Waves and Windows in SSRI Withdrawal



Tapering off of an SSRI can be very difficult.  It’s not like other ailments that have defined timelines and symptoms.  When a doctor treats a broken bone, there are long established milestones in recovery.  SSRI withdrawal is different.  Each case seems to be unique, with different length and severity of symptoms.  One of the frustrating parts of withdrawal is the way that symptoms fluctuate over time.  People call them waves and windows.  At first, withdrawal is unremitting.  There seems to be no respite from the symptoms.  After some time, which varies from person to person, symptoms begin to break up into cycles.  There are times when symptoms aren’t as bad, and other times when they are quite severe.  It’s not a universal pattern.  Some patients find that they have constant symptoms that slowly go away.  The wave/window pattern seems to be the majority, though.


Waves describe those times when symptoms are more severe.  Symptoms can be physical or emotional.  It feels like getting sick.  When you start to get a cold, you can feel little changes that presage the illness.  A sore throat or headache, then the full symptoms of the cold start in a day or two.  A wave has similar precursors.  Usually, physical symptoms are the first sign that a wave is coming.  A stiff neck, headaches, and dizziness are some of the symptoms.  A day or two later, the emotional symptoms become more pronounced.  These symptoms include obsessive or compulsive thoughts, depression, or anxiety.  It can be helpful to break waves up into different parts.  Knowing that each part of a wave is coming, and what to expect next, can make the whole process easier to handle.  The reason we’re so adept at knowing the cycle of a cold is that we’ve had them off and on all our lives.  we’re aware of the subtle changes in our bodies that tell us that we’re getting sick.  In the same way, it takes some experience before you can separate the parts of wave from each other.  It takes still more time to develop ways of dealing with each part of a wave.

Physical symptoms of a wave are hard to mitigate.  There isn’t much you can do about general joint pain, headaches, or dizziness.  You can try analgesics like aspirin or ibuprofen, but those aches are fairly resistant to those kinds of pain killers.  Dizziness is likewise difficult to deal with.  Withdrawal dizziness isn’t just something that happens when you stand up or spin around.  It’s hard to believe that you can feel dizzy when you lie down, but it happens in withdrawal.  Try to stay as still as possible until it gets better.  Try to use the physical symptoms as a sign that there are new symptoms coming that you need to deal with.

There isn’t really any way to avoid the emotional symptoms of a wave.  There is no way to “suck it up and get over it”.  Our minds create our reality in a fluid way.  The anxiety, depression, and obsessions of a wave are just as real as the screen in front of you.  The fact that our rational mind would recognize that it’s not real or overblown doesn’t mean much when you’re experiencing it.  That’s the essence of a wave.  It’s not rational or thoughtful.  Obsessive thoughts can be about almost anything from the benign to the surreal.  Self harm can suddenly seem like a rational idea.  In normal thought, the entire spectrum of emotions are right below the surface.  When you’re cut off in traffic, you have several choices.  You can ignore it, respond verbally or visually, speed up, slow down.  Even the psychotic is present in that moment.  We’ve become so accustomed to suppressing psychotic thoughts that we don’t even realize that the idea of ramming the other car didn’t rise up to our conscious minds.  In withdrawal, those thoughts that would normally be dismissed without a thought gain the same weight in our conscious minds as socially acceptable thoughts.  The only way to mitigate the emotional symptoms of a wave is to be mindful of the difference between normal thought and the unnatural power that irrational thought has in a wave.  It’s very hard to pick apart which thoughts are your normal responses and which ones are caused by the wave.  They mingle together in a chaotic way.  That’s what makes your reactions to a window just as important as your reactions to a wave.


Windows are periods of time when symptoms are not as pronounced as they were before.  At first, it feels like it’s over… you beat withdrawal, you’re free.  That’s the cruel joke of SSRI withdrawal.  Windows and waves are intertwined together.  The way withdrawal works for most people is that the windows slowly, ever so slowly, get longer, and the waves get shorter.  A window is more than a vacation from symptoms, though.  It is a huge relief to have some time off from feeling miserable.  Savor the good times in withdrawal, because that is what you have to look forward to in recovery.  More than relief, though, windows are an opportunity to prepare yourself to deal with waves in a better way.  Try to pay attention to how you feel.  Examine the way you think, the way you respond to things.  Try to recognize the way that you automatically choose responses and thoughts.  Emotionally, a window is a return to the normal way of parsing thoughts.  Instead of allowing all thoughts to rise to consciousness, you mind is automatically tuning out undesirable thoughts based on your personality.  Paying attention to the process during a window makes it easier to impose that same kind of structure during the next wave.  It’s that mindfulness that you’ll need during the next wave.  After a while, you can tell when a thought is out of character, and consciously dismiss it.

Withdrawal is a process of alternating good times and bad.  The more you’re able to mitigate the bad with mindfulness, the shorter the waves become.  Our minds often work in feedback loops.  One thought leads to another through association, creating the pattern of our minds.  Mindfulness allows us to shape the pattern to a certain extent.  The more you can recognize that a harmful thought is just part of a wave, and not a normal part of your normal mind, the faster you’ll get to the next window.  Eventually, that last window becomes reality, and the next wave never comes.  The mindfulness you’ve developed getting there will remain, though.


102 Responses to “Waves and Windows in SSRI Withdrawal”

  1. MindyS253@aol.com Says:

    James, I hate this so much.. the waves I get,….. are awful,, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this article . It is a life saver…… best… mindy

  2. Catherine sebelin Says:

    Hi , been off the meds now this will start week 7 . Yesterday and today are so bad, I was hoping by this time to really see some progress. My doc said 3 month, hope I can make it to that point. I am hoping that he is pretty well on target at this point. Anything you can tell me will be so helpful. I am trying so hard to stay on track but , days like today make it so difficult, I guess I just head reassurance at this point. Thank you so much for your time on this matter

    • npanth Says:

      The length of time that withdrawal symptoms are at their worst varies from person to person. I think it depends on a lot of factors. The dosage you weaned off of, how long you were taking it, your personal sensitivity to meds.

      My doctor dismissed the idea that Paxil could cause withdrawal symptoms and gave me a rather precipitous tapering plan to get off 40mg/day of Paxil. Instead of the two month schedule he gave me, I decided to extend that to 5 months. That was too fast, too. Now, I taper 10% of my previous dose, and only taper when I feel stable enough to do it.

      The best way to taper off of an SSRI or benzo is to do it very slowly, much slower than the official schedules that most doctors or therapists provide. It’s frustrating, because I had to become medically non compliant with my doctor to start tapering properly. When I went to him with my ultra slow tapering plan, he just gave me the same tapering plan he originally gave me. It felt like he thought that he was coddling a difficult patient who was working out a delusion. After seeing the failure of his plan, and the effectiveness of slow tapering, I’m starting to think that the delusion is his, not mine. That, in itself, is a serious disconnect from the unquestioning trust I’ve had in doctors my whole life.

      • Catherine sebelin Says:

        Thank you so much for the reply. I think I was a little vague on my question. I have been totally off meds since December 30, 2012. I am now starting 7 weeks . Yes I weened off in two months, and my dose was 12.5 mg while taking it. That’s what worked for me. I guess I am sensitive to meds since I only needed that amount to work. I am taking fish oil ( no brain zaps) vitamin b12 vitamin b6 folic acid , vitamin d3 with calcium. This has helped tremendously , but still have major issues. My doc said to figure on at least 3 months, for issues to resolve. I hope he right, get bad depressive episodes , hoping this will pass , normally very happy even with aches and pains. I respect your knoeledge on this and feel your the one I want to count on for the answers. Knoeledge is everything and you have it. Thank you so much again for hearing me out and being concerned.

