Want to taper off Pristiq, makes my heart race

Posted by Native Floridian @nativefloridian, Jan 7, 2012

Has anyone successfully tapered off Pristiq? If so, what was your plan? I am considering going off this medicine. I take 50 mg per day and have done so for about 2 years. I understand there are very significant withdrawal symptoms and I would like to stop taking Pristiq because it causes my heart to race when the time release happens. I am afraid this medicine may not be good for the heart because the clinical trials state that anyone with a heart condition was not allowed to take it.

Liked by SHO101, dianenero

@beconscious

Taking 50mg Pristiq for 9 months and began an alternating day taper in February.
Every 14 days I add one more day without a pill. I’m now alternating 3 days off, 1 day on. Taking it each morning. No cutting.

Symptoms are only noticeable on the first decrease/add-on of one day in the taper cycle. Some ‘brain zaps/electric feeling in the brain’. Mostly when changing focus or sudden eye movement. Not fun, but interesting. The goal is to expand to 4 days off, 1 day on until the end of May, then discontinue altogether and observe.

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There is a light. I think these symptoms over the past 3 months are manageable enough that the next step will be to stop completely. No more adjustments. I’ll see the family doctor in a week and see if he confirms.

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Woo Hoo!! I am finally off Pristiq!!!! I am feeling normal again, the brain zaps have finally subsided to the rare side now (they are caused by your neurotransmitters firing) and I am just downright happy again! I am smiling, laughing and feeling like myself that I was beginning to question if she would ever be back again. All I can say to all of you is it will take time. There will be side effects while your brain is adjusting, and that is why is important to taper. I went from 100mg to 50mg and tapered off for 3 weeks. I had hoped to do it in 2 weeks but too many symptoms. I am hopeful in renewing my life. I never ever thought that this medication would actually start destroying my life. I lost all de sire to be part of life, felt empty and so emotionless. After 3 years I feel myself again. I am smiling again, joined a gym to help get rid of my weight gain. And just working out has made a difference. I really wish the best to all of you and know that it is a struggle. I did it and it was hard but I will NEVER go on a antidepressant again.

Liked by kdecker003, SB13

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@ontariobonnie

Oh this thread has inspired me. I have been on Pristiq for three years after having a breakdown brought on by years of a tramatic marriage/breakup. I was NOT depressed when I had this breakdown. The breakdown basically consisted of a three day panic attack then a trip to the hospital to rule out cardiac etc. then back to family dr. to get meds/plan of action. She prescribed pristiq 50mg and ativan/lorazempam as needed for panic attacks. AFter a few weeks of being homebound and seeing a psycologist and family taking care of me and my son, I started to pull out of it. AFter six weeks I returned to work and everything has been ok since then, three years later I’m sick of taking this damn drug and want my life back. I have put on about 50lbs in three years and have tried numerous times to get the weight off, exercise and strict dieting etc. I would lose a bit but not much, not as much as I think i should have! I am 43 years old and I want to be like I was before this madness started. I’m on blood pressure meds now due to this drug and also cholesterol medication. I am starting tonight my taper. I take my meds before bed so tonight I am NOT going to take my pristiq. Fingers crossed. My thoughts are with everyone who has had the misfortune to become a slave to this drug.

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Good for you!!! I totally understand the feeling!!! I am doing good…feeling enthusiastic about life again. I was so worried about you going cold turkey, but only you knew what you could tolerate. Keep in touch….we have a bond here and I want to know how you are doing too.

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@wendora

I am so ready to get off this medication. I am afraid of the side effects though! I have started by extending the time between doses a few hours each day. I am tired of being a slave to this medication. I am also curious to see if this is the cause of my weight gain over the past 2 years.

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Hi…there are so many common issues on this discussion board regarding Pristiq. Weight gain, brain zaps, losing yourself emotionally. My doctor reduced by dose from 100 to 50mg. He did recommend tapering for a week then go off, but I came up with my own after reading so many problems that everyone was having. I also extended my doses by 12 hours after each dose for the first week, then 24 the next, 48 the last week. I am now off and I feel good. I gained weight also and now have to work really hard to get it off, but the best part is now I am off that drug. Best wishes to you…

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@rammsm

Good news. I have read about every post on this forum and have yet to see a success story. Well, I am one. Quit cold turkey and the only withdrawal was one headache and two days of feeling a little “fuzzy”. I feel so much better and happier off of this drug. Good luck to those of you trying to quit. May you have the success I had.

