Side effects of Pristiq

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.

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@mrsmiller417

This is my 3rd time “withdrawing” from an SNRI I have been on Pristiq 2 times before but both times I switched to Effexor XR & actually w/d from that med in particular the last 2 times.. The first time it happened I was at the E.R. twice in a week & the first time I had no idea what was going on & felt like I was dying.. If I had to describe it in a “general” sense than it would be flu like symptoms except much more intense (severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, dehydration, etc) as far as physical goes & mentally/emotionally the worst experiences of depression & anxiety I have gone through to include panic attacks/shallow breathing/severe insomnia/hot flashes/chills/crying spells/etc.. the 1st w/d when I didnt know what was going on I went to the hospital & kept telling them I felt like something was in my head.. (which of course sounds psychotic to everyone else).. I kept telling them I felt like I was having an extreme case of morning sickness but I wasn’t pregnant & there was no way to ease the pain (ie advil, tums, pepto) nor the anxiety (w/ my klonopin). I had brought a list bc I was afraid that I would forget or leave out a crucial symptom & there was about 20-25 things I listed as wrong with me to include physical/emotionally/mental she looked at me & called it excessive & perhaps I was but as I mentioned before I had no idea what was going on.. they tested me for the flu, pregnancy, I made them do a cat scan bc of the feeling in my head bc I feared maybe I had a tumor or something (IDK! lol).. they did pump me with fluids through an iv bc my bp was 165/122 & my pulse was in the 130’s & they said the iv would “calm me down” needless to say I was very upset bc they were treating me like I needed to be in a straight jacket next door in the mental ward.. the nurse really p’d me off bc it didn’t seem like she was taking me seriously but I know they deal with much more serious things & I was just feeling very vulnerable, helpless, & confused but the iv actually helped me it brought down my bp/pulse & made me feel better so the prognosis at that time was dehydration which I didnt dare argue with bc of the temporary relief I felt & the judgement I already endured. but just 5 days later I was back with an extreme migraine.. I was puking up all the narcotics & once I found that not even there meds were working I knew it had to be something to do w/ symptoms from discontinuing the EXR.. I unfortunately was on it again soon bc I gave up waiting for the w/d to go away.. 6 months later I knew what to expect when I told the dr it wasn’t working & he decided to try me on Lexapro I told him I wasn’t going off cold turkey again so he told me to start taking my dose every other day for 2 weeks (while starting lexapro on the days I didnt take it) & then after 2 weeks to stop it completely.. Unfortunately I couldnt wait that long.. after just 3 days I was having thoughts of suicide bc I was in so much agony & emotional distress.. I would take my dose at night & the next day I would feel great & normal but the nights that I skipped the dose the next day was excruciating.. I decided to just stop it all together bc I didn’t want to wait 2 weeks & still put myself through that bc I had already had enough after a week & wanted to get it over w/ bc you literally cannot function or do anything when you are going through this (me atleast) I am a stay at home mom & have 2 children that need me to take care of them so it wasnt an option to keep anticipating & putting off the inevitable. I read online about someone who had gone through the same transition (EXR to Lexapro & she had doubled up on her dose of Lexapro & it seemed to help the emotional effects atleast & after a few days of completely stopping the med the effects were gone & I was able to do things & take care of my kids again. The only way I was able to sleep during the week & a half of torture was to take theraflu at night bc it has a sedating affect on me & the alcohol in it didn’t hurt either (Im not suggesting that but it was how I coped with my insomnia during that rough time) A man online described the physical pain as it felt like a piece of sheet metal was inside his body & like it was being banged on.. (a good comparison in my book) .. It’s like electric shocks shooting from your stomach to your head & back.. & there is nothing you can do to reduce or alleviate these most unpleasant feelings & sensations. I wouldnt wish any of these things on my worst enemy bc it makes you feel helpless & hopeless .. This time around I am discontinuing Pristiq & last night was my first night of not taking it & I already felt the nausea/dizzy/sheet metal sensation so I am praying for the best.. I know everyone is different so it is hard to say how long it may last for you but I know from what I have read if you quit cold turkey it is usually 1-2 weks before the effects completely wear off but if you taper of course it will be longer bc you are postponing the discontinuation & your effects will probably reduce as your dose reduces.. From my 2 experiences before I know the worst thing I could do is give up (or give in) tapering isn’t an option since I am on the lowest dose already (50mg) & I want to get this over with ASAP so until this gets better I am going to drink lots & lots of water keep hope alive & occasionally take a dose of theraflu to help knock me out on nights I can’t go to sleep bc I would rather be asleep dreaming than awake in pain. God bless you all my prayers are with you & you will make it through just remember it gets better & don’t suffer in silence there are plenty people going through the same thing you are & if you feel like giving up confide in your dr or check into a hospital bc the pain is just temporary & remember you will make it through.. P.S. when my last w/d ended I was extremely thankful to feel “normal” again but even more I started praying even harder for my grandmother who had chemo & radiation therapy & she suffered all day every day with her illness & unfortunately she passed away in July but it comforts my heart & soul to know she is no longer suffering any more & she is in a much better place <3

