I'm in a bit of a bind here. This post is long so please bare with me. The specific problem I'm having is towards the end. I ask that you don't give me negative feedback surrounding my decision until you read the entire post. Some background info...
I've suffered from generalized anxiety for quite some time. Anyway, I've been on all sorts of medication (mainly SSRI's. Started with Zoloft (zombie), moved to Lexapro (approx 6 months, then decided it was too expensive). Saw new Dr, who gave me Prozac, and some time later I decided Lexapro was better, so I went back on that again for about 12 months until I had some unexpected expenses come up. The cost of Lexapro got to be too much again. Then I went to generic celexa because it was so much cheaper (Lexapro is Celexa minus the inactive Isomer that creates side effects. Ironically, I had withdrawal symptoms from this generic drug which would occur every day at 4:00PM. This developed almost a few months after making the switch from Lexapro and not right away like expected. These withdrawal symptoms lasted until my next daily dose of generic celexa. I was also getting an odd rash from the generic celexa, so I changed to Prozac and all my sensory problems and my rash went away, so I figured it must've been withdrawal and/or an allergic reaction. Anyway, it scared the crap out of me at the time, but looking back, I now know what it was. I even posted on that experience here: http://www.healthboards.com/boards/showthread.php?t=560689).
Moving on, I eventually decided that I was running out of options and that my primary care physician didn't have enough knowledge on pysch drugs so I went to a psychiatrist instead (mind you all he does is medication management, same thing I was getting before but at a much much higher cost). I gave all of this medication history to him, and he seemed to think that none of the prior drugs were working, so he insisted I try Pristiq, 50mg (SNRI instead of an SSRI). I was on that dose for approx 4 months and decided it wasn't working anymore so I was bumped to 100 mg. I have been on this dosage for the last 7 months. About a month ago, my insurance decided to no longer cover 100mg of Pristiq (50mg X2). So, I asked my shrink if I could stay at 50mg as 100 didn't seem to add much benefit anyway. He balked at that idea and put me on 150mg effexor xr instead Bad idea, I couldn't physically take a crap for a month. I eventually had enough of that nonsense so I went back to 50 mg Pristiq on my own about 2 weeks ago (I stopped the Effexor XR after the switch since both drugs are in the same class). Stomach problems were solved. I had some electric shocks/ brain zaps/ moving from 150mg effexor xr to 50mg Pristiq but they were mild and manageable.
Anyway, I've been running out of my Pristiq 50mg tabs and so I decided to go on Prozac to help me get off these damn drugs all together as I am tired of being a lab rat (If you are wondering how I can do this, I had some remaining 20 mg prozac scripts for this exact reason, so I filled one of them. Also, I have been seeing a therapist for the past 6 months who has done more for me than drugs ever have or ever will). So up to the current time period, I've started to take Pristiq 50mg every other day with Prozac every other in between day to help with the withdrawal. Prior threads and posts seem to show that this should work. So far it's not working, and I've only been 3 days into the Pristiq 50mg every other day routine. Today I could barely type without my neuron's misfiring in my head thereby giving me the famous ZAP ZAP ZAP (they come in sets of 3, every 5 minutes or so). I have fired my shrink as I asked him specifically before I started on this drug what his plans were to take me off of it, if I ever decide to take that route. At the time, he told me I shouldn't worry about that. (Begin Rant) Quite honestly, he's been more of a dictator than a help. To me, that is extremely frustrating as we aren't living in the 60's anymore when patients with mental conditions didn't have much of a choice. I honestly believe it is unrealistic for me to be on drugs my whole life, especially when they all have their fair share of side effects. I realize now that there are other non drug ways to help me with my problems. (/END Rant) Anyway, so I'm now in this withdrawal hell on my own, because my prior shrink refused to listen to me. So I've done my research, and the online Physician's reference says to taper off Pristiq by taking 50mg every other day for a week or two and then take 50mg every 3rd day, etc. Well, this is where I'm stuck. I can't cut the drug in half and take it daily like that because it is extended release and I also can't take it every other day without feeling debilitated by brain zaps (almost afraid to drive). I went to the natural food store today and got some Malic Acid, Fish Oil, Vitamin C, and Ginger per my research on the internet of people that have had success tapering off effexor xr using these supplements (effexor xr is same exact drug minus the inactive isomer. Sound familiar Lexapro?).
So should I try 40mg of Prozac on my off days from Pristiq? I heard this mentioned on a prior topic, but I have no clue where it was that I found that information anymore. Also, please don't bash me for not following Dr's orders, etc as I mentioned before that he doesn't seem to be interested in helping me get off these things and would rather see me pay $150 or so out of pocket to pay for the extra 50mg.
