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Quitting Paxil Cold Turkey: A Journey Through Hell

I was on Paxil CR (Controlled-Release) 12.5 mg for nearly a full year before my doctor increased the dosage to 25 mg thinking that it would be effective. After a few weeks of taking the 25 mg dose, I could not concentrate or get anything done – my life had become a wreck. My concentration was poor, I was severely depressed, and I honestly felt trapped because I could no longer feel any positive emotion. My anxiety at this time was so severe that I avoided friends and nearly all forms of social contact.

At the time I was seeing a general practitioner who advised me to stop the medication if it’s not working well. He did not mention a need for “tapering” so I simply quit the drug. Immediately after I quit I began experiencing major symptoms of withdrawal. My brain was going crazy trying to figure out how to cope without the drug. During this time I was going to high school and I had just finished my freshman year.

What I experienced quitting Paxil “Cold Turkey” (Brief Synopsis)

Quitting Paxil “cold turkey” at age 15 was nothing short of a hellacious experience. My anxiety was uncontrollably high, I couldn’t cope with the obsessive thinking, and I was highly suicidal. During the first few weeks of the “withdrawal” I had a really hard time dealing with life. I didn’t want to do anything social – all I wanted to do was sit at home alone and watch TV. I would wake up, feel suicidal, think about ways to die, and I experienced significant anxiety.

My social life fell off the map when I quit taking Paxil. It had transformed me from a highly anxious kid into an aggressive, attention-grabbing, comedy show. I would talk to anyone, crack jokes around anyone, and wasn’t intimidated by anyone or anything. It basically boosted my confidence so high that I became a cocky, obnoxious high school kid. I would prefer being that kid any day of the week over a kid with severe anxiety to the point that he cannot function.

Anyways, as the withdrawal process continued, I wrote on various forums and message boards online seeking help. At the time I posted most of my questions and concerns on RxList.com – they used to have a profile for each drug and people could start new threads. I don’t even remember how many threads I started, but with the help of a guy named “Barry” and another dude named “Jerry” I was somehow able to make it through the withdrawal.

In my estimation, feeling “back to normal” following the withdrawal took well over a year. I had thought that I was going crazy, becoming schizophrenic, and/or that I had a brain tumor – symptoms were that severe. Symptoms were so debilitating that I ended up going in for an MRI thinking that something must be seriously wrong with me because I could not possibly be experiencing withdrawal. Even after 6 months had passed, my parents and everyone agreed that there was no possible way these were withdrawal symptoms from the Paxil.

Following the MRI, I went to a psychiatrist and he thought “premorbid schizophrenia” was an accurate diagnosis for me. He actually thought I would develop schizophrenia based on my symptoms. I went to get a second opinion and another doctor thought that I should be put on an antipsychotic medication. I took the antipsychotic for a day or two, and felt even more screwed up so I just threw them away and went to a therapist.

During this time, my therapist helped guide me through the symptoms that I was experiencing and I was able to cope with life again. It was not easy, but she eventually realized that I didn’t really have “premorbid schizophrenia” – this was a huge sigh of relief for me. I ended up turning my life around and having a medication-free period of about 6-years before experiencing depression or severe anxiety again.

Quitting Paxil Cold Turkey: Side Effects I Experienced

The symptoms associated with quitting Paxil cold turkey are unbearable at times. I experienced such extreme dizziness and headaches that I thought that I must have a brain tumor. People were telling me that these were merely symptoms of my anxiety manifesting.

I know the difference between feeling anxious and feeling unbalanced and straight up dizzy. There are a laundry list of other symptoms that I experienced, probably some of which I even forgot. I am writing this article years after my experience.

  • Brain Zaps: Fun times getting my head shocked… Want electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)? Just randomly stop taking Paxil. You will get plenty of “zaps” throughout your brain and they will persist for quite some time. Fortunately these went away within the first month for me.
  • Crying: I don’t know how many times I just broke down into tears thinking that I couldn’t cope with life anymore. I would go on big angry rage then break down and cry. The crying would be significant – I couldn’t stop sometimes.
  • Depersonalization: I felt like I had become someone else and that my soul was permanently gone. I felt as if I had no soul and had become void of human life. This made me think that I was actually going crazy or going to develop another condition.
  • Dizziness: Talk about super dizzy. I felt as though I could barely walk straight. Almost like a major hangover where you feel dizzy for weeks on end.
  • Extreme anxiety: The anxiety reached an all new height. It transformed from just general anxiety to legitimate “fear.” I experienced a major fight or flight response and strong activation of the sympathetic nervous system. This was extremely uncomfortable and something I had never experienced.
  • Extreme fatigue: I thought I had developed chronic fatigue syndrome – this is how tired I was all the time. I would lay around, wake up late, and just watch TV and/or listen to music. I could barely muster up enough energy to go to school.
  • Headaches: I would have pounding headaches unlike anything ever before. This made me think that the Paxil may have caused brain damage. I had never experienced headaches before and during the withdrawal they lasted months.
  • Isolation: There was no way I could bring myself to do anything social. I tried my best to “tough it out” and work through the symptoms, but I couldn’t. Friends were wondering what was wrong with me because they’d call and I’d simply decline to do anything. I had zero energy, was super nervous, and lost most social skills.
  • Minimal self-control: I honestly thought I had no control over my body or my brain. At this point I had tried everything and nothing worked. I felt as though I would forever be at the mercy of the withdrawal. I was at the mercy of the withdrawal for an extended period of time, and it seemed never-ending. I honestly don’t know how I gained self-control back, but I eventually did.
  • Obsessive thoughts: I had some minor OCD before taking Paxil, but after I withdrew it was crazy. It was significantly worse when I withdrew than it was before I took the medication.
  • Palpitations: Initially I didn’t know what these were and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. This felt like my heart was jumping through my chest and fluttering irregularly. I didn’t really know what to do.
  • Panic attacks: Want to experience major panic? Take Paxil for awhile, let it change your brain chemistry, and quit cold turkey. The panic that you experience will be unbearable.
  • Severe depression: The depression was so severe that I couldn’t see anything good about life. I didn’t know what to do, why I was feeling so depressed, and I researched every possible treatment known to man. At the time I thought there was no hope.
  • Suicidal thoughts: The sheer emotional upheaval that I experienced when coming off of Paxil was so damn powerful that I couldn’t possibly control it. I felt as though I had zero control over my life or existence. This made me feel extremely suicidal and I’d say I was severely suicidal every single day for over a year.
  • Uncontrollable anger: The scariest part of coming off of Paxil is the uncontrollable anger and rage. I remember getting into constant arguments with my mom and dad while withdrawing. Multiple times they escalated to becoming physical and violent. Not that anything major happened, but let’s just say the police were called.  I could NOT control any of my emotions.