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Took me 3 weeks, I am a success story. Lets help support everyone else.

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I’ve been off Pristiq for 4 weeks now, and prior to that took Cymbalta for 3 years. What has helped: I take 2 1200 mg Fish Oil with 1 500 mg L-Tyrosine on an empty stomach in the morning. After breakfast I take a multi-vitamin and liquid B-12 (sublingual) 2000 mcg. After lunch(include some fat), I take Vitamin D 800 IU. At bedtime I take 2 more Fish Oil and a Vit D. I was taking more L-Tyrosine, but developed a rash on my legs and had to cut back. I also try to exercise but still have to watch out for dizziness. I still have mild brain zaps and occasional irrational anger, but I work through it with deep breathing and relaxation techniques. I ran across this blog 2 days after my last dose and left it up on the computer. My husband read it and it has changed his attitude toward my withdrawal. Thank all of you for posting.

Liked by kdecker003, SB13

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@ggmarie

Woo Hoo!! I am finally off Pristiq!!!! I am feeling normal again, the brain zaps have finally subsided to the rare side now (they are caused by your neurotransmitters firing) and I am just downright happy again! I am smiling, laughing and feeling like myself that I was beginning to question if she would ever be back again. All I can say to all of you is it will take time. There will be side effects while your brain is adjusting, and that is why is important to taper. I went from 100mg to 50mg and tapered off for 3 weeks. I had hoped to do it in 2 weeks but too many symptoms. I am hopeful in renewing my life. I never ever thought that this medication would actually start destroying my life. I lost all de sire to be part of life, felt empty and so emotionless. After 3 years I feel myself again. I am smiling again, joined a gym to help get rid of my weight gain. And just working out has made a difference. I really wish the best to all of you and know that it is a struggle. I did it and it was hard but I will NEVER go on a antidepressant again.

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CONGRATULATIONS!! SO great to find someone (finally) who has been successful in tapering off (and getting off) Pristiq!!!
I have been on Pristiq since 3/11 – my doctor switched me from Lexapro (my first antidepressant that I started on in 2005 after my divorce).
I started on 50mg Pristiq – felt pretty good the first month or two and then started having various symptoms – tired – weight gain – “brain fog”…SO – my doctor then screened me for ADD and I was put on adderall 40mg per day. Then I started having trouble sleeping – and was put on a low dose of xanax to help me sleep. About 6 months later I was increased to 100mg of Pristiq. Last summer (2 years later), I was completely burned out, gained 30 lbs, and I can honestly say my personality has changed. I used to be outgoing, very social and active. By last summer, I was having trouble just getting through my day – constant feeling of overwhelm and really just wanted to be “left alone”. I resigned from a 6 figure job last October to take a few months off to deal with my health. I have been doing all kinds of research to get off Pristiq – have tried to switching to another antidepressant, tapering down to 50 and both times the discontinuation symptoms were so severe that I had to stop and go back to the 100mg.
thankfully I have been off the xanax for 6 months – found a natural supplement to help me sleep at night. I have been seeing a holistic MD who has put me on various supplements. Overall, I am feeling a little better – but know without a doubt that I want – and need to get off of Pristiq – and hopefully the adderall. I am still out of work and am now having some major financial stresses (completely exhausted my 401K). I am pretty much resigned to the fact that I will need to continue on these meds – at least till I am able to get myself back to work and on my feet again financially. I am not able to function during the day without the adderall – and last week I missed a dose of Pristiq (a full 24hours+) as I didn’t have the funds to buy the medication (very expensive without insurance!!)… the symptoms were the worst I have experienced so far. Felt like my head was “swimming” – lightheaded, dizzy and felt like I had the flu. Spent the WHOLE day in bed sleeping and had some of the most vivid dreams and nightmares I have ever had in my life. Thankfully I was able to borrow some money from a friend and get the medicine in me – took another day or so for me to feel somewhat “normal” again. REALLY SCARY that this drug has such an impact on the brain chemistry – I did not have that experience at all with Lexapro – could miss a few days and then remember – oh yeah, I better go ahead and take it…
The manufacturers of Pristiq should have some type of warning label advising people of the discontinuation symptoms. I know all antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds will have this to some degree – but this one is a doozy. Not to mention the fact that it only comes in 2 dosages and is time released which makes it very difficult to taper down (and the compound pharmacy’s wont touch it).
So again, congratulations to you for taking this on – and being successful in getting off Pristiq!! You have inspired me and given me hope that one day I might be able to as well! It would be great to “feel good” again (or even just feel) – not to mention how wonderful it would be to lose the 30+ lbs. I have gained!