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I have been off pristiq for 3 weeks and the symptoms of insomnia, dreams that are insane and freaky, and panic attacks have not gone away. I had to go to hospital for 9days and thought I was better, but I was not. I will have to go back because I can function and black out from lack of sleep and do self destructive things. I have been on it for 7 yrs because of the fear of this occuring so I assume that is why my withdrawl is so long. Are their any meds that ease the pain. Trazidone doesn’t work or make me sleep. Benzos don’t work and I don’t know what to do. The doctors try to tell me I am crazy even after explaining. I hope to find one that can actually listen and help. Please let me know if their is a med to help. I am going crazy. It is all physical at this point, but the symptoms make me nuts!

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@mrsmiller417

This is my 3rd time “withdrawing” from an SNRI I have been on Pristiq 2 times before but both times I switched to Effexor XR & actually w/d from that med in particular the last 2 times.. The first time it happened I was at the E.R. twice in a week & the first time I had no idea what was going on & felt like I was dying.. If I had to describe it in a “general” sense than it would be flu like symptoms except much more intense (severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, dehydration, etc) as far as physical goes & mentally/emotionally the worst experiences of depression & anxiety I have gone through to include panic attacks/shallow breathing/severe insomnia/hot flashes/chills/crying spells/etc.. the 1st w/d when I didnt know what was going on I went to the hospital & kept telling them I felt like something was in my head.. (which of course sounds psychotic to everyone else).. I kept telling them I felt like I was having an extreme case of morning sickness but I wasn’t pregnant & there was no way to ease the pain (ie advil, tums, pepto) nor the anxiety (w/ my klonopin). I had brought a list bc I was afraid that I would forget or leave out a crucial symptom & there was about 20-25 things I listed as wrong with me to include physical/emotionally/mental she looked at me & called it excessive & perhaps I was but as I mentioned before I had no idea what was going on.. they tested me for the flu, pregnancy, I made them do a cat scan bc of the feeling in my head bc I feared maybe I had a tumor or something (IDK! lol).. they did pump me with fluids through an iv bc my bp was 165/122 & my pulse was in the 130’s & they said the iv would “calm me down” needless to say I was very upset bc they were treating me like I needed to be in a straight jacket next door in the mental ward.. the nurse really p’d me off bc it didn’t seem like she was taking me seriously but I know they deal with much more serious things & I was just feeling very vulnerable, helpless, & confused but the iv actually helped me it brought down my bp/pulse & made me feel better so the prognosis at that time was dehydration which I didnt dare argue with bc of the temporary relief I felt & the judgement I already endured. but just 5 days later I was back with an extreme migraine.. I was puking up all the narcotics & once I found that not even there meds were working I knew it had to be something to do w/ symptoms from discontinuing the EXR.. I unfortunately was on it again soon bc I gave up waiting for the w/d to go away.. 6 months later I knew what to expect when I told the dr it wasn’t working & he decided to try me on Lexapro I told him I wasn’t going off cold turkey again so he told me to start taking my dose every other day for 2 weeks (while starting lexapro on the days I didnt take it) & then after 2 weeks to stop it completely.. Unfortunately I couldnt wait that long.. after just 3 days I was having thoughts of suicide bc I was in so much agony & emotional distress.. I would take my dose at night & the next day I would feel great & normal but the nights that I skipped the dose the next day was excruciating.. I decided to just stop it all together bc I didn’t want to wait 2 weeks & still put myself through that bc I had already had enough after a week & wanted to get it over w/ bc you literally cannot function or do anything when you are going through this (me atleast) I am a stay at home mom & have 2 children that need me to take care of them so it wasnt an option to keep anticipating & putting off the inevitable. I read online about someone who had gone through the same transition (EXR to Lexapro & she had doubled up on her dose of Lexapro & it seemed to help the emotional effects atleast & after a few days of completely stopping the med the effects were gone & I was able to do things & take care of my kids again. The only way I was able to sleep during the week & a half of torture was to take theraflu at night bc it has a sedating affect on me & the alcohol in it didn’t hurt either (Im not suggesting that but it was how I coped with my insomnia during that rough time) A man online described the physical pain as it felt like a piece of sheet metal was inside his body & like it was being banged on.. (a good comparison in my book) .. It’s like electric shocks shooting from your stomach to your head & back.. & there is nothing you can do to reduce or alleviate these most unpleasant feelings & sensations. I wouldnt wish any of these things on my worst enemy bc it makes you feel helpless & hopeless .. This time around I am discontinuing Pristiq & last night was my first night of not taking it & I already felt the nausea/dizzy/sheet metal sensation so I am praying for the best.. I know everyone is different so it is hard to say how long it may last for you but I know from what I have read if you quit cold turkey it is usually 1-2 weks before the effects completely wear off but if you taper of course it will be longer bc you are postponing the discontinuation & your effects will probably reduce as your dose reduces.. From my 2 experiences before I know the worst thing I could do is give up (or give in) tapering isn’t an option since I am on the lowest dose already (50mg) & I want to get this over with ASAP so until this gets better I am going to drink lots & lots of water keep hope alive & occasionally take a dose of theraflu to help knock me out on nights I can’t go to sleep bc I would rather be asleep dreaming than awake in pain. God bless you all my prayers are with you & you will make it through just remember it gets better & don’t suffer in silence there are plenty people going through the same thing you are & if you feel like giving up confide in your dr or check into a hospital bc the pain is just temporary & remember you will make it through.. P.S. when my last w/d ended I was extremely thankful to feel “normal” again but even more I started praying even harder for my grandmother who had chemo & radiation therapy & she suffered all day every day with her illness & unfortunately she passed away in July but it comforts my heart & soul to know she is no longer suffering any more & she is in a much better place <3