What I learned from quitting Paxil cold turkey

My experience of Paxil withdrawal was horrible and I wouldn’t wish to ever put anyone through the intense pain that was experienced. When I made it through that withdrawal, I felt invincible for awhile – not in a grandiose way – just because I honestly didn’t think I would make it. At that point I told myself if I can make it through this much pain, I can make it through anything life throws at me.

I also learned that there are some things that will help you through the withdrawal process. Perhaps the best tool to have at your disposal during a withdrawal is that of a therapist. Look for a therapist that you get along with and that understands your situation. You need someone on your side just for the emotional support. Your family and friends will only be able to empathize with you to a certain extent.

After awhile my family just got sick and tired of hearing me complain about how hard my life was. I kept telling them that it was from “withdrawal” and at one point they were all so fed up with my complaining and whining that they would actually joke about the “withdrawal” saying that it’s been months. Once I started to see the “light” I realized that there were some things I could do to cope with my symptoms.

How to cope with quitting Paxil cold turkey & withdrawal symptoms

There’s no right or wrong way to cope with Paxil withdrawal symptoms that you experience. Many people are at the mercy of their physiology when going through a drug withdrawal. Below are some tips that helped me that may also help you. It is important to actually try them and see if they help rather than just read them and assume they won’t help at all.

  1. Detoxify: I would constantly be looking for ways to detox my body. I would go in a sauna for extended periods of time thinking that it would help. And to a certain extent I believed that it was helping clear me of Paxil and making me more relaxed.
  2. Diet: Eat as clean of a diet as you can with lots of home cooked meals. Make sure you are getting plenty of vegetables, proteins, and fruits – these are ideal for optimal mental health and recovery.
  3. Exercise: Do your best to get outside and exercise. Even something as simple as going for a bike ride, taking the dog for a walk, etc. I don’t know how many times I walked the dog just to get outside and do something during this process. I was highly anxious about people talking to me, so I just put on sunglasses, wore headphones, and went for a walk.
  4. Hobby: Find some sort of hobby to channel your energy and distract yourself from feelings of high anxiety and suicide. My hobby at the time was playing poker. I don’t know how many thousand games I played, but it was the only way to distract me and get me through the difficult time I was going through. I played for fun – with no real money.
  5. Productivity: Do your best to stay as productive as you can while coming off of Paxil. I ended up suffering from poor concentration when I quit. I experienced rapid thinking of obsessive, suicidal thoughts. I was still in school and had to really force myself to get things done.
  6. Socialize: If you are capable of maintaining social contact with friends and/or other people, do it. It may be painful and uncomfortable, but do what you can. You may feel awkward and high anxiety around people, but you will be glad you did something even feeling uncomfortable.
  7. Therapy: The best thing you can do for yourself is find a good therapist. No I don’t mean psychiatrist – I mean therapist. Therapists take a non-medicinal approach to resolving problems and often implement cognitive behavioral techniques to help you address faulty, non-logical thinking patterns.

How long does the cold turkey Paxil withdrawal last?

It really depends on the person. I was a teenager when I took Paxil and my brain didn’t recover for over a full year. This was during a crucial period in my adolescence, but with pain comes learning and change. I learned a lot about myself and really understood what it was like to be “severely” depressed to being on the brink of suicide every single day for months on end. I would pray for the suffering to end and it seemed to only get worse.

When times are tough, the only thing you can do is keep on going. The saying “if you’re going through hell, just keep on going” applied to me. I kept going and it wasn’t easy even for a second. I just kept going, kept living, and woke up another day in attempt to “weather the storm” that is depression and withdrawal. In my case I had symptoms for well over a year. I know most people do not have symptoms for that long of a period, but I did and I want to emphasize how real they were and the severity of the struggle.

If you are going through a long withdrawal and your symptoms do not seem to get better even though it’s been months on end, I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and at the mercy of your own brain. I just want to reassure you that if you make it through this painful experience, things will get better and life will improve. When the pain lasts a long time, think of it being like high-pressure that is slowly transforming you into a diamond. You will get through this suffering.

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{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Alexandria July 18, 2014, 4:53 pm

    Thank you for your post. It helped me understand some of the symptoms I was having and that they are withdrawal symptoms.

    • GLOOM July 18, 2014, 5:16 pm

      No doubt Alexandria, glad you found it helpful. It’s really a tough experience going through withdrawal because many symptoms make us feel temporarily worse before we recover.

      • Kauai September 14, 2015, 4:58 pm

        I’ve been dealing with these withdrawals for a week. I don’t think I could do months. Everyone is telling me to just get back on it but I don’t want to because of the severe withdrawals they cause… what do I do??

