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

@cmadison

@niceguy I am glad to hear you are off Pristiq!. You give me hope I can successfully wean myself off. For the others out there, I started using Pristiq after my hysterectomy, when my Cymbalta was reacting with other medicines I was also on at the time. I have been on Pristiq since October 2014 (ouch, that's a long time). I started at 50mg (too strong), went to 25mg, back up to 50mg (during a difficult transition and extreme job stresses), then back down to 25mg (left that job). But I had not felt "myself" for a few years, and decided at the end of July to go off it. By the end August I was reluctantly on it again because I began hating who I was even though I was eating right, exercising, and keeping busy outdoors. I was gaining weight and overall felt horrible. In September I decided to think of alternative medications, and I got approved for my medical cannabis card. Now I treat my depression, anxiety, focus, and general overall better health with that, so I started the process of weaning off again. Got to 25mg every other day, but when I tried to increase the days between in December, I had to go back to 25mg every other day (at my family's encouragement) because I became so depressed I was crying and generally so sad when I tried to do three to four days between pills. I couldn't spend the holidays and a special trip we had planned in January like that, so I went back to 25mg every other day for two weeks, then reduced it to 12.5mg for the past few weeks every other day. I want to be off this, so on Sunday I tried three days between pills, and I am agitated, anxious, teary, and extremely bloated feeling and uncomfortable in my own skin. I refuse to give up this time and will wean off this medication once and for all. I will stay on the every three days between pills for another two weeks, then go to half that? or to 12.5mg once a week? Not really sure what to do. I am afraid to go cold turkey because my agitation is affecting me at work with my co-workers and at home with my family.

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@cmadison, Hi, I got off Pristiq slowly after being on it since 4/16.. Tapered down from 25 mg.. then 12.5 mg.. off of it completely since 12/29.. hard.. anxiety, dizzy spells, more anger, depression, adrenalin like rushes etc.. Do it slowly.. may have to take something for anxiety that gets worse when you come off… I then went on Cymbalta, 25 mg. for just five days.. made me a nervous wreck.. I have cervical neck stenosis and bad nerve pain, Cymbalta supposed to help.. It is possible to get off the Pristiq. It used to make me somewhat nervous and tired and feel nothing and sometimes raise my heart rate and BP. I also was never ever able to lose wt on it.. and made my bloating and constipation worse.. I got off Effexor, reg. after 10 years and that was HeLL.. I Hate all these meds.. hard to get them to work and very tough to get off of.. It is possible however.. Wishing you all the luck and strength and support to get off of it completely.. SNRI's and SSRI's are pretty hard on your Brain and Nervous system and Body as a whole. J.

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I did and it is possible.. just do it slowly and under the guidance of a Psychiatrist.. wean off slowly..

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@nativefloridian , I did get off the Pristiq slowly.. see my response to C. Madison.. it is hard but doable under the care and supervision of an MD.. I had the same response when the extended release would kick in.. heart rate would feel too fast and I felt a rush of adrenalin like feeling.. I slowly went down from 25 mg. every other day, then 12.5 mg every other day.. then slowly off of it.. Off of it since 12/29/18 and was on it from 4/16- 12/29/18. SSNRI's are weird and tough on our brains, nervous systems and bodies.. so are SSRI's.. I never was able to lose wt. on it either.. stayed the same and made my bloating and constipation worse and my IBS worse and you never feel hungry and sexual desire waned but not as bad as some other meds.. Hope this helps.. Good Luck and you can do it!! J.

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@cmadison

@niceguy I am glad to hear you are off Pristiq!. You give me hope I can successfully wean myself off. For the others out there, I started using Pristiq after my hysterectomy, when my Cymbalta was reacting with other medicines I was also on at the time. I have been on Pristiq since October 2014 (ouch, that's a long time). I started at 50mg (too strong), went to 25mg, back up to 50mg (during a difficult transition and extreme job stresses), then back down to 25mg (left that job). But I had not felt "myself" for a few years, and decided at the end of July to go off it. By the end August I was reluctantly on it again because I began hating who I was even though I was eating right, exercising, and keeping busy outdoors. I was gaining weight and overall felt horrible. In September I decided to think of alternative medications, and I got approved for my medical cannabis card. Now I treat my depression, anxiety, focus, and general overall better health with that, so I started the process of weaning off again. Got to 25mg every other day, but when I tried to increase the days between in December, I had to go back to 25mg every other day (at my family's encouragement) because I became so depressed I was crying and generally so sad when I tried to do three to four days between pills. I couldn't spend the holidays and a special trip we had planned in January like that, so I went back to 25mg every other day for two weeks, then reduced it to 12.5mg for the past few weeks every other day. I want to be off this, so on Sunday I tried three days between pills, and I am agitated, anxious, teary, and extremely bloated feeling and uncomfortable in my own skin. I refuse to give up this time and will wean off this medication once and for all. I will stay on the every three days between pills for another two weeks, then go to half that? or to 12.5mg once a week? Not really sure what to do. I am afraid to go cold turkey because my agitation is affecting me at work with my co-workers and at home with my family.

