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

@kcollins719

I took Pristiq for about 2.5 weeks (50mg) due to random pains (neck, calf, groin, arm, etc) that nobody could pinpoint a cause for and my doctor believed it to be caused by a combination of depression/hypochondria/anxiety. So he put me on Pristiq. I had swore never to try pills again after attempting Lexapro and Citalopram with no results good or bad, Paxil and Buspar with immediate negative side effects, Lorazepram and Ativan due to dependency and withdrawal difficulties. But I was so frustrated with taking blood tests and x-rays I agreed to try Pristiq. I’d never heard of it and when I initially looked for information it seemed to be one of the more positively accepted and helpful drugs.

After a week I developed a slightly swollen throat or tonsils which felt like food was getting stuck in my throat. It was very uncomfortable. I stopped taking the Pristiq because I thought it might be a mild allergic reaction (I have no known allergies however). I saw my doctor 5 days later and told her I stopped taking the Pristiq and she said “good,” and wanted to see if the throat issue went away. Granted, it had been 5 days and during this time, I’d had no withdrawal symptoms. That night I had an extremely vivid and frightening dream…I’ve heard you rarely dream in color or can feel, but this was one of the most detailed, vividly colored, and scary dreams and I couldn’t wake up. And I could feel pain and discomfort in the dream. I woke up in a near panic attack.

It’s been another 5 days since then and have had an odd headache, more dreams though not as vivid or frightening, I’ve become almost violently irritable (punched a wall, beat some furniture, and yelled at my pets for about an hour straight), and just now had a bout of possible arrhythmia or very heavy heart beats. So I was on it for about 17 days and off it for 10 days…when can I expect these withdrawal symptoms to end?? They seem to be getting worse and more frightening.

(ALSO, SINCE STOPPING THE PRISTIQ I’VE HAD NO SEX DRIVE AND ALMOST NO ERECTIONS WHICH IS VERY ABNORMAL. IT SEEMS TO BE GETTING SLIGHTLY BETTER EACH DAY BUT STILL, THIS IS VERY SCARY AND TOTALLY NOT WORTH IT.)

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Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve been sleeping/sleepy a lot but it does seem to help to go out and about. Social interaction and exercise does seem to make it better or at least get my mind off of it. I don’t think exercise is ever a bad thing if done responsibly. But I’m in the same boat. I’m playing it by ear and just listening to my body.

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@shellirosecat

there is also a good discussion site for the weaning process: medschat.com with a specific Pristiq forum. Some of these people have been successful with weaning off the med.

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Also shttp://survivingantidepressants.org/ is another community with a very active forum.

Liked by Shellirosecat

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@shellirosecat

there is also a good discussion site for the weaning process: medschat.com with a specific Pristiq forum. Some of these people have been successful with weaning off the med.

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thank you…I will check it out whenever i get home tonight. I am in week one every other day. I am constantly praying to the Lord too. Keeping a good calendar, etc. Thanks again for the response

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I took 100 mg Zoloft for depression for 8 years and tapered off it this summer. I had my annual gyn exam and was told that loss of libido could be attributed to it. When I visited my Primary doc in August, he suggested Pristiq, and gave me a few samples and a scrip for 50 mg. I began taking it on Aug 26. In retrospect, I feel foolish for not having done more research before I began taking it. I began experiencing nausea and weight GAIN within a week, but continued to take it, thinking the side effects would diminish. Last Saturday (9/20/13), I had 3 episodes of vomiting, which I attributed to Pristiq since I had no other symptoms. Another factor was the expense of the drug. My insurance paid nothing on this drug and one month cost me $195.17. That’s well over $6/day for a drug I do not like.

I took my last 50 mg dose the next day, and after a lot of reading, decided it is not the drug for me. My doc is on vacation, so I stopped cold turkey, foolishly (again!), thinking that since I had taken it less than a month, that I would not have many symptoms. I had no withdrawal symptoms Monday, and only mild ones Tues (tinnitus, slight headache). Wednesday was horrible! Zaps, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, general “out of it” feeling. I took 50 mg Dramamine every 8 hrs and 25 mg every 4 hours, drank LOTS of water, and stayed outside as much as possible. I have continued the Dramamine and Benadryl today, and the withdrawal symptoms have diminished to a bearable level. I am hoping that each day will bring diminishing symptoms.

My intent is not to take any prescription antidepressant from this point on. I have told my husband what I am doing and asked him to please let me know if he sees my demeanor change. If so, I will consider SAM-e or 5-HTP. If you have experience with either or both of these supplements, I would appreciate hearing from you!

Reading on this bulletin board yesterday was a source of strength yesterday when I felt so awful. I really appreciate all of you who have shared your experience!