Take care and God Bless!

Karen

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@dani

I found out on NYE that I am pregnant, and needless to say have been worried about the effects of Pristiq on my pregancy. I attempted to go off cold turkey when I first found out, but the result was disastrous. I then did every other day for a week, and then every third day for another week. Each week, it was a little difficult, but got better and better. I am now on my first week of not taking any (only day 4) and am having a very hard time. The nausea (could be from pregnancy as well, of course) has been bearable, but the dizziness is terrible. I am worried about the coming week(s). I also had very severe anxiety all night last night. For anyone who has tapered off successfully, does this sound like a normal trend? It’s scary, but I feel like I can survive it, as long as I know there is light at the end of the tunnel…

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Hi Dani, I am new to this site – and just reading the posts on Pristiq. I know your post was several months ago – just wondering how you are doing? hopefully you were able to successfully come off the pristiq. Please let us know… prayers and hugs to you!!
Karen

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@keepcalmandsingsoftkitty

I have been off Pristiq for 9 days due to miscommunication between my pharmacy and my doctors office. I feel like I’m going to go crazy with anxiousness, and for the first time my blood pressure has gone from the normal 110/80 which it ALWAYS is, and as of right now is 168/115, and my pulse, resting, is 140. Between this and the feeling that my head is going to explode, I know this is really bad. I just got it refilled today, and took it in the parking lot of the pharmacy. I know that for most people, my blood pressure seems like it isn’t high at all, but I am relatively healthy, other than the MS and depression, and work out when I can, my weight is fine for my height (5’8, 131 lbs) and my blood pressure and pulse are usually not an issue. At what point does the blood pressure become dangerous enough for someone without blood pressure issues that I need to address it immediately? I’m assuming it’s the Pristiq withdrawl, but if it isn’t, I’m in trouble. My head is killing me. I never ever fuss to anyone about my health, good, bad or otherwise, but right now, I’m feeling really strange and again, anxious. Anxious doesn’t even seem strong enough to cover it. More like Hysterically on Edge and feeling like I’m about to be killed at any moment. That would be closer to describing the feeling. This is horrible.

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hey there – just wondering if you are OK? And were you able to “successfully” taper off Pristiq? I can’t even imagine going cold turkey!! Hope all is well and that you were able to get through that rough patch and come out on the other side feeling well again!

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@ggmarie

I am new to this forum since I am also wanting off Pristiq and searched for articles regarding withdrawal. Needless to say I am shocked by what I am reading and though I do not have regret taking this medication, I wish I had known more about how hard it will be to taper off. I take 100mg daily and like many of you, I experience the same symptoms. I really felt alone to be honest with you. How do you tell people about “brain zaps” and some of the other issues relating to this medication? I did have a positive reaction to the medication for quite some time but since I was increased from 50 to 100, now I see where the problems started for me. I have read so many of the posts and I am thinking, wow that is me! I have gained so much weight, I eat at night like a mad woman, feel emotionally flat and have no desire for anything anymore. Someone said they lost their happy, and that is how I feel. My zip is gone, my libido went who knows where, and I just feel like a blob. I see my MD on Monday, and I found this forum afterwards just so I could prepare myself. Needless to say, I am somewhat scared but I have to get my life back like many of you. Someone had a good idea about tapering that actually makes sense. I am not a nurse but I am in healthcare and I do know that drugs build up in your system and you have to give it time to readjust. Just when you first started, it takes time to get the benefit. The worst thing you can do it cut them. They are time released and this is a big no no. I don’t think skipping is the answer either. So my plan is to time my pill and then take the next days a few hours later each day. It may take me a few months to do this but I am willing to try this to help eliminate the terrible withdrawal effects that I am reading about. So wish me luck and will post updates.

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Hi there – just read your post and wondering if you were able to come off the Pristiq with the “method” of spacing out the dosage a few hours each day? That sounds like it could possible work…and give the body (brain) time to adjust… if you can – please let me know. Thanks!!

