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

@jen0553

I’ve been taking this demon of a drug for three years and recently had a melt down, I couldn’t see that it was me having the melt down but my loved ones could, after having an accident that has landed me to be off my feet for 4 months and having to give up my buisness which was only ten weeks old and was my life dream, I was at wits end and wanted to get off this drug as I wasn’t seeing life clearly, my relationship started to break down so I’ve come to stay with my mum and get off pristiq for ever!!
I have spoken to my girlfriend who is a community nurse about kicking this drug for good, she explained to me that as I am going through menopause and have thyroid disease that my body is not completely absorbing all the drug so there for I’m not benefiting from it at all, she suggested to cut back by taking pristiq one day and then Effexor the next then to taper by each second day and so on,

As I am at my mums I’ve decided to just begin the journey and taper from 100 to 50 to 25 mg and now nothing and it’s been three weeks since I begun,
My feelings and side effects are horrifying, headaches, dizziness, out of body feeling, aching legs ( bad concidering I’m also in plaster for 12 wks) very sick stomach, aching neck and shoulders and the list goes on, the dreams are bad and I find myself scared to go to sleep because of the severity of them, today is day two of being off the pill altogether and the side effects are worsening….

Does it depend on how long an individual has been on the medication as to how long it takes to be free of the side effects?
Or is it the amount of med that each of us have been on??

Is there an answer as to how long it takes to feel normal? I have not been sad or crying until today and I’m a mess….I just want tit to stop…
Thanks jen

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My life was so effected by this drug!

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@jpbc

I was on Zoloft 50 mg, and went off of it because of weight gain. My doctor said to try Pristiq because it had very little side effects. Even the literature from the pharmacy stated that. I was only on this medication for 8 day 50 mg. I was so jumpy and dizzy. I called my doctor and told her of my symptoms and she said to stop taking it. Well I never thought that only after taking this horrible medication for 8 days that I would experience this kind of withdrawal. I was dizzy, my head felt so funny,so hard to put into words what it felt like. The littlest thing would make me cry. I had to hold onto something as I walked around. Well today is day 4 off this awful medicine. I hope I can feel like myself again. I must mention that I am very sensitive to medication. I just wish that my doctor or the information from the pharmacy would have explained what the side effects are when coming off this medicine. I never would have tried it!!! Hope this helps!!!

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My psychiatrist started me on this in 2012 and increased dose to 200mg. GP refuses to change but increased up to 300mg!!! Blindly trusted docs and tapered down to 250mg early this year. Took only 200mg yesterday and today and symptoms of withdrawal kicking in.
I’m at risk of losing my job because I can’t focus or perform easy tasks. My vision is blurry. Zero libido. No motivation. Only just realised a lot of what I thought was my mental state may be side effects. Very upset at psychiatrist and GP.

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I weaned myself off Pristiq over 2 months. I have been off the drug for 3-4 weeks and still have 5-10 hot flashes every day, terrible nausea and constant low grade headache. This is the most awful drug I have ever taken and should be taken off the market! If you are thinking of starting Pristiq,DON’T. Ask your doctor for something else.

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I am working on it now. My RX for several years was 50mg daily. My Dr. thought take one 50mg every other day for 10 days. Not a good recommendation! I had a lot of symptoms, was thankful that I had read up on it or would have thought myself a hypochondriac. After I researched it and found out 25mg are available to start down the taper and informed him, He had me take the 25mg every day for a week then start at 25mg every other day. I have found my neck tightens up and I ache all over but if I force myself to exercise at least 30 minutes I can work my way through the strange symptoms. I have a stressful job and when I get in the zone which I think causes my own neurotransmitters to kick in I feel better. My spouse has had to listen to me whine a bit as the brain zap (electrical type feelings and the headaches are whineable) I think it is a good medication but much harder to go off than zoloft or lexapro. Oh and I had some insomnia but that has passed shortly. I would have been frightened if I hadnt read a bunch of these forums. I am going off of it because I think it is causing some issues with my salivary glands under the jaw swelling and hurting off and on due to the decrease in the production of saliva. Be good to yourself during this time. Lots of sunshine and exercise and water if at all possible.

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@netty

I am working on it now. My RX for several years was 50mg daily. My Dr. thought take one 50mg every other day for 10 days. Not a good recommendation! I had a lot of symptoms, was thankful that I had read up on it or would have thought myself a hypochondriac. After I researched it and found out 25mg are available to start down the taper and informed him, He had me take the 25mg every day for a week then start at 25mg every other day. I have found my neck tightens up and I ache all over but if I force myself to exercise at least 30 minutes I can work my way through the strange symptoms. I have a stressful job and when I get in the zone which I think causes my own neurotransmitters to kick in I feel better. My spouse has had to listen to me whine a bit as the brain zap (electrical type feelings and the headaches are whineable) I think it is a good medication but much harder to go off than zoloft or lexapro. Oh and I had some insomnia but that has passed shortly. I would have been frightened if I hadnt read a bunch of these forums. I am going off of it because I think it is causing some issues with my salivary glands under the jaw swelling and hurting off and on due to the decrease in the production of saliva. Be good to yourself during this time. Lots of sunshine and exercise and water if at all possible.

