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Pristiq Withdrawal Symptoms + Duration

Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) is an antidepressant drug that functions as an SNRI (Selective Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor). In other words, it prevents the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin in addition to that of norepinephrine. It was created and marketed by Wyeth – a company that has now become part of Pfizer. This drug is extremely similar to that of Effexor (Venlafaxine) as it contains the same active metabolite.

The goal with the development of this drug was to take only the active portion of Effexor and eliminate the rest with the hopes of side effect reduction. It took many years for the FDA to finally approve this new antidepressant, but it’s widely debatable as to whether this drug really has major advantages over Effexor. As an analogy, most would agree that this drug is to Effexor as Lexapor is to Celexa.

It is largely thought that this drug was developed mostly to protect business for Wyeth. By creating Pristiq, the goal was to convince psychiatrists to switch from Effexor to Pristiq to protect the billions of dollars that Effexor generated in sales. They have done this by suggesting that Pristiq carries fewer side effects and is generally better tolerated than Effexor. However by now, most evidence suggests that is inferior to Effexor on several levels.

After trying Pristiq, many people find it intolerable and realize that it carries many unpleasant side effects. Others find that it simply doesn’t work as well as they had hoped to alleviate their major depression. Since many people don’t want to be on antidepressants for life, withdrawal from Pristiq is usually inevitable.

Factors that influence Pristiq withdrawal

When it comes to withdrawal from any antidepressant, there are various factors that play a role in determining severity of symptoms. These factors include things like: time you took the drug, dosage, your personal physiology and drug sensitivity, as well as how quickly you tapered off of the drug.

1. Time Span

How long were you taking Pristiq? In general, the longer that you take an antidepressant, the tougher it is to quit. When you take a drug like this for a long period of time, your body and brain become accustomed to functioning under its influence. Additionally, long term users generally need to increase dosage because they become tolerant. The shorter the term that you use Pristiq, the less withdrawal symptoms you will likely experience.

2. Dosage (50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, 400 mg)

In most cases, people start out at 50 mg and then if necessary titrate the dose up to 100 mg. If the 100 mg works for awhile, but then stops working, a psychiatrist may double the dose to 200 mg. Over time, the more you increase the dosage, the more difficulty you will have withdrawing.

By increasing the dosage, you are essentially forcing your body and brain to function under the influence of more Pristiq. Most research suggests that there is zero additional benefit to be had by taking more than the starting dose of 50 mg.

3. Individual Factors

It is also important to keep in mind additional factors that may influence withdrawal symptoms. These factors include things like: your physiology, daily habits, diet, exercise, social support, and other drugs that you take. Most people have different reactions to antidepressants based largely on individual factors.

One drug may work brilliantly for one person, and be an absolutely hellacious experience for another. It is the same concept in regards to withdrawal – one person may experience very severe withdrawal symptoms, while another may not notice much of anything during discontinuation.

4. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

In the past, a major problem associated with Prisitiq discontinuation is that there wasn’t an intermediate dosage between 0 mg and 50 mg.  Thankfully there is now an intermediate 25 mg dose of Pristiq that should help with the tapering process.  Even though the 25 mg tablets may be an easier transition down to 0 mg (nothing), they are still “time release” tablets, meaning if you cut the tablet, it breaks the specially formatted “time release” coating.

Breaking this “time release” coating will cause the drug to be absorbed all at once within your system – which may be extremely intoxicating and is not recommended by most. Instead, what some knowledgeable doctors may do to help ease withdrawal symptoms from the 25 mg dose is prescribe another drug with an easier withdrawal – similar to a replacement therapy (fluoxetine is a popular choice).

Another common strategy for reducing Pristiq is to transition patients to its parent drug, Effexor (Venlafaxine).  These drugs are molecularly similar, and since Effexor is available in lower doses, it may allow for an extended taper – making the withdrawal process more tolerable.  Quitting Pristiq “cold turkey” may result in prolonged withdrawal symptoms that are more severe than had an individual tapered down to the 25 mg dose and jumped from 25 mg to 0 mg, or transitioned from 25 mg to a replacement antidepressant to make withdrawal more tolerable.

Anecdotal accounts suggest that some individuals have had success taking 25 mg of Pristiq “every other day.”  Most educated professionals would argue that this is an ill-advised strategy, akin to playing “ping pong” with neurotransmitters and the brain – possibly exacerbating the severity of withdrawal.  In any regard, working with a trained professional to taper off of Pristiq slowly should help minimize the number and severity of discontinuation symptoms.

Prisitiq Withdrawal Symptoms: A List of Possibilities

Below are a list of common symptoms that people have experienced when they discontinue Pristiq. Keep in mind that your experience may be different from that of others. Individuals have different experiences when it comes to withdrawal symptom intensity and duration.

  • Anxiety: Any drug that inhibits serotonin reuptake can lead to major increases in anxiety when a person stops it. In many cases people get anxiety relief from taking Pristiq because it elevates serotonin levels. When a person stops the drug, their brain is expecting to receive the serotonin boost, but does not get it. This leads to abnormally low levels of serotonin and makes some individuals have intense anxiety during withdrawal.
  • Brain zaps: It is common to experience “brain zaps” or electrical shock sensations throughout the brain during withdrawal. It is not known exactly what causes these, but most people attribute it to the brain going through neurochemical readjustments. It is attempting to return to homeostatic levels of various neurotransmitters and in the process, people feel “zaps.”
  • Chills: Many people experience extreme chills while taking this medication. Some people get used to the drug though and after awhile they subside. However during withdrawal, many people re-experience “chills” and feel as if they are really sick. These chills may last weeks, but will eventually go away as the body and brain readjust.
  • Concentration problems: It is very common to experience foggy thinking while on Pristiq and other antidepressants. However, when discontinuing the drug, concentration problems can become very unbearable. Most people are frustrated by all the symptoms that they are experiencing and in addition to these symptoms, they experience reduced cognitive functioning. Many people have described this as “brain fog” that takes weeks to gradually improve.
  • Confusion: It is common to experience mental confusion upon withdrawal. This may be a result of memory problems in addition with an inability to properly concentrate. If you feel extremely confused during your withdrawal, just know that this will improve over the next couple weeks.
  • Crying spells: Many people endure periods of crying spells because they cannot cope with the crazy emotions that are triggered during withdrawal. If you feel more depressed than before you started Pristiq, it’s largely due to the fact that your serotonin and norepinephrine levels are abnormally low.
  • Depression: When withdrawing from an antidepressant, it is common to experience a resurgence of depression. This depression may be significantly more severe than prior to your usage of Pristiq. It is important to understand that during the withdrawal period, it is expected that your depression will be very severe. This is because your brain is in neurochemical imbalance as a result of the drug. This imbalance will naturally correct itself as you learn to cope with life without the drug.
  • Depersonalization: Perhaps one of the worst feelings during withdrawal from Pristiq is that of depersonalization. If you feel weird, unlike your natural self, and more like a zombie or like you are living in a dream, it’s likely that you are depersonalized. This is a result of changes in neurotransmitter levels as well as your brain attempting to make changes to reestablish normal functioning.
  • Dizziness: Feeling dizzy is something that nearly everyone experiences when they quit an antidepressant. For some individuals the dizziness may last a week or so and get better. For others, the dizziness may linger for weeks and/or months before it improves.
  • Fatigue: Since Pristiq is known to give people increased levels of energy, coming off of it may result in fatigue. You may feel mentally, emotionally, and physically fatigued when you quit taking this drug. The fatigue is mostly influenced by drops in neurotransmitters and your body using energy to try to restore normative functioning.
  • Flu-like symptoms: As someone who has used Pristiq, I experienced flu-like symptoms when I first went on the drug. It is very common to experience these symptoms upon discontinuation as well. You may feel chilled, nauseous, dizzy, achy, have a fever, and in some cases you may actually vomit.
  • Headaches: In addition to feeling dizziness, headaches are always among the most reported withdrawal symptoms. Most people notice that their headaches typically improve over the course of a few weeks. In order to manage your headaches, be sure to get plenty of rest, drink water, and consider taking headache relief.
  • Hopelessness: The depression that you experience during withdrawal may lead you to feeling completely hopeless about life. It is important to recognize that this is merely a phase of withdrawal and that you will regain hope for the future. For this reason, it may be necessary to seek out help from a therapist if you are unable to find hope in your situation.
  • Insomnia: Due to the activating nature of this drug, it can lead people to experiencing unbearable insomnia while taking it. In other cases, it can also lead to people to developing severe insomnia during discontinuation. This insomnia is thought to be a result of low serotonin levels – which result in abnormally high arousal, anxiety, and inability to sleep.
  • Irritability: You may notice yourself become increasingly irritable during withdrawal. Innocuous things may lead you to become very angry and/or short-tempered. Just know that being irritable is very common during withdrawal. This symptom should gradually improve over time.
  • Mood swings: Moods may transition from feeling hopeful and energetic to feeling completely depressed and hopeless. You may feel angry one minute and better about your future the next minute. Mood swings may last for an extended period of time until your brain has repaired itself.
  • Nausea: This is a very common symptom to experience when coming off of Pristiq. You may feel very intense nausea – almost like you’re halfway to the point of vomiting. The nausea should gradually die down after a few weeks.
  • Panic attacks: The fact is that many individuals experience panic attacks during withdrawal from antidepressants. You may not have had much anxiety prior to your usage, but the drug tweaks your neurotransmitter functioning to the point that anxiety can become abnormally high during withdrawal. High anxiety may lead you to experiencing a full blown panic attack. Do your best to manage the feelings of anxiety by engaging in relaxation and activities that will help desensitize your nervous system.
  • Sensitivity: Many people experience an increased sensitivity to loud sounds and bright lights. This is usually caused by hyperarousal and the fact that when your nervous system is highly sensitized, normal sounds can seem amplified and/or threatening.
  • Sleep changes: Antidepressant withdrawal can wreak havoc on your sleep. You may notice that you feel increasingly tired throughout the day, but cannot seem to sleep at night. Your sleep cycle may become unpredictable. Do your best to make sure that you are getting enough sleep so that your body and mind can recover.
  • Suicidal thinking: During discontinuation from any antidepressant, a person may develop suicidal thinking. The suicidal thoughts during discontinuation may be very intense and difficult to deal with. They are thought to be a result of low neurotransmitter levels as a result of withdrawal.
  • Sweating: Another very common symptom that people experience during withdrawal is that of sweating. You may sweat profusely during the first few weeks of withdrawal. This may lead to sweats throughout the day and during sleep (night sweats).
  • Tingling: Some people have reported tingling sensations in their hands and feet. Just know that this is likely a result of your nervous system attempting to function normally without the drug. Since it is not receiving the drug, it is generating a “tingling” feeling. This will subside over time as your body adapts to functioning without the drug.
  • Vomiting: Certain individuals have pretty severe reactions when coming off of Pristiq. In less common cases, some people actually experience nausea so extreme that it leads to vomiting during withdrawal. This vomiting should subside within a week or two. If not, you may need to come up with a slower tapering strategy.

Note: It is understood that Pristiq stays in your system for approximately 2.54 days after your last dose.  Many people notice that withdrawal symptoms become most severe after the last bit of the drug has left their system.  In other words, discontinuation symptoms may really start to emerge after 3 days of being Pristiq-free.

Pristiq Withdrawal Duration: How long will it last?

Pristiq is considered a very difficult drug to withdraw from, especially for those who have been on it for a lengthy period. There is no dose lower than 50 mg – which further complicates the “tapering” process. Work with your psychiatrist and determine the best plan to gradually taper off of this medication. By conducting a gradual taper, it is thought that you will lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms and experience a quicker recovery.

There is no set withdrawal “time frame” for any antidepressant medication. Some people may quit taking the drug and notice minimal withdrawal effects that last for about a week or two, then completely clear up. For individuals that are highly-sensitive to medication and withdrawal effects, the symptoms may last for weeks or months. Individual factors have a major influence in determining the intensity of the withdrawal phase.

Understand that the average withdrawal period lasts between 6 and 8 weeks – just as long as doctors say it takes an antidepressant to kick-in. However, I would argue that unless proper tapering is conducted, the withdrawal effects actually last much longer. For many individuals I recommend reevaluating symptoms after 90 days (i.e. 3 months). By taking 90 days, you are giving yourself a lengthy period of detoxification and time to heal.

Many people have incredible difficulty when it comes to withdrawing from SNRI’s because they create imbalances in two neurotransmitters: serotonin and norepinephrine. Therefore it can seemingly take longer for many people to recover. During withdrawal from any antidepressant, it is important to make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep, take good care of your body, and get quality social support. If you have experience withdrawing from Pristiq and/or are currently going through withdrawal, be sure to share your experience in the comments section below.

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{ 492 comments… add one }
  • Rachel July 6, 2014, 9:22 pm

    Withdrawl from pristiq is real. It is horrible. Brain zaps, agitation, anger, pain…all real. I just need to know how long will this all last. How can I feel better? It is very scary and I feel like it will never end. It’s been 34 days since I ended my taper. Still can’t function.

    • Erin August 28, 2014, 1:48 am

      Rachel, would love to hear how you are doing now? I started tapering a few weeks ago and today is the first day without any pristiq…. Trying to convince myself that it will be ok!

      • Georgina November 27, 2016, 2:54 pm

        Hi Erin, Did you manage to stay off Pristiq? I hope you are now feeling really good. I was only on it for 13 days, but did not like it so I am going cold turkey. It is my 4th day without it, feeling weepy and dizzy, but when I read comments about how people have managed to do without it, it gives me courage to keep trying.

    • Ulla December 26, 2015, 4:20 pm

      Pristiq withdrawal is a horrible mental nightmare. It’s very real! I’m in my fourth day and feel like killing myself. I’m experiencing every withdrawal symptom and am about ready to just go back on it. I am barely functioning at all. I don’t know what else to do!

      • jj January 8, 2016, 8:43 am

        I hope you’re ok. I’m on day 10 of tapering off by using tiny doses of effexor. I went 2 days cold turkey and was on the verge of a breakdown. I’m ok-ish. Determined though.

        • CA January 14, 2016, 4:27 am

          Wow. Withdrawal is brutal. Definitely negatively impacting sleep, work, home life. Day 6 (after tapering back down to 50 then cold from there). Zaps are decreasing in frequency and intensity. Fog is still there. Sleep is weird. Shakes/tingles/numbness still mega. My GP initially was very dismissive of withdrawal symptoms. I have to push the point with him so he knows that it can be severe…

          • Marc May 19, 2016, 2:38 pm

            Just started tappering down. 50 mg once every two days for two weeks than once every 3 days for two weeks. So far been ok. But comments here are scary. Are you doing any better now?

      • Jane latchford March 20, 2016, 7:50 pm

        2 weeks cold turkey. I have had all of the symptoms. The zapping has mostly stopped, really tired, chills, sweats, feel sick. I have been on Effexor and then Pristiq for 20 years. It has been brutal.

        • dawn May 26, 2016, 11:58 pm

          I have been on an antidepressant since age 26. I am 49. I wanted OFF the effexor so my doctor put me on Pristiq. I lost my insurance so I can no longer afford it! I am struggling with all side-effects and could use a support group!!! This is horrible. Prayers for all of us!

          • Peter McBride June 5, 2016, 11:26 am

            How have you been doing Dawn? Keep strong.

          • Shen September 2, 2016, 7:51 pm

            Be strong ❤️

          • Marg October 14, 2016, 4:29 pm

            Dawn, I’m so sorry for you and hope you have been successful. I’m tapering off and it’s terrible, can’t even imagine going cold turkey. I’m rooting for you.

        • NHJane October 13, 2016, 11:52 am

          Jane, what made you want to stop after 20 years?

        • Linda December 1, 2016, 10:40 pm

          Took Effexor for many years before switching to Pristiq. I couldn’t handle the side effects, especially the nausea so after 2 months I quit cold turkey. Feel dizzy, nausea, headaches and no appetite. I’m 67 and have taken antidepressants most of my life and none of them have made me feel normal EVER. I give up. Going to try therapy and just xanax for awhile and see how that works. Good luck everyone.

