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.

@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.

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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!

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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!! ­čÖé 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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@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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Ya, I was just wondering if adding prosaic might help, definitely don’t add Effexor! I am off antidepressants completely, and feel good. Because I still have some lingering withdrawal symptoms, I don’t feel great yet. Sleep has been an issue, but its probably more situational then withdrawal. I lost a ton of weight when I first went on Effexor a year and a half ago, 5’8″ and 105lb! I’ve been putting weight back on over the last 6 months or so but it’s just kind of brought me back to pre-antidepressant weight.

My thoughts are with you and your son, I hope you can complete this journey soon. It nice that you have each other to support through this. Do you have any other children?

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Hi all. Just found you and wanted to jump in to add that I did cold turkey off of Pristiq a week ago and so far so good. I know that’s not the recommended way, but frankly I don’t think many know how to prescribe or discontinue a lot of these drugs. Particularly not a GP, which is all I have right now. My biggest complaint was this flattened emotional state I see so many complaining about, as well as my general distrust of the safety of the drug. I’m retired, so I could afford any w/d related downtime. I’d been on it six months after being on several other ADs, due mostly to chronic pain and six joint replacements in the past eight years. The surgeries should be done with now, unless my head falls off lol, and I am ready to get on with “real life”, but I just suspect the Pristiq was flatlining my desire to do anything. So now, it’s a bit scary to see if that lethargy and apathy is the real me or not. Hope not! Anyway, I think I’ve been lucky. Negligible headaches, the usual brain zaps and dizziness, tinnitus, but nothing intolerable at all – tho I will say I have enough experience to know to expect the worst, so maybe I wasn’t as freaked out by the w/d as a newby to the process would be. I am not encouraging anyone to do it this way, but I thought long and hard about it and decided to journal it and watch myself carefully – and I told family members to keep an eye on me. I just wasn’t too excited about drawing out the w/d duration, tho I’m sure if you have work, school, etc., you may not be able to give yourself the luxury of babying yourself, taking naps (or just holing up when your head buzzes and you can’t sleep), etc. to get you through it. Anyway, good luck, and please be sure to take advantage of professional help and advice available to you!

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@icklin

Hi all. Just found you and wanted to jump in to add that I did cold turkey off of Pristiq a week ago and so far so good. I know that’s not the recommended way, but frankly I don’t think many know how to prescribe or discontinue a lot of these drugs. Particularly not a GP, which is all I have right now. My biggest complaint was this flattened emotional state I see so many complaining about, as well as my general distrust of the safety of the drug. I’m retired, so I could afford any w/d related downtime. I’d been on it six months after being on several other ADs, due mostly to chronic pain and six joint replacements in the past eight years. The surgeries should be done with now, unless my head falls off lol, and I am ready to get on with “real life”, but I just suspect the Pristiq was flatlining my desire to do anything. So now, it’s a bit scary to see if that lethargy and apathy is the real me or not. Hope not! Anyway, I think I’ve been lucky. Negligible headaches, the usual brain zaps and dizziness, tinnitus, but nothing intolerable at all – tho I will say I have enough experience to know to expect the worst, so maybe I wasn’t as freaked out by the w/d as a newby to the process would be. I am not encouraging anyone to do it this way, but I thought long and hard about it and decided to journal it and watch myself carefully – and I told family members to keep an eye on me. I just wasn’t too excited about drawing out the w/d duration, tho I’m sure if you have work, school, etc., you may not be able to give yourself the luxury of babying yourself, taking naps (or just holing up when your head buzzes and you can’t sleep), etc. to get you through it. Anyway, good luck, and please be sure to take advantage of professional help and advice available to you!

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Thank you for your post – feedback and encouragement! Good to hear of another person making it through the “discontinuation symptoms” associated with Pristiq – and also that you found them to be tolerable. I wonder if the length of time on the med (and dosage) make a difference? I would imagine so. Please post again and provide an update with how you are feeling/doing off the medication. Best wishes!

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@sillygrandma

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.

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Hi there – thank you for your post – and the great info on the supplements! I have started taking the fish oil pills and need to add vitamin D to my regime. Think they both provide a huge support. So good to hear of another success story of someone coming off pristiq – congrats! :)). Do you mind sharing how long you were on this RX, the dosage and your method for tapering down? I have been on 100 mg for almost 2 years now. Have seen a noticeable decline in my overall health – weight gain and my mood. The flatlining described is pretty accurate – and have become very introverted (desire to be my myself) when used to be very extroverted and outgoing. My family has noticed a change in me too. Have tried several times to taper down to 50mg with no success – the symptoms were intolerable and put me out for a few days – hard to do with 3 kids and getting myself back to work. I’ve found a few new tips on here and am gearing myself up to try again. Thanks again!

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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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Hi there – yes – I have three boys total. 18, 16 and 12. I know all of this has had an impact on them as well – not to mention the financial difficulty that we are now experiencing since i have been out of work for 6 months. I am just getting started back to work but honestly feel like I am “limping along”. Don’t feel that great physically and kind of numb emotionally, I can honestly look back over the last 2+ years of being on Pristiq (and adderall which I was put on a couple months after being on pristiq due to feeling “foggy” and see/feel that this is not good for me. Of course you could say – well maybe it is just depression – but it would be so nice to know what my “real” normal state would be. I don’t buy the idea of having to stay on an antidepressant for life! I am sure though that it changes the overall chemistry of the brain – just wondering how long it takes to readjust. Thank you for your suggestion and support! Would it be possible to email you directly with a couple other questions? Take care!!

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I have been on Pristiq about 2 months and all I wanted too do was sleep. I have 2 kids 9 and 3. I am so miserable so I haven’t took one in 2 days!!! I am dizzy feeling sick to my stomach. I am done with antidepressants!!!

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