
can get out of the paxil withdrawl hell....I am
here to say it is possible! I did it cold turkey.
I don't suggest doing it that way but my health
insurance ran out and I had no choice.
In the end it was the best
thing that every happened. I was scared at first
but I just told myself I had no choice. Once I
realized I could do that....I had the strength
to beat my panic attacks...on my own...drug free!
That was a good feeling.
That was two years ago.
I am better than ever. The electric shocks and
the dizziness will go away....I was scared that
they wouldn't but they do. Good Luck.
was on Paxil for 7 months when I attempted to
stop taking the drug. While taking it I experienced
tremors, restless sleep, decreased sexual sensitivity,
headaches and night sweats. When I tried to quit
I experienced severe dizziness which kept me from
doing many activities of everyday life. I lost
all hope and was brought to tears with the thought
that I would never get off this drug without spending
months being dizzy and unable to sleep. Then my
boyfriend stepped in and tried to find some advice
online where I discovered a lot of people with
my exact same symptoms. What I finally did
to help me quit Paxil without overwhelming dizziness
was to very slowly decrease my dosage while increasing
days in between of not taking it. I started taking
half a pill each day (10 mg), then half every
other day, then every 2 days, then a quarter (5
mg) every other day, then every 2 days, 3 days,
4 days, and so on. I would go as long as I could
until I started feeling dizzy, then take as little
as possible to feel normal again. Eventually I
was able to go 4-5 days with as little as 5 mg
and then quit altogether without dizziness. This
entire process took about 2 months. I'd spend
at least a week on each step down the ladder.
All my symptoms have since disappeared and I feel
normal once again. You can do it too!
took an accelerated approach to weaning myself
off. First, I cut from 20mg to 10 mg. Two weeks
later, went down to 5 mg. Two weeks later went
to2.5 mg. When I ran out of pills, that was it.
Let me tell you that I felt horrible. Nausea,
dizzy, sweats, shocks. All the symptoms described.
After about a month and a half, the nausea went
away. I'm back to my grumpy self but feeling better.
No more shocks and spins either. Try lots of water,
sweat it out. When you're feeling sick try a cold,
sweet drink. Maybe only a placebo but seemed to
you for your Web site. I decided to quit taking
my 20-mg/day Paxil dosage after two years of being
on the drug. My husband and I had been discussing
pregnancy, and it had been so long since I'd had
counseling for depression, I thought it was time
to get back to a drug-free life.
I quit cold-turkey nine days ago. The symptoms
were exactly as they'd been described on your
Web site -- nausea, dizziness, "brain sloshing"
-- and vivid, epic dreams. I warned my co-workers
that any sudden illness was brought on by my withdrawal
from prescription medication and that I'd be fine
after two weeks or so.
I still get daily headaches, the dull, pounding,
pressurized skull kind. I hear odd sloshy noises
in my head, but can mostly tune them out now.
But last night I felt a sense of clarity I hadn't
felt in years, even before being on Paxil. My
brain felt clean, fresh, as if someone had dusted
it off or rubbed off the tarnish. Conversations
with my husband became interactions, not altercations,
and I felt like I could actually comprehend the
things he said to me, not just react to them.
There is a light. Many advised going off the drug
slowly, and I won't go against their advice, but
my experience was quick, dirty and worth it. I
hope others feel that sense of return to consciousness
once this extremely strong, brain-numbing drug
is out of their systems.
Anti-depressants are not evil, but they are so
new, and so misused. With hope, the future will
bring greater knowledge about the awful circumstances
that cause us to require "synapse lubricators"
so that we may feel relief from anxiety, fear
... I would like to relate to you how I successfully
withdrew, cold turkey, from a 40m per day dose
of Paxil, that I had been taking for 6 years.
It was, as many people on this site have related,
a living hell, in every sense of the word. I am
a 42 year old single mother of four children,
ages 14, 12, 8 & 7, and I am also a breast
cancer survivor. I couldn't take 2 weeks off of
work, or send my kids off to camp while I went
through the withdrawal, but I knew that going
cold turkey was the ONLY way for me ... to just
DO IT and get it over with, not draw it out into
this big, long process. I had EVERY SINGLE ONE
OF THE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS listed on the "symptoms"
part of this site. The night terrors/insomnia
were the absolute worst ... to be so exhausted
that all you want to do is sleep ... finally I
would drift off, only to be awakened moments later
with a feeling of sheer terror, with vivid, frightening
images so real that I think I was actually hallucinating.
But somehow I got through. I slept with the light
on, took Valerian ( I was coming cold turkey off
Ativan & Neurontin, too) Root to help me sleep,
and tried as much as I could to pamper myself.
I am a classical musician, so I tried to immerse
myself as much as possible in the music I loved.
I took 4 showers a day to deal with the unbelievable
sweating, and just walked around VERY slowly are
carefully to deal with the vertigo. And I lay
in bed as much as I could, reminding myself that
for every day I could just hang in there and not
go back on the Paxil, I was one day closer to
having the drug OUT of my system. A few close
friends that knew what I was going through came
over and helped out with the kids a little (hint:
Paxil withdrawal & 6 year olds having tantrums
do not mix real well, it kind of had the effect
of nails being raked across my brain). My Mom
came over -- I handed her a printed-out list of
all the withdrawal symptoms, she read them, and
promptly did some of my dishes and laundry. My
hint to other Moms, especially single Moms, who
are quitting Paxil cold turkey. Forget about cooking
fancy dishes for a few weeks. Buy paper cups,
paper plates, paper bowls & plastic silverware,
stock up on the Fruit Loops, Cocoa puffs, bread,
peanut butter & milk, and don't worry, your
kids will survive without their broccoli while
you are experiencing the worst of your withdrawal.