      • Gina October 18, 2016, 5:20 am

        Hi! I’m on day four right now and am feeling exactly the same! I’m not sure when you wrote this comment but how long did it take until you felt “normal” and “functional” again? It’s so stressful do you have any tips?

    • Denise February 13, 2016, 6:03 am

      I started tapering 4 months ago and took my last morsel yesterday. I’m feeling a bit ill… mostly a huge headache and flu-like symptoms. I’m trying to just get through it.

      • Tracey March 31, 2016, 8:47 pm

        Oh my god, you were tapering for 4 months? I’ve been tapering for a month, was on 100 then down to 50 for a week then 25 for a week. Yesterday was my first day without, and today I feel so horribly ill, like I have the flu…chills, sweats, tummy ache, running to the bathroom, kinda dizzy, is this what you had going on?

        • Norma April 6, 2016, 4:06 am

          I was on 200 mg for roughly 5 years but the side effects were getting to me… so I took myself down to 100 mg (I was a psychiatric nurse for 20+ years so I knew about tapering). Now I want off it completely. When did they start making 25 mg tabs? I have just made the decision to do this and the biggest barrier has been the fear of withdrawal. I know that if I am late with a dose I feel ill within 6 hours. If I miss a dose… I get the worst frontal lobe headache imaginable.

          • Denise May 23, 2016, 3:58 am

            Hi Norma. I was on 50mg for 7 years and have been 15 weeks off. It took 5 months to taper. If you have any questions I would be glad to help. Denise

        • Denise April 17, 2016, 9:30 pm

          Tracy so sorry haven’t been on in quite awhile. I tapered 5 months and have been 10 weeks free but still got some symptoms of withdrawal. My anxiety level is higher and I’ve had a few bad panic attacks. Headaches are not as often, but still pretty harsh when I get one which I have today. I had a rough night.

          But TRACEY I REFUSE TO GO BACK ON. It’s been a rough haul, but life has to get better. Your symptoms are exactly what I had and it’s not easy but you will get threw it. Believe in yourself and me. I’m so sick of it. But I won’t give in and let pristiq kick my ass!!

        • Denise June 10, 2016, 8:24 pm

          Hi everyone, Well I’ve been off 50mg pristiq now for 18 weeks. 😊 I was on it for 7 years and 2 other antidepressants prior totaling 16 years altogether. I also took Elavil for the last 7 years and have been off that 22 weeks now. I’m tapering off my last 0.5mg of clonazapam I was on 1mg daily for 6 years.

          I’m 49 and started antidepressants at age 32 all because of a panic attack. And never once doubted my family doctor. Then just thought it was what I would do for life. 10 months ago I woke up one day and said I wanna live again I wanna be free of meds I’m not depressed never was… just had panic attacks and anxiety. Through my 16 years the other 2 pills were added to my regime for panic and sleep problems along the way.

          I thought ok I’m NOT GOING TO TAKE THESE ANY MORE IVE GOT TO LEARN TO DEAL WITH ANY ANXIETY I HAVE LEFT!!! So I began my taper. It was a long process but if you do it slowly it’s really going to be ok. You will survive. I mean that. I spend 20 weeks cutting my time release 50 mg and I did it slowly week by week and it worked fine.

          I had body aches and crying spells and I was so scared like I’m a huge baby. I’ve read some borrow stories too. I was so afraid but I made it. I ended up buying a tiny scale to weigh my reductions daily. And cutting the pills was ok. Nothing weird happened to me. I know they say never cut them but it was ok. I want to add I’ve never done any drugs in my life don’t even drink alcohol so I was not self medicating through this.

          I want to also say it’s possible to do this be strong and have faith in yourself. If you do it slow and steady you will be fine. Slow taper gives your brain a chance to adapt. If anyone has any questions feel free to email me or ask on this site. Denise 😀 deniseolsen67[@]gmail.com

        • sheila September 13, 2016, 12:19 pm

          This is exactly what I’ve been going through for over 3 weeks. I feel like I’m dying. Non stop diarrhea nausea. I’m about to lose my job, can’t hold my head up. I need help. Don’t know what to do.

          • Debbie September 19, 2016, 12:01 am

            My daughter is overseas right now and was taking 100 mg daily and was not feeling well. She was under supervision to increase it to 200 mg daily but now she is having suicidal thoughts. I am worried for her. I want her to titrate down. I have already sent an e-mail to our psych nurse who prescribed this in 2014.

            I was on Effexor for a few months years ago and the side effects were awful and I came off of it slowly. The info on the withdrawal on Pristiq scares the crap out of me. Should she just go back down to the 100 mg daily? She has not been on the 200 very long, maybe 2 weeks.

    • Mike February 18, 2016, 2:20 pm

      Rachel et al, I will respond to the withdrawal symptoms issue as it is of major concern by so many people on Pristiq, and rightfully so. I am a pharmacist and had a serious brain injury that has kept me from working even. This was on top of four other concussions earlier in life (mostly sports and two car accidents).

      I chose to go on Pristiq b/c I knew I was experiencing serious neurotransmitter imbalance in my brain and was drifting into serious depression and concentration issues months after the serious brain injury. I spoke to a specialist and I suggested Pristiq 50mg and she agreed. I did very well on the medication but after 8+ months on 50 mg I wanted off.

      Here is how I approached coming off and it has been working for me so far: I still had approx 60 tabs of the 50mg so I started by cutting the tabs into 1/4 tablets = 12.5 mg each. I know, it is recommended to not do this, but the half-life of Pristiq is 10 hours and up to 14 hrs if liver is compromised. So I took 1/4 tablet every 6 hrs (upon arising, mid-afternoon and approx 9-10pm for last last dose). This allowed me to go from 50mg to 37.5mg.

      I also discussed with the specialist the need to offset any “brain-zaps” or difficult concentrating and decided that Ritalin (methylphenidate) 10mg would be good to have on hand. I cut the 10mg in half and place 1/2 tab under the tongue for sublingual, rapid absorption. It works for me and I only use the Ritalin (half-tab, but I have the option of going full tab if I was ever experiencing serious brain zaps which I have not).

      I never take any Ritalin after 5 pm so it is out of my system in time to go to sleep – usually 11pm. After 3 weeks, although this can vary and others may want to go 4 weeks or longer, I reduced to two 1/4 tabs per day – upon arising and the other approx 12 hrs later. I am currently down to 1/4 tab (12.5 mg) that I am taking daily and have used Ritalin very sparingly – some days none at all and some only 1/2 tab.

      I cannot say that this will work for everyone, but I have found that it has been adequate for me over the past two months. Slow and steady withdrawal – it can take at least the 6-8 weeks that the drug took to work to also come off. Use a good pill cutter and I found that cutting the tablet diagonally and then the 1/2’s into 1/4’s kept the tabs intact well.

      I also started doing more exercise just before lowering the dose of Pristiq and continued right through. You have to help the process by getting you body in a good a positive state for the changes that will hit it. As for the Ritalin – I am not saying people should be asking for that and using it, but it did work for me.

      I also did NOT abuse it – some days I used none and some days I used a whole 10 mg tab ( 2 x 1/2 tabs) but never more than 2 x 5mg SL doses were ever needed. You must prep you brain too, by positive thoughts and focus on the eventual outcome of being off! Good luck.

      • Norma April 6, 2016, 4:12 am

        This is very helpful info for me. I was trying to figure out how to come off that last 50 mg… and this makes sense to me. I started at 200 mg and am now at 100 mg… but I too want off it completely. I’m so tired of the side effects. I was a psych nurse for 20+ years so I know what withdrawal can look like. Thanks for sharing this.

      • Christine April 14, 2016, 4:52 pm

        Thank you for sharing this, this is the reality that doctors should be sharing with their patients. People should not think they can just take it one day and off the next, it does not work that way. I have tried to come off AD and always stayed on because I thought the WD symptoms were a relapse, and they never told me any different so I thought I had to be on ADs for life, so now I am.

      • Amy December 2, 2016, 7:21 pm

        This was very helpful information!

    • Leighann August 15, 2016, 10:10 pm

      I am now terrified! My doctor told me yesterday that there isn’t a lower dose than 50mg so I can either take them every second day or cut them in half and take that. I don’t want to take something to get over one drug then have to take something to get over the next. So reading all of these responses, I’m scared and unsure of whether I want to stop now.

      • Roslyn August 29, 2016, 7:49 pm

        Leighann, I just recently went to my doctor about tapering down from 50 to 25. Your physician is wrong – 25mg is now available. Ask again or consider going to another doctor. I will be reducing to 25 over the next several months, then I will see what to do next. I am taking it very slowly. Good luck.

      • Michelle September 19, 2016, 7:40 pm

        I’ve had all withdrawal symptoms…it’s been a bit of a nightmare. I wished I would have stayed on.

    • Linda October 9, 2016, 12:12 am

      My GP took me off Pristiq 50 mg in one week after I was on it 8 years and switched me to Zoloft 50 mg for 3 weeks then added buspar then switched me to Prozac 20 mg. I have been off Pristiq for 7 weeks and am still having issues with dizziness and crying spells. It has been a nightmare. 7 weeks later off Prussia and it’s still hell. I am off work again for another 3 weeks. When does the dizziness go away? HELP!

  • Jung Hu August 20, 2014, 4:09 pm

    It’s my 3rd week and still feel quite dizzy. By taking Meclizine (or any motion-sickness medicine) will ease the symptom.

    • Erina May 1, 2016, 2:51 am

      I agree. Motion sickness or nausea meds in low doses has helped ease some of the symptoms. I had been on 100mg for approx. 6 years. I was warned about the terrible withdrawal side effects, and also recognize breaking the slow release seal isn’t great. But I went down to 75mg for 2 weeks, then 50 mg for two weeks then 25(ish)mg for 2+ weeks.

      Worst days for me were the first 36-72 hours on 75mg, then first 36-72 hours on 25mg, and finally 36-96 hours post going cold. In ascending severity. Right now I’m 6 days since my last dose. Initial side effects were terrible: brain zaps, dizzy, nausea, loss of balance, cold sweats, falling asleep late around 12pm, running to the toilet, crying spells.

      Most of those side effects for me started to ease at the 4 1/2 day point. But from day 3 onwards irritability and a short temper kicked in quite severely and hypersensitivity to sound/light and they are still going strong. I am also a little depersonalized. Not great news for my toddler and bubba.

      We all know kids can push our buttons at the best of times but I have to be hypervigilant not to physically show my frustration with an arm grip that’s too tight (e.g.) or using really sharp responses with body language that I would never, ever normally use. That hulk-like reaction has scared me a few times to be honest. At least I know what it is and am working hard to reign it in or just walk away with a conscious focus on not doing it.

      Right now I have brain zaps that are receding in severity, the nausea has eased quite a lot, I’m still struggling to fall asleep and am super tired during the day, and still irritable and hypersensitive. The digestive system seems to be calming down, the crying has almost stopped and the headaches are gone. There is no lifestyle ‘good’ time to come off this drug.

      But medical advice is that there are better SNRI drugs out there anyway that are also more forgiving in side effects when you forget a dose or need to stop taking them. I personally have had to take time off work to deal with the withdrawal side effects. Very happy I did too. Not keen on crying, irritable, angry at work or trying to explain why using a computer is so terrible to my senses at the moment.

      I have definitely needed understanding and gentle handling from those closest to me. It is not only medically right to come off my SNRI now but I am so happy to know I never have to go through this again. It’s like ripping a bandaid. But I would never, ever recommend cold turkey to anyone. Nor tapering down for anything less than 2 months. My 6-7 weeks was a push too quickly in hindsight.

      To anyone reading this, be kind and forgiving to yourself. You can’t control these withdrawal side-effects. And put in place a support team around you in any way you can. Remember it’s tough now, but it will stop and then you’ll be clean. Maybe not today but there is a set time frame for all of us and you’re body will thank you in the long run for changing drugs or stopping altogether if that’s where you are at. We’re not alone in this.

      • Michelle September 19, 2016, 7:42 pm

        Thanks for the comment…it’s good not to feel alone.

      • Irma Haynes October 23, 2016, 1:53 am

        Thank you so much! I’m back on my meds after 3 days off them. I am just sobbing after reading your experience! I am a college instructor and I just don’t know how I got through two classes. Had to call my husband to come by the campus and pick me up. I have all the side effects. I am very sick right now! The headache just kicked in about 30 minutes ago. I got to get off these meds, but do it right!!! Please pray for me. My doctor should have warned me!!!!

        • Liz November 6, 2016, 4:18 pm

          Hi all, I teach kindergarten and am going cold turkey off Pristiq after being on it for over 6 years. My doctor thinks that it was contributing / not helping an autoimmune condition which has developed. My sister had the same issue with hers and it resolved itself after she stopped taking it. I start by mentioning my job because it is impossible to teach 26 four year olds while sweating, shaking, nauseous, emotionally uncontrollable (happy one second / unexplainable rage the next).

          Every time I hear noise, move quickly, or try to focus on more than one thing at a time my brain feels like it physically cringes. Luckily I have leave and a doctor who follows me closely, but I am wondering what the other side of this looks like? How long did it take for your body to feel “normal” again. Was there any drug or tool that was helpful to manage the symptoms of withdrawl?

          What kind of supports (people, drug, food, activity) did people find helped alleviate or modify these horrible symptoms to a point that you could be a functional human being? Thanks for this forum, it truly helps to know I am not losing my mind and that I am not alone in this struggle. Liz

          • Gina November 15, 2016, 5:55 am

            Hey Liz! I’m 4 weeks free of it now… I stopped noticing brain zaps after 3 weeks but by then I was only getting them when I was super tired. The nausea or I call it my sensitive stomach is just starting to subside now. In the first week I had a lot of bed rest and trying not to move, so that pretty much limited me to watching tv and reading.

            I did my best to get out of the house for at least half an hour every day, walking around shopping centres or going to the super market. I found lavender oil and pillow spray a blessing… I have a diffuser next to my bed so I constantly had the lavender oil going. If I was having a bad day I would take 1/2 to a full Valium depending on what I had to do that day but didn’t want to use it too much.

            As much as a craved healthy salads and meals I just couldn’t stomach them, eggs and toast were staples. I also craved cold so had icey poles on hand and ginger ale or beer. If you want to talk to me at any time about your withdrawals more than happy to lend an ear… I know how horrific it is! But I’m back at work at 95% now and free of pristiq! gina.bowman[@]icloud.com

  • lisa August 21, 2014, 2:20 am

    I am finding it hard I went off pristiq cold turkey. It’s the constant head pains that kill me then play on my mind.

    • Mon March 13, 2016, 12:05 am

      Hi. How are you going since going cold turkey ???

      • Marie April 5, 2016, 7:08 am

        I’m 13 days cold turkey from 50mg over 8 months. I timed to come off over Easter weekend so I didn’t have to be at work. The first week was uncomfortable and unpleasant. Experienced most of the symptoms above: brain zaps, rise in body temperature, weepiness, vivid dreams, depersonalization, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, irritability, hypersensitivity to both light and sound. Depersonalization is like being stoned without any of the fun.

        Most of these passed within seven days, some of them only stayed for a few hours or so. In the second week, brain zaps were still an issue. However, they did dull significantly, and were spaced further apart. I’ve noticed that my anxiety has been heightened and I’m experiencing teariness from everything to news articles to cat videos on Youtube.

        Stuff I’ve been doing to manage the symptoms:

        -Taking Neurocalm (not a drug) during the withdrawal period which seems to have helped. It could be a placebo effect, but whatever, I’ll take it.

        -Incorporated light exercise after the first five days. I haven’t in the last three days due to low energy levels and my mood has dropped significantly. Highly recommend keeping up an exercise schedule when the major withdrawal symptoms begin to recede.

        -If you’re able, I recommend taking some time off work so you’re able to properly deal with the symptoms. I stopped on a Wednesday and didn’t start feeling the full effects until the Friday, if that helps.

