Jump to content
FleeingFluoxetine

FleeingFluoxetine: Trying to get off Prozac

Recommended Posts

FleeingFluoxetine

Hey, everyone. Here's my introduction (I hope it's not too long):

 

In 1994, at 19, I suffered panic attacks from being bullied in school and having cognitive errors in my thinking (perfectionism, negative self talk, etc.) My parents took me to a psychiatrist who told me I had a "chemical imbalance in my brain," prescribed me 80 mg of Prozac a day, and kicked me out the door. I received no therapy and from that day forward saw myself as a mental health patient. This diagnosis changed the course of my entire life.

 

My Prozac took six weeks to kick in, and it brought with it a slew of side effects: generalized anxiety, hypervigilance (constant surveying the world and my body for signs of panic), stomach cramps, and irritable bowel syndrome. Like the proverbial boiling frog who doesn't notice the raising temperature, the side effects eased in to my life so slowly I thought they were a part of me and my "chemical imbalance." In essence I had a paradoxical reaction to the drug: it amplified my existing struggles but I had no idea my medication was the source. I was never told this was possible, nor was I told about the danger of trying to come off.

 

The side effects made work outside the home, socializing, and dating extremely difficult because I was always afraid of the next wave of anxiety that would send me racing to the washroom. I watched my friends grow up and have careers, partners, and families, while I tried to buoy what was left of my self-esteem with self-help books and different therapists, none of who ever questioned the drug or the dosage.

 

After two years of cognitive behavioral therapy to untwist the errors in my thinking, I tried coming off the drug under the supervision of my doctor in 2006 but the initial reduction of 20 mg every two weeks proved to be far too steep. When I reached zero I had a few days of bliss, then an absolute mental collapse. I developed akathisia and was unable to sit still and paced relentlessly and lost control of my emotions. I felt completely hollow and cried for no reason, all the while suffering from unspeakable anxiety. My parents debated admitting me to a hospital but was told that the doctors would check my medication levels then ask me to leave as there would be nothing they could do.

 

I went to my psychiatrist who misdiagnosed my condition not as withdrawal but as depression and anxiety that the Prozac had been treating. Desperate not to lose my mind, I restarted the drug and lost another ten years to side effects.

 

Two years ago I lowered my dose from 40 mg to 30 mg. Three days later I was to meet friends for dinner for as long as my anxiety would allow. I braced myself during the meal for the inevitable tsunami of mental anguish but what I felt instead was a mere ripple. I was stunned, then perplexed. When I realized what was happening and that the drug had been the cause, I burst into tears. Instead of racing home after the meal as I so often had in the past, my friends and I went to a movie.

 

Over the past few months I've been easing off Prozac at 5 mg every six weeks. My quality of life improves with each reduction. My hypervigilance and anxiety all but vanished at 20 mg. At 15 mg I have become more social than I have ever been, and at 10 mg I feel like myself again - sort of.

 

I've been on 10 mg of Prozac since May 9th, and I'm also on 50 mg of Seroquel. I want to get off the Prozac completely but I'm going to stay at 10 mg for at least three months until I know I'm stable. Though most of my anxiety is gone, I had a panic attack last week. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday over how much I've missed out on from the medication and cried through the whole thing. Naturally she was concerned that this might be a relapse of depression/anxiety, but I honestly feel better now than I ever did on the higher dose.

 

So...that's me! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Madeleine

Welcome to the forum Fleeing  Congratulations on getting down to 10 mg.  
Best wishes,

M.

Share this post


Link to post
Gridley

Good work, Fleeing.  You are doing great. Welcome to SA.  It's a great forum.

Share this post


Link to post
mammaP

Hi Fleeing, welcome to SA. I am so glad that you have decided to stay at 10mg for a while. This will allow your brain to catch up to the lower dose. I would recommend staying there for a few months then a very slow taper. We find that the last few mgs need careful tapering to get off without withdrawal kicking in as the dose lowers.  We recommend tapering no more than 10% of the CURRENT dose with 3-4 weeks between drops.  Some people prefer to micro taper, with smaller drops more frequently. Prozac is available in liquid form which is easier to get the tiny doses. 

 

Here is the topic for tapering prozac 

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/759-tips-for-tapering-off-prozac-fluoxetine/

 

Why taper 10% 

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

 

Micro taper 

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2878-micro-taper-instead-of-10-or-5-decreases/

 

About using liquid

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12422-questions-and-answers-about-liquid-medications/?hl=%2Bquestions+%2Banswers+%2Bliquid

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Thanks, everyone. I debated joining for a long time before today but I'm already glad I did. I'm going to hold at 10 mg of Prozac for three months (at least) to see who I am! I've been on this med my entire adult life and it's affected me every single day.