        • npanth Says:

          I don’t mean to frighten you with this post. It frightened me when I first heard it. I know that the times involved in slow tapering can be very daunting when you’re feeling withdrawal symptoms. It’s not as bad as it seems, though. Yes, it does take a long time to get off these drugs, but it really is worth it in the end. Also, symptoms are not uniform for the whole time you’re tapering. It is the sudden change in dosage that seems to cause symptoms to be so severe. Even if you do a rapid taper, things do tend to smooth out as time goes by.

          A 10% reduction plan starting on 1-1-2013 with a starting dose of 12.5mg/day would run for about 18 months. The amount of time that people need between tapers does vary, though. The schedule is an approximation I started tapering from 40mg/day in June of 2011. I’m down to 6mg/day right now (2-11-2013) Since I tapered too quickly at first, that slowed down my tapering schedule. I had to reinstate and stay at 10mg/day for several months before I was stable enough to start tapering again.

          I’ve met many people who get symptom relief from supplements like fish oil or vitamins. They didn’t seem to help me very much, but I won’t discount them based on my own experience. If they are helping with symptoms that’s great. Anything that helps minimize the symptoms can’t be bad. I would stick with vitamins and fish oil, though. I’m a little hesitant about some of the other supplements like 5-htp or tryptophan precursors. Those compounds act on the brain in similar fashions as SSRI. It seems like that may be substituting one problem for another. Since the brain is adjusting to the lack of Serotonin reuptake, taking another compound that blocks neurotransmitter reuptake may prolong the problem.

          • Catherine sebelin Says:

            Thank you very much on your information. I’ll just hang in there and keep plugging away and lots of praying. All things do come to pass. Again thank you

          • npanth Says:

            Hang in there. Withdrawal sucks, but it is a finite crisis. Even if it takes longer than you think it will, it’s shorter than you thought it could be when it’s done.

        • Liz Says:

          I would give it three to six months

        • joanna taylor-maynard Says:

          Hi came across your website. I came off slowly sertraline exactly 3 months ago. I still have really bad waves and small windows. I get it.in.my head its just me and I got to live with it now and then I get a window and I feel hope then wave comes crashing down and I get negative thoughts tears anxiety. I was on sertraline five years ago up to 200mg for post natal depression. I’m starting to give up and maybe try another drug like proactive just to try feel norm again. Not sure whether to keep trying. I not called doctor as know they put me straight back on. My husband keeps saying early days as it took six months mini to be kinda norm when on them. Help advice please. A desperate lady at mo. Jo

          • Jill Says:

            Hi there is realize this is a very delayed response, but I’m new to this sight. I too was put on zoloft for PPD. Was on it for a year. Came off, 4 more the later crashed hard and went back on for 2 months and then came off again. I’ve now been off for 10 months and am still really getting the waves and Windows. My windows can last month’s at a time, but unfortunately my wave usually does too. The waves are getting less severe I have to admit. The best part is I have complete deep love for my daughter now, and not even a wave and waver that feeling. Keep up the good fight. I truly believe these drugs have done some damage in our minds and we are just gonna have to be patient and hopeful as it continues to heal.
            All the best.

      • Lou Says:

        You’ve hit the nail on the head. Drs have absolutely no clue as to the reality of the difficulties of withdrawal and usually see withdrawal symptoms as a return of your original issues.

    • jbishop2002 Says:

      Catherine can you report on your progress? Was your doctor right about timing?

    • Ginnie jenkins Says:

      I feel the same way!!! It’s so disheartening to feel good then bam. It’s back to misery. Sometimes idk how much more I can take. I’m 7 weeks off of effexor. I stopped abruptly die to side effect. I WAS ONLY ON IT FOR 6 WEEKS!!! UHG

  3. Deborah Davis Says:

    Came to your site by way of searching for success stories in weaning off Paxil onto anther SSRI. I have been on an SSRI (Prozac for 4+ years and then Paxil for nearly 12) for a bit over 16 years. The started them after dealing with 3 years and chronic insomnia (likely due to depression) with Ambien following open heart surgery in my early 30s. The open heart surgery in the early 90s was for an aortic aneurysm that was felt to be a birth defect. Drs. I saw when the insomnia started in the months following the surgery recommended ADs but at that point in my life I felt depression was a character flaw. I was so wrong. After 3 years of the insomnia which I just couldn’t take anymore (serious thoughts of suicide) I finally relented and started taking an AD (Prozac). Those drugs “saved” my life over those years. I’m a now a low level executive and very physically active (love cycling). Over the following 15 years, in two separate attempts to discontinue an SSRI (first on the Prozac and the 2nd on the Paxil thinking I didn’t need them; again I was so wrong). I was unsuccessful. It’s likely that I need to be on something regardless and of course the withdrawal makes it only worse. There is a very strong family history of depression and obsessive worry.

    In July of this past year after starting a new senior role at a new company, I experienced a “breakthrough” in anxiety that just 7 months later I now characterize as experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I had slightly feared over the previous year the 20 mg of Paxil just wasn’t as effective as it had been but it wasn’t stopping me from being quite functional albeit I was in a less stressful environment during that time. In July with the breakthrough anxiety from the new role, in working with a PDoc, I increased my Paxil to 30 mg and within 6-8 weeks was balanced and functioning well. In late January quite by accident, for 5 days I took 45 mg of Paxil versus my standard 30 (thought they were 20 mg tabs and continued taking 1.5 tabs a day without realizing the pharmacy had given me 30 mg tabs instead of 20 mg). So I’m experiencing withdrawal from the 45 mg. One PDoc I was able to get into right away (meaning he’s not very good) told me the withdrawal would take 4-5 weeks given I was taking amounts above 30 mg. My pharmacist and a 2nd PDoc whom I saw yesterday (Dr Greenman rated one of the best in the Phoenix area) said the withdrawal should only take about 9 days. I’m now at 16 days and not doing very well. I’ve used excuses to work from home over the last week and half. I super commute flying from my home in Phoenix on Mon. morning and working in the greater Denver area from Mon-Thurs. I typically fly back Thursday night.

    My current symptoms are ringing in the ears, at times extreme anxiety (but when your life seems to be falling apart some of that is warranted), and insomnia; either unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. Dr. Greeman is most concerned about getting sleep regulated over the coming 2 weeks and seeing how I re-stabilize at the 30 mg . To help with the sleep I’m taking Trazadone to fall asleep if necessary (25 mg – likely need to go to 50) and when I wake up after 2-3 hrs (which I think occurs in part due to the very active dreaming) I’m now adding 1.75 mg of Ambien to fall back asleep. This morning I of course feel a bit drugged, a bit less of the anxiety but of course very depressed.

    I have a 3rd PDoc appointment on Friday (another best of Phoenix; a Dr. Aubrey Joseph) to get his opinion. At that point I’ll have 3 opinions and my own of course given what I’ve learned about the severity of the withdrawal these drugs can cause. What I do know is that the depth of the anxiety and the physical symptoms I have experienced coming off Paxil are far in extreme to what I remember during the three years following the surgery and the withdrawal from Prozac. I don’t recall having real full blown panic attacks until withdrawal or breakthrough with Paxil.

