Q. Can you offer me any ideas of how I can ease my withdrawal from Pristiq? My brain is cloudy, I am having brain zaps and I am agitated.

I should have never tried it out. Please help!

A. You must let your physician know what is going on. DO NOT stop this antidepressant suddenly. The withdrawal symptoms can be devastating.

Here are some stories to consider:

“I was prescribed Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) four years ago [this drug is somewhat similar to Effexor (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine) in that it works the same way] when Lexapro lost its effectiveness. Pristiq seemed to have no obvious side effects unless I forgot to take it in the morning. By afternoon, I would be experiencing brain zaps and hearing my eyes move. I would see “trails” when moving my eyes. This would go away within hours of taking the missed dose. I then tried to stop the drug myself, because I didn’t want to be on something that has that effect.

“I tried weaning off myself by taking a full dose (100 mg) then 75 mg the next day and alternating for 2 weeks then go down to 75/75. I went crazy after two weeks and had to go back to the original dose. Not only did I have severe suicidal thoughts every 5 minutes, but uncontrolled crying, extreme sluggishness, night sweats (when I could sleep), weight gain, irritability and mood swings. Physically, my blood pressure (which has ALWAYS been 110/78) jumped to 149/101.

“After two weeks of getting back on the drug, all symptoms (including high blood pressure) normalized. I am now under a doctor’s care to switch back to Lexapro (which she says will work again since I have given the drug a rest). She is having me take a full dose of Pristiq one day and then full dose of Lexapro the next day for a week. Then in 2nd week, Pristiq 1 day, then 2 days of Lexapro. She supplemented with Abilify daily. So far, the withdrawal symptoms have been manageable and I am in my 2nd week. I have added weekly acupuncture for the mood swings and am hopeful that I will have my life back.”–A. H.

“I was put on Pristiq almost a year ago. I got tired of taking this drug and I slowly started weaning myself off of the pills for about a month. As I’m typing this message my brain is shivering and zapping like nobody’s business. When I tried to explain it to my doctor he acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about. In the meantime, I suffer like crazy.”–Oscar

“I am coming off Pristiq right now. Was on 100 mg a day and my doctor pulled me off it cold turkey. I’ve only taken it for about 2 months, but I feel like I’m going crazy. I have the brain zaps so bad I can barely walk around my house. I’m terrified to drive. This is worse than anything I’ve ever been through, and that includes quitting smoking.”–Laurel

“I have been on a variety of antidepressants over the past few years for depression and anxiety. My latest prescription is Pristiq 50 mg once a day. I have been on it for 6 months. At first, I did see a difference in my depression and anxiety, but things began to change in the 7th month. I started having side effects from Pristiq. I haven’t had a brain freeze yet, but I have had other symptoms.

“I have had insomnia, headaches, GI upset, elevated cholesterol, blood pressure changes, joint/muscle pain, abnormal swelling all over, fatigue, agitation and ears ringing. From what I have read this is a hard medication to get off. I didn’t realize that this medication was making me sick until I went online and started to look up my symptoms. I really don’t know if I want to continue to take antidepressants if they are going to make me more physically sick.”–Julie


No one should ever discontinue antidepressant medication without medical supervision. As described above in vivid detail, the withdrawal symptoms can be terrible. We are especially concerned now that we see Cymbalta (duloxetine) advertised for arthritis symptoms. We wonder whether physicians are warning patients that getting off such drugs can be challenging (to say the least).

Here are some side effects to be aware of with Pristiq and Cymbalta:


  • Nausea, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, decreased appetite, vomiting
  • Dizziness, fatigue, sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia, anxiety, jitteriness, irritability, tremor
, weird dreams
  • Sweating, hot flashes
  • Blurred vision
, glaucoma
  • Headache
, ringing in ears
  • Sexual dysfunction, lowered libido, erection difficulties, lack of orgasm
, abnormal ejaculation
  • Liver damage
  • Serious skin reactions, rash, hives (requires immediate MD assistance!)
  • Glaucoma
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Bleeding problems
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Interaction with other drugs (leading to serotonin syndrome among other reactions)
  • Pneumonia
  • Seizures
  • Depressed mood, suicidal thoughts and behavior, suicide

Some people never experience such side effects and achieve substantial benefit from medications like desvenlafaxine, duloxetine and venlafaxine. But others find the problems with such drugs overwhelming. The sexual side effects alone can be disconcerting. They are also quite common. You can imagine that dizziness, dry mouth, lack of orgasm and excessive sweating might be enough to drive a person to want to stop such medication. But as you will see below, that can trigger a whole other set of problems.

Doctors have taken to calling this “discontinuation syndrome.” These clinical words do not do justice to what it is like to stop antidepressants like Cymbalta, Effexor (venlafaxine), Paxil (paroxetine), Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) or Zoloft (sertraline) suddenly.


