Weaning off of Pristiq

Posted by tspoon @tspoon, Aug 6, 2015

Has anyone weaned themselves off of Pristiq?? I have been taking it for 7 years now and I am ready to be done, I do not want to depend on a drug any longer. I have tried to get off of this a couple times. Doing research, I didn’t realize how bad this drug is for you and doctors are failing to tell patients how bad it is for you let alone how hard it is to get off of this. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Liked by withbecka

I have been taking antidepressants for the past 20 years, most of which did not help. I was very apprehensive to try Pristiq because it was a new drug and I know the “trial” period to test new medications can be for as little as 3 months and with no more than 1000 participants. I tried Pristiq because I really didn’t have any other option and my depression is severe. As with all antidepressants, it worked for a period of time, but for the past year I have struggled and now after a total of 5 years on the drug, my doctor wants to try another new medication. I am terrified! I have taken 50 mg of Pristiq and if I am late taking the medication, I experience electrical zaps in my brain, migraines, nausea and have a hard time functioning. I work as a nurse and help my daughter with her 3 children. How am I going to get through the horrible withdrawal symptoms? I have read so many terrible stories about other people withdrawing from the medication and most of them only took the drug for 1-2 years. My doctor does not understand how sick a person gets and when I’ve tried missing just one dose, I thought I was going to have a seizure. I know I need to taper off of the medication, but I am so fearful of the withdrawal symptoms and what if my depression gets worse? I was hospitalized for my depression approximately 9 years ago after a doctor put me on Methidone for chronic pain and that caused me to become suicidal. I don’t necessarily have much faith in doctors and would like to hear from others who have gone through this with success.

@mountain6300

I have been taking antidepressants for the past 20 years, most of which did not help. I was very apprehensive to try Pristiq because it was a new drug and I know the “trial” period to test new medications can be for as little as 3 months and with no more than 1000 participants. I tried Pristiq because I really didn’t have any other option and my depression is severe. As with all antidepressants, it worked for a period of time, but for the past year I have struggled and now after a total of 5 years on the drug, my doctor wants to try another new medication. I am terrified! I have taken 50 mg of Pristiq and if I am late taking the medication, I experience electrical zaps in my brain, migraines, nausea and have a hard time functioning. I work as a nurse and help my daughter with her 3 children. How am I going to get through the horrible withdrawal symptoms? I have read so many terrible stories about other people withdrawing from the medication and most of them only took the drug for 1-2 years. My doctor does not understand how sick a person gets and when I’ve tried missing just one dose, I thought I was going to have a seizure. I know I need to taper off of the medication, but I am so fearful of the withdrawal symptoms and what if my depression gets worse? I was hospitalized for my depression approximately 9 years ago after a doctor put me on Methidone for chronic pain and that caused me to become suicidal. I don’t necessarily have much faith in doctors and would like to hear from others who have gone through this with success.

Jump to this post

@mountain6300, weclome to Connect. Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns about weaning off of Pristiq with other members on Connect. I moved your discussion to an existing discussion on weaning off of Pristiq.

@petuniap recently described some of the same side effects that you have talked about when missing a day of Pristiq or going off of it for multiple days.

In the meantime @mountain6300, you may also want to read through the extensive discussion https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/pristiq-withdrawal/, which has more than a couple hundred posts of members talking about weaning off of Pristiq. Mountain, it seems you have talked about your concerns with your physician. What did they say about your symptoms when you miss a dose? Does your physician think it is avoidable if switching to a new medication?

@mountain6300

I have been taking antidepressants for the past 20 years, most of which did not help. I was very apprehensive to try Pristiq because it was a new drug and I know the “trial” period to test new medications can be for as little as 3 months and with no more than 1000 participants. I tried Pristiq because I really didn’t have any other option and my depression is severe. As with all antidepressants, it worked for a period of time, but for the past year I have struggled and now after a total of 5 years on the drug, my doctor wants to try another new medication. I am terrified! I have taken 50 mg of Pristiq and if I am late taking the medication, I experience electrical zaps in my brain, migraines, nausea and have a hard time functioning. I work as a nurse and help my daughter with her 3 children. How am I going to get through the horrible withdrawal symptoms? I have read so many terrible stories about other people withdrawing from the medication and most of them only took the drug for 1-2 years. My doctor does not understand how sick a person gets and when I’ve tried missing just one dose, I thought I was going to have a seizure. I know I need to taper off of the medication, but I am so fearful of the withdrawal symptoms and what if my depression gets worse? I was hospitalized for my depression approximately 9 years ago after a doctor put me on Methidone for chronic pain and that caused me to become suicidal. I don’t necessarily have much faith in doctors and would like to hear from others who have gone through this with success.

