Paxil Withdrawal Symptoms

www.paxilprogress.org

Paxil affects the brain and body in profound ways.  Before I tried to wean myself off of Paxil, I had worked for 20 years in a technical field and become fairly successful.  I did not have serious mental issues.  I was originally prescribed Paxil to treat mild situational anxiety.  I am shy in social and work settings.  I did not realize the ways that Paxil changed my behavior and personality until I tried to stop taking it.  At that point, I began experiencing nearly all of the withdrawal effects that Glaxo Smith Kline’s literature claims only affect a small minority of users.  In company sponsored studies, less than 10% of users experience serious side effects from what they call “Discontinuation Syndrome”.  The effects are only supposed to be “mild and last from 1 to 3 weeks”.  I have been trying to wean myself off of Paxil for 7 months.  I am better able to manage the symptoms at this point, but am unable to stop taking the drug.  The worst symptoms occurred for me in the initial stages of weaning.  As I lowered my dosage from 40mg/day to 10mg/day over the course of 4 months, the withdrawal symptoms became unbearable.  I was confined to my living room for most of that time.  Once I finally finished weaning, I entered a two month window of clarity.  My friends remarked at the profound difference they saw in me.  I felt clear minded and confident in a way that I hadn’t experienced in years.  Unfortunately, I crashed about two months after stopping Paxil entirely.  I was again confined to my living room floor, feeling desperate and suicidal.  I was forced to start taking Paxil again because I felt that my life was in danger.  I have been able to get back to 10mg/day, but my quality of life has diminished again to bare existence.  This is a list of the withdrawal symptoms I have experienced from my attempt to stop taking Paxil.  I didn’t experience any of these symptoms before I started taking Paxil.  These are not reemergence of existing problems, but directly related to my attempt to stop taking Paxil.

Head zaps: the feeling of electric shocks in the brain

Headaches

Head pressure

Aching joints and muscles

Dizziness, both when standing up and sitting

Severe Anxiety

Depression

Irrational anger

Suicidal thoughts

Intrusive and obsessive thoughts

Vivid and frightening nightmares

Insomnia

Numbness in my hands (pinky and ring fingers)

Shaking in my hands

Pounding and irregular heartbeat

Loss of appetite, inability to eat, rapid weight loss

Nausea

Gastrointestinal distress

Memory loss

Trouble concentrating

Ringing in the ears

Clenching jaw, teeth grinding

Paxil affects the way that the brain works, and directly affects the mind.  By blocking neural receptors that reabsorb Serotonin, the brain becomes dependent on the drug to regulate Serotonin levels.  Once the drug diminishes or is removed, the brain can no longer self regulate.  As a result, the mind is thrown into chaos.  It will be months before my brain is once again able to regulate Serotonin levels to an acceptable degree.  I started taking Paxil for a mild problem, but have found that the solution I was presented was much worse than the problem.  I don’t feel that taking a larger dose of Paxil is the solution, either, though.  I can compare the way I was on the drug with my drug free self, now.  I was unresponsive and insular while taking Paxil.  I gained a lot of weight and was unable to control other problems like smoking or soda drinking.  Most importantly of all, Paxil didn’t treat the problem that I originally started taking it for.  I still suffered social anxiety and depression at the same levels I did before I started taking the drug.  In fact, I was more prone to outbursts and unexplainable behavior than before.  Paxil has not been a therapeutic drug for me.  To the contrary, it has been a very negative experience.  Perhaps there are patients with severe problems who benefit from these treatments.  The companies market the drugs for mild problems that would be better treated by other means, though.

243 Responses to “Paxil Withdrawal Symptoms”

  1. theintrovertgirl Says:

    Reblogged this on theintrovertgirl and commented:
    I was just given a prescription for Paxil so I decided to read a few posts regarding it on WordPress when I came across this. Now I’m scared to get it filled.. I suppose I’m back to square one with my bias on medication. And it makes sense because illegal addictive drugs will destroy “happy neurotransmitter” receptors and that’s why many ex addicts are never quite as happy anymore. I’m not surprised that antidepressants could have the same effect. Fuck.

    • theintrovertgirl Says:

      Whoops I never reblogged before so I didn’t know the comment was also gonna be placed on your post or I wouldn’t have cursed, sorry.
      Have you been on Paxil for the entire 20 years of your career? Maybe there’s some vitamins and herbal supplements that can speed up your brain’s recovery. I don’t know much but 5-HTP, fish oil, and B vitamins may be promising.
      Best of luck.

      • Aysa Says:

        I am so disgusted with our doctors. If i had known any of this 4 years ago i would have never of considered going on paxil. now its been a struggeling month trying to complete the process of getting myself off this horrible drug. I originally was put on it to control depression. at one point i was taking 100 mg a day. I was able to make my way down to 5 mg without any symptoms. Now trying to come completely off has been a extreme struggle. I have been dealing with the withdrawel symptoms for over two weeks now. at one point I coudlnt even keep my eyes open. it felt just like a horrible flu had taken over my body.
        -sore muscles/bone
        -extreme vertigo
        -vomiting
        -brain zaps
        -irritability
        – extreme emotions highs to lows
        and thats just some of the withdrawel symptoms. Im completely terrified to deal with this any longer. I feel like a dont know my body anymore. i need help. the doctors in my area are completely ignorant to the powers of these drugs. they have offered no help for me. My lively hood cant afford for me to be curled up in a ball everyday shaking and trembeling. i need to work, I need to socialize, but I can do it. i just cant.
        I recommend anyone who is considering going on a antidepressant to exhaust all there options. once i am finally off this devil drug I will go out of my way to preach about how horrible this experience was.

        thank you for reading.

        • Catherine sebelin Says:

          Boy are you right on with this subject, tried to get off lexapro , then had to start again , this time with horrible side effects for months. Now on prozac for two weeks , again with side effects. Would you believe the lexapro was only 5 mg and the prozac is only 4 mg. what a disaster , just want off of all this poison. I have taken ad’s for approximate 13 yrs , and I’ve had it. Was put on for menopause systems. Guess back then it was the only option other than committing a person, haha . Boy I wish I’ve never gone that route. I tell everyone, please, please find other options. These meds are probably good in desperate situations, but not for casual problems. Good luck, I’m right behind you.

        • theintrovertgirl Says:

          Yes, if you can help guide anybody away from meds until it is an absolute last resort you would be doing them such a great service. I don’t regret getting on them because at one point in my life it really was the last resort and I could not function in day to day responsibilities.
          All those withdrawals are very familiar to me. Those extreme emotions especially – sometimes when I forget to take them I’ll start getting intrusive suicidal thoughts.
          Are you going to psychiatrists or primary doctors? Primary doctors are generally very ignorant with psychiatric medications, so I haven’t even attempted to start tapering off until I meet with a psychiatrist in a few weeks
          Also, it sounds like you may be tapering off too fast. As much as it would be amazing to get off them ASAP, I believe it’s something really worth taking your time on

        • julie adams Says:

          I should have written this instead of you because it is exactly how I feel. Dr’s have no idea what they are giving us
          It is like they are giving us poison. I will be right behind you singin’ hallelujah and helping preach against this “Devil Drug” – that is if I can ever totally be cleansed of it. I just asked for a little “cushion” while I was going thru a divorce. My Dr. handed me a couple of trial packets and said he would call in a prescription.I think the devil would have been easier to have dealt with than this………

          • Lee Says:

            I have now been off Paxil almost one month. I suffered a mini stroke that one Doctor feels is from the Paxil withdrawl but the others aren’t sure. Have not been well for the entire time.
            I have had two CatScans on the Brain and now going for a MRI this Friday. I have some double vision at times and am not steady on my Feet. I should use a Can but am to vane. All I know is Paxil is one dangerous Drug.

    • Dianne Meader Says:

      I was on 25 mg Paxil for 20 yrs to treat intermittent lightheadedness. I was encouraged to take the Paxil by my internal medical physician even though I was reluctant to take it. When it did help my lightheadedness, I stayed on the drug for 20 yrs. One month ago, I decided I wanted to get off the drug because it was making me feel somewhat depressed. My same doctor’s office advised I should take 1/2 tablet for two weeks and then stop altogether. After two phone calls to the doctor’s office stating that was too quick to get off, I took it upon myself to wean off the Paxil more slowly. I took 3/4 pill for a week, then 1/2 pill for a week, then 1/4 for a week and then off. When I ceased taking any Paxil, I started with horrible nausea, dizziness, weakness, slurred speech, and non-stop sweats. After several days of thosse symptoms, I called my same doctor, who said those withdrawal symptoms would cease in 72 hours and she guaranteed it. It is now 9 days since I stopped the Paxil entirely, and I feel horrible. I have the same symptoms along with crying, shakiness, and spaciness. I have tingling in my limbs, horrible dreams, I cannot think clearly, I cannot drive due to the dizziness, I am confined to my home, and I am so very scared. I feel like there is no end to this withdrawal nightmare and that maybe the 20 yrs of taking Paxil has damaged by brain which is irreversible. I don’t know where to turn or what to do, but I feel like I’m having a nervous breakdown, and all I wanted to do was to stop the Paxil. Can anybody give me some encouragement.

      • npanth Says:

        Dianne, I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner. Your comment was routed to my spam area, and I didn’t check it until tonight. I should have checked it sooner. You may know now that your taper off Paxil was very fast. The schedule that most doctors give for long term Paxil users is much too short. When I started tapering, my doctor gave me a 2 month schedule. I thought I was being smart by more than doubling that schedule to 5 months. Even my longer schedule was much too short. Skipping days and tapering in 25% increments is a shock to the system. Drops should be 10% of your previous dose. I wrote about a tapering schedule here: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/tapering-off-an-ssri/

        A community of people who have experienced withdrawal can help you develop a good tapering schedule. Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org/ and http://survivingantidepressants.org/

      • jevoltin Says:

        Hello Dianne – I also went through this process beginning about 7 months ago. I had been on Paxil for many years and decided to stop using it. I stopped way too fast, but didn’t find this forum until several months into the process. I can tell you that it does get better with time, but progress is likely to be slow. It took a while for me to even notice the improvement, but it did happen with time.

        These days I only have minor withdrawal symptoms and generally feel good. My natural tendency toward anxiety has returned, but I’m managing it with relaxation exercises and some counseling.

        Best of luck to you.

        If you continue to feel bad and need some help, don’t hesitate to consult with different doctors, counselors, or whatever you prefer. I have been working with a nurse practitioner that specializes in mental disorders and is open to non-drug remedies. She does use medications, but that is not the only option she offers. I did not want to rely on someone that only looks to medication for solutions.

        – John

        • Susan Says:

          I was put on 10 mgs.Of Paxil 3 1/2 months ago my Dr. Increased my dosage to 20 mgs. A couple of weeks ago I take it every night at 6:00 but all I want to do is sleep all day. I have no motivation at all. I went to the Drs. Last Thursday he wanted to increase my dose I said no way so he called in a presciption for Welbutrin for me to take every morning I didn’t pick up the proscription I am going to try starting tonight to just ween myself of the paxil.

          • Susan Says:

            He wanted me to continue taking the Paxil at night along with the Wellbutrin in the morning.

          • Melissa Says:

            I’m on 150 mg of wellbutrin daily and finally off paxil, I could not do it without the wellbutrin. The doctor said it is a low dose but without it I was sick and full of anxiety. I was weaned from 40 mg down to 5mg every other day. Now I need something for my anxiety.

          • Susan Says:

            How are u feeling on the Wellbutrin? Cuz my Dr. Prescribed 150 mgs. Of Wellbutrin also I never picked it up at the pharmacy yet he said for me to take it once a day in the morning and my Paxil at night he said the Wellbutrin would make me feel better, no tired

      • Rachel B. Says:

        This is Rachel … Please let me know how you are doing.

      • Jessica Kelly Says:

        There is a book called “The Road Back” which instructs one on how to safely wean off of psychotropic medications.

        While on Paxil, did you suffer from weight gain and hair loss or hair texture changes?

        Has your doctor tried putting you on a similar class SSRI?

    • Trish Says:

      Do not go on Paxil there are so many others, you will regret it if you ever want to get off.

    • alex Says:

      sos im a 14 year old girl and my mum is trying to wean her self of paxil and i have to look after her no one else will help i need help

      • npanth Says:

        If she starts to experience withdrawal symptoms, encourage her to slow down her tapering schedule. Going slowly will reduce symptoms. It takes longer to get off, but it’s better to have a good quality of life while tapering. She can go to support websites like http://www.paxilprogress.org/ or http://survivingantidepressants.org/ to get more information about withdrawal and some strategies to make it easier. I hope she feels better.

        • Catherine sebelin Says:

          Try fish oil omega 3 , from everything I have read it helps to open the areas of the brain. I’ve stopped abruptly worst thing to do. I had started on fish oil last spring it can take a month to get in your system, I’m having all the horrid side effects but guess what , never has brain zaps. I’m off for three wks now , horrible anexity and horrid chest pains. Today is the first day I had no chest pain, do have a feeling of head pressure though, I pray every night when I go to bed. I hope this helps you some, and hoping for full recovery very soon

          • npanth Says:

            I tried fish oil for a while. It didn’t seem to have a big effect on my symptoms. That’s just my experience, though. I’ve read that it can be very helpful in mitigating withdrawal symptoms. Multi vitamins and fish oil are the two supplements that seem to have the best effect on symptoms. The only ones I would avoid are Serotonin precursors like 5-HTP. They can alleviate symptoms, but I feel that they can substitute one problem for another in the long run. They act in similar ways as SSRI, so they help to staunch symptoms by replacing one drug for another.

      • Jessica Kelly Says:

        I am here if you need to talk to someone!

        Your mother needs to get off of the Paxil very, very slowly and get on another medication in Paxil’s class.

    • julie adams Says:

      Q96 will help…

  2. npanth Says:

    Many of the herbal remedies exacerbate withdrawal issues. SSRI are based in part on existing herbs that do similar things. The problem with SSRI withdrawal is that the blocked receptors need time to re-emerge. Time and slow weaning from the drug are really the only certain way to stop taking an SSRI. I think that my long term use, 10+ years, is one of the major reasons that I’m having so much trouble coming off of it. 5-HTP is a Serotonin agonist and acts on the brain much as SSRI do. It would replace one problem with another. I’ve tried a couple things to help with withdrawal, but have come to the conclusion that time and patience are my best options.

    I would say that you should be very careful about using SSRI, but not dismiss them entirely. The advice that I give people is that these drugs should be a very last resort and only used to stave off insanity or utterly debilitating symptoms. Anything short of a life threatening condition is too mild to use these kinds of drugs. They modify your mind in profound ways. In my case, they didn’t help the underlying condition (Situational social anxiety… shyness) and caused much more pain than help.

    • theintrovertgirl Says:

      How are you doing with the process now? I did research on 5-HTP yesterday and discovered what you just mentioned as well. I took it yesterday and got the same kind of headache as when I tried the SSRI, figures.

      My psychologist thinks I could benefit a lot from taking it for 6 to 9 months but only if I continue therapy consistently soo I’ll be starting up next week after midterms (I couldn’t study with the side effects).

      By the way I admire how open you are about your condition. I can only do so with the anonymity that I made my account to be. Good luck, I hope the withdrawals are subsiding

  3. npanth Says:

    I’m doing pretty well at the moment. I’m in a strange phase of withdrawal where I can feel the effects of reinstating Paxil at 10mg/day and still have mild withdrawal symptoms. I tapered my dosage from 40mg/day down to zero from June, 2011 to November 2011. That taper was far too fast, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I did very well for two months, but had a bad relapse of symptoms in January. That two month window has been very instructive for me. I was much more creative than I was on Paxil, I read more, studied complicated topics, wrote fiction and history. Once I was forced to start taking Paxil again, it all came to an abrupt halt. I try to write creatively, but can’t sustain an idea for long periods. It’s part of the reason that I haven’t posted here in a long time.
    With the experience of that window, I can see the larger arc of my weaning from Paxil. I now know that the symptoms I was experiencing while taking it weren’t some character flaw or permanent issue, but effects of Paxil. It gives me a great motivation to continue and get off this drug. The symptoms from weaning too quickly give me a great perspective on the need to wean slowly. So, I guess the strange spot I’m in, where I feel some withdrawal symptoms and some Paxil induced symptoms, isn’t too bad, considering.
    I felt the need to be open about my struggles because there isn’t any information about this issue in official literature. Pharmaceutical companies dismiss withdrawal and actively pass that notion on to doctors. In turn, doctors don’t have enough information to treat the issue in their patients. My experience would have been much better if I had known about the pitfalls of weaning too quickly. Good luck with your taper, it’s a bumpy, slow road, but Oh so worth it :)

    • Jessica Kelly Says:

      Hi. Thank you for sharing your struggles and journey on Paxil.

      I am currently on 12.5 mgs ER and want to try to wean off of it. I was originally on 25 mgs.

      How would you recommend weaning off and over what period of time?

      • npanth Says:

        You can get a good tapering spreadsheet from http://www.paxilprogress.org. Essentially, the slower the taper, the lighter the symptoms. It doesn’t seem to be the total amount of drug in your system so much as the percentage change from one dose to another. Going from 12.5 to 10 can be more traumatic than going from 40 to 37.5 because the percentage drop is higher. Good luck with your taper. Just go slower if your symptoms get worse

  4. Angst Says:

    Such a relief to find this discussion.

    I started weaning off Paxil three weeks ago. My doctor outlined a four week plan for me – going from 40mg to 20mg for a week, then 10 mg for a week, then 5 mg, then 5mg every other day for a week. (I’ve been on Paxil for 12 years.) By the end of my first week I was crying at the drop of a hat and feeling seasick. I called the Dr.’s office and was told by his nurse that I was to “stick with the plan” and find ways to distract myself from the feelings I was having. Ugh.

    Instead, I opted for plan B. I went down to 10 mg and stayed at that dose. I will contact the Dr.’s office on Monday and share my feelings with them. With any luck, the Dr. will help me keep a slower-paced taper and call in another few weeks of the 10 mg. If he doesn’t, I’m not sure what I’ll do. I’m a new patient for him, so he may just label me as difficult. Regardless, I can’t go from 10 mg to nothing. (And, I can’t go back to my old doctor. He relocated to Canada.)

    • npanth Says:

      The schedule that doctors advocate is one that was developed by the manufacturers. I think that for a significant percentage of patients, it’s much too fast. Many doctors recommend skipping days, which I’ve found makes the problem much worse. Paxil has a short half life in the body, less than 24 hours. That’s why Glaxo developed the CR (controlled release) formulation. Even with the controlled release version of the drug, skipping days can lead to very inconsistent results. The best method I’ve found for weaning off of Paxil is to very slowly reduce the amount of drug that you take each day. 10% reductions each month is a good place to start. IE 10mg/day, 9 mg/day, 8.1mg/day. The slow method allows the brain to respond to the lack of drug at a much more controlled pace. You may find that you need to plateau at a certain level until you’re ready to start weaning again.

      My doctor also gave me a very fast withdrawal schedule, two months in my case. I scheduled my wean for 5 months, instead, and found that it was still too fast. When I went to see him in the middle of withdrawal I was experiencing some of the worst symptoms. He wanted to add an anti psychotic drug, which I refused. I don’t recommend refusing treatment, but it was the right decision in my case. I had never had these symptoms before I tried to stop taking Paxil, and have not experienced them since. In my mind, that points directly to the drug, and withdrawal, as the reason I was feeling that way. I’ve met several people who experienced withdrawal, where diagnosed with a new disorder, and prescribed new medications. New medications don’t always alleviate SSRI withdrawal symptoms, and have new start up effects. In those cases, you can find yourself with existing withdrawal symptoms, as well as the effects of the new drug. Withdrawal will often present as psychosis, bipolar, or major depression to a doctor. He/she will often turn to another drug to treat that diagnosis instead of working with the patient to get through the withdrawal from the original drug. I don’t blame doctors for taking the advice that the manufacturers give them… You have a problem with your car, you read the manual, right? In the case of SSRI, there are no accepted long term studies of their effects, just 8-10 week studies used to get FDA approval. There are NO studies of withdrawal or the possibility of addiction with the drugs. Withdrawal is an unstudied phenomenon, so we’re left with our own sense of our progress, and information we can get from others who have experienced it. Good luck, Paxil withdrawal has been one of the worst experiences of my life, but I am determined to beat what I consider an addiction problem I have with these drugs.