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@solveig, @netty, I am curious how you both are doing with withdrawing from Pristiq. I am 70, fully retired, and otherwise in good health although very over weight. I was on 50 mg Pristiq for probably 14 years now. It was necessary when I started, I suffered form anxiety and depression along with menopause, and it saw me through some very difficult times. For several reasons, my doctor and I feel that it is time to stop, so about 3 months ago he prescribed the 25mg dose with instructions to take it for aboutt 21/2 weeks, then take it every other day for about same amount of time, then stop. He admitted that he was not familiar with this particular SNRI, so we've been flying by the seat of our pants. I had no major problems taking the 25 mg, but taking it every other day was horrible- I felt like a pingpong ball -experiencing "brain zaps" and dizziness, appetite swings, body aches and mental lassitude, a bit better the next day , then even worse the following. In frustration, I decided to cut the 25 mg in half and take it dally for about 3 weeks. I then cut the pills in 1/4 for another week with few side affects (I know I wasn't getting even doses, but I wanted wean myself off slowly.) That helped, so 10 days ago I stopped completely. No brain zaps, but spells of vertigo, terrible memory fog, body aches, insomnia. There are days when I think I am moving past this, but then I'll have a terrible day with all the symptoms. My son & daughter-in-law, both mental health professionals, say there is very little research about going off these types of SNRI's and it could take 1 -2 months to "re-wire" my brain. I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. i get discouraged and sometimes wonder if I should resume at 25 mg to stop this mental and physical withdrawal. Hope things are improving for you

Liked by losangeles90027

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Thank you for checking back with me. I am having symptoms but question whether they may be from my not typical depression and anxiety rather than discontinuation of the Pristiq. I have only 3 pills left of the 25mg every other day. I have tension in the muscles you use to chew, it radiates in to a headache and ear pain. I have been going to a very sympathetic chiropractor. She is working on the muscles. The weird thing about the pain is that it moves from side to side. Ibuprofen or tylenol take it away enough to ignore it. It was miserable enough that my regular Dr. had me get a CT of the neck a soft tissue Ct . He felt like it was my lymph nodes causing trouble. Nothing bad showed . I do not like to tell him much about the odd ball symptoms as unless you have been there and experienced these strange things like the zaps and vertigo and aching it sounds like your nuts! I am determined to fight the depression with sunshine exercise nutrition chiropractic and my daughter highly recommended a cortisol manager over the counter supplement , meditation and mindful deep breathing. I am going to give it another month for sure to see if I can do it. I have a very stressful job that I love and I have been able to ignore the symptoms when really busy.. I am sleeping ok sometimes have to take the ibuprofen. Oh the other thing that really helps is a muscle relaxer Skelaxin . Hang in there everyone. If I am still having to fight to feel good every day I may consider another SSRI but also liked the focus the SNRI part of pristiq had.

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@barnhart

I have been forced to stop my Prestiq since my doctor does not give refills untill appointment every 3 months and I run out 1 week prior to being seen. This time she was out of town and I was going out of town. I quit cold turkey. I am (4 days later) still dizzy. DIZZY! I can not move my head side to side or I loose my balance ( not to mention my lunch). My ears are ringing so loud I was sure others could hear it. I refuse to start taking it again. I had the same problem with Cymbalta. I started these medications 6 years ago with the loss of job, mother in law, both parents and empty nest. I think I am better now. I just hope these symptoms end. Any suggestions?

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Going to try it. Thanks for posting

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Thank you @netty and @nonnivee ! I'm mid 40s and have been on antidepressants (first Zoloft for 8 years, now Pristiq for past 8) for years and I'm really REALLY nervous to get off of them, yet know I want to give it a try. I take 100 mg daily. When I began, back in the early 2000s I had a ton of anxiety and depression (a lot due to alcohol misuse, which I'm now 5+ years sober from) and want to give a non meds world a go :). but again — super scared to try due to side effects and all discussed.

My psychiatrist insists that Pristiq should take no more than 2 weeks to taper off of and that "all" his other patients "do fine" and that the longer taper stories are a myth etc. And I want to trust that yet don't… (he's been cavalier in the past about other things). Has anyone heard of this short taper?

I have quit many things in my life (alcohol, cigarettes, sugar… to name a few) yet THIS is the one that has me stopped in my tracks.

Thoughts appreciated. thanks! 🙂

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My Dr. who I actually work with and respect on other areas is unknowing in this area. I went to a pharmacist that I trust and he told me that 2 weeks was way to short of a time. I told my Dr. the same and told him about the 25mg. I would say one thing if you are doing well and not having problems just to be drug free is not a good reason to get off an antidepressant. I only did because of the dry mouth issue that caused me problems. It is ok to take medications that you need. I do not profess to know what you should do. But if you are doing great with no side effects you may be just on the right med for this stage of your life. Why mess with it?

