|paxil withdrawal support: advice|
Many of you have asked for some encouraging news. What
follows are recommendations to combat the symptoms as
well as individual stories from people who have successfully
undergone the withdrawal process. Their names have not been revealed
for the sake of privacy, but rest assured that these make up
only a selection of the many letters that I have received on
the subject. If you would like to add your personal story,
THIS SITE IS NO LONGER UPDATED: PLEASE VISIT US AT WWW.QUITPAXIL.ORG
Advice from fellow sufferers
Please note that you are responsible for your own plan of action. I am highly skeptical that there exists a universal means by which to eliminate all symptoms of withdrawal. Judging by the feedback that I have received, some methods described here failed to turn the tide for other users of Paxil. Caveat Emptor ! and do consult with a competent physician before deciding to take any drugs.
"I'm a primary care doc. i've
had a few of my patients who are discontinuing SSRI's tell me
that they've felt remarkably better immediately after eating
some chocolate. tho' i usually give folks who are stopping a
short-acting SSRI like paxil some prozac for a couple of days
(the prozac's long half-life minimizes symptoms) chocolate
might be worth considering, since there's some evidence that
chocolate may affect neurotransmitter levels."
"I am a 25 year old
medical student, and I have been on paxil 20 mg for
approximately 9 months for anxiety. I wanted to get off
the paxil because of the sexual side effects (no libido,
anorgasmic) that were wreaking havoc on my marriage of 6
months. I knew paxil could cause withdrawal, so with my
psychiatrist's consent, I tappered my dose over 2 weeks: I
week at 10 mg, an 1 at 5 mg. This was supposed to
prevent withdrawal, but it didn't. When I went down to
the 5 mg, the withdrawal began. I had incredible
migraines almost every day, incapacitating nausea, dizziness,
lethargy, hot flashes and chills, blurred vision, a strange
noise in my ears when I turned my head, nightmares, etc.
I eventually ended up in the ER due to the migraines and
althought the doctors didn't know my symptoms where due to
paxil withdrawal, even though I told them I had just stopped
taking it. But the ER doc gave my PHENERGYN, which is
basically an antihistamine that works on motion sickness.
It is the ONLY thing that has helped me get through these last
2 weeks. It eliminated the nausea, decreased the blurred
vision and sounds in my ears, and stabilizes the
dizziness. I am not a doctor, so I am not advocating
that this is for everyone, but it really helped me with my
symptoms. I think anyone with similar sx to me should
discuss taking phenergyn or another antiemetic (anti
nausea/vomiting med) with their doctor. I'm at two weeks
post-Paxil, and it gets better every day. KF"
"Another way to at least feel better and feel like you are doing something to help yourself is to try sublingual Vitamin B12 (sublingual means administered under the tongue.) It's NOT regular B12; the package will actually say "sublingual." I couldn't find it at the regular drug store-type chains, so I found it at my local GNC store. I'm suggesting sublingual instead of vitamin tablets because sublingual administration is supposed to be as effective as getting the B12 shot but cheaper and more pleasant. FYI - B12 is used for nervous system regeneration, for added stamina, for aiding in proper blood formation, and often used to help handle stress. I also have been drinking at least 64 oz. of water each day to help me feel like I am flushing the toxins from my body. Good luck to you all!
"Again - [drinking] lots and lots of water does help."
"1. The more gently, the
"Please advise your readers to try acupuncture and Chinese herbs to help them deal with their withdrawal symptoms. I have done so and it is very helpful. Any reputable acupuncturist will know how to treat you and what herbs to give you for this problem."
"I started my own formula for the withdrawal process: Tylenol for the head aches, Dramamine for the motion sickness and dizziness. i eliminated all alcohol, pop, and caffeine. To get to sleep i would meditate and do breathing exercises. I also took Tylenol pm to cause drowsiness. i began taking in large amounts of water. And prayed. Hope this helps someone!!"
"I wrote you a while ago about my withdrawing off of Paxil using Valerian and Skullcap. Just to update you. As of today, I am taking 1/4 a pill and will be completely off the Paxil by Saturday. I am doing GREAT! Aside from some very short lived symptoms of light headedness and headaches, I did super! For the symptoms, I popped an extra Valerian root. This would take the dizziness away and allow me to calm down. To boot, I was on my period during the bulk of the withdrawal. I am impressed with the success of the natural herbal way to get off the drug. As for the night terrors that brought me to the Paxil in the first place... I have tried to get a couple of them, but with meditation I was able to quickly pass through them and go back to sleep. There is a way out of the drug and I am here at the other end and hey.. It's pretty neat!"