      • Kathryn Reber-Meyer Says:

        Hello….I have been on Paxil (generic paroxetine HCL) since 1995 and tried on other meds in 2003 and 2004 and then back on Paxil and have been on since then. I was very debilitated with anxiety and depression, having gone through many troubled years and Paxil really changed my life to the better. When I was tried on other SSRI’s I could not tolerate them. In that time period I was probably experiencing Paxil withdrawal as I was tried on Celexa, Welbuterin, Effexor, etc. and I did not know why I felt so terrible. I was finally placed on Social Security Disability and never was able to work again. When tried once again on paroxetine my life got better again. In 2004, I also had lung cancer with removal of my left lower lobe, with being in remission since then (I am convinced it was a miracle, having been caught at Stage I and not requiring chemo or radiation). The reason I am writing is the fact that I have gained a lot of weight and have developed hypertension. Every time they try me on an antihypertensive medication, it seems to cancel my Paxil and I experience withdrawals. I cannot find anyone who knows what I am talking about. I know the symptoms when they begin, as do my family….they can tell my personality is changing back to when I was depressed and very anxious and not my happy, more extroverted, inspired, caring self that I have become since being on antidepressants. Have you heard of anyone having the problem of their antidepressants being cancelled by other medications? I just stopped another blood pressure med today because of the symptoms. I cannot not go back to depression and anxiety in order to take the blood pressure meds. I have had only one physician comment years ago when I was placed on a medication for vertigo….stating that the physician that prescribed the Antivert should have known that it would interfere with the Paxil. I am so frustrated. I am just trying 81 mg. of aspirin and garlic capsules to lower my blood pressure and trying to lose weight. Just thought I would run it by anyone on this blog to see if they have heard of this phenomenon. Thanks for any input. KM

        • Kandice Says:

          I take Hydrochlorthyazide (HCTZ) for my blood pressure. It doesn’t affect the Paxil I take. I have taken the combination for two years now. Although, like everyone here I am stepping down in preparation for discontinuation of Paxil.

          After my Paxil experience I believe this drug should only be used as a last resort. Far too many side effects, too difficult to discontinue and my doctor, like many doctors I am sure, does not know enough about it to be prescribing it. Especially for mild mental health issues. I wish I had done research before I started taking Paxil.

  5. npanth Says:

    While I was taking Paxil, I experienced a few episodes where the drug seemed to stop working as intended all together. Instead of numbing emotions, it seemed to amplify them. For me, those were especially emotional times. I feel that the strength of the emotions that I was feeling was “poking through” the blanket that Paxil was putting on my emotions. It sounds like you’re experiencing drug interactions, which I’m not familiar with. I was only taking Paxil. I’m sorry I don’t have any good advice on that front.

    One of the common side effects of SSRI is hypertension and weight gain. I don’t know of an SSRI that doesn’t have this side effect to one degree or another. Since SSRI act on the circulation system, one of the side effects of the hypertension medications may be interfering with the primary effect of Paxil. I lost 70 pounds in 5 months after I started weaning off Paxil. I was unable to lose any significant weight while I was on Paxil, despite several attempts. Maybe there’s a balance point that you can reach where you’re taking enough Paxil to manage your anxiety and depression, while still taking a small enough dose to manage weight and hypertension. Try going to Paxilprogress.org. there are several people with medical backgrounds who participate on that site, they may have better advice. Good luck, weight is one of the most frustrating side effects of Paxil.

  6. thelibrarian365 Says:

    Like so many others here, I have been on Paxil for the past 8 years, but on various other SSRI meds (Zoloft, Prozac) for over 20 years. At this point in my life I want to try to have a baby and of course this is when all these studies linking these drugs to birth defects are coming out. Thank God I hadn’t gotten pregnant before now!

    I started to ween myself off the 40mgs of Paxil I was on in March of this year. Last week I finally went from 10mgs a day to 5 mgs and now I am having a really hard time with all the freakin’ withdrawal symptoms. I’ve been documenting my own experience here on wordpress: withdrawalingfrompaxil.wordpress.com

    I guess I am curious as to what the actual recommended time period is for getting off Paxil. I am really afraid that I will finally get down to 0 and then crash like you did. For me it’s been 4 months, but I am thinking now that I have been rushing myself. I am just so desperate to get this all out of my system and to reach a place of “normal” function without Paxil. The entire processes is just so scary and uncertain.

    Thank you for your blog. It’s definitely been enlightening.

    • npanth Says:

      When I went to my doctor asking for a schedule to wean off of Paxil, he gave me a two month schedule that would take me from 40mg/day down to 0. I decided to be “safe” and more than doubled the schedule to five months. For me, that was still way too fast. I experienced extreme withdrawal symptoms. I think that many people can wean off of Paxil without withdrawal symptoms, but a significant percentage have great difficulties with addiction.and withdrawal. It seems that withdrawal is more likely after long term use. The SSRIs have only been studied for short periods, 8-12 weeks, so it’s impossible to know in a clinical sense what the effects of long term use are. It’s ironic that these drugs are prescribed “for a lifetime” but aren’t studied longer than it takes to get approval by the FDA.

      I read your blog and learned that you have been weaning longer than you said in your comment. That’s really good, I was concerned when I read how fast you came off of the drug in your comment. The schedule that most doctors give patients is extremely short, too short for many people. They also recommend skipping days, which I’ve found to be a very dangerous strategy. the half life of Paxil is less than a day, so a schedule that skips days puts you into a situation where the drug is non effective, then effective again. That flip flopping state can lead to very bad withdrawal symptoms.

      The best method of weaning off Paxil is to do it very slowly. 10% reductions each 4-6 weeks gives your mind a chance to adjust to the changes that are occurring. For example, 40mg/day for the first month, then 36mg/day the second month, 32.4mg/day the third month, 29.1mg/day the fourth month. Essentially, you reduce 10% from your last dose each month. It’s very hard to reduce dosages with that precision, but the diminishing weaning schedule is the best way to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

      I finally convinced my doctor to prescribe 10mg pills after 9 months of trying. I’m using a file to whittle them down each day. I asked about liquid Paxil, but haven’t been able to convince my doctor to prescribe it. He thinks that the psychosis, suicidal ideation, anxiety, muscle tremors, etc. were pre existing conditions that the Paxil was protecting me from. I never experienced any of those symptoms before starting or trying to stop taking Paxil. Since I changed to the the slower weaning schedule, those symptoms have diminished greatly. All I’m left with is mild anxiety, which is only somewhat worse than normal.

      Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org That is where I found out about the 10% reduction schedule, which has been a tremendous help to me. There is a very knowledgeable community there, as well.

  7. mindy Says:

    Hi I have been taking Paxil for 16 years. about a year ago it pooooped out . I am now weaning off .. a five month program am down to 10 mg now i feel so awful at times. head fuzziness, crying, high anxiety, dread and doom.. can anyone help me with any tips,I feel so awful and woudl love to hear fom others who have went through this…. thanks mindys253@aol.com

    • thelibrarian365 Says:

      I absolutely feel your pain. It is horrible! I found that taking Valerian Root helped a lot with the anxiety and the dread and doom. I would imagine that it will help with the crying as well :) As far as the head fuzziness, I have found nothing that has helped. It is probably, at this point, for me the worst side effect because it interferes with my job and just my basic ability to function. I just went from 10mgs to 5 mgs about two weeks ago and it has gotten so much worse. If anyone has any suggestions about that, I would love to hear them too!

      • mindy Says:

        thank you somuch for getting back to me… this is the most awful,horrible thing that i have ever gone through but it helps to know I am not alone.. I hope you feel better and we both get through this and feel great again.. will you please stay in touch with me?? thanks…. mindy

      • notquiteallthere Says:

        Your post I found very interesting. In April, 2 years ago, I was started on 20mg. Lisinopril for blood pressure control. Approx.a year later, I was seeking out a Dr. to prescribe me an antidepressant. I felt that an antidepresant was the only way for me to cope with what I was feeling. Alot of situational things going on in my life! Went on generic Paxil 20 mg.approx 9 months agao. Over a long period of time,I realized that I felt like HALF the person I used to be! Calmer,yes. That was the sum of it. What was left behind was lethargy, unable to stay focused, a feeling of just wanting to lie in bed, just wanting to go to sleep. No energy! I decided to go off the paxil cold turkey,wrong! Most all side effects I’m reading about here. Then I went to 10 mg of the paxil. Now I’m taking 10 every other day. Been at this for about a month.Still cry easily, head buzzes,dizzy,crappy feeling. Dont’ know what is wrong with me or when I will evewry feel like myself again! I’m also suspicious of the lisinopril that I have been taking. I read the side effects from that stuff and believe that I may never have sought out the paxil had it not been for the “ace inhibitor” side effects. Finally sought out a complete physical,lipids,cbc,t3,t4 thyroid. All blood work came back normal,looking good.Dr. noticed I had goiter(thyroid) so he scheduled a ultrasound of my thyroid(my thryoid blood work was normal),now they want to do an FNA of a nodule on my thyroid.I’ve been reading up on Thyroid conditions and find that this also could be the cause of some of my lethary, coughing,tiredness,itchy skin,etc.,but don’t understand how it could be if my blood work on thyroid came back normal(no Hypothroid,No Hyperthyroid)????? I’m so sick of all this and just want to feel different!
        My heart goes out to all of you and the struggles you are going through. I get very teary eyed and want to cry when I read them!

        • npanth Says:

          When I was on a full dose of Paxil, there was nothing that could keep me awake. I tried all sorts of things, coffee, energy drinks, nodoze, 12-14 hours of sleep a night. No matter what I tried, I still fell asleep in the middle of every day.
          The difference is remarkable. Now that I’m down to 5mg/day, I’m doing a full days work on 7 hours of sleep each night. It seems obvious to me now that Paxil was sedating me. Like you, I really didn’t care about it, I was just coddling that little voice in my head that said I shouldn’t fall asleep in the office. All my blood work was normal, too.
          The emotional turmoil should get better over time. It takes a while to reach a new “normal” after having your emotional state controlled by the drug. I hope it evens out for you soon.

          While tapering, you shouldn’t skip days. that puts your body in an on again, off again withdrawal state. It’s usually better to slowly taper off a consistent daily dose. I have another post on this site that describes a good tapering method. Essentially, you taper 10% of your current dose every 4-6 weeks. IE 10mg-9mg-8.1mg-7.4mg. the best way to calculate your reinstatement dose is to apply the 10% reduction method to your original dose, starting from the point that you quit cold turkey. Stay at that dose until you feel stable, then start tapering in 10% increments. For instance, if you quit 1 month ago from 20mg, your reinstatement dose would be18mg/day.
          Since you were on the drug for 9 months, you may be able to accelerate the tapering schedule a bit. Your taper shouldn’t have to be longer than your original treatment period.

          • notquiteallthere Says:

            Thanks for your comments! As of this writing, I haven’t taken any Paxil for approx.,8 days. The head zaps have finally stopped. I’m thankful for that but am quick to cry and short on patience. My DR. is aware that I stopped the BP med and the Paxil. Between the two of them, I don’t really know which I’ve suffered the worst side effects from. I’m not nearly as lethargic now but still feel overwhelmed,hard to focus on my work, distracted. Considering that I

            was taking the Paxil 20mg. for 9
            months, how long til I feel focused again? The Dr. gave me a amall dose of Xanax for situational aniexty but I
            hesitate to go for that becasue I
            have been told it is addictive.

          • npanth Says:

            The short period that you were on Paxil is a positive thing. That should shorten the amount of time it takes to get past the withdrawal symptoms. Since you were on the drug for 9 months, the 10% taper might not be as necessary for you. Still, stopping cold turkey can be traumatic. A one to two month taper would probably have minimized symptoms.
            It’s very hard to predict how long withdrawal will last. Some people can start and stop SSRI with no issues at all. Others are much more sensitive and experience longer symptoms. I have another post on this blog where I try to work through the different elements that influence the length and severity of symptoms.
            Even the trajectory of symptoms are inconsistent. You could wake up a month from now suddenly symptom free, or it could be a slow improvement, or it could get better and worse for a while until it fades away. I’m sorry I don’t have anything mor definitive. I wish I could map it out like a broken bone or sprain, but recovery doesn’t have established timelines or milestones. I hope you feel better soon, that would be the best possible outcome.

          • notquiteallthere Says:

            Thanks for your reply! I’m coping with the symptoms I’m having on zero Paxil pretty well but still feel “weird”not myself.at all. I can’t imagine how terrible it must be for those of you who were on the drug for such long durations! Well, it’s Monday again. I’m going to try to be productive and stay focused this week. That will be hard because I’m scattered and tho I work hard, nothing ever seems to get finished. That, in turn,makes my aniexty levels go up. Make sense?

          • npanth Says:

            It makes complete sense. I can relate to the “weird” feeling. It’s so hard to put a finger on exactly what’s wrong, sometimes. It’s just a general feeling of….”weirdness”. Like you’re not hearing, seeing, or saying things that really exist. They call it depersonalization, the feeling of removal from one’s internal mental state. It slowly fades away.
            I realized it was getting better when I found myself laughing at a video. I suddenly realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed. I watched the next ten shows of that series like it was some kind of magic pill. The magic was happening in me, not in the show, but it was such a precious moment, I tried to milk it for all I could.

  8. jevoltin Says:

    I took a relatively small dose of Paxil (10 mg) for 6 years. I noticed that I was experiencing a strange light headed sensation on a daily basis and went to see several doctors. They all noted that my symptoms resembled a drug reaction, but I was told Paxil shouldn’t cause that. I wasn’t taking anything else. I tolerated the feelings for months, but it was impacting my daily life and ability to work effectively.

    For a two week period I stopped taking Paxil and the symptoms went away. My doctor told me to immediately resume taking Paxil and not to stop without consulting him. Once I took Paxil again, the symptoms returned. I went several months taking Paxil and my doctor ran a variety of tests looking for a cause. All tests came back negative. I eventually gave up on this approach of random tests and stopped Paxil on my own. I then reported back to my doctor, told him I had stopped Paxil, and that my original symptoms had disappeared. I did start experiencing new symptoms, though. I started to feel head “zaps”, a different (less intense) light headed sensation, lack of energy, and some aches (mostly in my knees). At this point my doctor explained that Paxil had a withdrawal period of several months and I should just wait it out.

    It has now been four months and I’m amazed by the impact of Paxil withdrawal. Sometimes I feel relatively normal, but other times I feel as though I am seriously ill. The most effective treatment I have found is sleep and relaxation. I’ve also noted that food seems to reduce some of the symptoms, but that may be caused by the act of sitting and eating (not the food itself). Occasionally I take Ibuprofen for a headache, but this doesn’t seem to help most of the symptoms.

    I have been looking for ideas to help with the withdrawal. This blog and series of replies has been the most informative to date. Most sites talk extensively about withdrawal symptoms, but offer not suggestions for treatment. I am also concerned about how long this will last. My doctor believes this should be improving at this point, but I’m not seeing that. I believe he’s just quoting published summaries from the drug manufacturer. I’m convinced that the manufacturer misled the doctors about the side effects of this drug, so I can’t trust their findings regarding withdrawal.

    My activity level has been reduced for the past six months or so because of all these strange feelings. I have been pushing myself to be more active despite the head problems. I feel pretty bad when I’m really active, but I’ve noticed that I feel quite good following the period of activity. I don’t understand why, but it gives me hope that I can improve the situation.

    I should say that I do not recommend stopping Paxil cold turkey, but I should explain that I had become quite frustrated with this entire situation. I no longer trusted the advice of the doctors and decided to take control of my health. I was hoping this would be the quickest way to stop the Paxil problems. Until this withdrawal period ends, I will not know if I made a good or bad decision.

    – John Eric

    • npanth Says:

      Withdrawal varies from person to person. Your experience parallels mine in many ways. I had periods of light headedness while taking Paxil, too. I didn’t realize why it was happening. I didn’t connect it with Paxil use until I started weaning off.

      I think that the confusion for doctors comes from several sources. You’re right that drug manufacturers minimize the effects of withdrawal in their communications with doctors. Doctors are also trained to treat symptoms rather than cure underlying problems. The two pillars of modern medicine are surgical and chemical intervention. Withdrawal is an emotional crisis that can’t really be treated by taking a new chemical, but that is the only avenue available to doctors in our current climate. For a long time, talk therapy was the standard treatment for most mental problems and drugs were used as a last resort. Marketing has a part to play in the extension of drug therapy to include mild diagnoses.

      You’re taking the right approach to withdrawal. It’s important to try to stay active, mentally and physically. It’s hard to say when your symptoms will improve. Withdrawal can be a one step forward, half step backwards kind of thing, but the overall trajectory is towards recovery.

      • mindy Says:

        Hello, read your comment onn Paxil weaning… I am being weaned off and it is hell. now down to 10 mg.. head fuzziness. crying so much anxiety,,,hate this more thenanything but know will be so much better in the long run.. will you keep in touch withme , i gert co mfort knowing that there are other people out there who are going through this same hell… thanks, mindys253@aol.com

      • jevoltin Says:

        I am amazed that some symptoms appear months after stopping Paxil. I only recently began experiencing some of the symptoms I have been reading about. I was hoping that I would simply not get certain symptoms, but I’m learned that this is a truly long process.

        I can understand why this process is so mentally difficult now that I’m experiencing the prolonged troubles.

      • jevoltin Says:

        Mindy – you certainly are not alone. I have often felt that way myself, but I have learned to stay focused on the future and remember that things can get better. I do believe that time heals all wounds – even Paxil wounds.

        Hearing from all of you is encouraging!

  9. jevoltin Says:

    Although I’m sad to know that others are experiencing this horrible experience, it is also comforting to talk with people that understand. Thank you James for starting this blog.

  10. jevoltin Says:

    Has anyone experienced worse withdrawal symptoms resulting from either hot weather (it hit 100 degrees here today) or taking allergy medicine?

    I felt quite good this morning, but came home from work feeling terrible. I did take a Zyrtec this morning because I was experiencing allergies and didn’t want to spend the day blowing my nose. I only rarely take anything for allergies. My allergies did stop, but I experienced alot of withdrawal symptoms including a few new ones late today.

    I’m guessing it was related to the heat because I felt similar stuff on Saturday when I spent several hours outside in the heat.

    Any thoughts?

    • mindy Says:

      Hi, I have not had any trouble with the heat ..love in Miami but you have to remember everyone has different reactions so stay strong and keep in touch,,, this is the worse thing ever to wean off the Paxil.. mindy

    • npanth Says:

      Withdrawal can cause sensitivities that you haven’t experienced in the past. They are usually temporary and accompany withdrawal. It could be heat, allergy medicine, or even a “normal” withdrawal cycle. The only way to know is to be mindful of changes that happen when you try new things. I try to keep a journal describing mental and physical symptoms. It helps me to distinguish between withdrawal, external events, and normal emotional cues. It’s not perfect, there are still a lot of symptoms that seem to come out of nowhere.

    • D Says:

      I just read your note…there are so many I couldn’t read them all the first go-round. I worked a couple of week-ends at a local flea market in Daytona Bch helping out a friend. I blamed my symtoms on the extreme heat, but I think the heat just put them in all caps, if you know what I mean. I think the extreme heat can definately take a toll.
      Please hang in there, you have a link to people who understand and have been in the trenches.

  11. demps66 Says:

    I went in to the emergency room yesterday with terrible symptoms–crying, anxiety, sense of a loss of control, It was the most awful feeling in the world! My ER doc pegged it right that it was Paxil Withdrawal Symptom. He gave me 20 mg of adavan to get me back to a “normal” state. He also told me to start taking my Paxil again, but to see my doc and talk about weaning myself off of it.

    I can’t remember when I started to take Paxil–maybe 5 years or so. It was working well for me (20 mg at night) for the longest time until recently, when my panic attacks at night started to get worse. I asked my doctor if I should take more of the Paxil, but she put me on Ambien at night and to take 1 or 2 Paxil during the day “as needed.” I did o.k. for awhile, but then I had a hernia repair on the 20th of June. I was offered my Paxil, but I felt I didn’t need it due to the morphine pump I had. Then I left the hospital on the 22nd of June with a Percoset prescription for pain, which I filled and used for about 5 days while at home. During this time I took the Ambien 2x and no Paxil, because of the Percoset effects. Little did I know what trouble I was getting myself into!

    I hope to get in touch with my doc tomorrow to talk about a “long term” treatment to wean me off of this stuff. I never knew how Paxil could be so devastating to the human body! Thank God for this blog!

    • jevoltin Says:

      I’ve experienced the ER visit while experiencing extreme anxiety. I’m happy to say that things do get better. Hang in there and you will eventually look back on this as just a piece of history in your life.

      Take care.

    • npanth Says:

      Be cautious about taking other drugs to help with Paxil withdrawal. Sometimes, adding drugs can lead to a cocktail of conflicting side effects and withdrawal. If it’s a matter of well being or serious problems, by all means take it and sort it out later.

      It’s important to maintain a consistent schedule when weaning off Paxil. Skipping days can make withdrawal more difficult. What I’ve found is that I need to take it each day, but drop the dose by a very small amount each month or so. The advice that most doctors give is to skip days and wean off the drug very quickly, usually in 20-25% increments. On that schedule, I found that my well being was in danger, so I’ve slowed down the process a great deal. I’m now lowering my dose by about 10% each 6 weeks, which minimizes withdrawal symptoms.

      I don’t blame doctors for advising a shortened schedule, it is the only information they have to give to their patients. The easy answer to withdrawal symptoms is to assume that they are pre existing conditions, and that has become the standard answer for everyone who experiences problems. Withdrawal is more subtle than that, though. Pay attention to how you are feeling, your doctor’s advice, and make a weaning schedule based on both. Good luck, it’s a long process. Not only have I noticed a dramatic change in myself, but my friends have, too. I’m waking up from a long sleep.

