Mirtazapine withdrawal - light at the end of the tunnel

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I would like to share my withdrawal experiences in a bid to encourage all of those having a hard time coming off this drug.

I was prescribed mirtazapine for sleep issues in April last year. I was assured by my Doctor that they are 'totally non addictive' and that I 'could come off them at anytime' This was appealing to me as I was desperate for a solid 8 hours sleep (I had been sleeping around 3-4 hours a night for 2 months)

Please note, insomnia was the only reason for taking these tablets. I didn't feel depressed, just desperate and anxious for sleep.

My sleep improved dramatically from the first tablet I was sleeping for at least 9 -10 hours each night. At times I'd feel a little groggy but most of the time I felt refreshed and I was so relieved to be sleeping well again.

About 4 months later, my sleep pattern started to become very erratic. I'd sleep for 10 hours one night and then I wouldn't be able to sleep at all the following night. I contacted my Doctor and she advised me to double the dose. I didn't double but I did increase it from 15 mg to 22.5mg This seemed to do the trick. Apart from the occasional bad night I was sleeping well again.

My sleep continued to improve for at least 3 months, until my sleep became erratic again. The mirtazapine had obviously pooped out and I had become too tolerent for this dose. Of course my Doctor advised increasing the dose again, but I had wised up this time. I wasn't going to set myself up for another fall, I couldn't keep increasing the dose for the same thing to happen again.

I decided to taper off the medication. I had no idea of the misery and suffering that lay ahead. I would go up to 3 consecutive days without any sleep at all. Not even the dozing type! Instead I would have heart palpitations and repetetive songs playing in my head throughout the night. (I later realised this is a common withdrawal symptom) I had it really bad.

I felt completely depersonalized. I didn't have any interest in anything and I could barely muster up the energy to leave the house. I have my own business and this really suffered. I was a wreck, a complete zombie. I'm ashamed to say that there were times that I felt suicidal. What had this drug done to me?

I was able to seek comfort from other peoples experiences on this site. I also contacted the charity CITA, I spoke about my troubles and the state that I was in. It was a relief to do this, as I tend to keep things to myself so nobody around me would've known the extent of the problem. They helped devise a plan to gradually come off the medication altogether. It was reassuring to know that my symptoms were very common and that the situation would improve. They weren't able to give me a timeframe as recovery varies for different people.

I had spent 5 months on a slow taper from November - April. I cut the tablets up into smaller pieces and remained on 2 mg for a month. I then continued to miss one 2mg tablet over 7 weeks. So I'd take 7 one week, then 6 in a week, then 5 etc.

I have been off the tablets completely for over 6 weeks. I'm not out of the woods yet but I feel so much better. I sleep  between 6.5 - 7 hours each night. I have been taking 100 mg of 5htp capsules an hour before bed.I  could only take these after I had quit mirtazapine completely in order to avoid the risk of seretonin syndrome.

My advice to anyone suffering from withdrawals is know that the symptoms will pass eventually. stay strong and do the best you can to get on with life. Try not to dwell on the withdrawals and know that each day you're getting furher away from mirtazapine. There will be set backs, that's part of the withdrawals. Just accept it and keep moving forward.

Good luck to everyone trying to come off this drug. You wil get there!

 

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  • Posted

    Hi Scott. Thanks for sharing your story. I tapered mirt and was only on since July last year. My only withdrawal is insomnia. Will my sleep improve. Been off for nearly four weeks and only managing around 3 hours sleep. So fed up. Thanks
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    • Posted

      Hi Susansasha,

      My insomnia was as bad as it gets and it improved. So yes your sleep will certainly improve.

      I know its difficult but try not to dwell on the sleep issues too much. A good sleep pattern will return.

      Try to keep as active as possible, both physically and mentally. Get on with life the same way that you would if you were sleeping really well.

      Accept the bad nights for what they are and understand that they are part of the recovery process.

      Mirtazapine withdrawal does play a big role with sleep problems but so does anxiety. Try to relax and seek comfort in the fact that things will improve.

