Starting Week 3 More Anxious

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Around the 18th of September I started to develop Tinnitus, I had stopped taking Sertraline a few months before and this noise as well as certain other health issues caused utter hell to my anxiety.

I stopped taking Sertraline because of how tired it made me.

My doctor prescribed me 20mg of Fluoxetine, it's supposed to be "activating" so I hoped less fatigue than the Sertraline.

I must have had every side effect. I took this for eight days then stopped as I heard it can make Tinnitus worse. Well stopping it didn't stop the Tinnitus (I still have it) and spent 7 weeks suffering. I wish I just kept taking it. I was also on antibiotics for the first seven days whilst taking it, so now I am worried the antibiotics have interfered with it.

I am back on the Fluoxetine and have been on it for about two weeks.

I am in hell, I have massive health anxiety and feel more anxious than ever, I have no appetite and am exhausted. My anxiety is worse in the evenings.

I am wondering if anyone has had these kinds of side effects:

shaking/trembling, pins and needles, shortness of breath, dry cough, left leg pain (around the calf accompanied by tingling), hunger but no appetite, insomnia yet severely tired, irritability.

Something else I have noticed is my brain keeps bringing up random old memories, be it life or something in a video game or on TV or a random song getting stuck in my head. Sometimes when I try to sleep I get a sudden jolt of anxietyas I'm starting to fall asleep.

Every sensation drives up my anxiety, I keep thinking the worst such as "Oh god I have MS! Cancer! Blood clots!" I can't seem to get this thinking under control, I have been to the doctors a few times, tests always come back fine. But my mind jumps to a new issue, even if I try to rationalise it, I have OCD so it's even more difficult.

I hear that weeks 2-4 are the worst, but will it get better? I just am so tired and desperately want this to work, it feels like the universe is against me and etc.

I am frightened that stopping then starting may have messed up the chances of it working, like my body is going to be immune to any good it does.

It would be nice to know if people here have or have had similar experiences. I will try to update regularly to monitor my progression.

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72 Replies

  • Edited

    Hi Rayan

    Recovery on those meds are not easy and side effects make us feel even worse.

    Increased unreasonable anxiety, insomnia, jitters, depression, night sweats and many more

    It will go away, just be patient, keep going with meds and you will start to get better

    • Posted

      Hi, thanks for the reply. I have been reading around and apparently (at least it seems) like the 3rd week is the dreaded week and things may start improving in the 4th week.

  • Edited

    Oh Hello Ryan and welcome to the fun factory! ALL of those symptoms are being caused by the Fluoxetine, it's very powerful but don't underestimate how serious and debilitating our illness is, and for many of us it's hell on earth getting on these SSRI antidepressants, it really is! Is it possible the tinitus is a separate development not related to the fluox, but just a coincidence? I've had some vague high pitched buzzing but it's intermittent. I'm into week 9 next week and I think just starting to get over the side effects, but we do get these setbacks sometimes called blips on here which do pass off but can be pretty disappointing especially if you've already started feeling better then go downhill again and start distrusting the pills. Those intrusive thoughts and sounds are part of OCD which I only discovered since talking to the GP psychiatrist, and they're slowly disappearing on the meds. The vivid dreams can be quite shocking! One thing the doc doesn't mention about these tablets is unfortunately they can make the symptoms you're suffering from a bit worse for the first few weeks, for me it's been about 6 weeks until the nausea and fatigue had reduced, I was literally flat out on the bed for weeks, and lost 2 stone. Everything you're going through is par for the course mate, but you WILL get through it, and it will be worth it, and you'll be proud of getting through it, for me it's the most difficult thing I've ever had to do and I'm 62, so don't underestimate it. I've had quite a few wobbles along the way. The fluox will still work, even if you stopped for a while, have a read of some of the other posts. We are all here to help and support, we know exactly what you're going through right now. That uncertainty whether it's working is very hard to overcome but trust it, it's very rare it doesn't. Have a read of some of the other posts, and look for katecogs, who's posted some brilliant ones. Keep on going mate, dig deep, it's a tough rollercoaster for a while.

    • Edited

      Thx Phil, that does mean a lot. I have to keep reminding myself that things will get better. With my OCD and Health Anxiety in overdrive I am terrified I have diabetes or something worse but I don't know what is a genuine problem or just the Fluoxetine.

      The tinnitus started a little bit before but I stopped for 7 weeks (because I heard that's how long Fluoxetine stays in your system) to see if it would go away, it didn't and it's awful and contributes immensely to my anxiety as I never have any peace.