      • Sarah Says:

        I’ve been reading story after story about horrible withdrawal symptoms. First off, I truly believe everyone’s body is going to react differently to weaning vs cold turkey. I’ve been on Paxil for almost 4 years now. I’ve tried both approaches to getting off this life sucking med. Personally, I feel you have to invision YOU getting off the drug and at the same time, know you can! My previous attempts….i felt paranoid and quickly got back on it. This last time, I knew I was feeling “flat,” had no highs or no lows. Everything was ok all the time. I was taking 30mg on a daily basis. The day after I realized how everything shouldn’t be “ok” all he time, I cut back to 15mg for 2 days, skipped 2 days, took one 10 mg for 1 day and have had no paxil for 3 days!! Yay! I could careless about the occasional dizzy feeling I get. I’m starting to have feelings again and it excites me!! The websites out here are all horror stories/situations of others. At first it got me paranoid thinking this was ALL going to happen to me. Please!! I am so determined to not get these side effects and if I get a little dizzy here n there I can take an ativan if need be. I refuse to dote on “what if this happens to me.” A lot of this is mind over matter. Personally, the timing of coming off paxil should be a goal you invision. Not just a want after reading horror stories. Paxil is a rough, addictive son of a gun!! You can beat its withdrawal symptoms by facing your fear of them. Other wise its a vicious cycle and you’ll never get off them. Screw keeping a calendar/journal. Who needs to be reminded that yesterdays withdrawals were horrible? Not me! I say be positive. Move forward and beat it! Don’t let your mind play tricks on you! Good luck to you all!

        • jevoltin Says:

          Sarah – I stopped Paxil cold turkey about six months ago and wouldn’t consider going back on Paxil. Although I’ve had plenty of withdrawal symptoms, I am very grateful to no longer feel the effects of being on Paxil. For years I felt “alright”, but never good. I only discovered the difference due to Paxil after stopping Paxil for about a week. I went back on Paxil after that week, but that week reminded me of life before Paxil. About a month later, I decided to stop Paxil because I wanted to feel normal again.

          Waiting for the withdrawal symptoms to go away has been slow and frustrating, but I know its temporary and I feel progress. At this point I have long periods without any strange sensations. The weird feelings do pop up, but they are tolerable as long as I remain positive. I do find myself dwelling on it sometimes – that makes me feel really bad. If I dwell on the symptoms, they seem to get worse and I begin to get paranoid about it. Once I remind myself to quit worrying and think about other things, I feel much, much better.

          Keep up believing in yourself and remaining positive. I’m impressed with your strength.

      • npanth Says:

        Paxil creates a mental relativism, delusion becomes reality. The disruption of the Serotonergic system that Paxil causes is similar to a waking dream state. Quitting Paxil is almost literally “Waking up” again. Withdrawal isn’t so much a case of mind over matter, but giving the brain time to correct the Serotonin imbalance created by the drug. You can’t just think away a sprained knee, but you can do things that make the healing process go smoother. I completely understand the desire to get this drug out of your system as quickly as possible. Once you realize the difference between your drug state and your “sober” state, it’s very frustrating to feel the effects of Paxil. Some people require a slow weaning process, though.

        Mindfulness is a very important tool to use during withdrawal. Discerning between withdrawal driven symptoms and normal emotional reactions is very helpful. The purpose of a journal isn’t just to catalog the symptoms, but to give people a sense that they are improving. I look back on my journal occasionally and marvel at the progress I’ve made in that time. It’s been a valuable tool to keep me moving forward.

  12. Joroy Says:

    I tried to wean off of paxil very slowly about 2 years ago. I was even given liquid paxil. The step from 1 mg to zero was the worst for withdrawal symptoms. I took no paxil for 43 days but the symptoms were as bad on the 43rd day as earlier in the process. I was incredibly dizzy, fatigued and irritable and couldn’t get off the couch. My doctor felt that I needed to stay on a low dose for life because he thinks it permanently altered my brain chemistry. I am currently taking 5 mg. a day. I would still very much like to be rid of paxil forever. I am considering tapering down slowly again and then just trying to stick it out. The most I have ever taken is 10mg. I have been on it for 14 years, prescribed for chronic fatigue ( no mental health issues). It was suggested to me to switch to 10mg. of Prozac and then wean off of that, because it’s supposed to be easier. Any thoughts??

    • npanth Says:

      Most people’s definition of a slow taper is still too fast. My doctor recommended tapering off Paxil over the course of 2 months. I extended that to 5 months, thinking that the extra time would be prudent. It turns out that my schedule was far too fast. For people who are sensitive to the drugs, the best method to taper off of an SSRI is to do it in 10% increments. For example, 10mg/day the first month, 9mg/day the second month, 8.1mg/day the third month, 7.3mg/day the fourth month, and so on. It may seem like a very long schedule, especially when compared to the short schedules that most doctors recommend, but it is the best way to minimize withdrawal symptoms. It seems like the brain can adjust to lower amounts of SSRI at about 10% each 4-6 weeks. Whether a patient stops cold turkey or tapers very slowly, the brain will still take the same amount of time to heal.

      I understand the feeling that the drug has altered your brain, making it almost impossible to stop. The brain is remarkably flexible, though. A longer treatment period means that the brain takes longer to adjust back. Just as the drug altered the brain in the first place, it can alter itself back as well. Go at your own pace, even if it seems too slow. Tapering is about minimizing withdrawal symptoms, so wean at a pace that’s comfortable for you.

      I would try to avoid adding another drug into the mix. Usually, instead of alleviating withdrawal symptoms, you may find that you have withdrawal from the original drug as well as start up effects from the new drug. Once you’ve successfully switched to the new drug, you will still have to slowly taper off that one, so it doesn’t end up making the process much faster or easier.

  13. PaxilSurvivor Says:

    I feel everyone’s pain – in fact I felt it twice before I was able to stop taking Paxil. The first time I tried to wean off of the medication it went terribly. My doctor suggested a very slow taper. I was on 20 mg and did okay – meaning I had minimal withdrawal symptoms that were tolerable. We used Paxil in liquid form so we could decrease 1 mg at a time. I was coping okay with this strategy until I hit 15 mg. Then I thought the world was going to end. I was so sick – nauseous, shaky, aching joints, increased anxiety and diarrhea. It was like having the stomach flu every day. Finally it was too much and I decided to go back to my original 20 mg a day dose. I thought I would have to take it the rest of my life. But then, I met my husband and we decided we wanted children so I had to try again. This time, success! I went to a different psychiatrist and we tried a different approach. He put me on a full dose of Prozac in addition to my 20 mg of Paxil. After a couple of weeks, we started tapering the Paxil. We reduced the Paxil more quickly at the beginning and more slowly toward the end of the taper. The nausea and diarrhea did come back with this taper, along with increased anxiety. (Full disclosure – I have panic attacks too and take Klonopin to control those.) BUT this time it was manageable. I could get up, go to work and function like a normal human being. I was uncomfortable but I could deal. One day, the nausea was really getting to me and I spoke to a pharmacist to see if there was anything I could do for that. He suggested taking a Dramamine. It worked great! Between the Prozac and Dramamine I beat Paxil. My Prozac taper went quickly and successfully. The last symptom I had were the head zaps which lasted about a month after I quit all SSRIs. They weren’t severe but pretty annoying. My second taper took 6 months to get off of the Paxil and Prozac. It’s been 9 months since I’ve taken a SSRI and I feel great. Take heart, you can do this!!! I’ve opted to be notified of follow-up comments so if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I’m not a doctor, but would be happy to expand upon my experience. I know what you are all going through. It’s not pretty and it’s not fair.

    • Vanessa Says:

      Thanks for your post. I’m an ovarian cancer survivor and my oncologist put me on klonopin and paxil. I want to wean myself off of both. Are you still taking klonopin?

      Should I wean myself off of one first and then the other? Please let me know. I appreciate your comments!

      • Vanessa Says:

        Sorry I should have been more specific… I am on 2 mg of klonopin and 20 mg of paxil daily. I started to wean myself off of paxil by cutting it in half and now I am dealing with serious side effects. Any suggestions?

  14. Louise hunt Says:

    Thank you so much I now know I am not alone in how I’m feeling. I cannot get off this drug. I have so many withdrawal effects it’s like my life isn’t worth living. I feel suicidal and have irrational thoughts of running away or hiding from the world. I feel like no one would know I was gone or care.
    My memory is dreadful and I struggle to concentrate and sometimes will just have to sit and do nothing as I feel incapable of trying to do anything.
    Thank you again for sharing this with everyone.
    My advice to anyone who has been given a script for paroxetine is , throw it in the bin.

    • npanth Says:

      Hang in there. Suicidal ideation is very common during withdrawal. It’s temporary. It’s not a fault in you, it’s the drug that’s causing you to feel this way. Reach out for support from friends, family, doctor. That is the toughest part of withdrawal. Your friends won’t mind if you lean on them when you really need it.

      That feeling of despair is drug induced, not a reflection on your character. There is no kernel of truth in what you are feeling right now. The tapering schedule that most doctors give their patients is much too fast. I tried to power through it, thinking that everything would be ok once I hit zero. I had to reinstate Paxil and begin a much slower taper from there. That has made a big difference int eh severity of my withdrawal symptoms. I don’t have those uncontrollable reactions to things, anymore.

      Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org/ or http://survivingantidepressants.org/ for more support. They have many people there who have gone through the same process and come through the other side.

  15. jevoltin Says:

    I have been experiencing some of the Paxil withdrawal symptoms for about six months now. In particular, I feel head zaps. They are not constant, but I notice them most days. Is this normal? How long have you experienced your withdrawal symptoms?

    • npanth Says:

      It depends. If your taper was very fast, symptoms can last for a long time. The best way to minimize withdrawal symptoms is to taper very slowly. My worst symptoms lasted about 8 months. Now that I’m tapering more slowly, I still have some symptoms, but they are much milder than they were before.

      I began tapering from 40mg/day by 20% each month, reaching 0mg/day after 5 months. I had to reinstate at 10mg/day after two months when I had a very bad bout of symptoms. That was about 9 months ago. I’ve been able to taper three times since then. I’m currently at 7.5mg/day.

      If your symptoms are very bad, consider reinstating at a lower dose and tapering slowly from there. I wrote about a slow tapering schedule here: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/tapering-off-an-ssri/ and about some strategies for reinstating an SSRI here: http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/reinstating-ssri-use-during-withdrawal/
      You can also get good advice about slow tapering at http://www.paxilprogress.org/ and http://survivingantidepressants.org/

      Good luck, SSRI withdrawal symptoms are very painful. You’re not alone in this, there’s good advice out there for managing withdrawal.

      • jevoltin Says:

        Thank you for the replay and clarification. My taper was very fast – complete and immediate. In retrospect that may have been a bad choice, but that a choice I made. Sometimes I consider reinstating Paxil temporarily, but I’m very hesitant to do so. I’m really looking for a way to heal the damage done by Paxil.

      • npanth Says:

        I can relate to your sentiment that you don’t want to reinstate Paxil. I was very hesitant to give up the new found freedom that I was experiencing. I had two good months after I reached 0mg/day. I really didn’t want to go back onto Paxil. Within a week or so of reinstating, I started to feel the mental blanket smother me again. In that two month period, I wrote a dozen short stories, started reading again, all kinds of things that I had slowly given up over the past decade. I tried to continue that creativity after restarting Paxil, but I couldn’t absorb and retain information like I had before. It’s not something that is overt like a headache or a broken bone. It’s a subtle deadening of the mind that I wouldn’t have been aware of if I hadn’t had that two month window of clarity. It’s slowly coming back now that I’m tapering again. I can feel my creativity reemerge in small degrees. I can’t wait until I hit 0mg/day for good. I have to take quality of life into account, though. The problems I had in withdrawal were debilitating. That makes a slow taper necessary for me.

        I’ve decided not to interfere with Serotonin in a chemical way as I taper. In time, my brain and body will adjust back to a normal Serotonin regulation mode. I’m concerned that any chemical interference will delay my recovery in the long term. Tryptophan, 5-HTP, and antihistamines are some things I’ve heard of that can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms. They are Serotonin precursors and replacements, so they act in similar/analogous ways to SSRI. That’s what makes me leery of using them. I feel that I may be substituting a supplement for the drug. The best way to heal the changes that the drug made is time. It takes time for the brain to re adjust to the need to self regulate Serotonin. I personally don’t want to interfere with that process and possibly prolong my overall recovery. I don’t know much about the side effects of those supplements, so I can’t advise you on using them. There is a lot of information about them on the web, though.

  16. Lynne Carner Says:

    I have been on Paxil for about thirteen years being treated for decades of severe panic attacks and anxiety. Paxil literally saved my life along with a low dose of Xanax.
    I Googled this today because I have been experincing nausea, higher anxiety, and alot of stomach issues for about 2 weeks. It finally dawned on me that I may now need a higher dosage…..over the years I have gone from 10mg to 37.5 mg.
    Contrary to most of you I do not intend to wean myself off…and will discuss this with my internist on Monday. For me……this drug has been a miracle.

    • Kathryn Reber-Meyer Says:

      Hi Lynne….I too have been on Paxil (actually paroxetine HCL) since 1995 and was tried on many other medications in 2003 and 2004, but could not tolerate the other meds. I ended up back on Paxil. I have had problems with other medications, mainly blood pressure medications, lowering the effectiveness of my Paxil. Are you on any other new meds that could be doing this to you? No one seems to understand this problem, including pharmacists, but I don’t think I am the only person in the world that has had this happen…..just cannot find any information to confirm. My family and I can tell when this is happening, as I become more and more anxious and imagine I have something else wrong. I have had anxiety all of my life, especially social anxiety and panic. This medicine changed my life and makes me love life….Good luck with your doctor and finding the right dosage. Kathy Meyer

      • Lynne Carner Says:

        Really glad to hear from you…Kathryn. In answer to your question, I am NOT on any new medication. I take a calcium channel blocker (Plendil) for high blood pressure (works great!). I would recommend Xanax along with Paxil…..really calms anxiety. I too am an anxious personality, over 65, never gained weight, slim build, watch what I eat, exercise and healthy! I have NO problem personally in increasing my Paxil dosage. Have you seen a specialist who focuses on meds and their interaction?
        Keep me posted!

      • npanth Says:

        I’m not sure of possible interactions between SSRI and blood pressure medication. I was able to stop taking the prescription when I started tapering off Paxil. I lost 80 pounds and didn’t need it anymore. I’ve read that SSRI can affect circulation, but there isn’t much information about their interactions with hypertension medications.

    • npanth Says:

      I think SSRI have a place in treatment. Paxil was mis prescribed in my case, but that doesn’t make it wrong for everyone. I started writing about withdrawal because that information is missing from medical literature. Officially, SSRI don’t cause tolerance or withdrawal, but many patients experience both. I know that a lot of people dismiss this class of drugs after their experiences. Withdrawal can be very traumatic and can leave people feeling very bitter. I think that’s reflected in some of the comments you found in your Google search.

  17. Lynne Carner Says:

    I have been absolutely amazed at all of the information from patients trying to withdraw from Paxil. So amazed (actually shocked ) how some people report feeling like a zombie, or not being themselves etc etc while ON the pill. I didn’t know or realize this. Everyone has their story, reasons for going on the drug etc.
    For me…..it was a miracle. From other websites….frustrated patients keep calling it a “stupid” pill. We need to be with the right doctors, we need to know our own bodies intimately, and NOT suffer needlessly (for years!) if a prescription is NOT right for you! I knew from the Getgo that Paxil would be addictive so I had no thoughts about someday getting off it……a low dosage of Xanax (for me) is a perfect complement for using Paxil…..and I feel really good.
    Any feedback?
    Thanks and good luck to all of you who could not tolerate this particular drug.
    Lynne

    • npanth Says:

      I try not to dismiss people who use SSRI. These drugs have very different effects on people. It sounds strange, but some people flourish on them, others wither. Patients who have a lot of trouble coming off the drug sometimes become strong advocates against SSRI. Anger is one of the hallmarks of withdrawal, and that anger can be directionless. It’s not surprising that people direct that anger at the drug and their doctors.

      I became quite insular, moody, and depressed while on Paxil. I didn’t realize that the drug was causing me to act like that until I started to taper off of it. I felt that Paxil was protecting me from worse problems, but it turned out to be causing most of those problems. For 10 years, I would become inconsolably depressed every 4-6 weeks, like clockwork. I thought Paxil was keeping that intermittent depression from becoming permanent. Since getting my dose below 10mg/day, I haven’t had that depression at all (10 months). My friends who have known me from before I started taking Paxil all say I “checked out” about 10 years ago. They didn’t know why it happened, but they all talk at length about how I’m more like the person they remember now that I’m tapering off the drug.

      Still, the fact that it was a negative for me doesn’t make it a negative for everyone. I try not to say anything overtly angry or negative towards the drug, just help the people who want or need to stop taking it. The manufacturers have hidden many negative studies of the effects of SSRI, and the result has been that withdrawal and usage problems are largely dismissed by doctors and regulators. That aspect of the drug needs to change. Instead of diagnosing patients with new or existing conditions, they need to acknowledge that there are problems with these drugs and they are not the harmless panacea that the manufacturers claim.

    • rebecca Says:

      Lynne, your story is my story, too. I’ve had great results from paxil since 1998. Recently ive experienced a few symptoms that i’m not sure if it is the paxil or my age, 47. i have been having the feeling of over exertion problems with one side of my body with, arms, hands and legs (i have been going to a chiropractor for this) for about a year or so .Here lately i’m having some “forgetful” issues and not finding the correct words to use. Just wondering if it’s the paxil?? Paxil has helped me conquer anxiety and panic attacks and helped me so, so much.. I also use Xanax as needed. Currently i take 10mg a day. started out at 20mg.

  18. John Washere Says:

    I quit 40mg a day (at that dose for a year) in 4 days a few weeks ago after missing a dose and feeling better than I had that whole year. Now I’m in withdrawal hell. Crying, insomnia, vertigo, feeling lethargic, can’t drink coffee anymore (makes me feeling sick)….. and seriously this list could just go on and on and on.

    Evil drug that deludes you into thinking that everything is fine even if it isn’t. Good luck everyone /cheers

    • npanth Says:

      That’s a big dose to quit cold turkey. You might consider reinstating at 25-30mg/day and doing a slow taper from there. I understand how going back onto the drug can feel like a failure in a way. I had to reinstate after two months at 0mg/day. Those two months were really eye opening to me. I wrote fiction, started reading again. I started doing many things that had just slipped away over the years. SSRi affect the mind in very subtle ways, ways that we don’t even realize. They create a mental relativism where the altered reality that they create for us becomes our reality.
      Reinstating isn’t as bad as starting on the drug the first time. Now that you have a normal baseline, you can recognize the changes that the drug makes. When I reinstated at 10mg/day, I quickly felt that blanket fall over my mind. My thinking slowed, it became hard to read again, I couldn’t sustain short story ideas like I had before. As my dose goes down, those things are starting to come back to me, and my withdrawal symptoms are much milder than they were before.
      Many people can stop taking SSRi very quickly. The official tapering schedules reflect that. A significant percentage can’t tolerate those fast schedules, though. Once you have stabilized at 25-30mg/day, you can begin dropping your dose by 10% each month or so. The speed at which you drop is very dependent on how you feel. The object is to minimize withdrawal symptoms and allow you to have some quality of life while you taper. Since you were on the drug for a relatively short amount of time, you may be able to taper 10% from your original dose instead of 10% from your current dose. For example, you may be able to taper 30mg/day, 27, 24, 21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3, 0. The normal tapering schedule for long term users would be much longer: 30mg/day, 27, 24.3, 21.9, 19.7, etc.

  19. D Says:

    Thank you for this blog! I am on Paxil pretty much for life as I have major depressive order. After the birth of my third child and over-whelming post-partum I started experiencing depression. I have had so many ups and downs, increases to the dosage due to situations arising in my life. A couple of suicide attemps when I could not afford to buy my RX [before it went generic]
    I am now experiencing a plethora of symtoms that I thought I was either going crazy or had so many medical conditions that I might just die. I made and appmt with my doctor and of course cried through the whole phone call-what a drama queen.
    I just never connected the dots that I ran out of my paroxetine [ I KNOW it's generic and costs so little, but the car decided it wanted attention to the tune of almost $500. and it really took a toll with finances, nope not even enough leftover for the RX] Enter your blog.
    Someone smarter than me, asked how long have I been feeling like this? And when did you run out? You need to check on the web about withdrawal. Duh, Oh God I feel so dumb.
    Thank you so much for sharing you experience and listing all your ailments. I never associated some of these with withdrawal ie: gastro upset; pounding heartbeat and ear ringing. And thanks for putting a title of ‘head zaps’ to what I I felt but could not put into words. I could add to your list too-jaw tightening/crampiness; bloated feeling; chest compression like you’re in a bear-hug plus a few more.
    Just thanks again for putting a name to all my physical ailments. I have my RX and will be back to quasi-normal soon.

    • npanth Says:

      I didn’t connect the symptoms with Paxil for a long time, either. It really is remarkable that withdrawal isn’t officially known about Paxil. So many patients go through it, but they often get a diagnosis of a new illness when they bring their symptoms to their doctors. It’s disheartening that the only solution most people get is a new drug. If they were taking an addictive street drug, alcohol, or nicotine, withdrawal wouldn’t be questioned. I’m glad you found out what was happening. The head zaps and Gastrointestinal problems are really bad, I hated those. I’ve had the teeth grinding and clenching, too. I didn’t put it on the list. I should.