Share this post


Link to post
Hopefulfor2morrow

Hi FleeingFluoxetine. I can relate. You experienced a similar struggle than I did. It is comforting to know that others experienced similar things and that one is not alone in the struggle. It's crazy how these drugs take away pieces of one's life without you realizing it until it's almost too late. When I first tampered fluoxetine, I was worse off than before. After that I eventually went back and wanted to get off it several times, but I did not want to go back to that horrible time after my first tampering so I reluctantly stayed on the meds.

 

I wish you all the best. Rather take it very slowly. I finally came off fluoxetine this year, but I might have done it too quickly since I have episodes during which I feel very depressed. Good luck! You are on your way.

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Thanks, Hopeful. Yeah, it's been tough. I'm coming up on maybe 1.5 months and I'm starting to think I'm stable at 10 mg. I'm going to stay here for months before I lower.

 

I agree that a lot of people can't relate because they have no idea what this is like and how hard it is to cope. And yeah, going off the first time scared the living crap out of me. I lost another ten years to side effects because of that. But onward and upward! :)

 

Hi FleeingFluoxetine. I can relate. You experienced a similar struggle than I did. It is comforting to know that others experienced similar things and that one is not alone in the struggle. It's crazy how these drugs take away pieces of one's life without you realizing it until it's almost too late. When I first tampered fluoxetine, I was worse off than before. After that I eventually went back and wanted to get off it several times, but I did not want to go back to that horrible time after my first tampering so I reluctantly stayed on the meds.

 

I wish you all the best. Rather take it very slowly. I finally came off fluoxetine this year, but I might have done it too quickly since I have episodes during which I feel very depressed. Good luck! You are on your way.

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Hey, all. I dropped my Prozac from 15 mg to 10 mg back on March 8th (it's May 29th now) and I'm wondering if these weird feelings I'm getting are related to it. I was dizzy for the first few days (which was expected) then six weeks into the reduction I was super anxious/weepy for about three weeks. So this is about the third month and I keep thinking "I'm finally through the reduction, I'm super strong emotionally now, woohoo! And then BAM! for no reason I get jittery and have racing/slippery thoughts and don't want to be anywhere but home. I don't have any stressors right now so I'm thinking it has to be the drug? Right?

 

The other thing is that my libido seems to have fallen away almost completely. I don't have a girlfriend at the moment (or ever, haha?) but I doubt I could perform if I did because I seem to be having odd equipment trouble. This seems to have coincided with the racing/slippery thoughts.

 

I saw my psychiatrist two weeks ago and she said, "Well, you've been off the drug long enough so it's probably not withdrawal anymore" despite the fact that I was in tears the second our session began and cried through the whole thing.

 

Does this sound like I'm right on schedule? I guess I'm looking for reassurance that all of this nonsense will be behind me once I've been on 10 mg long enough. I'm not planning on tapering it again for about three more months.

 

- Fleeing Fluoxetine

Share this post


Link to post
ChessieCat

I've moved your post to your Intro topic because it is about your own situation and it keeps your history in one place.

 

The last drop you made was 33% of the previous dose.  SA recommends no more than 10% of the previous.    At a quick glance I can't see when you what/when your drop before that was.  Please put this info in you signature of your tapering dates and doses to make it easier for us to see this information - thanks.

 

If you are experiencing bad withdrawal symptoms it generally means that you have made too large a reduction.  Glad to see that you are planning to hold for about 3 more months.

 

It is suggested that you keep a daily record of your symptoms so you can see improvement that you may not notice.

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Withdrawal Normal Description

 

Stabilising After a Reduction - What Does That Mean?

 

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


What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

 

Keep Notes on Paper

Rate Symptoms Daily to Check Patterns and Progress

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Thanks, Chessie. Yeah, I agree that 33% was too big a drop. I'm going to be starting the 10% taper in September. My plan was to get to 10 mg and then taper from there, but that might not have been the best idea. I'm surprised I still feel so awful so much later.

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Hey, all. I lowered my dose of Prozac from 15 mg to 10 mg back on March 10th (2017). I was feeling pretty good about the drop from 20 to 15 so I thought I could handle another 5 mg, but of course it's a much higher percentage and now I wish I had done the 10% version with liquid. That's how I'll be trying to get to zero.