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You don’t always have to take a prescribed medication to get help for symptoms. For your sleep (or non-sleep), try Melatonin. It’s 100% natural and it works wonders, better than any prescribed sleep aid I’ve ever tried. You find it in the vitamin section of any store. I have suffered from Insomnia for almost 20 yrs and I can only take 2.5mg! Trust me, you will sleep like a baby! As for easing your withdrawal symptoms; I have been off Pristiq, cold-turkey, now for 1 week after taking it for only 4 weeks. I am having a hard time right now. I have been reading many boards on how long withdrawal symptoms can last (up to several months – ugh) and what, if anything, we can do to help ease these symptoms. The one thing I keep reading is Dramamine… Dramamine is an over-the-counter antihistamine. It’s used to control motion sickness; nausea, dizziness, vomiting. It seems to work for anyone who tries it. I’m on my way out the door to buy some. It may not be the answer to relieve the withdrawal symptoms 100% but if this Dramamine can help alleviate ANY of the symptoms, I’m all for giving it a go (I’ll be buying the reduced drowsy kind – with 2 teenagers, a 10 yr old, and a husband who acts like he’s 3 yrs old, I can’t be sleeping during the day, lol)! Good luck to you!!

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I have been off Pristiq (50mg QID) for 7 days today after taking it for only several weeks – cold turkey per my doctor. The withdrawal symptoms I have are so severe, I can barely get out of bed. When I do, I have to steady myself before attempting to walk. I get nauseous, dizzy, light-headed… my mind is foggy and I have a hard time seeing straight, which is making me get headaches from eye-strain. My appetite has increased, which I find odd due to the nausea. I get anxious when I have to drive somewhere, which is every day. My memory is that of an orange. My speech – lol, it’s almost as bad as my typing (which I am continuously hitting ‘backspace’).
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on different boards and websites to find out how long these withdrawal symptoms can last (they can last several months) and to hopefully find something, anything, that can help alleviate, or lesson, these withdrawal symptoms. The one thing that keeps coming up is Dramamine. It’s an OTC (over-the-counter) antihistamine that is commonly used to treat motion sickness and Meniere’s Disease. From everything I have read, Dramamine has helped every person who has tried it. It doesn’t help with ALL the symptoms but if it will help with the nausea and dizziness, I’m trying it!
I can definitely say I will never be going back to this drug, ever! These withdrawals are horrible and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy! Good luck to you all!

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@tyetyebaby

Someone Help me. I took Pristiq for a few days cutting the 50mg in half, then i kept forgetting to take them. Now i feel like i have a sinus infection with a lot of pressure in my head, diarrhea, my memory feels foggy and I feel like im gonna pass out at any minute. Could this be happening even though I only took ing for a bout 4 or 5 days and cutting them in half? Please please help

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Yes, this can most definitely be happening to you. Read my post above. It may help you a bit. Good luck!