        -I’m keeping a mood/anxiety diary, a food/exercise diary and following a routine. This has helped me monitor my mood and distinguish where diet and exercise is having an impact or if something else at play. Following a routine (particularly around exercise, nutrition, relaxation and socializing) also helps my symptoms of depressions generally and I do expect my symptoms to increase over the next few weeks.

        -I also briefed my partner with what to expect and how he could support me. I think this is really important if you live with someone.

        -Today is the first day without brain zaps. It’s not to say they’re gone for good, but it does highlight these symptoms are only temporary. I understand it’s quite daunting for people to come off (trust me, I read the forums too) but it is manageable if you have a plan for during and after.

        P.S.: If you can’t take a week off, or have someone dependent on you, I would discuss a tapering drug with your doctor. It may not be necessary but I had the luxury of doing very little for at least four days from withdrawal and had no major stress or responsibility in that time.

        • Julie April 7, 2016, 2:49 am

          Thanks for your comment! This has cheered me. I am on day two of cold turkey after tapering my 50mg (on for 9months) for a week and a half. I did this by alternating days. Depersonalization & dizziness, brain fog, & a general ‘hangover’ feeling where my head is swimming were hell for the first week of alternating but I seemed to adjust somewhat after a week. I had my last dose in the morning two days ago and my head feels as if it’s full of rocks.

          I agree with the comment that depersonalization feels like being stoned without the fun part (haven’t touched that stuff in over ten years though). I’ve noticed in the last 24 hours that I’m irritable and lose my temper more easily (sucks to be my four year old or my school students ATM!). This morning I got teary but other than those two I haven’t noticed any major anxiety or depression; it’s the swimming head that is stopping me being functional & feels hellish.

          I’ve been taking 30-45mg serepax and that makes a HUGE difference in taking the side effects away. Unfortunately I’ve only been allowed a few due to the risk of being reliant on them, but I must say I’m sure they’re easier to withdraw from than pristiq so I’d rather take my chances. I’m not abusing them so I don’t see any issue (my doctor does though 😖).

          I’ve made a ‘keep calm kit’ for anxious spells; I’ve included my favourite comedy dvd, mindful colouring, recipes for easy healthy meals, inspiring quotes, and pretty nail polishes. I’ve got two weeks off work for school holidays and plan on watching loads of comedy in my PJ’s & trying to get some exercise going when my withdrawals allow. I’d love to have some more serepax for this time as it seems to massively help but I’ve only got enough for the first three-four days.

          Magnesium and vit C are also recommended by my naturopath to reduce the severity and likelihood of anxiety episodes. I’m determined to persevere as long as possible!

        • Kate October 13, 2016, 4:53 pm

          I am also doing the cold turkey. (I’m 31years old and have been on pristiq for about 12 weeks). I’m on day 5… I am usually one who can handle drug side effects, but this is a whole new level of experience. I’ve experienced the brain zaps everyday, headaches are pretty horrible. I find I’m so very sensitive to light and computer/phone screens.

          I don’t have nausea, but I’m prone to migraines, which I think I’m getting pre-onsets all the time. I sleep very easily, due to being tired all the time. I find if I can get in a quiet room and close my eyes for 15 minutes my headaches calm down a bit or take a nap if I’m not at work. I’m curious as to how long it took for you to not have any symptoms at all?

          • Amy December 2, 2016, 7:25 pm

            I’m 5 weeks off and still have dizzy spells and strange eye sensations. I wish everyone was alike and we knew exactly when these side effects would end.

  • Pam September 6, 2014, 4:58 am

    I am trying to withdraw, and the psychiatrist had me splitting the 100mg tabs for 2 weeks, taking 75mg. I’ve now read that it’s not advised….ugh. Now I’ve been taking 50mg for a week. He tried adding Abilify in a tiny dose, but that made it much worse – only took for 2 days. He suggested 50mg every other day, but I see this isn’t recommended either?

    I was going to quit cold turkey, and now I see here it makes it …. longer…. worse?? I can’t think, I’m off balance, and have a headache with nausea. I have 30 days of 50mg, but I”m supposed to begin another antidepressant….so confusing. This is not fun.

    • Me August 9, 2015, 3:41 am

      Listen to your psychiatrist, not something you found on the internet.

      • Austin February 21, 2016, 6:13 pm

        Terrible comment. A doctor isn’t always right.

    • Kristi November 18, 2015, 9:12 pm

      I would get a different psychiatrist! My bottle even states that you should not break/cut these tablets, but a psychiatrist told you to? I’d be questioning him/her! Then dumping him/her! Talk to your pharmacist or GP about withdrawing!

      • Karen December 23, 2015, 5:47 am

        I am on day 12 and it has been a roller coaster of emotion, vomiting, brain zaps, upset stomach, pains in living, cold chills, sweats, agitation, suicidal thoughts, anger, guilt… The list goes on. The insomnia and night sweats have been exhausting and sometimes I don’t want to wake up! About day 3 I could only walk while the brain zaps kicked in by hugging the wall, fell over twice – felt like someone has pushed me violently to the ground.

        Thank you drug companies for profiting at the misery of ever bodies mind and health and all to fill your corporate pockets. I would recommend this drug be banned and never used on humans or animals . Everyday brings a different and soul destroying side effect that quickly gives less and less of a reason to continue. And so; do I keep taking it – no- but something makes me want to like a junkie hooked on cocaine or something not legal.

        Well let’s see what tomorrow brings – more tears- more disappointment, brain zaps, vomiting, so return to the start.

        • Jane March 20, 2016, 7:54 pm

          How are you now?

      • Denise February 13, 2016, 6:07 am

        I split pills very slowly and was told by pharmacist and 3 doctors that it was ok to do. It has works for me. But you must do very slowly. Slivers at a time. I even bought a small scale to measure going down a gram at a time.

    • Annika December 24, 2015, 4:32 am

      I would get rid of your psych!!! If they are recommending those things then they not actually familiar with the drug. Not good. Best of luck!

  • John John September 22, 2014, 7:10 am

    I am just past two weeks cold turkey and it has t been too bad. I am exercising more and frankly smoking pot which has really helped. The zaps stopped after 10 days. I am very short fused and hot tempered. However, the best hung has been a very real sense of “this is an appropriate emotion for this situation.” The fog is lifting although I still feel like a cinderblock is in my head. I’m not up for much sexual activity.

    My bowel movements are back to normal and my hunger has subsided. I could eat all day at first. I frankly don’t think the drug was doing anything for several years. I was in 200 and the. Backed down to 100 once day for at least five years. I think it is a bad drug for many and for me, it was time to stop. I also suit so caffeine several week prior and that has been so wonderful. I have had two nightmares that was awful the first week. I have not cried, but am almost fighting that like “Nope nope, I am not going to cry over this,” and I am a big old tiddy baby usually.

    It is the end of summer and I am worried about winter. I am going to try an organic and other methods to fight it this time. I am going to do yoga, acupuncture, herbs and other this time. It has to be cheaper! Good luck to all and cold turkey seemed doable or me. I think I had to psych myself out to do it but it has not been too hard or bad at all. I think I was on Effexor and then this awful drug for right years! I’d love to keep up with this thread. John.

    • Christie September 22, 2014, 5:29 pm

      John John,

      This gives me hope as I am doing it cold turkey. Only on my second day and last night sucked. I was not aware of the insomnia this could cause but I am not so I may be taking something tonight. I have not started having the zaps yet but I too psyched myself up for this and am ready for them. Thanks again for the information.

      • John John September 29, 2014, 5:45 am

        How is it going? I read to try adding Metamucil and I have to say it seems to help it out. I am still aging a zap or few throughout the day, but they are mild and lessening in frequency. I have no regrets stopping it. There are some times where I feel very heavy and lethargic. I have had some client situations and personal by time stresses where I might have cried in the past, but not during this cycle. I may be white knuckling it, but am proud. Let’s keep in touch on this. So few people understand it. All my partner says is “Oh, that’s why guy were an asshole that first week.” Lol. I will say that long and mild walks have helped me. I find myself talking alone in he car like it is a real Therapy session, but I am getting to a lot of truth.

      • hunter April 26, 2015, 11:02 pm

        I went cold turkey from 50mg. On day 7 I almost went back taking it again because I felt like I was being electrocuted, brain zaps, confusion and dizziness. I am happy to let you all know the last 2 days I’ve been free of all withdraw symptoms. Please hang in there. I am a huge wimp and managed to get through it. Try and stay strong. It can be done. What these drug companies are doing should be illegal.

        I complained to my Dr when I missed a dose I was tingling all over and he said it had nothing to do with this medication. Both Dr’s and pharmaceutical companies only care about making money off of our suffering. I am so upset about this. I have read from women that want children and can’t come off to students trying to get through school and how many children are out there that can’t express how they feel.

        It is so wrong. I wish I could do something about it so I just keep coming on here and hope that I can encourage all of us. I took me a long time to find people in my situation that had reach freedom from this horror. Those who accomplish this freedom keep coming back on here and give others hope. Google the supplement Magnesium chelated. Empower yourself – that’s half the battle. Wish you all success. Live Free.

        • Shae June 11, 2015, 1:45 pm

          Thank you for this post! Actually for this entire thread, as I feel reading it has really helped prepare me. I’ve been taking pristiq for almost 8 months and recently decided it was more harmful than helpful, as rather than feeling and dealing with life’s ups & downs I have been living in a dulled state of monotony. Life threw too many obstacles at me at once and I wasn’t coping, so the Doc put me on this stuff.

          He didn’t mention the side effects or difficulty getting off it. In these last 2 weeks I went through a break up and I had 2 panic attacks and realized that the medication was not the answer. I’ve been on 50mg and have started tapering off. In the last 5 days I spent the first 3 on half the dose (I just bit them in half), and the last 2 days I have been on a quarter. Amazingly, I feel good! Clearer than I’ve felt in a LONG time!!

          Thankfully I had already started doing morning workouts again which helps elevate the mood, and paired with making this decision makes me feel like I’m taking control of my life again. I even asked for a raise today!! I have taken paracetamol for the headaches and yes my sleep is lighter and more disturbed, but I’m sure this will ease and it is well worth it. I feel more myself again already, even my eyes look brighter. Tomorrow I’m not taking any pristiq, I’m done with the stuff. Feeling hopeful about the future, will keep you posted :)

          • Mark October 10, 2015, 11:17 am

            Hi all, I have been off Pristiq for about three weeks now after reducing the dosage to half, then a quarter. I still have the headaches and I get VERY tired in the afternoon to the point where I had to leave work early the other day as I just couldn’t cope. I’ve had burning and watering eyes which I thought was hay fever, although I’ve never had it that severe before. Some dry coughing too.

            I’ll be glad when it’s all over and I’m going to search for other ways to manage my depression even though my doctor says it’s my only option as I’ve had a number of recurrences. I’ve lost some weight though exercise and better eating and I am seeing a naturopath. Try everything you can before going back to the drugs. Anyone who wants to contact me to discuss further please let me know as it’s hard to talk to those that have not experienced this.

        • Sara July 12, 2015, 11:34 pm

          Wow I totally agree I feel like I need to go to a rehab to get off pristiq. I am so upset about the doctors who prescribe it and the drug company. I have tried so many times to get off pristiq but I get sick and have the horrible brain zaps along with crying and insomnia. So I go back on it… And the cost is ridiculous. I just don’t know what to do.

          • Theresa July 17, 2015, 4:05 pm

            Hi Sara. This is the first time I’ve ever participated in one of these threads; but the withdrawal has been so bad that I feel I need to. This is day 5 of withdrawal. I was on 50 mg for the last 4 months. I’m coming off cold turkey because I don’t see any other option. Taking another medication that I will also have to stop taking eventually doesn’t seem to be an appropriate way to go.

            Yesterday, day 4, I took .25 mg of clonazepam in the afternoon to settle me down and it did help. However, be warned that clonazepam withdrawal is also hellish and be used extremely sparingly, if at all. I exercise, eat well and have support, however, I have not asked my doctor’s advice yet. My main reason for sharing is to give you support to hang in there. If it gets to bad, then reach out to someone, don’t be alone and stay as busy as you can. Get as much sleep as possible…and remember it’s all temporary and that you can do it.

          • Tanya October 17, 2015, 7:08 am

            Hi Sara, I agree with your comment on needing rehab to come off pristiq. The first time I tried was a year ago and it nearly pushed me over the edge. I went back on because I was too afraid of what happened when I went off them. For the last months I cut down to half. I then started skipping a day. Then 2 day. I am now off them for nearly a week. I still get the brain zaps but not so bad. Everyday I’m feeling a bit better. Hope this helps. Definitely would never have started taking them if I knew how hard it was to get off them!

        • Bill August 8, 2015, 4:11 pm

          Hello, My doctor had put me on a cocktail of vyvanse and pristiq which I was on for almost 7 years! When I relocated to another state and had to set up a new doctor he was incredibly surprised that I was on it so long and suggested I really look at a alternative. I read tons of history’s on withdrawal from this drug and was afraid of what would happen to me while I was traveling since I travel for a living and I didn’t want anything like what has been said above hitting at one time while I was in the middle of nowhere!

          They finally started a 25mg version of pristiq (not that anyone had any) and so my doctor had me bump my 50mg down to 25mg and then for three weeks take one 150mg Wellbutrin then finally drop the pristiq and go to 300mg of the other. Well the first couple days nothing really happened then it hit dizziness all he time and feeling incredibly foggy and tons of brain farts! I am only the third week of being off of the pristiq and still dealing with some of the effects of withdrawal but some new things have popped up…

          My emotions have come back, my wife says I am not as mug of a robot as when on the pristiq and there are the enjoyable mood swings! I just try to take notice of that and try my best to not push them on others. I just would love for the dizziness and nausea to stop because with the amount of driving and flying I do it tends to hit at the worst possible time! Take care and thanks for the insight everyone.

          • Sarah August 21, 2015, 5:03 am

            There’s a 25 mg version? I have been taking 50 mg every other day. The side effects are awful. Stomach pain, headache, brain zaps, dizziness. Wonder if the 25 might help. Instead of having it in my body every other day.

          • Dena February 16, 2016, 2:44 am

            Bill, As I was reading everyone’s comments, yours caught my eye when you mentioned Wellbutrin. I started taking Pristiq about 2 years ago after telling my doctor that the current one I was taking was not working anymore, which was Zoloft. So he recommends 50mg of Pristiq, worse mistake I ever made was getting on that evil medicine, after a few months of starting Pristiq.

            I told him it wasn’t working and wanted to stop completely, but he talked me in to trying 100mg. I could not tell that much difference, then one day I missed a dose, and I literally thought I was gonna die, JUST ONE DOSE, what had I got myself into, then I decided to go to a psych doctor (a professional) not my primary care doctor. After telling him my story of my real life near death experience (symptoms of a heart attack, brain zaps, extreme nausea, pounding headaches, and nervousness like I can’t even put in words) from (one) missed dose.

            Even though these symptoms only lasted a day, that was my red flag to stop. He immediately dropped the dose down to 50mg and added 100mg of Wellbutrin, then 6 wks later, he stops my Pristiq and and adds another 100mg Wellbutrin, I take one in morning and one in evening, first 2 days was rough, but 3rd day I felt sooo much better, symptoms are slowly leaving my body.

            I want to eventually stop Wellbutrin and he said it was not hard to get off that med. but now just taking one day at a time, prayers to you and all who are trying to get off Pristiq, hope this helps someone.

        • Mom of 3 January 5, 2016, 8:34 pm

          I am going out of my mind! I’ve been off for about 2 weeks and have every symptom listed. I, like so many others feel like giving up. Most days I don’t want to wake up!! It’s of the devil!!!

          • Carrie January 22, 2016, 4:53 am

            Ugh… I’m so sorry you’re still having so many negative withdrawal symptoms. I’m on day three. I sure hope I’m successful this time. I tried several months ago but my husband and daughter were not prepared for my emotional rollercoasters. I didn’t want to put them through that so I agreed to go back on 50mg.