Jump to this post

Just checking in @mountain6300. How are you doing?

Not sure why – total chance or God!?!?

Im a 39 year old mother of 5 children. With my ex-husband for 17 years and he had a midlife almost 2 years ago and left us for a 26 year old who’s never been married, no kids, but wanted my husband. She left him during the divorce. To many kids, not enough money. Backing up to 1999 (my first husband committeed suicide), 2009 (My beautiful 2 year old son Zander went to sleep and never woke up, yes, I found him too). Begging for another child and i wasn’t wanting that, but I did for my husband, the struggle, pain, unknown. 2012 my youngest, last beautiful son was born. 2014 comes and he leaves us!!!! (Im the true black widow it feels and its heart wrenching).

Pristiq
Comes to play in 2014 and takes over for zoloft. I had a hard time having an orgasim on zoloft and we went to pristiq. Still a challange and takes forever but at least it happens. 100mg. Seems to be my fit and things kinda balance, odd things happen physically (but since im OCD im not given packaging disclosers for my own good – thats very true). OCD tapers off and is a huge life relief, night sweats (must be the female change), pick up the house (maybe tomorrow, tomorrow never came), love myself (i could talk a good talk), forgetfullness (must be that mommy brain), since of urgency for anything (maybe tomorrow), a job (get there when i get there)
i never noticee the signs till today!

Ive been off pristiq for 2 DAY! Ive run out before and felt this same shitty sickness but always figured it was because im mental. I woke up today and cried (first 2 cry in 4 years actually), made a real decission (we are going to church). I stopped at the pharmacy to get other things and asked the pharmist if i could get 2 pills till i get my truck back from the shop (we dont like to do that he says, okay fine ill go without) – BUT WAIT, looking up the side effects of withdrawl.

Dizzy (so horrible), Anxity (fear, slight panic), nausas (the worst i’ve ever had), lightheaded mixed with tension and jaw locking (terrible), body aches and brain zapps (i must have the flu), fustration and short tempored (so much that it makes me want to cry), hot/cold/sweat/shivers (feel like a drug addict, ive seen those shows), OMGoodness how do i get my kids to school and go to work tomorrow? Ill never swallow this med again! Cold turkey might kill me, but my 14, 11, 4 year old son’s need the real me! The feeling me – they need to see emotions for once. I need to see my emotions!

but when will this drug let me go?

Michigan Mom

@nrodgers

Not sure why – total chance or God!?!?

Im a 39 year old mother of 5 children. With my ex-husband for 17 years and he had a midlife almost 2 years ago and left us for a 26 year old who’s never been married, no kids, but wanted my husband. She left him during the divorce. To many kids, not enough money. Backing up to 1999 (my first husband committeed suicide), 2009 (My beautiful 2 year old son Zander went to sleep and never woke up, yes, I found him too). Begging for another child and i wasn’t wanting that, but I did for my husband, the struggle, pain, unknown. 2012 my youngest, last beautiful son was born. 2014 comes and he leaves us!!!! (Im the true black widow it feels and its heart wrenching).

Pristiq
Comes to play in 2014 and takes over for zoloft. I had a hard time having an orgasim on zoloft and we went to pristiq. Still a challange and takes forever but at least it happens. 100mg. Seems to be my fit and things kinda balance, odd things happen physically (but since im OCD im not given packaging disclosers for my own good – thats very true). OCD tapers off and is a huge life relief, night sweats (must be the female change), pick up the house (maybe tomorrow, tomorrow never came), love myself (i could talk a good talk), forgetfullness (must be that mommy brain), since of urgency for anything (maybe tomorrow), a job (get there when i get there)
i never noticee the signs till today!