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My update, I've been off pristiq since Sunday, February 24th, 2019. Today has been my best day to date. Anxiety lessened, no brain zaps or dizziness. I've been able to control the irratibilty throughout the day. I watched something on netflix last night after a particularly stressful day full of anxiety. It was called "Heal" about the powerful connection between the human psyche and physical health. This morning as soon as I woke up, I told myself I was going to control and conquer today and the anxiety that may come my way. I did. While my bloating and constipation are still off, I'll continue to take my vitamins and eat right until that area repairs itself. But the important point is that I feel better and myself again. My best advice is not to give up, to wean off slowly, lowering doses every three or four weeks. Every other day worked for me, but I have heard it's not the best way for your body. Also, have another medication to take temporarily while you are weaning off to help with the adverse effects. But you can do this. You will get off and be pristiq free. I'd been on it since October 2015, so about 3 1/2 years. It is possible to stop.

Liked by jeanmnyc

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March 6, 2019 Update. I last posted on February 25 about my start of tapering off Pristiq. I am now taking Pristiq every third day and am experiencing very few side effects. Initially I did experience "brain zaps" and never had a really good sleep on the second night but much improved now. Considering that in Canada we don't have access to the 25mg tablet I was a little concerned about the taper process but I must say it hasn't been that bad. I realize everyone reacts differently but I haven't had any real problems. Depending on how I feel tomorrow morning I may skip my dose and take every four days. I was only on Pristiq for two years and my depression wasn't really severe so maybe that is why I am having fewer problems. I do make an effort though to keep busy all day. I don't sit around and wonder how I am feeling. I think this would make things worse. I keep my mind busy woodworking, painting and shovelling lots of snow. I exercise daily and I think all of these things help. I will update again in a few weeks.

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Hi everyone! This is my first post here, and before I get to my comment/question I just wanted to say how helpful and informative it has been reading these posts!
I am 54 and have been on Pristiq for approximately 5 years. I won't go into the story itself, but suffice to say I was in a very difficult place in my life where I had seen some tremendous changes including deaths, births, and the deterioration of my marriage. After a very long time, many, many tears, and crushing loneliness, I have dealt with these issues as well as I can – to the extent that I am strong enough now to really own them, put them on my back, carry them, and accept that. Long story short: I do not want to be on this medication any longer; I feel like a prisoner. If this were alcohol or some other such drug that I had become physically dependent upon, I would be encouraged by others (wife, Dr. etc) to 'recover.' Now I need to recover from the "cure." Pristiq did it's job; I needed it, it helped me stabilize my mood and deal with what I needed to. But I don't need it for that anymore, and I don't want to live the rest of my life on this med. I need to move on and experience "life" as it's meant to be experienced…fully. Tears, joy, anger, wonder, and most importantly the drive to be creative again.
…..And have a *&%# erection again!!
I've been tapering off Pristiq for almost 4 months. It has not been easy …at all!! My main symptoms of withdrawal have been dizziness, vertigo, some at times intense emotional lability, feeling flushed occasionally/hot flashes, and as a result of these a real lack of concentration and focus. I'm forgetful and don't seem to be aware of time (well…that one could just be me!)
In my taper, I am currently taking Pristiq once every 5 days. So today is Wednesday, and I last took a pill on Friday afternoon. I have some of the above symptoms, but less than I was experiencing initially…somewhat significantly less. So my question is this: if I don't take another pill at this point, will my symptoms increase or continue to gradually decrease? I realize I can always take another one if I start to feel worse; but I was just curious what to expect and thought I'd ask.
Any advice, thoughts, comments, or questions are most welcome! thanks!!