 

I guess there's no real answer to this because everyone has different body chemistry but I seem to have days where I'm "normal" and feel like I can take on the world, and then I have days like yesterday where I couldn't seem to keep a thought in my head because they were racing or slipping away. I felt really uneasy for the rest of the day and hit the treadmill. I was thrilled to be able to go to sleep and forget about it all.

 

Is there a timeline for how long it takes to stabilize? The last time I saw my doctor she said, "Well, you've been at the new dose for two months now so that's long enough" but the racing thoughts is totally new to me, plus I've been on the drug for over twenty years.

 

Looking for reassurance,

 

Fleeing Fluoxetine

 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

I dropped my Prozac from 15 mg to 10 mg back on March 10th. It's now June 3rd, and after having been through a few weeks of tears, jitters, anxiety, and dysphoria, the sexual dysfunction has finally kicked in. My sex drive has absolutely plummeted (which honestly I'm happy about). I've been suffering from genital numbing, poor/weak erections, difficulty climaxing, and then last night, a "muted" orgasm. It was just a series of muscle contractions without the associated pleasure. It's kind of gross without it, to be honest.

 

I'm actually glad this has happened for two reasons. My doctor has told me that my withdrawal was "over" two weeks ago, and yet this has only just happened now, so this is evidence that I'm right that it persists.

 

I've struggled with hypersexuality and a preoccupation with obsessive thoughts about sex since I was put on the drug at 19, although I never knew it was the Prozac. I thought it was me. To have my sex drive taken from me is a huge relief. No more compulsive thoughts about women, no more outrageous flirting, no more seeking to bolster my self-esteem by sleeping with women.

 

I might want it back some day (I'm perpetually single) but right now it's like removing a splinter in my mind that's been driving me mad. :)

 

Fleeing

Edited by scallywag
tags

Share this post


Link to post
scallywag

FleeingFluoxetine -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

It's good to hear that you're enjoying a decrease in an adverse or "side" effect that you found troublesome with the decrease in dose.

 

For reference, here are discussion topics with posts relevant to your situation:

Before you begin tapering -- what you need to know.

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?.

Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

Tips for tapering off Seroquel (quetiapine)

Members-only benzo forum for lorazepam (Ativan)

Taking multiple drugs? Which to taper first.

 

Thanks for posting a medication history signature and for keeping it brief.

 

Please let us know how you're doing as you hold at 10 mg.

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Hey, Scallywag. Thanks for the info. I might have posted this in the wrong place. It's not my first post, I just thought this was the right place to put it. :)

Share this post


Link to post
scallywag

Nope, you posted in EXACTLY the right place, Fleeing. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Hey, all. I'm hoping this belongs in the right area of the forum.

 

I'm still at 10 mg of Prozac since March 10th but my mother accused me of "withdrawing from life" this morning over the phone. I'm 42, she's 73. I think she's partly right because I honestly don't feel like doing much of anything these days. All I really do is do freelance work from home (I'm a writer), work on the guitar, and float around in the pool at my gym - and to me that's enough. Most of my panic attacks are gone, but after being on Prozac for 23 years now I feel like I'm on pins and needles and that I have this low level anxiety/fatigue. I went out for a Father's Day dinner last night and I kept having these waves of anxiety/sweating which I know would have blown up into a full blown panic attack/rush to the toilet with diarrhea at a higher dose of Prozac. I'm supposed to go on a date tonight with a woman I've met a few times but I honestly don't want to because I'm tried of they psychological drain. This was what prompted the "withdrawing from life" comment. And if the relationship doesn't go anywhere, so what? I've lost dozens of relationships from side effects of medications. This is just another one.

 

Sorry for the rant, I'm just tired of all the nonsense this drug has caused. My friends are telling me to reinstate the higher dose but I refuse to because I'm not going to become hypersexual again and I have another friend who is a pharmacist who is telling me to switch meds. I feel like a guinea pig in all of this, and then when my life falls apart I'm told to put it back together. :(

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

It is amazing what unhelpful advise people dish out, isn't it?  If only we'd all thought of just putting our lives back together!;)  I think people find it hard to comprehend the time involved with proper brain healing.  I recently held for 8 months in order to stabilise properly, and it worked a treat.  I have since been able to continue tapering with much less bother.  You did a fairly big drop in March, so I'd say it's entirely normal for you to need more time to gain some stability. 

 

Sounds like you'll need to be really firm with people who don't understand w/d, and help them see that things like going on dates/socialising are secondary to the importance of proper healing.  I imagine that those issues will sort themselves out once the drug is influencing you less.  Trying to fix them is like trying to fix the symptoms of the problem, rather than the problem itself.  You are doing the right thing in addressing the root cause.   