Ive been off pristiq for 2 DAY! Ive run out before and felt this same shitty sickness but always figured it was because im mental. I woke up today and cried (first 2 cry in 4 years actually), made a real decission (we are going to church). I stopped at the pharmacy to get other things and asked the pharmist if i could get 2 pills till i get my truck back from the shop (we dont like to do that he says, okay fine ill go without) – BUT WAIT, looking up the side effects of withdrawl.

Dizzy (so horrible), Anxity (fear, slight panic), nausas (the worst i’ve ever had), lightheaded mixed with tension and jaw locking (terrible), body aches and brain zapps (i must have the flu), fustration and short tempored (so much that it makes me want to cry), hot/cold/sweat/shivers (feel like a drug addict, ive seen those shows), OMGoodness how do i get my kids to school and go to work tomorrow? Ill never swallow this med again! Cold turkey might kill me, but my 14, 11, 4 year old son’s need the real me! The feeling me – they need to see emotions for once. I need to see my emotions!

but when will this drug let me go?

Michigan Mom

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Hello @nrodgers and welcome to Connect. Thank you for the thorough background on your story and experience with Pristiq. From reading other members experiences with this drug it sounds like it can have a lot of side effects, including the fogginess and emotionlessness that you talked about with your kids.

I moved your discussion and combined it with an existing discussion that is all about weening off of Pristiq. You mentioned that you are going to quit cold turkey and I wanted you to read through the other posts from the other members about weening off of pristiq so that maybe it could help give you some ideas on what to expect. As far as quitting “cold turkey,” is this something you have discussed with your physician?

Liked by safetyshield

@nrodgers

Not sure why – total chance or God!?!?

Im a 39 year old mother of 5 children. With my ex-husband for 17 years and he had a midlife almost 2 years ago and left us for a 26 year old who’s never been married, no kids, but wanted my husband. She left him during the divorce. To many kids, not enough money. Backing up to 1999 (my first husband committeed suicide), 2009 (My beautiful 2 year old son Zander went to sleep and never woke up, yes, I found him too). Begging for another child and i wasn’t wanting that, but I did for my husband, the struggle, pain, unknown. 2012 my youngest, last beautiful son was born. 2014 comes and he leaves us!!!! (Im the true black widow it feels and its heart wrenching).

Pristiq
Comes to play in 2014 and takes over for zoloft. I had a hard time having an orgasim on zoloft and we went to pristiq. Still a challange and takes forever but at least it happens. 100mg. Seems to be my fit and things kinda balance, odd things happen physically (but since im OCD im not given packaging disclosers for my own good – thats very true). OCD tapers off and is a huge life relief, night sweats (must be the female change), pick up the house (maybe tomorrow, tomorrow never came), love myself (i could talk a good talk), forgetfullness (must be that mommy brain), since of urgency for anything (maybe tomorrow), a job (get there when i get there)
i never noticee the signs till today!

Ive been off pristiq for 2 DAY! Ive run out before and felt this same shitty sickness but always figured it was because im mental. I woke up today and cried (first 2 cry in 4 years actually), made a real decission (we are going to church). I stopped at the pharmacy to get other things and asked the pharmist if i could get 2 pills till i get my truck back from the shop (we dont like to do that he says, okay fine ill go without) – BUT WAIT, looking up the side effects of withdrawl.

Dizzy (so horrible), Anxity (fear, slight panic), nausas (the worst i’ve ever had), lightheaded mixed with tension and jaw locking (terrible), body aches and brain zapps (i must have the flu), fustration and short tempored (so much that it makes me want to cry), hot/cold/sweat/shivers (feel like a drug addict, ive seen those shows), OMGoodness how do i get my kids to school and go to work tomorrow? Ill never swallow this med again! Cold turkey might kill me, but my 14, 11, 4 year old son’s need the real me! The feeling me – they need to see emotions for once. I need to see my emotions!

but when will this drug let me go?

