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. Lisa
    Reply

    I was on Pristiq for 16 months for anxiety and depression, and it was amazingly helpful — better than any other med I’ve been on, including Lexapro, Paxil, Buspar, etc. I decided to go off it, though, because I gained 15 pounds around the 8th month–almost like a ‘get fat’ trigger went off–and I could not lose it even though I hired a trainer, followed Weight Watchers, ate well, etc. Did anyone else experience this? Published literature claims a weight loss, which I only had the first few months, but I could not stop this weight gain.

    So, the first three days of withdrawal were bad, but not awful. I was on 50 mg and decided to go cold turkey. I had brain zaps before (going off Lexapro) and felt prepared to feel bad for a few days. Day 4 was the absolute worst — I had all the symptoms everyone has described so well here. Now, a week later, I feel like I’ve been through the worst of it, but I still feel nauseated, have the scoots, get flashes of dizziness and exhaustion, weird and intense dreams. I thought I’d be feeling much better by now, so this is disappointing.

    The strangest thing about all of this is I feel like I did when I was pregnant — terrible GERD, the weird kind of exhaustion, food cravings / repulsion, etc. This makes me wonder if my weight gain, the effects of this medicine, are hormonal in nature? Any ideas?

    Thanks, and all the best to everyone sharing these struggles.

    • shellie
      bendigo
      Reply

      I too am trying to come off Pristiq. I too gained about 15 kilos which is not helping my mental state. I’ve been taking pristiq for the last 2 years and was advised to reduce the dosage. I went from 100 to 50mg and have been cutting the 50mg tablet in half with no side effects. After 2 days of coming off the 25mg I too felt fantastic, until day 3. All of the side effects everyone had mentioned. How frustrating to go back to the emotional wreck I’d come so far from. The tears. . nasty thoughts. .foggy brain. I can’t function like that and be at work. I want off the drugs but still need to be able to function at work and at home. .single parent of 3 teenagers and working for the government I still need to be on my game. How is that going to happen? ? After having to leave work at lunch time and come home I have decided to take the meds till I’m on holidays so that it doesn’t affect work. Some holiday it’s going to be judging from what I’ve read thus far.

      I take my hat off to all of you who have succeeded and I will try again. I can’t believe that something that made me feel better is now becoming the enemy.
      I will take the advice of doing exercise and building natural “happy pills” for my brain.

  2. Graham
    Canada
    Reply

    I was on Pristiq for about a year and change… I’ve recently made a couple breakthroughs with my shrink. So I began to at first stop cold turkey, and I felt fine. After a few days I went back to the shrink asked him whether I should stop cold turkey like I had been. He said to gradually do it but if I felt I could handle it, encouraged me to stop cold turkey. Only that I be mindful of my emotions and thoughts as I do it and contact a mental health professional if there was any drastic change. So far it’s been another almost week since I took my last 50mg Pristiq. And I feel very well and am not suffering from a lot of those withdrawal symptoms others have mentioned. I don’t know whether I am really fortunate or what, however… I can’t help but notice a lot of these withdrawal nightmare stories are a lot alike, and spelled alike, and grammatically similar… Judge not, Compare not, delete the need to the understand.. Be careful !

  3. Mike
    Australia
    Reply

    When there is nowhere left to turn you have to accept what’s out there. I have had major depression issues for many years now and been prescribed numerous nasty antidepressant drugs. Before going onto PRISTIQ I was on 600mg of Effexor am and 90mg mirtazapine pm. I had been on PRISTIQ for many years, since it was released into Australia. 300mg per day over many years when I suddenly found I was unable to procure this product whilst overseas.

    I considered the thought of testing reality and started lowering the dose but had to go cold turkey from 100mg. The nightmare started immediately, the headaches, brain zaps, blurred vision my eyes actually felt like they would burst they were so swollen. I could lay on my bed and watch my heart spasm erratically. I maxed out on pain killers and sleeping pills to survive, how I survived I have no idea, I lost almost a week that I can’t account for and yes self respect and dignity desert you. It took almost five weeks of hell before I could say I was almost normal and attempt to leave the house but that was only if no one looked at me or spoke to me, otherwise I’d burst into tears.