    Given how I feel today, regardless of whether the withdrawal from the Paxil was to supposed to take 9 days or in reality it was going to take 28+ days; I don’t anticipate getting back to the relatively carefree balance I felt before the inadvertent mis-dosaze. I think the Paxil is waning and some type of breakthrough of withdrawal anxiety was inevitable. Given my history and how relatively easily I’ve been treatable in the past Dr. Greenman feels this is a “bump” in the road and that managing this episode is highly doable. We’ve talked about likely needing to wean from Paxil onto another SSRI. I know this is just borrowing time; but I’m willing to make the tradeoff if it works. He talked about the standard approach of tapering from Paxil while ramping up on the new SSRI which will likely be Zoloft. I’m also pretty sure I won’t be able to do this without very noticeable performance issues at work. Which will mean taking a short term leave – at which point the “cat will be out of the bag” about my depression/anxiety and I’ll likely have to resign because finding a suitable role that allows me to work remote is unlikely although I do work for a very good company? I’m very sad about this. I actually really like what I do and like the company I work for but the level of responsibility/stress given my mental handicap may be undoable. I’m still embarrassed about my handicap with depression.

    I’ve been reading many of the boards over the last 2 weeks but haven’t posted on any of them because they didn’t seem as knowledgeable as this one. James, I am extremely grateful for your site.

    I welcome constructive comments from all. I will continue to post in that it may help someone else, who at some time in the future may come to this site and will may get comfort or benefit from my story/experiences.

  4. kate Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for your very helpful posts on withdrawal from SSRIs. I’m about half way through slowly weaning off sertraline – started by introducing half-tablets one day a week, increasing to seven, now I’m missing out days – and have started noticing that I have less control over my moods. Anger and tearfulness seem to come out of nowhere and I can’t shake them off, even if my ‘rational’ mind knows it’s not how I’d normally react. I was starting to worry that this was just what my moods were going to be like until I read your blog.

    I’m planning on maintaining my current dose for a few weeks to give my brain more time to adjust but, in the mean time, do you have any tips/resources I could use to help me to practice mindfulness? Are there things I could tell myself (e.g. mantras) or other techniques you’d recommend?


    • c1clista Says:


      I apologize for not responding sooner. I didn’t see your post until this morning. I can only share with you my personal experience as well as what I’ve read regarding tapering off short-acting SSRIs which I believe sertraline is.

      First if you are not working with a compassionate and knowledgable PDoc to act as your guide in tapering I strongly encourage you do so. Find someone that doesn’t go strictly by the drug company’s literature or what they learned in school but someone who has worked with real-world patients tapering off SSRI or NSRIs. The good ones are frequently hard to get into quickly but they are worth it. Plus they will be there for you if you need a little additional help once you’re off the SSRI.

      Short acting SSRIs are supposedly in and out of your system in less than 24 hrs. That’s why it will likely be better for you to cut each days dosage by the same small amount (10% seems typical) versus experience a 50% reduction one day a week or every other day of a week. That’s a lot of ups/downs. Make the taper a gradual linear slope. I would definitely stay at your current dose but keep it the same every day. When you’re feeling confident, then go down in dosage (small cut) but keep it consistent every day, until you are ready for the next taper. Give yourself months to do this. You don’t need to be in a hurry.

      As far as mantras go, reminding yourself that you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms and not necessarily emotions/feelings that would be normal for you off of an SSRI is likely the easiest one. I actually try to compartmentalize the negative thoughts and label them withdrawal and focus as much as I can on the good thoughts that know I’m going to be better and that it’s just a matter of time. And beyond that, for me at least, is distracting myself and not ruminating (which is my weak point) on the situation. Although certainly not easy, focusing on work tasks, house tasks and getting some level of exercise are all things that help. Don’t set those bars too high – just enough to get through the task/goal and feel a sense of accomplishment.

      Also – do not underestimate the affect not keeping your blood-sugar staple throughout the day will have. During tampering it seems the central nervous system is hyper sensitive to this. I have to make sure I eat something (banana, yogurt, peanut better) a nice combination of carbs and protein every 3-4 hours. Because once the blood sugar drops it will feel just like a panic attack or increased depression.

      Hang in there you’re on the right path. Take it slow and easy and find a good guide to lead and support you through it.


      • npanth Says:

        I second what Ciclista said. Many doctors recommend large dosage drops and skipping days while tapering. That worsens withdrawal symptoms. Make slow, steady tapers and don’t skip days. Instead of following a calendar schedule to plan your tapering, go by how you feel.. After each taper, wait until you have gone through a couple cycles of windows and waves before tapering again. The last wave before a taper should be so mild that you barely feel it.
        It’s very hard to describe how mindfulness helps in withdrawal. It’s a very subjective and personal thing to examine your thoughts. It begins with recognizing that a series of thoughts are obsessive or outside you normal thoughts. Then, try to replace that thought with something else, or dismiss it each time it floats to the surface of your mind. It doesn’t work in the beginning. Withdrawal creates obsessive thoughts of such power that they are very hard to control. In combination with a slower tapering schedule, though, mindfulness can have a big impact on your quality of life. I hope you feel better soon.

    • aza Says:

      Hope you’re feeling better now. From my personal experience, If these feelings are still continuing avoid mantra meditation or meditating on a single object, otherwise known as Samadha meditation. Long blocked feelings are now coming to the surface and you don’t need Samadha meditation to avoid dealing with them. The best thing for your condition is Vipassana (Insight) meditation. This will help you to experience those feelings in a controlled and systematic way and then release them. It is an effective purification process. Just Google “Vipassana” and enjoy the journey. Goodluck Kate!

      • npanth Says:

        Thanks aza, I’ve been reading about different techniques for myself and when others ask for advice. I’ll read up on Vipassana.

  5. mkgardengirl Says:

    I am writing to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me through the hell I’ve experienced with SSRI withdrawal. Had been on rather low-dose (10 mg) Celexa for close to 10 years and I tapered even more slowly than my FP doc suggested, although in retrospect even that was too fast. Of course I didn’t know then what I know now. My last dose was in early July of last year. For the first few weeks I didn’t really have any problems at all and I figured “Wow, that was pretty easy.” Then I slowly began to notice an increase in irritability (toward everything) and a huge tendency to get teary-eyed over things that normally wouldn’t affect me at all…..even paintings and commercials on TV. I thought it was curious, although I didn’t really relate it to the med withdrawal at that point. Then came some bouts of sadness, nervousness and insomnia. It wasn’t until mid November that I got blind-sided by a bout of depression worse than anything I’d had before, which seemed to alternate with episodes of over-the-top anxiety. This is the point at which I started researching SSRI withdrawal, as these symptoms were totally new to me. I couldn’t believe all the info I found on it, but no website described with absolute clarity the specifics of the process like yours did. As I read through the website, all I could think was “This is EXACTLY what I’m going through.” And you know all too well how helpful that type of discovery is. I experienced the windows and waves and have been noticing a definite leveling-off in degree of the symptoms over the past several weeks. Of course I’m hoping at 7+ months out that I’m beginning to exit the worst of the withdrawal period……..but I’m not convinced yet and I have prepared myself for yet another return of these nasty symptoms. Now, however, I know what is happening and I know I can handle whatever this miserable process sends my way…..thanks to you. I also want to encourage others going through this to hang in there because it may be a long time, but it does get better and you will feel so much stronger when you begin to heal. Again, thank you so much for all the wonderful help, understanding and support.

    • npanth Says:

      Thanks so much. I’m glad it helped. I’m starting to think that the fear of having another wave is a meta symptom of withdrawal. In a weird way, we almost become accustomed to the symptoms… even start to rely on them a little bit. That would sound insane to someone who hasn’t gone through it, but it’s true. After the chaos of withdrawal, there’s a (comfort isn’t the right word) to having something happen regularly, even if it’s bad.

