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Shaesurf: Pristiq Withdrawal Timeline

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Hi guys,

Currently finished my tapering and now into the Withdrawl of pristiq. After spending so much time googling all the symptoms and anecdotes of others I wanted to add to it, in hopes of helping anyone else who'd be in my situation in the future! I think too much time spent reading some of the horror stories (and I feel terrible for those poor souls), really made me so much more anxious than I needed to be.


Some background: I was on pristiq 50mg for 5 months, no history of antidepressants or mental illness, until I had a breakdown of sorts due to family tragedy/work stress/love life difficulties and basically just everything at once. I was diagnosed with GAD, put on pristiq (because at the time I could barely leave the house without having a panic attack), and sent to a psychologist for CBT. 5 months later my doc suggested coming off as id done well etc am ready.

He gave me a tapering program for 3 weeks - 1st week every second day, 2nd week every third day, 4th week on the fourth day then stop.


Tapering: this was for me not as horrible as I made myself believe it would be. I had probably two evenings where I'd feel the brain zaps (it felt more like popping candy sensation than a bolt of electricty, that idea scared the hell out of me lol) and was pretty tolerable.


Before I finished completely, I researched all the natural remedies that might help ease any discomfort. And found a million different opinions.. I settled for fish oil tablets and vitamin B. Kept some ginger tablets and paracetamol on hand in case.


Also, the app Headspace I can't recommend enough! Guided meditation has been an absolute life saver for me, and after trying a few different apps out I found this the best for me



Felt normal. I figured because of the tapering, and feeling normal on the first days off during it, today would be no different. Towards the end of the day I started having that throat tickle you get before you get a cold.. and thought great timing to get a cold



Woke up feeling like I had a cold, I had read flu like symptoms to be common in tapering, but I had assumed it would be the more brain fog rather than sneezing and coughing. Anxiety was a bit higher than normal, but I reminded myself to stop looking for symptoms and get on with my day.



Bit of brain fog in the morning, more a nuscance than anything.. managed to get rear ended while driving which really wasn't ideal lol. Was feeling pretty emotional after that but, as anyone would be. Rest of the day was fine, bit sleepy here and there and brain zaps before bed (now I know how they feel, it's easier to ignore them)



I had read day 4 can be a common time for people to feel the grunt of side effects.. and I was on the war path for most of the day. Not usually an angry person but, Jesus, I was banging pots and pans and swearing. It took me a while to step back and realise I needed to calm down. Meditated, and felt a bit frazzled and went for a walk.. it seemed to help a whole lot



I'm at the end of day five now, this is the first day without a headache, and first day without any painkillers (yay) brain zaps are still around, and find myself getting a bit teary to songs on the radio but I feel like I might be on the way down the mountain




I'll keep updated on my days, I know everyone is different and I feel so so lucky to have gotten off easy so far with side effects. I just want to share a success to try and help balance out the horror

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Hi Shaesurf and welcome to SA,


You may be one of the lucky ones and not suffer the consequences of a fast taper off Pristiq, and I certainly hope you are.  However the descriptions above suggest that you are already experiencing withdrawal symptoms and these may get worse.  Here is a symptom list:  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist


I will give you information so that you know what your options are if your withdrawal symptoms worsen and become unbearable.  Please carefully read Post #1 of the reinstatement topic and ask questions here in your Intro topic.  Please let us know if you decide you want to reinstate and we can suggest a small dose for you to try. 


Please create a drug signature Create Your Signature.  Please include details for the last 12-18 months of  all drugs, dates, doses and discontinuations & reinstatements.  If you can't remember dates, please write it as "early March" or "mid-August".  Please provide a summary of any drugs prior to that which can just be listed with start and stop years. Please include all prescription, non-prescription drugs and supplements you are currently taking. Phone Instructions:  Withdrawal History Signature. Please also remember to update it with date and dose whenever make a change so that it remains current. Thank you.


SA recommends a taper of no more than 10% of the previous dose daily (ie not skipping days) with a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?


About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms


Tips for tapering off Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)


These helped me to understand SA's recommendations:


Brain Remodelling

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery


I am tapering Pristiq.  On my website (link in signature) you can read a condensed version of my experience.

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Thanks ChessieCat. But I'm happy taking my medical advice from my qualified doctor,

I came here to share my experience for other like me who want to read a reasonable and detailed account

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But in saying that, when starting pristiq I found it took only a week for my body to adjust and start up side effects to subside. Having read it takes 6-8 weeks for that I was suprised to feel better so quickly, maybe my body just adjusts quickly who knows

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Welcome Shaesurf

I join with cc in saying you may be one of the lucky ones with minimal withdrawal and we all hope you are.