    I persevered for several months but my dark passenger never left my side. My behavior became erratic and highly dangerous actions didn’t phase me, I was highly suicidal there was no choice I had to go back on PRISTIQ. I have the proverbial love hate relationship with this drug but the bottom line is it saved me years ago and saved me right now, going on is easy getting off is ………… I discovered reality for a short time but it wasn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Am I better, no but I’m still here and still wondering how I got here and why I’m still alive. I’m typing this at 3am guess that sums it up. Good luck to those who can leave this drug as a bad memory. For those that need it, I feel your pain.

  4. Leigh
    Reply

    I was on Pristiq for almost 10 years, and it worked better than any other drug I’ve ever been on. However, after a falling out with my prescribing doctor that made me unable to return to them, I was forced to go off it cold turkey. The withdrawal symptoms have ruined me for weeks. I can’t eat without getting sick. I have bouts of horrible, uncontrollable, painful shaking. Suicidal thoughts and other such negative things plague my mind constantly. My emotions are totally out of my control. The shaking is starting to die down, and I can now eat a full meal if I take medicine first (no change in emotional state, though), but the brain zaps and one other issue are on the rise despite it having been a few weeks. I came here in search of one issue that I’m too afraid to address with anyone, especially since I have yet to find another doctor – I see that apparently “lack of orgasm” was a side effect of the medicine, but since I’ve gone off it, that’s been a withdrawal symptom. I had no sexual issues while on the medicine, and now I am completely incapable of the aforementioned deed. Is there any advice for this? I can’t find it as a withdrawal symptom anywhere and I don’t know how long or if it will fix itself over time. I’m hopeful since surely withdrawal can’t last forever, but I’m not sure now if the medicine was the only thing allowing me to achieve that in the first place. I’m hoping to find a new psychiatrist to put me back on the medicine to fix my mental state anyways, but this is still worrying and odd.

  5. Danielle
    Reply

    I have been on Pristiq less than two weeks and I’ve already had to come off it because of severe suicidal thoughts. I have been trying different medications to counter anxiety depression so I didn’t think dropping the pill cold turkey would be a big deal. I have been having lucid dreams, unable to stand up straight, nausea/vomiting and brain zaps so severe it’s hard to function. I can’t imagine how horrible it would be for people who have been on it for years.

  6. Karen
    Texas
    Reply

    Wow!!! Went to the doctor today and was prescribed Pristiq. I have slept all day and feel really fuzzy headed!! I want to thank all of you for reporting your withdrawal experiences…it has helped me to realize I do not want to be on this drug.

  7. Fran
    Reply

    A well-loved relative committed suicide, last week, and none of us can understand how. He had recently experienced some job-related stress, but NOTHING in his prior character EVER indicated he was capable of this. We are in complete shock, and looking for clues to understand.

    I was just informed he had been taking this drug for the last 4 – 6 weeks of his life. I don’t know (yet), whether he took the drug consistently, or if he missed some doses (or possibly tried to stop “cold-turkey”). Regardless, we are heartbroken over the loss, and trying to understand what went wrong.

    As I said, he’d experienced some recent stress/changes at work that made for a negative/unhappy environment, but prior to that, had loved his job for many years (and was well-loved/respected by those he served). We do not know (yet), how he was handling this drug, but I certainly hope it didn’t play a part in his sudden, shocking suicide. My heart is breaking.

    • Jeanette
      QLD
      Reply

      Fran, so sad for you and your family, I know how you and your family are feeling and I hate when people say that but I do know. My partner committed suicide on the 15/7/15 and he to was taking Pristiq, what happened, it was not him and so unexpected. He was on Pristiq for a couple of years and took it every morning without fail. I never researched or looked into the drug because he was happy but now after he has committed suicide I have looked a lot on the internet and can not believe this drug is not banned in Australia as it is banned in Europe. I believe Pristiq did this to him.