Karen

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@whitblank

I have been on pristiq for 2 1/2 yrs. tomorrow I am going to try to quit cold turkey. I have lost interest in things I’ve alway enjoyed, had major weight gain ( mostly in my stomach) and have had hair loss. I have been on some form of AD for 12 yrs. . I want my old life back! Any suggestions on how to get thru the next few weeks?

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I just saw this post – and couldn’t agree more! So is it safe to assume that you are now “Pristiq free”??

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@sb13

This is a horrible drug. I tapered as much as I could, but skipping days with the last 50mg was causing unbearable side effects so I waited until I could spend 3 straight days in bed coming off. It has now been 2 1/2 weeks and I still get brain zaps with dizziness like nobody’s business. I have been extra emotional because I don’t sleep well. The thing about coming off is that I am more socialable then I have been in over a year. I would never recommend someone going on pristiq. And I wish everyone luck who is trying to get off!

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couldn’t agree more! I have been VERY vocal to my pharmacist about warning people who are just starting this drug. she seems to think it is not any different than any other antidepressant/anti-anxiety drug but I think she would feel differently (and so would the manufacturers) if they themselves had to experience the horrible “discontinuation symptoms”!! There has actually been a $65 million class action lawsuit filed (against the manufacturers -by the shareholders) and it was not approved by the EU. I am honestly surprised that it has not yet been pulled from the market – that is my hope! But unfortunately, MONEY seems to be the driving factor with the majority of the pharmaceutical companies. I continue to see Pristiq heavily adverstised – including in womens health magazines!!
Not to say that there aren’t drugs that truly help people – but often times they just mask the symptoms – and the side effects are just not worth it.
Wouldn’t it be great if doctors started looking at us like “whole people” – and suggesting lifestyle changes, supplements, exercise, counseling – before starting someone on an antidepressant?? I recently had a doctor tell me that it is now standard practice for returning vets to be given a script for an antidepressant to help reduce the risk for post traumatic stress syndrome. he believes that the increase in these meds are contributing to the rise of suicide among our servicemen and women.
I know I am venting but these are things I believe we should consider. It would be great if there was a way to actually measure the “brain chemistry” – seratonin, dompamine, etc. of someone before prescribing a medication. Now it is just based on symptoms – don’t see how that can be very precise. the silver lining for me in all this is that I have realized how important it is that we are all our own health advocates -and I for one will certainly do my due diligence before ever starting another “daily” medication.

Liked by SB13

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@ggmarie

Woo Hoo!! I am finally off Pristiq!!!! I am feeling normal again, the brain zaps have finally subsided to the rare side now (they are caused by your neurotransmitters firing) and I am just downright happy again! I am smiling, laughing and feeling like myself that I was beginning to question if she would ever be back again. All I can say to all of you is it will take time. There will be side effects while your brain is adjusting, and that is why is important to taper. I went from 100mg to 50mg and tapered off for 3 weeks. I had hoped to do it in 2 weeks but too many symptoms. I am hopeful in renewing my life. I never ever thought that this medication would actually start destroying my life. I lost all de sire to be part of life, felt empty and so emotionless. After 3 years I feel myself again. I am smiling again, joined a gym to help get rid of my weight gain. And just working out has made a difference. I really wish the best to all of you and know that it is a struggle. I did it and it was hard but I will NEVER go on a antidepressant again.

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I’m so sorry for what you are dealing with Karen. It shouldn’t be this difficult. I for one am spreading the word about pristiq. I definitely needed to go on antidepressants when I did, I had been suffering from postpartum depression for 9 months. I was first put on Effexor, which worked for the depression, but I didn’t feel great , so my physician switched me cold turkey to pristiq! Withdrawal from Effexor is similar but not nearly as intense. I recently switched doctors and they have been supportive of the decision but it shocks me how little doctors know or understand about the side effects. I’ve heard everything from, “there’s no such thing as withdrawal from antidepressants” to “you’ll feel like you have the flu”. Wrong, wrong, wrong! You feel like dying for days, but it does get better, you just need to push through those first few days. It’s been 21 days since my last dose and the brain zaps are still frequent but less intense. Within a week, I could start to tolerate normal life again.
I had been on Effexor when I was younger and it worked well. When I came off, my doctor at the time added prosaic, then tapered the Effexor. Once I was off the Effexor, I remained on prosaic for 2 weeks before coming off antidepressants completely. I mentioned this to a couple doctors while on my more recent course of antidepressants, but they looked at me like I had a third eye. This may be something you could try? If you start to taper again, when you’re ready to miss doses and you have crazy side effects, keep going, stay strong and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’ll keep getting worse each day for about three days, and then it will slowly start to improve. It doesn’t feel like it will ever end, but it will. Just keep telling yourself that. I can tell by your posts that you are a strong woman and I know you can do this!