  • Brain “zaps” (electric shock-like senstations in the brain)
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, vertigo, feeling faint
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety, irritability, hostility
  • Nausea, diarrhea, digestive upset
  • Tremor, hands shaking, nerve tingles, strange sensations
  • Fatigue, tiredness, lack of energy
  • Visual disturbances

So, what is a person to do once started on the antidepressant merry-go-round? Sadly, doctors do not have clear guidelines about how to help patients stop such drugs. There is no clear-cut formula that will work for everyone. Patience is essential, though. This is NOT a do-it-yourself project. You will need help from a knowledgeable health professional. And you will need to take time. For some, a few weeks may be adequate to gradually phase off the drug. For others, it may take many months of very slow dosage reduction.

We offer our Guide to Dealing with Depression. It provides some additional insights into both side effects and withdrawal. It also discusses some other ways of coping with depression. Whatever you do, you will need great support from a health professional who understands the complexity of such medications.

You are also invited to share your experience with these drugs below.

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  1. Sar
    Mackay, Q, Aus

    Yesterday for the first time in about 8 years I ran out of my anti ds. I’ve been on Pristiq for approximately 5 or 6 years. The symptoms are frightening. The brain zaps and feeling of absolute panic are the worse! My mood went from reasonable to absolutely unreasonable and a crying mess in a matter of hours. I’ve tried coming off it before but chickened out after about a week due to the side effects of discontinuation. I’m going to have to persevere though because the Pristiq just is not working for me and that snug blanket of depression is slowly creeping back. I’ve noticed that I am a super air head. My partner refers to it as “butterflies”, because I’m so random and easily distracted. My attention span is also very short and I’ve heard that this can be caused by certain anti ds. I don’t ever remember being so absent minded! I seriously pray that my journey from Pristiq onto something else isn’t as awful as the last 24 hours. I am only on 50mgs as the full dose of 100 stops me from being able to orgasm and in your 20’s that’s just not visable. Wish me luck!

  2. Shelby

    I have been on Pristiq for a year now at 50mg a day. At first it was a God sent miracle; it was the only antidepressant that didn’t give me any adverse effects and it began to work within the first week! After a couple of months I noticed some side effects began to appear but nothing so severe that I felt the need to quit taking the drug. Originally, my depression was to the point where I was unable to function in my daily life so I felt a few headaches and some dizziness was nothing to complain about from a drug that made those horrible feelings of emptiness and utter depression completely go away. Throughout the past year I have dealt with the issues that originally brought me to take antidepressants and I feel capable of handling those situations as they arise on my own and without the drug. Truth is the drug is now causing more harm than good: I have gained 30lbs over the past year, I have daily headaches, and God forbid if I miss a dose. Just the few experiences I have had missing a single dose make me terrified of quitting. The withdrawal symptoms are terrible! I literally feel as if I am dying: terrible headaches, LOUD ear ringing, severe fatigue, nausea, vertigo along with little balance control, and a constant pulsating, throbbing sound in my head. However, the worst thing about all of that is how quickly those adverse feelings are relieved once I take the missed dose. I can now fully understand how difficult it is to break an addiction to something that you literally need to use to feel like you can just function. As awful as all of that is, I still want to get off of the drug. I would never tell someone not to take Pristiq because it very well could have saved my life, but I would tell them to be aware of the addiction that will come with this drug.

  3. Kim

    I was on Effexor for 10 years then changed to pristiq 50mg for least then 10 days …. I went every other day for a week then stopped all together. It’s the worse thing I have ever went through (withdrawal symptoms ) I have all the symptoms. Ringing in the ears , not sleeping well, not eating , brain zaps, anxiety, crying, feeling of being outside my body and the list goes on… Today I’m ending my 3rd day without the medicine … Hoping to feel better really soon … Anyone out there know how long withdrawal lasts? If your doctor is wanting you to take this poison don’t do it! It’s not worth the withdrawal

  4. Done

    Pristiq worked good for a while. However I been on it 6 months or so. It seems to have ran its course. I won’t continue to take something that make me feel worse than, the reason of why I was trying to feel better. I’m on 50 mg and meeting with doc tomorrow to wing me off. I will no longer be a victim to this drug. I will never take antidepressants again… It’s sad, this drug is on the market. I’m not going cold turkey. I’m quit in moderations. I’ve had the same symptoms as you guys. But 2 ibropufin, helps me a lot with headaches. I have a strong will and mindset, that’s half the battle. The thought of something controlling me like, this makes me mad. I know this won’t be easy. I have went 4 days without meds before due to pharmacy mistake in mailing. I know this won’t be a easy task, but it will be worth it in the long run! We can all beat it! Its mind over matter…you will know when your time has come, to disconnect with Pristiq! God bless and strengthen you all! I have always believe where it’s a will, it’s a way)

  5. Chris

    Stay away from Pristiq! I’ve been on the drug for 18 months after taking Lexapro for 8 years and I will say this.. In the past 18 months I’ve had 4 suicide attempts, I do not sleep for days then sleep for two to make it up, constant, almost deafening ringing in the ears, severe nausea, bleeding, irritability, electric shock sensations in the brain, I cannot remember the last time I had an erection, severe un coordination to the point that others think I’m drunk, constipation, zero appetite and last of all severe itching. I’m on a dose of 300mg per day, I’ve never felt such hopelessness in the fact that no one can give me an alternative! I’m even considering going to rehab to get off it!

