Withdrawals: Thought I was progressing but I'm feeling worse again

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Hello everyone,

I've posted on here before but decided to update.

Basically, I've been on a roller coaster with Fluoxetine and decided to taper off it starting October. I was originally on 20mg for 8 months, then increased to 40mg for 3 months (which resulted in really bad panic attacks because my body couldn't handle it), back down to 20mg again, and then 10mg for 1 month. So overall, I was on Fluoxetine for 1 whole year.

But now I'm having really bad trouble withdrawing from it. I haven't taken it since October and I'm experiencing all crazy physical symptoms like brain zaps, hot flashes, tremors, sweating, insomnia, head pressure, etc. It's been off and on. Last week I was completely fine but now the withdrawals have hit me once again.

I'm frustrated and very very scared because I don't know what to do. I thought Fluoxetine was the easiest to get off of. I don't know when the withdrawals will end but I don't want to go back on the drug either. I need help.

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Did you start to feel well at any time when you were taking the meds?

    Also how long did you spend tapering off them?  I'm wondering that you've withdrawn too quick which is why you're having these withdrawal effects.  I spent a year withdrawing from SSRI's dropping by the smallest amount and staying on it for 2 months each time before progressing further.  I didn't have any withdrawal that way, unlike the first time I withdrew some years before.

    Some people reinstate a small amount of the meds to help ease the withdrawal, but you must see your doctor if you decide to do this.  Other than that you could ask your doctor if you could take 5-HTP which is not prescription but bought over the counter, but you should discuss with him if it's safe since you've just stopped meds.  It may help ease your symptoms.

    I think seeing your doctor is first port of call though.

    K x

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    • Posted

      So the only time I felt perfectly OK and back to normal was through all of last week when my symptoms subsided and disappeared. I felt very good. But then after that week, the withdrawals returned out of the blue. Would you say this is progress though?

      I'll email my doctor. However, he doesn't seem to believe that I am having withdrawals. Which is why I'm hesitant to talk to him again.

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    • Posted

      Brain Zaps are typical withdrawl symptoms of this drug. I do feel you have stopped way to quickly. I have just gone back on Prozac but 16 years ago I was on them and I tapered down very slowly over a year. I plan to just stay on them now as it is the best medication I have ever found that works for me.
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    • Posted

      Did the withdrawals go away after you tapered off them for a year? What dose did you tapper off from?
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    • Posted

      Sometimes when people come off meds the withdrawal hits them at a later date. Some people do find their symptoms come and go too. So it does sound normal.

      Withdrawal though means you've come off too quick.

      Did you ever get to the stage of feeling well whilst on the meds? They often take a long time to work - sometimes 9 months. You should also stay on one dose too as increasing / decreasing causes side effects and withdrawal and your body doesn't know if it's coming or going. It needs time to settle.

      Your doctor doesn't believe you're having withdrawal? Jeez...... Get him to read this website (shame he can't take the meds to see).

      Doctors still amaze me with their attitudes towards this illness and use of meds.

      Can you see a different doctor? It's great when you find one who's understanding and knowledgeable in this.

      K x

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    • Posted

      Yes, I did get to a stage where I did feel ok. The first month I was on Fluoxetine I felt side effects but for the following 6 months I was ok. My brain was able to rewire and adapt. But at some point, I felt that I didn't need it anymore because I didn't want to rely on a drug to be happier or better. Also, now that I think about it, I've never had a serious mental issue or anything drastic that would require medication. So this is why I have stopped it.

      I have already set up to transfer to another doctor but sadly I can't for awhile until his schedule is open (which is so so so stupid). Thus, I am stuck with my current doctor. He doesn't seem to think withdrawals exist because he claims that 99% of his patients have successfully gone off Fluoxetine with no symptoms (which I think is bull).

      Maybe I need to accept that I can't survive the withdrawals... And that I need to reinstate. I just don't want to go back to taking them because I feel like I'm a failure and I'm going back to square one. Also I'm afraid that even if I do taper off even more gradually, I'm still going to experience withdrawals regardless. I honestly have no clue as to what the best plan of action to take is.

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    • Posted

      It's usually recommended to stay on meds for at least a year before tapering off as this gives you a good chance for the symptoms to not return.

      I don't know why people try to cope without meds - If you had epilepsy, a heart condition or diabetes you'd have to take meds - this illness is no different.  It's an illness.  You won't have to rely on meds forever, but they'll help you recover when you need them - and if taken for a long enough time they'll help to keep the anxiey away.  Anxiety / depression is not a mental condition - it's physical - oFrench starting from stress, and there's nothing to be ashamed of.  Yes it often causes us mental anguish too - but fix the physical illness and the mental pain will disappear too.