Michigan Mom

Jump to this post

nrodgers I am so sorry to hear about your plight with pristig and how it is making you feel. I have been on pain relievers and other meds for all sorts of reasons and really had to have the mind set to get off them. But it is important to ween off them safely so not to harm you in any way. With all your concerns with meds and it effect on you and your family please come back and feel free to discuss any concerns you may have connect is here for you and all of your concerns

Hi I just joined here! My doctor has me taking Pristiq every other day! I’m having a horrible sweats and anxiety and I feel like I’m going to die is this normal? It’s really really scaring me

@colletta26

Hi I just joined here! My doctor has me taking Pristiq every other day! I’m having a horrible sweats and anxiety and I feel like I’m going to die is this normal? It’s really really scaring me

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Hi @colletta26. It’s been a couple of weeks since you starting weaning off Pristiq. How are you doing?

has anyone developed a itchy skin rash when stopping pristiq?

@cherie63

has anyone developed a itchy skin rash when stopping pristiq?

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people have not reported itchy skin rash when stopping pristiq

I’m in the process of weaning off Pristiq. I gained 35 pounds since starting it less than a year ago. I’m curious, has anyone successfully lost the weight after weaning off Pristiq? I

Hi, @gypsygirl. I note you had a question related to taking off weight following tapering off Pristiq. I’m tagging a few other members who’ve had experience with this drug in hopes that they will chime in about their experiences. @cathy615 @solveig @jpbc @lalaland @nativefloridian @chrissyt @lbgr1960

About 10 years ago, a psychiatrist put me on 200 mg.of Pristiq. After I turned 62, I developed painful stomach irritation. It became so bad that I could only eat small amounts of bland food. I was constantly hungry but couldn’t eat. I had an endoscopy. The diagnoses was mild to moderate stomach and esophageal irritation. The biopsy was normal. My liver and pancreatic enzymes were normal. I tested negative for hepatitis B and C. A sonogram showed that I had no gallbladder stones. My gastroenterologist didn’t know why my stomach was so irritated. She said something like, “You’re probably an acid maker.” I was already taking 60 mg. of Dexilent which did nothing to relieve the pain.

I started doing my own research and discovered that I was on an excessive dose of Pristiq; that the normal dose is 50 mg. When I questioned my psychiatrist, he said that he had patients on 800 mg. Then, I noticed that my stomach pain became much worse about an hour after I took my dose of Pristiq. I read that the drug itself is basic, so I thought that my gastric irritation was related to a neurotransmitter issue. The entire episode was an education. I found out that many physicians view psychiatrists with disdain. One physician told me: “They’re not real doctors. They’re legal drug pushers; that the chemical imbalance theory for any mental illness has never been proven and that science doesn’t completely understand how neurotransmitters work and interact with each other.”

Be that as it may, I found another psychiatrist who was willing to help me taper off Pristiq. I was worried about withdrawal effects because I read horror stories from other patients who tried to withdraw. The primary problem is that the smallest dose of Pristiq is 25 mg. I read that to avoid withdrawal effects, one should withdraw no more than 10% a month from the dose you’re on. So if you are on 200 mg., it would be a 20 mg. drop. Then, you’d be on 180 mg., so you would need to drop down by 18 mg. The amount titrated would need to keep getting smaller after every drop in dosage. I wasn’t sure what to do. I read about getting Pristiq compounded into a slow release liquid but I knew that would be expensive. So I decided upon a different course.