  6. Alex

    Pristiq is not a good drug to use because eventually, you don’t feel well with it, and you feel worse without it. So what is the darn use of being prescribed Pristiq if you have to pass an experience similar or worse to that of a heroin addict trying to get off the junk? I do not understand why this drug was put into circulation in the first place, while society is struggling with so many other drugs that have similar side effects and are already deemed illegal or its use banned.
    Please lets tell our health providers that the in the case of Pristiq, the recommended cure for depression is worse than depression itself. We who have been on Pristiq should sue for all the pain and suffering this medication eventually causes its users!

  7. bekka

    I started taking Pristiq shortly after I had my last child. I had Post Partum depression and I didn’t want to be in my house. I thoughts of hopelessness. So my doctor prescribed Pristiq. For years I have gained a lot of weight, felt nauseas, dizzy, my heart skips beats, insomnia, ect… Then I started reading the side effects of Pristiq and I had so many of the side effects listed. I had had my little girl over 5 years ago and I should have been off this drug many years ago. I started titrating off this med this week, taking one every other day, so I decided to go cold turkey. I know this isn’t a good idea but I can’t deal with weeks of feeling crummy every other day. I am going to see my Natural Path doctor this week and I am hoping she can help me. I woke up at 4:30 this morning and had the worst nausea, dizziness, brain zaps (electrical charges), etc… I took Benedryl, Melatonin, my supplements to help me sleep and went back to sleep. I just woke up again and felt really crummy and took my supplements and an anti nausea med. I am lying down and right now I feel a little nauseas but not as bad as I did earlier. No more of these meds for me. I am sticking with the supplements my Natural Path has me take. It turned out I had adrenal fatigue and the supplements have helped immensely. I just want off Pristiq. VERY BAD DRUG!!!!!

    • Lisa
      Ft Wayne, IN

      You truly don’t need to suffer the discontinuation side effects if you taper over 3-4 weeks. Doing do cold turkey will just make you feel worse. My psychiatrist suggested 2 weeks at 75mg (I was taking 100mg), 2 weeks at 50mg & 2 weeks at 25mg. It worked. Minimal side effects. And you absolutely can cut the the pills with a pill cutter despite what a pharmacist or other ppl tell you. My psychiatrist is also a pharmacist. It worked fine and that’s how he does all of his patients.

      All AD’s work different for everyone. For many Pristiq has been a miracle drug. It wasn’t for me but I also don’t scare ppl by saying negative things about it. Going off of it must be done slowly and with your doctors knowledge that you’re doing so.

      Best wishes!

  8. Theresa

    I am so glad to read everyone’s comments. As I write this, I am sitting in my pajamas at 5:00pm having missed yet another day of work due to missing a day of Pristiq.

    I have been on 100mg of Pristiq for two years. When I started it, it was the ONLY anti-depressant that got me back to feeling remotely normal and not debilitated from depression. My insurance paid for a good portion of this expensive drug for which there is no generic form — until my work changed our health insurance. Now, they won’t pay for any of it and a month’s supply is $300+. I cannot afford to pay for this and Effexor, its closest alternative, didn’t work for me and produced terrible side effects.

    I am currently trying to figure out what to do as I purchase 5-days worth of Pristiq just to get by until I figure out an alternative.

    When I miss my dose, which I do not do unless something like this happens, the following frightening symptoms happen just a couple of hours later — and I’m wondering if this is a sign that this medication is not a good long-term solution for me and whether anyone else has had this happen:

    1) Extreme lack of balance to the point of falling over
    2) Nausea
    3) Inability to wake up to the point of sleeping until early afternoon, through alarm clocks
    4) Shivering, flu-like symptoms
    5) Crushing depression
    6) Shaking – particularly my hands
    7) A sense of being “outside” of reality and therefore isolating myself
    8) An almost-immediate recalibration and sense of normalcy after resuming the medication

    I appreciate any feedback and/or advice, as well as hearing from anyone who has gone off Pristiq and stayed off of it — or found another medication that “worked” as well.

    • Lisa
      Fort Wayne, IN

      Hi Teresa, I think I replied to my own post instead of yours so scroll down and look at my reply dated Feb 11, 2015.

  9. Lisa

    I’m currently going off of Pristiq and onto Viibryd. Was on 100mg for 4 months. The plan was to start new mes while going down to 50mg Pristiq during week 1. Week 2 was to do 25mg Pristiq (btw, despite what pharmacists say, you can cut the pills. My psychiatrist is also a pharmacist & says no problem cutting them).

    Anyway, just going from 100mg to 50mg, I had w/d symptoms of swooshy eyes when I moved them side to side & flu-like body aches. Called Dr. He said to taper slower. His regime tapering 100mg Pristiq:

    Week 1 & 2 = 75mg Pristiq
    Week 3 & 4 = 50mg Pristiq
    Week 5 & 6 = 25mg Pristiq
    (This is all the while I’m starting low dose Viibryd).

    From everything I’ve heard or read about discontinuation syndrome, the symptoms can be rotten but they aren’t physically harmful.

    Wishing everyone the best!

    • Lisa
      Fort Wayne, IN

      Yes, what you’re experiencing are discontinuation symptoms. You really need to call your insurance and ask for at least 2 weeks of meds. Maybe your doctors office can put in a call to advocate for it.