      Like you, I more than doubled my doctor’s schedule, but found that it was way too fast. That fear of reverting back to a wave does fade away slowly. I noticed it after I had gone through a couple of short waves. 7-8 months after reinstating and starting a sloooow taper, my waves have become much milder than they were before. It took me a long time to recognize the bigger pattern between waves and windows and realize that the waves were getting shorter/milder, and the windows were getting longer/better. I needed a lot of intrinsic reassuring that the pattern would continue, and not revert back to the unrelenting wave I went through for so long.

      I think it’s the same process that causes depression in social anxiety. A person feels awkward in social settings, which causes frustration, which leads to depression. In a similar way, withdrawal waves cause and lead to depression, which causes fear of relapse. The difference is that it’s caused by drug withdrawal, not a normal mental process. It’s very hard for doctors to tell the difference between normal anxiety and withdrawal anxiety in the short time they have to consult with patients. So, it falls back on the patient to figure it out for themselves. It’s too bad, we don’t have the advantage of experience and training to deal with this sort of thing, but the current medical world just doesn’t account for that kind of in depth diagnosis.

      • mkgardengirl Says:

        That is exactly right. I find it offensive that almost all of the advice from the medical community implies that if you experience these horrible, protracted withdrawal symptoms it’s simply because you’ve done something wrong…..if you had weaned correctly in the first place you should be fine. And if you’re not fine then you are most likely having a recurrence of the original depression/anxiety/whatever. The denial is very widespread and very alarming. Given the cavalier way in which these drugs are dispensed, I would think there has to be a huge epidemic of people encountering these withdrawal symptoms. I sure hope the medical world is paying attention.

        • npanth Says:

          The similarity between withdrawal symptoms and other psychiatric problems compounds the problem. When a doctor who only talks to each patient for a few minutes tries to make a diagnosis, they don’t have enough information to recognize withdrawal. My doctor actually told me that I had a new psychosis when I went to him in withdrawal. His only answer was a new prescription for new drugs. If I had followed his advice, I’d be on a fistful of pills by now. I didn’t start the new prescription. I can see how patients who go to their doctors for help during withdrawal wind up in ever darker spirals of drug use. Instead, I’m steadily improving.

          Doctors have more faith in the pills than they do in their patients, to the detriment of both. Patients trust doctors less, and doctors dismiss their patients.

          • Christina Says:

            Firstly Thankyou so much for your blog, it is so so vital. That is exactly it. Docs should know we are in withdrawal and before tapering tell us that we will Bein withdrawal. They do not and we have no imformationnof what to expect. Then they falsely diagnose withdrawal with a new episode of our ilness, and in your case , try and give us more new tablets.that is awfull. As you say the docs have only a few mintues for us patients. Good that there are people like you who help us. All the best to all.

  6. full report Says:

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the good work!

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  8. mkgardengirl Says:

    Just a follow-up to my last post in February. Still experiencing the waves and windows with regularity. In my case the waves seem to vary in intensity rather than showing a steady decline. Very much enjoy the windows when they choose to make an appearance, although my tendency is to get too hopeful that I’m finally getting past this only to have my hopes dashed when a wave hits all over again. This has been very difficult. I am now 11 months out from a way-too-rapid taper from Celexa, which I took at the same (rather low) dose for close to 10 years, and I have not reinstated or taken anything else to alleviate the symptoms. Not sure I would have had the nerve to go through this had I known what a long and difficult road withdrawal is, but I really am committed to staying off these drugs. I am not a fan of the medical community and the treadmill you get caught up in when you visit the doctor (they want to do a test for everything, and the test shows some abnormality that requires more tests and on and on until your whole life becomes visiting the doctor). When I was prescribed Celexa, my FP announced that I would have to visit him twice as often or he wouldn’t renew the script. Celexa did work well for me, but it was these endless office visits (aka padding the FP’s wallet) that made me want to quit taking it. I realize that may sound strange to a lot of people, but it’s just me. Anyway, I continue to find your website immensely thoughtful and helpful, especially in realizing that I’m not alone in experiencing these withdrawal symptoms for a protracted period of time. Misery loves company, I guess. Thanks again, with all my heart.

    • npanth Says:

      Thanks, gardengirl. I think that knowing that it’s not a solitary struggle to get off an SSRI is very helpful. It doesn’t necessarily help with the individual symptoms, but it is good to know that you’re not alone. The way my doctor kept saying that I had a new problem, the way others told me to just get over it… It felt like I was the only one who ever experienced this. It took a bit of searching, but it turns out there are a lot of people who have trouble with these drugs. Who knows, we may represent the majority. I’m beginning to think that at the least, we represent a significant percentage of people who wean off SSRI. We’ll get through it, and be better off in the long run, I’m sure of it.

      • mkgardengirl Says:

        Yes and, as you’ve noted several times, there is actually a silver lining because the coping mechanisms you use to get through the withdrawal will be very valuable down the road. The ‘mindfulness’ you talk about has really helped me to realize how hard I need to work on improving how I respond to things. My go-to reaction nearly always involves a lot of negative self-appraisal. I was never truly aware of that until I started applying the mindfulness to my feelings during the waves and windows. It was actually quite shocking to see how tough a self-critic I’ve always been. Probably a large part of what led to the mild depression and, hence, the Celexa. This is priceless in learning to deal with life without meds.

        It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I agree that we probably represent at least a significant percentage of people trying to wean off these things. At what point will doctors be forced to address the fact that their cash cow antidepressants are causing perhaps even worse problems than they’re solving?

        • npanth Says:

          It really is something to realize how much more thoughtful I am about my own behavior. Just today, I realized that I was paying much more attention in the office. I stopped myself from interrupting other people’s conversations with some witty thought that popped into my head as I walked by. When I was on Paxil, I would have interrupted. I had no sense of how annoying it would be to other people. It was a great feeling. I had a sense that mindfulness was just a means to the end of getting through withdrawal. Instead, it’s a framework I use everyday, now.
          I think that antidepressants will follow a similar path as ephedra or other drugs. It will take a series of accidents and tragedies to bring the problems of the drugs to light. There have been many such tragedies, but it hasn’t reached that critical point, yet. The profitability of SSRI is much higher than that of ephedra, so it will probably take many more tragedies, unfortunately.

    • Denise McCutchan Says:

      Hi gardengirl, are you still out there?

  9. Jill Kronenwetter Says:

    Thanks so much for this information. I wish I would have found this 3yrs ago after my adverse reaction to one 10mg. dose of citalopram. It would have helped me more quickly to understand what to expect in my recovery. Was doing pretty good as of December 2012 but I’ve since had a relapse in symptoms do to some supplements I tried to take and found my nervous system was still to sensitive to tolerate them. So now I’m back having waves and windows again. But this and support groups are giving me hope to keep hanging in there and keep fighting the good fight. Thanks again!

  10. ChrisW Says:

    This site is helping me so much, thank you. I have been off SSRI’s for almost 2 months now and I think I’m still feeling withdrawal effects. I was on SSRI’s for ~8 years, then in April I had to change doctors 3 times in as many months who kept changing my dosage and/or medication entirely (during a bad period, lexapro was starting to lose its effect). I was given one day off Lexapro then was started on 50mg of Zoloft. This was horrible, I cut it to 25mg myself after a month. Then I started going to ANOTHER doctor that I knew outside of the medical world, and he tapered me off Zoloft for 2 weeks, then was supposed to start back on Lexapro. I didn’t start back on the Lexapro, I thought 2 weeks was long enough to taper, I now realize that I’ve basically gone off cold-turkey. I went back to my doctor yesterday complaining about depressive episodes and a detachment from reality this far from stopping medication, and was prescribed 30mg of Cymbalta with the idea of taking the next 2 years to taper off. At about 3pm yesterday I had a massive headspin and a minor panic attack, then 2 minutes later felt like I was completely back to normal, now today I’m detached again, memory is messed up and doesn’t feel chronological and I feel like I’m a passenger in a body that is on auto-pilot, but I still have enough mindfulness to type this. This is terrifying. I’m yet to start this new medication because I’m afraid of going through all of this again. Would you rough it out? Or take the meds? I’m losing faith in doctors, but at the same time am too busy with life to take the next 6 months off.