  • Inezz August 6, 2014, 11:19 pm

    I forgot to take my Paxil for 3 days. I had the Panic Attack from hell . I hadn’t had one before so I was sure I was dying. Paxil triggered mania in me.

  • Michelle August 14, 2014, 6:26 pm

    Im going through this right now. Losing my insurance has caused me to not be able to afford seeing my specialist. Now he is not able to write a refill for my paxil. Ive been on it 5 yrs I think. I feel like dying & Im so depressed. The only thing keeping me going is my son, husband,& family helping me along through this with understanding & love. Thank you for being brave enough to share this. It helps knowing Im not alone in how this makes you feel.

    • GLOOM August 14, 2014, 6:53 pm

      Wish you a quick recovery Michelle, I know how much it sucks. Have you considered trying generic Paxil? It’s considerably cheaper and you could at least use it to conduct a taper rather than quit cold turkey. Whatever you decide, good luck.

  • dave August 20, 2014, 9:32 pm

    I stopped taking paxil one week after my girlfriend of 18 months broke up. Paxil was the main reason for our breakup. During our relationship, I experienced minimal emotions. Basically an emotional zombie. Nothing made me happy, sad, angry, no interest in anything.

    I started feeling fine after I stopped taking it. The usual depression kicked in, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, and tiredness. I fought it for months. I started feeling fine until we tried to patch things up, but to no avail. The relationship damage was too severe to be salvaged. Now I have anxiety attacks daily. I have been working out, spending time with friends and family, and really concentrating on work.

    It has been almost 5 months since I stopped taking it, and the symptoms are still there.

  • Andrew September 8, 2014, 10:46 pm

    I’ve been on Paxil for about six years. I am still looking for the psychiatrist who put me on it but I am afraid someone has got to him first. My current nurse-practitioner has helped me get off other medication I was taking. We were at an appointment and I thought I heard him say to stop taking Paxil! I am on a significant dose (about 40mg) and so I thought (well okay) and stopped it Cold Turkey.

    I was amazed with how easily I was having coming down from it until a week later — ZANG. I had about as bad as panic attack as I have ever had and it lasted for like five to six days. I tried to see if it would get better but along with panic attacks came waves of uncontrollable thoughts and headaches. I mean if I was lucky enough to go to sleep I’d wake up and the symptoms would be at thousand times worse.

    Luckily, I was smart enough to get back on Paxil and five days later the symptoms disappeared. When I say my nurse he said he’d never even heard of someone going Cold Turkey on that much Paxil. He had been saying we should be slowly lowering the dose over a long period of time or until my behavior returned. I cannot stress how much going Cold Turkey is a bad idea. I mean I wasn’t ready for it but still.

    I have been on anxiety meds and antidepressants for over 20 years and I can honestly say this is the worst experience I have ever had with one.

    • Julia Welch September 8, 2016, 7:42 am

      Been on 60 mg paxil about 10 years. Done fine on it. I have a psychiatrist I’ve been seeing for about 16 years. Like a fool I got a new Dr. He, within 10 minutes, said… quit paxil! Something inside me knew better! But I did what the Dr. said! Oh my living God!!

      In all my years I’ve not experienced such horrible experiences!! Check this site out!! I called my “real psychiatrist” at 4am. Totally outta my mind with pain, fear, confusion, suicidal ideation and extremely hurting body! He said resume ASAP 30 mg. Within 2 days… I felt better than ever! I may be one of those that needs it for ever! I never… ever want to go through the “paxil withdrawal again! Especially “cold turkey!”

  • Sarah November 28, 2014, 7:59 pm

    As I’m only on the 5th day without my 20mg/day Paxil for 18 months I’ve never felt this miserable in my life. Can’t even turn my eyes without feeling like the room is spinning & haven’t slept more than an hour in 3 days, along with nausea & those fun brain zaps that shake your whole body just as you drift to sleep… What fun. Thank you for posting this and letting others know that in not the only one going through this hell

    • Amanda July 3, 2016, 2:30 pm

      I’ve been off 2 weeks of Paxil I feel like I am losing my mind. Brain zaps are bad… can’t hardly drive the car.

  • KB November 29, 2014, 10:24 am

    Thank you for this information. My doctor told me to quit taking paxil after severe serotonin syndrome. I have had ringing in my ears constantly, dizziness, bouts of stammering and inability to talk, extreme fatigue, sometimes even walking a short distance… 30 feet can leave me gasping for air, horrible nightmares, body pain, migraine type auras, jittery feeling in my brain and body, etc. I have been off it completely for about 4 weeks. It was hard distinguishing between the serotonin syndrome issues and these as some are the same.

    Some days I can walk nearly 1/2 a mile…and the next hardly at all. I used to walk over 4 miles several times a week. My brain does not function right…I am not witty anymore and I was always witty before. I don’t get the jokes, I forget a lot. I have just now started driving after 8 weeks of being unable to as sometimes my eyes would freeze shut. I am now experiencing a sharp chest pain…and IDK if it is part of all of this or not…I am not going back to the ER as they just thought I was nuts gave me Benadryl and a huge dose of ativan told me I’d feel better in a couple days and sent me packing while I was having convulsions, not able to speak and not able to walk.

    Yeah, might talk to a lawyer about that one. My personal DR is new to me as my regular DR retired. She is treating me like I am a crazy person too. I never wanted to take Paxil, I asked my old Dr for xanax to take occasionally like every now and then, but he gave me paxil. I thought it was generic Xanax and took it occasionally for about 1 year. It did not really work and when life started getting really difficult I started taking it every day. I think I was not reacting well to it, but put it off thinking it was just the stress I was under. Then I took another med that caused me to have serotonin syndrome, which no doctors caught.

