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


PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:

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:

CYMBALTA (DULOXETINE) & PRISTIQ (DESVENLAFAXINE) SIDE EFFECTS:

• 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.

SUDDEN WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS:

• 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. Jo
    Charlotte, NC
    Reply

    Thank you for your posts. I would like to ask some of you, who posted a couple of months ago, to post again if you are able. I would love to read an update on your progress.

    Currently, I am taking 25 mg every other day. Following someone’s advice in a previous comment, I am drinking at least a gallon of water a day. When I get dizzy, I am eating string cheese… slowly. Somehow the protein helps, however, I am still dizzy and don’t feel comfortable driving. I appreciate the support and advice – it is comforting.
    No more Pristiq for me!

  2. Tyler
    NYC
    Reply

    I trust the corner drug dealers more than I trust a doctor. I’m running out of Pristiq. Last time I tried to quit I almost lost my job coming in late and not producing. I just wanted to kill myself to end it.

    I hired another doctor for $1200 for three sessions with one goal. Get me off all drugs. These are drug dealers, not doctors

    I’m dreading this and my bank account will be empty but it will be worth it. Never again.

    Good luck to all.

  3. Liz
    Florida
    Reply

    For the first few months of taking Pristiq 50 mg it seemed to help my double depression. Now after a year I told my doctor it didn’t seem to be working at all. So instead of changing the medication he doubled it to 100 mg. I was totally uncontrollable. Hostile, aggressive,racing thoughts, impulsive, and suicidal.

    On 90 day probation at work because of my horrific behavior on a job I’ve been at for 15 years. I called the doctor’s office to report symptoms and missed his return phone call. Called the next day and have never heard back from the doctor or office. Thank God I read the prior reviews how awful the withdrawal symptoms are for this drug.

    I tried cold turkey and had such brains zaps, electrical body twinges, brain freeze, language and memory problems, total emotional instability, crying jags, nausea, dizziness thought I was going to die. Went down to 50 mg a day for a month and have now decreased it to 25 mg a day. Here I go again going through these horrible withdrawal symptoms by decreasing the dose.

    How can doctors prescribe this medication knowing the horrible withdrawal symptoms and pretend they care about their patients same time? I hate how I feel right now, but with all the prior positive comments being patient and getting through is the only way I can know I can do it too. I sincerely thank all of you for sharing.

  4. Ss
    Reply

    I have been taking pristique for a few months now after having sever anxiety attacks, it works I’m happy, 3 days ago I became ill with a virus and haven’t had a tablet for 3 days what I was going through I thought was part of the virus dizziness headaches, blurred vision, nausea etc it’s just clicked that I haven’t had a tablet for a few days what to do I’m health way through detoxing, I took another one feeling better. Pristque may not work for every one but it does for me.

  5. PEW
    Reply

    I’ve been treated for depression now 18yrs. Cost me my employment. A large number of Meds. (Most caused greater anxiety n irritability) but mainly Efexor n Prestiq which seemed okay but continual relapses and now Axit (15mg) added in the evening with 150 mg Prestiq daily.
    Currently weaning off Prestiq, currently at 100mg dly after 3 days and to drop to 50mg after five days, for five days with the view I be introduced to Cymbalta 30mg. Do not like what I have read and Dr is thinking about ECT. However if I can withdraw, I’m planning to quit this stuff as I believe my probs are 75% caused by Meds. If not more!
    I have weaned off Efexor and Prestiq twice over the years only to relapse (?) or more specifically experience severe mood swings, cranky, irritable, aggressive n tired. Quite argumentative, I don’t think that’s depression is it?
    Has anyone experienced similar after reactions (6 to 8 wks and wheels fall off wagon) and found someway or less addictive medication to get oneself through that reaction period. I am now starting to endure slight headaches, heaviness n fatigue but am aware of that and can cope. I feel I and my wife have lost 2 generations (our 40s n 50s) to this medication/depression roller coaster.

  6. Misty Counts
    Reply

    I’ve been on Pristiq for 3-4years. It was prescribed to me for my Fibro. I too noticed if I missed a day I’d get light headed, dizzy, headaches, & nauseous. My brain power was the most concerning. I lost my insurance this year & my Dr has been giving me samples because I cannot afford $200. to pay for this medicine. I have expressed to my Dr that I don’t like being on a prescription that makes me feel I cannot come off. This past Friday I ran out. There were no samples available when I called earlier in the week. Talk about crash course in withdrawl! All symptoms above, & I can’t consentrate my mind runs a mile a minute, crying spells, & hopelessness. The dizziness! When will it stop? What can I do to ease these effects?