      You need at least 3-4 weeks to titrate off of Pristiq (& most AD’s). You should also call your Doc & inform them of what’s going on. They may be able to prescribe you something like Prozac to take while you’re titrating off Pristiq so you at least will have something to possibly help with discontinuing. Prozac is the only AD that when you’re ready to stop it, you can w/o discontinuation symptoms bc it has such a long half life.

      Bottom line, give your Dr & insurance a call today.

      I had discontinuation symptoms just going from 100mg to 50mg so they had me take 75mg for a week or 2 before going to 50mg, then 25mg then off (I went on Viibryd all while titrating Pristiq the past 6 weeks).

      Best wishes! I know it feels terrible so please call Dr & Ins. The bad news is discontinuation sucks but the good news is it does end and it’s not dangerous.

  10. Dani

    I know this is stupid. I already have epilepsy I take 500mg of Lamictal XR. Ive been on 100mg of Pristiq for 4 months and noticed I started gaining weight like crazy. I used to be 115 and I’m 130. I googled possible side effects of pristiq and saw that weight gain was one. As if I’m not already sad enough with my seizures the weight gain has caused me to be more self conscience. 4 days ago today I quit my Pristiq cold turkey. I keep having random shivers, I’m either freezing or sweating. I don’t have thoughts of suicide but my thoughts aren’t normal. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I don’t know what to do. If I call Dr I’m sure they’ll call my neurologist and ill be put on hospital hooked to EEGs and I just want to know will these side effects go away after awhile w o treatment. Will my body get over the withdrawals? I’ve never asked for help w these things but this time I’m really scared.

    • Amanda

      Hello, I’m currently getting off pristiq for the 3rd time. Last time it took me 5 months and this time I seem to be dealing with it better so I’m going a bit faster (on my 4th week and I’m down from 100mg to 25mg).
      My mother has epilepsy and was also put on antidepressants (should never have been put on them!) It took her working close with her doctor for 7 months to get off them. You need to be very careful and should never stop cold turkey at the best of times let alone having epilepsy on top. I would suggest though I’m not a doctor (go see her asap!) to take your original dose of pristiq to stop your withdrawals and go through a taper down plan with a properly trained (a lot of GP’s have no idea how to get off antidepressants) healthcare provider and do it slow.
      Best of luck. xx

    • Carmen

      Dani How did you go, I too have epilepsy and take 500mg daily lamictal, also clonazepam (which I’ve searched and found out it is also classed as a mood stabiliser )
      I started 50 mg pristiq about 7 yrs ago, it was bumped up to 100mg when I felt it wasn’t working about 2 yrs ago. I’m sick if taking all these drugs. I know I need the lamictal, I’m wondering if the clonazepam would be enough as an AD, but I’d like to know if you managed to come off the pristiq without any really bad symptoms, and if it caused any seizures doing so ? Tia, Carmen

  11. Marsia

    Disgusting. They should tell their patients of what will happen when you want to get off pristiq. It’s been hell for me. I’d rather have anxiety than deal with the withdrawals symptoms from this.

  12. Leigh

    I decided for reasons not necessary to this post to discontinue my Pristiq. I have been between 100mg and 50mg for approximately 4 yrs. I am very familiar with the “brain zaps” and neurological effects from simply missing one dose or taking a dose “late”. I used to try to describe the feeling as, ” I didn’t drink my V8 today!” in relation to the old V8 commercial with actors walking at an angle because they hadn’t had their daily dose. I split my 100mg pills x 5 days then quartered them x 5 days. The first few days can be tough but its worth it!!! Once you sync your system to the downgrade the next downgrade is even easier. I feel like a brand new person and I will NEVER take Pristiq again! I am less anxious and less panicky now that Pristiq is out of my system!

  13. wendy

    Wow the withdrawal symptoms of this drug are horrific on my fourth week of withdrawal still suffering brain zaps dizziness fatigue low blood pressure feeling faint shaky a lot tingling in hands and feet so bad been on this for nearly 9 months I just can’t wait to be back to normal I really don’t recommend this drug to anyone get rid of this nightmare…

  14. Wilma Sirolli
    Perth.West Australia

    Is anyone withdrawing from Pristiq having a pulsing on the left side of head down to under the ear? I have Tinnitus and it has made it worse. It is a terrible drug and should be taken off the market.

    • Jac

      The left side of my head hurt so bad it felt like I had a knife stuck in my head. Horrible, never never again.