  8. marion
    Toronto, ON
    Reply

    I took pristine for about two months and couldn’t handle the anxiety it caused. I decided to go off it and am tapering off it gradually. Have no appetite, vivid unsettling dreams, horrible depression; crying all the time, heart palpitations and increased anxiety. Will try exercise to see how it helps.

  9. Andrea
    Miami
    Reply

    Hi! I started Pristiq 50 mg almost 2 months ago. My Doc told me to start with 100 mg 15 days ago because I wasn’t really feeling anything. After reading online how difficult it is to leave it, I decided to stop taking the pill. So the first 2 days were actually amazing. I felt alive again (except for the terrible insomnia I got the first night). But today (day 3)… It felt like the worst hang over ever. I had all of the symptoms you guys mention here: nausea, extreme dizziness, fatigue, sweating, hot flashes, of course anxiety and palpitations. My joints and neck hurt like crazy… But I’m actually starting to feel OK now (10:30 pm). I’m afraid tomorrow will be a crapy day too. Have any of you actually felt better and then like crap again?? Or am I the luckiest girl on earth and my withdrawal symptoms only lasted 12 hours? Thank you all for sharing your experiences, it sure has made it easier for me to cope with the symptoms!

  10. Chill Guy
    Reply

    I’m currently in about week one of experiencing the withdrawals from 100mg dose of pristiq. Have been taking for a year, the last week or two I’ve been skipping a day or two and then 3 or so then down to now having not had one for a week.

    I can feel the ‘brain zaps’ that are mentioned by many here and I certainly feel a little bit odd. I can tell there is definitely something up with ALL of my emotions so I’m being especially conscious about what I think and do at the moment. I was watching Adventure Time before and after a small joke on the show made me chuckle I felt like I was so happy I was going to start crying, very odd feeling.

    My management for withdrawal has been a little unorthodox but so far so good. I smoke weed. It helped with the symptoms that pristiq gave me when I took it anyway but now has been great for managing the shit I feel now. The first few nights I had horrible fitful sleep and sweated a lot but now I’m just feeling a bit high strung and get the brain zaps. Few more weeks and I’ll be fine. My doctor should have prescribed me weed to start with, amazing plant and had the most profoundly positive effect on my life and overall world view.

    I will say that Pristiq did indeed serve its purpose but they are horrible horrible drugs and I wish I had discovered weed first. I only started smoking weed cos it helped with the erection problems Pristiq caused.

  11. Kel
    Australia
    Reply

    I have been on pristiq now for 16 months. I was originally on Zoloft (a cheaper brand) but all of a sudden my body reacted very badly and I had a panic attack like no other. My doc put me on pristiq and it worked wonders, however the past 12 months have been a slow decline with more and more side affects developing. If I’m an hour or so late taking it my mind feels fried, I can’t move around quickly as I get dizzy, if I think about different things at once my brain hurts, I have zapping, migraines, itchiness and to top it off my hair has started falling out. I have also increased my weight by 10kgs. I have forgotten to take my tablet as I left it in my car which my husband has for work lucky I remembered I have a spare one which I keep in my handbag in case of a situation such as this but a day overdue. I have had to go to bed as I’m so ill. I will be speaking to my doctor and will stop taking this under his guidance.

    • Sarah
      Australia
      Reply

      Wow , I’m so happy to hear this story, I’ve been easing off pristiqu for about a month, one 50mg every second day, my doc has now said to stop altogether, but has given me mild sleeping tabs, I feel very sore all over and tired but apart from that all good. Hope it stay this way, feeling positive.
      Many thanks

  12. Adria
    Gilbert, AZ
    Reply

    I’ve been on Pristiq 50mg for approximately 9-11 months. I noticed that it helped, initially, with depression (I had my fifth miscarriage in Nov. 2012. I went on Celexa to help me through that only to change to Pristiq. In September 2014, I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy making it the sixth pregnancy loss).