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@hopetobedrugfree

My doctor had me go from 100mg of Pristiq to 50mg over 3 months. Then, when I saw her yesterday and told her that I didn’t experience any major withdrawal problems, she gave me the following schedule for the next 14 weeks:

every 2 days for 4 weeks, then
every 3 days for 3 weeks, then
every 4 days for 3 weeks, then
every 5 days for 2 weeks, then
every 7 days for 2 weeks

This may be overly cautious but if it lessens the withdrawal problems, I can live with it.

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Are you totally off the Pristiq now? You had no side effects? Are you on anything now?

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has anyone taken the natural med Ashwagandha and/or 5HTP while or after weaning off Pristiq?

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@skherren

I wnated to share my son’s story with trying to get off Pristiq. We went to the doctor thsi summer to talk to him about weaning my 18 year old son off Pristiq. He had been taking 50 mg for 8 months. He made a plan where he would be off in about a month- starting by alternating one day on and one day off then going to two days off and one on etc. This did not work and we called the doctor to tell him about the terrible withdrawal symptoms he was having. He just told us to continue doing the same thinga dn it would eventually get better. He said it make take more time. Well after 6 weeks we were at 2 days off and one day on Pristiq and the side effects got much worse. I was afraid for him to try to go 3 days off in a row and then take one 50 mg tablet. It just seemed to be confusing his brain. After reading other people’s stories online, I knew he wasn’t alone. I called the drug company and they were no help at all. I called the FDA to talk to them about this. They encoruaged me to file report. They said they had been receiving many complaints but they only way they would take this off the market is if people take the time to file written complaints. I did. WE decided to take his tablets to a compouding pharmacy and see if they could make smaller doses up for him so he could wean off more gradually. The ppharmacist agreed to do this. He ground the 50 mg tablets up and made several smaller doses. He put a chemcial in that made these new doses tiume released. He made doses at a 10% reduction and made 10 -14 days for each dose. This worked very well. Since my son had been going 2 days off and one day on the medicine, we figured he was at 33% of 50 or 16 mg at the time we decided to do this. So the pharmacist made his first dose at 15 mg. This took about 2 weeks to adjust to but the symptoms were much less severe since he was taking a stable dose each day and his body had time to adjust. to it. Then my son went down to 10 mg and he only had to take that 7 days before going to 5 mg. He has taken that 5 days without any problems. He is feeling really good now after haing a terrible summer of horrible withdrawlal symptoms. I really believe he would have never been able to get off this medicine if we had not done gone to the compounding pharmacy .. College was starting for him and he would not have been able to continue with those terrible withdrawls symptoms. He had a full scholarship and this medicine was causing us to think he might not even be able to start this fall. I think if we hadn’t of gone to the compoudning pharmacy we would have probably just gone back to 50 mg so he could function in college.
I just wanted to share our story. If you have a compounding pharmacy available that is the way to go. It is just infuriating that Pfizer will not make the dosages needed to wean off this drug! When I called the FDA I aked them to send me the clinical trial information. The information states that there are withdrawals if you decrease the dosage by 5% or less. They knew this but only made a 50 mg dose and 100 mg dose??? They make a pill that you cannot cut into lower dosages or it will dump in your system?? They are SO liable for all this pain and suffereng people are going through. If anyone wants to start a class action lawsuit, I’m interested .

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Any chance you can share the name of the compounding pharmacy that helped your son.. I’m trying to do the same for my daughter! The pharmacy’s in my area have never done this. Thank you

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@lbgr1960

I thought I’d add my voice to this discussion. I’m a 52 year old female, and started taking Pristiq in late 2011, 50 mg, for mild anxiety. I just wanted to not feel so stressed all the time, and my doctor was happy to let me try medicating it. The Pristiq didn’t help with my anxiety; learning my own coping mechanisms is the way to go.

It’s now Saturday 8/31/13 and I have been trying to stop Pristiq for about a month, because I don’t want to be taking something I don’t need. Plus, I had the shortness of breath, and had gained a lot of weight on it (much of which I’ve lost in the last several months through a nutrition and exercise program). I tried putting myself on a schedule of taking it every 27 hours for a week, then every 30 hours, then every 36 hours, etc. – gradually increasing the time between doses. I did ok until I got to every 48 hours, and then it was the ping-pong effect of one day ok (after taking a pill), then the next day feeling brain zaps, dizziness, and nausea.