            This time I feel more determined. It’s hard. The brain zaps are annoying. It’s hard to concentrate. The night sweats, sleeplessness, numbness, irritability, emotional ups and downs aren’t fun but on the flip side, I feel myself coming back to life. I feel determined this time.

            I have prepared my husband and he seems on board to see it through with me which is a huge help. Reading this thread has been very helpful as well. Thanks to all of you who share. Stay strong!!

        • Stephanie March 9, 2016, 4:47 am

          Thank you for your encouragement. I have been on 50mg Pristiq for 6 years and I wish I would have done a little more research before just taking whatever my doc said. My new doctor is having me take Prozac for two weeks and then quit the Pristiq. I’m on day 3 and the brain zaps are crazy. Never experienced such a thing before. Anyway, I felt like a zombie all day with headaches and nausea. Thanks for letting us know it gets better. Will update as well, hopefully if things go well…

        • dawn May 27, 2016, 12:14 am

          Omg!! I soooo agree with all of this!! I’m ready to put my money into relaxation, travels or savings!! When I lost my insurance, and found out the cost of this med for 1 month??? I lost it!! I’m going to let my spouse read these comments so he’ll understand all of this!!!

    • Stuart October 6, 2014, 10:22 pm

      Hi John John,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m on my third day cold turkey from 100mg dose. I tried about 6 months ago and didn’t last long but am determined to be stronger this time. At this stage have had the zaps in the head which can be tough when trying to concentrate but I’ve been on leave from work since the start and have a couple of more days leave before I head back to work. Apart from that have had headaches but just taking headache pills as prescribed.

      I must admit I’m a sook and had a bit of a cry at one point (going through separation and have a little boy that I miss spending every day with) but determined to work through them. I’m hoping the early days are potentially the worst you’re likely to feel so if I can get through say a week or two and this is the extent of the discomfort then hopefully I’m on the right side of the fence for getting through this ‘experience’.

      Good luck to everyone going through this process.

      Stuart

    • Paola October 24, 2014, 4:11 pm

      Hello, I went cold turkey by accident. I became ill at work and went straight to hospital – no one realized I was on Pristiq and I didn’t tell the hospital consequently – cold turkey. It hasn’t been too bad though just 7 days now and finally out of hospital as well. Have decided to stay off the stuff. Symptoms have been: 3 days of ongoing nightmares that I just kept reliving, nausea, dizzy – like seriously dizzy – often totally lose my balance and bump into the wall or suddenly just sit.

      I did have a big headache right in the top of my head for a few days but it has gone. I think I have been very lucky as all the symptoms where mixed up with my other illness and basically I just felt like crap for a week! lol. No anger, actually feel very calm, relaxed and nothing upsets me, slightly amusing really, just dizzy.

      • Kim November 22, 2014, 12:04 pm

        Oh wow this is so great to read! I’ve gone cold turkey off 100mg. I didn’t mean too, but I moved to a different country about 6 months ago and I woke up one day and realized I had ran out of the stuff. I rang up to see a doctor and I was told I would have to wait a week because I hadn’t registered with the health care system in this country yet. I was so scared about how I would get through the week without it, but I got through fine. The physical side effects were really minimal so after a week passed I thought I’d keep off it.

        I’d been thinking of coming off it anyway. Pristiq has been great for me, I had no side effects while taking it and it totally changed my life in a really positive way, so now I want to see if I can sustain that naturally. If it turns out I can’t then thats ok, it was worth a go. I’m in week 3 now and I think things have been going really well considering. Side effects so far are:
        – nausea (for the past week I feel extreme nausea for at least half the day),
        – constipation (past week only),
        – crying spells (I was at the pub on a friday night and I just started crying uncontrollably, I’ve never cried when drinking so it scared the hell out of me! So embarrassing!)
        – extreme anxiety,
        – unable to concentrate at work.

        I know these don’t sound great, but they’re not as bad as they sound and I thought coming off such a significant medication like this would be way worse. I’m really positive and 100% know I can do this. Good luck to everyone else out there, no matter if you decide to stay on it, or go off it, you’re not alone!

        • Lauren May 11, 2016, 3:39 am

          I’d stay away from depressants like alcohol when you’re coming off an antidepressant, even if you’re usually a happy drunk it can really bring you down. Light exercise including yoga or just a walk can help immensely.

    • Alana June 3, 2015, 6:14 am

      I can really relate to this comment! I was taking 50mg of Pristiq for just over a year and have decided to stop cold turkey (as you cant cut the tablets you have no other choice but to STOP and deal with all the nasty withdrawal symptoms). It’s only been 3 days (kill me now!) and I’ve wanted to give up so many times. But I’m going to keep pushing through. I have a ravenous appetite, I cant stop eating and I’m not a very big person I don’t eat a lot so that’s been a very strange side effect.

      I could literally eat all day long! I have the typical headaches, brain fuzziness, vertigo, constant dizziness, nausea, HEIGHTENED sex drive which I think is strange as its supposed to be the opposite (I had almost no sex drive whilst taking Pristiq so clearly its back with a vengeance) and I have symptoms of a common cold/flu. So runny nose, sweating, body aches and pains, sore throat etc. Anyways I would LOVE to know how long this will go on for?!

      I’ve read that it can last 2 weeks or up to 3 months! I’m scared as it’s so hard to just get through the day or have a decent sleep without the nightmares or weird dreams! Can anyone let me know how long these symptoms lasted for?

      • Jruiz June 18, 2015, 1:33 am

        Wow! I’m having IDENTICAL withdrawal symptoms! I was on 50mg for three years. I tried to “taper” once before but failed. I’m on day 10 of cold turkey withdrawal. This med was just okay for me. I think it stopped working and I could not seem to convince my doctor that it was causing high cholesterol…ugh. I’m pushing through though I, too, wish I knew how long these side effects were going to last! Let me know if you find out.

      • Sharon Bignell January 9, 2016, 3:11 pm

        So happy I found this thread. I am withdrawing off 200mg cold turkey… I’m on day 4. It has been hell so far. I literally can’t talk and I’m slurring my words! Been vomiting, have diarrhea, and a headache from hell. I feel like I have the flu, it’s just hell. The only positive about any of this is I have been horny as hell all day… I think I’m getting my mojo back!

  • Catherine September 23, 2014, 1:16 am

    It has now been 4 weeks since I quit Pristiq cold turkey. I wish that I had a knowledgeable doctor because I have been through hell and am still suffering. Many of my physical symptoms such as severe back pain, sweating, shaking and dizziness are much better, but since week 3 my main withdrawal symptoms have been insomnia (which I have had since week 1) as well as massive despair and hopelessness.

    The despair is nothing like the depression I felt when I first went on the drug, it is so much worse. Every time it gets dark it gets a lot worse, but today I have woken up feeling this way. Last night I drove to an after hours doctor and was all ready to give up and go on another antidepressant, but she prescribed me a very low dose valium. It did allow me to sleep, but I still feel so low today.

    I am also incredibly anxious about everything, especially if something happens to my husband or that I will end up pushing him away through this. It is unbearable. Today I have a my first counseling session. I am really hoping I will walk away with some tools for dealing with this. I wonder if it is going to be this bad for another 2 months? If so I would have to go back onto something, because I can’t cope.

    • Lindsey June 8, 2015, 5:30 pm

      Hi Catherine, Your symptoms seem extremely similar to what my mother is going through right now. I was just wondering how you are doing and if you had any advice. She is having a difficult time through this. Thanks!

  • Analeise September 23, 2014, 7:51 am

    I have a fantastic, thoughtful & careful doctor who has been gradually tapering off Pristiq and bridging me with Lovan (Prozac). Mostly because Pristiq has caused me to gain a huge amount of weight & I’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (no family history) at only 46. I was on 150mg of Pristiq for a few years, so was quite chemically dependent on it. My brain function was very used to Pristiq.

    Even with the gradual tapering I noticed a difference when I got down to 50mg of Pristiq combined with 20mg Lovan. Mostly intermittent bouts of anxiety, agitation & irritability combined with some mild nausea (queasiness mostly). After a couple of weeks of this regime my doctor moved me completely off the Pristiq & increased the Lovan up to 40mg. That was last Wednesday & today is Tuesday, the following week. It has been a nightmare.

    Symptoms of extreme mood swings, hopelessness, severe anxiety, agitation, incredible anger (screaming profanity at people from my car window who wouldn’t let me move into traffic lanes is EXTREMELY unlike me) & high levels of fatigue. I’ve felt irrational & absolutely bat sh*t crazy truth be told.

    The irony is I’m a mental health professional myself so I recognized the signs & am thinking that I just need to ride this through & I’ll be ok. Last night I snapped again in a neurotic, frenzy like manner yelling, swearing & felt like I was in a barely controlled rage. It’s a very, very scary feeling. Very unpleasant especially as I can see, after the fact, that my behaviour is deeply concerning for my family to see & I can easily determine that it’s completely out of character for me yet I can’t control it.

    After I snapped verbally & neurotically at my 13 yr old son I realized I’d lost the plot again & felt I was really, really struggling with Pristiq withdrawal. No brain zaps, as others mention, but extreme levels of mood swings. I decided to call my dr & have made an appointment for tomorrow morning. In the meantime I’ve taken some Valium to take the edge off what I can only describe as seething anger simmering in my veins. It seems to have helped. Today I felt so despondent and guilty about my outbursts I slept the day away to avoid having to deal with myself.

    This is a drug that really can grip some people, me included, making it very difficult (and dangerous) to come off – even with bridging with Lovan and gradually tapering over a good 5 weeks.

    I think it’s really important to get help with this drug withdrawal. Can’t say I’m homicidal (lol) but it scares me that my mood can become so unbalanced & extreme. I just hope it all settles soon as its debilitating in that I feel the need to protect the world from my moods at present so I’m at home alone so I don’t flip out in public.

    Yours in craziness, Lindsey

    • Ren October 19, 2014, 12:24 pm

      Hi Lindsey, I am “weaning” off for the the second time. This time my psych has told me to take 50mg for three days then stop. I have to have a week of “washing” the system out before I embark on an MAOI. I knew in myself that the 200mg I had been in for 6 months was going to be changed so I had already tapered to 100mg for two weeks prior. Today is my first non pristiq day. I recognize the usual symptoms… zapping, tingling, fatigue and complete irrational mood swings. Through single mother with four into that mix.

      I can’t tell you how many times I have sworn today. My kids are very balanced and understand. Doesn’t make it any easier on them though. My eldest is only 10. I am dizzy, confused and have constant vertigo. I know this week is going to be a bitch. They are heading to their dads for a week, so the timing is perfect. I have been down this route before though about a year ago. I tapered off over three months. Then when I was completely off the drug for a month, a cycle of hypo mania started. I ended up in hospital… diagnosis, bipolar. Family history, so it wasn’t a surprise.

      I have an amazing supportive family. I was living with my sister last year when this happened and she was my saving grace. This year I am in a house on my own but she is only around the corner. I only have to get through tomorrow and then I know they will be “safe” from my out bursts. I am also a full time Uni student. I know that there is no hope on earth I am going to be able to go there this week. I can barely drive the kids to school! I have diazepam to help take the edge off and I take it as soon as I see I am being irrational with the kids.

      I put myself in time out so to speak until I feel it working. All it does is slightly take the edge off. Moral: There is NO easy way to come off this drug. I am sure it is effective for some people, but when the dose constantly has to be increased to a max of 200mg as in my case to no effect at all, I wonder why it is even prescribed. I had all the side effects, with non of the benefits. I gave it time to work too. Believe me!! I am SO desperate to feel “normal” that I am saying yes to anything. I never want to experience a hyper manic episode ever again.

      I too am way from “homicidal maniac” but for the safety of the public, I too shall hide from view for the next week. Lol. I am suppose to start Nardil the week after I stop the pristiq. So wish me luck I guess. Together in craziness, Ren

    • jj January 8, 2016, 8:58 am

      Analeise, Do you recommend the Prozac bridge? Right now I’m on day ten of tapering off with smaller doses of effexor.

      • Lauren May 11, 2016, 3:49 am

        Prozac has one of the longer half-lives of the antidepressants that acts specifically on serotonin, which means it takes longer to flush out of your system. So theoretically it’s a slower taper because your body eliminates it slower. It also comes in conveniently small doses such as 10mg so you can stretch the taper out longer. It’s important to also make lifestyle changes like adding exercise, getting a little sun every day, and generally keeping yourself occupied with positive, uplifting, or even just comforting activities.

  • Elizabeth September 29, 2014, 5:11 pm

    I decided yesterday that I was not going to continue taking Pristiq. I found that taking the pill made me drowsy no matter what time of the day it was taken. I was not my usual self…I was lethargic! Slumping around and constantly in need of sleep except that I had insomnia. Whatever…I decided to stop. I had been on for exactly 10 days and have been off for exactly 41 hours and I feel like complete crap. Is this even possible??? Cloudy in the brain, massive migraine, can’t focus and feel like I am in a daze or dream. Can anyone offer insight and advise if this is unusual for a person who has been on this medication for such a short amount of time?

    • John John October 2, 2014, 3:18 am

      All very typical and it is an evil drug, I tell ya. See my success above. I would say after two to three weeks those side effects WILL stop or greatly diminish. Anxiety has been a big deal and shock to me. I didn’t have that before really. Keep in touch. This is like a secret blog for us getting past this.

      • David F October 2, 2014, 7:44 pm

        My wife went cold turkey off Pristiq 7 days ago after being on it for 4 years. She has been on some sort of psych med for 11 years, after our first kid was born. She had post-partum past the 12-month point and some anxiety attacks. She became very distant and she hasn’t been the same woman since. We had an amazing first 10 years of marriage, but the last 10 have been grey and cloudy. We would forgo sex for up to 12 months at a time and average about 3 times per year, only at my begging. She has been on Lamictal, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Ambien, Xanex, Effexor, and a dozen other things.

        Nothing has made her “better.” As an aside, we’re both very physically healthy, we have an amazing kid, and a wonderful family, and we’re moderately wealthy. I’m athletic and a dedicated husband, father, and church leader. Life should be good, but she just wants to sleep and watch TV. The doc just prescribed her another SNRI and it made her sick, so she stayed on Pristiq. Taking all these meds hasn’t helped, so why do they keep prescribing new meds? We finally both decided this week that maybe all the drugs were the problem. Pristiq causes fatigue, so take an upper. It causes sexual dysfunction, so take Wellbutrin. It causes sleep issues so get a CPAP and take Ambien.

        It seems like craziness. Her friends shared with me that she didn’t seem to have the full range of emotions. After reading about the problems with the lack of options for tapering off Pristiq, she went cold turkey. She spent the first 3 days in bed with nausea and fatigue, but the 3rd night she felt like she had the first real restful sleep with normal dreams in years. She dreamt of a dozen situations in her childhood where she had been treated poorly, but in her dream she had the chance to politely stand up for herself. It was very therapeutic! However, later that night she was down hard again with nausea and headaches.

        The evening of the 4th day she went for a hike with me! Amazing! The 5th day she woke up nauseated, mad, and weepy, but by that night she acted like her sweet old self. She sat and talked to me and smiled and told stories. She was bright-eyed and alive. I was almost in tears with joy. Yesterday (6th day), she worked a full day, cleaned, and was talkative, and seemed like she was over the hump, but this morning she felt worse than ever and is still in bed with nausea and a headache.

        She said she is happy she stopped Pristiq because she feels like she’s getting “poison” out of her system, but she feels terrible and is worried she won’t feel better. We called her doc and he balled her out for stopping cold turkey. He said she should go back on Pristiq, cut up pills and do a slow taper. He didn’t agree that they couldn’t be cut up. She declined because the thought of taking any more of a med that makes her so sick sounds unbearable to her. He basically said he can’t help her and hung up.

        I hope this post helps someone. As an adoring husband who longs to get his bride back, this is stressful, but I feel hopeful that we might be on the horizon of a new day. I think there’s a chance I will get her back now, but I hope this nausea will go away. I just hope we didn’t make a huge mistake going cold turkey. I’d love to hear from anyone else with advice. God bless you.
        David

        • Emma October 4, 2014, 12:11 pm

          I’d love to hear and update on this story!