    In the past five months, I feel as though the medication had stopped working and I’m ready to come off of it. I forgot to fill my prescription in February and missed three days and it was absolute torture. The brain zaps, nausea, vomiting, migraine headaches, chills and hot flashes, sweating, etc. ended up putting me on the couch for a good five or six days. My moods were up and down and I was crying at the drop of a hat and yelling at the most trivial things that my son or husband did. My husband immediately went to get my rx from the pharmacy and after taking the pill, I noticed in the next couple of days I was feeling better.

    Flash forward to now and I am very passionate about getting off of this medication. I’ve discussed with my counselor that I feel as though I don’t know how my body really feels sans drugs. She agreed that the more medication that I’m on, the further away from my REAL baseline I am. I want to get back to that baseline and then re-evaluate what I need in order to feel my best.

    I have had a sinus infection since Tuesday, June 9th and today is Sunday, June 14. I am on day four without Pristiq and I have been doing much better than I did in February when I didn’t get my prescription filled in time and missed three days. I’m not sure if it is because I’ve been preparing myself or not but I’ll take it. I have seen three different doctors (my GP, a psychiatrist and a psychiatric nurse) and all three have said that because I am already on the lowest dose, I can only go off by going cold turkey. The DNP prescribed clonazepam to help me get through the withdrawals. I took two yesterday and I just took another one.

    Here are my symptoms throughout the last four days. Remember that I am also dealing with a sinus infection so the symptoms may be overlapping.
    Day 1- Feeling ok. Slept ok.
    Day 2- sluggish, fatigued, dizzy, trouble balancing (falling or tripping often), crying at almost anything, very emotional. Slept ok.
    Day 3- Vision starting to change. Eyes having trouble focusing, Feeling of vertigo. VERY tired and fatigued. Cold sweats and hot flashes. Lots of sweating. Fever. No appetite. Slept ok.
    Day 4- Sluggish, very tired and fatigued. Felt fine until about an hour ago. Starting to feel weird in body. Having weird shakes and trembling. Hands are hot and sweaty, feet cold. Extremely hot right now. Diarrhea, nausea, close to vomiting, dizziness, headache (feels like someone is squeezing my head as hard as they can), no appetite, panicky feeling, having trouble swallowing as I keep feeling like I’m going to vomit.

    I sure hope this is the worst of the worst. And, I hope these next few days go fast. I’ve got a lot scheduled for this coming week and I’ve got to keep my five year old son busy. Crossing my fingers tomorrow is a better day.

    My thoughts on Pristiq? Never again will I go on an AD. I will try to heal from diet and lifestyle and counseling. This is NOT worth it. I was never suicidal and I’m not currently but the pain that this withdrawal is causing is not worth it. If anyone asked me if I would recommend Pristiq, I would say NEVER. If anyone asked me what I would recommend instead, I would say, eat whole, clean foods and get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. This chemical is the pits!

    • Mary
      Maleny Australia
      Reply

      I feel very similar to you Adria. It is also Day 4 for me after 2 weeks of weaning off 100mg. I am writing because I am having a very very difficult time . Would love to know how things went after your posting. When I read the article above I can see that it’s not
      uncommon.. But I was so unprepared for this. My Dr didn’t say anything about it, just to wean myself off over 2 weeks. It’s worse than the worse drug and alcohol withdrawals I have ever experienced and some of those were BAD. Parts of today I was just surviving minute to minute. Staying in bed with the TV on helped. Very difficult if I have to do anything,. Which I don’t have to for a couple of days. Today is day 4 of no Pristiq after taking 50 mg alternate days last week, and taking 50 mg daily for the 10 days before that.
      The most stressful thing of all is the “trippiness” of it all. Nothing stays still. Everything around me jumps or moves sideways unexpectedly. It is very difficult to concentrate on anything for more than 1-3 minutes. What I want to know is how long this goes on for. I have NO intention of ever going on anti depressants again. Exersise, good diet, positive mental attiude, and herbal supplements are the way forward for me.