  15. Carol

    I am now one week into a pristiq withdrawal. I begun my dose of 150mg 8 months ago whilst dealing with overwhelming pressure. As per norm my doctor had a much higher dose in mind for me as I refused to completely feel. The 150 helped for around 6 months as I switched of from life, agreeing to the sedation. When I started to feel abnormal bouts of aggression. I felt like my brain processes where limited, and I no longer felt myself, it was as though an imposter stepped into my body. It was time to stop. Tapered down for two weeks, straight down to 50mg, then 25mg and finally a small corner maybe 5mgs, to nothing. As soon as I dropped dose the brain zaps started and the sensation of walking on a slippery surface, like water was present in the two weeks. So no pristiq on board, and still have the brain zaps, along with emotional outbursts, I’m not able to read the newspaper without tearing up. I must say, I have saturated my body with supplements such as tryptophan,(same or SAD powder) potent amounts of antioxidants, good quality magnesium and high amounts of protein. It really helps and supports the body processes whilst moving through the transition. A healthy diet and 2 or so liters of water helps to flush the body from those nasties. This has been my first experience with antidepressant and most def my last. Oh exercise helps as well. I must say the zaps have eased and my passion for life is slowly returning. This past week in particular has been about reconnecting with myself, I have withdrawn from certain people so I can heal in my own space. If you have made the choice to stop, the body will naturally correct itself with patience and nurture. Reading everyone’s posts also reminds me I’m not alone in shedding this mind altering substance.

  16. Shawna :)

    I have been on Pristiq for about 18 months and it was the only antidepressant that worked. I have been very gradually lowering my dosage. I was on 50 mg a day and then 50mg 3 x a week and 25 mg the rest and the only side effect was the occasionally brain zap, especially if I missed a day. However, I am now on week three of 25mg a day and the side effects are awful! I am so flipping emotional and angry – I can’t stand it. I want to drive my car into the garage door over and over again. But there is no way I am going back on this drug. I am done with antidepressants, regular exercise and a healthy diet help me tremendously. Although, I am currently lacking motivation due to the side effects. I want to just quit 25mg and go cold turkey now, and I would love some feedback as to how long will the side effects last. And I want to thank everyone for their posts, as it is very helpful to realize that its not me going crazy, just the side effects of coming off of Pristiq. So Thanks so much for your honest sharing. :)

  17. Jason O

    Pristiq worked for me but I have been feeling it’s time to get off of Pristiq. I have weaned myself for the past two months and was finally able to get to 1 pill every other day. Well I forget a pill 3 days ago and started the brain zaps. I have now gone 3 days without any pills and have some of the same withdraw symptoms as some of the people Who posted below.

    But I am not angered I am having hysterical laughter over nothing. This morning my wife and I were driving to work and I couldn’t stop laughing. I went home and called in sick as my work would think I’m taking illegal drugs. I hope this stops. I have major brain zaps and weird feelings if I move my eyes fast or turn quickly.

    I am going to try to not take any more Pristiq as I badly want to get off this medicine. If it is making me feel this way it cannot be good to stay on any longer. I just hope these feelings go away quickly.

    If this is anything like how people hooked on illegal drugs feel I now understand how come they cannot get off them.

  18. KK
    Richmond, Va

    I have been off Pristiq for 3 years. Still get brain zaps every morning and sometimes during the day.
    Withdrawal was horrible. DO NOT GO COLD TURKEY.

    Took ME 6 months to taper off really slowly as I titrated the dose mgs and dosing times. No help offered from my MD. I begged, and My Dr finally gave me Prozac 20mg to take daily for a week then taper off very slowly along with the Pristiq. Big HUGE HELP. First I tapered the Pristiq 100 mg dose from every 24 hrs to 24 hrs AND 15 min for a few days. Then 24 hr 30 for a few days. Repeat and increase titration until you are taking 1 dose every other day. Then start the taper all over again with 50 Mg. then 25 mg. etc. You get the idea. (I know it says don’t split pills) At 25 mg Then try to spread out to slowly every 48 hrs, 60 hrs, 72 hrs. Etc. All the while, I stayed on the Prozac once a week or once ever 10 days.
    This was a painfully slow process. You need to make charts to keep up. Wake up in the middle of the night, set alarms depending on the dose time you are at.
    Withdrawal and brain zaps were physical torture.

    If I knew this before I started Pristiq I never would have used it. Yes, it worked great and I thought it was a wonder drug- but it was a short lived honeymoon as with most new meds we all try. I still continue to suffer from brain zaps, although they are less severe.

    I am off all meds and giving my brain and system a rest. In January ’15 I am starting TMS NeuroStar. TransCranial magnetic stimulation of the prefrontal cortex. My Anthem insurance is covering most of it. I will have a co- pay. Treatment is 6 weeks, 5 days a week for 45 min. This is NOT ECT.
    Already in use in the military for PTSD and depression. It is finally making it’s way to the private sector and large medical schools.
    My new next hope… Wish me luck.

  19. Erin

    I was started on 50mg Pristiq about 6 months ago for severe anxiety and depression. After a month I saw no change with the anxiety, so my Dr recommended I increase to 100mg. It took away my sad and paranoid feelings, but same as a lot of you, my motivation and energy levels decreased rapidly. Thank god I have a job that I don’t have to start until 3pm everyday or else I would never leave my bed.

    The peak of my energy seems to come late afternoon but is very short lived. However I get home after work around 9pm and won’t go to sleep until 1am. My sleep was helped along by a drug my doctor prescribed called Restavit and that saved my sleep patterns, you can only take it for 10 days and it regulates your sleep pattern :) The other things I’ve noticed since taking Pristiq is
    1) Urinary hesitancy – Every time I have the urge to go to the bathroom, I get there and nothing happens. It’s so frustrating. My Dr thought it was a stricture in my bladder but since looking into the less common side effects of Pristiq, urinary hesitancy is one of them >_<
    2) I’ve had insanely itchy skin. Not sure if that’s Pristiq related but it's only been since increasing to the 100mg and I know there's a risk of hives etc when taking it.