          • David F October 8, 2014, 5:32 pm

            It has been 12 days since my wife stopped Pristiq. We went to see the doctor in person a few days ago, and he said after the first week of cold turkey, it’s best to just finish the withdrawals. She still has dizziness and occasional nausea, but she’s much better. Antivert is supposed to help with dizziness, but we can’t find it anywhere. She has also taken Zofran for nausea. I remind her regularly that it has only been a couple days and that she keeps getting better. She feels like it has been so much longer and can’t see the progress like I have.

            She is sleeping better and doesn’t need Ambien so much anymore. She is acting like her old self more and more. In fact, at church the pastor said something really funny and she threw her head back and laughed with abandon. I was just overwhelmed with love and joy to see her enjoy life. We have talked about the fact that she has been numbed to extreme emotions. She’ll feel full happiness now, but she’ll feel full sadness as well. It’s okay. Living in the full spectrum of emotion is part of the joy of being fully alive. King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:3 said, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.” She knows there will be bad days, but she knows that I’ll go through them with her and God will never give her more than she can stand up under.

            She’s thinking about quitting her job and volunteering more. She feels like she could exercise more and feel caught up around the house. I fully support her. We’d miss the money, but I’d give up a LOT of money to see her work out. It’s amazing how a good workout clears my mind and actually gives me energy. She still doesn’t have much energy and has a lot of aches and pains.

            Neither of us have any regrets about her quitting anti-depressants at this point. I wish doctors hadn’t told her to stay on them all these years. I suppose there are reasons why, but I’m not sure they are compelling or in the full interest of the patient living a full, healthy life….at least in her case.

            Where ever you are on your journey, I hope this helps or encourages you. Most of all, find comfort in the fact that you were made for a purpose, and your trials are refining you and pointing you toward your Creator. There is no comfort in the world apart from Him. There will be tears in this life, but there is One who will wipe away all of your tears forever, and He loves you.

            God bless you,
            David.

        • Cheryl October 26, 2014, 11:11 am

          Thank you so much for sharing. I have made a decision today to come off Pristiq after being on it for at least 4 years. I am afraid, as I have in the past tried to leave this drug only to experience all the typical withdrawal symptoms and have not been strong enough to follow through.

          I know this is going to be a long journey, although I feel encouraged from reading your recount of your wife’s strong will to hang in there.

          I pray that God will be with me to wipe away my tears as I know they are about to embark on me.

          Please keep me posted on your wife’s progress, I look forward to hearing how amazingly she is doing.
          Cheryl M

        • Vlyn kirtatum December 24, 2014, 4:40 am

          I hear you I just had the same conversation with my husband tonight. Week four going off Pristiq cold turkey after only 6 months. I wanted a quick fix for a very very stressful time and I had no idea what an evil drug this is. My husband just wants the woman he married back. I’ve had the mad happy vomiting flu symptoms along with the insane dreams and total crazy sleep.

          I’m a Christian and never thought I’d really take anything like this and if I ever get this out of my body and brain won’t ever again. I teach school so going off is extremely difficult. Positive thinking much prayer and a very supportive husband and my best friend sister is making it possible for me to do this. I totally understand every post and I’m so sorry that we are going through this but I’ve learned there is no quick fix to stress and anxiety.

          There has to be other ways to cope. As a Christian I know God is always there but this time I thought he needed the help of Pristiq . Worked for awhile but then all I did was gain weight and it wasn’t doing what it did at first. Prayers for all who are going through this. I am determined to make it. I want myself back too!

        • Kevin May 8, 2015, 3:02 am

          Thank you David for sharing. I hope your wife is doing well. I was on anti-depressants for years. Was on Pristiq for a while. I tapered off by going to Effexor for a short time because I could cut the tablets. It has been one week since I took my last tablet of 6.25 MG. I feel terrible; brain zaps, dizzy, nausea, cloudy thinking.

          Your sharing has given me hope. I believe the Lord led me to your post. I sometimes wonder if I will ever feel like I want to feel again. My wife and I have a 16 year old son (who happens to be yelling at his xBox right now). I want to be the father that God wants me to be. It is so difficult being so out-of-it right now. I am hoping and praying for the Lord to heal me. Please keep us up to date…

          • Naomi December 9, 2015, 2:12 pm

            I’ve never left a comment on any forum, but I feel so encouraged by all the posts because I’m going through this withdrawal hell myself. My GP told me to go cold turkey with pristiq! He prescribed Valdoxan which I am taking, but I feel angry and confused and don’t know if I should continue with any meds. I am experiencing day three without pristiq and it’s no picnic!

            I don’t feel confident to drive because of the dizziness. Other withdrawal symptoms are nausea, headaches, moodiness , foggy brain, brain zaps, exhaustion and I get very hungry when nausea subsides. My mum was on effexor for years and it took her a long time to come off it and I never knew that pristiq is pretty much the same thing. I’m so mad at my GP for not warning me what I might experience when I stop.

            I just hope that I’ll feel better soon. I try to pray but God feels so far away! Thanks again for everybody who share their experience. It makes me feel less alone!

        • Philip Owen May 19, 2015, 1:08 am

          In most cases of post partum depression, the best and most effective treatment is the taking of fish oils.
          These fats become depleted during pregnancy and when replaced the recovery is commonly very quick.
          Antidepressants never work. They are brain disabling chemicals and all that they do is to deaden the patient’s emotional life and that may make them feel ‘better’ than they had done hitherto.
          Antidepressants never work in the sense that they never solve the underlying problem. Stories about brain chemistry put about by the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry are simply lies.
          I am a psychologist and when I am told by a patient that they have be put on antidepressants, I ask them the following questions;
          1. What explanation did the prescribing doctor give for his/her decision to put you on this drug? (Most of the explanations are simply lies.)
          2. Did the doctor tell you that you would have to be on this drug for a long time?
          3. Do you feel that this drug solves the underlying problem for your ‘condition’? (Most say “No.” Some will say that they understand that the drug is a prop to help them over difficult times. That is the only use that these drugs have.)
          4. Do you want to be on this drug for a long time, or for life? (Very, very few want to continue on the medication. Some will say that they feel that the drug confirms their fears that they are defective, a fear often planted by the medical profession. The whole process is understood by many patients as an attack upon their personal integrity. And they are right.)

      • dawn May 27, 2016, 12:18 am

        I agree! And I feel blessed to have found it!

    • Joanna April 29, 2015, 3:09 pm

      Hello Elizabeth – I have been waiting for your post! Unlike the other posters that have been on Pristiq quite a while while, you and I are short-timers. Me being on 50 mgs for only 1 week and in that short time I have experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea. This is not for me. I had been on 15 mg of Lexapro the last few years for anxiety and when I went to doc for refill she suggested, since my life has calmed down, that the Pristiq may be better since it mainly helps with depression.

      I was very hesitant in taking a new drug since the Lexapro worked fine but I acquiesced and took it. HUGE mistake. Since these 50 mg tablets cannot be split I went off cold turkey and my symptoms are so much worse that I have spent this past week in band and I’m afraid to drive with the dizziness. I have a medical follow-up in three weeks. Please keep in touch. -Joanna

  • Pam October 3, 2014, 9:37 pm

    I have been on 50mg for about 5 or 6 years now. I decided to tapper my dose to take it every other day. At first the zapping sensation would come every morning for about a week, then by week two I noticed it diminished to the morning that I needed to take my pill. Now I only feel it every so often on the morning I need to take my pill.

    I also noticed some bouts of anger that appeared out of nowhere and some bouts of crying that appeared out of nowhere. In each bout I reminded myself that I was allowed to feel these emotions but not let them affect others around me and that they were also likely due to my tapering of the drug so they would not last forever. They usually lasted from 10 – 30 mins and then subsided.

    I have been tapering for about 3 months now and am thinking of making the dose every 3 days. So far the taper method seems to be okay for me. Withdrawal symptoms are at a minimum.

    • Katherine September 17, 2015, 6:53 am

      Hi there – I have just started tapering, and I am only getting weird brain zaps late the night after the second day . So I am only getting a few withdrawls. Your post has given me confidence, as I only see negative experiences here, and I have been on Pristiq for 4.5 years and am on 100mg tapering to 50. Here’s hoping I get all the way so I can have a baby! :)

  • Kaz October 4, 2014, 11:40 am

    This article and thread is great!

    This drug is not.

    I’ve struggled with depression for many years. Finally hit rock bottom and went on Fluoxetine (Lovan/Prozac) and had a wonderful 12 months where it did absolutely everything it said on the label, with the only side effect being a diminished appetite and a 10kg weight loss! ;) Then it “pooped out” on me and, after another year of misery, I started Pristiq – around four months ago. It’s given me severe insomnia, constant headaches, awful, scary palpitations and I’m the most depressed I’ve ever been. I’ve pushed almost all my friends away.

    The more I read about this drug, the more I’m angry my doctor started me on it! (I guess she had to try SOMETHING). There are so FEW success stories. Being a registered nurse, I’m definitely skeptical of Wyeths motivations for releasing it. Big pharma do this all the time – slightly tweak a drug so they can maintain their patents and dissuade doctors from prescribing generic forms of the old drugs.

    So I stopped cold turkey a few days ago. I worry it may be foolish (I don’t totally trust my judgement right now) but I really just want this crap out of my system. I want to get back to homeostasis. Remember what it feels like to just be me. The dizziness has been pretty severe. Some headaches (no worse than usual). Slight queasiness. I’m hoping it won’t be too rough, seeing as I’ve only been on it a short while.

    Great to read others experiences. Good luck everyone!

    • Cathy October 25, 2014, 4:23 pm

      You are so right about the unethical practices of drug companies. Wish I had taken my doctor’s advice and switched to Effexor instead of going of Pristiq cold turkey. Today is day 7 and I am so sick – literally unable to care for myself. Can’t these drug companies be sued for promoting a drug that is so toxic and injurious to one’s health? I am still on Wellbutrin and perhaps that is preventing the electric shocks. But the nausea and headache along with severe sweating, fatigue and withdrawal from all social contact is unbearable. Am sometimes tempted to take another pill. I’ve never been addicted to anything in my 61 years but coming of Pristiq in hellish.

  • hales October 7, 2014, 7:33 am

    It’s day two of not taking Pristiq. I have chills, nausea, headaches, poor concentration, tingling, fevers, and what feels like motion sickness every time I stand or move. I was only ever on 50mg but had been taking it for over a year.. I just wondered if anyone out there knows when this gets easier??

    • zoe January 24, 2016, 4:07 am

      I’m another person who has never posted in an online forum about anything. I am so relieved and so upset to have found all these comments. I’ve been on 100mg pristiq for 6 months and took my last tablet 2 days ago. I’m relieved to now know that the symptoms I have had about 6 times in the period I’ve been taking Pristiq are due to withdrawal when I’ve missed a dose.

      I think I must metabolize the drug super fast as the withdrawal symptoms kick in for me if I miss one dose. Last week I forgot to take my tablet in the morning and 4 hours later at work I had hot flushes, chills, nausea which had me dry reaching and horrible motion sickness / giddiness. I even had pins and needles in all fingertips. I realized and took my tablet 4 hours too late, went home from work and to the GP.

      She couldn’t work out why the symptoms were happening so fast but we decided to get me off this bloody drug. She has prescribed fluoxetine which I can start tomorrow and have taken without any problem before for many years after the onset of post natal anxiety started 8 years ago. But thankfully I’ve found all your comments which have encouraged me just to get off everything.

      I am seeing a psychologist for the first time since have anxiety (8 years too late) and I’m in charge of my health much more these days. I just wish I’d known more about Pristiq and the withdrawal symptoms before I ever started it. Has anybody else had similar rapid onset of withdrawals like me? Let’s hope this means I get through it faster so I can get on with my life.

      • Lauren May 11, 2016, 4:08 am

        Prozac takes much longer to metabolize out of your system, up to a week as opposed to 2.5 days which seems to be the norm for Pristiq. My withdrawals came on almost exactly on time, I took my last dose Sunday morning, missed Monday & Tuesday, was fine til this afternoon (same Tuesday) and now it’s midnight and I’m scouring the cabinets for supplements to take to ease the illness (Vitamin C, magnesium, and fish oil have all been suggested). Prozac seems like it may be a good option for you but I’d also add vitamins & exercise to the plan and make sure you plan at least a week of no responsibility in case you find it’s too much for you to function.

      • Joyce August 4, 2016, 6:01 am

        Yes, I have experienced those same almost flu-like symptoms upon missing one dose of Pristiq 100mg. I was so scared because I had no idea what could be wrong that would cause me to chill and sweat and hurt so badly, almost like something crawling on my skin but feeling deeper than just on the surface. I took two days to realize that I had not taken the Pristiq.

        Within hours of taking a dose, the symptoms subsided and then I knew it had to be missing that drug! I can’t believe I actually went to a psychiatrist and she put me on this stuff. Started out with the usual 50mg, and then she wanted to increase it to 100 mg as I couldn’t “feel” any benefit. I let her increase it, then she wanted to go up to 200mg to which I said no, I will just stick with the 100mg for awhile to see if I get better.

        Convinced myself I felt better, although looking back I think I did that just to satisfy her. I’ve been on this stuff for years now. The doctor retired and I find myself without a doctor and running out of the meds. Thought I could get off pristiq by just skipping a day and then two days until I ran out of pills as I was told you couldn’t cut them.

        Even trying this, I am experiencing dizziness, unsteadiness, and unexplained anger and yelling at other drivers. (I’m not usually like that at all.) At least now I know it is the lack of pristiq that is causing it. Well I only have 4 or 5 left (100mg), and now I find this post. Don’t know what I will do now but sounds like I might need to find another doctor.

        Don’t have a primary as she unexpectedly quit too! In my present state of mind, I have no idea of what I should do. I can’t even make a decision, nor stick to a plan if I had one. Please pray for me as well. Thank you.

  • Yolanda October 7, 2014, 7:42 pm

    I have been on pristiq 50mg for about 6 years, I decided I was done! so I stopped cold turkey for 3 days and that didn’t work, I was miserable, I had severe withdraws times 10. I went to my wonderful doctor who advised me how to do this. July 20th I tapered 1 pill every other day for 3 weeks (the off days I had mild dizzy and lightheadedness) then I tapered 1 pill every 2 days for 3 weeks (I definitely was having brain zaps, severe painful diarrhea, dizzy, foggy, depression) but I was sticking with this!

    My Dr said taper as long as I feel comfortable doing so. September 3rd I was able to go 3 days with out a pill and then I was able to go 4 days without a pill.(I always tried to go that extra day when I could) today is October 7 it has been 6 days since I took a pill and I am OVER THE MOON!!! Most of my withdraw symptoms are gone, just mild dizziness.

    I want to encourage everyone it will get better! I have had tremendous support from my husband through this. Its a horrible horrible pill! I truly believe if you have been on Pristiq for any length of time, that it will take 3 months to get it out of your system. Good Luck to all!

  • court October 7, 2014, 8:29 pm

    TBH, I’ve been on pristiq several times in the past – and with great results, believe it or not, with it being the only antidepressant to ever have worked for me. Every time in the past when I came off of it (it’s extremely costly and well, I was in college), I would be fine – just extreme fatigue and irritability (but i’d always been that way – even as a child).

    But now, this last time, I can hardly take it – I’ve been off of it for 5 days now and it seems like there’s no end in sight for these withdrawal symptoms – lightheadedness, dizzy, nauseated, fatigue, night sweats – you name it – the mood swings are the least of my worries. I stopped the med because I was experiencing some severe stomach cramps w/ vomiting around the same time every night (usually about an hour after I take my meds). So, I split the pill as an experiment to see if it really was linked to the symptoms (this is a common side effect for me with other meds I’ve had to discontinue) and it was – so my doc told me to get off of it since that could turn into something serious.