    I had to look it up on the internet, request my own MRI and EEG, I had a fairly severe bout of it with 9 of the 10 symptoms showing, but neither the ER or my DR said a thing about it. I had to tell THEM and then pay them for the privilege of doing their jobs for them. I don’t want to go back to my Dr, but I live in a small town and don’t know where else to go. I don’t trust traditional medicine anymore because they have given me medication that has at least temporarily ruined my life. I am getting better… I mean I have days that are “OK” but then it comes back and I think what the hell? I really appreciate you sharing your experience. I am just going this alone now, seeing what others are posting online…sharing what I have…and hoping that it ends soon.

  • sherry December 28, 2014, 1:40 am

    I went off paxil 2 months ago after I had been on paxil for 8 years. I ended up leaving my husband that I had just married 6 months prior, moved an hour away from where I had been living and I’m a huge mess I cry all the time I’m mad all the time I’m also losing weight I honestly feel that I’m worse off now then I was before I went on Paxil. I’m just wondering how much longer all of the madness is going to continue, I feel hopeless.

  • Gingeeb December 29, 2014, 5:09 pm

    After a nasty bout with the flu, I realized that I had not taken my paxil for a week. Soooo, I decided to try not taking it anymore. ( I have been on it 11 years) My stomach has been a mess for week, but is getting better. I have been researching and am going to try eating more foods high in tryptophan, which helps make serotonin in the hopes that my body and sleep will regulate. I also find that I want to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. Xanax .5 mg is helping with that, morning and night. It’s winter here, but I also am going to try walking more. I REALLY want to never have to take this med again, so am going to try all I can to stay off it.

  • Terea Covington December 30, 2014, 12:13 am

    I’m so glad I read this. I just stopped taking Paxil 2 days ago. I was running low and am tired of having to go get it refilled. I have felt fine on it these past 3 years except that I had no sex drive. I am planning on taking St. John’s Wort after I wait 3 weeks to make sure Paxil is out of my system. I’m only dealing with mood swings and horrible dizziness / lightheadedness. This is day 3 of withdrawal symptoms… I’m hoping to get better soon.

  • Rhiana January 28, 2015, 3:56 pm

    I’m 20 yrs. old I’ve been dealing with absolutely horrible panic attacks since Sept. 2013. Finally something started working; this paxil. Unfortunately, I’ve been feeling weird mentally now. Most of the horrible physical symptoms of the panic was gone, but I would seriously be afraid of becoming a vegetable. I’ve only been taking Paxil for a few months, but when my prescription ran out, I didn’t run to the pharmacy for my refill & now I have felt absolutely trapped for 3 days. Brain zaps, dizziness, spontaneous crying. I think, “what the hell is wrong with me??” I could take a nap, sleep at night, & wake up feeling the exact same… My dad’s picking up my prescription today. I hope I feel better soon.

  • Ruben Fernando Pinto Cordeiro February 2, 2015, 12:58 pm

    Hey there, I’ve quit paxil cold turkey as well about two weeks ago. I’ve experienced some mild symptoms such as bloating, headaches, slight dizziness. But nothing extreme so far, I should’ve tapered off the dose instead of stopping cold turkey, but I was so sick of the medication. Thanks for the article, it has helped me a lot.

  • Jodie March 23, 2015, 3:04 pm

    I too would love to find the therapist who put me on Paxil 20 some years ago in college when I had the usual anxiety of being a young student. Several years ago I realized it had made me a zombie to my life. I wanted so bad to get off of this drug and I was stuck. One Dr after another had no idea how hard it would be to get off of Paxil and gave me different instructions each time. Cold turkey, every other day, halve dosage each week.

    The suffering went on and on for several years with me going back on my normal 20 mg dose each time just to feel human again. I finally found my new family physician and she has been a God send. She has had to get off Paxil herself in her lifetime and completely understands how hard it is. She has me taking the liquid and slowly tapering off. So far this is the most tolerable solution for me. After several months I have gone from 20 mg to 10 mg. Farther than I have ever made it. The withdrawal has been there, but manageable.

    Light headed, dizzy, disconnected, mood swings, etc. But I have been able to recognize them through my research and push through till they subside a bit. I landed here because last night was the worst of all and I was seeking information to confirm I was not going crazy. I had the worst anxiety attack I have ever had. Feeling suicidal, total body shaking, cold to the touch but feeling like I was cooking from the inside out. It was a long sleepless scary night.

    I called my Dr this morning and she explained my brain is going through so much right now these extreme symptoms will happen even with the taper. My suggestions to add to those suffering from withdrawal symptoms that have helped me so far is: Liquid while expensive (there’s no generic) is the way to go. Taper slowly waiting until your withdrawal symptoms stabilize somewhat before moving down. Expect the severe symptoms at some point and have a plan.

    Gather your websites with information and keep them handy so you can remember what you are going through is normal. Get your support system on board. Find a doctor that will listen and understand. Vitamins, exercise, healthy eating, and giving myself permission to feel like crap has helped a lot too. Stay strong and we will conquer!

    • Brenda September 19, 2016, 1:06 pm

      This post could have been written by me, minus the tapering. I went cold turkey due to insurance issues. I’m a mess, even doing lamaze breathing so I don’t start yet another crying jag. But, I look forward to a life without Paxil so I hand in there.

  • Lynne April 19, 2015, 5:12 pm

    Going cold turkey off Paxil is not recommended ever. One must wean themselves off with a doctor’s supervision. I’ve been on 20mg delayed released for more than 10 years. I tried to wean off and couldn’t. The thought of going off Paxil now terrifies me. I have a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist who are helping me with my medications and mental health. Paxil withdrawal CAN cause brain damage. Do not attempt to get off Paxil without a doctor’s supervision if it’s possible. Due to Obamacare, everyone can have insurance today and can get help.