So last Sunday I decided to grit my teeth and quit cold turkey. The last pill I took was last Saturday night, so the first dose I skipped was Sunday night. Thus, I count Monday as my first day off the drug. The week has been rough, but I still managed to go to work and do the things I need to do. I’ve had brain zaps, tinnitus, and vertigo. The brain zaps lessened a couple of days go and the tinnitus became more prevalent. The vertigo is the main thing bothering me – I feel nauseous in a carsick kind of way. I’m about to go get some “coculus indicus” which someone I trust told me is a homeopathic remedy for nausea. I’ve read this forum and haven’t been able to discern what the consensus is for how long the withdrawal symptoms generally last, but I am really hoping that by the start of the next work week I’m doing better.

One thing I’ve noticed is that when I go to the gym and work out (lifting), it makes the worst of the symptoms go away for a little while. That’s the best relief I’ve found, besides stuffing my face with food, which also works. But I don’t want to gain weight through the withdrawal process.

This post is kind of rambling .. which is another symptom of the withdrawal … my thoughts have been disjointed and I keep finding myself losing my train of thought. Oh, and I’ve been having crazy, epic dreams at night. I will be so glad when I’m back to normal.

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Update, 10/3/13. Still have tinnitus, but the rest of the symptoms seem to be gone. That being said, I recently made a priority of getting plenty of sleep, which I think has a lot to do with my feeling better. I also exercise daily.

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Hi all, I read a lot of forums before deciding to go off pristiq cold turkey so I wanted to share my experience with others. I read about a lot of people having trouble with alternating days or cutting tablets to reduce their dose and having a lot of sustained withdrawal symptoms. I have always been impatient and I was ready to
come off the pills and did not want to prolong any withdrawal symptoms, I knew I was feeling strong enough to go cold turkey and get it done.

My experience is probably not for everyone but I came off 100mg cold turkey and it was nowhere near as bad as I expected. I had a very fuzzy head on days 2-4 and an extreme headache on day 4. After that though, I woke to a much clearer head, not only from the pristiq withdrawals, but clearer than I’d been in a long time on pristiq. Following that I had the occasional minor brain zap when I moved my head too quickly or had a few drinks but it was certainly nothing I couldn’t handle.

All in all, my experience was so much more positive than I expected it to be and I feel 100 times better being off pristiq. I just wanted to let people know that there is no one approach that works for everyone but if you feel that going cold turkey might work for you, you should give it a shot. If it’s not working out, there’s always the option of going back on then tapering off. I hope this is helpful as I found a lot of posts prior to making my decision.

Liked by missymooha

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I have been on Pristiq for 3.5 years for general mild anxiety, stress and severe chronic irritability and frustration. I started on 50mg and was increased to 100mg after a family tragedy a year ago. If I miss a dose I can usually notice within 12-24 hours because of the irritability and vertigo. The duration of my treatment I became a much less anxious and nicer person to live with, but had little sex drive and difficulty achieving orgasm. I lost my edge a bit, but I think Pristiq was a positive thing for me during that time. I went off cold turkey on Sunday because I found out I am pregnant. The symptoms are pretty rough. Lots of sweating, severe vertigo/dizziness, crying and irritability, crazy dreams and headache. Some shakiness, as well. I think the best route would be to go down to 50mg for a while and then go cold turkey. Taking it every other day or every 3-4 days is like stopping and starting over and over. I have called my doctor’s office 4 times and left messages for the nurse with no response, so I am grateful to read this forum and get some reassurance. I am a nurse and am pretty pissed at the situation. Oh, another symptom…slight paranoia. I look normal to myself when I look in the mirror, but when I’m at work I feel like everyone thinks there is something wrong with me. Exercise definitely eases the symptoms, temporarily. Hang in there, Everyone! P.S. My last dose was Saturday.

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One last tip….it took 2 months to realize the positive effects of Pristiq after I started taking it. Nausea was another side effect. The acute side effects were gone after 2 weeks, but I didn’t feel much benefit for 2 months. My sister is a physician and kept coaching me to stay with it.

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@hopetobedrugfree

My doctor had me go from 100mg of Pristiq to 50mg over 3 months. Then, when I saw her yesterday and told her that I didn’t experience any major withdrawal problems, she gave me the following schedule for the next 14 weeks:

every 2 days for 4 weeks, then
every 3 days for 3 weeks, then
every 4 days for 3 weeks, then
every 5 days for 2 weeks, then
every 7 days for 2 weeks

This may be overly cautious but if it lessens the withdrawal problems, I can live with it.

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I went through the four weeks of taking 50 Mg every other day. No side effects. At the end of four weeks and as I was starting the routine of taking 50 Mg every third day, I was on a cruise and had a anxiety attack. Now 10 days later, I am having anxiety attacks when I wake up. I am able to calm myself down and function somewhat normally but I get prickly feeling all over my body along with occasional warm feeling throughout my body. Looking forward to better days.