They might even enjoy themselves and wish Mommy
would let them eat Pop-tarts for dinner ALL the
time (-: And let me tell you, those %$#@*%* electric
shocks. I really could have done without those,
thank you very much. Well, I could go on and on,
but let me suffice it to say that I am now doing
quite well. It has been four weeks since my last
Paxil tablet, and I no longer fall asleep before
the children at night. I have my old energy back,
as well as a some of my old anxieties, but am
in general feeling wonderful. I used to drink
6 - 8 cups of coffee a day just to stay awake
...the paxil made me so drowsy! ... I now have
only one cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning,
something I thought I could NEVER manage to do!!
I am drinking green tea (both hot and iced!),
eating better, doing slow meditative breathing
exercises, and making sure I take a walk every
day. When I originally went on Paxil, I gained
40 lb., and couldn't lose it, no matter WHAT I
did. Since going off the Paxil, I have lost 10
lb. without even trying. My entire system seems
to be functioning much better. Well, life is not
all a bowl of cherries, of course, but at least
now I feel like I have a chance of trying to get
through it without being hopelessly addicted to
a drug that, YES, did help me immensely at one
point in time, but was no longer needed. This
Paxil site helped immensely as I was going through
the worst of things. Just to know that I wasn't
alone, and wasn't losing my mind, was such a blessings.
When I first saw the complete list of withdrawal
symptoms, I cried tears of joy, to simply know
that what I was experiencing was NOT all in my
head, and that there was light at the end of the
tunnel. So there is my story. I hope that some
part of it will help someone, somewhere, who is
trying to get off of Paxil cold turkey. Hang in
there. It gets better. I'm doing well,
and I am PAXIL-FREE!!!!
I started on Paxil in March of 1999 after a severe
mental and physical breakdown. After about 5 months
of being on 20mg a day, I decide I was feeling
fine and that I was going to wean myself off in
a period of 2 weeks. About 3-4 days after I stopped
taking Paxil, the severe symptoms began-- extreme
dizziness, extreme nausea, headaches, crying,
sweating, depression, electric shock feelings
all through my body, and that very annoying "swish-swish"
in my head as I would move my eyes around (would
occur with eyes open OR shut). I, with the advice
of my doctor, went back on Paxil. The symptoms
were terrible and 5 months was not enough.
It's now July 2001, and I am 2 weeks off
of Paxil after taking a FULL YEAR to wean myself
off. Paxil is a very powerful drug that can definitely
help a person when they truly need it. But, you
must be prepared for the side-effects while on
the drug, as well as the withdrawal symptoms when
you are ready to come off it. When I went on Paxil
I weighed 125lbs., at 5' 7". I have been
thin my whole life. While on the Paxil, I steadily
gained weight and have topped off at 160lbs. That's
a lot of weight to gain. Other people that I know
on Paxil have also gained a good bit of weight.
The final dose that I was on was only 5mg (split
20mg pill in quarters). And because I had taken
a full year to wean myself down to 5mg, I, along
with my doctor did not think that I would experience
the side-effects again. WE WERE WRONG!!!! The
past week and a half have been just horrible.
I had all the same withdrawal symptoms again.
I could not be in a vertical position very long,
the dizziness and nausea were that bad. But I
have toughed it out, although the swish-swish
feeling in my eyes is still there. This will disappear
My advice to anyone wanting to get off of Paxil
is not to rush it!!! If you can take a full year
and wean yourself off---DO IT. When the time comes
to finally get off, take two weeks off from work
(you'll need it), and be prepared to spend a lot
of time in bed. All the feelings and physical
symptoms that you will feel are normal, we have
all felt them. You're not going crazy. It's drug
withdrawal. Once you begin to feel better, slowly
begin an exercise routine, even if it's just walking.
Exercise is wonderful for combating depression
and anxiety!!!!! It, along with good nutrition,
bring the body into balance. Drink a lot of water!
When the Fall arrives, consider buying the special
lights to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
This is especially important if you live in the
north like I do (Buffalo). Good Luck. You can
get off of Paxil when the time is right! Elizabeth
feel it is so important to share my victory with
everyone. I too felt as though I was a prisoner
to this drug. Several attempts to wean myself
were unsuccessful. To make matters worse, every
time I spoke with my doctor or his nurse, they
would say "oh really, we just have not heard
of anyone having so much difficulty getting off
of this drug." Truly, I thought I was going
insane. It was so eye-opening to learn that I
was not nuts and that many people have gone through
the horrible side effects. Well, it took 9 long
months, but I was determined. The slow progression
was the success story. I went from 20 mg to 15
mg switching dsg. every other day for 3 months.
Then 15mg to 10mg switching dsg. every other day
for 3 months. Then finally 10mg to 5 mg switching
dsg. every other day for 3 months. When I got
down to five mg. I maintained that for about 3
weeks. Went to 5 mg. every other day for 2 weeks.
Finally stopped. I held onto that bottle for one
month before I had the guts to flush the Paxil
I had left. Even after being off. I have challenges,
but I am not going back on. I will find something
else. You see, I have Multiple Sclerosis. The
chances of me needing to be on an antidepressant
are great. However, I don't ever want to go through
this type of torment again. Good luck to everyone.
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