  • Andrew June 21, 2015, 10:23 pm

    I’ve been on paroxetine for at least 5 years now, probably longer. I have tried to get off it several times, but have never gotten past a week without it. I experience tremors, extreme dizziness that causes nausea and always end up having a big argument with someone, including my wife. I had decided staying on it is the only option but the side effects (low libido, sweats, inability to lose weight, tiredness) are really getting in the way of things. Thanks for your words, they explain a lot and make the rest of us realize we’re going through a similar thing. I had no idea what I was feeling was normal and had to make a lot of guesses and assumptions. I am now finding the courage to give weaning another go…!

  • Ronny June 29, 2015, 11:46 am

    Hi! A am currently going to the process of withdrawal and can only say that this is the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I am not sure if you are still active on this site but I do have some questions that I hope you can answer. First of all, how did you convince yourself not to go back on the medications? Like you said, the experience is truly horrific and seems never ending. How did you convince yourself that with time healing would start. I am now at the 2 months mark of being without medication and still don’t feel like things are improving.

    So far I am still able to function but enjoying life really is not an option at the moment. I keep telling myself that if I stay off the paxil, things will be better in a few months but so far I have nothing to back that up as things seem to get more difficult rather than improve. When did you notice the first improvement and how exactly did you know you were improving? How are you doing right now? Hope to hear from you or anybody else that went through this! All the best! Ronny.

    • Missy March 21, 2016, 6:25 pm

      Hey Ronnie, how are you doing? I’ve been off two months now.

  • Jane July 17, 2015, 2:00 am

    I’m coming off paxil now. The brain zaps are the worst, and I’ve been off work for 4 & 1/2 days so far with what I thought was the flu but might just be withdrawal symptoms. Dizzy like crazy, headaches, body aches, crazy dreams, head zaps… but something interesting, I’ve been on paxil long before I got married and we have been married 2.5 years, during which I have never been able to achieve climax… I read up on it and apparently paxil is a huge sex drive killer and O-blocker.

    Within a week off paxil my body responds totally differently to sex, and its a huge relief because I just assumed something was wrong with me and I always felt like my husband felt responsible and bad about it. Overall, I’m just ready to be through this. Doc prescribed hydroxyzine to help with tapering off. I’ve been emotional but not irrationally so like in the past trying to get off Paxil, and I attribute this to the other “take as needed” med.

  • Ronny July 25, 2015, 2:11 pm

    I wish you all the best in your withdrawal! So far I am still not feeling like I should be feeling. Physical symptoms have now been replaced by feelings of depression. Never had this before the medication and is quite scary to be honest. Just hoping that time will heal. All the best.

  • Terri August 16, 2015, 8:22 pm

    I wish all of you the best in your journeys. I know how terrible it is because I am going through it right now. 2 years ago I tried the “cold turkey” and for the first week I was fine..then….BAM! The terrible symptoms took over and I had to go back to taking it so that I could function. I am in a better place now with my job and my life in general, so I am tapering off. I have been planning this since my first failed attempt.

    Everything I read states that only 20% of people experience withdrawal symptoms, but I believe it is much more than that. I think that doctors just write prescriptions for Paxil and other SSRI medicines as a blanket solution for anyone who just doesn’t feel right or is going through a rough time in their life. I think I would have preferred just going straight to electroshock therapy than dealing with this. The debilitating consequences that come with this medication are worse than the symptoms it is supposed to treat.

    I think that everyone who has suffered from these withdrawals should make our voices heard and possibly save others from this nightmare. We should organize and get the word out! We need to tell our doctors, our friends, family and anyone who will listen about the potential danger and misery that surfaces when the body has to go through all of this. Where do we start?

    • Brenda September 19, 2016, 1:12 pm

      I was thinking the same thing: Paxil is over prescribed. Ironically my counselor told me “good luck, I hope things go great for you” when I decided to go off it and tell her. Send to me that woulds have been a good time for her to stay NO, don’t do cold turkey! Perhaps because I don’t have insurance?

  • Hannah September 14, 2015, 2:32 am

    Reading this article has given me some relief. It makes me feel like I’m not crazy. I was only on Paxil for almost a month when I decided to quit “cold turkey”. I was only taking 10mg. I felt like a complete zombie on it, I didn’t want to do anything at all, I became very anxious. I felt worse after I started it than I did before. I wish I never would of started this.

    It’s been a little over a week since I stopped taking my Paxil, and it’s been the worst week of my life. My symptoms are horrible. Heart palpitations, hot flashes, nausea, panic attacks, chills, the feel that I can’t exhale enough,weight loss, irritability and not being able to go out in public. I’ve been having sinus issues and I can’t even begin to explain how my anxiety has skyrocketed through the roof. I feel like something is terribly wrong with me, like something just isn’t right.

    I take a nasal spray and nasal rinse, mucinex D and I was on an antibiotic for 10 days and it has yet to clear it up. I feel like this is all prt of the Paxil though. And now I’m having to be referred to an ENT doctor, which makes my anxiety way worse. I took my daughter to the zoo today and i about lost it, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I was getting dizzy, my legs were cramping horribly. It was so bad that my dad and sister took my daughter to look at things while I sat down trying not to break down into tears.

    I had my kolonopin with me so I took one since its PRN. I started feeling better, but the anxiety was still there a little bit. I would NEVER wish these withdrawal symptoms on my worst enemy. I shouldn’t of quit cold turkey but the way I was feeling while on it was horrific. I’m doing everything and trying everything I can to make things better. I just wish it would get fixed now.

