Experiencing bad withdrawal symptoms after stopping Prozac

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Hello all,

So I had taken Prozac for a year since last August for social anxiety. Even though I didn't show severe anxiety traits, I decided to take it as an easy fix for my shy, awkwardness. I was never told about the withdrawal symptoms at the beginning so I didn't know what would be at stake once I stopped taking them.

So after a year of taking Prozac, I decided to taper off at the start of September. I felt that I wanted to be happy naturally rather than depend on a drug. I talked with my psychiatrist and was scheduled to taper off throughout the month of September and then I could completely stop taking it afterwards. So I did just that. During the month of October, I was fine. I realized this was because the Prozac was still floating in my system. However, when November came, I started to experience brain zaps, hot flashes, irritability, sweating, and insomnia. Sometimes I feel so antsy that I have to get up and do something. It's screwing me up but I know it's withdrawal symptoms, not the real me. 

I'm afraid that these symptoms will last forever and I won't break free. I want to believe that the withdrawal phase is temporary but it's hard to do that when you're currently experiencing the symptom. For those who are coming off Prozac or have successfully survived the symptoms, what did you do to help you ease through it all? What was your experience taking this drug? 

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18 Replies

  • Posted

    I plan to taper also and have studied up alot and decided on 3-4 % month. I've learned with another SSRI my psychiatrist was clueless and suffered the long consequences. May have been to much to soon.

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    • Posted

      Hi OreElect,

      I'm sorry to hear that you learned the hard way. It's horrible to know that many psychiatrists are just not equipped with the knowledge about the adverse effects of these drugs. A lot of them don't even tell you about the symptoms and then you later realize what you got yourself into.

      Are you planning to taper off Prozac within 3-4 months? I hope you successfully get through it! I'm praying I'll survive as well. Good luck to us both ?

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    • Posted

      Sometime in the next 6 month's. I also am sorry to hear your suffering as alot here can relate with. A hard one to explain to someone that has never had the condition. Time is important. Prayer's here for this group forum daily. I think sharing our experiences helps. One thing I did start taking was a supplement with magnesium,zinc and b6. ZMA. Seems to have helped me alot. Read up on magnesium deficiency and side effects. Nutrition and daily exercise also been a big help and just keeping my mind busy and enough excise to get a good night's sleep.

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    • Posted

      I totally agree with you. It is hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced what we've gone through. Sharing our experiences does help though and I don't feel as alone. I will look up ZMA though. Are you able to take it along with Prozac and feel ok? 

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    • Posted

      Sorry for the not relying sooner. Yes to the ZMA. Having magnesium deficiency made sense that I probably am in that category. As mentioned also in this thread by Katecogs a couple others I didn't know about and will study up on. Best knowledge I've found is by others experience's. Live and learn. A weird condition that is pretty tough to live with as you already know. I'm still reading up on differences in magnesium types and will share as I go.

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  • Posted

    The medical professionals are useless in advising patients how best to withdraw from these type of drugs.  I see this all to often.

    I came off Citalopram (similar to Prozac) some years ago and had some withdrawl symptoms, was successful though but sadly had to restart after a year (family illness affected me emotionally), spent a year on them and I've just withdrawn again, spending this last year doing so.  Doing it this slow I had absolutely no withdrawl this time.

    You came off way too fast.  You need to spend months doing this.  Meds have to be tapered off by the smallest amount, each time lasting around 2 months before reducing again.  Your symptoms won't last forever, though they might hang around for quite a litle while yet - and yes, it definitely is withdrawl, not you.

    Some people do reinstate a small dose of their drug to help ease symptoms - you need to speak to your doctor about this though.

    Since I've been off mine (since August now) I've been taking 5-HTP and l-tyrosine (5-HTP is a natural SSRI and both are bought over the counter).  There's no start up / withdrawl from these.  These cannot be taken with Prozac, and though you wouldn't normally see a doctor before starting these, but since you've just stopped Prozac and are having withdrawal it would be best to if you decided to take these.

    I'm having good results with them.

    When I had withdrawal years ago I found nausea was the worst for me, so I made sure I had small regular meals as it helped combat the sickly feeling.  Also I went to bed early and slept loads which I found helped with the brain zaps - they were worse when I was tired.

    Agree - magnesium, zinc and B6 - and lots of fluids too.

    Sorry you're going through this - it is completely avoidable if the medical professionals just got their act together.

    K x

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    • Posted

      Hi Katecogs,

      Thank you for your response. I'm glad you were successful before and I hope you are successful again tapering off of your med.

      I think you maybe right that I tapered off too fast. Part of me is hoping I'll be ok if I keep continuing to not take the Prozac and just ride out all the symptoms til they disappear. But then part of me is thinking I should restart and taper off again at a slower pace. 

      When you say "Your symptoms won't last forever, though they might hang around for quite a litle while yet", what do you mean? 

      Are there side effects to the 5-HTP and l-tyrosine? Is there a specific brand you would suggest to get? 

       

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    • Posted

      I finished tapering my meds a few months ago now and have been off meds since.  No there's no side effects with 5-HTP and l-tyrosine, though of course some people may be a little sensitive ie tummy upset maybe, but absolutely nothing anywhere near to what you get with Fluoxetine etc.  They work quicker too - within a week or 2.  You can stop them any time too without having to withdraw.  But ..... you must not take these whilst on Fluoxetine or other prescribed SSRI's.

      Not sure where you're based, but I'm in the UK and bought mine from Holland & Barrett, and my latest ones by Incite Nutrition 200mg I bought off Amazon.