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I quit Pristiq cold turkey the night before my wedding. I haven’t experienced any withdraw effects at all and that was 10 days ago. I was on it for 6 months,and I haven’t had any with so I guess everyone is different.

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@kmunroe

I wanted to post this to help anyone withdrawing or considering withdrawl from pristiq.I was taking 50 mg’s per day for 2 years. I didn’t want to take any drugs anymore. I wanted to “battle” on my own. No judgement – I hated my side effects from the drug. I experienced a signifigant lack of intrests in all things creative, sex, music (i am a life long musician) Also I felt it deadened my ability to be passionate about anything? I never actually “felt” anything while taking the drug? Before I started it I felt absolutely hopeless, if not for my animals I don’t know what I may have done. ok – I decided 6 weeks ago I was getting off this drug. I spoke with my doctor and started to taper. 50 mg everyother day for 10 days, than I cut the pills in half(yes I know NOW there was a time release coating) for 10 days, than cut into quarters (12.5 mg’s for 5 days, now 3 days completely off. IT HAS BEEN VERY DIFFICULT. This drug is a beast. Side effects have included horrible VIVID nightmares of betrayl, weird taste in my mouth, weird smells, weight all over the map, feeling like constant out of body experience, mood swings, despair, insomnia. But – it is getting better every day. There is life after pristiq… I have focussed through all of my symptoms on knowing – it is the withdrawl! NOT ME! Hard to do. But do able. Just know in your core it is the drug NOT YOU losing it. For me – it seems like this drug surpressed my emotions/feelings/issues the moment it got in my system and now i’m dealing with these issues again as I coming off the drug. I admit I am way better suited Now compared to 2 years ago to deal with these things and not everybody will be as “LUCKY” as I am, so just know that. Also, I let everyone close to me know what I was doing for support reasons. If anyone has any questions I would humbly lend advice and support. MY DOCTOR IS COMPLETELY INEPT AND INCOMPETENT RE: PRISTIQ AND ALL MATTERS RELATING TO PRISTIQ! Remember – you are NOT alone. Just reach out…

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1 week off of pristiq and I feel absolutely horrible…
More so at night time’s as I’m busy throughout the day with my children..
How long do the brain zaps, headaches, dizziness and feeling short of breath last?
I wish I never went on it, not something the doc should prescribe just for anxiety… quitting cold turkey

Liked by missymooha

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@kmunroe

I wanted to post this to help anyone withdrawing or considering withdrawl from pristiq.I was taking 50 mg’s per day for 2 years. I didn’t want to take any drugs anymore. I wanted to “battle” on my own. No judgement – I hated my side effects from the drug. I experienced a signifigant lack of intrests in all things creative, sex, music (i am a life long musician) Also I felt it deadened my ability to be passionate about anything? I never actually “felt” anything while taking the drug? Before I started it I felt absolutely hopeless, if not for my animals I don’t know what I may have done. ok – I decided 6 weeks ago I was getting off this drug. I spoke with my doctor and started to taper. 50 mg everyother day for 10 days, than I cut the pills in half(yes I know NOW there was a time release coating) for 10 days, than cut into quarters (12.5 mg’s for 5 days, now 3 days completely off. IT HAS BEEN VERY DIFFICULT. This drug is a beast. Side effects have included horrible VIVID nightmares of betrayl, weird taste in my mouth, weird smells, weight all over the map, feeling like constant out of body experience, mood swings, despair, insomnia. But – it is getting better every day. There is life after pristiq… I have focussed through all of my symptoms on knowing – it is the withdrawl! NOT ME! Hard to do. But do able. Just know in your core it is the drug NOT YOU losing it. For me – it seems like this drug surpressed my emotions/feelings/issues the moment it got in my system and now i’m dealing with these issues again as I coming off the drug. I admit I am way better suited Now compared to 2 years ago to deal with these things and not everybody will be as “LUCKY” as I am, so just know that. Also, I let everyone close to me know what I was doing for support reasons. If anyone has any questions I would humbly lend advice and support. MY DOCTOR IS COMPLETELY INEPT AND INCOMPETENT RE: PRISTIQ AND ALL MATTERS RELATING TO PRISTIQ! Remember – you are NOT alone. Just reach out…

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Did u step off gradually? I did half doses for two months then every other day for a month. It took several months for the brain zaps to stop completely. It\’s with it in the end but I would strongly suggest not stopping cold turkey! That\’s dangerous! I also supplemented with Rhodelia Rodea and St. John\’s wart for the anxiety and mood swings, it helps and it\’s all natural.
I will NEVER take an anti depressant again because if Pristiq!
Hang in there and good luck.

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