  7. Judy s
    Reply

    Just want to tell you that it can be done. I was on 100 mg Pristiq, then went down to 50 mg for a few months.
    I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol develop from the Pristiq, and had to go on meds for these two side effects.
    I finally decided to go cold turkey, my doctor didn’t want to help me get off pristiq. It’s been a month, and I’m ok now.
    My advice to those interested in getting off pristiq is to wait until you have few stresses in your life, in other words, wait for a good time. Then just don’t focus on the withdrawal symptoms, and wait it out. I feel ok now, no depression! The side effects and the expenses from pristiq isn’t worth it.

  8. Isabel
    Reply

    Thank you for giving me hope, I will start doing just as you did from this morning. Wish me luck, hope the you are doing well and are Happy. Isabel x

  9. Benjamin
    Reply

    I initially was prescribed pristiq because I was seeking some artificial motivation in my life. I wasn’t in the realms of extreme depression – simply lost faith in the system as we know it. I wanted the kick start to be able to join the rat race. However I have come to realise that, after 4 years of 100mg daily dose, it really does not benefit me in both my mental and physical state. After the first time I missed a dose or two I realized how these drugs are engineered to keep you on them thereby increasing the share market value of these leech drug companies. Currently I have gone cold turkey for a week and the brain zaps are progressively getting worse. I also feel a little emotionally on edge. For example I will hear a news story either bad or good and get a split second of wanting to burst into tears. I also feel like I am in a perpetual state of ‘getting’ the flu but I’m not sure if this is related – as it is flu season here in aus. That all being said, I am steadfast in never taking another pristiq, I feel that companies are praying on people that are damaged simply because they do not fit into the system that is so corrupted. I figure my body and mind will adjust, I have noticed that going to the gym really does reduce the severity of the side-effects while I am there, so it’s good motivation to continue. Wishing everyone the best for their cleanse!! Peace out.

  10. Helpful Northerner
    Reply

    I was on Pristiq for over 2 years, 50mg. It helped me tremendously with my anxiety and depression with barley no side effects, the first 4 weeks I was very tired but I’m pretty sure it was because I was burnt out from everything going on. After two years of being on it, I SLOWLY weened off of them. For 1-2 months I took 50 mg 36 hours apart, then for one month 48 hours apart, then 3 days apart for one month.
    It is a nasty drug to get off of but do it slowly. Don’t torture yourself for nothing. I did have shakes and brain fuzziness every time if would start the new dosage program but your body adjusts after a week of doing it. I’m currently 4 days no pristiq and my brain is fuzzy, dizzy and slight nausea but so far much better than cutting cold turkey (which I would get brain zaps, severe nausea, rage, crying,…)
    I’m feeling really hopeful right now, I can put up with this fuzziness any day knowing that I’m gonna be off this pill for good. Be hopeful and again, DO IT SLOWLY! I will write again and let all of you know how things go later on.

  11. hd
    Reply

    I stopped Pristiq 50 mg on Tuesday, under my physician’s instructions. Last night started having brain zaps and significant vertigo, exactly as I’ve had in the past in withdrawing from Effexor. I am hoping to “outrun” the side effects without having to split the pills, but I know it’s going to be tough. Any suggestions?

  12. Viv
    Reply

    I have gone cold turkey, only being on it for 3 months, it’s was horrific, but I glad .. all my Dr could say was he was very disappointed in me? Not, so sorry about the side effects and suicidal thoughts I didn’t tell you about and I just want you addicted to them … I researched adrennal fatigue and found the pristique wiped out my minerals ..
    On taking magnesium, zinc, and manganese … I have no headaches, depression gone, eye’s improved and the brain zaps gone .. all I needed was some minerals and a good diet .. Thanks to those 3 minerals I’m now sleeping and much calmer. I still have a few bad days but hey! it’s better the being on Pristique … hope this helps any one who is going through withdrawals. Good Luck