      The withdrawal effects you're having at the moment will wear off, though may take a while (hang around) - when I first withdrew my effects lasted a couple of months - not horrendous all that time, but I could feel them there, especially the brain zaps if I turned quickly or was tired.

      K x

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    • Posted

      That's amazing you've been successful both times tapering off! I may consider taking the 5-HTP and l-tyrosine but if my psychiatrist says that I need to reinstate the Fluoxetine, then I will not take the 5-HTP. 

       

      How long were you tapering off Fluoxetine before you decided to switch to the 5-HTP and l-tyrosine?

      I'm based in the US but I will look up these supplements online. 

      Yeah I am experiencing random waves of symptoms where there are times I am ok and don't feel symptoms and then there are times when I do. Especially at night, I tend to get jolted awake with tingling all over my body and I end up staying awake most of the night. I am staying hopeful that the withdrawal effects will wear off. The only thing that bothers me is not knowing when they will go away. 

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    • Posted

      I was on the meds for a long, long time before I considered tapering off, and I had been ill for a long time leading up to taking medication.  Yes, I'd only suggest trying 5-HTP when anyone is coming off meds - it can really help rather then being without anything.  But always talk to your doctor.

      I was on Citalopram (very similar to Fluoxetine) and I spent a year withdrawing and stopped around September?  I went from 20mg / 15mg / 10mg / 5mg / 2.5mg / 1.25mg / 0 (splitting my tablet and then crushing the last part as it was too small to break up) and I spent about 2 months on each reduction.  I knew I was going to take 5-HTP and l-tyrosine long before I'd even decided to stop as I'd been on them before, and think I waited 2 weeks before starting them once I'd come off meds.

      Yes those waves of symptoms are typical when you start meds and can happen when you come off them too.  Are you off the meds completely now or still tapering?  If still tapering I'd suggest slowing down and take the minimal reduction each time - if you're off meds completely I suppose symptoms can last weeks or maybe months?  Of course the symptoms won't be bad all the way as they'll ease as time goes by.

      K x

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    • Posted

      Ah I see. I plan to see my psychiatrist next week so I am definitely going to ask about restarting back at 10mg and tapering off on a slower schedule since I had only tapered off for one month and then completely stopped. 

      How long do you plan to take the 5-HTP and l-tyrosine?

      Will you stop the supplement completely after awhile?

      Have you experienced withdrawals at all since tapering off Citalopram and getting on 5-HTP? (Sorry to ask so many questions!) 

      Yes, I am completely off Fluoxetine right now. I haven't taken it since the end of September. So it's been 2 months with 0 mg. I'm trying not to think of when the symptoms will end becuase I think that makes me more anxious and worrisome trying to think of how long they'll last for. 

      I did some research on 5-HTP through looking at reviews on Amazon and some people said it helps them but some people said the side effects aren't worth it. I dunno... I feel like I have so many options but trying to pick the best one for myself. Because I feel so strongly on not putting anything else in my body, I may just have to ride through the withdrawal phase until it ends. We shall see. 

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    • Posted

      If you've been off meds for 2 months I don't think it would be beneficial to restart now in order to taper off, but discussing with the psychiatrist will be best.

      I plan to stay on 5-HTP and l-tyrosine indefinately ..... they're natural, don't bother me in any way, and help me feel well.

      I have any plans to stop the supplements.  Am happy taking it.

      No, I've had no withdrawals since tapering off Citalopram because I did it by a very minimal dose and eased off taking a year.  I came off some years ago and halved it each time and had withdrawal - the drop was too much.

      I can recommend a book on 5-HTP which I found invaluable - I'd have to message you on this site as if I mention it here my post will be deleted rolleyes

      There are probably just as many people reporting good things about 5-HTP as bad on Amazon, but I personally have had no side effects at all from it.  You can only but try I suppose.  Reading the book will give you a better insight into what it does, how your body get anxious, and how SSRI's work too.  I still read it from time to time now.  Really interesting.

      I researched 5-HTP on many sites and read the book before I decided to try it.

      Your symptoms will ease - you may find a little tailend of them lingering, but nothing that would be worrisome.  

      K x

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    • Posted

      Yeah, I will definitely talk with my psychiatrist next week about the best course of action. Although I do think that continuing to do what I'm doing now is good. If I can get through 2 months at 0mg, then I can get through another 2 months. I just got to stay strong!

      Yes, it would be great if you could direct message me the 5-HTP book title! Maybe I'll take a look into it. I agree though that this all comes down to trial and error. 

      Today I actually feel ok with no symptoms. But I am sure they'll return every now and then from here on out until they subside completely. Just taking it day by day. 

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    • Posted

      Yes, do whatever works for you - as long as you're comfortable then keep going wink  What works for one doesn't necessarily work for another, and we all find the right meds, dose, path eventually.

      Yes symptoms may return from time to time ..... it'll settle in time.  I'll pm you with the book title.

      K x

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    • Posted

      Thank you, katecogs. 

      Honestly, having talked to you has kept me sane throughout this week with the random flow of symptoms coming in and out. Since I am having some good days where I don't feel symptoms, I feel like this is a sign that they are going away. But of course, I am staying strong no matter what comes my way! 

      You've been a really great help and thank you so much for PMing me. Knowing that other people can relate and have succesfully withdrawn from an SSRI gives me a lot of hope that I too will reach the end of this tunnel. <3

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    • Posted

      Glad to have been of help.  Its a strange illness and an equally strange journey to recovery isn't it.  It is good to talk - makes you realise you aren't the only one going through this.

      Hope the book helps.

      K x

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