       

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    • Posted

      Hi Scott I had my gallbladder removed in December and have been going through hell ever since. I wasn't sleeping due to vomiting and nausea and my gp prescribed me mirap to sleep through the sickness. I started on 7.5 mg but felt very drugged so cut the tablet in half and had been taking them for over 7 weeks. I was getting a good sleep but decided last week to stop the tablets as my nausea and vomiting had settled and I felt ok. Well I haven't slept great since and had nausea and awake since 4am this morning with nausea and dry wretching. I am trying to figure out if this is withdrawals from the tablet or is this my original problem back again. Did you have any nausea or sickness at all? Also loss is appetite too. My husband thinks the dose I was taking was so low that it couldn't be from the tablets. Appreciate your feedback. Thanks x
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    • Posted

      Hi Acejohnston, yes I felt nauseous, especially on the nights that I couldn't sleep. Mirtazapine stimulates an appetite so it's totally normal to lose it when coming off.

      Mirtazapine is still strong at lower doses. I was on 2mg for a month and it still had a big effect.

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    • Posted

      The nausea was quite mild and it was one of the first symptoms to disappear for me. I had to force myself to eat for a few weeks after coming off completely. I'm over 6 weeks off and the only symptoms I suffer with now are the occasional bout of insomnia, heart palpitations and repetitive songs.

       

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  • Posted

    Excellent post Scott.

    I feel that trying to remain positive really does help.

    Thanks for sharing your encouraging experience.

    All things pass.

    Best wishes to all.

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  • Posted

    Thank you Scott, for your inspiration. I take mirt for anxiety and depression and have no plans to stop yet. I have been terrified reading the ordeals some people have experienced. Interesting to read about the repetitive song playing, that happened to me when I stopped taking zopiclone after many years of prescribed use. I suppose it's the grey matter returning to normal. Anyways, I joined a choir, seriously! My mind is rather strange 😃
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  • Posted

    Scott quick question. Im finding that I am extremely sensitive to dose reductions. My reduction schedule is as follows. I was taking 15mg per day. Doc has told me to go down by having 0.75 of my tablet every other day for three weeks before reducing further. So I had 0.75 of mytablet day before yesterday. Yesterday was hell. Tons of anxiety. I had my full tab last night. Have been mostly ok today. This suggests a level of sensitivity that is not aligned with the general perception of antidepressants. Any thoughts? Were you that sensitive?

    Thanks for your help. Trying to make informed decisions to help me get off the meds.

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    • Posted

      Yes I was sensitive to the smallest dose reduction.

      Give yourself time to stabilise from the reduction before you continue to reduce. You know your own body, so go with what you feel is right.

      Try not to increase the dose after a reduction - the body doesn't respond well to this.

       

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    • Posted

      Doc recommended the following taper:

      1. Alternate daily for 3 weeks: full 15 mg tab / 0.75 portion of the 15mg tab

      2. Alternate daily for 3 weeks: full 15 mg tab / 0.5 portion of the 15mg tab

      3. Daily 0.75 portion of 15mg tab for 3 weeks

      4. Daily 0.50 portion of 15mg tab for 3 weeks

      5. 0.50 portion of 15mg tab every alternate day

      6. 0.50 portion of 15mg tab every third day

      7. Freedom

      So whilst I will NOT go back up on overall consumption he recommended this alternate day dosing as a better alternative. Honestly the first day was bad, as I mentioned. Doing fine now. Had 0.75 of the tablet again last night and slept for 4-5 hours (good enough for me). Anxiety gone. 

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    • Posted

      That sounds good. If that doesn't work as well as you want, you can go online for the CITA tapering protocol.
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  • Posted

    So sorry for your agitated suffering Scott. I was hoping to read a positive WD but it seems no one on this forum is having an ok time coming off Mirt.

    There was a time, (a few months ago), that the magic method from CITA was the answer to all our troubles ... seems not. I am not looking forward to my WD later this year, however I hope you can overcome the nightmare memories of this terrible episode. I wish you & your family well.

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  • Posted

    Hi Scott. How long did it take for your sleep to improve. I tapered to 1 mg and have been off three weeks. Only managing 2 to 3 hours sleep so fed up and concerned my sleep will never return. Thanks Susan x
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    • Posted

      The 5htp seems to help me.

      I have slept well for 2 weeks straight. Last night I didn't sleep at all! That's the effects of mirtazapine, there is no rhyme nor reason to the withdrawal process. I just have to accept last night was a bad night and move on. My sleep pattern has improved dramatically on the whole, so I'm seeking comfort in that.

      Your sleep pattern will return. You will have a few ups and downs but you will definitely get better.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your help Scott. I am trying to get through but so hard. I am so teary all the time and just want my life back. I slept so well before mirt. It must mess with the sleep area of the brain? Take care Susan x
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    • Posted

      Hi,

      A book that really helped me was The effortless sleep method by S. Stephens

      Also look at Sleepio online

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