    I’ve never had a withdrawal from a medication like this. I’ve been on zoloft, paxil, wellbutrin, prozac, cymbalta, effexor, lexapro (scary stuff there), as well as abilify (all over itching) and seroquel (extreme myoclonic jerks). Btw, this meds list was over a 4 or so year span – I just – JUST – was recently diagnosed Bipolar I – no one knew what I had this entire time – just agitation and depression. No one knew. Now, my doc wants me to consider the TMS -like shock therapy, but safer and more effective (yes, I researched it a ton), and I’m thinking about it.

    Hopefully everyone can find their own way out of this horribleness, and get to feeling normal once again.

    • Bittan November 29, 2014, 5:00 pm

      Maybe you ought to think twice about the new diagnosis BIPOLAR. Being on and off that amount of medications during a 4-year period could easily account for your ‘bipolar’ personality. If I were you, and if I could take it, I’d give myself a real long rest from all meds. I don’t suffer from any of this and have only taken Paxil once for 4 months with success. But my husband is the one who is ill in our family and I’ll share some of my 20-years long experience with antidepressants and other dangerous medications. It’s a long and very depressing saga and now, I blame doctors and I blame big pharma for a lot of the evils we have suffered through. But more of that later. Just to explain where I’m coming from when giving advice of cooling it with new meds for BIPOLAR. Be very careful of dispensing psychiatrists.

  • Chris October 7, 2014, 10:29 pm

    I am so glad to have co-withdrawers to share this experience. I started 8/24 taking the 50mg every other day after abt 5 years or so of daily use. I am now at 1 tablet Friday night and Tuesday night. I plan on this til mid Nov. This is my step-down plan a/c my PA wanted me to stay at every other day for 4 months! I actually feel better on the days I don’t take it. I am relieved to hear about the symptoms others are experiencing. I thought it was just me! I have felt emotionally numb on Pristiq and had the insomnia and sweats for years. God bless everyone for your openness.

    • Mishna Murdy March 31, 2016, 1:22 am

      5 days without Pristiq. I had a horrible bout of abdominal pain tonight. It last for about 20 minutes. It was horrid. I almost called 911. It’s over now and I’m in brain fog and am a bit weak. Sucks.

  • Tyler October 8, 2014, 3:31 am

    I’ve been 16 days cold turkey. I’d been on 50 mg for about a year and a half, and really wanted to come off because off extremely intense headaches I was getting ONLY in the top, right, center part of my head. Through a really horrible clerical error, a prescription refill request I had made was lost, and when re-sent, my doctor had gone on vacation and the replacement doctor had to review my file, blah blah blah. Long story short, when the refill was finally processed, it took 9 days, and I had been without medication for 3. So I said screw it.

    That having been said, it’s day 16 and over the past two weeks, I’ve experienced literally every single symptom listed above. For the first week, I was so dizzy at times I felt drunk, had the “flu”, and couldn’t sleep normal to save my life. Week two, everything really started to feel much better. Dizziness stopped, “flu” went away, but the anxiety and mood swings started to kick in. Random triggers like my girlfriend talking about a lazy coworker she has made me completely panic and feel like my heart was racing for no reason. At work, I really started feeling the depersonalization. It’s hard to explain, but there would be moments that felt like deja-vu or slightly out-of-body.

    Then there was yesterday and today, the beginning of week three. I’ve started noticing an intense physical anxiety and restlessness. Intense need to tense up and fidget a lot, plus I’ve been clenching my jaw so hard my teeth hurt, and the first panic attack I’ve had since before I started Pristiq. The panic attack led to some of the first suicidal thoughts I’ve had in some time, as well as a wall punch (which hasn’t happened in years since I’m not a f#cking child… or so I thought). Then I came online to do a bit more research about the insanity I had just experienced, found this page, and mood swung right back into normality.

    I really have been trying very hard to stay very conscious of the fact that there are legitimate side effects that are going to be hard to deal with, but every day seems to get more and more intense. I’ve decided to speak to my doctor, now that she’s back from vacation, tomorrow about what my best course of action is, because I really, really don’t just want to go back on medication, and at this point, I don’t know if there’s any real possibility of tapering at all… especially from 50 mg.

    I’m in a weird limbo between actively focusing on staying calm and questioning my own sanity, so anybody who may have any helpful advice from experiencing anything similar or just advice on how I can help stay positive? Because the past two weeks have been terrible and kind of surreal, and I’m really beginning to struggle with this.

    • Shelly Satterthwaite November 20, 2014, 12:54 am

      Tyler thank you for sharing your Pristiq experience from hell! OMG!! I’m really NOT crazy! These feelings and side effects are real and I’m not alone in having them. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know that. I don’t have any helpful insight on getting off this drug, but I am grateful I found this site and read all the stories. There is hope… I think.

  • Ann.W October 9, 2014, 3:23 pm

    I have been on pristiq for two years now, been slowly coming off them. I was on 100 mg a day. I took 50 mg for a month, then cold turkey. I have suffered and had so many withdrawal symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, body aches, loss of focus,attention short, ect. It has been two weeks since I stopped. I am still very ill, feels like morning sickness on top of the flu on top of withdrawal symptoms. I found out the hard way that coffee / tea make me very ill, so been suffering with no caffeine as well. Ginger Ale is now my best-friend along with ginger gravol. Sleeping is bit harder and the world is so bright and new and loud and colorful now off the pills. I been having such bad back aches in middle of back for long time, anyone else get this problem? Gained alot of weight too and am happy to be losing it now that I’m off the pills. Hope you all feel better soon.

    • Cathy October 25, 2014, 4:34 pm

      I also am experiencing severe back pain since stopping Pristiq one week ago. It is not low back pain (where I have a damaged disk) rather muscle pain on both sides of the spine near the rib cage. Have never had this before. Did nothing to cause it – except perhaps spend too much time in bed due to fatigue since stopping the cursed pill. Is anyone else experiencing weird pain – other than the expected headache, nausea, dizziness, etc.?

      • Chava October 29, 2014, 1:12 am

        Hi Cathy! I just started tapering off Pristiq about 48 hours ago. My first withdrawal symptoms hit today as I was driving home from work: headache, stomach upset, and muscle ache/fatigue. My neck, arms, shoulders and upper back suddenly felt intensely achy, almost like I had the flu. The muscle discomfort lasted about… half an hour, I guess? Then it passed as quickly as it had come on. I had read that muscle aches can be a Pristiq withdrawal symptom so I figured that’s what was going on. Sounds like we’re in the same boat! I’m wondering when the achiness is going to return?

      • Sarag December 19, 2015, 2:07 pm

        I’ve had back pain too, and Aleve hasn’t helped. I’ve lived on the heating pad. It was so bad yesterday I was nauseous. And I cried, but I don’t know if it was because of the pain or withdrawal.

  • Rae October 9, 2014, 7:40 pm

    I guess I’m a Pristiq success story – I’ve been on 100mg for two years with a brief interlude of 150mg, and it worked on the first try (I’m also on a mood stabilizer). Because of what seems to be a new chronic pain issue my doctor is switching me to Cymbalta and I have to start tapering down to 50mg of Pristiq as of tomorrow, and then as the Cymbalta goes up I will come off the Pristiq. Coming down from the 150mg was hellish – does anyone have any tips for going from 100 to 50 and from 50 to nothing? Any advice on Cymbalta? I’m getting really nervous.

  • Tia October 9, 2014, 9:06 pm

    Just started the tapering of Pristiq yesterday 10/8/14. I have been on the wretched med 7 weeks. It will take a months to taper off completely. All the while reintroducing the SSRI I had been taking the past two years and it was working. (Greedy doc wanting a kick back is all I can say to the change of meds initially).

    I cannot take the Pristiq (50mg) without smoking a joint (indica) because of the awful nausea, anxiety and RAGE I experience 15 minutes after taking the pill. I did not smoke pot before this dumb drug! So day two… Smoking my pot and reminding myself it’s going to get better. Most awful medication ever in my opinion

  • Rosa October 14, 2014, 6:24 am

    I’ve been on pristiq 100mg for about 5 years. During this time I experienced many sad and depressing events and decided it was easier to keep taking meds than to try and “cope”. After reading the above comments I’m beginning to wonder if the medication was really doing me any good at all. The reason I’m wondering is because I have had many episodes of explosive anger and mood swings which I never experienced prior to taking pristiq.

    I assumed that this was due to my sad stressful life and if I wasn’t taking pristiq I’d be much worse. Well, fast forward to a couple of months ago when life really got tough and finally I decided to get off everything. My life was starting to unravel even though I was taking the magic pill and I decided that my methods for dealing with confrontation were unacceptable. What the hell was wrong with me?

    I was fed up with listening to my own excuses and I fed up with my inability to cope so I decided to get off pristiq. A couple of weeks ago I started to take 100g every other day. This was okay but I decided that it was too large a dose and I might be better taking 50mg a day and then tapering it down.
    I’ve been cutting the 100mg tabs in half and taking half a day, which I assume is roughly 50mg. I’m not worrying about the feedback saying this isn’t recommended because I haven’t noticed any major effects.

    However, I am glad to read that others have experienced shivers, nausea and headaches because I’ve been suffering from those as well. I didn’t realize it was withdrawal and just thought I was stressed out from current events in life. As for mood swings or anger outbursts I can honestly say that NOTHING could be worse than what I’ve experienced over the last few years. On occasions I have behaved like a raving lunatic for very little reason and then felt so terribly guilty that I never wanted to face my husband again.

    Which is ironic because one of the reasons I started taking pristiq was so I could cope with my husbands disregard or my feelings and his lack of interest in me and our marriage. I’d already tried drowning my sorrows and that hadn’t worked so pristiq was the next step. So, here I am, trying to withdraw. Sounds like it’ll be a struggle but I gave up smoking once and that was hard. I also gave up cortisone after 13 years and that withdrawal was pretty brutal. So, I’m hoping this will be just another serious of all the usual suspects and eventually I’ll come out the other side.

    In closing I’d like to say that my/our greatest strength is determination. You can do anything if you want it badly enough. I can cope with all the side effects and symptoms because I have made up my mind to beat this. When this last packet of pills is finished that’s it for me so fingers crossed. Good luck everyone.

  • Nathan October 16, 2014, 9:51 pm

    Glad I found this thread. I’m now coming up to my 5th week without Pristiq after tapering from 100mg over a month or so. In the first two weeks I had intense withdrawal, esp the light the dizziness, brain zaps. After a month I’m doing well. The main discomfort (though I am still getting dizziness) is the sudden burst of emotions I’m getting from seemingly trivial triggers.

    It’s similar to that feeling of dread you have when you realize you’ve done something terrible, or when a loved one tells you they no longer love you. It’s very intense and is following by generalized anxiety. Other than that, I feel OK. The best thing is the feeling of empowerment I’ve got – that I’m taking matters into my own hands. I’m determined not to go back on ADs, and that is a powerful thing to remember during the bad periods. Best of luck to all.

  • marie October 17, 2014, 10:21 am

    Im so glad I found this!!!! I am almost up to hour 24 withdrawl cold turkey. .. I dont know how I managed to be at work all day today!!! Feeling nauseous and unable to eat and having headaches and shaking so far. My story… I was diagnosed with depression when I was 7 years old (I am 25 now, yes I’ve been on antidepressants for 18 years of my life) 10 of these years have been on Pristiq I think. I was on 100mg a day.

    I did a brain study and have been told I have major depression. I guess the reason why I want to get off Pristiq is because I don’t want to be on antidepressants for the rest of my life especially when its been part of my life for such a long time already! After reading this page I’m scared about what the coming days, weeks, and months have in store for me withdrawal-wise… WTF ARE THE BRAIN ZAPS?!

    I’m in Australia, I live with my fiancee and he is being very supportive, but ultimately doesn’t have any idea what it is like to be on antidepressants, let alone withdraw from them. The last time I tried going off antidepressants I was 14 and went suicidal, so I would love to have some contact with you guys to have someone I can speak to that know about my situation. My email: is.reeree(AT)gmail.com. I hope you guys are still reading this page xx

    • Ren October 19, 2014, 12:49 pm

      Hi Marie, I am in oz too. 24hrs cold turkey at psychs request. Brain zaps are a normal withdrawal side effect. It’s like all the sudden you get like an electric shock from the inside. Mine is not just limited to the head though, I get them in the head and chest. Lol. It’s just the brain readjusting. So don’t be shocked when you do get them.

      Have you tried lexapro? I did have some success on that, but realised after 10 years of being on a multitude of AD’s that I had actually been misdiagnosed. Which is why AD’s never worked. I was only ever dealing with depression because everyone thought my “craziness” was just my personality. Which to an extent it is. I have since been diagnosed bipolar which explains a lot since I have a strong family history. TBH I would even try bloody electro shock therapy just to restart my brain to feel normal.

      In saying that though, AD’s do serve a purpose. Number 1 NEVER go off them without the supervision of a dr. Find a good one. Number 2 TALK. Not just to your poor partner, but others in the situation and/or a good counsellor. Talk till you can’t talk any more. It will help you immensely. Number 3 NATURAL aids like rescue remedy spray and the Bruer pills that you pop under your tongue help with the anxiety that comes with taking AD’s.

      I was on Lexapro after being on some pretty heavy benzo type medications because my dr at the time said they would be safe to take if I fell pregnant (jury still out on that one). Though I did have two children whilst on it and they are A-OK.

  • Stephanie October 17, 2014, 9:56 pm

    I am on day three of Pristiq withdrawal after taking the medication since August 5th. The reason I decided to stop taking it was because I had more anxiety and horrible mood swings on it than off it. I have been experiencing dizziness, brain fog, some stomach upset and have been on the verge of tears for the past 3 days. One extremely bothersome symptom I have been experiencing since yesterday is a shaking in my chest and throat.

    I feel these “catches” in my throat. It’s very hard to explain. They become more bothersome when I sit down to “relax”. Has anyone else experienced this? I hope that when people are prescribed Pristiq, they take the time to research the drug because it seems that it is not very effective for anxiety. I cannot understand why this drug is not successful for me as I took Effexor for almost 10 years. Here’s hoping things get better each day!

    • marie October 18, 2014, 9:58 am

      Stephanie,

      I think i know what you mean by the catches in your throat, is it like a double breath?

      • Ren October 19, 2014, 12:50 pm

        I think they are like palpitations. I had them too.

  • christina October 18, 2014, 8:58 am

    On day 5 of going off cold turkey. Brain zaps are getting better. Nausea not so bad. Insomnia, well it’s 4am as I’m typing this. About to take Ambien since my body needs rest to help with recovery. I was tired of being on this pristiq for 5+ years and I want to get back to feeling normal. I have great family support so that helps. I’m almost over all the bad days so thanks be to God!

  • Jada October 18, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Quit four days ago. Very intense dreams – not bad, just full color and memorable. A few head zaps, continuous ringing in my ears, but that’s been going on forever. It was my idea and cold turkey. Been on it for maybe five years? Just feel overmedicated (Welbutrin, Trazadone, 1 mg Klonopin). Great talking therapy made my depression so very much better, so I decided to get rid of the most expensive drug first. Will keep the Traz and Klon to sleep. It’s funny when another site said 72 hours for complete drug withdrawal and this site has people up the wall after 6 months.

    Wonder how much of it really is absence of the drug. I am in school (again) for MSW so have had a few med-som classes (I want to do drug and alcohol counseling). It just seems like real evidence for a lot of psych meds is very sketchy. You can alter brain chemistry through talk therapy just as well. But this is depression, not psychosis or schizophrenia. Less hard data on depression; can’t see it in brain imaging. Oh well, good luck to one and all, including myself. I’d just like to have clearer thinking at the end. And more energy if that’s possible.

  • Marie October 19, 2014, 6:22 am

    How is Pristiq even on the market when we go through so much hell to get off it? I don’t know about you guys but I wasn’t told about the effects of withdrawal when I was first put on it… THIS IS BEYOND DISGUSTING! It makes me so angry! I would have never gone on them if I had known this is what it would be like to get off them!