    I hope this finds you well.

    • npanth Says:

      I’m a proponent of reinstating after a fast taper. It gives the brain a chance to adjust slowly to lower doses of the drug. SSRI Mae structural changes to receptors in the brain that regulate mood/cognitive transmitters. It takes a while for the brain to reorganize around the lack of drug. It’s not brain damage, although it does feel like it at times. Your brain adjusts itself every day. SSRI just make bigger changes than normal function does. So, it takes longer for the brain to change things back.
      Reinstating and doing a slow taper allows for a pretty normal life. When I was touching it out, the symptoms would last for weeks. Now that I’m doing a slow taper, symptoms only last a few hours. Instead of being overwhelming, now I can go to work, go out with friends.
      It’s very hard to go back on the drugs. When I reinstated on Paxil, I could feel myself getting dumber and slower as it took hold again. I could function, though. That Paxil cloud has been lifting ever since, too. Every time I taper, I feel a little more like my old self. It makes it hard to stick to the very slow pace I’ve set for myself. It important to keep the symptoms to a minimum, though. I know I’ll get all the way off Paxil eventually, and that’s the most important thing for me.
      Go slow. It sounds like they med flipped you a bunch of times, and that can really mess you up. I’m glad the post helped.

      • Mike Says:

        It’s been 2 years today since my 6 m taper from Lexapro that I took for 6 years for Gen Anx. Ironically, I’m having a terrible wave of anxiety, no energy and no appetite. Can somebody tell me that this is going to end?

  11. Pauline Rouse Says:

    Am I correct in saying that you come from near Lollipop Farm. My son lives near there, would it be possible to meet up when I come over in April.

  12. laurenmonroecosmetics Says:

    Fabulous article! This has really helped me get through my current withdrawl from Luvox. I have great results with Luvox, but would like to be off of it for a while to start a family. I just started week 2 of withdrawl after tappering off Luvox for four weeks. I feel the dizziness, headaches, and emotional inconsistencies. Additional symptoms have been confusion, memory loss and troule concentrating. These things all happen in waves and windows. I am hopeful after reading this article, that the windows will become more frequent.

  13. Ian Brown Says:

    Hi. Been on SSRI’s, starting with Prozac, on and off for about 18 years after a prolonged period of high stress and emotional battles that left me with a breakdown and depression. That’s all in the past though and I decided for a number of reasons that now was the time to come off Cipralex after an extended period. Feeling fine etc I weaned off slowly over several weeks and stopped just over two weeks ago. Well – the agitation, brain zaps (on eye movement), restlessness, restless legs at night and other withdrawals (which I wasn’t expecting) have really calmed down now which is great but I’m now suddenly getting alternate days of feeling very horny(!!) and crying like a baby at the slightest thing or nothing in particular! Found this site after some searching (there doesn’t seem to be anything “official” in the medical world). It describes things very well. The “waves and windows” scenario is an accurate description and has really helped with the ups and downs of symptoms so far. Is it a general concept used for other withdrawals? Drugs, alcohol…? Also explaining that the mind or brain has to readjust its own receptors and chemical balances – and takes time. I guess the best thing is to accept the symptoms, embrace them and not to be frightened of them. Thanks

    • australiaclivia Says:

      Drugs? You ARE withdrawing from drugs. SSRIs are now known to be more addictive than heroin……… as for alcohol, for me the effexor made be a near alcoholic, with blackouts. Once off the SSRIs the wine drinking was easier to stop. SSRIs are the hardest, these psych drugs horrific…….. because we are lied to with the “”they are not addictive” crap…………. Anyone with symptoms within a few months of going off CT (which means, 4 months, 6 months taper IS COLD TURKEY)………….. GO BACK ON, BEFORE YOU END UP SUICIDAL, go back on at half the dose, and stabilize, or full dose, depending on how long you have been off……..stick there for 6 months, then taper properly, no more than 10% of previous dose, every 6 weeks. If you do the CT thing like I did, I am at 18 months, and still cant leave the house…..DONT DO IT!

      • australiaclivia Says:

        I never dig drugs, alcohol, is was totally pure, so then I saw a doctor, and he just became a drug dealer…. thats all psych doctors are, drug dealers. I got conned. Didnt we all? Never suicidal in my life, but this WD, yes, that comes in waves……. damn the drugs, I hope I survive. I have had a 2 week window, in 18 months…… hoping for another.

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  15. Beast Says:

    Ask your doctor to switch you to Prozac then withdraw from the Prozac instead. Prozac has the longest halflife and is easier to stop taking

    • australiaclivia Says:

      Dont switch anything, just taper the one you are on. Better the devil you know than the one you dont…….. all that half life stuff is crap.

  16. Peg Says:

    So interesting to read the comments. I’ve been on 10mg of Celexa for 7 years for anxiety and now tapering. I had wrongly thought that withdrawal from such a small dose would be minimal. Thankfully I’ve not had anxiety during withdrawal, but am experiencing head zaps and dizziness and an unexplicable sensation on the left side of my head, like slight pressure. So weird. I’m thankful my family is supportive. I’m hopeful that I won’t have need of Celexa anymore, since my life circumstances are totally different now (not working shift work, much better diet, fewer life stressors, etc.). Anyhow, I just want to thank everyone for sharing experiences. It helps to know the withdrawal symptoms are expected and “normal” whatever normal means!!

  17. Dee Says:

    Thank you so much for the analogy of waves and windows. I was under the impression that because Prozac had such a long half life that I would not have any problems. Pain was the first sign, then confusion. It continued to get worse until I realized that the reduction of my Prozac by 50% was causing me problems. It has now been 17 days since I went back to the original dose. I am now experiencing diarrhea and have seen another person comment on feeling as if his head was locked up. I have had that as well the entire time. I thought I was sitting wrong.putting pressure on my neck or something. I am having muscle spasms and pain all over. I am so lethargic I have done nothing for 3 days but look for some kind of help. I found this site by some quirk of luck. Thank you so much everyone. I can’t find any help except for people who are going through the same thing. I can’t find any medical help for this. I guess I am looking for the magic supplement that will take this all away.

  18. Collin Says:

    I’ve been off of effexor for almost 2 months. I’ve just entered my second wave. Trying to maintain work and music gigs. Since the half life of effexor is so short I am contemplating going on Prozac in hopes that the much longer half life will allow my brain to return to normal function. Having said that I don’t want to start the entire process of returning to a natural chemical balance.

  19. Robert Says:

    I have been off the SSRIs for 5 months. I tapered off the last one for only 6 weeks – after zoloft worked for 15 Years it quit working. Tried other drugs but none worked all went paradoxal.
    I have heavy waves of anxiety and insomnia and sometime flu like symptoms. I thought is was ending because for a week I was feeling better. Now I’m on the depths of hell. Can someone tell me about when and how this ends???? I’m miserable and in pain,

    • Ashton Marie Says:

      Hi Robert,

      Did you end up recovering from your withdrawal? I’m 5 and a half months out from a C/T off of Wellbutrin and I feel like I’m in the depths of hell.