  13. Lauren
    Perth, WA
    Reply

    I was put on 50mg Pristiq about 8 months ago, my dose was increased to 100mg 4 months ago. At first, it saved my life. I was depressed and suicidal and it began to make a difference. However about a week ago, I decided that I wanted to stop taking it. I lasted 3 days with brain zaps and feeling jittery – I felt unbelievably scattered and off. I also felt increasingly suicidal. It was.. to me.. worse than some of the downest times I have felt.

    I am very upset that my doctor didn’t tell me how hard it would be to stop this medication.. I think it is something that everyone should be informed about.

    Within 2 hours of taking it, I calmed down and all of my intense side effects stopped.
    I am increasingly worried about how to get off it. Ahh!

  14. STACEY
    MS
    Reply

    I have been on different antidepressants for years. I have been taking a wellbutrin in the morning and pristiq at night. Been on this combo for several years. I have tried weaning off each drug, making it past withdrawal symptoms, but realizing something wasn’t right. We tried other drugs, but none have the effect on me these two have. I ran out of pristiq, and I was having money issues so I didn’t fill right away. Then I decided to not refill it. Didn’t realize the withdrawal effects I was having until last night. It has been a nightmare for everyone around me. I need this medication. Started back today. Do not stop cold turkey. Big lesson learned!

  15. Linda
    Fresno, CA
    Reply

    I wish I had never started taking anti-depressants and I am outraged because I believe it is a money making scheme that uses the American people as human guinea pigs. They won’t prescribe narcotics or tranquilizers because they are “addicting” but then they get you hooked on this expensive, dangerous garbage that you CANNOT get off of. Isn’t THAT addictive? I started with Paxil and overnight it changed me into a normal, happy person. It worked great for 2 years and then it didn’t work anymore. Since then I have been through a series of toxic chemicals that only make my symptoms worse. Latest is Pristiq after having a DNA test which said it was “good” for me. Nightmares, rage, etc. Bottom line-If everyone in the USA has it, it is not a chemical imbalance but a sign that something is wrong with our society.

    • Adria
      Gilbert, AZ
      Reply

      I totally agree that most of us are guinea pigs in this experimentation of prescription drugs. I am so pissed that I was put on Pristiq. The withdrawals are disheartening and painful to say the least. I am, however, feeling happier the more I’m not on it. I’m only four days without but, aside from the physical side effects, I feel much better. Can’t wait to get this out of my body. Good luck finding what is best for you!

    • Ben
      USA
      Reply

      Paxil is the worst to get off of, some of your symptoms could have been related to your stopping that medication abruptly.

  16. Ellie
    Rocky mountians
    Reply

    Hello, I am desperately trying to wean off my 50 mg a day of pristiq that I have been on 5 years. The side effects are awful. I am now taking one every two days, then I guess next week I will take two in a week, then one, then none. Any better way? Please? I cannot be under a doctor to do this as I have no insurance, which is why I am getting off this $270 a month medication. I sure could go for advice. I am nauseated, more anti social than usual, and feeling pretty bad overall. Thanks, Ellie

    • Matt
      Melbourne, Australia
      Reply

      Hi Ellie, I just read your post, I had been on Pristiq for 2 years and came off them nearly four weeks ago. There are differing ideas about how to come off the drug – I did what you are doing, by increasing the time span between tablets, and I have had dizziness, “brain zaps” and really low mood. The dizziness and brain zaps are gradually fading, but I am still really emotionally very up and down, and I’m really angry my doctor didn’t tell me how hard it is to get off these. What helps my mood is exercise, even just in short bursts when I can, longer fast walk/runs and swimming followed by a sauna – the heat seems to really help. It is really hard to work up the motivation to do this but it pays off, keeps me able to function. Studies are showing that the right exercise is at least as effective as antidepressants, and when you’re coming off them I think do as much as you can to kick in the endorphins and re-activate the production of saratonin etc in the brain. And going to sites like this where you can see that many others are going through similar difficulties and helping each other – i find it helps. All the best and I hope you start feeling better soon.