    • jevoltin Says:

      Have any of you taken Celexa also known as Citalopram? This has been suggested to help with on going symptoms since I stopped taking Paxil. I haven’t taken Paxil for about six months, but I continue to have head zaps and a general feeling of fatigue.

      • npanth Says:

        In general, switching to another SSRI to manage withdrawal symptoms is problematic. Some people can tolerate the change to a new drug, but SSRI seem to have a Garden of Eden effect. Changing to a new drug or increasing a dosage doesn’t seem to have the same efficacy as the original dose. When I reinstated on Paxil, I still had some withdrawal symptoms, as well as the cognitive/emotional numbness I associate with Paxil. It helped with the worst withdrawal symptoms, but it was a Faustian deal.

        Since you’re six months out from 10mg/day, it may be close to the point where your symptoms should start to improve. My theory is that the brain adjusts to a lack of Paxil at about the same pace as a slow taper… about 10% each month. You may start to see improvements over the next couple months. It’s hard to be precise about recovery, everyone seems to adjust at a different pace. Quitting cold turkey seems to make withdrawal symptoms more intense and long lasting, too. I’m not sure which would be better, patience or reinstatement. If you choose to reinstate, I think that Paxil would be the right drug. You could probably start at about 4mg/day, perhaps even 3mg/day and taper from there. The tapering schedule is a diminishing schedule, where you reduce your dose 10% from your previous dose, not your original dose.

  20. mrec Says:

    I quit paxil (and alcohol) cold turkey about two weeks ago on Labor Day. Been on and of paxil for 9 years as a result of social anxiety and slight depression. While both bad things I feel Paxil has only made my life worse in other ways. I was on citalopram for a couple years but went back to paxil. The most I was on is 20mg early on but for the last year I’ve just been on 10mg. I have tried to quit in the past (zaps, anxiety, empty feeling) but was never successful. One other problem is paxil really elevated my craving for Alcohol. I was not an alcoholic before starting paxil but within 6 months I was and have struggled with it ever since. Last few years at least a 12pack a day, what a waste! In order to get off paxil I had to quit alcohol also otherwise I’ve found in the past that Alcohol would make withdrawel even worse leading me back to Paxil. I just couldn’t quit Alcohol on paxil as hard as I tried. It’s amazing, when I stop paxil is as though a switch is flipped and alcohol cravings, while still their, are 100x less. Oddley I didn’t even get any zaps when I quit although in the past I wasn’t taking complex B’s and fish oil so not sure if that has affected it. I’m hoping I don’t see the withdrawel get worse as it has been managable up to this point.

    I am glad to have found this blog and being able read others stories and know I’m not alone.

    • mindy Says:

      I feel so awful…. I hate this more then anything ….. I just wish i had never ever heard of Paxil….. the weaning is awful……

      • npanth Says:

        Right at the end, maybe 3 months before I started tapering, I started drinking. Irish Whiskey was my thing. Like you, it just flipped off like a switch when I started tapering. I’ve read several stories of people who started having intense alcohol cravings on Paxil. I wouldn’t have thought it possible unless I had experienced it. It didn’t develop into a problem for me, but I can see where it might have if I had continued taking Paxil. It’s such an odd thing, such a specific thing. I hope you don’t have much trouble with withdrawal.

        Mindy, I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad. It’s hard living in withdrawal when the minutes scrape by. Try slowing down your taper. When I slowed down to 10% reductions, it helped minimize the symptoms a great deal. I’m going down very slowly at this point and waiting until I’m certain that I’m stable at the new dose before trying to taper again. It’s made a big difference for me. I still have the same symptoms, but they are much milder now. It’s easier for me to separate withdrawal symptoms from regular emotional triggers. I think this awareness will be very helpful to me once I get off Paxil. I really want to be done with it, but I don’t want the symptoms to get any worse than they are. I’ve been thinking of you, hoping you’re ok. I hope you feel better soon.

  21. D Says:

    Npanth, thank you so much for responding to my comment. I really needed a “friend”, even an unseen one. I feel so much empathy for all the respondents. What we are going through is not fair! We present ourselves when we are the most vunerable and thrown a lifesaver. Then we pay a price for exchanging our sanity for another state of mind. Shame on these drug companies for not developing an “anti-venom”.
    I have two doses (40mg) in me now and quite a few of the symtoms have sub-sided. I feel like I have surrendered to the enemy, but I hope I never go through this again! At 69 at least I don’t have much longer to be on this drug, lol just joshing.
    I wish my daughter could have been a little more understanding, but unless you go through this, I guess noone will.
    I not sure if this is the paranoia speaking, but this would be a great way to ‘control the masses’, its scary.
    I am sending/giving this link to my doctor and anyone else who will listen.
    Thanks again and my best wishes to all of you who are going through this hell!
    PS: my name is Dorinda…I clicked too soon first time.

    • npanth Says:

      Don’t think of it as a failure or a surrender, but another step in the process. You know what withdrawal is like, and won’t mistake it for another illness if it happens again. That’s a big step. I’ve struggled with the idea that SSRI don’t work as advertised. Is there a controlling interest? Is there some larger ambition? I don’t think it’s as complicated as a large conspiracy to drug citizens. I think it may be as simple as an imbalance at the pharmaceutical companies. They have two mandates, make profits and produce effective medicines. I think the balance has shifted too far towards profit at the expense of the medical side of the business. I don’t think the intent of these drugs is to drug the cognition and ambition out of their patients, but the result is.

      It’s very hard for other people to understand withdrawal, and the effect it can have. I’ve tried to explain it to other people, but most don’t really understand how profound the pain can be. I think it’s an unconscious defense mechanism. Intrinsically, we all know that our minds are more fragile than we like to admit. Really understanding what withdrawal is like would be an admission that they too are as vulnerable as we are. I’m glad you’re feeling better, withdrawal can be really debilitating.

      • EC Says:

        Thanks for starting this blog. I am too in the process of weaning off from Paxil. I started with 10mg in Aug, 2011 and eventually went up to 22mg(compounding by the pharm.) in Jun, 2012. I felt quite good for the whole summer, although still had one or two bad days. I was prepared to take Paxil for the rest of my life if I have to. But Things went south towards the end of September. My anxiety and a few other symptoms came back for no reason. It seemed to me that every time I increased Paxil dosage, it would give me some improvement and it eventually dies out and I am sure the same pattern would have occurred if I increased from 22mg. That’s when I decided to wean off In early October. I am at 14mg now and have lots of rough days with all the classic W/D symptoms. For some reasons, 15mg seems to be a hard threshhold point for me to pass. I had lots of good days when I was down to 15mg. I am now wondering when I should take the next step to 13mg. Should I wait for 14mg to stabilize ? I sometimes wonder if it will ever get stable. It has been two weeks now sine I started on 14mg. Any thoughts, any one?

      • nina Says:

        I don’t know how this thread works, the dates are random?
        This is for EC December 3rd (today)
        I was on Paxil for 9 years…(for depression following a hysterectomy) at 50 mg it stopped working, for the first time in my life (at age 52) i began to drink, take pills, whatever would make me feel good again. The weaning was horrendous. I went to India (home for me) and was under the care of an Ayurvedic physician. It helped a bit but I had tremendous debilitating anxiety, and when I came back to the States I could barely function. I finally picked up the trial pack of Lexapro my doc had given me (horrendously expensive) but I was myself again. I am now on the maximum dosage of Citalopram which is more affordable. It has a very short half life, unfortunately.
        I suggest continuing the weaning…I even insisted on liquid Paxil for the end stages…the physical symptoms subsided, but emotional as I said persisted.
        I am convinced it STOPS WORKING for some people, glad you are on such a low dosage, you can do it!

      • npanth Says:

        EC. I’ve also had the experience of hitting a wall during withdrawal. It seems like there are some tapers that are harder than others. It’s unique to each individual. I think the best approach to weaning is to taper when you feel stable, rather than trying to keep a set schedule. Since each drop may have different symptoms, it’s best to see how you feel and only drop again when you feel stable. When I first started weaning off Paxil, I dropped every month, regardless of how I felt. By the end, I was in a very precarious place. I wound up having to reinstate at a lower dose and do a slow taper from there. Since doing that, my symptoms have diminished a great deal. They are much more manageable than they were before. Getting off the drug is a powerful motivation, it’s hard to take a slow approach to tapering. I think the most important goal is to maintain quality of life while tapering, even if it extends the entire process.

        Nina, I agree completely. SSRI definitely can cause tolerance. People call it “poop out”. For me, Paxil really stopped working about 5 years ago. At the time, I didn’t recognize it for what it was, I just knew that I was feeling ever more depressed. I felt that Paxil was keeping that condition from becoming chronic and severe. The depression went away when I started tapering, though. It’s obvious to me now that Paxil was causing more problems than it was solving. The drugs suppress our own awareness of their effects, though, so it’s hard to see the effects they have on us until we start to taper off them.

        The comments do seem to move around a bit on this blog. I think it’s the way that wordpress handles them. I’ve had similar problems on some other posts. My theory is that there is some comment in here, I’m not sure which one, that is making the others appear out of order. I don’t want to start messing with them like some jenga pile, though… I’d probably just make it worse :)

        • EC Says:

          Thank you for your response, I soooo needed it. I had insomnia hell last night and was about to give up and go back to 15mg this morning. But when I looked at the future reward, i.e. drug free life, it is so worth it to tough it out. I am going to stay at 14mg and wait for it to stabilize until the next taper down to 13mg.

      • npanth Says:

        Hang in there EC. It takes a while to get a feel for withdrawal symptoms and when the best time to taper is. It’s very hard to gauge how we’re doing in between tapers. It fluctuates a great deal, and the cycles of severity are sometimes longer than the taper intervals. That’s why I switched from a set schedule to one based on how I feel. I usually wait until I’ve had a prolonged period of stability before I taper. On a couple tapers, I’ve waited too long, and some drug related effects have started to emerge. It’s complicated, because the symptoms caused by withdrawal and those caused by staying at a dose too long are very similar.

        • EC Says:

          Thanks James for the encouragement, I had a surprisingly good day yesterday after a really bad insomnia. And looks like today is going to be a good day as well. :-) I can just feel it. You made an interesting point about waiting for too long before the next taper. Do you think one stabilized week is enough ? Or more ?
          By the way, for all the folks who are suffering from “brain zap”, try taking fish oil with Omega 3 (EPA 360 DHA 240). The brain zaps used to wake me up during sleep. After taking the Omega 3 (3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon), the zaps are gone. I used the gel tablets sold by TRB Health.

      • npanth Says:

        Usually, the interval between tapers is about 4-6 weeks. What I do is stay at a level for about a month without the intention of tapering again. Then I pay attention to how I feel before deciding to taper again. At this point in my taper, I’ve become familiar with the symptoms, and how they feel when a wave is starting. Most of my waves at this point start, but don’t develop into a full blown wave. I get mild symptoms for a week or 10 days before it goes away. The hardest time is in the first two weeks after a taper.
        Even if you enter a window after tapering, it may not be stable enough to taper again. Withdrawal happens in waves and windows. So, you may feel better for a while, then enter another wave. It’s usually best to wait through a couple of those cycles before tapering again. Otherwise, you may wind up having two waves at the same time. the wave you would have had from your last taper, plus the new symptoms introduced by this taper. Going slow is the best way to minimize symptoms. It’s like the advice I got once about how to dock a boat… If you think you’re doing it too slowly, you’re not. :)

  22. mrec Says:

    D, as I mentioned, I’ve tried to quit several times also and have no idea if this one will be the one either. Just one day at a time. Don’t think of it as failure, just a learning experience. Next time, if you feel you still want to quit, you can adjust. Everyone is different so I think we all have to go through this several times to figure out what is the best approach for each of us. I’m still amazed how just 10mg/day can affect my life and I’m 6’5 ~260lb. BTW – I was ~215lb when I started Paxil and was at 260ib within a year of starting. Each day I just keep thinking about how I’ll look&feel next summer if I’m able to stay off this dreadful (for me) drug.

  23. health care Says:

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  24. susan Says:

    Hey evryone. I’ve been coming off Paxil for over a year from 60mg. I decided to rip the bandaid off last week at 15 mg and stop cold turkey. My patience ran out. I would never go on this drug again and my current dr. states he will never prescribed this drug to anyone ever again. I am in bed today – home sick from work because of the brain shocks, dizziness, gastic stuff, etc. I thought I might – might – try some amino acids to help with the w/drawl symptoms. I am bipolar and have been on every drug you can name but I have never been through anything like this Don’t EVER put this drug in your body if you have the choice.

    • mindy Says:

      Hi Susan, I am so sorry for your pain.. I had been on Paxil for 17 years , just weaned off the last six months or so..was in hospital for 5 days…. i now take genric Leaxpro 10 mg twice a day which seems to help..Paxil is the worst and the most difficult drug to get off.. I hate it.. my prays are with you, stay strong .oxoxooxmindy

  25. Franzi Says:

    Hi, I just weaned off paxil cold turkey, after I was totally off for 4 days and the withdrawal symptoms became worse and worse, I saw my doctor. He put me on 150 Wellbutrin and continued my kolonopin. I must say I feel pretty good, I’m on it for 4 days now. I would recommend talking about that option with your doctor! A lot of people take it additional to paxil, so I heard.
    Hope you’ll have success,
    Franzi

  26. Dana Belgrave Says:

    Hello,
    I have been on 40 mg of Paxil for -6 years for severe headaches. I had a very stressful job that was a major factor and the Paxil did help. I retired 5 months ago and decided to go off Paxil as I didn’t want to take medication if I didn’t needy to.

    I have been weaning myself off much slower than my Dr. Recommended – I went from 40 mg. to 30 mg. and after 6 weeks went to 25 mg., then 20, 15, 10, 5 and 0 with 3 week intervals. I did not have many side effects until I went off completely 5 days ago. I am now experiencing nausea, diarrhea, excessive sleepiness, am very achey- all of which I can deal with if it will go away eventually. The symptoms I don’t know that I can cope with for a long period of time are crying over too many things, feeling hopeless and sad with a big sinking feeling in my stomach.

    After reading everyone’s posts here, I don’t know if it would be better to go back on 5 mg. of Paxil and wean even more slowly or just continue to try to tough it out.
    I am interested in your thoughts.
    Thank you.

    • mindy Says:

      Hi Dana, I am sorry you feel so bad.. Was on Paxil for 17 years.. finally off… I did the wean very slow..think you went to fast…. i would see what others have to say about taking 5 mg.. i now take generic Lexapro for awhile jsut so I can still have serotin… good luck and i swear to G-d it willg et better. I never NEVER EVER thought I would feel better, I sitll had good days andbad but the good is getting bettr… good luck and feel better.. you will Ipromise, stay strong oxo x mindys253@aol.com

    • npanth Says:

      Dana, I followed a very similar schedule when I first tapered off Paxil. I went from 40mg/day to 0 in 5 months. It was much too fast for me. After two months off the drug, I had to reinstate at 10mg/day in January. After a few months, when I felt that I had stabilized, I began tapering much slower. I’m at 6mg/day, now. Some people cannot tolerate a schedule that is faster than 10% reductions each 4-6 weeks. Even a conservative doctor will give a much faster schedule than that. My doctor wanted me to taper off 40mg/day over the course of two months. I think that schedule would have put my well being in significant danger. Even the 5 month taper that I did was unbearable. It’s only now, tapering 10% every 4-6 weeks, that my symptoms have almost completely dissipated. I still get faint shadows of withdrawal, but they’re much more manageable than they were before.
      If you find that your symptoms start to escalate, consider reinstating at a lower dose to stabilize, then taper at a slower rate from there. Not everyone experiences severe symptoms, but those that do have to taper much slower than the official schedule. I posted a reduction schedule on this blog with some advice about choosing a reinstatement dosage and some suggestions for a tapering schedule. Basically, you calculate what your dosage would be if you had tapered 10% each month from the time you started tapering, and reinstate at that dose. After staying at that dose until you feel stable, you begin tapering on the slower schedule. You can usually get away with reinstating at a dose that’s a little lower than the one you calculate. For example, If you find that your reinstatement dose would be 20mg/day, you can probably start at 18mg/day.
      I hope your symptoms have plateaued, and will diminish from this point forward.

  27. Dana Belgrave Says:

    Sorry, I was on for 16 years, not 6.

  28. Adam Says:

    Hi, I’ve gone through all the symptoms you’ve experienced since discontinuing paroxetine. I went through hell with the brain zaps you mentioned. Although the zaps have passed, I’m left with severe anxiety, depression and lethargy. But I’ve resolved that going back on that horrible drug and be enslaved to it is not an option. Because that’s exactly what I feel you become when you remain on SSRI’s. You are nothing more than a druggee and these pharmaceutical companies your pushers. Legalised drug pushing and addiction. Enjoy your profits while you can. It’s all going to end one day. I suggest to anyone undergoing SSRI discontinuation syndrome to rather seek some form of psychological counseling to deal with hidden deeper issues, after you’ve succesfully tapered yourself off these drugs. Going back must never be an option just as going back to heroin will never be an option for an ex-heroin user.

    • mindy Says:

      I am so with you, I have been off paxil for two months and feel like hell.. som uch anxiety, fear, doom, crying…. I am on generi Lexapro and Klonazpin to help me get through this.. I have some good times, but latley mostly awful … I pray to G-d everyday to help me.. best, mindy

      • npanth Says:

        It really caught me by surprise when I first started getting withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t expect that at all. I didn’t realize how the drug was affecting my personality for all those years, either. It’s been a real eye opener. I’ve had a hard time with the symptoms, but it’s good to see the old me emerging again. That helps keep me going.

    • npanth Says:

      When I was tapering on my doctor’s schedule, the symptoms didn’t let up at all. I had withdrawal symptoms continuously for 5 months. Once I got to zero, I had two months without symptoms. I felt like my old self again. Then I crashed. After reinstating, it took about three months before I felt stable enough to start tapering again. Since then, I’ve been tapering about 10% every six weeks. My symptoms have been very mild since I started slow tapering. The irony is that I didn’t start to feel better until I became non compliant with my doctor’s advice. I have concerns about recommending that other people ignore their doctor’s advice, for obvious reasons. For me, though, I doubled the tapering schedule that he gave me, and it still nearly killed me. At one point, I wrote all my passwords on a paper next to my computer so someone could come by after and figure out what had happened to me.
      I don’t mean to scare you. Withdrawal is scary enough as it is. I do think it’s just as important to pay attention to how you feel as it is to take your doctor’s advice. Tapering slowly really does make the process much better. Instead of one continuous flood of symptoms, my symptoms are much milder and easier to manage. it takes much longer to get off the drug this way, but my quality of life is vastly improved, which makes it worthwhile.

  29. Patricia Says:

    I think its great to those that have help from their doctor. I for one do not have that support. I was put on paxil, ambien, ativan, lyrica and tramadol last year when my husband died finances have been difficult since. I owe my dr 150.00 so until its paid I cant see her and she refuses to refill my meds. I have had to stop all of them cold turkey. Most of the problems start at night . I hate to do it but am thinking of trying a lortab night to help out, benedryl just seem to make it worse.

    • joy lynn Says:

      Please hang in there and try to get to a clinic or somewhere to get someone to fill your script. I been on Paxil for years….sure understand the costs issues. Costco fills paxil relatively cheaply compared to most places…..go to an urgent care place if you can. Praying for you.

  30. DcK Says:

    I feel for all of you as well…. because of insurance issues I had to stop cold turkey from 60mg per day….
    I can not focus enough to complete simple tasks, I am so dizzy I feel nauseated, my eyesight is affected, when I turn my head I get a strange echoing sound in my ears, I have the oddest nightmares I have ever known, my appetite is failing along with sever stomach issues, and I have to concentrate very hard to maintain a proper demeanor around others AND I overheat constantly.

    I will choose to try and battle thru this (instead of taking a smaller dose)as I can not stand the idea of EVER experiencing this again.

    I am in my first week, and will update this blog as to my recovery from Paxil.

    My deepest sympathies to those of you going thru this!!

    Fyi, I am a 43 year old male in good health.

    DcK

    • mindy Says:

      I am so so sorry for your pain…. I was on Paxil for 17 years and last year it poooppped out!!! It has been a nightmare for me to be weaned off… I am taking generic Lexapro.. for now…. It is the worst drugin the world…. The doom, dread, anxidty iclkyness..etc etc et c….. is terrible… I hopoe and oray witheach day you feel better.. go day by day even minute by minute.. let me know how you are doing oxomindy

    • npanth Says:

      Quitting cold turkey from a large dose can be very difficult and prolonged. Be careful about your emotions, anger and depression in particular. Those are the two that are most likely to be translated into action, against others and against yourself. We have similar stories. We’re close in age, took similar dosages, and had similar withdrawal symptoms. Try to be mindful of what you’re doing. There are going to be some really weird thoughts going through your head. They seem very normal at the time, but they can really get you into trouble. Withdrawal creates this strange mental relativism where the irrational seems normal. The moderating function of the brain is disabled. Normally, we can tamp down inappropriate thoughts with little effort. In withdrawal, those thoughts gain the same weight and legitimacy as our regular thinking. After spending our whole lives not having to worry about irrational thoughts driving our actions, they suddenly seem to control everything. Don’t blame yourself if you slip and do something regrettable, it happens to most people.
      I understand the sentiment of not wanting to take the drug again. I held out for a long time before I finally had to start taking it again. Slow tapering allows you to get off the drug while minimizing symptoms. Most pharmacies offer generic versions of Paxil at large discounts. In a strange irony, I actually pay less for generic Paroxetine without insurance than I paid for it while I had insurance. I hope you feel better soon.