  13. T.E.M
    Reply

    I am 56 years old and began the anti depressant Merry Go Round with the advent of Prozac. It was toted as a miracle pill with no side effects. Since then I have trusted the doctors and I have run the gamut of SSRI’s. Finally about 6 years ago I was put on Pristique, which is an SSNI. It must have been OK in the beginning, I really don’t remember, but I’ve got to get off of it now. I started a taper by razoring off a small piece each month. The withdrawal is horrific. I have many of the above symtoms, anxiety and insomnia being the worst. Every morning I awake at 5:00am in a sweat and feeling what some junkies must feel. I take my “shaved” dose and start to lose the symptoms. When I tried to quit cold turkey, I became suicidal and tried to overdose on xanax, clonazapam and Pristique. Ha, the next morning I awoke at 6AM anyway! I was very bouncy to say the least.
    What I am finding helpful during my Taper: NOW brand Calm, an amino acid blend for neurological health
    The amino acid L-Tryptophan
    L-Glutamine – to reduce sugar cravings
    Holy Basil supplements
    I still take xanax and clonapin as needed and I keep a journal of meds, supplements, moods and record the times they are taken. I’m still in the “early” phase of tapering and I do believe this may take a long time. However, even with 1/4 less Pristique, my moods have improved. I believe the supplements are feeding my brain what it lacked to begin with.
    I am on Government assistance, so I only have a prescribing nurse, and she doesn’t seem to know all that much.
    Two excellent books that got me started on nutritional help are by Julia Ross. You can get them used on Amazon. Her two books, The Diet Cure & the Mood Cure led to the creation of the supplement Calm.
    I have found no sources of help or relief from doctors or prescribing nurses, so I began to research on my own (determinedly). Of course I cannot afford a holistic doctor as that would be the best route to go, in my opinion.
    I hope some of you will read the books and begin your own regimen, while doing a slow taper.

  14. pierre
    Reply

    Mary, hoping you see this, I have been on Pristiq for approximately 8-9 months. My personal experience was as follows:
    My initial prescription was 50mg,this proved so unsettling to me after 3-4 weeks it aggravated my severe clinical depression due to the low mood on this dosage in the first weeks and the consequent higher dose (100mg) that initially caused a severe depressive episode, I have conveyed the following to my GP. during this time re side effects on this drug.
    1.Changes in dosage up or down had a huge effect on mood,for me more so on higher dosage.
    2.Although a comfort eater prior this prescription,my appetite on this dosage 100mg. was constantly higher than usual and I ballooned out from 105 kg to 130 kilos(5’11”)
    3.High degree of sweating with only minimal exercise.
    4.During sleep biting my tongue (and teeth grinding) deeply to the point it bleeds on a regular basis from initial dosage.(at least 2 months)
    My suggestion is to consult you doctor,listing symptoms and request either to be weaned of drug or wean off it to the lowest dose.Unfortunately my doctor does not seem to take these side-effects of mine with any degree of gravitas or alternative choices/therapy on offer.
    you can wean of this stuff,follow info above it’s very useful,good luck,uncle pierre…

  15. Felicity
    Reply

    Hi VP. I am not sure if you every received an answer or are still trying to get off Pristiq, but my doctor prescribed me a low dosage of Prozac to help get off Pristiq.
    I tried cold turkey last year and it was horrendous. I had the brain zaps, sight interference, dizziness, nausea, mood swings, etc. This time I got a 10mg dosage of Prozac.
    I take two per day for three days, then 1 per day for 3 days. I am now on day 3 without Pristiq. I can say I am feeling effects coming off the drug, but the prozac has really helped tame it all. All I am really feeling is sluggish, and a bit zoned out.
    Now I am not sure what will happen once the prozac is done, but my GP did say that doing this for the first week really gets you over that hump of stopping the Pristiq. Hope this helps you, or someone else out there.

  16. jg
    Reply

    Omg me too I was only on pristiq for 2 months 50 milligrams and this is the worst feeling ever. My doctor forgot to check my charts and I was severely allergic to venvalaxine I have the biggest swelling of my feet and hands. I’ve never been pregnant but I think this is what it’s like the extreme swelling my ankles are like tree trunks and my wrist I can barely even move so yes this is one of the big ones. I also can’t stop scratching my head I suffer from anxiety and stress and sometimes scratch my head but this is ridiculous I’m literally digging holes in it. pristiq is horrible

  17. Brenda K.
    Reply

    Hey there! I’ve been off Pristiq for over two weeks and I feel better every day, but it has been a horrible, God awful experience. The juice fast sounds like a great idea! In this regard, believe it or not, I was told by my physician, (not the shrink who prescribed the Pristiq) to take Metamucil to help lower my cholesterol so I’ve been taking it for over a week now. Guess what, I believe the Metamucil is helping to flush this crap out of my system, so I bet a juice fast would work wonders!
    I’m still having dizzy spells but not as often or as severe and the crying jags have decreased significantly! I’ve also been taking B12, drinking lots of water and praying!
    You can do this!