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@ajevangelisto

I’m currently in the process of tapering off this horrible drug, and well, I feel HORRIBLE! How long does this last? I was on 100mg Pristiq for the last two years, it did nothing for me but hurt me more. I am tapering off per doctor orders (the same crooked doctor that put me in this mess in the first place), and I feel miserable & scared. I was advised to cut my dosage down by half for two weeks, and then go completely off. I am in day 6 of just cutting my Pristiq dosage in half, and I am having terrible symptoms. I feel like a basket-case. My eyes hurt, it feels like there is so much pressure in them. I am having migraines. I feel weird wah-wah feelings in my ears and head, I’m having weird electrical zaps in my eyes, head, and ears, I can’t sleep at night because I jump awake with horrible leg cramps. I feel probably the worse I have ever felt in my entire life. I am scared for when I completely go off this stuff…I mean if it is this bad already, how much worse is it gonna get before it gets better? Someone please just tell me it gets better!? This drug is evil, I took a stand and want off and am getting off it, but I feel miserable right now! Suggestions anyone??

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Unfortunately, from what I’ve been reading, the withdrawal symptoms can last up to several months. I was on Pristiq for only 3-4 weeks. I quit cold turkey (per my doctor) a week ago and the withdrawal symptoms are the worst I have ever experienced. I hate this drug! Try Dramamine to help with the dizziness and nausea – it seems to help everyone who has tried it.

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I want to stop taking Pristiq but when I tried to wean myself I had all of the terrible symptoms that you all mention previously. I literally thought that I was dying. So I have a two week supply of Pristiq now & I’m thinking about trying to wean myself off of them again. Do you all think this is an adequate supply to do so?

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@jamilyn

I have been off Pristiq (50mg QID) for 7 days today after taking it for only several weeks – cold turkey per my doctor. The withdrawal symptoms I have are so severe, I can barely get out of bed. When I do, I have to steady myself before attempting to walk. I get nauseous, dizzy, light-headed… my mind is foggy and I have a hard time seeing straight, which is making me get headaches from eye-strain. My appetite has increased, which I find odd due to the nausea. I get anxious when I have to drive somewhere, which is every day. My memory is that of an orange. My speech – lol, it’s almost as bad as my typing (which I am continuously hitting ‘backspace’).
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on different boards and websites to find out how long these withdrawal symptoms can last (they can last several months) and to hopefully find something, anything, that can help alleviate, or lesson, these withdrawal symptoms. The one thing that keeps coming up is Dramamine. It’s an OTC (over-the-counter) antihistamine that is commonly used to treat motion sickness and Meniere’s Disease. From everything I have read, Dramamine has helped every person who has tried it. It doesn’t help with ALL the symptoms but if it will help with the nausea and dizziness, I’m trying it!
I can definitely say I will never be going back to this drug, ever! These withdrawals are horrible and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy! Good luck to you all!

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The withdrawals are terrible. I was taking Paxil prior to Pristiq and I tried to wean myself off of that & it was bad but not as bad as Pristiq withdrawals.

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I have been on Pristiq since December of 2011 and it has been the best thing for my anxiety/depression. I have currently ran out of it and haven’t filled my script because I pay close to $200 a month for it…my insurance didn’t pay for it. I have been having the same withdrawals…and it is complete HELL. As a mother of 5 childre I do not have time feel this way. In some ways this has made me feel better knowing Im not completely crazy.

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@memae

I have been on Pristiq since December of 2011 and it has been the best thing for my anxiety/depression. I have currently ran out of it and haven’t filled my script because I pay close to $200 a month for it…my insurance didn’t pay for it. I have been having the same withdrawals…and it is complete HELL. As a mother of 5 childre I do not have time feel this way. In some ways this has made me feel better knowing Im not completely crazy.

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I know what you mean. I’m currently enrolled as a full-time student & I definitely don’t have time to feel the horrible withdrawal symptoms. I took half of a tablet last night and so far I feel okay. When I tried to quit cold turkey before I had horrible withdrawal symptoms for about a week that didn’t taper off at all. I hope that you feel better soon! It’s a hard withdrawal.

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I have taken 50 mg pristiq for stress /adrenal fatigue for 8 months. I never felt worse–exhaustion, numb, a sweat factory, 15 pound weight gain. I am weaning myself off! Weeks 1 and 2 I took every other day with no difference, except less tired and achy on off days. Then, I was going to try every 2 days. Day 3 started with no side effects so I continued cold turkey. On day four cold turkey- have gas, sweats, a little vertigo. Waiting for it to get worse….

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