"Life is cool ...I'm off paxil and all other SSRIs! How? Yoga, Tai Chi, Acupuncture during the withdrawal. also a twice a day cocktail of 5HTP, Saint John's Wort, SAME, Vitamins, Flax oil, and pet therapy( my dogs)....good luck to all. Try the natural route It works!"
"...If anyone else that is writing to you is having trouble with massive night sweats I have a suggestion of trying to drink plenty of water during the day. It seems to have been helping me."
"I was able to get off 10-15mg of paxil/day with little withdrawal by fasting. The third day I was extremely tired, (could have been caffeine withdrawal). Fasting is great to ward-off depression. I realize fasting is not for everyone but in my case it was the best way I ever got off paxil, (it was a 10 day fast)"
" I am a "lay" counselor at the church I attend and have just helped someone come out of "paxil hell" and have found Dr. Ann Blake Tracy's book a tremendous help . I had the honor of speaking to her by phone for over an hour because I was doing research on "bi-polar" diagnosis. Plus, I had ordered her book and tape on coming off of SSRIs' back in January to help my friend. She specifically recommended a special-ordered Noni juice. When I talked to her by phone 2 weeks ago, she again reiterated the effectiveness of Noni juice, not just for SSRI withdrawal, but also for people who are in their "manic" phase in depression. (We're talking serious delusions!!!) She has seen incredible results with this Noni juice. She believes that it has a particular digestive enzyme that dissolves excess seratonin in the body. But, don't buy the kind in health food stores-it's not processed properly."
"Good luck to all of you that are trying really hard to get off this drug. You can do it. Here are a few suggestions: . 1) Believe in yourself. Control your mind and thoughts. Throw away negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations. 2) Drink lots of water all throughout the day. I don't mean the minimum amount of water (64oz) I mean at least 100 oz each day. It keeps your body flushed. It will also give you lots of energy. 3) Take a high potency multi-vitamin with herbs 4) Walk at least 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week to your favorite music. 5) Journal each day about how you are feeling and goals that you are setting for that particular day. 6) Eat healthy- It will make you feel better overall plus it will get off all the extra weight you gained on Paxil! (smile) 7) Get professional counseling and read lots of self help books. Try to stay with one author that you can relate to because they all have different methods and philosophies.8) Enjoy your wonderful life after Paxil !"
"...I did find that taking a Vitamin B supplement or a Multivitamin with B has dramatically increased these symptoms. Vitamin B is also useful in abating some of the side effects of the medication."
"am finally Paxil free
after 3 tries:)) You asked me to send you the schedule I
used so here it is:
"read 2 accounts of
people who took 5-HTP while withdrawing from paxil, both of
them reported tremendous success. I tried this as well, and
theresults are astounding.
"Well, I am amazed, but
this worked. I reduced my dosage to 5mg per day after being on
10mg for weeks. I was on the 5mg's for a
"i quit paxil by only
taking the dosage that I was prescribed when I would begin to
feel the symptoms which made it unbearable. In other
words I would go as long as I could w/o it until I would feel
symptoms. This began at 36 hours, increased to 48, then
3 days etc.... until I was off it."
I 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!
I 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 work
Thank 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 and sadness.
Hello ... 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!!!!
...Actually, my first few weeks off of Paxil weren't problematic. My sex drive came back and the sluggish haze went away. I did experience some dizziness, but only if I moved my eyes really fast. But finally, after about two months off of Paxil, my body hit the wall. Throbbing headaches, frequent palpitations and tingling sensations, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety and irritability worse than before I started Paxil. I've been going through this for about a week now and it's what brought me to your site. It's as if my body finally figured out I was no longer feeding it Paxil. But after reading the stories here, I'm not going back. I'm slowly starting to get better day by day with the help of exercise, breathing exercises and meditation, and supplements of herbal Kava Kava. The feelings of de-realization are still annoying, but I'm slowly losing the weight that I gained while on Paxil. The panic attacks have yet to return, and with a new outlook on things, I'm hopeful they won't.... Feel free to post this.Darren. Foster City, CA
Hello, 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 eventually.