  18. Viv
    Reply

    I wasn’t going to reply other then my original post, but I realised I didn’t post anything POSITIVE .. here goes, one, I was on it for 2 months before reading all of your posts, thank heavens I read them! I went cold turkey which may not be for everyone …. I’ve been off it for 9 days now, I was in bed for the first 3 days sleeping, and waking and sleeping, I drank heaps of white black tea to flush my system and watched videos (nice ones because of the paranoia thoughts setting in, brain zaps, weakness and noises etc ) .. getting up, the dizziness and headaches were bad …small achievable steps everyday, eyesight has improved by day 5.
    Be kind to yourself was my mantra, I focused on one thing per day (little exercise to work the Pristiq out of my body), like washing dishes even though my aching arms felt like I was lifting dead weights….swept the path, then slept 5 hours straight? Hey, I actually slept! …. find the one thing you like and do it… also I kept TV on, ipad going and played music, .. whatever interested me when I was awake .. I found keeping my mind busy with useless but interesting things, stopped the images, suicide thoughts, paranoia and obsessive thoughts that Pristiq drug intensifies, .. you go around in circles in your mind … and when you do have a good thought or nice feeling …. hold on to that those thoughts, think and rethink them as many times as you can because you can re train your thinking … funny, how you have fleeting thoughts of good, but long intense thoughts on negative and bad? …. BE KIND AND FORGIVING TO YOURSELF and good luck to all … I can now see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s NOT a train or Pristiq coming my way.

  19. Brenda K.
    Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience and hope. You have helped me! God bless you!

  20. CB
    Reply

    I wrote on here before. I’m still working on weening myself off Pristiq slowly. I watched a documentary, “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead,” on a guy who did a 90 day juice fast to “reboot” his system and he had great results. He had a rare skin condition that is like psoriasis, not a mental condition, I know, but he was cured and off his medications by doing this juice fast.
    I’m thinking that it would help with withdrawal symptoms and possible mild anxiety and depression. I’m not saying this is a cure for clinical anxiety and depression, but for those of you, like me, who just had a “freakout,” and were not diagnosed with clinical depression or anxiety, it might be something to look into.
    I will be trying this juice fast when I get the money (poor college student right now), but I would encourage you to check this documentary out and try the juice fast. I personally believe that it will help. I will post my results when I can try it. If any of you do it before me, please post your results. By the way, its not a product you buy. the only thing you need is a good juicer, and quality fresh fruits and vegetables to juice. I’m not selling anything here.
    http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/

  21. mill
    Reply

    Ive read through all comments on withdrawals from Pristiq and am glad I’m not going nuts. I was on Pristiq for nearly a year on 50mg a day, Fine until about three months ago and then rashes and itchiness started. Given different medications to stop but nothing helped. Had blood tests and was told my cholesterol was a little high. Apparently another symptom. Had a punch biopsy and was told that results indicated that medication could be the reason for rash. Doctor decided to take me off Pristiq and advised me to take one tablet every other day for two weeks then I should be fine. The itchiness/rashes continued absolutely driving me crazy. Decided a week ago to go cold turkey. Rashes not subsiding. Nauseous, crying bouts, anger and depression. How long can this go on???
    Not sure what is worse, being on or going off this horrendous medication. I’m determined to battle on if only the rashes would cease!!!! can handle all other symptoms.

  22. Viv
    Reply

    Again I agree, why was I put in it in the first place when the Doctors should know the serious side effects. My dog died after 15 years so GP put me on pristiq… Oh my god!! Night sweats, no sleep, dizziness, blurred vision, memory loss and the tremors… yet she insisted I stay on it, max dosage 100mg… Even had suicidal thoughts caused not by my depression, but from the medication side effects.
    Do our GP’s get a bonus or free holidays to have you hooked for life? I’ve gone cold turkey and thanks to the web advice I’m prepared for the withdrawals… which is more information and choice then my GP gave me.
    Went to another GP, even he wanted me back on it!! I have no faith in our medical system when all they want is you spending $, months or years getting off it.
    I may have been depressed before but I could sleep mostly, good eyesight, memory, didn’t suffer any shaking, headaches or noises. Looking back, actually bearable to where I am now
    I paid a doctor to give me all these side effects and suicidal thoughts… Good one!