I knew that vigorous exercise can mitigate the withdrawal effects from almost anything. Exercise causes the body to make natural chemicals that block withdrawal effects. A number of years ago, I read an article written by an opium addict who was going through a medically supervised withdrawal. It was at a time when opium was legal and could be purchased at any pharmacy in a form called Laudanum. Many unfortunate souls became addicts. The article’s author mentioned something interesting: Every patient was experiencing agonizing muscle spasms except for one. This one patient walked 10 miles a day. Evidently, the exercise relieved his withdrawal. I decided to exercise vigorously every day. I walked at a rapid pace for half an hour and then either lifted light weights or did yoga. My entire workout took about 2 hours. When I titrated by the first 25 mg. I felt no withdrawal effects. As I got lower, I felt mostly psychological symptoms. I didn’t feel depressed, however. I was experiencing strong feelings that I didn’t understand. For example, I would become angry by things people said to me that I found hurtful. I would break down in tears when reading a poem. Luckily, I had an excellent clinical psychologist who helped me to understand what I was going through. And this is the key. One really needs a connection to someone with the intelligence and insight to act as a guide. My guide was a depth psychologist. I was very fortunate to find him. It wasn’t easy, though. I went shopping for a therapist. I viewed each session with a new therapist as a job interview. I was doing the hiring. They had to meet my needs. I didn’t fall for the authority figure nonsense. Nobody knows everything and even the best make mistakes. That is how we humans learn, by making mistakes. I also knew that many people become therapists in order to solve their own problems. There are many destructive therapists out there. But the few good ones make up for it all. I knew my search for a therapist would have to be objective and systematic. I refused to allow myself to fall into any traps. Some bad therapists will try to play on your weaknesses to make you feel insecure. One in particular, when I told her she wasn’t for me, said that if I don’t let her help me, nobody would be able to. I saw through her. I had already lived too long to fall for such nonsense. (Although I do remember telling her, “You sure have a very high opinion of yourself.” She didn’t like that but I didn’t care.) One needs a dose of arrogant determination to go through the maze of the mental health system. And never fall for the kind therapist who wants to take care of you. It’s another ruse to take away your autonomy. A good therapist will act as a guide and always encourage your independence.

Well, I’m completely off the Pristiq now. I’m grateful that I can weep from a beautiful poem or piece of music. When I get angry, I accept that part of myself. Yes, it’s normal to get angry. What’s not normal is to go through life in a drugged out stupor like a zombie. It took me a long time to reach this point of emotional health. I still have work to do. It never ends. I sincerely hope that my experience will help others overcome their fears and live a richer life.

Hi, @gagelle — I wanted to add my welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I moved your post over here to this thread so that you could meet some other members who have talked about Pristiq. I am glad to hear that you have gotten through your tapering journey with this medication.

Wondering what your original diagnosis was and what symptoms you were experiencing at the time you were prescribed Pristiq?

@gagelle

About 10 years ago, a psychiatrist put me on 200 mg.of Pristiq. After I turned 62, I developed painful stomach irritation. It became so bad that I could only eat small amounts of bland food. I was constantly hungry but couldn’t eat. I had an endoscopy. The diagnoses was mild to moderate stomach and esophageal irritation. The biopsy was normal. My liver and pancreatic enzymes were normal. I tested negative for hepatitis B and C. A sonogram showed that I had no gallbladder stones. My gastroenterologist didn’t know why my stomach was so irritated. She said something like, “You’re probably an acid maker.” I was already taking 60 mg. of Dexilent which did nothing to relieve the pain.

I started doing my own research and discovered that I was on an excessive dose of Pristiq; that the normal dose is 50 mg. When I questioned my psychiatrist, he said that he had patients on 800 mg. Then, I noticed that my stomach pain became much worse about an hour after I took my dose of Pristiq. I read that the drug itself is basic, so I thought that my gastric irritation was related to a neurotransmitter issue. The entire episode was an education. I found out that many physicians view psychiatrists with disdain. One physician told me: “They’re not real doctors. They’re legal drug pushers; that the chemical imbalance theory for any mental illness has never been proven and that science doesn’t completely understand how neurotransmitters work and interact with each other.”

Be that as it may, I found another psychiatrist who was willing to help me taper off Pristiq. I was worried about withdrawal effects because I read horror stories from other patients who tried to withdraw. The primary problem is that the smallest dose of Pristiq is 25 mg. I read that to avoid withdrawal effects, one should withdraw no more than 10% a month from the dose you’re on. So if you are on 200 mg., it would be a 20 mg. drop. Then, you’d be on 180 mg., so you would need to drop down by 18 mg. The amount titrated would need to keep getting smaller after every drop in dosage. I wasn’t sure what to do. I read about getting Pristiq compounded into a slow release liquid but I knew that would be expensive. So I decided upon a different course.