    Anyway so last week I went back to my Dr and told him I couldn’t handle how tired and demotivated I am, so he has taken me down to 50mg with no tapering down. It’s day 4 and I feel the exact same as I have for months (which I’m very thankful for) but I’ve got to say, reading all these comments has me slightly worried about the next week or so and particularly about eventually coming off Pristiq all together. In saying that though, I strongly agree with the person that said you have to be head strong when reducing or coming off it. I told myself I would handle reducing the dose to 50mg and so far nothing. Anyway good luck to everyone coming out of the Pristiq haze.

  20. Katrina
    New England

    Hi, I have been on many, many antidepressants over the past 15 or so years. My latest (a few years ago) was a combination of Wellbutrin and Prozac. While Prozac had always worked for me in the past- it seemed to be no longer working. Because the 1/2 life of Prozac is unknown- you can go off it cold turkey. My psychiatrist told me they don’t even know how long it stays in your system. Scary. Anyway, my doc added Pristiq. So, I went along on the Pristiq feeling better- but realized that I had no emotions- I did not laugh, I did not cry, I didn’t look forward to anything- I just existed. I was NUMB. I had my doc put me back on the Prozac.

    I had a very, very difficult 2013- losing 2 very close family members at young ages and my son joined the military. So, I was constantly thinking about them (obsessing), crying all the time at night in bed- a year later. Petrified something would happen to my son. I had my doc put me back on the Pristiq earlier this year 2014. I recently decided that I wanted to get off of the Pristiq for the above mentioned reasons and others as well. I have read that you are not supposed to cut the tablets in half- this is per the pharmaceutical company. These pills have a coating on them, so they are not to be cut or crushed.

    I was taking 50 mg- so couldn’t go down to a lower dosage. My doc had me take one every other day for 2 weeks. So, I have not had any Pristiq for 4 days now- and I am going through Pristiq withdrawal. I am sluggish, feel nauseous, getting the brain zaps, irritable, disorganized, cannot fall asleep at night- even after taking a sleeping pill. It didn’t dawn on me until yesterday that I was in withdrawal. Luckily, I have this week out of work- but I haven’t accomplished anything at home that I was hoping to. Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow, as I am working the weekend! BTW- I am a psych nurse- so I am familiar with the withdrawals, side effects, etc.

  21. AJ
    New York State

    I have been on 50mm Pristiq for over 4 years. I’ve had to stop taking it. It’s been 4 days now. I notice some of the withdrawal symptoms. But knowing I will have changes because of the lack of the drug in my system helps. I’ve also done DBT and that helps I guess.

    Anyway… No brain zaps yet. No agitation or uncontrollable anger. Love the brighter colors, lack of nausea, and no more night sweats. Also started taking L-Trytophan in hopes it will elevate serotonin.

  22. Roger

    Pristiq was a good drug for me at 100mg dose as it sorted out a severe clinical depression. However after 2 years I was only functioning 3-4 days a week and sleeping for most of the other days. I also found that a few hours after taking the drug it would exacerbate the issues it was ostensibly resolving. That is anxiety, mood swings and irritability. Suicidal thoughts were now few and far between but mild brain zaps were occurring and if I foolishly indulged in a strong coffee and a cigarette strong electric shocks occurred in body peripherals.
    This was getting to be too much for me to continue as I felt like a stunned mullet a lot of the time and just wasn’t performing as a human being. Therefore I decided to get off the stuff.
    Did some research and talked to medicos who disagreed but in the end I have gone cold turkey. My body was telling me enough is enough.

    The current state of play is as follows: Day 1 – morning Nausea, Day 2 -morning Nausea and vomiting plus diarrhoea, Day 3 Nausea gone, loose bowels continue, stomach pain, brain buzz arrives but not a severe as the zaps that occurred when on the stuff, Day 4 – very tired, loose bowels, stomach pain gone, headaches and low level brain buzz constantly, occasional ear issues like wind blowing in them. Some irritability, no mood swings or anxiety, In fact considering the constant physical symptoms I am dealing with at the moment I don’t feel all that bad.
    Lifestyle changes have included a better diet with lots of good vegs, some meat and a little rice and lots of water and green tea. I haven’t completely avoided other key major food groups and still enjoy a few beers and the occasional cigarette. Will keep you posted.

  23. Kelly

    Originally, Pristiq made me feel wonderful for a few months -then stopped working. Tapering off under my Dr.’s care was a nightmare. Tapering off in 2 weeks is agonizing. I would have preferred water boarding. The brain zaps were debilitating. It is 3 years later and I still have ZAPS everyday. My husband crated an excel spread sheet to help me titrate and taper the dose down ever so slowly over6 -9 months. After I researched it myself, My Dr. gave me a script for Prozac to take every other day during the tapering off the Pristiq. That was a huge help. The farther I got along tapering off the Pristiq the more the Prozac doses were spread out to once a week etc. The taper is a super slow process and my brain zaps have NEVER totally disappeared. EVERY MORNING I STILL HAVE THEM. Brain zaps are some type of alteration to my brain.
    I am afraid to try any new meds when Pristiq is still affecting me this way

    • cold turkey pristiq

      I have gone cold turkey off 200 mg each day. I am now on day three and no severe side effects. I am also taking alprazolam for anxiety, pristiq did not help. All pristiq did was make me numb to highs and lows. Also has broken my metabolism and have gained significant weight. That in itself defeats my whole purpose i.e. weight gain and numb to highs. I can deal with anxiety with alprazolam, which is highly addictive, but cannot deal with feeling the highs and weight gain.