  20. Beth Says:

    Three days ago I felt like I was losing my mind. I was crying, contemplating hurting myself, I felt trapped inside my own body but I couldn’t communicate those thoughts with my husband who was sitting right next to me. I was angry, irritable, over-sensitive… it felt like it would never end. It felt like this was my life, and I’d either have to accept it, kill myself, or start taking my Celexa again (I’ve only been off for a little over a week now). My doctor didn’t warn me about ANY OF THIS.

    I Googled “Celexa withdrawal Wave” not even knowing that “WAVE” was a term associated with these withdrawals… but it’s the only word I could use to describe my feelings. Finding this article has given me so much relief. I read it, and I swear, it’s like you wrote it just for me. I read it out loud to my husband because I was doing a pretty shitty job myself of explaining to him how I was feeling. So now he also gets it… a little better than he did before.

    I felt so great yesterday, and now I can feel it coming on again. And I’m so scared and terrified, because it’s the loneliest, saddest place to be when it hits. I KNOW that if I start taking Celexa again, I will never again try to come off of it, because it’s just so difficult. I’m crying as I type this, because I’m so afraid of those feelings coming back… and I can feel them coming.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for putting words to my thoughts. It’s nice to know I’m not alone, and that what I’m feeling is “normal”.

    • Bunny Says:

      Im new here and wanted to see how you are doing?

    • Ashton Marie Says:

      Hi Beth,

      Did your withdrawal symptoms ever resolve themselves? I’m 5 and a half months off of a C/T from Wellbutrin and I feel like I’m in the depths of hell. I would love to hear back from someone who has experienced this to see what recovery looks like. When did you notice your symptoms starting to lessen?

  21. Barb Says:

    You don’t say whether or not you tapered off Celexa. If you didn’t taper off it slowly it’s very important for you to read more of these posts to see how James tapered off Paxil. Also go to the website survivingantidpressants.org to learn how other people
    are handling SSRI withdrawal. If you didn’t taper you will loose control of your withdrawal symptoms. Because you have only been off Celesxa for a short time, you may be able to get back on it and regain control of the symptoms. Then begin a slow

  22. VonnegutJunky Says:

    Is it normal to get Windows and waves even after reinstatement?

    • australiaclivia Says:

      Absolutely, as soon as you upset the balance, whether that is increasing, or reducing, the same upset to the brain……………… quite often reinstatement doesnt work, but always worth a try!

  23. karen Says:

    Oh, thank you God and thank you James for this article.
    “the last window becomes reality and the next wave never comes”

    Thank you…

    Aby reports from people that have successfully tea he’d the other side ?

  24. Aaron Resnick Says:

    Like Barb mentioned, go to survivingantidepressants.org

  25. Hope McCullough Says:

    Hope says:
    Have been off celexa for 1 year and just gotten through Christmas, which I felt was very emotional and stressful. Have felt extremely tired and been on the couch all day sleeping off and on Dec 27th. Don’t know why I am emotional but am feeling fragile and lonely and been clinging to my partner. About the windows and waves I do think I have gone through them. Come to think of it I have had days were I feel completely fine about myself and other days were I want to crawl up into a ball. Wish my husband was more effectionate because I really need the support and love desperately. I yo through intense periods of neediness. This would be due to not having a lot of effectionate from him. Since being on meds for 22 years there have been times I have pushed him away making the relationship very confusing. I have been on celexa for close to 12 years and prozac before that. Wish this protracted withdraw would get better. I don’t know if it is this time of year but I feel worse when weather gets colder and more isolated. Have a doctors appointment coming up and thinking of talking to a phycotherapist feel I need to talk to someone. I do have a phyiciatrist to talk to but I don’t know if she is really that supportive, she is the one that diagnosed me with a mood disorder and put me on an antidepressant when I was 34 to age of 56. Tried to get off the meds several times but was too scared. Anyway hopeing everything gets better in time, it’s been a long hard road and I want to feel like a normal human being again.

    • australiaclivia Says:

      Hi Helen, yes I was convinced by my sister to go on meds around age 35, and got off them successfully (though with difficulty), many times…………. I took a valium (prescribed by doctor), 8 years ago, which led to psychosis, and damn 6 or so years on effexor……… that destroyed my life, now off it (tapered to zoloft, then off)……….anyway seems we were the golden age for trying these “”happy pills” and now they have proven their true colours (which is bloody awful!!). I am stuggling, I went off about the same time you did, I am now ang on surviving antidepressants. This piece of writing is brilliant, giving me hope as I struggle through a wave. As for you psychiatrist? If she put you on it, she will never admit the damage done, they all just drug pushers now, because they believe what big pharma tell them. And big pharma lie, anything for lifelong customers, no matter at what cost to our health. If you been off a year! You already earned a gold star, or here comes the sun symbol or something. I still have 75mg of seroquel to taper.

      As for your husband………. well I pushed mine away, damage done… cant go back. Yep was a happy 30 year relationship, ended with the effexor. That one is the devils tic tacs, it really destroys you. There are threads on the surviving antidepressants site for husband to read, might help him understand.

      Best wishes

      • Hope McCullough Says:

        Hope McCullough says:

        It’s been a while since I have posted, since Christmas and its April and have had some better days since, I still am hunkered down on the couch and not doing a lot with my days except my usual art class on Wed and Sat. I wish my family would read and educate themselves on this subject so they could understand how I feel. I am not on that constant exhausting high anymore from the drugs and am not very interesting and motivated. What scares me is that I would love to work and don’t know we’re to start, it is horrible to have gone through 22 years of my life thinking I was doing the right thing and being totally Stupid about these drugs. Anyway I am replying to australiactivias comment and hopeing you are doing well. And Have you finally tapered from the 75mg of seroqiel you were on. I am so sorry to here it destroyed your relationship. It’s horrible how they ruin your romantic feelings and love for people. Real life is hard but we’re is the fun and happiness. This is what I want more than anything, if I were to go out on my own right now I am afraid to say I may not make it since I am still healing, I mean I hope I am. I am still in protracted withdrawl and I still am not sure if I actually have windows and waves. I just know I have some good days and bad days. What a horrible lonely place to be. The funny thing is I have always been there for people who have needed me, but we’re is everyone when you need them. Luckily my partner is still with me but I am not always very nice to be around. When I have sat around too much I get in a mood and fly off the handle which ends up with me crying. I cannot handle a lot of stress and avoid it at all costs. I tend to isolate myself from my family and more since I have been off medication now for 16 months. Am going to start exersizing hopeing this will help me get more motivated. It all sounds pretty pathetic but we’re did that beautiful person go the one that loves life and nature and people etc etc. Wish me luck I really need it. I am 58 and do not want to wast any more of my life. I do hope things get better.
        Thanks for listening.

        • australiaclivia Says:

          Thankyou so much for replying. I cut drastically in two cuts, now on 43mg seroquel. I was pretty bad for 3 weeks, just starting to actually shower, and sometimes cook, now……………. Was a silly move cutting so quickly, but always a toss up, I hate the drugs with a passion. So glad I have my brain back. The motivation thing? I used to love crafts, and gardening, and all sorts of hobbies, now I battle to even get interested in tv. I dont clean, anyhow, feel like I am crawling out of a wave now, the trick is just to keep the nose above the water! are you on surviving antidepressants site? It is wonderful for support.