      It's not so much dreams, more racing thoughts and random memories that jolt me awake as I'm just getting to sleep.

      I am praying that the side effects will start to ease up soon, I am desperate for some relief.

  • Edited

    A difficult day yesterday and today. The anxiety and nausea have hit back with a vengeance. I am angry because I think "It's day 14, how can I STILL be nauseous?!" has anyone else had it come back at around this time? I tried to eat as much as I could but it was hard not to gag whilst eating.

    Has anyone ever had tinnitus that has gone away whilst on the Fluoxetine?

    • Edited

      Hi again Ryan. Do you have any support close to you? 14 days is still early days and yeah it's the time side effects are pretty rough for a lot of people starting the tablets. You sound like your having classic side effects and you're very sensitive to the meds like I am. Try not to worry about them and know it's the tablets causing your pain and worry. I thought I had everything terminal that suddenly started in a couple of weeks, but it in reality I knew it takes a long time for those illnesses to start. I was nauseous muchof the time for about 7 weeks, then it suddenly stopped for a week, then came back, which nearly made me stop taking them. That was the worst time I think. It suddenly stopped again, along with the anxiety, yesterday afternoon. Been fine today, but I'm still scared it'll return. I saw some posts with the tablets causing hearing issues such as ringing or feeling like ear plugs were in and muffled hearing so it seems this too is a side effect in some ways. Have you tried bananas, or making some smoothies with milk, with banana, strawberry, blueberries and some honey in a blender? It'll fill you up and might stimulate your digestive system to accept solids. The tablets work by making more serotonin, which is the feel good chemical in the brain which eventually makes you happier, but about 95% is made in the stomach which doesn't like it and makes you nauseous and sometimes sick. This will settle down as it starts working in the brain and it gets used to the extra amount. Please be patient, it's a long haul with a slow burn drug, it takes time which seems forever when you're in it, but keep a journal and you'll quickly see the weeks pass and you can compare weeks. Keep going Ryan, you can do this mate, and you'll get better.

    • Posted

      Thx again, it's nice that I'm not alone. I live with my mum, so I have support there. My main concerns are that it just won't work, or it will work for a while then suddenly stop. I am concerned about the pains, my left leg/calf especially, it twitches, tingles and throbs. I have had it looked at and the Dr says it's not swollen or clotted. I fear now it's Disuse Syndrome, so I'm jumping from one thing to another. I also feel more anxious after eating so that's been difficult.

      These forums do help, it's nice to know that my symptoms are shared by others (I don't mean that in a bad way) so I know it's par the course of the Fluoxetine, but I really hope they take affect in a good way.

    • Edited

      Hi Ryan, hang in there mate! It's good you've got your mum there, it's good to have that support or just someone to talk to, it's a good distraction even if they can't do anything, and it's awful for them to see you going through it, just think how delighted she'll be when you get better, which you will, be a patient patient! Have you hurt your back recently at all, I'm wondering if your leg pain might be a sciatica nerve, I've had similar pains like that, but I'm ticking on a bit anyway! Stress, anxiety, worry does put a huge strain on the body and can cause aches and pains as it's always so tense - if you let out a deep breath from what's in there now (don't breathe in first) and relax your chest you might notice that tension drop a bit, let your chin drop down to your chest a bit at the same time. Then try it slowly after taking a very deep breath. You could try some vitamin b complex and vitamin d supplements. Magnesium helps with cramps and muscle problems, ask your doctor if they can check your bloods for any deficiencies.. My huge concern until now, and I still do worry about now a bit is that it wouldn't work, but I know it is starting to, it's very rare they won't, why would they not work, after all it's what they're designed to do. A lot of people just give up because it just takes too long to work and they're impatient, it takes different times for different people. The thing is you'll never know unless you keep on going, and if you stop now you'll always wonder about it. Keep on going, you've already come quite a long way, what's a few weeks in a whole life? Keep on pushing through it.

  • Edited

    A difficult day today, I hear Fluoxetine is supposed to be activating but I am exhausted. Is this normal? Despite being so tired, I have insomnia so can't rest properly.

    I am also more anxious after eating, anyone else get this?

    I am also shaky, like my arms shake when lifting them, almost like hunger shakes.