He gave me a tapering program for 3 weeks - 1st week every second day, 2nd week every third day, 4th week on the fourth day then stop.

....But I'm happy taking my medical advice from my qualified doctor,


Congratulations on making what appears to be a  decision on where you are taking your medical advice from.

Not an easy thing to do for some. Many people seem to get confused on which voice to listen to. However there are many doctors who really have a complete 'vacuum of knowledge' regarding these drugs. You really would do well to check out the links cc gave you they are very informing and (unlike doctors advise or deafening silence) you will find them helpful and insightful.


I'm at the end of day five now, this is the first day without a headache, and first day without any painkillers (yay) brain zaps are still around, and find myself getting a bit teary to songs on the radio but I feel like I might be on the way down the mountain.

As cc said are you able to put up a drug sig. mentioning the painkillers you are taking.


I came here to share my experience for other like me who want to read a reasonable and detailed account.

So glad you have taken the time to add your valuable voice to this forum.

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As I posted previously, you may be one of the lucky ones who can get off your drug easily.  However, we have had other members joining and posting similar stories to yours who have returned shortly afterwards telling us how much they are suffering.


One of the things that I have found helpful is to do my own research so that I can make an informed decision.  By providing you with information I am hoping that IF things become difficult you will be able to make your own decision based on your own research and knowledge, not just blindly trusting the medical professionals who are advised by the pharmaceutical companies about the drugs they prescribe.


Something I would like to caution you about IF your withdrawal symptoms worsen.  Many members here find that if their symptoms worsen and they visit their medical professional they are told that their original condition is returning or are diagnosed with a new condition, when in fact is withdrawal from a too fast taper or cold turkey.  The medical professional's response to this is generally to go back on drug/s  This may be the original dose, possibly at a higher dose than is necessary to reduce the withdrawal symptoms, a different drug which can cause problems if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from the first drug and then get start up/side effects from the second because you won't know what is causing what, or the original drug PLUS an additional drug.


Here are a couple of links which I suggest you read IF your symptoms worsen.  If this happens I would urge you to read these links before you see your doctor:


How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?

What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?

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Hey Shaesurf - 


 But I'm happy taking my medical advice from my qualified doctor, 


You are still in what is called the "honeymoon" phase.  You were on the drugs for a short time, and this is your only experience with them, so there is a good chance you will be one of the lucky ones who walk away.


Here's the concern:   You have done an every-other-day taper (not advised:  Every-other day dosing).  By the time the major withdrawals hit, it may be too late to reinstate.


It's better to reinstate a tiny amount now, and taper down from it, than it is to go into full blown withdrawal.


If doctors knew more, there would not be a need for this website.  I for one would be glad of that, there would be no need for the suffering that we see here every day.  A large percentage of people end up here at SA, in crisis, due to bad tapering from a doctor.  And your "qualified" doctor - yes s/he went to school for a long time, and is an expert in many things about the body - gave you advice which lands a lot of people into trouble:  skipping days.


I hope you are done with this and walk away!  If so, in a year's time (yes, we wait at least a year before posting success stories, why do you think that is?) you are still in good condition, please, come back and post a success story!


But if your symptoms worsen, I would drop the vitamin B first (B-complex and multivitamins are scattergun, you don't know which vitamin you are reacting to).  Add magnesium, next (not oxide, but citrate or glycinate).  If you are still suffering from symptoms, and you are less than 3 months from your last dose, you are still an excellent candidate for a tiny reinstatement.  Small enough to stop the symptoms (the symptoms are your body missing the regulation of the drug), but not large enough for side effects. 


Until we get your signature, we cannot really recommend how much of a reinstatement, but it will probably be under 5-10 mg.


Please, read about how it works, here:

Rhi's description of healing the brain

Rhi also said this;

You can't get off the drug (without major instability) faster than your brain can re-adapt itself to the absence of the drug. 


Intro to Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome

and a short 5 min video:

Healing from Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery (by Toxic Antidepressants)


The drugs are not like aspirin, you're not free as soon as it's out of your body, because it changes your body and brain.  When the drug is taken away, your brain and nervous system are restructured, and falls over in the absence of the changing drug.


Pristiq is a tricky one to take small doses of.  Read the links that Chessie put up for you, especially the one about Pristiq.  


Also - if you want to meet other Aussies going through a similar experience, you can visit here:  Australia Members Please Check In Here

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