        • Ashton Marie Says:

          Hi Hope,

          Did you eventually start seeing a lessening in your symptoms? I’m 5 and a half months from my C/T off of Wellbutrin and I still feel like I’m in hell. I’d just like to hear from someone who has a personal experience with this withdrawal that it does get better. Thanks

  26. Allison Says:

    Got off meds over the course of one month as per Drs orders…and it’s been hell for the last year…off course protracted withdrawal……I didn’t find any responses to fast taper……25 mg of sertraline and was told to take one every other day for one month…….never even researched it….I feel ok with lots of anxiety and panic attacks but it took me this long to get to this point…..anyone out there with these types of stories

    • ichwerdetanzen Says:

      I’m in protracted withdrawal since 18 months 19 days. Still have Windows and waves. It’s very difficult to find success story’s after coming off cold turkey.

      • australiaclivia Says:

        Yep, ich and Allison, I wish I had known better, I am 18 months off, and I had a two week window………. but back to feeling awful again. Hoping for my next window.

      • Hope McCullough Says:

        Hope McCullough says:
        Hi I have read that there are success stories out there because that is what keeps me going. How do you know if your in a window or a wave because I cannot tell. I came off cold turkey and it has been 16 months for me. If it helps hang in there apparently the brain eventually corrects itself from what I have read I keep reading and reading trying to find answers. Good luck to you we all need it.

        • australiaclivia Says:

          For me, a window, even if it is a few hours, is a feeling of calmness, peace. Recently I have noticed waves of endorphins spreading over me, this is a new thing, like the runners high, when you start exercising. So I know my serotonin/ endorphins/melatonin balance is struggling back into balance. Being distracted by something, and sometimes actually even enjoying doing a task.

          A wave, is just hanging on grimly, waiting for the water to pass, it can be a wave of wishing to die, lying on the bed, having night after night of horrific dreams. Anxiety about everything. Guilts, ruminations. During a wave, I force myself to play simple silly computer games, and I have to push myself to do it! During these times, I say over and over, I am ill, do not expect anything of myself, like anyone healing, it will pass.

  27. Suz Says:

    I have been off Prozac for 6 months and it has certainly been a struggle. At first I had severe nausea and tremors, over the time both the nausea and tremors have gotten better. I have also had uncontrollable crying spells. My newest symptom is that I have this feeling of complete dread and fear. Has anyone else experience the feelings of dread and fear? Did anything help it pass? I have tried meditation, which relaxes me but doesn’t help the fear. It’s awful. I am scared every minute of everyday. Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.

    • australiaclivia Says:

      Hi Suz, I am a bit further along than you. The first to settle is the flu symptoms, and the hot and cold flushes, severe sweating, may come and go a bit, but first to settle at about the 4 month mark for me. Then the crying spells, I had to explain to my son just to ignore me…………. they come and go, but very very few of them for me now. The ruminations for me were absolutely horrific for 12 months, the it is all my fault, and going over and over, all my self perceived failures in life, absolutely everything in my life, that was bad, became totally my fault, that is the hardest for me……. I still have that occassionally, and I know that will pass. So you may have ruminations for a few more months, or that may not be a symptom for you. The absolute fear and dread, worse in the mornings, make sure you fully black out any daylight, until you are ready to get up…………. it helps! I still feel so anxious, and fear isnt the right word, like no enthusiasm for anything, and the anxiety is even there, for something so minor as having a shower! That also gets easier……… and by about 12 months, I had clearer patterns………. a 2 week magic window, and strength to battle on. If you are totally off all your meds, and you dont have to worry about the tapering…………. you are doing real well online support group surviving antidepressants, I could not have made it without this help.

    • MF3452 Says:

      Unfortunately, you’re going thru a bad wave. Nothing unusual as it sounds like classic w/drawal. Eating well w/ lots of H20 & light exercise. It’s tough. Hang in there.

  28. Mort Says:

    Such a travesty whats going on with regards to precribred drugs. Its hard to believe we live in a society that is so corrupt. Prescriptons arent getting less. They are getting more and to younger kids. What a mess and all for profit. People paying a huge price for the well being of Drug companies. Doctors are puppets and they are facilitating this epidemic. Tough “pill” to swallow as I continue to deal with Cipralex WD. But whats worse the symptoms itself or the fact that nobody believes you that you are feeling this way ? The denial and degradation that happens is 100% criminal. I hope one day these drug companies get punished for what they are doing. I also hope these horrible doctors feel the pain that they have caused. Awful industry. I

    • australiaclivia Says:

      Good luck Mort, I feel your pain, I also am going through it. Yeah its all in our head, called brain damage, takes time to rebalance. Hang in there!

  29. Mick De Mattia Says:

    Hi all i can relate and empathise with you all, living on a wing and a prayer i was searching and come along this site, its reassuring to find and be able to cross ref and compare where your at, and obtain copying tools and strategies, THANK YOU, and if can help don’t hesitate
    After 20 yrs on prozac 80mgs & aurorix 150 mgs i’m 6 months drug free weaned off for months and months worst time of my life, i’m still consumed with waves of obsessive fear and worry, negative intrusions,anxiety and bouts of depression its all demoralising your confidence is shot but i know i have what it takes, understanding and believing accepting is hard i’m going through this wave this last week although it seems to be abating the worst seems to be over for now i hope.
    i’m still able to work and do most day to day things although i have no enthusiasm, will to go through the motion and try to get things done the best i can to see it through
    But planning something major like relocating and to a new state finding work or running some sort of small business courier run is daunting i guess its a work in progress as it all is

    • angela coral eisenhauer Says:

      It will get worse, be prepared to reinstate like a very very like 10% of last dose, it might help. If you are OK 12 months after getting off totally, damn you a lucky one!

  30. Mick De Mattia Says:

    Waves will come and go and i will survive i’m resilient and have faith, determination and patience i will ride this mental storm out the there’s no way after 6 months will i ever consider going back to dosing god help me its a mental attitude although i can be very lost in it at times i somehow can focus enough to get through without being hard on myself
    i use CBT, self awareness, self gratification,Barry Mcdonagh tech’s and more depending what the symptoms are at the time and i pray, i think of all the good things i have done in life and the good things that surround me now although it can be extremely challenging at times i try to stick to a daily routine take it day by day for now and i look forward to improvement thats how i’m living for now

    • angela coral eisenhauer Says:

      well done, I have no routine, I just trudge one day to the next. Hang in there, and best wishes. Lets hope we all survive this, so we can SUE THE BASTARDS, or at least be sane enough, to warn others, that these pills ARE ALL FRAUD.

  31. It’s Been About a Year… | Forever This Says:

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  32. Telma Cristi Says:

    James your posts are saving me. So good to hear that there is an end to it all, even when part of me believes that there is not…..
    Have you heard of people who experience horrible pre and post menstrual stress after withdrawal? I found it too much of a coincidence that mine are awful since I quit Cypralex. And I never had it before. It’s a feeling of depression and desperation quite strong. Does this also normalize with time? I never had depression and I’m finding it all very scary.

    • angela coral eisenhauer Says:

      my support group is there everyday for me telma surviving antidepressants everything is NORMAL in this path , as we walk through hell, just keep walking, yes, we DO make it through.

    • Bunny Thorne Says:

      Hello. Can I ask how long ago you stopped. Are you saying when you have your period you get worse? Can you explain a little more about it? Why I’m asking is because I felt like there were little improvements then I got my period and I feel like I took like 5 steps back.

      • Telmacristi Says:

        Just feel overal more anxious. Definitely steps back too. But this period was a bit better. It should be a sign thatcitcgets better w time

  33. Tanya Lee Says:

    Off Zoloft (100mg for about 10 year) now for almost 4 months. Having the usual withdrawal, waves and windows. I’ve all of a sudden developed intense weakness in my hand and forearm. I’ve had it for about a weak now and it is constant. I’m terrified that I have MS or ALS. These withdrawal symptoms seem to mimic awful neurological disorders. Has anybody else experienced this with their withdrawal? Or is it time for me to see a doctor? I’m afraid they’ll just try to get me back on the Zoloft.