      Everyone is different - we all have different bodies and so no two people have the same experience on these meds or from withdrawing either.  I expect 90% of his patients haven't bothered to report withdrawal, and 9% had mild symptoms - and what about the 1%.  Yes absolutely 100% bull.  Experts in these meds are the people who take them - not doctors 🙄

      You are not a failure in taking meds.  If you're ill, take meds.  You take meds for a headache, a cold, so why is this different.  This is an illness and you cannot help it.  A physical illness.

      You are definitely having withdrawal - and withdrawal is because you came off too soon / too quick.

      Depends how long you've been off your meds.  If a month then it's probably best to carry on, if a couple of weeks it's best to speak to your doctor in being reinstated with the smallest amount of meds.  He'll know what's best.  Also tell him he's absolutely wrong re withdrawal - proof is in the pudding (and probably needs retraining) 😄🙃  Seriously people like him should not be prescribing if he doesn't know the full picture.  These are serious meds.

      Remember - you're not a failure.  You need to do what's best for your body and your happiness.  You are No 1 and stuff what anyone else may say about you taking meds ?? xx

      K x

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your thorough reply. You're right though. It is the same as taking medication for the flu or a cold. Honestly, at this point, I wouldn't mind returning to taking Fluoxetine again but in smaller doses and tapering off one more time. I've talked to a nurse this morning and she said that she thinks it's crazy that I'm still feeling symptoms right now even after having been off Fluoxetine for the last 3 months. She said in order for me to be withdrawing, the medication should still be inside me but it's not anymore rolleyes ugh. But l will call my doctor if the symptoms persist and become unbearable.

      I just wonder - do you think I can still be free of the withdrawals if I continue to not take the medication (pretty much continuing what I am doing now, riding out the symptoms until they disappear)?

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    • Posted

      Yes if you continue to not take medication the withdrawal symptoms will eventually ease off.  It doesn't last forever.  I used to find that I felt worse when I was tired.

      Withdrawl can last a while, but maybe if you've gone 3 months now it'll be best to keep going?  Yes definitely best speak to your doctor 🙃

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    • Posted

      Yeah I feel that the symptoms are easing a little bit now actually. It's not as bad as last month when I was dealing with all kinds of symptoms 24/7 but this past week it's just been one kind of symptom lingering. I do tend to feel worse when I'm tired too. Especially when I'm trying to go to sleep. That's when the symptoms become unbearable.

      When you say 'best to keep going', do you mean keep doing what I'm currently doing or to reinstate the medication?

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    • Posted

      Hi

      I think best to keep going as you are now. If you've been off meds 3 months you're probably through the worst now.

      I'm not a medically trained person of course, so can't suggest re medication (only your doctor can do that) ..... only that that's what I'd probably do if it were me - carry on 🙂 It's always best to check with your doctor too xx

      Yes that's when I felt worse too - trying to get to sleep - especially if I'd woken up and tried to get back to sleep again, that's when the brain zaps hit me more.

      Rest as much as you can and treat yourself as if you've a nasty cold - keep warm, lots of liquids, good food, ... and just be kind to yourself as you pass through this withdrawal.

      It will go. Promise xx

      K ??

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    • Posted

      Yeah like even though the symptoms get uncomfortable and frustrating to deal with in the day time, it's still more manageable now than how it was a month ago. So I'm trying to stay positive because I feel like I'm progressing (even though it's a very slow progression).

      So I am going to keep doing what I'm doing now and fight through the withdrawals. If I still don't feel good in the next month, I'll call my doctor again.

      I agree that treating myself as if I have a cold is good. I've been keeping warm, drinking plenty of hot water, and I just bought sleepy time tea to help me fall asleep at night. I've avoided all caffeine and alcohol too. I think I will start exercising as well.

      You've been such a great help, honestly! You're the only person who has replied to me consistently so far and someone I can relate to. Thank you so much for responding. It's been hard to talk to anyone else who hasn't experienced what we have been through. I'm just happy to know that I will survive withdrawals at some point, even though it's taking quite awhile. I just need to be patient. ?

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    • Posted

      Yes sounds sounds like the worst has peaked and you're starting to come down the other side now.  Good idea too to see your doctor if it lingers on for another month or so, though of course it might do but would be quite mi,d then I expect.  Also do see your doctor if you start to feel anxious again as there's no problem about having to take medication.

      Try not to fight things though as that just brings in tension.  It's best to try and just let the feelings be there, let them wash over you, and all the time try letting go of tension as you go about your day.  Slow everything down - it helps with the anxiety.

      Sounds like you're doing the right things already - buying tea to help you sleep etc.

      Its no problem re chatting, and hope I've been of some help.  Keep in touch and there's many of us here who like to chat if you have any questions or get stuck somewhere along the route.

      Yes, patience.  Such a hard word when we want to be well right now and patience is the last thing we have, but it really is best to wait.

      K xx

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