  • Cassie October 14, 2015, 11:28 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about everyone’s pain! I have been taking Paxil for 8 YEARS! I am on day 3 of withdrawal now simply because my doc wouldn’t call in a refill until I made an appointment with him. I work double shifts 4 days a week, so I just figured I’d make my appointment for Friday. Yeah… I had no idea any of this stuff would be happening to my body and my brain after 3 days! Today is my birthday by the way.. by far the most miserable birthday I’ve ever had.

    I have left messages with the doc’s answering service all day today and nobody will call me back. I have to call into work tomorrow because I look like a crack head shaking all over and my head keeps twitching to the right like I have Tourette’s. Every time I switch my vision my brain “buzzes” (how in the hell can your brain “buzz”??) I gag every time I swallow. I cried last night for 2 hours and a total of 4 today. My headache is the worst I’ve ever had. I’m currently squinting and crying while I type this.. but it feels so great to tell someone that understands!!

    There is NO WAY I could ever go through months of what we are all going through. Especially after being on it for 8 years… I attempted suicide 8 years ago and Paxil saved my life from a severe depression/anxiety battle that began after my first son was born. I lost my kids (in my divorce), my home, my license (car wreck), my job (high school teacher), and my husband (even though he was a jerk) from my “craziness”. Paxil HAS given me another chance.

    They tried everything to help me with get through panic attacks… finally checked myself into a psych ward for 10 days. The doc said I had so many different meds in my system they just shot me up with ativan the whole time while I came off of all the antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds. They gave me Paxil. It worked. The first thing that actually made me feel ok. Like really ok. I hate that so many of us are dependent on this crap. I really really do. For those of you that fight through this misery. YOU’RE AWESOME!

    For those of you that have suicidal thoughts. Don’t give up. Never ever give up!!! Start taking Paxil again (or something else) before you try to take your life… you are worth something to someone… whether or not you have to swallow a pill every day. After giving in (kicking and screaming) to the fact that I have to swallow a pill everyday for the rest of my life.. my life slowly turned around and I’m happy again; like for real happy.

    I feel like the “me” that I was before my depression began. You’ll all be in my prayers tonight before I fall asleep and have more whacked out dreams like I did last night. This is survivable ONLY because I know I’ll have it sometime tomorrow. So much for my birthday dinner.

  • tia October 21, 2015, 2:07 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you for this article. I thought I was going crazy, and didnt understand these crazy mood swings. I have weaned from 30mg to ten, then none. I have brain zaps all day long they run through my body, Then theres the anger and crying fits. I just want to feel normal again. While I have stopped taking Paxil I’ve noticed my memory is a bit better and that I can pay more attention to things rather then feeling like a zombie. I have also noticed that certain patterns of objects can send me into a panic though, is this normal?

  • sakshi October 26, 2015, 5:11 pm

    I am also facing withdrawal symptoms!!! Although this article has given me a lot of relief. But please tell me if you were actually able to see the light in the end and how did you gather the patience to wait for so long?

  • Shlynda Davis November 23, 2015, 6:07 am

    I thank God for you and this article. I feel like crying reading this but I’ve been trying to keep the flood gates closed. Lol. Brain zaps are a B. I didn’t know how to describe it so didn’t tell anybody. Its like I’m just sitting and then zap zap zap. It goes slow, it goes fast. There will be a few or a ton. I never know.

    Sometimes I feel detached from everything. Dreams are very vivid, disturbing, and real feeling. Even waking from pleasant dreams make me feel unsafe. All my emotions feel raw and unprotected. Every emotion feels open, unstable, and too easily accessed. Fear, love, anger, annoyance, impatience, sorrow, confusion, intolerance, justice, surprise, excitement… Open and raw is the best way I can describe it. I sometimes feel rescued by anything that can make me laugh. It eases all the indescribable feelings.

    I know God will keep me through this. Its difficult trying to keep face and act normal around people. I feel like I’m acting. I know it will end. I know it will get better. That’s all I need to make it through. Thank you.

    • Brenda September 19, 2016, 1:15 pm

      Couldn’t have said this better myself!

  • Ryan November 28, 2015, 7:45 pm

    I went cold turkey on a high dose of Paxil after being on it for about six months and it was very much like you described here. For about 2-3 months I experienced this daily:
    -Wake up from a dream watching someone you love get plowed or killed
    -Immediately obsess over life and suicidal thoughts
    -Become overwhelmed with being ‘cognitively fused’ to your obsessions, giving them power.
    -Lethargic to the bone yet so angry you could literally rip somebody in half.
    -Extreme vertigo. It’s EXACTLY like you described, “Almost like a major hangover where you feel dizzy for weeks on end.” This was the worst part for me, being isolated and having nobody to talk to about it I wondered if the inescapable ‘spinning-room’ effect would ever stop… and it did after almost two months, but I almost could not deal with that and I don’t even know what that means but it was just… unbearable torture.

    The best way I’ve been able to describe the feeling is that you feel as if you’re falling a great distance, or descending on a roller-coaster, but normally you would feel those things for a split second or maybe 3 seconds at most. This was literally unending. I changed my location from where I was currently living to ‘hell’ on my Facebook during it. Even as an ex-catholic turned to science, I felt like I was trapped in a silent-hill version of reality. This drug is scary.

  • TG December 15, 2015, 6:05 am

    Years ago, when I started Paxil, I was resistant to the idea. The doctor suggested I take it, and if after 3 weeks if I didn’t feel better, I could quit. Three weeks to the day I felt as though a dark cloud had vanished. I had the same feeling that I had as a happy child. I remembered what happiness was. Friends kept saying “You’ll get off of it someday.” I asked them, “Why would I quit?”