  31. Theo Says:

    Tapering / weaning off seems to prolong the withdrawal and make it more painful. It is the Drs and the drug corporation that advise this. It is a shame they did not see fit to advise on the nasty side effects of their med and the hideous withdrawal effects before prescribing it to me. Accordingly, I reject this approach to withdrawal.

    I stopped cold turkey and it has been around 3 weeks of bad withdrawal effects. The symptoms only started after being clean for the first week. I reckon I may continue to feel like crap for a few months to come yet. However, I only managed to do this as I have been confined to my home unemployed.

    These drugs are like other drugs – they are dangerous.

    • npanth Says:

      I felt the same way for a long time. My doctor recommended a two month taper to me. I thought I was being smart by more than doubling that schedule to 5 months. It was the worst time of my life. I’m not exaggerating when I say that withdrawal nearly killed me. I have mild social anxiety, shyness, not the psychosis and abject depression I had during withdrawal. I had to go back on the drug in order to wean off it properly. It’s going to take a long time to be free of it, but slow tapering gives me some quality of life while I’m doing it. I hate taking that pill every day. I can feel it leaching the creativity and mental acuity out of me. I have to do it this way, though. The alternative is much worse. I wish it was different.

      • DcK Says:

        In a strange way, I feel better knowing its not just me going thru this. I realize that many of you have family at home and must wean off the medication slowly to try and keep things balanced at home. Part of my decision to continue cold turkey is that I am living alone right now and I am able to constrain myself to work and home until I get thru it.
        Last night I had many insane dreams as I am waking up about every hour and a half right now, one of them (kinda funny) I was on my old houseboat with my high school sweethearts father while being attacked by the apes from the movie planet of the apes (the original movie) and then all the water disappeared.
        I can only assume this is what a crack cocain addict must go thru in rehab…

        Oh and FYI…. for me keeping one of those frozen gel packs with me and placing it on the base of the back of my neck helps a lot when the dizzy/vertigo feeling comes on.

  32. Theo Says:

    Like DcK notes – if you live with family be very careful about a cold turkey withdrawal…
    It was ok for me to do it this way as I live alone and am not working. No one has to put up with my irritability and bad moods.
    I have been clean for a month now – the electric shocks in my head have stopped recently – and I am slowly improving. I don’t think it will take weeks or months to get better. It may take many years to come.

    • npanth Says:

      It seemed like a really long time when I started. The 10% schedule stretched out for what seemed like forever. it’s gone faster than I thought it would, though. The head zaps are really hard to deal with, they make any kind of movement painful. Be careful about mental symptoms. They often follow the physical symptoms. They’re hard to recognize. Compulsive thoughts, unusual depression, anxiety are common in withdrawal. I hope you start feeling better soon.

  33. DcK Says:

    Keeping my fingers crossed, but the past few days I have felt amazing…. just a slight dizziness but other than that I am great.
    I dont know if it makes a difference or not but I have not been drinking any alcohol or taking any other medications while coming off Paxil and I have been forcing myself to be much more active than usual … At this rate I think I will be in good shape very soon.

    Now we all need to figure out what would cause the length of withdrawals for each of us… could it be related to other medications? Or just individuals body chemistry?

    • npanth Says:

      I’m glad you’re feeling better. Don’t feel bad if you enter another wave, though. Withdrawal progresses in waves and windows for many people. It gets better and worse for a while, until the windows last longer than the waves, until you can’t remember the last wave. If you do get another wave, don’t think of it as a permanent condition. Every wave leads to a new window. Try to remember this window if you start to experience a wave. It has helped me a lot to cling to the good times as a buffer against the bad.
      I’ve never been a heavy drinker. I started to drink more heavily towards the end of my time on Paxil. That just sort of faded away as I started tapering. I didn’t drink at all for most of my withdrawal. I tried a little whiskey recently as an experiment. The hangover was terrible and lasted two days. I don’t think I’ll be drinking much going forward. I’m just glad I stopped Paxil when I did. I could really see that problem spiraling out of control if I had continued. There were no checks on my behavior while I was on Paxil, no intrinsic strength to moderate myself.
      I’m not sure why withdrawal affects people so differently. I’ve tried to answer that question, but I haven’t found any good explanations for the variations in experiences. Some people don’t experience withdrawal at all, even after long term SSRI use. Other people have extended withdrawal from short treatment periods. It’s confusing and frustrating. I suspect that it is related to the way that individual brains are structured, both physically and chemically. That’s just speculation, though. It could be something else entirely… variations in the manufacturing of the drugs, or other environmental/developmental factors that the patients have.

    • Theo Says:

      I have lost my urge to smoke and drink since I have been clean. I have also noted a massive increase in muscular strength in my gym workouts over the last 3 weeks or so. I never realized seroxat zapped my strength to such a large extent.

      • npanth Says:

        I had a similar experience. I was amazed at how many self destructive behaviors just faded away when I started tapering off Paxil. There are many reports of patients becoming heavy drinkers or drug users while on the drugs. There is a small warning on the drug labels warning about this behavior, but most people dismiss it because their doctors dismiss it. I took my doctor at his word when he said that the warnings didn’t apply to most people.
        It’s hard to recognize the changes that the drugs are making in our minds, too. SSRI create a mental relativism where the new normal becomes inherent. For the longest time, I thought that the steady depression, drinking, and apathy were just personality faults. It wasn’t until all those problems went away that I realized that they were associated with my Paxil use. I don’t consider SSRI a therapeutic drug anymore. Instead, it’s like any other drug you could buy from a dealer, it just lacks the overt narcotic effect that street drugs have.

  34. DcK Says:

    Wow!!!… Talk about putting two and two together!!
    I also had become a heavy drinker while on Paxil… and very very lethargic.

    And now even just weeks off of the drug I can feel myself gaining energy to do things as well as not having the desire to drink near as much.

    There must be a connection between this..

    • npanth Says:

      It’s more than a little creepy to think how normal it all seemed at the time. SSRI make profound changes in the way we look at the world that don’t become apparent until we stop taking them. Add in the addictive nature of the drugs… The intention may not be to drug the creativity and ambition out of society, but the result is.

  35. Susan Says:

    I am sorry that there are people dealing with this but so grateful for those of you are willing to share your experiences. I don’t feel quite so isolated in this. My MD placed me on Paxil for mild anxiety…gosh I’m not sure how many years ago..guessing 8-10 years. I remember several years back I was out of Paxil and just decided that I didn’t need it anymore and would just stop taking it. Boy of boy….was that a mistake. It was on a weekend and I remember the horrible “zapping” sensations and dizziness…just felt really weird. My pharmacist sister-in-law told me never to stop taking it cold turkey but by then I had decided I couldn’t deal with the withdrawal symptoms and refilled the prescription. There were a few other occasions that I tried tapering and coming off again but always went back to taking it…..I did half the pill to 10mg. Since I no longer work and my kids are grown I thought I could deal better with the symptoms so I stopped taking Paxil in March 2012. Came off the 10 mg in a 2-3 week period as per NP, probably too short of time from what I have since read from users. I was prepared to endure the withdrawal symptoms but didn’t realize they would last so long. The zapping sensations and dizziness are my biggest complaints. The zapping doesn’t seem quite as strong so I’m trying to be encouraged by that. Dizziness is my biggest complaint and I feel bad that my family is having to endure my lack of patience and emotional outbursts. I do tend to have anxious spells again but I curb those with Xanax. At least I’m not hyperventilating again. Guess I’m looking for more feedback from anyone still experiencing symptoms after off Paxil for about 9 months. Should I just wait it out or start over by taking low dosages and coming off slower. (Really hate to do that but any feedback from long time symptom sufferers is appreciated.)

    • Theo Says:

      Hi Susan,
      In the past I have been off seroxat for well over 1 year – after long term use like you. (I think that I first started taking it around 1991!) But I have always gone through times where I have stopped taking it. The last time I stopped I can remember that I started to get over all the withdrawal symptoms after around 6 – 8 months or so. I guess the withdrawal differs from person to person. This time I have only been clean for a little over 1 month and I am getting more confident that the worst is behind me. I am not feeling any zaps or nausea – just a little irritable at times. Perhaps my brain is able to adjust faster as I have gone through the withdrawal process before?
      It is all too easy for me – or someone not experiencing your difficulties – to simply say don’t go back to taking it. I would not dare say such a thing to anyone. The only way I was able to deal with the zapping and nausea this time around was to take to my bed for around 10 days. My GP said there was nothing she could do & I would just have to tolerate the withdrawal symptoms. Diet & exercise have certainly helped me along. However, if I was in your shoes the first thing I would do , would be to speak with your GP and explain how you are feeling. I think 9 months is a long time of healing and it would be unfortunate to have to start taking it again at this stage.

      • Susan Says:

        Hi Theo,
        Hang on to that confidence….I think a positive attitude always helps. I tend to be a positive person by nature but it sure was hard when I was wondering what the heck was going on. Thanks to this site I feel I have a grasp on that now and can move forward. I’m hoping I won’t have to start over…that’s the plan for now. Hope you can continue to move forward also. Bless you, Susan

    • mindy Says:

      Hi Susan, I have been off Paxil since October. and Xanax too I now take Generic Lexapro and Klonazpin,,, I still feel awful, last few days have had such anxiety, crying doom, fear etc… i was on Paxil for 17 years after cervical cancer put me in a deep depession,, i too tried to come off but al ways went back on cause i felt so sawful, until I found this site… I did it very slow as they suggest….. i dont know what to do anymore I hate Hate Hate this more then life.. I wish you the best. please let me know how yoru doing..mindy

      • Susan Says:

        Hi Mindy…thanks so much for your reply. I’m trying hang in there…..at this point I really don’t want to start over. It does really help to know there is a reason for all of this and I’m not alone. Makes it so much easier when you don’t have to add the worry of “what’s wrong with me” to dealing with the symptoms. My family tries to understand but like most anything it’s hard for anyone to understand something they’ve not experienced themselves. So you hang in there and I will too:) We will beat this!! Bless you, Susan

        • mindy Says:

          Hi Susan, Hope you are doing better.. for some reason I am feeling so much anxiety, crying, fear etc …wish it would pass…..you are so right it helps so much to know other people are going through this and we are not alone…… I only wish the doctors could understand this….. my e mail is Mindys253@aol.com if you ever want to write me there..ok….maybe we could helpeach o ther get through this nightmare… stay strong.. oxox mindy

          • Susan Says:

            Mindy, I am so sorry you are going through such a hard time. Perhaps you could research the area where you live for doctors/counselors that might be more educated and trained in this area. I’m not preaching but if I am to be honest… any strength I have is through my faith. I know I am never alone especially in my bad times and please know you aren’t either. You are in my prayers. Susan

          • mindy Says:

            THANKS SUSAN I DO PRAY TO G-D ALL THE TIME.. I AM GOING TO SEE A DOCTOR NEXT FRIDAY .. SO WISH ME LUCK…. HOPE AND PRAY WE ALL FEEL BETTER OOXOX

    • npanth Says:

      A slow taper from 20mg/day, starting 9 months ago, would have you at a dosage of about 2mg/day now. It’s a toss up whether it would be better to reinstate or try to endure withdrawal until it starts to get better. I think it would mostly depend on how well you feel you are dealing with your symptoms.
      Dizziness has been a long term symptom for me. It has come and gone, but it has lasted the longest. It seems to fade slowly, too. Quitting on a fast taper is a bit of a shock to the system and can make symptoms more pronounced. I wish I had more concrete advice to give. It’s very frustrating how individual the symptoms can be. The length of symptoms vary widely, too. The good news is that you wouldn’t have to go back to a full dose to get stable. The bad news is that you may be prolonging your withdrawal by starting again and doing a slow taper. maintaining quality of life during withdrawal is the most important thing, though. Perhaps equally as important as getting off the drug. Try to balance how you feel now with prolonged, but milder withdrawal symptoms.
      I started tapering with the intention of never starting again, but i had to reinstate because I tapered too quickly. This time, I’m tapering very slowly, determined that this will be the last time.

      • Susan Says:

        npanth, I really appreciate all of your info. I was reading your comments about how all of this can hit in waves. Past medical issues cause me to tire easily and I had what I think now was a bad “wave” right after Christmas. I guess fatique and stress affects this as it does anything. I’ve also noticed that my symptoms are much worse in the morning and early part of the day subsiding as the day goes on. I’ll take any good feelings I can get. Once again, thanks for sharing. Since I no longer am so worried about what is going on with me (due to sites like this) I plan to move forward and see what happens. Thanks again, Susan

        • npanth Says:

          It’s very common for symptoms to start out worse in the morning and get better during the day. I think it has something to do with the circadian rhythm. SSRI make big changes to sleep patterns. Some people have suggested that they disrupt dreaming in a way that forces the mind to enter a dream like state during waking hours. During withdrawal, there can be some dramatic changes as the body adjusts back to a normal rhythm
          It’s very hard to recognize the difference between a wave and a “normal” depression. I’m still having trouble with it after a year and a half of self scrutiny. I think that’s why a lot of people, doctors included, assume that it’s a re emerging or new problem that needs to be treated with drugs. I thought I was just a miserable person without Paxil for a long time. It took even longer for me to realize that the drug was causing me problems, and withdrawal was also drug related. It’s a weird irony of SSRI that it’s hard to recognize progress until after it happens. I hope you feel better soon.

          • EC Says:

            Hi James,
            Just wondering how you managed insomnia during withdrawal. I just tapered down to 10mg from 11mg. I had 4 nights of sleeplessness. It was he’ll. I had to take sleeping pills,which I am trying to avoid. This morning I moved back to 11mg and decide what I will do next. Totally discouraged, wondering if I will ever be able to get rid of Paxil.

          • npanth Says:

            I had a lot of trouble with insomnia. I was tired during the day, and wide awake at night. For a long time, I was only getting an hour or three of sleep during the night. I tried some supplements, multi vitamins, fish oil, etc. but they didn’t seem to make a dramatic improvement in my sleep patterns. I just toughed it out until my sleep patterns went back to normal, which is a hard way to do it. I don’t really recommend that to other people. The best thing you can do is try to keep your daytime routine as stable as possible and try to eat on a regular schedule. Even though your brain is operating on a skewed schedule, it will get back to normal faster if you do you best to establish normal patterns in other parts of your life. It’s hard to do. It’s not easy to keep pushing a regular schedule on a mind that refuses to cooperate.

          • EC Says:

            Thanks James, in my case, I actually didn’t have any problem falling to sleep at night. My brain seemed to give me a light zap every time when I just got into unconcious stage and woke me up. This would continue on until 2 to 3 AM, when I eventually might get to sleep. This happened when I tried to rushed from 13mg to 10mg in less than 2 weeks.
            I am back to 12mg and try slow this time.
            By the way, how is your tapering progress ? Are you at less than 5 mg by now ? Hope everything is going well with you.

            Ed C

          • npanth Says:

            Thanks EC. I’m still at 6mg/day right now. I’m extending this taper a little bit because I’m anticipating some life changes (new job, fingers crossed) in the near future, and I don’t want to be at the beginning of another taper when they happen. I also want to make my next taper a little bigger than normal (5mg/day) so I can split the 10mg pills in half instead of cutting and filing.
            I had head zaps in the beginning, too. It made getting to sleep very hard. It’s like bed spins without the fun of getting drunk first. It’s a sign that the drop was too big. I think you’re doing the right thing by resetting and trying again with a smaller drop. One of the odd things about withdrawal is that some of the symptoms can be delayed. In the beginning, I would get through the initial wave after a taper, then enter a window of clarity. Thinking it’s safe to taper again, I dropped my dose again. I didn’t realize that each taper can come and go for a while before it’s really safe to taper again. Now, I wait until the waves are barely perceptible before I taper again. It prolongs the time before I get off the drug, but the symptoms are much milder.

  36. Sanora Says:

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • npanth Says:

      Some of the older posts link to my old flickr account. I let my browser log in automatically for too long and forgot the password. When I had to reinstall Windows, I lost control of that flickr account, despite paying for it. I had to start another flickr account and re upload all my pictures. Once that old account lapsed, most of the old pictures went offline.

  37. Dan Says:

    I quit Paxil cold turkey back in 1999. One week later I was a mess. I tried to kill my wife and went to jail. When I got out I lost everything and attemped suicide. People tell me that I’m still not right even to this day. It’s cost me lots of friends as well as several jobs. I have a tough time controling my rage. I get very angry very quickly. That stuff ruined my life. All this because I wanted to feel more comfortable in crowds of people. It has destroyed me.

    • npanth Says:

      I had a lot of trouble with anger and runaway emotions, too. It really did feel like I was out of control. Being mindful of your emotions can help. I know it doesn’t seem like it in the beginning. It seemed impossible that just thinking about what I was feeling could make a difference, but it has helped over time. When I feel anger or obsessive thoughts, I’m better able to tamp them down, now.
      I’ve met several people who had very difficult times in withdrawal. I came very close to doing some irrational things that are outside my normal personality. I feel lucky that the only thing I did was write an angry email to the animal shelter I volunteer at. It could have been much worse.
      I’m sorry that you ran into so much trouble. A friend of mine spent some time in jail over a Paxil withdrawal road rage incident. The veneer covering emotions really is pretty thin in withdrawal. I started taking Paxil for the same reason you did, social anxiety. The cure was definitely worse than the problem. Even after some years, you can still make progress. Hang in there.

    • Ann Says:

      Dan I know how you feel I too ended up in prison because of intense alcohol cravings induced by Paroxetine and Citalapram. I told my story on Dr David Healy’s blog under “davidhealy.org out of my mind driven to drink”. It totally wrecked my life I had never been in trouble in my life before SSRIS and had a totally clean record. I am now left with a criminal record and unemployment. It has completely destroyed me too.

  38. Emilie Says:

    Hi e verybody,
    thanks to all of you to share your experiences
    I havent stopped the Paxil yet, but I really want to do it for a main reason: I just cant reach orgasm!! And its so freaking unfair and annoying! Ive experienced the withdrawal symptoms before when I would forget to take my 20mg pill for 3 days approximately, and you are right, it is terrible. except from the non-orgasming problem, I dont have other reasons to really want to get off Paxil. my main question is : is it worth it to stop just for that reason, given all the bad side effects of stopping?? And do you know if I will be able to slowly start having orgasm while I taper, or only when I have no more drug in my system? Does anyone has a similar experience? It would really help me out, as I have no idea about this, and I pray that Paxil didnt kill my ability to have pleasure during sex
    Thank you so much!

    • npanth Says:

      I was almost sexually inert for 10 years while I was taking Paxil. For a long time, I thought I was just getting older, a forgotten injury, or some other problem. I didn’t really care enough to investigate. It all came roaring back as my dose got lower. It has come back in an uneven way, though. Sometimes, I have function without desire. Other times, desire without function. Some days, they both coincide. It’s slowly starting to synch up. The trajectory is towards reaching normalcy again. I’m satisfied with the progress, although I’d like it to be a little quicker.
      I’ve talked to some people who had extended problems with sexuality, but the majority recover in the end. Good luck, I hope it sorts itself out soon.

  39. Ann Says:

    rxisk.org

    RxISK is the drug safety website to research and report side effects.

    No one knows a drug’s side effects like the person taking it. Use this website to inform yourself on the drugs you are being prescribed. Take the next step and report any side effects you are experiencing to…

    •Receive your free RxISK Report to take to your doctor or pharmacist.
    •Create a report to send to your country’s drug regulator.
    •Help others by contributing to the RxISK database.

    https://www.rxisk.org/Default.aspx

    Dr. David Healy’s blog offers thought-provoking posts on drug side effects and the need for Data Based Medicine, the opportunity to read and contribute to research papers, as well as a forum for people to share their stories.