    • Mick Says:

      I don’t know whether this will help at this moment i definitely wouldn’t jump to conclusions, sound like the wd has clicked to a physical expression i suffer from a strong magnetic pressure force like feeling that flows from the back of my neck through to my chest, arms and legs it amplifies up and down even at the lowest scale i can still feel it i have had it since i stopped meds just over a year ago it’s worse early morning in bed cramps in the legs go with it i don’t worry about it but still concerns me i hope it will eventually go away and for your sake too

  34. mitty4me Says:

    Seven weeks now off Effexor – what a roller -coaster ride . Is this usual ?

  35. Ilka Says:

    I keep coming back to this website knowing my symptoms are exactly the same as so many. I was on a very low dose of amitriptyline 10mg for eight years for jaw pain. The jaw pain resolved itself but I kept on taking it out of stupidity and my Doctors telling me me to stay on just in case the pain came back. I had them compounded and tapered gradually going by the book till I got to 5mg and then listened to my dr and stopped. I had lots of symptoms but mainly anxiety something I had never experienced before even tapering slowly. Long story I have suffered like everyone else here just to be told over and over that’s it’s impossible to have withdrawal for so long. I’ve tried acupuncture meditation herbal remedies and bioidentical hormone replacement. I stopped in May 2016 then reinstated for a month. I knew I had to stop so my last pill was Sept 2016. Four and a half month of torture but I think the hardest thing is to believe in myself, that I don’t have some new illness or that I should take more meds to get better. Hoping to stay strong and become “me” again.

    • Ashton Marie Says:

      Hi Ilka,

      Have things been getting better for you? I’m 5 and a half months from a C/T off of Wellbutrin and I feel like I’m in hell. When did you notice a turning point where your symptoms starting decreasing and you started feeling better?

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  37. Magnus Says:

    first of all thanks for your blog it is very helpful to read that my symptoms seems to be a normal reaction of my body to get back to a healthy brain.
    I´ve been taking Paxil for about 1 Year. (From January 2016 to the 6th of February 2017)
    The highest dosage was 40mg which I was taken for about 3 month. Since june 2016 I have reduced 10 mg every month which was obviously way too fast but at this time I had no idea what effects this drug will has on me. In november 2015 with the age of 25 I had a total mental breakdown and the doctor / psychologist said to me I have a serious major depression.
    So in January 2016 as I said I decided to take Paxil and my anxiety / mood became better after 3-4 Month on 40mg where I started to reduce the drug.
    Juni 30 mg – Juli – 20 mg – August 20 mg – September 15 mg – Oktober 10mg – November 5mg – January 2017 3,75mg – 22.01.2017 2,5mg – 06.02.2017 0 mg
    Since June 2016 I have all the symptoms you guys are going trough as well but until the end of the year 2016 I did not know it comes from the drug withdrawal but thought it would still be my depression. As I first read this article I felt so good because everything fits perfect to my story so I don´t think I´m crazy or a maniac anymore.
    Today I´m ca 4 month off paxil and the first 3 month were awful but always with windows and waves and it slowly became better some symptoms like the derealisation almost disappeared others like a severve dizzines are always even in the windows present. I don´t want to list all my symptoms I have when getting trough a wave because you know it already from all the other posts but the main reason why I´m writing you is that I have tremendous fear that I will not recover again or that I will have lasting damage through the paxil or the fact that I tapered it to fast. Every morning I´m waking up with this dizziness, this buzzing in my head and ears and I feel like I was 2 weeks on a party with lots of alcohol and no sleep.
    From April to the end of May I had a very long window and I was feeling so much better…I really thought that I finally made it and I can be a normal healthy human again. I thought this long wave must be a sign that I´m recovering but the wave I´m getting trough since 1 week is so awful again that I start to doubt my recovery. I´m really afraid of having destroyed my brain and I this all is getting chronical.
    Thanks in advance!

  38. Peter Says:

    After Six months if the withdrawal doesnt go away, it is not withdrawal anymore. Its iatrogenic damage on the brain. Altough the brain can recover wish is what i believe, in a waves and Windows fashion, it is not withdrawal anymore. Believe me, i am in damage because of zoloft for more than 2 years and still with same horrendous symptoms, my withdrawal has finished long time ago. Only things left are damaged brain chemistry.

  39. Caroline Says:

    Hello, does anyone know if using another SSRI to help taper off prozac can help? I’ve been on Prozac on and off for 20 years (doses ranging from 20-60mg). I’m currently on 20mg/day. I tried tapering last year and nearly lost my mind. Tried cold turkey off 40mg in 2016, became very suicidal and had fits of rage with outbursts of intense physical energy. After 7 months could no longer take it; the anxiety and severe grief were unbearable so went back on 20mg. I desperately want to get off this stuff but am very worried about long term brain damage. I’m so very grateful for this site…I’d never found information matching my experiences before. I can get a wave that lasts literally 4 or 5 hours and then completely disappears. My waves seem to hit in the morning; does anyone know why I always feel best in the evenings (4pm onwards)?
    Thank you for your input. Sending love and strength to those who, like me, are suffering in silence and trying not to lose it completely.

    • Mick Says:

      Patience and tapering is the key there’s no quick fix that i know of although some progress quicker than others changing medication could make it worse they say if your still experiencing WS bring up the dosage in little measures it takes about 4 days to noticed the change then stay there for a month or so then start to taper very very gradually if the symptoms start to come back go back to the previous dosage, cortisol spikes in the mornings are the waves your relating too i don’t mean to be disrespectful to this great site but i recommend a site ( Surviving Antidepressant ) Caroline that will answer many of your question

      • Caroline Says:

        Dear Mick,
        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and for your advise. I will check out the site you suggested today. Again, thank you for your support. Hope you have a beautiful Sunday.

  40. Jennifer Says:

    This is probably the best article I’ve read on the subject! Anyone else going through this process needs to read this!

  41. Josiebryan Says:

    Thank you very much! I understood everything you said! And its all so true! So thank you i needed to read that 🙂

  42. Lance Roy Dixon Says:

    That was so reassuring! It made so much sense, where as when I read another document about Windows/Waves it totally confused me!
    Thank you for explaining in that way!
    Lance Dixon.

  43. Lance Roy Dixon Says:

    Brilliant description!
    Thank you very much.

  44. Pastor Oropeza Marvez Says:

    This is so beautifully written and it brings me peace while experiencing withdrawals.

    Thank you.

  45. Maggie Davies Says:

    Hello James, just stopping by to thank you for your site. I keep re reading it in order to stay hopeful. I seem to be going through a very long wave at the moment, and am quite obsessional. I can’t seem to concentrate at all. I’m so impressed with anyone that can hold down a job with these symptoms. Many thanks

  46. Deana Says:

    Hi I’m now off all meds 8 months now was on mirtazapine for 13 years benzo for 5 months and not had that many windows ,how long does people waves last this 1 has lasted 4 weeks its relentless I think I’m fighting it to much the anxiety is extreme I don’t leave the house my hair is thinning I’ve list weight can anyone relate to this

  47. photosbyeje Says:

    Thank you for writing this! Very helpful.

    I am currently on .5mg of Abilify. Tapering off of 2mg. This is my third try tapering off Abilify. I started having insomnia and then hallucinations on my last try. I had to reinstate to 10mg. I am praying that this time I can successfully stay off it.

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