    • Edited

      Oh yeah, all classic side effects!! Just have a lay down for a few hours, even if you can't sleep it's still rest. The fatigue is horrible, do you feel any better in the evenings? I had increased anxiety and heart beat for a short while after eating which only lasted a week really, I could only think that it was a sugar and salt and energy rush as the food was digested and absorbed as my body was so depleted as I wasn't eating enough because of the nausea etc. Arms and even now my hands are still shaking, very weird! My legs shaking coming down the stairs in the morning too. It's starting to all pass off gradually, but it can come back and first time I got so angry and disappointed thinking I'd gone through all that misery, started feeling better, then back down again. It is getting better again though, these blips are a bloody nuisance, it's only the brain sorting itself out. I took the pill in the evening for a while because of the tiredness, but back to morning now, and it does seem to reduce the morning anxiety and make me more energetic after about an hour and a half. I'm guessing because your still in the early stages your body and brain is just totally exhausted until it gets used to the extra serotonin in your body! Try not to fight it and accept it as just side effects, it's awful I know, but you're very brave to have addressed the problem, and to have gotten this far, it's a really really difficult thing to do , people don't understand it until they have to go through it. Get in touch whenever you need to mate.

    • Edited

      Thanks Phil, sorry to hear you are having a rough time too. Yea, today was hard. The anxiety has not let up at all and I always get very anxious after eating. I take it in the morning and in the evenings I get very anxious. lots of shaking, lots of nausea.

      I have really bad health anxiety so I am terrified that I have some terminal illness. Today whilst watching M.A.S.H as I was trying to eat, which is still a struggle I just got suddenly light headed and dizzy for a few seconds, as you can imagine now I am expecting the worst. Diabetes, MS, high or low iron or sodium, it's all running through my head. I of course fear Serotonin Syndrome too due to the shaking and weakness and etc. I also sometimes just get short of breath which makes me anxious yet it's probably the anxiety that causes it so it's a vicious loop.

      I have been to A and E multiple times during all this, inevitably I turn out okay.

      I am going to try get a fasting blood test just for reassurance and I am on the waiting list for an MRI, this is also a source of stress as the idea of something like MS really scares me and the waiting is murder.

      My mum is stressed out because she worries about me though I have tried to explain to her I just need time.

      I hope you start feeling better too, I pray by week 4 (well I pray when I wake up tomorrow) that I'll really start to feel better. Just gotta get through each day.

    • Posted

      Yeah, I've had the ambulance out 3 times, thought I was having a heart attack first time but I'm still here! Been into a&e twice after, still here. It's a time for patience and tolerance and understanding, I'm sure mum is suffering inside, it's awful watching someone you love in pain and not being able to do anything for them. For me I got so tired of worrying about health anxiety I think my brain just switched off because I just kind of realized and accepted it was just the meds causing these symptoms but my brain overthinking the cause. I thought about MS, chronic fatigue ME, Lyme disease and pretty much everything else I could read about and interpret as what I'd suddenly got in two weeks, but most of these illnesses in reality take a long time to show symptoms - it's the fluox doing it all, believe me. You'll get through it, probably you'll be so tired anyway, that you'll suddenly stop worrying about other health anxieties. You'll look back on it on a few weeks I think and as the side effects wear off, you'll realize you haven't got any other illnesses after all, and that'll probably give you more confidence in the future and help reduce your health anxiety. Ask your GP about the Talk plus scheme, I'm getting several face to face counselling sessions which might help you with that side of it. You said you were on 20mg in your previous post, so are you taking 10mg morning and evening? I've just started taking both at the same time in the morning and it's made quite a difference, but discuss it with your GP first as I'm not an expert or doctor ok. Just believe that what you're doing is for the best and that you will get better mate, best wishes to you, keep on going.

    • Posted

      Ye, it's 20mg in the morning, I stopped taking Sertraline because of the chronic fatigue. It's funny, I thought I had Lyme Disease too.

      Sometimes I just lack breath, like when I talk to people and for some reason I am short on breath speaking, so I try not to speak. Sometimes I have to breath in hard because it just feels like I have not got enough air in my lungs and as you can imagine I get anxious because of this.

      Currently I got lower back pain and so I am nervous about that. It all compounds on each other.

      I have read that for many Week 3 is horrible and Week 4 can be a turning point, just gotta keep going as I really don't want to stop.