  40. Cesar Bianchi Says:

    I was on Aropax for 12 years.. it was supposed to stop my anxiety attacks that came from smoking weed & taking ecstacy (plus drinking Jim beam & coke) on weekends. i took the tablet every morning & i guess i felt happier.. not for long though.. i still took it for the 12years.. i tried to quit weed and aropax cold turkey one day.. i started drinking beer heavy and one night had an arguement with my Girlfriend and almost killed Her. i went to psychiatrist to avoid jail.. then i was back on aropax & smaking weed.. again later down the track with another Girlfriend the violence got crazy,the anger and snapping at work,loosing friends and jobs.. I stopped taking aropax (weed+cigarrettes) cold turkey 3months ago and i now suffer oesteo-arthritis which makes me unemployed living in a guesthouse,i have some kind of narcolepsy,memory loss,loss of ambition,increased appetite,strong headaches when i sleep.. so i’m not sure where my life went or where it is going but i’am now on sickness benefits and a vegetable.. Cesar Bianchi 39 Sydney Australia

    • npanth Says:

      There are a lot of stories that support a correlation between psych meds and violent behavior. It’s harder to assert a causal link between them, but there are enough coincidences to merit more study. Personally, I was much more likely to be verbally abusive while I was on Paxil. I thought it was a personality problem until I started weaning off the drug. Now, my brain/mouth filter is much better at stopping me from just lashing out at people. Withdrawal brought irrational rage into it. That’s gone away now, too. Hang in there. You may feel compelled to do things that you normally wouldn’t. Try your best not to act on them, but don’t beat yourself up too much if you slip. A lot of people feel anger and unfounded frustration while they are withdrawaling from psych meds.

  41. Deborah Garvis Says:

    I’m happy I found this site. I haven’t read all the messages, but I do intend to.

    I was on and off Paxil for the past 12 years. With this last ’bout’ I was taking 30 mgs. I tapered it off to 25 (yes, with a pill splitter ~ what a job that was!) because 30 was just too much and I had three months worth of 30 mgs left. Well, about six weeks ago I decided to completely go off of it. The price for the 30 mgs was too much for me ~ no health insurance and a limited budget. I weaned myself and have been totally Paxil free for almost two weeks.

    I had all of the withdrawal symptoms and am still dealing with them. After reading some of these posts, I see I will be for a while. The worst thing for me is the extreme fatigue and body aches like a bad flu that won’t quit. I am irritable but one of the reasons for that is that I just don’t feel well at all. But I am absolutely drained. In the evening, I start having aches and pains all over my body. I know that we’re all going to react differently to our withdrawal, but can someone give me an estimate of how long I’ll be feeling like crap?

    I appreciate everyone’s sharing and comments. Thanks for being honest and helpful!

  42. Cassie Says:

    Im so happy Ive seen this post. Today I was thinking I must be the only one who is going through this. I am 25 years old and was put on a 20mg dose of paxil to help counter act the negative mood swings related tot he cancer drug lupron. It didnt seem to do much for the mood swings from the cancer drug. I never increased my dose to 20mg I only stayed on the 10mg dose

    I havent done much for weaning as I went from 10mg to 5mg over a two week period and then I stopped cold turkey. The paxil made me gain some weight, made me a little scatter brained…I couldnt keep track of things. I was most of the time just neutral, didnt care about much. Wasnt a good feeling. There were sexual side effects I hated that lasted for months. But stopping has been much worse then starting… its been 8 months too long.

    The side effects I am suffering from are by far the most debilitating things I have ever encountered. I have vertigo, memory loss, restless sleep, vivd nightmares, extreme depression, extreme outbursts of anger, zaps in my brain, stomach issues, thoughts of suicide, obsessive thoughts about weight and diet, OCD/control issues …ect ect ect. All I want to do is sleep my life away or die. Those are the two options. This cant be how I am going to live…. I dont know how long this will take to subside…Its been over 4 weeks and it is not changing even in the slightest. I dont know what to do. All I can say is thank you for sharing, this has given me an idea of whats happening with me and even if Dr’s tell you this only happens to a small percentage of people its crap, I was on a very low dose…as my mom says a childs dose and Im still unable to get it together after weeks off. I just hope that Im strong enough to pull through this. I dont want that medication in my body anymore, I never had depression before this! These symptoms are not recurring….

    • mindy Says:

      Hi Cassie, I know exactly what you are going through,, I was on Dammmm Paxil for 17 years after severe depression from cervical cancer… have been off now since Nov and still have bad times.. so much of what you are going through also.. so much anxiety, doom, fear,.crying etc… It is getting somewhat better for I do have windows that I feel good!!! I also take the generic Lexapro which I am slowly weaning off for I hate taking meds… I take Clonzapin to help with the anxiety… give yourself time, It will get better I promise… it takes a long time for our brains to get better…. e mail me anytime if you like… stay strong , best mindy

      • Cassie Says:

        Thank you Mindy for taking the time to reply…Im trying so hard to stay strong through this. I just hope my brain can handle this, thoughts of death are so unlike me its not a nice feeling. I have never felt like I couldn’t function in this way…work is nearly impossible especially with the vertigo and nausea. today I am better then yesterday but in some ways, Im not sad and crying all day Im am fuming with anger. Anger thats sort of uncontrollable. scares the crap out of me to see red like this! Im so sorry about what happened to you, you seem like you are being very strong. I would never recommend paxil as an antidepressant. it shouldnt be used at all anymore, Ive read about the lawsuits. its just craziness. This drug has given me many more problems then it ever helped…Having endometriosis was severely depressing but I was never this low. This is the lowest Ive even been in my whole life, for no reason at all. My life is good and happy! Im always so grateful, thank you again for sharing it has helped me to realize that I am not alone. I will be in touch. Best of wishes for you, youre getting there.

  43. Robert Says:

    Hi Deborah, hang tough. I’ve dropped Paxil cold before and tried tapering as well. Are you a “rip the band-aid off now” type or rather slowly peel it off? I’m not trying to be funny. I’m a rip the damn thing off type and it works for me. It’s not easy to go CT, but it can be done. I found tapering had the same withdraw symptoms but strung out over months. Some people, like those found on the website paxilprogress.org, will claim I didn’t go slow enough. Total BS. You just worry about doing what you can handle and keep trying to go off it. That’s what my doc said plain and simple. Oh yeah, exercise/long walking, new hobbies (try playing a new instrument), and reach out to therapist and counseling. Just keep yourself busy no matter how you feel. I wish you all the best. Bob

    • Deborah Garvis Says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Bob. For the past couple of days, I have felt much better. I know it can go back to days of not feeling the best, but I AM, like you said, trying to stay busy. Yes, I am a band-aid off NOW type. I know that this won’t last forever. I liken the whole experience to being in labor (after three kids, yes, I KNOW labor ;) ). I used to think ‘this can’t last forever’ and by tomorrow this time, I’ll be done. For me, thinking like that, works. I also have the support of a wonderful husband who has been through substance withdrawal. He understands what I’m going through and that’s helped me so much. One thing I do notice is that as I get through each day, I am getting so much more accomplished. Really! If I’m going to feel sick, it’s usually in the afternoon, so I get all my work done in the morning. By noon, I’m done with my chores and yes, some days I could barely get through them, but, and this is NOT to say that I’m some wonderfully perfect person, I pushed through and finished. For me the feeling of accomplishment kind of counter-acted the feeling of ‘I’m so sick and I feel like dying’. It was like a ‘so there’ to the withdrawal. Anyway, one thing I DO know is that I never want to go through this again.

  44. jms40plus Says:

    After confusing information from my GP I ended up quitting Paroxetine all together. He prescribed martazepine and I have weight problems so I stopped them too. Ive been on Ssris since I was 17 on more than off and I am now 45. Ive had to get psychriatric help which will start in 2 weeks time. Ive been allocated a ‘team’ and a crisis help phone number. After all these years on these awful tablets I too am wondering if Ill have permanent brain damage ? I have most of the above symptoms plus weight gain and terrible aches and pains which have really slowed me down. Im assuming these withdrawal symptoms will carry on into the for see able future. …. my concentration is zero, I might post again later

    • jms40plus Says:

      I feel like Im being punished

      • npanth Says:

        I felt like I was being punished for a long time, too. I think it’s one of the meta symptoms of withdrawal, brought about by the introspective nature of the symptoms. Withdrawal forces us to inspect every minute detail of our inner lives. For people who began with self image or social interaction problems, that can only lead to a punishing feeling.
        I also thought that I had permanently damaged my brain taking Paxil all those years. I think that’s another meta symptom. Tapering off an SSRI causes so many cognitive problems, brain fog, loss of concentration, loss of emotional control. We look at ourselves and compare what we are now to how we used to be, and the difference is so stark that it’s hard to see it ever getting better.
        It does get better, though. I had horrible brain fog for a long time. I couldn’t read… I couldn’t even watch TV. Between my inability to follow simple story lines, and the emotional triggers that every commercial induced in me, I had to turn it off for a long time. The brain fog started to break up, though. My emotional control has returned. I follow my own emotional state more closely. I don’t keep talking when it’s obvious that the other person doesn’t want to talk anymore like I did when I was on Paxil. I think it takes some positive experiences with cognition and control to start to see that it will eventually get better.
        SSRI force the brain to make some fairly significant structural changes. The receptors that normally absorb Serotonin are blocked. The brain reacts by creating new receptors, which are in turn blocked by the drug. When you start to taper off the drug, those receptors either reactivate or remain inactive. This causes the levels of Serotonin to fluctuate wildly. The brain is not a static organ, though. Your brain is ever so slightly reorganizing to accommodate the information in this comment. Of course, SSRI make much bigger changes to the brain than a blog comment, but the principle is the same. You will reach a new normal state, it’s the nature of the brain to always strive to balance itself, to either the presence or absence of the drug. Hang in there. None of us deserve withdrawal. I’ve tried, and I can’t picture anyone I’d wish this on. That’s saying something, I think. Imagine all the evil, petty, heartless people in this world. I wouldn’t want to see a one of them go through this. We’re not evil, petty, or heartless, so we definitely don’t deserve it. :)

        • mindy Says:

          so true.. If it was not for James and his posts this would be so much more difficult for me. Everything he says is the truth!!!!!!! Thank you James. for all your support. Day by day. best, mindy

          • npanth Says:

            Thanks, Mindy. I wish I could write more. I’m still in a bit of a creative block period right now. It’s hard to sustain ideas for more than a paragraph or two. It will lift, eventually :)

  45. EC Says:

    Hi James, I C/T on Feb, 9,2013 from 10 mg to 0. I was slowly weaning off from 22mg to 10 in 4 months. I didn’t find the slow weaning easier as I still had lots of really bad days. So I decided to C/T and hoped for the best. After 3 weeks of C/T, my anxiety seems to be getting worse and worse, I have to rely more and more on Activan to calm me down. This anxiety is so intense, I am not sure how much more I can take this before I take my own life. Right now, life is not worth living. I will soon get addicted to Activan and Zopiclone.
    According to your experience, does intense anxiety last this long ?It is coming up 4 weeks. Is there light at the end of the tunnel ?

    EC

    • mindy Says:

      EC, I so feel for you, I had been on Dam Paxil for 17 years, but was weaned off ..I take generic Lexapro for now and Clonazpin… Please please do not think about taking your life.. I have terrible anxiety too. more then before…… sometimes I have to go minute by minute.. but I swear it will get better… it takes a long time… take the activan for your anxiety you can always wean off that later.. I have thought about ending it all but I am too scared too and want to live.. I promise it will get better our brains just need time..please feel free to write to me Mindys253@aol.com and listen to James . he is a great person. There is a light at the end it takes a very long time, for me it is been over a year… when the Paxil popped out then I started weaning off… please stay strong, best , mindy

      • EC Says:

        Thank you Mindy, I am trying to stay strong and positive, but this intense anxiety, fear emotion are something I never dealt with before. I am asking God for strength and help. Has your anxiety subsided somewhat ? And how long did that take ?

        EC

        • mindt Says:

          Hi Ec, How r u today?? My anxiety comes and goes.. I am never sure when it will appear..ggrrrrrrrrrrrr.. The Clozapin does help… I know in my heart and brain it will get better and is, we just need time, and that is on our side, this is the worst thing ever to get through but WE WILL!!! tell me more abou t yourself, if you want. best, mindy stay strong go day by day ,minute by minute . best, m in dy

    • npanth Says:

      EC, please reach out to someone in your life if you feel like your well being is in danger. Suicidal ideation is a very common effect of withdrawal. It seems to pervade every thought. It’s a drug effect, though, not a personal failing. Some people do have suicidal ideation outside SSRI withdrawal, but the majority of people I’ve met do recover from that symptom. If you have not had these thoughts to this degree before, it is most likely related to your withdrawal. A 4 month taper from 22,g/day to 10mg/day is at the fast end of the tapering spectrum. Some people have to go much slower than that to minimize symptoms. Different people have trouble with certain parts of the withdrawal process, too. Some dosage ranges seem to be harder for different people. I had trouble going from 15mg/day to 10mg/day. I was tapering too fast overall, which contributed to problems in that range, I think.

      If you are feeling intensely depressed, you may want to reinstate at your last dose, then start tapering once you’re fairly stable at that dose again. Please check out http://www.paxilprogress.org/ and http://survivingantidepressants.org/ Those communities have people with long experience about withdrawal.

      I think that most people adjust to lower doses of SSRI at about 10% per month. That’s why the slow tapering schedule that the above websites recommend seems to work. It more closely matches the slow pace at which the brain adjusts. It’s not a 10 month process, it’s 10% from your last dose. IE, 10mg, 9mg, 8.1mg, etc. It can take a long time to get off an SSRI, but it’s more important to maintain your quality of life while you’re doing it than it is to get off quickly. Please take care, Hang tough, It will get better.
      James

      • EC Says:

        Thanks James, my anxiety now is so severe that it has turns into the emotions of fear and nervousness, the symptoms I never had before taking 17 months of paxil. Since paxil never cured my anxiety disorder completely, I am really afraid that the residual anxiety was never eradicated and now the paxil is gone, it came back with a vengeance. To me, going back to anti-depressant is not an option for me, their side effects are just as bad, if not worse. That means If what I am suffering now is not withdrawal symptoms, my life is very much over, I don’t know how I can live a life with constant fear and nervousness. I pray to God that this is really some temporary withdrawal symptoms and I will come out of it. I also don’t know how the body can recover with so little sleep as insomnia is so severe for me. I have been relying on Zopiclone to get about 4 hours of sleep every night. I think the zopiclone will eventually loose it’s effectiveness, if I don’t recover from the withdrawal soon. Right now, my hope seems to fade away quickly.

        EC

        • npanth Says:

          Anxiety and depression are the big emotional symptoms of withdrawal. Some of it may be associated with your condition, but withdrawal is certainly making it worse. I was in the same spot as you earlier in my withdrawal. I couldn’t see any way of living with those symptoms, and I felt that I had made a huge mistake tapering off Paxil. I thought that the drug was the only thing keeping my symptoms from becoming chronic and permanent. What if this is the real me? What if I’m really a gibbering mess without this drug to keep me stable? They’re circular, rhetorical questions, that can only drive you deeper into depression. I know how hard it is to put those thoughts out of your mind, believe me. Obsessive and circular thoughts are another symptom of withdrawal. I would literally say the same sentence, think the same thought, over and over, for hours. The first step is to realize that it is not the normal makeup of your mind. The withdrawal effects are causing those obsessions, depression, anxiety, the pounding heartbeat.
          Were the bad effects of the anti depressant worse than what you’re feeling now? If they weren’t, it might be worth considering reinstatement and a slow taper. Hopelessness and that quiet acceptance of a terrible fate are more signs of withdrawal. It feels like rational, dispassionate thought, but it’s not. Withdrawal removes your perspective on your own internal state. It makes irrational thoughts seem perfectly normal. It’s really scary to see those thoughts come out of your own mind. It does get better, though. I couldn’t get off my living room floor a year ago. Now, I’ve started a new job, a stressful job, and I’m dealing with it better than I ever did while I was taking Paxil. It may not seem like it now, but your reserves of strength will return. You can get through this. Hang in there.

          • EC Says:

            Hi James, thanks for your thoughtful response. Yes, Paxil’s side effect is no better than the withdrawal I am now experiencing. I felt like zombie every day, anxiety and depression were on and off almost every other day. Living with Paxil is no living at all. Nowf I am 4 weeks Paxil free, I am going to try toughing it out, no matter how long it takes. I had a really good day (3/4 of the day) yesterday. I hope this is one of the windows you wrote about. Today is back to the waves again. I have also noticed that the waves come in different manifestation, sometimes it’s anxiety, sometimes it’s fear, depression, sometimes it’s all of the above but with a different intensity. I hope the brain is working hard to balance out the chemicals and it will eventually settle down.

            EC

          • mindy Says:

            H EC and James, EC it will get better… the same thing happens to me…. with the waves… so stay strong and believe it will get better I promise…just go day by day as I do.. and one day YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we will feel good ALL THE TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! keep in touch ,both of you,, James help so much..best, mindy

  46. EC Says:

    Thanks Mindy, I guess that’s all I can do, taking it day by day and keeping a positive attitude. I had to take Activan yesterday as the anxiety was unbearable. Just wondering, did you experience any other forms of anxiety, like fear, dreadful feeling and nervousness ? My heart is pounding and it is a very uncomfortable experience. I almost gave it yesterday and reinstate with Paxil. But I held on. Every time I thought about going back to Paxil, I would remember it’s side effects and that gives me courage to stay off it.

    EC

    • mindy Says:

      Hi Ec…. I have all the symptom’s exact the pounding of my heart.. I had two great days then today boom….. oh well I hate this so much.. but pray and know it will pass….. I hate the fear, dread , doom, crying anxiety …. but know it will get better I do take Clonizpan for the anxiety… so just hang in there….. we will get through this… stay strong…. best, mindy

    • npanth Says:

      I had the pounding an irregular heartbeat. That’s a very frightening symptom. It’s going away now. I don’t get the pounding heart anymore, but I do get an occasional ba-thump heartbeat. Those are starting to go away, too. It takes a while for it to return to normal. It’s funny. I had occasional irregular heartbeat all during the time I was taking Paxil. I really didn’t care about it. I speculated about it from time to time, but the drug kept me from caring or seeking a real answer. Now that it’s starting to go away, it’s becoming more apparent that it was caused by the drug.

      Yes, anxiety can come in almost any form and key off of almost any trigger. Sometimes it’s based on a fear, other times, it’s founded on self doubt. The way that the symptoms change is very frustrating. If you break a bone, there are well known markers for progress like the “healing pain”… signs that you’re getting better. Withdrawal doesn’t have those markers or milestones. Ever so slowly, the symptoms start to go away. Sometimes, they’re replaced by other symptoms, which makes recognizing progress very hard. You still feel bad, it’s just a different symptom. I hope you feel better soon. You’re in a tough time right now, balanced between reinstating and toughing it out. Don’t feel bad if you decide to reinstate. It’s not a failure, but a second chance to taper more slowly. If you can hang on, that’s good too. Don’t let yourself slip too far into the symptoms out of a sense of honor, though :)

      • EC Says:

        Thanks James and Mindy, another day has gone by. I take it as another day closer to final recovery, although I have no idea how long this will take. I had to take sleeping pill last night to get about 5 hours of sleep. I am using Activan and zopiclone on an as needed basis to get calmness and sleep. Also trying not to take them in the same day. Looks like most of my physical symptoms are gone. These include head zaps and Paxil flu. If I have a choice, I would gladly trade physical symptoms with anxiety, fears and insomnia. Still have no appetite, I basically eat to survive. I used to love food, now I have no desire to eat anything at the dinner table. Anyone’s has any idea when it will come back ? Also, when physical symptoms are gone, does that mean my body is no,longer in withdrawal and this is as good as I’ll get. Frustrating !!!!!

        EC

        • mindy Says:

          Hi EC, just hang in there…..As I said I had two great days, then boom icky again.. but it will pass, everyone is and reacts different so give yourself time….I bet your appetite will come back, stay strong, stay in touch oxo

        • npanth Says:

          Most waves start with physical symptoms, then progress to emotional or cognitive symptoms. that’s the pattern I’ve had at least. When a wave is starting, I’ll get muscle/joint aches, tremors, things like that. Those will go away after a while. Then I’ll get anxiety, depression, anger, fear.

          The longer I’m on a slow tapering schedule, the milder those symptoms have become. Some of the more profound symptoms, anger and depression, have gone entirely. In the beginning, the physical symptoms lasted about a week, the emotional ones a similar period. Now, I’ve had waves that progress from physical to emotional to window in the course of a couple hours. I even have some waves that start, then never progress to emotional issues.

          Now that the physical symptoms have abated, you may experience some emotional/cognitive issues in the next couple days. Do you best to get through it. Each wave that you conquer will make the next one lighter. I’m with you, I’d rather have a sore neck all the time than deal with anxiety or anger.

          Be careful using Ativan. It’s a Benzodiazepine, which is another addictive drug with side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Don’t stress out too much about taking it, but you may have to do another slow wean off of that drug in the future. Benzos are also hard to get off of, like SSRI.

          • EC Says:

            Hi James, my emotional waves seem to be getting worse in the last two weeks as my physical waves are now almost gone. My biggest fear is that my anxiety has not been completely dealt with because Paxil never put my my anxiety under complete control. I had good days and bad ones with Paxil. As such, coming off Paxil now may not change anything. In other words, I am now going back to where I left off 18 months ago, when I started taking Paxil. What is your opinion ? Am I worrying too much ? Should I stay a few more weeks before I reinstate ? if I reinstate, should I try 10mg ? The best dosage so far for me was 22 mg, but it lasted for about 3-4 weeks with mostly good days. I tried 23 mg for 2 weeks and it didn’t make a lot of
            difference. I am really lost and discouraged now. Trying another A/D could be another option, but with my luck with A/D, (already tried 3),I don’t think much will come out of that either.
            Thank you for listening.