Good news, I found the post I was looking for regarding the 40mg of Prozac. I think that prozac takes longer to build up in your bloodstream so maybe that's why it wasn't working right away. It also sounded like the 40mg of Prozac eliminated most of the withdrawal that the user was experiencing (so I feel some hope now). I feel much better today than I did yesterday, but I took one pristiq 50 mg today as I landed on my every other day. I am going to stay on prozac 20 mg every other day with Pristiq every other day until the prozac has had time to build up in my system. I'm not sure why I stopped taking Prozac to begin with (I was on it for almost 2 years). I guess maybe I felt there were newer and better options out there? Well, I'm not sure that there is for me, tbh. No drugs are perfect, and my long term goal is still to get off drugs completely. I still think I have a better chance of slowly tapering off prozac than I do with Pristiq (I came off Prozac before with very little problems after taking it for 2 years).
I will keep everybody posted on my progress in hopes that maybe it will give someone else in the future, advice on what to do, and what not to do (yet to be determined ). Please let it be known that Prisitq is a nasty drug to stop taking. I strongly encourage those new users of Pristiq to ask your Dr what his or her plans are to help you taper off the drug when you are ready to do so. If your Dr won't consider a plan up front, then find a new Dr that will. Also, I'm still a little bitter at the makers of this drug for not coming up with a better solution to get people off of this stuff. Oh well. Anyway it's Friday and I'm in a better mood today. Tomorrow should be interesting as it will be my off day from Pristiq.
Oh and I also picked up some 24 hr less drowsy version of Dramamine as I heard that helps as well. I hope that my methods work...Proceeding with caution.
Update: I've been off the Pristiq completely for 3 days now. On Friday night, I took 20mg Prozac (continue this daily) and the "less drowsy formula" of Dramamine. The Dramamine completely took away the brain zaps. However, it made me feel sleepy all day Saturday so needless to say I just slept off and on all day. Today, I haven't taken any Dramamine, and I do feel okay... I get some brain zaps still, but they are less intense, and have diminished from 3 zaps in a row to 2 zaps of just nuisance proportion (no set schedule, but they happen much less often than the every 5 minutes that I was originally getting). I have decided to stay on Prozac indefinitely (at least through the winter as it helped me tremendously through the winters of past days- ironically, the last winter I didn't take it is when I struggled again and this is what prompted me to see a shrink...interesting how my ex shrink never seemed to catch that trend even though I told him I always felt 100% better on days when I got a lot of sunlight..guess I know myself better than anyone.)
I wanted to report that today I had zero nadda nill brain zaps I've been off the Pristiq now for almost 6 days, but am still continuing the Prozac 20mg. However, I am taking this everyday now instead of every other. Also, I've had regular bm now for the first time since I started the Pristiq almost a year ago (note that my stomach wasn't as bad on Pristiq in comparison to Effexor. Effexor was terrible constipation wise. Since I've been off the Pristiq, I can take finally take a normal daily crap again. lol- I find it funny that I would get excited over something that used to seem so minute.)
Anyway, I won't post on this thread for a while as I feel safe to say my Pristiq withdrawal brain zaps/ dizziness/ are gone. However, I wanted to let people know that if you ever decide to stop Pristiq, switch to Prozac before doing so as it has a very long half life and has a more natural taper process (of course I'm staying on Prozac for the winter, but anyway).
Just wanted to say thanks for posting about your experience coming off Pristiq..!
I have been on pristiq for 6mths and am now planning to go off it (over a 3 week period) soon.
I have also done my research - am scared to start the withdrawl process, but I am tired of this med. It is the first time i have been on meds for - GAD and OCD.
Intially pristiq made me ill for a few weeks, but gradually it was bearable (first 4 days the worst!!) By 4 weeks I felt great, and all was good. Now 6 mths on, I am so TIRED all the time - I just want to sleeeep!! I am not sure if it is the pristiq, but I have decided to stop anyhow (gradually).
Thanks for your detailed withdrawl post - so many others have started to put in details, but never finished the post..!
ps. great to hear you are clean of it - so it can be done!
ps. Just wanted to add that Pristiq is not a bad med to be on while it works - for several months i felt great, it is more the 'going on it' and 'getting off it' that is the BIG problem.
If Wyeth made a smaller dosage of this med (25mg) i would probably stay on it - i think the 50mg is just too strong for some of us, especially if you have a fast metabolism, etc.
This was the worst anti-depressant I have ever taken. The first couple weeks were fine and then it hit me..severe mood swings, manic depressive episodes, and then suicidal thoughts...never had them BEFORE I started this..it was awful...I could go on and on..and on--google this and you will see what all it does to people!!