      I am interested to know whether you also gained weight on pristiq and have you began to lose any weight if you did gain on pristiq.

      Also as your journey progresses going cold turkey what if any side effects are happening. Hoping to hear from you soon.

      • Fatty

        I put on loads of weight on Pristiq. I was on up to 300mg and as my dosage was increased so to did my weight increase. I’ve gained over 30kg in 4 years. I’m on Day Four no Pristiq now and changing my lifestyle. I can’t blame just the drug for the weight gain however, it seemed to increase with each dosage increase and no other change.

  24. Mandy

    Don’t be scared to come off Pristiq as I think it will make your withdrawal process harder. You need to have a strong mind to go through this process. I was taking 200mg Pristiq for 7 years for post traumatic stress. I lost myself on this medication. I was simply lazy with no libido at all. And not to mention the 40kg I put on my tummy and boobs. (I’m sure they themselves weigh 20kgs) lol. A month ago I decided I wanted my life back. I did a lot of research and read a lot of forums to help me through this process.

    I dropped from 200mg to 100mg the first two weeks. I was also taking Krill fish oil, Vitamin D and B and magnesium. My symptoms were bad but manageable. Electric shocks in head, dizzy, mind cloudy, pins and needles in hands and feet, moody and any noise seemed loud which irritated me even more. I’m sure the vitamins are helping as I haven’t suffered like a lot of other people have coming off Pristiq. Last week I went down to 50mg. Most of the symptoms I was previously having had disappeared by this time except for the pins and needles and irritated at any sound. My sex drive has even returned at this stage (yay for my partner).

    A few days ago I dropped to 25mg (ignoring advice not to cut tablets) . Still I’m not having any major symptoms and the dizziness has improved . I have so much energy my house is sparkling. And just looking at my partner gives me back my sensations I had before I started this med. ( he is loving this ) my children are amazed that their mum can actually do thing instead of laying around all the time with no real focus on life. Besides the few symptoms I’m having I feel absolutely amazing.

    I have also lost 4 kg since I started tapering 4 weeks ago ( I’m so excited to feel sexy again) I’ll give it a few more days on 25mg then either stop or take 1/4 of a 50mg. I am very thankful for PRISTIQ for saving me from a very dark time in my life as it did work but it’s time to get my mind and my body back. I think the vitamins have helped a lot during my tapering process. Do not just stop taking PRISTIQ without consulting your doctor. If your minds not strong enough then I believe the symptoms will be worse. Good luck to anybody trying to taper of PRISTIQ. It can be done and you will feel wonderful if the time is right for you to stop taking this medication.

  25. Mandy

    I have been on Pristiq for 7 years and have gained 30kg. I also am emotionless. So a few weeks ago I decided enough was enough. I am stronger now and now how to beat anxiety on my own. I was on 200mg. First 8 days I took 100mg.
    First day – felt fine
    Second day- brain zaps, insomnia.
    Third day- emotional, brain zaps, shaking,pins and needles in hands and feet, restless legs, cloudy brain, bit of anxiety. Urinating a lot And sweating.
    Day four- as above
    Day five -as above
    Day six. Much better nearly all symptoms gone except for slight head ache and blurry vision.
    Day seven. Blurry vision, but heaps of energy
    Day 8- so much energy everything is spotless.
    Dropped down to 50mg and have been taking that for 5 days and just have a slight headache, and slight blurry vision. Tomorrow I will have 1/4 tablet for a few days and see how I go. My symptoms are were horrible but manageable. I’ve been taking krill fish oil, vitamin b and d throughout my process and believe it has helped with the side effects. Good luck everyone getting off PRISTIQ. Can’t wait to have my life and old body back !

  26. Sue

    I have tears of joy right now after reading these posts. I have been suspecting what I have been experiencing was related to discontinuing Pristiq, but wasn’t sure. After my visit to my Dr. today I felt even more crazy! My Dr. Put me on it 18 months ago for peri menopausal emotionality and hot flashes. She wanted me to come in every 6 months for a check-up. At the 18 month mark she suggested I discontinue. She told me I could do so cold turkey, or take it every other day for a while. In hind sight, that my was first clue that she was clueless. I was on the tail end of a cold when I was there, and a few days later felt horrible! It was like a hang over that got worse as the day went on. Nausea, frequent bowel movements, foggy brain, exhaustion and I could hear my eyes move! At that point I decided to tapper the drug because I thought I had heard you shouldn’t stop abruptly. I didn’t know if there was a correlation but I wasn’t taking a chance. I tapered it the next couple of weeks, every other, every third day etc.