    There is nothing wrong with taking a medicine that improves my life. Who knows why we need it? Look around you. Look at all the toxins in the air, food and water. Don’t blame yourself. Rather, be glad you have access to better living through chemistry. My old friends tell me I’m a little chubby. Who cares? I’m very happy with the way my life is going. Do I take my pill each day? You bet I do.

    Did it cause me to gain 30 pounds over all these years? Perhaps, but they are happy pounds. I am not interested being a purist, because that is impossible. Our bodies are exposed to impurities the instant we are born. (Some of us, before that.) Those impurities might be the cause of brain imbalances. Good news is that there is something to counteract that. Use what you have. Don’t live in misery for the sake of “being strong.”

    You might be natural and pure, but you could be stuck in a foggy sad place. Being addicted to Paxil can be frightening because I am dependent on it. I wish I could do without it. I just can’t. I got on it for a reason. I need it. Because of it I can hold a job, own a home, have a social life and feel grateful and loving. Struggling to do all of that on my own chemistry was too much. I would be a burden to my family.

    Before you take the steps to withdraw, think about why you started paxil in the first place. If it has made your life better, weigh the differences before you make a choice to quit. We are living in a world of miracles. Let some of them work for you if you need them.

  • Clare January 5, 2016, 11:18 am

    I’ve been on 20 mg of Paxil since July 2015. Right now, I have strep throat and my doctor advised me to not take Paxil for a week due to possible interactions with the antibiotic. Is it safe to just go off of it for a week or am I going to end up with withdrawal on top of the strep?

  • Tina January 8, 2016, 5:15 pm

    I recently had to go in for a CT Myelogram due to ongoing spinal issues and had to stop cold turkey both Paxil and Wellbutrin. On top of that I also caught a particularly nasty cold. So, I have decided to stay off the meds and this is day 7. I have noticed the weepiness, every little thing makes me tear up.

    Also anger has reared its head, 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds. But I am also feeling hot, and dizzy, ready to crawl out of my skin. I was in the grocery and couldn’t finish and get outside into the cool air fast enough. I figured that must also be a withdrawal symptom but I don’t see it listed. Maybe I should lay off the espressos and sudafeds?

  • Valentina January 21, 2016, 6:36 pm

    I started taking Paxil 20mg in July 2015 until one day I decided that I didn’t want any meds in my system, so in December 2015 I began the tapering off on my own (I didn’t trust my psychiatrist). At the beginning the only noticeable effects were stomach/IBS issues, which still last until today, but are becoming more and more tolerable with every day.

    I finally took my last dose (5mg) on January 18th this year (just 4 days ago). The days previous to completely stopping taking that tiny dose I felt like crap both physically (nausea, stomachaches, headaches) and emotionally (irritability, mood swings). However, the weird thing is that the precise day I was off Paxil for the first time in months, I began to feel immediately better.

    My mood is improving, I have more energy and even the stomach/IBS issues have diminished. Even though I know that I’d been taking Paxil for a short period of time (6-7 months) compared to some people who’ve been on it for years, I still find this to be weird since most of my problems went away just by coming off completely of it. (I don’t think problems will arise after a couple of more days off Paxil, I prefer to be optimistic).

    Maybe it’s because every organism is different. Anyway, I wrote this to help people out there who are still trying to quit this repulsive drug and and to send them hope; it’s possible to quit Paxil (especially if you’ve been taking it for a few months like me). You can do it! :)

  • Christina January 21, 2016, 11:55 pm

    This is a really tough week… cold turkey from Paxil 40mg 5 days ago. The nightmares and anxiety, brain/body shocks, and confusion are indescribable. I have never been one to regard these blogs and threads with much credibility but honestly thank you for showing me how wrong I was. Knowing that there are others experiencing this and we are NOT going crazy is a good thing. Oh I would never wish these symptoms on ANYBODY! Peace to all.

    • Brenda September 19, 2016, 1:17 pm

      This is me! I quit a week ago today from 40mg after 3 years. Ugh.

  • Jen February 3, 2016, 7:48 am

    I agree with everyone that’s said Thank God for this website! I was taking 20mg for only three months. Not only did the Paxil not help control the symptoms I started taking it for, it made many other areas worse. I began the drug for mood swings associated peri-menopause. While on the drug, I became depressed and began having suicidal thoughts which is completely unlike me.

    In addition, I was constipated like never before and had no sex drive whatsoever. I did not consult my doctor, but chose to quit after having to go to urgent care for a sinus infection. I quit on 1/15/16. Within 24 hours I felt sooo much better. However, within about a week I developed pneumonia and have now had that for three weeks and am on my third antibiotic to treat it.

    I have a feeling that this is more a result of withdrawals, than the sinus infection getting worse. About a week after stopping Paxil I starting having the brain zaps, hot and cold stints constantly throughout each day and night, massive headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, and bouts of crying for no real reason other than feeling overwhelmed with feeling so sick. I’ve only been able to sleep for two hours at a time.

    I’ve been off Paxil for about three weeks and right now I am refusing to get back on just to alleviate these symptoms. I see people have gone back on and tried to wean themselves off just to experience similar symptoms anyway. I think I’m going to keep fighting through this and hopefully things will start to improve.

    A rational person would think that only being on this med for three months before quitting that the side effects wouldn’t be nearly as horrible as if I’d been on it for years, but I’m starting to understand/realize that it’s not the duration of time you were on the drug, but the impact/change it’s had on your brain during that time that needs to recover and heal. I keep telling myself that it’s just my brain trying to heal!

    Thank God I have a great boss and really great co-workers who understand what’s going on and have been supportive through all of this. I can easily say this – I would much rather go back to having my little mood swings than going through this. I will never take another anti-depressant again! It’s not worth the risk of making things this much worse!