          • npanth Says:

            Edit: sorry for the wall of text, I didn’t realize I wrote so much

            I had a similar experience with Paxil. I started taking it for social anxiety. I’m awkward in social interactions, which made me frustrated, which made me depressed. While I was taking Paxil, I started to get inconsolably depressed every 4-6 weeks. For a long time, I thought that Paxil was the only thing keeping that depression from becoming constant and chronic. Other than the episodic and acute depression I had while tapering too fast, that depression has gone away. Turns out, Paxil was causing that steady depression. I still have some social anxiety, but it was nothing compared to the depression and insular attitude I had on the drug. I still had social anxiety while I was taking Paxil, too. Strangely enough, that has faded as my dose got lower. Apparently, I outgrew much of my social anxiety, but Paxil put me in a holding pattern where I couldn’t realize those gains until I got off the drug. In my mind, I’m better off without the drug, even if I have problems in the future. That may not be true for everyone, but it certainly is for me.

            It’s hard to say if sticking it out is better than reinstating. It’s a personal tolerance for the symptoms that determines if you should reinstate. I’m beginning to think that reinstatement and a slow taper is a better way to go for people who followed a doctor’s fast taper. That precipitous taper that most doctors recommend just doesn’t give people an honest chance to get off these drugs. It introduces too many other symptoms, blurring the line between existing conditions and withdrawal symptoms.

            The way to calculate a reinstatement dose is to reduce your original dose on a 10% sliding scale from the date that you first started tapering. For example. Say you started at 10mg/day. The first taper would be 9mg. 4-6 weeks later, you would reduce to 8.1mg, then 7.3mg, 6.6mg, 5.9mg. Basically, it’s a schedule that reduces your tapers as you approach zero. Once you get to about .5mg and feel stable, you jump off from there.
            http://www.paxilprogress.org/forums/showthread.php?t=41850 This post has a spreadsheet that can do the reduction calculations with dosages and dates for you. If you started tapering two months ago from 10mg and finished a month ago, your reinstatement dose would be 8.1mg, the dose you’d be taking if you had done a slow taper starting two months ago.

            The goal of reinstating isn’t just to relieve symptoms, not entirely. It’s a way of getting a second chance to taper more slowly. SSRI seem to have a garden of eden effect where they don’t work as well the second time you try taking them. When I reinstated, I could feel my brain slowing down. It was infuriating to actually see myself getting dumber as the drug took effect again. I think the experience of getting clear of Paxil colors subsequent experiences. Whenever I think about it, I’m reminded of Daniel Keyes’ short story “Flowers for Algernon” It really felt like I had found some inner genius that had been missing for years, and then I watched that enlightenment fade away before my eyes. I still bristle about it now, as my mind slowly clears again.

  47. Deborah Garvis Says:

    I am still dealing with the withdrawal after about two months of being totally off the Paxil. Now it’s the weepy, emotional part. I am taking Valerian when I feel I need it. There are days when I feel terribly stressed, to the point of tightness in my chest and difficulty breathing. This is a long process. I am trying to think positively about things, but physically, my body is telling me ‘give up and go back to bed’. My heart goes out to everyone going through this.

    • mindy Says:

      Hello Deborah, I know exactly how you feel, it has been over 5 months for me and I still have so much doom, dread, anxiety crying at times…. I pray everyday for all of us to get through this awful hell… I do take generic Lexapro and clonazpin at this time to help…. I am thinking about trying REscue Remedy .. heard about it.. all natural suppose to help with stress, anxiety…. stay strong , best, mindy

  48. Gail Says:

    Well, coming across this blog has been a blessing, and I thank you all so much for sharing. I actually thought the symptoms I have been feeling were something terminal. They are so severe, I thought I had developed some terrible illness and would most likely die from it as I am feeling so so bad.
    Although there are more knowledgeable and more prolific people who have written about this on this blog, I will still add my experience in the event it will help someone. About a month ago I ran out of my Paxil and just quit taking it. I forgot. Never before had that happened. I have been taking Paxil for about 17 years. I had no withdrawal symptoms, nothing for about a week and then hard depression hit. However, I became a new person. Creative, energetic, happy, friendly, motivated and wanting to move forward. I even considered a relationship which I have poo poo’d for years, too much trouble. I love being single because no one bugs me about my erratic wants and my way of keeping my person or home. I want to do what I want to do. Off Paxil, I seemed more willing to cooperate with everyone. I am noted for being a kind and likable person, but inside, I always want to be alone. People are a chore, and I mean that kindly, I realize it is my problem. Off paxil, I didn’t feel this way.
    So…after the depression hit, I realized I had forgotten my Paxil and refilled the script. I felt so motivated off of Paxil however, that I decided to go off of it. this lack of motivation is something that has come to be only in the last few years. I have always been a motivated and driven person until lately. I hate it and my home reflects it. I am redoing my place and have had it for a year. I have been so puzzled at why it is so hard for me to do anything. I can’t seem to remember how, as weird as that sounds. How do I organize my home? How do I move forward? How do I empty just one little box, where do I put the contents- these are feelings I have never encountered before. My place almost looks like the beginning of a hoarder problem and I did not understand it at all. It became so confusing that I would just throw my hands in the air, get to my couch (my ship in any storm these days) and watch TV. People that really know me were also confused. My home has always been important to me. The contents, the cleanliness, the style. I am known for my natural ability to create a lovely “nest” and my home has always been very warm and welcoming. Gone, in its place this disorganized soul surrounded by chaos. Well, I have the same story as most of you. Way too fast, can not do.
    I have so many strange symptoms, head buzz, headaches, horrible dreams, hearing the blood rushing in my veins I think, aches and pains, also a terrible numbness of my feet and a swelling of my feet. This is very bad. I also experience terrible restless leg syndrome which I take requip for (another nightmare) and when off Paxil for the week I have been referring to, the Restless Leg Syndrome almost disappeared.
    It is clear I have to wean off of Paxil and I will. I am going to push through the withdrawal and get my self back. I miss me. I want to experience life, even if it means some depression, I will treat that holistically when I can. I can still see the progress I made from being off Paxil for a week and it keeps me going. I CAN do this. ME IS STILL AVAILABLE and I remember.
    I think the most important thing to do it to treat yourself like a little child. Be patient, kind, loving and don’t forget to remind yourself that this is temporary, even though it could take a long time to come back to your normal, but it will go away and not to be frightened by it. Work through it very slowly and give your self the time you need to heal.
    I will try to do my best while withdrawing, and when I feel the withdrawals and lack of motivation at least I can remind myself that this is the drug and not the real me and it will eventually go away. I will try to force myself into action since Paxil wants to keep me sedated. I will remember that week of clarity and force myself to act that way, even if I don’t feel that way. At least I will try with all my might. God Bless us all, we can prevail.

    • Deborah Garvis Says:

      Excellent words Gail. I’m about six weeks off and still have problems with the dreams, foggy thinking and body aches. I don’t know how long it takes to be ‘ME’ again. I am dealing with anger, impatience and a general ‘not happy with life’ ~ a totally different person than I was pre-Paxil. I get overwhelmed, as you said, by just cleaning up one room when I used to have all my room cleaning organized. And it’s a push to just get little things done. But we go on because we know that around the corner, somewhere, we’ll hopefully be able to be ourselves again. The ‘ME’ we used to be.

      • npanth Says:

        Anger is a tough one. I had it for a long time. It was personal, universal, random. Try your best to avoid doing something the “real” you wouldn’t do, but don’t feel too bad if you slip up. It can be very overwhelming at times.
        That motivation and hope will return in time. Hang in there.

        • mindy Says:

          Hi James, How are you?? I am still having a very hard time….. so much anxiety, doom fear.. mostly in the afternoon. I am still on Generic Lexapro and tonight I start Brand Clozanpin to see it this will help… I am so lost….. best, mindy

          • npanth Says:

            I’m sorry you’re feeling do bad Mindy. Try to hang in there. I wouldn’t have believed that it could get better until it happened to me. It will happen for you, too. :)

          • mindy Says:

            I am praying all the time…. I hate this so much,,. do you really think I will get better James????? thanks….

          • npanth Says:

            I do. It seemed like it would take forever for me. For a long time, I measured progress in inches and setbacks in miles, but that eventually reversed. I’m confident that you’ll get there, too. You have a caring, insightful nature, and that will eventually beat withdrawal.

          • mindy Says:

            thank you James….. ooxx mindy

      • notquiteallthere Says:

        Wow! That’s me Deborah! Started going off Paxil about 8 weeks ago. Haven’t taken any for 8 days or so. Everything seems to be piling up around me. Is it the Paxil withdrawal that is causing my night sweats and morning breathlesness? Body aches, too? I’ve gained over 10 lbs. this past fall/winter. Feel crudy and lethargic.Dreams too! Everything seems like a huge task. Paperwork, laundry, dishes, errands. I can’t wait to “get around that corner”.

        • Deborah Garvis Says:

          I don’t know, nqat, but the breathlessness ~ yes, I have it and all I can think of for a reason is it’s part of the body aches and pains from withdrawal. When I take chamomille, that seems to help a bit. I fall asleep while I’m crocheting at least twice a day ~ once in the afternoon and then again in the evening. Totally not like me at all. Yesterday and today are better, but I know that all the physical stuff is just lurking around the corner, waiting to attack again.

          • notquiteallthere Says:

            Thanks for commenting! The out of breath feeling was scaring me a little. Helps to know someone else can relate. I am somewhat comforted by everyone’s sharing of their symptoms and feelings of Paxil use and withdrawal. I really have no one to visit with about this. I’ve tried to visit with my adult children a little but I can see the sceptical looks on their faces. Glad I found this site

    • npanth Says:

      Thanks Gail, you have articulated withdrawal very well. I had a similar experience. When I hit zero Paxil, it felt like I was waking up from a long, long dream. It was like I had a creative and emotional epiphany. The symptoms came back, though, so I had to reinstate on Paxil and start a slow taper. That was very frustrating for me. That time, I could feel the veil lowering over my mind again. I could feel that vibrant, creative person, slipping away.
      It’s slowly coming back now as my dose again approaches zero. I can’t wait until I get off the drug again. This time, I will have done it In a slow and deliberate way, so the withdrawal symptoms shouldn’t overwhelm me again.
      You may want to consider reinstating and doing a slow taper since you’ve been off the drug for just a month. Don’t look at it as a failure, even if it feels like you’re slipping away from yourself again. SSRI are very difficult for many people to stop taking. The withdrawal symptoms can last for a long time and be very debilitating. Don’t sacrifice your well being. As wonderful as the new found you/me is, it’s very hard to appreciate it with the other symptoms. I have another post on this blog describing the 10% tapering method. You still get some symptoms, but they are much more manageable when you taper slowly.
      I hope you feel better soon. I can’t think of a single person I would wish withdrawal on, and I’ve ruminated on the topic for a long time :)

  49. pochali Says:

    Hi, I’m glad I came across this blog (well, kind of glad). I am looking for support. I started taking Paxil in 2002 due to panic disorder & anxiety (at the age of 16). While it worked wonders for my panic attacks, I quickly began experiencing side effects….weight gain, fatigue, and not really giving a darn about much. I started craving carbs and sweets and alcohol – – all of which were so unlike me. I went from 111lbs to 142lbs in a short year and have reached up to 157lbs. I used to be so thin and had great metabolism. This all stopped completely. I was uneducated about Paxil. I knew deep down that Paxil is what caused me to pack on the pounds but I (along with my family and phyiscian) insisted the benefits outweighed the risks. So, I convinced myself that this was the new me and I had a healthy, womanly figure now….I put that thought in my mind and dealt with it but I KNEW 100% that I did not feel like myself and Paxil was to blame. Around mid 2008, I really suffered with fatigue and Attention Deficit. I was prescribed Adderall xr 15mg and around that time started to taper off of Paxil (as well as starting a calorie counting diet and exercise). I went from 151lbs to 130lb and felt great!!! I had very little withdrawal symptoms from Paxil but was never able to totally get off. I also only took the Adderall as needed (i.e. studying or 12 hr shifts at work). I’ve heard that Adderall does work on the frontal lobe and affects Dopamine and that had me feeling good. But, late 2008, my best friend’s bipolar mother committed suicide and this left me with increasing stress/anxiety/panic attacks. So, I quit my Adderall and got back on Paxil (but just at 10mg). The panic attacks remained mostly at night and were alwasy situational. That was different from when I was first Rx’d Paxil. When I was young, I often got panic attacks daily and for no reason at all. As an adult, panic/anxiety was strictly situational. I then was Rx’d Xanax prn (as needed) for panic attacks. That worked for the occasional night panic

    In 2010, shortly after I was married, I gained almost all of the weight back. I felt very happy & content in my environment and felt I was able to recognize my anxieties and was once again tired of being a slave to Paxil. I began the process of weaning. I did this on my own starting 10mg (x 1-2 weeks), then 5mg (2 weeks), then 2.5mg (x 1 week), then 2.5mg every other day, every three days, etc. I think I went a little too fast and after 1 bad panic attack got back on 10mg out of sheer fear!!!

    Now, I feel so much more educated. I know that the anxiety, brain zaps, and dizziness I experienced were withdrawal symptoms and I am determined to GET OFF PAXIL!!!! I am willing to put up with the withdrawal to get off this stuff. Plus, I am ready to start a family and Paxil is Pregnancy Category D.

    I saw my physician this week and she suggested Wellbutrin 150mg x 4 weeks along with 10mg Paxil. Next, 300mg WB and 5mg Paxil (x4-6 weeks), WB & 2.5mg Paxil (4-6wks), and so on. I am hoping that the WB will help ease some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with Paxil. She also said that WB should help with weightloss and has no sexual side effects. I am all for this plan!

    I am keeping the prn xanax for panic attacks and she has also ordered a beta blocker to help with the pounding & racing heart I get with the panic attacks. Many times and can do cognitive behavioral therapy with myself to help ease the panic but the racing heart is what really gets me all “rawled up”.

    I can’t wait to be Paxil free!!!!!! But I know I have to take it slow and be patient.

    • npanth Says:

      Thanks for sharing your story pochali
      Wellbutrin does have side effects, and has its own withdrawal symptoms. It’s usually best to taper off of the original drug rather than add another drug I to the mix. Tapering off 10mg/day of Paxil in three months is very fast. I have another post on this blog describing the 10% reduction method. I reinstated at 10mg/day in January 2012. I’m at 5mg/day now, in march, 2013. I know that sounds like a very long taper, but I started at 40mg/day, so my taper has been from a larger dose, too. Some tapers have gone very quickly. I’ve had to linger at some doses for longer periods. The best way to taper of Paxil is to do it very slowly. Instead of following a calendar schedule, taper based on how you feel. It’s better to stay at a dose for a little too long than it is to taper too fast. The symptoms are the same whether you taper slowly or faster. The difference is that slow tapering reduces the severity of the symptoms a great deal. Instead of having disabling head zaps all day, you get a little tingle when you move your head too fast for a couple hours.
      Adding another drug to your withdrawal introduces startup and primary drug effects to your withdrawal from Paxil. Check out http://www.paxilprogress.org or surviving http://www.antidepressants.org for some more advice about slow tapering and multi drug tapering.
      Good luck with your taper. Just go slow, you’ll make it :)

  50. lux Says:

    To all of you posting: you are so effin’ brave to reclaim yourselves! Congratulations!
    I’m really quite ignorant about all this, in fact I didn’t teven know what Paxil was until yesterday.
    Last night me and a buddy supported a friend of ours who has gone “cold turkey” off paxil after “years” of use. Needless to say, it was a rough night, with plenty of screaming irrational rage, tears, the obvious regret/embarrassment later… all in waves and sometimes mixed. So, what I need to know is, how do I (we) best support him through the next week while his wife is gone, and afterwards as subsidiary support network?
    Any and all advice is appreciated.

    • pochali Says:

      My advice would be for him to get back on a stable dose of Paxil and go from there. NO ONE here wants to be on Paxil. If I could just stop taking it, I’d stop in a heartbeat but I know I can’t. I’m weaning from a small dosage, too. Weaning from 10mg. Have been taking 5mg for the past 5 weeks. I won’t go down to 2.5 until I feel 100% completely ready.

      The first 5 days of 5mg went perfectly. No side effects, no issues whatsoever. On about day 6, I started having some pretty severe panic/anxiety with some strange thoughts. I took more Xanax that weekend than I’ve ever had to take. But, the anxiety was also very situational. So, I kept on with 5mg and it eventually got better. I find myself having to take 0.25mg Xanax at night so that I don’t wake with panic in the middle of the night.

      Still on 5mg and doing pretty well. I definitely have some breakthrough anxiety but I am trying to control it with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I think in the next 1-2 weeks I will decrease my dosage.

      I tried getting off Paxil about 2 years ago (with little research). I weaned but way too quickly. After some severe panic/anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, I quickly got back on my full dosage of Paxil because I was so frightened. I now know that if I would have taken it much slower, I would have not had such severe withdrawal symptoms.

      I have issues with mood swings, too while weaning but it is nothing that is hindering my life. Again,(like the anxiety/panic) it is all very situational (finals week). I realize shortly after that I am acting that way and I am able to recognize it and work on it.

    • npanth Says:

      If he just stopped taking Paxil, the best thing to do would be to start taking it again, and slowly taper off from there. It’s really amazing how slow you have to go. I never would have thought that I would still be tapering after a year and a half. I know that sounds like a ridiculously long time, but I’ve actually come to terms with it. The long taper is just the best way to get off SSRI and still maintain quality of life.
      Anger is one of the hardest symptoms to deal with, for the patient, and his/her friends. It comes out of nowhere, doesn’t have easily definable triggers, and can be quite strong at times. The thing to keep in mind is that he is not really angry at you. Withdrawal is forcing rage to the surface, and it’s taking any outlet it can find. You aren’t making him mad, you just happen to be there. I broke a desk once because I didn’t close the drawer all the way. Sounds irrational, right? Exactly.
      Don’t take anything he says personally, even if he dredges up an obscure event from your past. The intellect serves rather than controls instinct at those times of withdrawal. He still has his full imagination and memories, but he doesn’t really control what he thinks about, or how powerful the images are. It’s very hard not to respond when someone in withdrawal really wants a shouting match. He doesn’t really want a fight, he’s just trying to find some way, any way, to vent the emotions that are flooding his mind.
      Try to remain positive with him. One of the strange things about withdrawal is that he will have periods of lucidity where he will be shocked at the things he said so carelessly before. To me, it felt like the thinking part of mind had been kidnapped. I watched myself do and say things I had little control over. It’s probably similar with your friend. Stay close to him, and watch him closely. He may try to do something rash, and he’ll need some friends nearby to make sure he doesn’t do something he’ll regret later.
      There isn’t anything, per se, that you can do to make things better in the short term. It’s a chemical, hormonal, thing that he’s dealing with. Being a good friend now will help him, though. Stick by him, the old friend you know will return someday.
      I wrote a post about dealing with anger, and some of the things you can do as a friend

      http://npanth.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/dealing-with-anger-during-ssri-withdrawal/

  51. lacey Says:

    Man this story is intense. Ive been taking paxil for 7 years for depression and ocd, i used to use meth and have been sober for 7 years. I was taking 40mg and talked to doctor bot tapperring off paxil due to negative sexual side effects. So every ten days i lower my dosage 5mg. Im down to 25mg and i feel empty,emotionless, very much like a screwge robot. Im irratable amd my memory has goten bad. Im not realy interested in much and now my sexual side effects r worse than taking the 40mg. My dreams r so real and intense. I want to sleep a lot and stay to myself. Im or paranoid and worried. I just dont feel lile me and it scares me a lil bit. Its really nice to read that im not alone tho it sucks that we have these side effects. Gd luck oo

    • npanth Says:

      Try staying at 25 for a while until you stabilize a bit. Usually, the best way to taper off is to do it really slowly. Now that I’m going slower, a lot of those symptoms have become much more manageable. I’m at 5mg/day right now. My next taper will be to 4.5mg/day. It’s going a lot slower than it was before, but I’m doing much better. I hope you feel better soon, the symptoms suck.

  52. MarkAV Says:

    Wow. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I couldn’t agree more with you on how powerful this drug is.

    I’ve been on Paxil twice in the past 15 years… having used various other antidepressants in between. My first experience was actually a godsend as it brought be out of a very bad depression and worked well for about 2 years. But then it just failed almost overnight and since then I have battled with just about every drug on the market to find relief, going back on Paxil again just a couple of years ago. I finally reached the point where I felt that the all the drugs I’d been taking had actually been causing more problems than they were solving so decided to go completely clean and focus on a more holistic approach to healing.

    So I’ve been weaning off Paxil now for several months, coming down from an incredible 80mg dose (plus 450mg of Wellbutrin plus 300mg of Seroquel plus 15mg of Remeron.) Completely insane, I know. (I feel like my psychiatrist ought to be the one in therapy.) The other drugs were actually easy to wean down from, but Paxil turned out to be the true bitch. I made it down to 20mg relatively unscathed and thought I was home free… still had all the side effects you described (to a tee) but I thought I was tolerating them fairly well. But from 20mg to zero was a nightmare. I went from 20 to 10 to 5 to 0 over just a few weeks and for a couple of weeks after felt like I was actually going to pull it off. But now, almost 8 weeks later, I am still having side effects that actually seem to be getting worse. The “head zaps” are the most brutal… I often feel like I’m going to get sick from the vertigo. After reading your article, I am now seriously considering going back on a low dose of Paxil and titrating off very slowly.