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@netty

My Dr. who I actually work with and respect on other areas is unknowing in this area. I went to a pharmacist that I trust and he told me that 2 weeks was way to short of a time. I told my Dr. the same and told him about the 25mg. I would say one thing if you are doing well and not having problems just to be drug free is not a good reason to get off an antidepressant. I only did because of the dry mouth issue that caused me problems. It is ok to take medications that you need. I do not profess to know what you should do. But if you are doing great with no side effects you may be just on the right med for this stage of your life. Why mess with it?

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Thanks for your reply 🙂 As for why I want to try to get off meds — in addition to my own desire to figure out if I truly do need them or if the depression/anxiety were alcohol related…

my Dr. has said that he would like me to do so, because certain meds hit a point where they stop working due to hitting a tolerance level and he wants to do a hard reset of my body with regards to being on psychotropic meds and that then if/when I hit a depressive cycle (which he assumes I will) and ultimately would need them again, they will have a renewed ability to work… I know — sounds crazy, right? Even typing it makes me question the sanity!

Basically he wants me to get off them; give my body a break, then start me back on something new.

Has anyone been through something as crazy sounding as this?

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Please see another thread "Weaning off Pristiq"

There is a group,

http://www.Survivingantidepressants.org

that has the best information and has been included in medical journals because information on withdrawal is an unstudied area and extremely different from person to person. Genetics, liver metabolism, length of treatment, other meds, and many other variables are thought to be involved.

There are excellent medical journal references included.

Pristiq is notoriously difficult because of the few dosage strengths and coating.

I am not posting this to scare anyone, but to help avoid potentially dangerous results as happened to me.

Wishing the best to all.

Liked by losangeles90027

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Hi @nativefloridian, It seems from your message that you are not sure about your decision and it happens to all of us in some issues that could result in negative reactions towards what we believe is necessary in creating the normal life and stability, however reading and getting information from some study researches that been conducted in the field help our thoughts to Pristiq, as the experience of every person is independent and would be less than others similarities.

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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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@kmunroe Thanks for sharing this info. I am currently in process of withdrawing from this medication (3rd day without). You're not wrong, side effects are awful! Night terrors & brain zaps/dizziness in particular. Wasn't aware night terrors were apart of withdrawals until I read your post, make sense. Was going to go cold turkey, wiser now though. Cheers!

Liked by shlezomania123

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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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Hi @missymooha, welcome to Connect.
You mention that you are now on your 3rd day without Pristiq. What was your taper schedule to get this point?
PS: Glad you didn't go cold turkey.

Liked by Lisa Lucier

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The real issues about tapering off of these drugs is that NOBODY understands the multitude of ways they affect the body and make permanent changes to the cardiovascular system, brain, neuromuscular, endocrine, etc. Doctors, especially, do not understand or try to. If you are one who has bad post acute withdrawal (hits after off of the drug), reinstating the drug may not work. I can't emphasize that enough. It's not as simple as "I'll go off and go back on if I have to". Some people have no problems at all and others are permanently disabled by withdrawal.

Serotonin has numerous effects on the cardiovascular system, for example. It is stored in platelets, effects clotting, vasodilation, just to name a few. Since I tapered off of Pristiq over a YEAR in 2010-11, my BP and heart rate will not stabilize. They swing wildly within a minute or two. It's autonomic dysfunction, but no doctors understand it in this context or know how to control it. It's not unusual for my BP to be 60/30ish. Then go up to 160/110 within a short time. It's horrible. Same with heartrate. There are really no treatments for low BP (SSRIs are mentioned to increase BP), but when it swings both ways, it's hard to treat. A pacemaker has been suggested for heartrate. I'm aware of a few other people who've required pacemakers after withdrawal. I am mostly bedbound because this is so erratic and I pass out. It is posdibly neurogenic.

I had NO early warning signs or typical acute withdrawal symptoms during tapering. No zaps, nausea, etc. So, I marched on. I'm now on more drugs than before I tapered off of Pristiq. I've been to doctors across the USA, all with conflicting diagnoses. I have brain lesions, but no specific dx aside from autoimmune diseases that may be causing lesions. SS/NRIs do trigger autoimmune diseases, lupus, in particular. It does not go away with removal of the drug.

My best advice to people is don't start these drugs until every possible medical, nutritional, vitamin, mineral disorder is ruled out and serious therapy is used. I was put on Zoloft in '93 for mild fatigue and not depression or anxiety. I had immediate neuromuscular movement reactions, but no doctor made the connection until recently. I lost everything at age 39 — career, home…life as I knew it. Then, withdrawal made everything so much worse. I'm now 55 and have no life and am too sick to try. I have no family, friends don't know how to help, and they fall away after a few years of being sick.

Please, please be very cautious, go slowly, never CT, don't skip doses, etc. You may have no problems or you may end up like me or worse.

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