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Thanks, Karen. That really, really helped. I keep wanting to grab people and shake them and say "I'll tell you when I'm better" because no one seems to get it. When I had akathisia the first time (and didn't know what it was) I was pacing and crying and jittery and so so anxious, and my Dad said one day, "Let's all go to the new mall that opened up!" I was just in total disbelief. Really? A mall? I can't stop pacing and I wake up, look around, and cry and you think I want to go a new mall full of hundreds of strangers? Are you out of your mind? :(  And he's a retired doctor! (but to his credit he's not a psychiatrist).

 

I feel like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. I'm constantly down about how much damage the drug has done to my life, but I don't know if this is because I'm still in withdrawal, if this is who I am at the lower dose, or if this is what my brain is like after 22 years on meds. But I can't go back on the drug because of all of the side effects. I'm not going to start compulsively throwing myself at women again. I'd rather be depressed. But of course I can't mention that this is the real reason to my parents, particularly my 73 year old mother, because it was my childhood full of guilt and shame around anything sexual that got me here in the first place! :(

 

Thanks again, though. It's good to know there are people out there who get it.

 

Fleeing

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Hey, everyone. I'm at month four of 10 mg of Prozac after dropping from 15 mg (which I know now was too large a cut).

 

Anyway, I'm wondering what happened to me last night/this morning is what's known as a window/wave. Here's what happened:

 

Sunday: Switched from taking my 10 mg of Prozac at night to Monday morning

 

Monday: Got up at 7:30 am. Tried to go to summer school but couldn't do it because of feeling blah and left. Cleaned the house, went grocery shopping, changed light bulbs, tried on old clothes, donated old clothes to thrift, went grocery shopping again, tried to relax in a pool until 9 pm. This all felt a bit manic but I pushed myself to do it all. This is where it all falls apart. That night I fell into this slump where I felt incredibly depressed and fearful of the future, that this would never end, that I won't be able to cope when my parents pass away. I stayed up texting my friends for support.

 

Tuesday: I wake up today and feel terrible and depressed and scared of the future. I force myself to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill for an hour. For the first half hour I feel awful, like there are tears right behind my eyes and some slip out, that I'm never going to get any better, that I should reinstate my drugs or possibly admit myself to the hospital.

 

BUT THEN

 

At the 45 minute mark or so on the treadmill, my depressed mood completely evaporated. The tears behind my eyes dried up in a matter of minutes. My fear of the future went away. I chatted with a few friends, had a shower, and went for a smoothie. Then I came home.

 

I was completely gobsmacked at the incredible change in mood. I've gone to the treadmill many times to lift my spirits, but it's never been so sudden and drastic. I've been reading the forums and I wonder if my flurry of activity on Monday was what led to the crash on Monday night.

 

Can anyone relate to this? Is this is a wave? If it is, then that's wonderful news because it means that my depression and fears are being triggered by the drug. Right now I feel completely fine. :)

 

 

Edited by scallywag
merged new intro topic into existing topic

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

It's possible that switching your dose from night to morning cause a 'blip' in your levels.  Being extra busy after that wouldn't have helped either!  It sounds like you've got back on track though, which is the main thing. 

 

Another thought - it's important to keep exercise to a gentle level, as too much can ramp up your symptoms. 

 

How's the hold been going otherwise? 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

I think you're right. I think it's from either the switch or from pushing myself way too hard. 

 

My single biggest fear in life is that I won't be able to care for myself once my parents pass away, but I've realized after this latest wave that the fear only hits me when I'm either going through some type of drug screw up, like missing a dose or getting sick. This was a huge huge epiphany for me lately because now I know that it's been the drug all along. :D

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

Yes, it's nice when you get some evidence that you might be alright after all, and that it's the drugs causing the crazy-making stuff. 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Is there a more accurate word for how people feel coming off meds than just "crappy?" I don't have the panic attacks like I used to, but I feel jittery and tired and restless all at once, along with also feeling "terrible." It's hard to describe. :(

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

Does this seem close?

Akathisia (from the Greek for "not sitting still") has long been recognized as a side effect of some—perhaps most—psychiatric medications, from antipsychotics to antidepressants. It is often described as an "inner restlessness," a "need to keep moving." Sometimes it's associated with extreme emotional distress. In terms of severity, it can range from a mild nuisance to—in some cases—aggressive tendencies. (Indeed, the psychiatrist David Healy has even linked psychotropic-induced akathisia to suicide attempts and violent behavior.)

 

Another word that springs to mind is Traumatised.