  • Edited

    Hi mate, greetings from Ausland 

    It has been 1 year and 2 months for me on fluoxetine. I have taken them once before i think 10 yeRs ago and after 2-3 weeks of side effects on 20mg i was feeling good.I stopped them after 1 year and was going good until 2022 so i have restarted them again. And this time its totally different journey.But before i tell you what i went through let me tell you - one year ago i was you, feeling what you feeling and scared i will never have my life back. YOU WILL, even you can not see it. So my little "highlights" of this journey:

    1. Anxiety and depression are going side by side and sometimes you not sure which one is it. Its ok, both getting treated by this meds.
    2. Anxious mind created anxious thoughts, causing body tensions and pains and anxious mind scanning your body, detecting any small feeling or sensation and turning into something scary and terminal. Its anxiety trying to trick you, you are good.
    3. Symptoms i went through - nausea, lost of appetite( lost 7kilos), increased anxiety and depression, shaky hands and feet, jitters, night sweats, face numbing, tunnel vision and crazy scary thoughts of loosing my mind and myself. It all will go away, you will see.
    4. Ups and downs - very scary but normal
    5. Try to live your life as nothing happened - i know its very hard but push yourself - it will help your recovery.
    • Edited

      Thank you, I'm glad people there's understand. Yes, I am trying to remind myself it will get better. Right now I'm in bed but my left calf keeps twitching, jiggling with spasms, so that has me scared.

      But this forum does help. I hope you fully recover too. I was on Sertraline for years and stopped because I was hoping to get some energy back, well that was a mistake. I remember getting on Sertraline was rough, but this is something else entirely.

      I have to keep reminding myself that I need to swim through the sewage to get to the promised land, so to speak.

    • Edited

      you will get there and we are here to support.

      Stay on the same dose 4-5 months, dont jump doses as it is not solution for recovery. Give one dose enough time to settle and if than you still not feeling ok - think about increase. Thats what happened to me - i was in 20mg for 10 month, going through ups and downs, and 3 months ago increased to 40, which looks like is right dose for me. So right dose is leading to succsseful recovery, but give it time.And longer you are on one dose, more chance you wont have any side effects when you increase, because every increase will make you feel like you are getting worse again, its normal.

      You will get there

    • Edited

      Hi Ryan,

      Sorry to hear you're suffering, I've had health anxiety for years and have a phobia of medications as I think I will have anaphylactic shock, So taking antidepressants was a huge choice for me personally. I have tried to battle depression for 5 years naturally, But I didn't have the strength to battle this bout of depression.

      I'm the same as you, I've had every disease going. However what I've learnt recently is worry when it does really happen. I went to the hospital some years back with a panic attack, I thought I was having a heart attack, when I attended they were just looking at me and asking questions, I was like you need to help me. They said If it was serious I would either be on the floor unconscious or not able to answer the questions. They knew it was a panic attack.

      I cant spend the rest of my life thinking what if? YOU ARE IN CONTROL. Don't allow your brain to take over. I stopped with the panic attacks and I have less health anxiety now a days.

      I'm also suffering with tinnitus, I have done for some time but recently I have started with eye flickers, so my optometrist thinks its something to do with the inner ear and the tubes that are connected. The tinnitus drives me crazy sometimes. I'm seeing a specialist today to have a look further. I too thought the fluoxetine has made it worse. We shall see. I think we tend to blame everything on the medications.

      Google doesn't help either, I never had health anxiety when I was younger and now lots of people suffer with it. We have too much information to hand without the education surrounding it. Google is always worse case scenario and 100 other things could be causing our health problems, mainly anxiety!! We can talk ourselves into anything, That's why they have placebo within trials.

      I'm onto day 18 and I am feeling a little glimmer of hope today.

    • Posted

      Hi Joanne, yea I'm trying to avoid Google but it's hard when you are having an anxiety attack in bed and the phone is right there. I stopped taking Fluoxetine the first time because I hoped my Tinnitus would go away, it didn't but I think the Tinnitus is unrelated. It is very bad Tinnitus and some nights as it rings I think to myself I would rather be deaf. I'm hoping the Fluoxetine will make the stress from it more manageable and hopefully less stress means less Tinnitus.

      I am on day 16 and I really hope you start feeling good again, we are all sailing this same ship.

    • Edited

      Hi, I'm sure you all know the breathing into a bag thing when you're having a panic attack, keep breathing slowly in and out of a bag, you need to rebreathe carbon dioxide from your exhaled breath because you've been breathing in too much oxygen and you need to balance the body gases. It does work when it gets to that tingling heart attack feeling stage! We're sailing the same ship, I like it - you can't change the wind but you can adjust the sails, I got that one from those crap motivation posters from work ha ha! I guess the wind is the anxiety and the sails are the Prozac. You've both got past that two weeks marker, nice one, that's further than many get to 🤞💊

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