    • Kelly C January 31, 2015, 3:38 pm

      I am angry right there with you! So upset that my MD, who I trusted, said to take this low dose pill to help take the edge off while I was going through a difficult time. Had I known it was a life time commitment I would have declined. These doctors have no idea how badly these pills can screw up ones well being. I was on them for two years, MD just kept refilling them. I forgot to refill, then a snow storm hit so it was two days without them.

      I figured it was a perfect time to go cold turkey. Well it has been 8 days and I am miserable. Mostly B/C of the extreme dizziness. I can’t get anything done. The only thing that seems to help a tiny bit is extra strength coffee with lots of sugar. I don’t want to give up since its been 8 days but I can’t live with these withdraw symptoms either. Since it is the lowest dose and time released, I’m thinking of cutting a pill in half, then taking that half to try and cut in 24 pieces (crumbs) to represent 24 hours and take as needed.

      I plan to do that for a week or so and then taper to a 1/4 pill cut in 24 pieces (micro crumbs). That, coffee, milk thistle, and lots of lemon water. The only trick is that I have to get out of bed to pick up my refill. Ugh! Anyone on or not on antidepressants should really look into amino acids to improve and balance out dopamine, serotonin, etc. I found some great product reviews on Amazon for L-Tryptophan, DL- Phenylalanine, NAC, Tyrosine and Mucuna cochinchinensis.

      I wish I did this research before taking pristiq. From now on I am going to do my research and not trust doctors at face value. MDs are simply people who studied medicine as a practice, and we all know there is no money in healthy patients. In the meantime, I am going to look into building a website warning against the dangers of pristiq withdrawal symptoms.

  • Andrea October 20, 2014, 2:00 am

    9 weeks into pristiq withdrawal cold turkey. So nauseous I can’t function and feel like I’m never going to be well again. Went from 300mg to cold turkey. Can someone help me please!!!!!!

    • marie October 21, 2014, 1:31 am

      How are you going Andrea? I am on day 7 and find that if I keep my brain busy on stuff I enjoy then it makes me not dwell on how crappy I’m feeling. I hope you can find something that helps with you!

    • Rosa October 25, 2014, 11:44 am

      Andrea, that’s a big step from 300mg to zero. How are you going? I had terrible nausea just cutting the dose down so I can imagine how ill you must be. I understand that you probably want to stop this medication immediately but I think easing off slowly will give you a quicker recovery in the long term. Seems that going cold turkey isn’t the best option if you were taking high dose of pristiq. It might seem like it’s a slow process to cut the dose down and ease off but if you’re still struggling with bad withdrawal symptoms it might be worth considering.

      • Andrea Lawrence December 6, 2014, 6:34 am

        Hi Rosa. It’s been nearly 4 months and I have my good and bad days. I’m still sometimes nauseous, I have heartburn, pain in my stomach, my bowels won’t function without movicol and coloxl and I can hardly eat. I’m going to go see my doctor again next week. I hope your doing better than I am.

    • Kelly C January 31, 2015, 3:42 pm

      If you can get a small bottle of Peppermint essential oil and add a couple drops to a glass of water that should quickly help with stomach discomfort. As an added measure, I also rub several drops over my stomach. I read that ginger helps the stomach as well! Both things you can get on Amazon for under $10.

    • Carrie January 22, 2016, 5:22 am

      Hi Andrea, I know it has been some time since you posted, but I would love to know how you’re doing. I’m only on day three but I’m concerned about how long you suffered. This sure isn’t easy, but I feel determined.

  • Marg October 20, 2014, 9:22 pm

    My 17yr old granddaughter went on pristiq 50mg in July 2014, finding it hard to cope with school bullying and year 11 pressure. She started tapering 13th October and is experiencing crying jags, panic, anger, hopelessness etc. I’ve been reading all your comments and can only hope this will pass. Any suggestions on what I can do to help her? I’m terribly afraid, having read so much about teenage suicides. I feel so guilty, should have found out more about this drug before allowing it to be prescribed.

    • marie October 21, 2014, 1:29 am

      Don’t feel guilty Marg, none of us knew how bad this could be for us. I’m on day 7 my cold turkey withdrawals and I’ve been getting brain zaps, not eating properly etc. You just need to talk to her and see what helps her cope through the withdrawals… For myself I find distracting myself by keeping my brain busy helps me, so I’ve been playing video games etc. Things like reading books lets my brain wander, but this is just from my experience! Maybe going out for “coffee” (I don’t drink coffee), going for walks, and keeping her busy will help.

    • Rosa October 22, 2014, 11:21 pm

      Hi Marg, I think we all agree that it’s hard to be on antidepressants and even harder to come off them but when times get tough and you feel overwhelmed you need to try something. I have posted my experience above so you’ve probably read what I’m going through. I’m feeling much better since I cut down my dose but maybe I’m lucky or maybe there’s just so much stress in my life that I’ve become accustomed to the knot in my stomach and the permanent headache.

      Anyway, I wanted to comment on your situation and your granddaughter’s situation. Why is she trying to come off pristiq? She isn’t on a high dose and she hasn’t been on it very long. It does take a month or so to really work so she wasn’t on it very long before deciding to stop. Didn’t it agree with her? Or perhaps she hates the idea of medication. If it wasn’t agreeing with her, then maybe she should see the GP about trying something else. If she hates medication then I’d suggest exercise.

      Not an easy alternative but if you can manage to do something it really does help. I do housework, mow my grass, dig in the garden and “create” things to keep me moving and occupied. Nearly, sends me silly going around in circles but if I stop and think about life I’d never get out of bed. The anger, the crying and the hopelessness is typical but she isn’t able to control it. Been there done that, and the thing that started my problems was “food”… many years ago. I had an eating disorder which I managed to hide very well for a lot of years. Family still don’t know 20 years later.

      Has your granddaughter been dieting? My problems started with a sensible diet and turned into an obsession. I had no idea the reason I was so angry, depressed and manic was due to me starving my body of vitamins. I thought I was stressed at work and the doctors believed that to be the case. It was better for others to believe I was overworked and run down. I was 16 when I first started controlling my life with food and I only recently realized that this had always been my coping mechanism.

      Yo yo dieting and comfort eating or starving and throwing up. It all plays hell with your emotions. Withdrawing from pristiq is hard but not impossible and the withdrawal will pass. I hope your granddaughter is feeling better by now. Good luck. If she’s having the symptoms you describe after such a short time on the medication maybe it’s not all withdrawal. I’m only guessing but the poor girl is trying to take the hard road at the wrong time of the year.

  • J October 21, 2014, 8:09 am

    As of last week, I covinced my psychiatrist it was time to come reduce some of my meds. The side effect of weight gain which was affecting my self esteem is now got to a point of affecting my health. Gaining 20 Kgs in 2 years is too much, no amount of exercise helps cause I also have a thyroid issue and arthritis in my foot. Endocrinologist points fingers at meds I’ve been taking, psychiatrist points back. I’m not a big girl, I’m about 64 Kgs and 169cm. It’s become too much for my body.

    I know Pristiq is hard to taper off from. First experience 3 years ago, from 100mg to 50mg, doc told me I had to be on a lower dose before I could start ECT. Even in hospital, with round the clock care, the withdrawals were a nightmare. Cause I was already in a fragile state (thus ECT) the withdrawals felt like death was a easier option. That experience made me realize you don’t f#ck with Pristiq!!!

    I’m now trying to reduce 200 to 150mg of the Pristiq and it’s been really hard, it’s like withdrawal from illicit drugs (something from the younger more emotional times). It’s better than before, but I still wouldn’t wish it on my worse enemy!! Sometimes I find it hard to distinguish, “hold on! is this is symptom and trigger? Or is this just the stupid bloody Pristiq withdrawal talking?” Thanks for letting me vent! PS also reducing seroquel 300mg to 250mg.

  • Mary October 22, 2014, 3:52 pm

    I’ve been on it for too many years to remember. It is not helping. I got down to 50mg for past 2 years. I have tapered the 6 months. It has been hell. I have serious arthritis issues and spine issues. The withdrawal for me seems to be causing muscle spasms that are excruciating. The past 2 weeks I have been taking 1/4th of a tablet to barely a crumb every other day (I know, I know).

    But This is actually working. I’ve gone 3 days now without any at all. I am exhausted and in pain. I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on this drug over the 8 to 10 years I’ve been on it. I am determined to quit it and not be it’s slave anymore. If my emotions get waaaaay of (they have been, but it’s better) I have alprazolam .5 mg that I take 1/4th of and that helps but I’m doing that rarely because I want my mind and body back. It wasn’t helping me. I have known it for years. Horrible addictive drug. Shame on this company.

  • Terrie October 22, 2014, 11:21 pm

    I have been taking this med for 7 weeks now. Within two weeks, I began to feel stronger, more confident, had an increased level of energy and considerably less social anxiety. It seemed too good to be true, and it was. I had been diagnosed with major depressive order and social anxiety 16 years ago, and have been on Prozac, Wellbutrin, Abilify, Serzone, Elavil, and Pristiq (not at the same time). With the Pristiq, I began to have episodes of extreme rage and anger, along with bouts of inconsolable crying and thoughts of suicide.

    This was not me. I have been deeply ashamed of the things I have done during my outbursts. I am living in a veritable hell. I liked the benefit of more energy, less appetite, and more boldness, however these other issues have become too unbearable for me and my family. My husband has been very concerned, urging me to return to my psychiatrist, and today was the day that pushed me over the edge. I have read of the withdrawal symptoms, and am scared to death in having to pursue this necessary stage. My psy is having me switch to a tapering dose of Effexor.

    Of great concern to me is the mental fog and confusion, as I am a teacher and do not want my precious students to see me in such a way as to lose respect and faith in my ability to effectively lead them. I am planning to take one week off. The sad part is, I had done ample research on the drug before taking and had that gut feeling that I would be one of those who would have a rare side effect. In addition I was just diagnosed with sarcoidosis, have fibromyalgia, bronchiectasis, GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, arthritis, and hip bursitis, severe nasal disease. Based upon my limited exposure to Pristiq, I could and would never recommend this drug to anyone.

  • Rosa October 22, 2014, 11:35 pm

    Okay everyone, this is how it’s going for me. Life is still very, very stressful with or without medication. Anyway, I’ve managed to cope on cutting the 100mg tabs in half and maintain that dose for a week or so. I admire the patience of others because 2 days ago I purchased a pill cutter and I’m now cutting the 100mg into 4 which is roughly 25mg and I’m taking that dose. Still suffering nausea and head feels cloudy but nothing I can’t cope with. It does seem possible to get off this drug and I’m hoping my next post will be highlighting my success. Keep busy, push the negative thoughts out of your mind, and stay determined and positive. You owe it to yourself.

  • Brian October 23, 2014, 12:25 am

    I’m dealing with these palpitations in my heart and bad withdraws symptoms coming off pristiq, I didn’t see any of you suggest anything that’s worked for you working through these symptoms, besides smoking pot which is not an option. Is there anything, and drug like, Benedryl or something that works to help through these?

    • Deb October 23, 2014, 7:14 pm

      I’ve called my dr over this too. I will keep you posted when dr calls back. Hang in there and move slowly it helps.

    • marie October 24, 2014, 5:28 am

      Hi Brian, I have been keeping my brain preoccupied on things I enjoy. I am a nerd so been doing computer gaming etc. It seems to help to focus on something you enjoy. As for something to help with the withdrawals, I have been to my Dr. (I am on day 9 of going cold turkey) and am taking St John’ Wort (it’s OK to take it cause the Pristiq is out of my system. Also been taking b complex vitamins with ginseng tablets. I have been taking this mix for 2 days and its been helping as I’ve been to work today and yesterday. I hope this helps!

    • Rosa October 24, 2014, 10:20 am

      Hi Brian, I’ve also searched for help to cope with the effects of withdrawing and haven’t found any answers. I’ve been tapering down from 100mg to 50mg and now 25mg (roughly) headaches and nausea seem to be the worst for me. I’m taking panadol or similar for headache. The nausea is a tough one and not much helps. Sorry I couldn’t offer any advice.

    • Libby February 23, 2015, 11:31 pm

      I am on day 4 coming off after doing every other day for 2 weeks and have pretty much every symptom… Dr. Prescribed low dose of Prozac to help with the symptoms for next couple weeks… Hoping it works!

    • Lauren May 11, 2016, 4:58 am

      Exercise and supplements, they sell B complex with C and I’ve also seen fish oil recommended. If you can’t bring yourself to go for a walk try doing a short workout video on youtube. An OTC nausea med like Dramamine could also help.

  • Catherine October 23, 2014, 4:06 pm

    This is an excellent article. It is helping me to cope with my efforts to get off Pristiq once and for all. Thanks to the author. I quit cold turkey but am probably coping better than most because I am still taking Wellbutrin.

  • Deb October 23, 2014, 7:11 pm

    Wow, wow & wow…..I am so impressed with you all supporting each other and the struggle to feel better that each and everyone of you (including me) are going through! Yes 10/8 the dr said I could take my 50mg dose every other day for a week then stop. Here it is 10/22 and I’m a week without any Pristq. It has been rough but now I know I’m not alone and I can do it. I hope I can make it past this dizzy stage… I can’t do a thing, so dizzy but if I keep my head real still and not move my eyes too fast I can deal with it. I really want off this drug and am looking forward to being close to my dear hubby again. It’s been a long 2 years of very little “love” due to Pristq. I’m so glad I found this site and all of the encouraging info.

  • Irene October 24, 2014, 3:58 pm

    Wow, this is so frightening! Reading these posts makes me want to cry. I have been taking Pristiq for 1 yr now. I am thinking about getting off cause of the nausea i sometimes experience just taking it regularly. I messed up my schedule and am in bed today till I feel better. I am in my early 40’s and have a child that I love and adore. How could I make her go through this with me.

    She deserves only my best which is why I started taking this in the first place. I truly suffer from depression and have been my best while on it, but am terrified that I will have to take it forever. Smoking weed does help tremendously for the nausea, and anger. Much better than getting some other medication. May God and the universe help all you very brave people out there trying to get off this stuff!! It does’t look like I’ll be able to do that any time soon.

    • Jerome Griffin December 27, 2014, 6:20 pm

      Praying for you.

  • Bec October 26, 2014, 2:18 am

    Day three coming off Pristiq for me and its not a pretty sight! Severe headaches, fits of rage, flu like symptoms, nausea….pretty much the same as you all. Pristiq was actually causing heart palpitations for me so my dr said to get off it. No way will I ever touch another AD as long as I live, and this sh#t is pure evil! I feel for each and every one of you and I loved reading all these posts, makes me feel a bit human again :) I have a follow up Drs apt in three weeks and I’ll be telling her exactly how I feel about this drug grrr! Keep posting everyone and stay strong :)

  • Sue October 26, 2014, 6:37 pm

    I was on Pristiq for a short period of time and the withdrawal was the worse experience of my life. I had brain tremors, issues with my hearing, dizziness which led me to have problem with walking. I had to break the pill in half took it for a week and then into quarters for a week then crumbs to get off of it. The withdrawal symptoms lasted a good 6-8 weeks. I feel it’s a dangerous medication, there are other drugs out there that are safer and cheaper.

  • Carla October 27, 2014, 2:00 am

    I have only been taking Pristiq 50mg for one year. Yesterday I went without my tab and woke up this morning about 2 from a horrendous nightmare, I’ve experienced nothing like it before. I tried to get up to get some water but I couldn’t move as the shakes were so severe and my head felt wobbly like I couldn’t keep it still. There is no way I could come of Pristiq cold turkey! My partner was really scared this morning when he saw the state I was in. The zapping was unbearable also. I ended up taking my Meds. I hope my doctor can help get off these :(

  • Mandy October 27, 2014, 2:54 am

    I have been on pristiq for 7 years and up to 200mg a day. I decided it’s time for me to get my life back. I miss being close to my partner, I miss having REAL feelings, I miss my old body (pristiq gave me the tummy bulge) It’s day 8 of tapering down from 200mg to 100mg. I think I’m handling it ok. I have had the brain zaps, the tingling in hand and feet, the nausea, the headaches, the brain cloud, confusion, irritability, and I can’t sleep at all because of insomnia and RLS. today I’ve started with the crying and emotional roller coaster of feelings of whether or not I can bet this.