Liked by kdecker003

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@whitblank

I have been on pristiq for 2 1/2 yrs. tomorrow I am going to try to quit cold turkey. I have lost interest in things I’ve alway enjoyed, had major weight gain ( mostly in my stomach) and have had hair loss. I have been on some form of AD for 12 yrs. . I want my old life back! Any suggestions on how to get thru the next few weeks?

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How are you feeling? We’re you able to quit cold turkey?

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@ggmarie

Woo Hoo!! I am finally off Pristiq!!!! I am feeling normal again, the brain zaps have finally subsided to the rare side now (they are caused by your neurotransmitters firing) and I am just downright happy again! I am smiling, laughing and feeling like myself that I was beginning to question if she would ever be back again. All I can say to all of you is it will take time. There will be side effects while your brain is adjusting, and that is why is important to taper. I went from 100mg to 50mg and tapered off for 3 weeks. I had hoped to do it in 2 weeks but too many symptoms. I am hopeful in renewing my life. I never ever thought that this medication would actually start destroying my life. I lost all de sire to be part of life, felt empty and so emotionless. After 3 years I feel myself again. I am smiling again, joined a gym to help get rid of my weight gain. And just working out has made a difference. I really wish the best to all of you and know that it is a struggle. I did it and it was hard but I will NEVER go on a antidepressant again.

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Thank you SO much for your reply!! This is BY FAR the best website that I have found in regards to help in getting off of Pristiq. And yes, I don’t think the doctors or the pharmacists are able to understand the withdrawal/discontinuation symptoms. It is MUCH much different to read about something vs. actual experiencing it!! The pharmaceutical reps prance in to the doctors office telling them about this latest and greatest new drug – and the doctors hand them out to their patients. WE end up getting to be the guinea pigs!! I also learned recently that the testing done prior to release of a drug is usually sponsored and done through the manufacturers… I am not a conspiracist by any means, but I am starting to feel like there is a major “racket” going on (in our Country in particular) when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs. Just look at the lines at the pharmacies …and all of the TV ADS for new drugs – not to mention the HUGE contributions this industry makes to our national elections. Probably not the smartest thing for me to post this – but at this point, my goal/intention/desire is just to help in waking people up – to be their own health advocates and learn to question something before blindly trusting the advice of a doctor. NOT to say that the antidepressants (and other drugs) do not have their place – they do. I know that the Lexapro helped me get through a very rough patch of time in my life – but I don’t want to have to be on something for the rest of my life! I most definitely feel like a slave to Pristiq! Unfortunately, my oldest son (who is only 18) was put on Pristiq at the same time that I was…he was dealing with some anxiety/depression issues (from the divorce). SO both he and I are in this position… he was going to his girlfriends house last night and had to come back by to make sure he had his dosage – since he knows how awful it is to even miss one dose. My hope and prayer is that once I get myself established again financially – that I will be able to take the time needed to help BOTH of us become Pristiq FREE!!
Thanks again for your post and encouragement! It is SO helpful for me to know that I am not alone in this – and that someone else understand.
Just so I am clear – are you recommending that I try a switch to Effexor (with the Prozac) or to add Prozac while I am tapering off Pristiq? I have heard that idea mentioned before. So great to hear that you were SUCCESSFUL in coming off Pristiq – CONGRATULATIONS to you too!! 🙂 Do you mind if I ask if you are now completely off antidepressants? And how you are feeling? If you were able to lose weight (if you had gained it)? I am the heaviest I have ever been and I feel like the weight won’t budge. Took my size 6, 8’s and 10’s to the consignment shop yesterday. I am barely fitting in my size 12’s but I refuse to buy anything bigger! But the weight is only part of it – I just want to feel like myself again and will continue pushing trough till I do…
Take care and God Bless!

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