    This is a seriously hard core drug. And after years of experience with this and many other psychotropic meds I have finally reached the conclusion that the way they are prescribed is completely irresponsible and dangerous. I agree 100% with you on the application of these drugs… they should only be used as a last resort. And when they are prescribed, the intent should be to get the patient off the drugs as soon as a crisis has been averted. But that is not how the medical community operates (I actually had a psychiatrist tell me that the meds were “good for my brain”… like vitamins.) I don’t think so. This is serious mind altering stuff and a patient’s progress should be closely monitored over the course of treatment. But doctors hand this stuff out like candy and don’t follow up at all… a 15 min checkup with a shrink every 3 months just doesn’t cut it. And then when a patient decides to go off the drugs, most doctors haven’t a clue as to what the patient is actually going to go through. Again… no plan, no close monitoring, no follow up. This is completely irresponsible.

    Thanks again. This issue needs to be addressed over and over again until public awareness creates a very necessary backlash.

    • mindy Says:

      stay strong… was on Paxil for 17 years..it is a bitch.. you will make it!!! oxoxoxo

      • EC Says:

        Hi Mindy,
        How are you doing lately ? Are you still on Klonapin and Lexapro to deal with the Paxil withdrawal ? Hope you are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel and the awful experience is behind you.
        I am now 100% free from anti-depressant and Benzo. Stopped taking Paxil Feb, 9/2013 ( tapered from 20 mg to 0 in 5 months) . I was taking 0.5 mg Ativan to ease my withdrawal . I have now also stopped taking the Activan as well since June, 9/2013. I wished I can say life is back to normal. Far from it. I do have some nice windows, almost every other day in the last 3 weeks. I feel I am almost 100% recovered during those windows. But when the waves hit. I feel so terrible that they make me forget all the good things I have with the windows. Sometimes I thought the waves were getting less severe, but then they would roar back again with full force, like today, extreme stomach nausea, feeling nervous, no confidence, depressed, foggy head, suicidal thoughts. It’s been 4 weeks since I took my last 1/16 mg of Ativan, and the emotional roller coaster ride is unbearable. I don’t know if I am still suffering from Paxil withdrawal or Ativan withdrawal, or both ? I know its almost a silly question. How much longer do I have to suffer like this ? Any idea ? Any one ?

        EC

        • MarkAV Says:

          Hey EC.
          I mentioned that I am opting for a more holistic approach to this whole mental health dilemma. Personally, I have focused on diet, exercise, yoga, and meditation as my first line of defense and for me it is working…. imperfectly, but with noticeable progress. But I am also am going through a very similar experience as you describe, and when I am in the middle of it all it does sometimes seem like my progress has been invalidated. However, that is not the truth. The fact that you are having windows of 100% recovery means that you are indeed recovering. Keep track of those days and use them as reminders that your down days are transient… a journal or mood log is very powerful for facilitating this. I use an app on my android phone called eMoods to track my daily progress and this has been a very helpful feedback tool for me. Also, structuring my diet, sleep, exercise, meditation etc. is crucial. When I’m feeling good, this is easy to do. But the real power in those things is in the follow through on your darkest days… they may seem extremely difficult or feel like a complete waste of time, but forcing yourself to do them is in and of itself incredibly empowering. This I think is the most important aspect to healing… knowing that you have power over your own destiny. Hang in there. Continue to do the right things for yourself and this too shall pass.

          Mindy. Thank you also for your kind words.

          Mark

          • EC Says:

            Hi Mark,
            Thanks for your advice and kind words. I totally agree with the importance of diet and exercise. I am doing all of them except the Yoga. Sometimes it is hard to force myself to do my daily walk and swim, especially, when a wave hit me. But I know I have to do it. I thought about the mood log, I did that for a while in the early days of my anxiety disorder/depression. Have stopped that since I stopped my med. May be I should pick that up again.
            EC

          • mindy Says:

            mindy Says:
            July 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm
            Hi EC. I am weaning off the Lexapro ,not working for me.. I have been off the Paxil since October…. put on Lexapro to help, but my dr. does not think it is working.. I was in the Univ. Of Miami Mood Disorder Hospital about 3 weeks ago and they put me on Zoloft, which I can not stand.. I am weaning of from 25 mg now down to less then 12.5 mg.. the doctors had a meeting today and I go see my dr on Tuesday to get the results. of blood work, scans etc… EC this is the most horrible journey I have been on… Yes, I still get terrible feelings of gloom, dread anxiety… crying.. etc…. I hate this more then life…. I do take the Clozapine for anxiety… it helps.. this all started after I had cervical cancer 18 years ago and went into a deep depression and anxiety…. I get the head fogginess, dizzy sometimes and all that you get.. I also do have windows of feeling good, BUT when I feel bad again even thinking about how good I was doing does not help…. I just pray and hope each day I will get by and sometimes go minute by minute,….. so keep the faith I pray for all of us.. let me know how your doing and James is a great help on this website… best oxoxoxomindy

        • mindy Says:

          Hi EC. I am weaning off the Lexapro ,not working for me.. I have been off the Paxil since October…. put on Lexapro to help, but my dr. does not think it is working.. I was in the Univ. Of Miami Mood Disorder Hospital about 3 weeks ago and they put me on Zoloft, which I can not stand.. I am weaning of from 25 mg now down to less then 12.5 mg.. the doctors had a meeting today and I go see my dr on Tuesday to get the results. of blood work, scans etc… EC this is the most horrible journey I have been on… Yes, I still get terrible feelings of gloom, dread anxiety… crying.. etc…. I hate this more then life…. I do take the Clozapine for anxiety… it helps.. this all started after I had cervical cancer 18 years ago and went into a deep depression and anxiety…. I get the head fogginess, dizzy sometimes and all that you get.. I also do have windows of feeling good, BUT when I feel bad again even thinking about how good I was doing does not help…. I just pray and hope each day I will get by and sometimes go minute by minute,….. so keep the faith I pray for all of us.. let me know how your doing and James is a great help on this website… best oxoxoxomindy

          • EC Says:

            Hi Mindy,
            I so feel for your pain and struggle. Praying for you ! I never thought life can be so difficult until my experience with anxiety disorder/depression and all the garbage medications I got from my doctor. I remember Jesus told His disciples “In this world you will have many troubles, but take heart, I have overcomed the world.” Everyday I have to remind myself that our Creator will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what. Hang in there, we will cross the finish line one day.

            EC

          • mindy Says:

            I pray everyday for that day!!!!!!!!!!!!! G-d bless you too…. oxoxoox mindy

  53. EC Says:

    Hi Mindy,
    How are you ? Just want to let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. You encouraged me a lot when I first joined this forum, and I am so blessed. I pray that you may be able to start weaning off from all the medication soon and restoring your life.
    I hate to say this, but since my episodes with anti-depressants and benzo in the past 2.5 years, I have lost trust in the medical profession. My doctor told me many times I am the toughest case in his entire professional career, because I don’t response well to A/D and benzo drugs. I fell for this for a while and attempted to end my life so many times, thinking there was no hope for me. It was God’s intervention and His grace that I am still here today. Like so many other people before me who have suffered from A/D and benzo, I want to tell as many people as possible to think twice before diving into these poisons.
    I think I am finally turning the corners slowly as my symptoms have started to ease up. ( 6 months rapid tapering from Paxil and 2 months rapid tapering from Lorazepam). They are still there, crying for my attention, but I am getting better in managing them.
    Mindy, please hang in there. Better days will be ahead !!
    Your friend,
    EC

    • mindy Says:

      Hi Ec… so happy to hear that you are doing better!!!!!!!!!!! keep at it!!!!!!!!! I am so so , down to 10 mg of Lexapro and still take Clonazepam. I also am one of those rare people who have a hard time responding to AD… I was in Hospital for 5 days a mood disorder clinic and they did all kinds of tests, blood work etc.. seems I have a enzyme which effects AD…. I go back tomorrow for a full report…. We had a tragedy in my family three weeks ago today. My younger sister Jill passed away she had bronchitis and was on lots of meds.. she fell and passed out and went to heaven I am so broken over this.. I cry everyday …….. so this is making my anxiety worse…. I hope and pray to feel better with each day.. you do the same… please keep in touch oxoxooxoxoxmindy

      • EC Says:

        Hi Mindy,
        I am so sorry about your sister. Please take good care of yourself. I hope you will have a good report on your enzyme. I am not a doctor, can’t and shouldn’t give you any professional advice. But have you considered trying to go without any A/D or benzo. I have found that I am getting better everyday since I weaned off from these meds. Not only they were not helping me, they were actually making it worse.
        God bless you !

        EC

        • mindy Says:

          Hi EC, thanks for our words… yes I am not going to go on any more ad at this time.. I am going to try Hormone Replacement for a while to see if this helps. I have to take the Clonazepam because it does help with my anxiety attacks I miss my sister Jill everyday… please keep in touch xooxoxoxomindy

      • npanth Says:

        Mindy, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard to deal with those emotions while you’re withdrawaling. I’m thinking of you, and wishing you the very best.

  54. amethyst327 Says:

    Wow and thanks to everyone who has shared here. Ive been on paxil for about 20 yrs with the exception of 2 yrs off about 10 yrs ago. I just started tapering down on July 27th from 30 to 25 and did well so i just reduced to 20 a couple of days ago. I know now i am in it for the lonnggg haul and im so glad i found this blog because im
    overzealous to get off and this reminded me how careful i have to be. The dizziness and nauseau started yesterday. I feel the “sink” today and i am trying to prepare myself for the plethora of symotoms yet to come. I pray to get tnroug this safely. Good luck to anyone reading this.

    • mindy Says:

      The best of luck to you AMethyst327.. it is the hardest thing to do I am still going day by day…… but KNOW will be better !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! stay strong oxoxoxooxox mindy

    • npanth Says:

      That’s one of the really mystifying things about SSRI. Some people can start and stop them with no problems. Others have all kinds of problems tapering. Other people can get off once or twice, but then have problems. Good luck tapering slowly. Slow down or stop if your symptoms increase. It’s better to go “too slowly” rather than get symptoms.

  55. lancia Says:

    This site is very helpful. I have been on 20 mg of Paxil for 12 years and recently began a taper because of side effects, mostly weight gain. My doctor suggested taking 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in a high quality fish oil (Nordic Naturals) a day to help me taper. I began the taper in March, decreasing dose by 2.5 mg and holding that dose for 4 weeks. With some minor deviations after reaching 10 mg, I am now down to 8 mg and plan to decrease doses by 2 mg each 4 weeks. This seems to be working well with me. I have noticed no withdrawal symptoms. Maybe it’s the high dose of fish oil, or maybe it’s the relatively slow taper. But the important thing is, it’s working. I started the taper by cutting the 20 mg pills, but now I am mixing the pills with water, which allows a more careful dosing. For example, I add a 20 mg pill to 100 ml of water, and take 40 ml of the mixture to give 8 mg of Paxil. I will continue this method down to 6, 4, and 2 mg, I am hoping.

  56. Brittany Says:

    I started the generic paxil one month ago after a year on celexa and wellbutrin. In those 30 days I was irritable, restless, and experienced restless leg syndrome. After the thirty days my doctor switched me from paxil back to wellbutrin , since i had no side effects while previously on it, I was told that since i was switching directly to another pill, there should be no withdrawl symptoms. 5 days later I am now covered from my back to my chest in an awful itch, dizzy, nauseous, back pain, sweating, and headaches. I don’t know how long this can go on for but I’m contacting the doctor tomorrow.

  57. Julz Says:

    Thanks to Cannabis, I was able to stop taking paxil as it made most of the side effects dissappear. I am now happy and off this awful med that paxil is!
    Smoke weed guys… It’ll change your lives!

  58. Melissa Says:

    After reading several replies, I now know why I am feeling this way. I have been on Paxil 20 mg. for about 13 years and increased to 40 mg 5 years ago. My doctor is weaning me off and in 4 weeks I went from 40 mg. to 10mg and I am on my 3rd day at 0 mg. A year ago I added 150 mg of Wellbutrin and soon will get off that as well. I have the itchiness (mainly at night), brain zaps and in the last 3 days, nausea, headaches and hot and cold sweats (flu like symptoms). I hope I don’t get anymore symptoms. I take a multiple vitamins, B-12, Fish Oil and Flaxseed (early menopause) so I hope it helps. I feel like I am on a rollercoaster, feeling sick then feeling better then feeling sick all day long and it has only been 3 days at 0 mg. Is there anyone who no longer has any symptoms from getting off this stuff!! I would like to see the end of the tunnel.

  59. lvsage Says:

    Hi Everyone! Just popped onto this blog while researching what the effects of going back on Paxil might be. I took it for nearly 1o years for depression & anxiety, which I have experienced all my life. It did make me feel better, but I decided that I wanted to see if I still really was depressed and anxious. My doctor (GP) encouraged me very enthusiastically to get off the Paxil. He thinks that antidepressants are “poison” in the system. I was taking 20mg of generic Paxil every AM. He suggested starting the withdrawal by taking 1/2 a pill every day for 2 wks, then 1/2 pill every other day for 2 weeks. This was obviously far too quick! It was a blessing that that I was (& still am) unemployed during that time because although I didn’t experience any emotional symptoms, I did begin the “Paxil flu” a few days into the withdrawal: motion sickness was the most prominent of these and I also experienced a form of “restless leg syndrome”. After a couple of weeks, I contacted my doctor who told me that I should taper off more slowly and even finish out the 30 count bottle if need be. I continued a slow withdrawal, eventually taking a 1/4 of a pill every two days until the bottle was empty. The physical symptoms dissipated after a few weeks, but ever since I’ve been Paxil free (about 5 weeks), I have been very depressed and anxious again. My friends and family are very concerned about me and are pretty much insisting that I go back on the Paxil (or some other antidepressant) as soon as possible. I have tried a few other AD, such as Wellbutrin & Effexor, both of which put me in a very bad place-complete disconnect from the world. I have read that once you get completely off of Paxil, it will never quite work as effectively again if you start it up again. Does anybody know anything about this? Is it too soon to consider starting an AP again? Thanks and good luck everyone!! WE ARE NOT ALONE!!

    • mindy Says:

      Hello, I wish I had an answer for you.. I was on Paxil for 17 years. then stopped working….for anxiety and depression.. I was put on Lexapro.. does not work…. I am now taking 25 mg of Exeffor one night then back to 10 mg of Lexapro for about a week to see then go on the Exeffor….. I hate taking these meds…. but have terrible doom, dread, fear…I hated Wellbution . My dr. did day that if you are off Paxil for awhile and re start it is supposed to work.. but who really knows???? Please let me know how you are doing!!! I p ray for all of us…..Mindys253@aol.com

      • lvsage Says:

        Thanks for replying, Mindy!! I am debating whether to just call my GP and ask him to refill the Paxil RX or trying to talk to another doctor (that might know more about these things). I am in the process of trying to get signed up for a free insurance plan that they offer here in CA (MSI). If I do, I can have access to another doctor for free. Will keep you posted…

        • mindy Says:

          Your welcome, please keep me informed on how you are doing!!! This is the worst feeling in the universe!!!! Hope we all get better!!! stay strong!! mindy

  60. Catherine sebelin Says:

    Well, here I am again. After restarting lexapro I’m march and by September my gastritis was so bad ,had to go to psch doc. He took me off the 5mg lex and immediately started me on 1ml (4mg) prozac. Things have gotten a little testy so I called him, and he said it wasn’t withdrawal. Well guess what , I know what withdrawal is be causing of doing cold turkey. Well anyway I’m on day 23 of off lex and on prozac. Someone told me that 4 mg of prozac would not even touch the withdrawal symptoms, sooooo, I guess here we go again. I am hoping that the little bit of prozac dampens the withdrawal a bit. I am continuing to work pt, but the anexity and stomach issues are a bit heavy., can any one tell me if they went this route and the outcome. I really need some help on this one., thank you so much for anyone out there , that can give me some insite

    • Susan Says:

      I was prescribed 10 mgs. Of Paxil for Depression, now I take 20 mgs. I take it at night but omg. The next day I am soooo tired I sleep till noon I never do that and I’m groggy all day 2 night I decided no more I took have a dosage I will do that for a week , then I’ll do 5 mgs. For a week then none. I hate being tired all the time and since I started Paxil I don’t feel any kind of emotions!!

      • catherine Says:

        Well here I am again off Prozac for 7 days now. Doc took me right off no weening. I am in the hell of my life again. I guess he did it that way because I ended up in the er.. This is not fun , and don’t let anyone tell you you have less withdrawal coming off Prozac. I’m living proof of that. So hear we go again. I really want to get thru this but oh my, yesterday was horrible, pain stomach cramps and crying, and todays thanksgiving, what a way to spend the day. Anyway any suggestions would be appreciated. Doc said exercise, right when you can’t breath from the anexity. Again they have no clue.

  61. lancia Says:

    As I said above, I began tapering from 20 mg of Paxil last March of this year (2013). I started the taper by cutting the 20 mg pills, but as I reached 10 mg, I used the water-taper method, which allowed a more careful dosing. For example, I added a 20 mg pill to 100 ml of water, and took 40 ml of the mixture to give 8 mg of Paxil. I continued this method by decreasing dose by 2 mg each month until I reached 6 mg. Then I tapered by 1 mg each two-week period. I finished the last dose yesterday. The only clear withdrawal effects have been slight dizziness when I move my head, and I feel these effects only the first few days after changing doses. As I said above, I have been taking high-quality fish oil throughout. I think those having trouble with tapering may have success by supplementing with fish oil. The key seems to be making sure the fish oil has (1) at least 60% EPA to 40% DHA and (2) at least 1000 mg per day of EPA. I now take 3 capsules per day of the relatively inexpensive Vitacost Mega EFA, which provides the desired ratio and amount of EPA.

  62. Marilyn Murphy Says:

    There are so MANY people who don’t find out about w/d & slow taper until it’s too late. Many have followed the advice of their doctors and had their a/d changed or offered antipyschotic medication for their w/d symptoms. Severe GI issues have arisen due to chopping and changing of medication. So my question is: even with GI issues and some time after coming off original a/d is reinstatement of the original a/d the best option for this group of people?

    • npanth Says:

      SSRI are very similar to each other, but do have different effects. It’s usually best to reinstate on the same SSRI. Med swapping can bring on existing withdrawal symptoms, as well as startup symptoms for the new drug.

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  64. Lee VonPreussen Says:

    I stopped taking Paxil about 7 days ago Cold Turkey. My Doctor said it would be alright. Yesterday on August 8, 2014 I woke up and discovered I could no longer speak or utter a sound. I went to the Emergency Room at my local area Hospital and had a Brain Scan, Blood work and some other tests. The Doctors are clueless about what is wrong and are clueless about the dangerous effects Paxil withdrawl can cause.
    I have been doing a lot of research on Paxil and it seems that most of Europe finds it to be a very dangerous Drug. Only the FDA in the United States still allows this Drug to be prescribed without any warning.

  65. ninau Says:

    Hi im new to this community how can I safely taper paxil cr 25mg and klonopin .25mg together.im suffering a lot coz I stopped cold turkey both these meds.about an yr ago I had panic attack twice,palpitations I never heard of ,I was hospitalised and put on these two meds.after one yr of taking these avd I thought my palpitaions were gone and therfore cold turkied.after 2 months of w/d I now been facing these w/d symptoms im scared to go to sleep the palpitaions with some kind of pressure in my head and hot and cold chills wake me up and therefore I havent slept for days .after reading many such cases should I take these meds again and do the tapering process or should I wait for these symptoms to go away.what im fearing is that as Icold turkeyed will these symptoms ever go or if I take these meds again(which I dont wanna take ever) will it be safe again to have these and if its ok then will the tapering eliminate all the symptoms.im v.v.scared plz someone help me

    • Lee v.Preußen Says:

      I am not a Medical Doctor but grew up with a Grandmother who practiced medicine and also several Cousins.
      I myself wouldn’t start the Medications again but instead explain to your Doctor the symptoms you are having. He/She maybe able to prescribe something to help with the withdrawl.
      I suffered a mini stroke (TIA) and have had a rough time Several ER visits and lots of Tests. Please ask your Doctor to help you.
      My Prayers are with you! Lee

  66. Jo Kent Says:

    Hi there

    I’m a twenty year old female and I’ve been on anti depressants for 12 years. I started off on Zoloft but by the age of n/eleven I started taking Paroxetine (40mg) instead. What I’ve noticed is that I constantly feel tired and have no motivation to do anything. I used to be very good at drawing before I started taking medication and know I no longer draw at all. I worry that this drug could be stifling my creativity. I just can’t seem to find the motivation to do anything- all I want to do is sleep. Could this all be due to the medication I’m taking? I’m just not sure about getting off it because I worry I’ll go downhill. But I do feel like this numbness isn’t something I should be feeling?


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