  23. Brenda K.
    Reply

    Well, it is day 11 without Pristiq and I am having a rough day! I am very angry and ready to slap anyone who is rude to me. Things that I would normally laugh off really irritate and anger me. I am dangerous on the freeway! I’ve actually been close to physical fights with rude people! Very unlike me! I’ve also been having uncontrollable crying jags and dizziness along with difficulty breathing.
    Is this nightmare ever going to end! I swear, I think the manufacturers of Pristiq purposely make it almost impossible to get off it! They are evil!!!!
    I PRAY FOR ALL OF YOU WHO ARE GOING THROUGH THIS!!! You are NOT alone!

  24. CB
    Reply

    I am so glad to hear that others suffer from withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants. I started taking Pristiq about 5 years ago now for an anxiety/panic attack disorder. My panic attacks gave me weird body rushes, numbing of fingers on my left hand, and a strong tingling sensation in my leg and arm on my left side. At first I thought I was having a stroke or something. It was really freaky. My doctor pretty thoroughly checked my heart and aside form hypertension and high cholesterol I was fine. She then determined that I was having a panic attacks.
    At first she prescribed xanax. The sensation in my arm wore off, but it would not go away in my leg, and I was still experiencing frequent panic attacks, so she then prescribed Lexapro. That was a weird experience. After starting to take it I was fine at first, but after a couple days I wouldn’t sleep and was starting to hear phones ringing. My sister had been taking Pristiq at the time so I asked if I could try that. It worked wonders. Eventually all my panic symptoms went away and I had no side effects from Pristiq. The Dr told me that when I was ready I could ween myself off the drug by taking a pill every other day, then every third day, and so on.
    After a while of taking Pristiq without having a panic attack I decided to try weening off Pristiq, and started having what I called “weird brain throbs,” but have seen referred to here as brain zaps. These are very annoying and can be debilitating. Then I started experiencing the tingling feeling in my leg, so I went back on it. I’ve tried one other time since to ween myself off with similar effect. It’s now been about 5 years and I haven’t had a panic attack in a couple years, so I rally want to get off this medicine.
    I started weening myself off a week ago, and I’m having the brain zaps and my leg is acting up a bit. after reading some of the withdrawal symptoms, I’m wondering if the increase of anxiety is from the withdrawal. I’m encouraged that others have successfully weened themselves off of antidepressants and I’m going to stick to weening myself off, slowly, and hope for the best. I know these drugs do help some, but I am also weary of the pharmaceutical companies and their lack of concern for the well being of patients who take their products, all for the love of money. Where is our government in all this? Shouldn’t they be trying to protect the people?
    I suspect that just like the doctors they are getting kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies as well, and are in love with money and power over the lives and well being of the people they are supposed to serve.

  25. Brenda K.
    Reply

    It has been a little over two weeks since I started weaning myself off the Pristiq and it hasn’t been easy! I was taking 50mg a day for years and it just got too expensive so I decided to stop takng it. My doctor said dont cut the pills in half, rather take one on one day, none the next, etc. for two weeks,then take one pill one day and miss doses the next two days. Today is my third day without Pristiq and I am very dizzy, extremely irritable and depressed, could not sleep last night, even though I was exhausted, have body aches and a headache, but it isn’t as bad as the first day off it two weeks ago.
    Hang in there! You are not alone! What has been of great help is the prayers being said by my family and friends and myself, going for walks (even though I feel like I will fall down!), taking Vitamin B12 and Rescue Remedy, wgich is a floral tincture you can find in health food stores which really helps with the anxiety and feeling so awful!
    You will get through this! You are worth it and so is your life!