I knew that vigorous exercise can mitigate the withdrawal effects from almost anything. Exercise causes the body to make natural chemicals that block withdrawal effects. A number of years ago, I read an article written by an opium addict who was going through a medically supervised withdrawal. It was at a time when opium was legal and could be purchased at any pharmacy in a form called Laudanum. Many unfortunate souls became addicts. The article’s author mentioned something interesting: Every patient was experiencing agonizing muscle spasms except for one. This one patient walked 10 miles a day. Evidently, the exercise relieved his withdrawal. I decided to exercise vigorously every day. I walked at a rapid pace for half an hour and then either lifted light weights or did yoga. My entire workout took about 2 hours. When I titrated by the first 25 mg. I felt no withdrawal effects. As I got lower, I felt mostly psychological symptoms. I didn’t feel depressed, however. I was experiencing strong feelings that I didn’t understand. For example, I would become angry by things people said to me that I found hurtful. I would break down in tears when reading a poem. Luckily, I had an excellent clinical psychologist who helped me to understand what I was going through. And this is the key. One really needs a connection to someone with the intelligence and insight to act as a guide. My guide was a depth psychologist. I was very fortunate to find him. It wasn’t easy, though. I went shopping for a therapist. I viewed each session with a new therapist as a job interview. I was doing the hiring. They had to meet my needs. I didn’t fall for the authority figure nonsense. Nobody knows everything and even the best make mistakes. That is how we humans learn, by making mistakes. I also knew that many people become therapists in order to solve their own problems. There are many destructive therapists out there. But the few good ones make up for it all. I knew my search for a therapist would have to be objective and systematic. I refused to allow myself to fall into any traps. Some bad therapists will try to play on your weaknesses to make you feel insecure. One in particular, when I told her she wasn’t for me, said that if I don’t let her help me, nobody would be able to. I saw through her. I had already lived too long to fall for such nonsense. (Although I do remember telling her, “You sure have a very high opinion of yourself.” She didn’t like that but I didn’t care.) One needs a dose of arrogant determination to go through the maze of the mental health system. And never fall for the kind therapist who wants to take care of you. It’s another ruse to take away your autonomy. A good therapist will act as a guide and always encourage your independence.

Well, I’m completely off the Pristiq now. I’m grateful that I can weep from a beautiful poem or piece of music. When I get angry, I accept that part of myself. Yes, it’s normal to get angry. What’s not normal is to go through life in a drugged out stupor like a zombie. It took me a long time to reach this point of emotional health. I still have work to do. It never ends. I sincerely hope that my experience will help others overcome their fears and live a richer life.

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Hi Teresa,
Thank you for your interest and kind words.
My stomach sensitivity has improved but I can see that it will take time to heal completely. However, something unexpected happened right after I went off Pristiq. I was suffering from hypertension for several years and being treated with a beta blocker. This drug didn’t really bring my blood pressure to a level recommended by The American Heart Association. My physician would have me do some deep breathing to bring my pressure down to a level that she thought was acceptable. She didn’t want to increase the dose of my beta blocker because I also developed a certain kind oh hypotension. (I forget the name.) My systolic and diastolic numbers were too close to each other and I would get dizzy when abruptly sitting up. I recently discovered the cause: She recommended an herbal tea to soothe my stomach that ha a high level of black licorice extract. I found out that beta blockers, when combined with licorice, can produce hypotension. When I told her about my discovery, she accepted it but became somewhat cold and defensive. (Methinks it’s time to find a new physician.)

To continue, I knew that my pressure was still too high. I once told her that I don’t have her with me all the time to get my pressure down and voiced my concern. She said that it’s normal for blood pressure to fluctuate throughout the day. But I was getting resting readings of 148/90. As soon as I went off the Pristiq, my blood pressure went down to 120/76. I wasn’t surprised by this. Years ago when I was on Effexor, I remember my psychiatrist almost in a panic one day because it was revealed that Effexor can cause hypertension. (I’m assuming that you know the close relationship between Effexor and Pristiq.) So something significant did abruptly improve after cessation of Pristiq.

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