    When I had been off for about 5 days, although not as severe, I had a horrible sick day. I had frequently been nauseated, emotional, foggy and could hear my eyes move, but this day was worse. The next day a bit better, but the head stuff lingered. That continued across the weekend, and whenever I was in the passenger seat of a car, I felt car sick. I called the Dr. this morning and got an appt. with the physician’s assistant for this afternoon. I left there feeling like I was crazy. She mentioned the possible withdrawal, but acted like it couldn’t still be that. She also said she’d never heard of the “hearing the eyes move” thing before. I felt like she was trying, but struggling to find a polite way of saying ‘it’s you’re imagination’. She did speak to my Dr. Who also claimed to have never heard of the eye thing.

    Their solution was to prescribe me Lexapro, since I’m experiencing occasional anxiety. I was hesitant, but didn’t disagree, because throughout this mess I had been thinking, if I was anxious or moody, it must indicate I was reaping addition rewards for more than just menopause. After reading here tonight that anxiety is one of the many withdrawal effects, and these symptoms fit me to a tee, I am not going to pick up that script, and I’m going to search for a new dr. I really would have appreciated a heads up on this withdrawal syndrome when she DC’d the drug. As well as not making me feel like a crazed idiot while I was in her office. Thanks for letting people post their stories. This helped me tremendously!!

  27. Sarah

    I have been on Pristiq for several years. It helped me weather my divorce depression, which was worse than my usual depression.

    Originally, my doctor prescribed Cymbalta. Cymbalta helped a lot at first, but after a couple months I developed severe diarrhea — I had it about 20 times a day, including during the night. For 8 months I could not go anywhere, and sometimes had to shower and change sheets in the middle of the night. I had a colonoscopy and was told that I had developed microscopic colitis and would have it for the rest of my life. However, I was also referred to Mass. General’s Crohn’s & Colitis Center. As I was being interviewed by a doctor there, I mentioned that I was taking Cymbalta. He immediately stopped me and told me that they had seen quite a few post-menopausal women who had developed microscopic colitis after taking Cymbalta. He advised me to start weaning myself off it and see if the diarrhea continued. I slowly weaned myself off over the course of a few weeks and the diarrhea completely stopped and never returned. I told my shrink about this (she is on Harvard Med. School faculty) and she said she would discuss it with the drug manufacturer’s rep. Bottom line, the drug company said they knew nothing about any connection between Cymbalta and microscopic colitis … But I don’t believe it. Based on my own experience, and the doctor at MGH’s comments, I think the drug company is lying.

    Since then I have been taking Pristiq, but I have gained quite a bit of weight. I don’t eat very much and I have a healthy diet (need to exercise more). I know that it is difficult for someone my age (61 and post-menopausal) to lose weight, but my doctor did acknowledge that Pristiq can cause weight gain. Because I am feeling less depressed lately, I told my doctor that I wanted to try cutting down the dosage of Pristiq from 100 mg to 50 mg, to see if that would help me lose some of this weight. I have been taking the reduced dosage for about a week now, and I have to say that I have not felt well in the last week — migraine headache for 2 days, some feelings of nausea, lack of energy, irritability, increased depression. I am hoping that I can ride this out without going back to the higher dose. I would like to completely eliminate Pristiq from my life.

  28. Claire

    I’m going crazy….
    I have been weaning off 100mg of Pristiq for the past few months and have now had nothing for 4 days. I am actually losing my mind. I am rage-filled. And driving to work this morning I wanted to drive my car into a tree. My heart beats in my ears in weird bursts. I’m terrified that maybe I am crazy and that’s why I should stay on it… Or is it really the withdrawal symptoms? I am having very reckless thoughts that would destroy my marriage…. I want to buy a ticket to the other side of the world and never come back. Will this go away? If so how long?

    My Dr says I have to ride it out. But what if I actually lose my mind…?

    • Aly

      I’ve come off Pristiq before – had to go back on – and now coming off it again. I can tell you from my personal experiences that this is exactly how I get, too. Pristiq is a horrible, horrible drug to come off.

  29. Esther
    Victoria texas

    I had been on Pristiq for over 5 years. I was taking it for hot flashes. It worked for me right away. Once I went out of town for a week and two days went by and I had this horrible headache that I couldn’t even think. The pain was so bad, my vision was blurry, I got very irritable. Looking through my meds, I noticed I had left this one at home. I managed to drive home, which was a 2 hr drive. I took it and I was better. Another time the pharmacy got my prescription mixed up and I went 3 days without it. I was bedridden because the headache, nausea, diarrhea and stomach pains were excruciating. I finally got my prescription and within hours I was okay. I decided that I wanted to get off of it and I DID! I was on 100 mgs and week one I took 1/2 a pill then the 2nd week I cut the pills in 1/4 ……..for the next week I had headaches but nothing an over the counter advil can’t take care. I’m doing so good without it. Good luck to anyone else trying to get off of it.

    • alice
      ridge ny

      I am so afraid to stop. Prestiq worked for me but I am ready to stop. I’ve tried before and felt nervous, dizzy, and had really bad headaches. I went back on. I have to try- it’s been 4 years. I will speak to my doctor, thanks.

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