    • John
      Alberta
      Reply

      Hi guys: Like most that have posted I been on Pristique for just over two years due to a head injury. Over the last two months I have tired twice to wean off it. In first things were going fine up to week two when I started lowering the frequency of taking it. I got very low and very emotional which were symptoms from my head injury. This caused me to be even more anxious as I thought I would never be off of it. Not knowing any better I restarted taking it again. Just in the last few weeks I started again to wean and like the previous time I hit the wall and could not stop crying for a full day. I thought I was loosing my mind. No where was I instructed of these side effects. After reading other posts I feel better in knowing that I am not alone, nor am I going crazy (well maybe a little). I like the post that talks about the exercise and heat this has been very helpful. Unfortunately for me my vision has gotten to the point where I am looking through marbles. Hopefully this will resolve itself soon..

  17. Milton
    PR
    Reply

    This has been by far the best med for my conditions. Cymbalta the worst. I do have a couple of side effects listed here and will try to ween myself off it. Been using it for 3 years.

  18. Jared
    Brisbane
    Reply

    I started on 50mg for 2 months, then 100mg for 3 then up to 150mg for 6 months. After the initial week of taking Pristiq, I felt no actual change, hence why it was increased. After seeking out a Psychologist, I started dropping back the dose for 5-6 weeks at a time, to use up the boxes I had. The only withdrawal effect I have is headaches, but I am actually happy, more coherent and less anxious then while on the drug. Talk to a psychologist, and your family/spouse.

  19. Amy
    Canada
    Reply

    Hi everyone

    I was on the 100 mg for pristiq for a couple of years but got switched to a different anti-depressant. I also have high blood pressure and I have found since going off the pristiq my heart is just pounding out of my chest. I feel the throbbing throughout my neck too and it has been happening all day. When checking with the pharmacy, that is my body reacting to the withdrawal from the pristiq. Is anyone else having this or has experienced increased heart rate? I’m scared.

  20. Linda
    Toronto
    Reply

    I have been on Pristiq for almost a year. Finally I am being weaned off. I have been on 100mg. This drug honestly saved my life. It made a significant difference with my depression and anxiety. The only symptoms I’ve had are; hot flashes, change in appetite, and a few sleepless nights. For me, it was a small price to pay for the depth of my depression.

  21. Sara
    Michigan
    Reply

    Has anyone else had the lovely side effect of being itchy from the top of your head to the soles of your feet and everywhere in between? I stopped Pristiq fully about five days ago after weaning off for a week and now I am chilled all the time, have a very hard time sleeping, but it’s this itching that is blowing my mind. I haven’t found mention of it in any other site but it’s awful. Nothing helps and I am scratching my body raw. Am I alone in experiencing this? I have not had a single brain zap but my vision is weird now – like my eyes want to keep crossing on me – and I have lost my appetite completely. If you are also experiencing the severe itching response to stopping the drug, please let me know I am not alone and losing my mind over this.

    • Kristen
      United States
      Reply

      Yes, I am tapering to 50mg every other day and have bad itching of my hands, arms, and feet, but other places as well. You aren’t crazy! Plus, I keep getting cold like you. I felt very tired a lot of the time, can be irritable, depressed feeling, and have that weird feeling of depersonalization. This sucks!

      • M.A.
        Australia
        Reply

        Yes I have terrible itching drawing blood scratching head to toes. I am now so angry although usually I am placid.

        I lost my husband suddenly I was there and lost the love of my life. I could not save him and my world collapsed. I suffer terrible grief which turned to PTSD then two years ago major depression was diagnosed.

        I have no family and my doctor tried to help and I was tried on different medications but nothing could help. How could it.

        About 2 ago I was tried on Pristiq which did not help but continued.
        A month ago It was suggested I come off Pristiq and go onto another tablet. I was on 200mg and over a month reduced to 100 then 50mg.

        Since stopping I have been in a mess and in bed mainly. I had: very bad headaches, burning hot neck and head, shaking, nauseous. Pains, toilet rushes, nightmares I had before too but more like I was awake also. Hot then shivering and feel so unwell. Unable to walk properly and housebound as feel so ill.