 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

I've definitely had akathisia before, once when I tried coming off my meds years ago and again after back surgery. It's a total nightmare. I couldn't stop pacing and I would wake up every morning and just start to cry for no reason. I remember clutching my girlfriend and saying "I don't know what to do" and she called my parents who debated admitting me to a psych ward. And the whole time it was drug withdrawal and no one ever told us. 

 

This doesn't feel like that exactly. It's not as intense. Just waves of depression and minor restlessness. 

 

What have you been through?

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

When I was first trying to get off effexor, and made a too-big reduction, I struggled for three months with exhaustion, shortness of breath, depression, panic attacks, despair, twitchy eye, nausea, dizziness, sleeplessness .... It was horrible.  At three months I started to feel better.  Looking back, I wish I'd up-dosed, but I just didn't have the wider experience that I have now.  Anyway, I got through, but yuck!  Over the last two-years (ish) I've gotten more and more stabilised, especially after my 8 month hold. 

 

Sounds like your feelings are just plain 'ole withdrawal. 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

The shortness of breath caught my eye. I've had moments where I feel like I've forgotten to breathe. And these moments of sudden exhaustion where I feel like I need to drop whatever I'm doing and go to sleep, like so bad I shouldn't be driving. 

 

What's up dosing? Going to a higher dose then weaning from there?

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB
51 minutes ago, FleeingFluoxetine said:

What's up dosing? Going to a higher dose then weaning from there?

Exactly. 

 

That's exhaustion is so hard.  I remember that, just basically felt like I spend that three months lying on my couch.  Friends would pop in and I didn't have the breath to speak. 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Does anyone here have experience with updosing Prozac? I still feel terrible and keep bursting into tears three months after my drop from 15 to 10 mg. I felt like I was on top of the world at 15. Maybe I should go back to 15 and stabilize there for three months before I reduce again. 

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

Have any symptoms improved since dropping to10mg?  Have you made any other changes to other meds in that time? 

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Most of my side effects from taking the drug are gone: the amplified anxiety, the panic attacks, the diarrhea, the hypersexuality, and the hypervigilance have all just melted away. The only thing that's really left are the emotional breakdowns and the occasional pacing. This is why I don't want to return to a higher dose. But the breakdowns are scary as hell. : \

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

That those other symptoms have gone is a very, very good sign that you are stabilsing.  Instead of tinikering with doses, I would suggest looking at non-drug-techniques-to-cope-with-emotional-symptoms

 

Building up a solid nest of coping tools and supportive strategies is what will get you through the breakdowns.  I had to do the same in my early withdrawal, and it turns out it's a very good investment to have made.  Find a meditation that works for you - there are guided ones on line.  Learn some relaxing yoga poses and some breathing techniques.  Have epsom salt baths.  I used all these things, and more, to get through. 

 

Gradually, the breakdowns will lessen as teh other symptoms did. 

 

Hugs,
Karen

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

Hey, Karen. Sorry I didn't reply sooner. I've been fighting with my aunt who just doesn't get it and has basically said my problems don't stem from the drug but from a dysfunctional family dynamic with my parents (!).

 

Today was actually a really good day. I woke up feeling well, I ran errands, I'm making dinner, and I think the decision to stay on 10 mg might have been the right thing to do. I've been keeping a diary of all of this in my phone so I can see the progression off the drug. My plan right now is to stabilize for at *least* three months (maybe even a year) before I think about lowering my dose from 10 mg to zero. That can wait. I want to enjoy what's left of the summer. :)

 

Fleeing Fluoxetine

Share this post


Link to post
KarenB

Holding sounds good Fleeing.  Apart from dealing with 'dysfunctional family dynamics' - ha!  I have those too;).  Don't worry, we believe you...

Share this post


Link to post
FleeingFluoxetine

I think most of my side effects are gone at this point, except for the fact that my mood is so low that from time to time it's scary. I've had super fun happy days, but they seem to be at like a 1/4 ratio with days where I have this cloud of blah hanging over me that I can only lift by walking on a treadmill for an hour. I guess after 20 years of Prozac it makes sense that my brain is having a hard time getting used to life without the added serotonin. I dropped from 15 mg to 10 mg on March 10th and was fine until Stage 2 kicked in about six weeks later. Since then it's just been a drag and I'm hoping that this will all fade into the past.

Share this post


Link to post
powerback

hi fleeing ,do you ever wonder like myself why we just cant keep to this site and away from family and friends with the constant trying to explain ourselves ,it gets me in more trouble than its worth but I still do it ,went to my mothers for lunch yesterday and of course I couldn't help myself ,it didn't turn out good .

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.