  26. Sarah
    Reply

    Lately, I’ve noticed that when I run out of my medications, almost all of them at the same time, I start feeling some strange side effects. After running out again, and feeling those side effects, I finally called to get them refilled.
    Since I’m on an arthritis medication for my joint paint, I thought that was the problem. I asked my pharmacist and she said that if I feel weird, it’s not withdrawal, but just that my body needs that medication, but I didn’t even think to ask about my other meds.
    When I went in to get my meds, she told me she did not have any more Pristiq more than 2 tablets at that time so she gave me those for the meantime. I’ve still been taking my pain meds despite how I thought they made me feel, also those 2 pristiq’s, and the side effects went away.
    It’s been about 4 days now and those side effects are back.
    I thought it would be important for me to share my story because my side effects are a little different than others. I get headaches that don’t go away, dry mouth, itching, insomnia, and worst of all, the blood pressure or heart beat irregularity. Every time I make any normal moves like standing up, turning around, walking, etc., I feel almost faint, like my blood pressure spiked, and then my chest feels strange like my heart skipped a beat. I’ve also noticed that my hands and feel go numb/asleep.
    Since I have been taking my pain meds, and once again off of the pristiq, I thought it was obvious that this medication was the problem, which ultimately led me to post this.
    I cannot help but WISH that all of this was due to my arthritis meds because it would be so much easier to find a replacement medication, but Pristiq is harder.
    I don’t want to be numb again on Prozac which gave me no other issues, depressed without any medications, and I know how risky all the other medications are now. I don’t know what to do now, and feel helpless and in need to continue the use of this medication.

  27. Caz
    Reply

    I have been on effexor then pristiq for 15 years. Taking the drug caused me no side effects and I was happy to be “normal” again, functioning without crying in despair every day was a big relief. Now I am on 50mg and can go up to 48 hours before withdrawal starts with usual symptoms described here.
    I have wanted to get off pristiq for years but more so since my blood pressure is up. I also realized I don’t really feel love anymore and my libido is non existent.
    My doctor denies there is a withdrawal effect and told me I could cut my pills in half for a week then stop. So I’ve gone from 50mg every other day to 25mg daily, same average dose but it is making me feel unwell, I have stomach upset, vertigo and fogginess that I didn’t have before.
    I am determined this will be my last prescription of pristiq, I have two boxes of 50mg to wean myself off. Sounds like I can do it from all the comments by others.

  28. Brit
    Reply

    I thought I was the only one. There are times at night when I wake up on the toilet in the bathroom. Some nights when I actually remember going to the bathroom I can feel myself falling asleep and there’s nothing I can do but fall asleep while on the toilet and I thought I might’ve been the only one thinking I was developing narcolepsy.
    I didn’t think it was a withdrawal symptoms until you mentioned it in your post. Looking back I see that it was possible. I mainly had these episodes when I had missed a dose or I was very irregular with a dose. I was on the 50 mg once a day and when I talked to my doctor about trying to get off of it she all but refused. She thought that I wasn’t having side effects and she felt like the anxiety was just getting worse and if anything that we need to increase the amount of medication I was on and I didn’t feel that way. I felt like I have been on it long enough I really wanted to try a more natural approach and my therapy.
    Anyways the doctor refused to give me advice on how to wean off of the Pristiq so I have been slowly weaning myself off of it. There are times when I missed doses and honestly it’s been probably a few days since I’ve done a dose but it seems like the longer I’m off of the medication the better I feel. I also have been experiencing breathing problems which I didn’t attribute to the Pristiq it all. I’ve also been experiencing dizziness when I stand up I feel very lightheaded. I’m also having uncontrollable swelling of my legs and feet which may not be related to the Pristiq I haven’t really seen anyone else complaining about that but that’s just something that’s been happening here recently since I stopped taking the Pristiq.
    The main thing that made me want to quit taking Pristiq was I had my period and I had it for six weeks straight and it seems like every time my period would subside it would just kick back in and it was like starting all over again and that it made me anemic severely anemic and it was very scary.

  29. Fang
    Reply

    I first posted on this site back in February and I want to share my latest update. I want to show the newcomers that there is plenty of lights at the end of this Pristiq-withdrawal-tunnel. Granted the tunnel seems endless majority of the time with unpredictable mood swings and foggy thought patterns. I realized for me a rigorous work and work out schedule helped stabilized my anxiety. I also allow myself to wallow in depression when it hits but still push myself to the gym to at least for 30 minutes, even something as simple as a walk on the treadmill to show discipline.
    Now I am over 150 days since my last Pristiq and any other prescription drugs and I couldn’t imagine myself going back to it any time soon. I’ve also been keeping a semi weekly / bi-weekly journal to monitor any spikes of dizziness or unusual withdraw symptoms. It’s very encouraging to see the list getting shorter by the week. I know I still have a long way to go to be hundred percent and this could be as good as it’s going to get but at least I know I did it clearheaded without any abusive substance. Hang in there and all is going to work out sooner or later.

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