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@scottyg

Hi everyone! This is my first post here, and before I get to my comment/question I just wanted to say how helpful and informative it has been reading these posts!
I am 54 and have been on Pristiq for approximately 5 years. I won't go into the story itself, but suffice to say I was in a very difficult place in my life where I had seen some tremendous changes including deaths, births, and the deterioration of my marriage. After a very long time, many, many tears, and crushing loneliness, I have dealt with these issues as well as I can – to the extent that I am strong enough now to really own them, put them on my back, carry them, and accept that. Long story short: I do not want to be on this medication any longer; I feel like a prisoner. If this were alcohol or some other such drug that I had become physically dependent upon, I would be encouraged by others (wife, Dr. etc) to 'recover.' Now I need to recover from the "cure." Pristiq did it's job; I needed it, it helped me stabilize my mood and deal with what I needed to. But I don't need it for that anymore, and I don't want to live the rest of my life on this med. I need to move on and experience "life" as it's meant to be experienced…fully. Tears, joy, anger, wonder, and most importantly the drive to be creative again.
…..And have a *&%# erection again!!
I've been tapering off Pristiq for almost 4 months. It has not been easy …at all!! My main symptoms of withdrawal have been dizziness, vertigo, some at times intense emotional lability, feeling flushed occasionally/hot flashes, and as a result of these a real lack of concentration and focus. I'm forgetful and don't seem to be aware of time (well…that one could just be me!)
In my taper, I am currently taking Pristiq once every 5 days. So today is Wednesday, and I last took a pill on Friday afternoon. I have some of the above symptoms, but less than I was experiencing initially…somewhat significantly less. So my question is this: if I don't take another pill at this point, will my symptoms increase or continue to gradually decrease? I realize I can always take another one if I start to feel worse; but I was just curious what to expect and thought I'd ask.
Any advice, thoughts, comments, or questions are most welcome! thanks!!

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Hi, @scottyg – welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Good to hear that reading the posts on Connect has been helpful. I've moved your post here to this discussion on tapering off desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) where you can meet other members like @niceguy @cmadison @jeanmnyc and many others who can provide some support as you continue your taper off this medication and offer any insights from their tapers. Though we are not medical professionals and can't provide medical advice, many members here will likely have thoughts to share from their experiences. @gailb and @grandmar may also have input.

Has your doctor weighed in on the idea of not taking another pill and where you should take your taper next? If so, what was his or her thought, given where you are symptom-wise?

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@lisalucier

Hi, @scottyg – welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Good to hear that reading the posts on Connect has been helpful. I've moved your post here to this discussion on tapering off desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) where you can meet other members like @niceguy @cmadison @jeanmnyc and many others who can provide some support as you continue your taper off this medication and offer any insights from their tapers. Though we are not medical professionals and can't provide medical advice, many members here will likely have thoughts to share from their experiences. @gailb and @grandmar may also have input.

Has your doctor weighed in on the idea of not taking another pill and where you should take your taper next? If so, what was his or her thought, given where you are symptom-wise?

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Hi Lisa, thanks so much for your reply.
My perception of what "depression" is and the different ways it might be handled differs from my GP. (I have not consulted a psychiatrist for this medication). My Dr. represents the "medical model" very well in her view of "mental illness," whereas I question the validity of calling depression (or other mental disturbances) "illnesses." Clearly, my emotional state and the anxiety associated with long-term stress, sadness, and anger affected the set-point of my brain chemistry. And that is obviously a very significant change, and in those terms the Pristiq was helpful. But my conversations with my GP about the *actual* problem – what led to these changes in levels of serotonin for example – did not go very well. In my view, depression is more about meaning and hope, and you don't find that or experience that in taking a pill…in just serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake in this case. Research literature points to a combination of therapy and medication in the treatment for depression, and I certainly agree with that as a basic recommendation.
I would not want others to follow my example, since I have not been in therapy and have dealt with my depression on my own. Connections with others are crucial: getting up every time you fall down without someone to lean on is, well…not recommended. I was (am) unsure about discussing my past and the things I've had to overcome in this forum – treating it like therapy – but in this final stage I felt it might be good to reach out about something less directly personal and specific to me.
Into Day 6 now of my taper….feeling strong.
cheers….

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I have three previous posts about my progress in weaning off Pristiq. I had only been taking Pristiq for two years and starting reducing my dosage about one month ago. In Canada there is no 25mg tablet available so I took Pristiq every second day, then every third day and today I am starting every fourth day so today is my third complete day with no pill. So far so good. My only real side effects initially were not sleeping well and "brain zaps." So far it hasn't been as difficult to reduce my dosage as I thought. If I do well today I will take one more tablet tomorrow and that will be it. I will update after I see how today goes

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I have posted three or four times about tapering off Pristiq. As of today I am totally of the drug since Sunday, March 10. I had been on Pristiq for two years and made the decision I wanted to stop. In Canada we don't have access to the 25mg tablet and I was taking 50mg. So I basically started taking it every second day at the start of February. For the first few times I started experiencing these "brain zaps" which I new nothing about until I came to this forum. So I went about two weeks taking it every second day and eventually the zaps disappeared. I had a few restless nights and a bit of light headedness occasionally but overall no problems. On February 17 I started taking it every third day. I experienced a few more zaps and a few restless nights but overall I didn't really suffer any ill effects. Finally on March 10, I decided I would go every fourth day or stop completely and no problems. I have a few zaps now and then but sleep well and I'm quite sure my body is Pristiq free. I feel great. I think the key was keeping active and not sitting around wondering what was going to happen and what ill effects I was going to experience. I exercised each day, got out in the fresh air (even at -30C) and kept busy.