        I am not an angry person but right now I feel like screaming that Pristiq could do this. I thought only people taking illegal drugs had withdrawals like on TV.
        I just write now (never done anything like this in my 70 yrs. now I have to. Please anyone out there give a full warning of what can happen. I am too afraid to take anything now but I need help.

        God bless you all. Take care. Perhaps you will be OK but for those who are not I pray another medication will help you soon. Yesterday I could not have written this but now this anger is overwhelming. I do not blame the physicians who do their very best to help but I do blame the makers of Pristiq for not giving a very strong warning.
        Thank you for listening and as for the itching I do hope that you find a solution and I find one too.

        Tried many things over the years to help.

    • Abby
      Vancouver, bc
      Reply

      Hi Sara, I been off pristiq for three days now and YES, I’m experiencing same withdrawal symptoms! All you can do is drink a lot of water and wipe ice cube on itchy area that will get rid of itchiness. Stay strong don’t give up.
      Abby

    • Adria
      Gilbert, AZ
      Reply

      I have the vision issues going on. My eyes want to cross. No itching though. Have you asked your doctor about it?

    • David
      Australia
      Reply

      Yes. The itching. I have been off the Pristiq (50mg) for 20 days now and the itching has just started. It is driving me crazy as well. Hopefully it will only last a week or so. I had stomach problems going off Pristiq, Irritability and light headedness to start with. That seems to have passed. Now its itching. I think its just your brain adjusting and hopefully this too shall pass. Try putting Pinetarsol Bath Oil in your bath and have a good soak in the tub. This seems to help. Good luck.

  22. Deborah
    Spring Hill, TN
    Reply

    I went to my doctor to explain the side effects I am having while taking the medication prescribed to me for depression. I was made to look as if I was ignorant and had no idea as to what I was talking about. My doctor prescribed a strong dose stating this should help. He was wrong. I was ignorant but it because of the side effects I was feeling and having a hard time explaining but for listening to my physician. When I finally stated I want off all the medications prescribed my doctor stated which one do I want to quit and when did I want to come back? I was shocked at the way my doctor was acting but I told him I guess I would start with pristiq 50mg because it was the most recent prescribed. I asked how do I stop? It was explained to me that I am on the lowest dosage and stopping should not be a problem. I’ve been off the medication for four days now and feel as if I am going to go crazy. Someone on this site stated brain zaps which helped me explain and articulate what I am feeling now. I feel anxious , suck to my stomach, dizzy, I can’t focus my eyes very well, I keep crying , I can’t sleep, and many more side effects a list too long to write. How are physicians allowed to prescribe medications and not know what the side effects might be? How are they allowed to prescribe a drug with such strong side effects? I am a 52 year old woman who doesn’t drink and thought I didn’t so drugs … Until now, I am in miserere . I don’t know what to do. I am on Monday morning going to call the FDA and report the Adverse reactions I am having with this medication. I hope all the other people on this site go the same. I am so scared because after I get done withdrawing from this medication I have to start the process of getting off the Buproprion I am taking! This is not fair that another human being ( physician) can do this to another human being!

  23. Ryan
    Calgary
    Reply

    I have been taking the meds for a little over a year and a half. I was suffering horribly from anxiety and depression. The meds worked wonderfully for me, but it’s time to move on as I don’t think it’s wise for ANYBODY to depend on meds for their entire life.

    I have run out of pills and it’s only been two days and it’s been hell, thus far. I am going to my doctor in 3 days and I am going to ask for his help weaning off. I would highly recommend against anyone stopping cold turkey as I have tried. The headaches, dizziness, nausea, brain zaps, blurred vision, have been unbearable. Hopefully weaning off them will be easier. Good luck to all trying to get off this stuff, it’s not easy.

    • Deborah
      Reply

      Ryan , I am going through the exact same thing as you are going through. I will keep you in my thoughts. But would like to also recommend your medication side effects be reported to the FDA

    • Kristen
      Reply

      Buproprion (Wellbutrin) doesn’t come close to having horrible withdrawal like Pristiq. At least, that was my experience.

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