  • Brandon April 23, 2016, 11:42 pm

    I have been taking Paxil for several months. Me and my wife of 10 years separated in January and divorced in March. I was on Paxil before we even separated. I have been fine throughout the whole ordeal, and decided to stop taking it. For the first week I was fine. Second week was even better! Then in an instant one night, it was like being hit by a train!

    Sick to my stomach, crying, couldn’t breath, and the worst anxiety I’ve ever had! Two days later and I am back on it. I don’t think I can make it a month or two with these symptoms. I still have a great friendship with my ex wife, so talking on the phone helps. But reading everyone’s experiences with quitting Paxil helped me to understand what’s going on.

    I’ll be making an appointment with my doctor Monday morning. Prayers for all of you that have gone through this. I know exactly how you feel.

  • jonathan June 15, 2016, 8:40 am

    It is interesting to hear everyone’s withdrawal symptoms because we all share them (whether low or high dose, months or years). I went from 40 to 20 to 10, then started to take 10 every other day (advice from my therapist) and felt fine. I had been taking paxil since 2013. Thought because of this I would not suffer the severity of horrible side effects, I was wrong.

    The dizziness, brain zaps, excessive sweating, hot and cold flashes are unrelenting. My occasional relief comes from taking fish oil and l-tyrosine which help with my mood if nothing else, and sometimes I think the brain zaps are lessened because of it. I started (not taking paxil from 10mg every other day) on 6/9/16, though by 6/11/16 I took 5mg to try and help the unrelenting withdrawal symptoms, for me it actually made no difference.

    I read Cannabidiol (CBD) oil from cannabis (no psychoactive properties so you don’t get high) can help with the nausea, sweating, anxiety, etc. Dunno when these withdrawal symptoms will end, but it’s a good reminder of what it will mean to ever get back on it in the future. Support to everyone!!!!

  • Ash July 16, 2016, 5:28 pm

    I’ve been on Paroxetine for 8 months and quit cold turkey 6 days ago. Is it unusual that I haven’t experienced any withdrawal symptoms at? Well adverse anyway, I feel great! I’m expecting a ‘come down’ to come but still going strong. I suspected the drug wasn’t helping – severe stomach problems, insane amount of sweating and the only benefit was I was sleeping better. I hope it continues.

  • Stan September 1, 2016, 4:52 pm

    Was on 40 mgs of Paxil for 4 years. Long story short, I am now on week 5 of withdrawal and to be honest I feel like hell. I can not believe the hopeless feelings I have coupled with massive anxiety and overall misery. I have jumped many hurdles in my life but this is by far the greatest challenge I have ever undertaken. I have read all your stories and I thank you for the encouragement they provide to someone like me in this horrible position. I do hope and pray that these feelings will pass soon and I can get my life back. My support to everyone!!!

  • Philip October 4, 2016, 4:17 pm

    Long story short, one week ago I decided to go cold turkey on every thing I am taking (Paxil 40gm, Wellbutrin 300gm, Buspar 60gm). I chose this because it is the only thing I have never tried now… but deep down always wished for since the beginning at 18 years old. I have tried everything else: New Doctors, tappers, medication changes, toughing it out, therapists, full blown death…. and so on. All have lead to the same out come in the last TEN YEARS of my “Mental Health Care Treatments”.

    In 2011 I earned my degree as a nurse and have been working in mental health for about 4 years. I also see this kind of “medication therapy” constantly in my line of work and I can bear witness to how much guessing really is going on in “Mental health”. As a nurse, in the position I am in, I have decided that I have no other option then to try this cold turkey and come completely off all medications.

    Not just for me but for all of us that struggle beyond words. I have accepted the idea of death from this and promise to give real time facts and information during this self/independent trail. If my comments stop its only because I failed. We have come a long way from the 1800’s in health care but I feel like we could be doing better. Starting Situation 10/4/16: I have been on paxil 40mg and wellbutrin 300mg for at least 4 years, and before that my health care providers tried many other different types of similar medications.

    Over all 10 years of these medications. The whole journey has been nothing but chaos and madness. I have been in the ER twice near death and had 100’s of appointments with dozens of providers. None of them are ever able to agree on anything. I am single, have no children, work full time, live by my self, and fully independent in all ways possible know to society. Daily medications: Paxil 40gm, Wellbutrin 300gm, Busbar 60gm, Xanax as needed.

    10/4/16: Day 7 with out Paxil 40gm, Wellbutrin 300gm, Buspar 60gm. Current body information. B/P 134/78, P 98, 02 99%, T 98.2, Wt 268, Ht 5’11”, Male, late 20’s, Xanax 0.5 mg at 830am / 930am/ 1210pm, Panic attack 2 times since waking (6am), dizziness/headache for the last 16 hrs, increased problems with light and social interaction, lack of concentration, cold hands, heart fells like it stops but then starts again within half a second, still able to function at work at this time, cant wait to go home, OCD 5/10 on a 1 to 10 scale.

  • Juan October 11, 2016, 7:22 pm

    I was on paxil 25mg CR for 4 or 5 months and decided to quit without any medical help after reading a lot of the experiences of many people in this blog. I started with 1 pill a day for two weeks and every two weeks took the dosage down by 1/4th. I’m in my 2nd week of being with a /4th of pill every 2 days. I’ve had dizziness and one or two episodes of anger but nothing really bad at all.

    I’ve been smoking weed to get the side effects at limit and for now its been working perfectly, besides a time or two of soft depression, everything is quite well. Im thinking about taking a /4th for other 2 weeks and get to a /4th a week until it gets off my system. Hope someone consider this helpful because it worked for me quite well till now, nothing of brain zaps or anything of the side effects they mention here.

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