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
"I 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. God Bless."
"I had recently come off paxil, September 15,2000, to be exact. Prior attempts had not gone well, so before I came off it this time, I cut down my dose very gradually, after discussing it with my doctor. I took my regular dosage of 1 pill per day. I then cut it in half and took only a 1/2 pill a day for about 3 weeks. I then took only 1/4 pill a day for several weeks and then on September 15 I stopped taking them all together. On the 17 September, I felt the dizzy spells again, and thought I should take a 1/4 pill, but decided to to let it go, and see how I felt. I now realize that was the best thing. It has been almost 3 weeks now, and the dizzy spells come and go, but are few and far between, and they don't last for very long even when I do get them. I am very pleased that I am finally off them and thought I should share my experience with you, so that you could share it with your readers and that perhaps someone else may have success in the same way. I think that by coming down in my dosage as gradually as I did, it helped my body adjust to the fact that it was no longer getting any. It was far easier this time, that's for sure."
"I know (don't ask how) that the way to get off Any substance, if hospitalization isn't indicated, is to tough it out. Eventually, you get through it. With that knowledge in mind, I steeled myself for a battle, and a battle it was. Three days of feeling worse than seasick, with auditory hallucinations, and vision disturbances: whenever I turned my head left or right, there was a smeared afterimage like the one you get when you pan a camera real fast. I would lose my balance getting up to cross the living room. Daring the subway was difficult: I had to hold my head straight and keep my eyes forward like the guard at Buckingham Palace. The nausea was constant. Another thing---my emotions came back with a roar, good and bad. My libido, ten months dormant, came back to life in two days (that helped ;-). I went on crying jags. I felt suicidal on day four, and wondered why this was the toughest thing I'd ever had to kick. But . . . I noticed that it was ever so slightly better on day five. Then maybe two per cent better on day seven. I'm stubborn, and I really hate to be under anything's thumb, so I was grimly determined to get through. I had moral support from a couple of friends who'd gone through the process, one who had had it much worse. And I realized that anything that kicked me in the head this hard had to be a damned dangerous drug and not one I was willing to go back to. If I did, I knew I would lose all the ground in detoxing that I'd so painfully achieved. It's now three months later, and I am free of it. Not even the auditory buzzes in the night any more. And I tell everyone I know who's taking an antidepressant what happened to me, and urge them to not stay on it any longer than they flat have to, and not go on it unless they are truly clinically depressed."
"Just wanted to let you
know how helpful your site has been. I have been Paxil-free
for one month and I feel so much better now. I have been
switching doctors/shrinks as I changed health care and I was
sick of all the double talk I was hearing. My current shrink
told me he would not prescribe me anymore Paxil until I was
completely a non-drinker. Since that was never going to happen
(I don't drink a lot but I do like to go out to bars on
weekends, apparently that was unacceptable) I decided to see
what would happen if I cut down on drinking and got off the
Paxil. I had no idea what those "zaps" were and they
were so scary, I thought I had something wrong with my brain.
I had them all the time, several a minute and sometimes one
every couple seconds. My shrink thought I was more nuts than
usual, he had no idea what I was talking about. Fortunately
they are very rare now, but unfortunately the dizziness is
still a problem after a month. The one advantage to taking the
Paxil in !
"Hi, My wife found this
web site for me. I have been weaning of of Paxil now for
5 weeks. I am currently not taking any at all. I
started out cold turkey but ended up in the ER. I was so
out of control and felt like just ending it all. The
doctor in the ER looked Paxil up in the PDR (the big book that
list the drugs and side effects). He told me I could not
be going thru withdrawl because there was not anything
mentioned in the book about it being addictive. He then
had the hospital shrink come down to talk to me, all he would
say is "maybe you just need to be taking it".
I was put on it for stress at work by a regular doctor, not a
phyciatrist and since I not longer had the stress at my job I
wanted off of it. I ended up going to a mental health
center, they are the ones that helped wean me off. The
funny thing is the shrink I saw there said he had never met
anyone with my withdrawl symptoms. The scratching noise
in my head was awful. I described it to them as it sou!
"After quitting Paxil
9days ago, I have been experiencing withdrawl too. I was
told to treat it like the flu, so I have found that thera-flu
|© fstreicher 2002|