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@niceguy

I have posted three or four times about tapering off Pristiq. As of today I am totally of the drug since Sunday, March 10. I had been on Pristiq for two years and made the decision I wanted to stop. In Canada we don't have access to the 25mg tablet and I was taking 50mg. So I basically started taking it every second day at the start of February. For the first few times I started experiencing these "brain zaps" which I new nothing about until I came to this forum. So I went about two weeks taking it every second day and eventually the zaps disappeared. I had a few restless nights and a bit of light headedness occasionally but overall no problems. On February 17 I started taking it every third day. I experienced a few more zaps and a few restless nights but overall I didn't really suffer any ill effects. Finally on March 10, I decided I would go every fourth day or stop completely and no problems. I have a few zaps now and then but sleep well and I'm quite sure my body is Pristiq free. I feel great. I think the key was keeping active and not sitting around wondering what was going to happen and what ill effects I was going to experience. I exercised each day, got out in the fresh air (even at -30C) and kept busy.

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Hi, @niceguy – are things still going okay for you since you completed your taper off desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)?

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It has been eight days now and no problems. A few brain zaps here and there but other than that no problems. I really thought it would be more difficult. I think it would be more difficult in the winter months (I live where we have winter) if you couldn't get outside and be active. Fortunately here it has warmed up and I've been spending a lot of time outside.

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I have tried a couple of times to wean off Pristiq, but with no success. Finally attempted again and going extremely slow. Given that Pristiq is a time release pill, and tried cutting them before, I opted to reduce my dosage daily, and very slowly. For 6 weeks, I reduced by one pill per week. Then, reduced 2 pills per week and did that for 6 weeks as well. Then reduced 3 pills per week and for six weeks as well. Right now, I am taking a pill on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and will do that for six weeks. Then will reduce to 2 pills a week. On Tuesday and Friday and will do that for 6 weeks as well. Then will finally get down to 1 pill per week and then finally go without. So far, have been pleased with the withdrawal syndromes, every time I start a new 6 week reduction…I will notice some symptoms, minor zaps, minor irritability and insomnia and crazy dreams. But after a couple of weeks, those symptoms go away. Although this is a slow process, I am feeling great and extremely positive, as my “normal” feelings are back…the first time I cried over a silly commercial, I was elated and thoughts were “I am back”! Be easy on yourself, take your time and as others have mentioned, stay active and healthy throughout the process and have faith

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Hi Everyone, Wanted to put something down in writing while I start my pristiq “tapering off” journey, I’ve been using 50 mg of pristiq for 5 years, its been a very successful drug for me, I wish I’d found it a lot earlier. But now is the time to fend for myself, I’ve wanted to come off for a while, however have heard so many horror stories. I chatted with my Doc and we came up with a very conservative tapering off schedule. Basically, 4 weeks taking 50 mg every other day, then 3 weeks every 3rd day. Hopefully then I’ll be good to go. I’m on my 4th day, (so today no pristiq). It’s a weird feeling, maybe like extreme jets lag or bad dehydration. Also bad headaches….. I’m pretty sure i can battle through this, I exercise 5-6 days a week which I’m sure will help (but I’m no picture of health), I love my food and good beer also. I’d like other peoples feedback, preferably positives. All I have heard is negatives about prisitiq; however this drug literally saved my life. It can’t all be bad.

All the best,

Northernlad

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@northernlad

Hi Everyone, Wanted to put something down in writing while I start my pristiq “tapering off” journey, I’ve been using 50 mg of pristiq for 5 years, its been a very successful drug for me, I wish I’d found it a lot earlier. But now is the time to fend for myself, I’ve wanted to come off for a while, however have heard so many horror stories. I chatted with my Doc and we came up with a very conservative tapering off schedule. Basically, 4 weeks taking 50 mg every other day, then 3 weeks every 3rd day. Hopefully then I’ll be good to go. I’m on my 4th day, (so today no pristiq). It’s a weird feeling, maybe like extreme jets lag or bad dehydration. Also bad headaches….. I’m pretty sure i can battle through this, I exercise 5-6 days a week which I’m sure will help (but I’m no picture of health), I love my food and good beer also. I’d like other peoples feedback, preferably positives. All I have heard is negatives about prisitiq; however this drug literally saved my life. It can’t all be bad.

All the best,

Northernlad

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@northernlad – welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You are absolutely right that putting something down in writing can be useful – many members report this.

You may have noticed I moved your post to this existing discussion, "Pristiq Withdrawal," in hopes that you could read and learn from others who have similar experiences. Hoping members like @user_cha272278 @heidi28 @lisahoward @nonnivee @netty and others will have some input on contending with this jet lagged, dehydrated feeling and the headaches.

How's it going today? Are you feeling that your exercise is making a difference in your symptoms?

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