    The horrible feelings don’t last long but are frequent. Tomorrow I’m dropping to 50mg to see how I can cope. Everytime I have these awful feelings I just think to myself how much healthier I’m going to be for my kids and my partner. These forums are such a blessing. Without reading all you guys stories I think I would have been committed by now lol. Cheers to life without the evil Pristiq.

    • Austin February 21, 2016, 6:21 pm

      How do you feel now? And how long until you were normal again?

  • Amy October 27, 2014, 5:01 am

    I am 25 years old and have been on 50mg Pristiq for 1 year to help me deal with Anxiety caused by traveling/being away from home and separation phobia. I started the program “The Linden Method” that has helped me so much with thought patterns and made me a lot stronger in the mind, it helped me to learn to not feed the anxiety. I highly recommend it to anyone who feels they need help with controlling those voices/your subconscious mind. After feeling really good, I decided to come off Pristiq (also recommended by the Linden Method) I am 25 years old have been married for 2 years and in a year or two would like to start a family. I didn’t want Pristiq in my body.

    I did start taking Pristiq every second day for about 1-2 weeks but I am impatient and because I felt good I went cold turkey after that. I am now about 2.5 weeks free from Pristiq. I wish I had written down the last time I took a tablet because my memory has been terrible the past 2-3 weeks I have forgotten. My first week I was fine, actually felt really good and strong. Then my symptoms started. I feel so angry, I am very moody (I’m happy 1 minute down the next), I’m very dizzy (I feel like I am swaying as I write this).

    I’ve had a bit of anxiety (just going out for dinner and things like that), I’ve been nauseous, on and off foggy head, horrible to my husband (he is so supportive and I’ve told him it’s me and not him and I’ll be back soon (haha), unhappy, horrible thoughts (wanting to be on my own), no sex drive, everything irritates me at the moment, I could scream at people, road rage, the list goes on! Every morning I wake up and self-analyse (hmm how am I feeling today? Do I feel anxious? Etc etc.) this simply makes me feel horrible because I actually encourage myself to feel anxious. This is a habit I need to stop doing and I am currently training my brain to stop this.

    I have been quickly snapping myself out of that by letting my dog in whilst I get ready for work, being over enthusiastic with him saying good morning to him and having a cuddle this is distracting myself. (it sounds horrible but I would prefer to be on my own, but I’m letting him in on purpose to make me busy). I am also very proud of myself, throughout the past 2 years of suffering I have not once had a day off work. At my previous job I had a few melt downs but never left for the day. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts so being at work was better.

    I will admit though I did work with my mum so that made life easier being at work. It feels good to write this down and I am hoping this all starts to improve ASAP. I’m keeping my mind busy as much as I can with study and reading but it feels like as soon as I stop with horrible thoughts are there. I need to push the away and remember they are just sensations they are not really there. I want the horrible mood swings to stop, I’m not really liking this person and I want to show my husband that I love him (although he knows it and knows this is the effect from the withdrawals).

    I am determined not to go back to medication. I’m determined to fight this! Things I am using to help with my withdrawals are: St John Warts, Vitamin B tablets, Bio Vera brand 5HTP (its natural), Camomile Tea, Ginger Tea. Thank you all for your amazing posts! please keep posting and if anyone has a time frame of how long this will go on for, I would love to know. WE CAN ALL DO THIS!

  • Lindy October 28, 2014, 8:37 pm

    I found pristiq to be a wonderful drug which stopped me having panic attacks. After 18 months my doctor recommended tapering off it. I did this over 5 weeks, first week 1 day on 1 day off, second week 1 day on 2 days off, third week 1 day on 3 days off, fourth week 1 day on 4 days off. I have just completed week 5 and after the fifth day I stopped taking pristiq completely. I have experienced bad nausea, sweating and feeling like I had the flu but hoping this will start to pass. Paracetamol seemed to help. Pristiq was exactly what I needed to get me through the past 18 months and the tapering side affects have been worth it. Exercising every day, even though I didn’t feel like it definitely helped as well.

  • Chava October 29, 2014, 1:29 am

    Hi everyone! Finding this page has been the highlight of my evening. It’s like an online support group. Reading through everyone’s posts made me laugh out loud, just because we’re all going through this ridiculous experience and these bizarre symptoms. It’s crazy. I’ve had major depressive disorder since I was 15 (I’m 32 now) and have been on meds for the past 7 years. First Cymbalta, which worked for the depression but caused some unpleasant side effects, the worst of which was gaining an obscene amount of weight.

    I wanted to get the weight off, so my doctor switched me to Zoloft which didn’t work for me at all. So then we tried Pristiq, since it’s an SNRI like Cymbalta – and it worked GREAT. I felt happy and balanced, I had energy, life was good. I have now been on Pristiq for about a year and a half. During that time, I got a new job at which I am really happy, moved to a new city (for the job), began sorting out my finances (yay new job that pays me decently), ended communication with a guy who was no good for me, and just basically got into a very stable place.

    I started to wonder if, when I’m doing so well, it’s still necessary and a good idea for me to be taking an extremely powerful, mind altering drug. At the same time I was wondering about this, I began making a very intense effort to finally lose the weight I had gained after starting antidepressants. After two weeks of counting calories and working out, I had lost one pound. I cut down to even fewer calories and worked out more. I gained my one pound back, plus another. After my weigh-in on Sunday, I decided it was time to at least try going off the drugs and see if I could thrive without them. I began tapering my Pristiq on Sunday night – cut my 50 mg pill in half.

    I took another half pill on Monday. Now it’s Tuesday evening (almost time for another half pill), and I’m experiencing my first withdrawal symptoms: headache, upset stomach, achy and fatigued muscles. Also some slight weirdness with my vision: for a few minutes the top half of my computer screen appeared shaded gray to me, with the bottom half of the screen looking normal. It was like I was wearing bifocals, with sunglasses on the top half and normal glasses on the bottom half. (I imagine that makes me sound pretty crazy. Thanks, Pristiq.)

    Anyway, I don’t know what to expect over the next few days to weeks since everyone’s withdrawal is different, but it’s nice to know that you are all going through this and are all still alive (so far). Hang in there, guys.

  • Scott October 29, 2014, 5:20 pm

    I’ve been on 100mg of Pristiq for about a year and a half. It’s been priceless and awesome. Before it, I tried Prozac, Cymbalta, and Welbutrin. For me, Prozac was zero benefit – huge side effects. Cymbalta was zero benefit – moderate side effects. And, Wellbutrin had a little benefit – a little side effects. Pristiq’s been huge benefit – very small side effects!

    Very small side effects, that is… except when my insurance jerks around with covering my script. Sometimes they take up to a week reviewing my perscription before agreeing to cover my doctor’s renewal. When that happens, I go through:

    1. Super light-headedness
    2. Detachment from the world, for the first couple days.
    3. Hopelessness, if I’m off it for any longer than that.
    4. Does anyone else experience a super dried out nose on Pristiq? It’s annoying, but goes away if I’m off it for more than two days.
    5. Moody with friends and family members.
    6. Tingling up my arms. But thankfully no “brain-zaps”.

  • Deb October 29, 2014, 7:53 pm

    Yes you can do it. I started weaning off by taking my 50 mg dose every other day on October 8th for one week. Then stopped it. Yes it is tough and I greatly appreciated having this blog to read and help me through it. The worst thing was being dizzy and I called the Dr for help with that but was told to wait it out another week. I did and slowly the dizziness got less and less. I discovered the less I moved the better I felt so I have been a total couch potato for another week.

    Agree with all above that all the symptoms are difficult to deal with and did at times doubt my wanting off Pristiq but happily I feel I am going to make it. As of today I feel better so it has taken 3 weeks with the first 2 weeks being hell. I don’t really feel great yet, very tired and feel that will just take some time to get better. So bear with it and rest a lot… plus drinking lots of water was helpful too. Best luck to you all!

  • Rosa November 1, 2014, 7:58 pm

    Good luck to everyone struggling withdrawal. I keep reminding myself that I survived when I stopped smoking and I had terrible withdrawal when I stopped taking cortisone so I can survive this. However, I’m absolutely amazed how dreadful I feel. It’s been weeks and I’m still dizzy and I’ve got shivers, headache and very thirsty. One good thing, the nausea has gone. I think that’s a positive sign.

    • Nathan November 7, 2014, 1:21 am

      Has the dizziness improved any? I had bad dizziness for about a month. After nearly two months it’s improved, but when I get agitated it returns. I’ve also noticed an increased general anxiety and often wake up with a start. It’s hard work, for sure.

  • Stu November 4, 2014, 9:14 pm

    Hey everyone, I think that this thread is amazing, so nice to see mutual support happening here. I’m 24, I’ve been on pristiq for about 15 months. Overall it’s been super helpful, but like other folks had some pretty intense side effects like bouts of rage, persistent thoughts of suicide, dis-attachment etc. While a psychiatrist recently suggested I go on anti-psychotics only half an hour after meeting me, I took this as a sign I needed to get off these drugs altogether. I know myself well enough to know that I’m not experiencing psychotic symptoms.

    I postponed going off the meds until after my law school applications were completed. Unfortunately this date happened to coincide with a diagnosis of mono. Not really sure what are withdrawal symptoms and what I should blame on the mono. I tried going cold turkey but after a few days decided to go every other day. Like other folks have said, I find it helps to keep focused on things to take my mind off of the symptoms.

    A little exercise has been helping too. I appreciate everyone sharing their experiences and I hope everyone gets the care and support they need and deserve. It’s about time we embrace a harm-reduction approach for mental health, instead of this pharma-industrial complex that controls what kind of treatments we have access to.

    • GLOOM November 4, 2014, 9:39 pm

      Hey Stu, just wanted to say that antipsychotics are way overprescribed. Their usage for depression isn’t well-supported and it’s disappointing that a psychiatrist would be so quick to recommend one without any psychotic symptoms. Arguably some of the worst medications to be on (esp. long-term) for those without actual diagnoses of schizophrenia are antipsychotics.

      Years ago I was in a similar situation to you, and my psychiatrist nearly had me convinced that I was going to develop schizophrenia… 10 years later without any medications, never did. In fact, I never even had any signs of schizophrenia, but at the time I became scared that my psychiatrist knew what he was talking about.

      I’ve found that in most cases, it’s better to trust yourself rather than a psychiatrist. You may want to consider finding a new psychiatrist. I share your sentiments about harm-reduction. Wish you nothing but the best in terms of your withdrawal and improving your mood. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and situation.

  • Nathan Bird November 7, 2014, 12:57 am

    An update from me. I’m now nearly two months pristiq free. My anxiety levels way are up, and I’ve just had a huge wobble. This of course then makes me more anxious: asking myself if I feel this way because I’m not on the drugs anymore or whether I’d have this episode anyway. And around and around my brain goes. Still determined to keep off them. I just need to do more exercise, meditation, and avoid the very strong temptation to self-medicate (which, sadly, I’ve been doing). Still onwards and upwards.

  • Nathan November 7, 2014, 1:23 am

    I speak regularly with a sympathetic counselor who is helping me through this period. I’ve been on meds for nearly 15 years. He reckons I’ll experience discontinuation syndrome for 6 months or more. Sounds about right to me.

  • Kets November 7, 2014, 3:40 am

    I am about to embark on discontinuing pristiq after being on 100mg for 3.5 years- I am so scared but I believe my positive attitude about it will help a lot- I have tried twice before to stop but couldn’t put up with the withdrawals. I should never have been put on this awful drug, I have such a big heart and this drug has turned me into a monster who cannot even remember my rage outbursts. I have lost almost everything in my life (even my own life) due to this drug and a bad attitude – I am now finally scared but excited to come off this devil drug.

    I don’t mean bad attitude in a blame way either – I have depression, anxiety and PTSD. Some doctors think I have borderline personality disorder but I like to think that’s just a label. I have been through so much and finally have a positive attitude about ‘getting better.’ I have been depressed for so long, maybe part of me relied on it. I WANT to be happy and positive. Last time I tried to taper I thought I wanted it but I wasn’t ready. I am ready now, so I hope, side effects included, I will push through because I know I have a chance to live a happy and positive life. PRISTIQ FREE!

    I am yet to decide on a specific plan – every health professional has been zero help which seems the general consensus anyway – I don’t think I can go cold turkey, nor alternate days. From what I have seen from other sites and stories, this can (not always don’t panic) make the withdrawal symptoms last longer and be more severe. I have read about dose dumping playing ping pong with your brain. Having said that, we all know it’s recommended not to cut the bastards so tapering is going to be hard.

    I have joined survivingantidepressants[dot]org and find that site to be really helpful – but I will keep updating on here too. My love, support and positive energy to you all and best of luck.

  • Lisa November 8, 2014, 3:30 am

    I have been on Pristiq for over 5 years at 100 mg. I have been dealing with another health issue for the last 18 months, that of Burning Tongue Syndrome. My tongue feels like I burnt it on hot soup most of the time. If it doesn’t feel like that, than it feels swollen, or my whole mouth is dry, or I have a metallic taste in my mouth. Food does not taste good anymore. And I have not had a hot cup of coffee since May 2013.

    I have been to at least 9 doctors who can not tell me what is wrong with me. I am currently working with a neurologist at a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. She has done a brain MRI, blood and urine tests and wants to do more blood tests. I have been on the internet looking for answers constantly. Every time I Google it, I can come up with different results. I am also taking omeprazole for a hiatal hernia. So Google that. Well omep can block the absorption of B12. Have all vitamin levels checked, all is well there. Then I find that the Pristiq can cause dysgeusia, or altered tastes. OK, time to get off this stuff.

    I did not take my pill this morning. Talked to the pharmacist about how to come off it. He told me to get the dr to write a script for 50mg and start with that for 2 weeks than taper off every other day going as slow as my body needs to. OK. Went straight home and did just that. I have the 50 mg and might start them tomorrow. I am doing just fine right now, no withdrawals at all …yet. Will see how I feel in the morning. All the stressors I had when I started this drug are gone now, so I am hoping that I won’t need anymore ad’s.

    I have been on something for most of my adult life and my dad was manic depressive and my aunt was schizophrenic. So I am really worried that I won’t be able to do without SOMETHING. But my husband has told me that he sees that this drug has taken away all my highs and lows. He said this when I told him I just realised that I have not cried in years!! Even when my mother died 2 years ago, I did not cry. I miss her every day.

    He told me that I am not as happy as I used to be, but I am not a sad as I used to be either. This drug just keeps you at an even keel I guess. But its time to end it and see what happens. I am glad I found you all. John John, I would love to know how you are doing?? Do you still read this?

  • Vivianne November 10, 2014, 4:16 am

    Thanks for everyone for writing down your experiences. It has been a wealth of information and very interesting to read. I have been on Pristiq for about 15 months, for about twelve of those months I have been on 150g. I have been pretty stable for the last six months, so thought it time I try and wean off them. Also, I have put on weight and am desperate to lose it. I have been down to 100mg for about two weeks now.

    The side effects have been quite minimal, however today I have been despairing and been quite moody and, I fear, irrational (had a fight with hubby on weekend which I’m now thinking was me being a goose because of withdrawals!). One argument with my husband and today I’ve been thinking all day about divorce – extreme much? I now recognize this as withdrawal and am determined to keep going. I intend to stabilize a bit more on 100g and then go down to 50g, and then taper.

    I am taking it really slow and steady, and other than a few headaches and that already mentioned, my side effects haven’t been too bad so far. For me there was a big benefit on being on Pristiq. I had tried Lexapro before and it had limited effect, the Pristiq once I hit the 150g mark has been so effective for me and I lost the 24/7 negativity and the desire to stay in bed all day and that life was pointless. Finding this thread is amazing, good luck to you all.

  • Megan November 10, 2014, 9:41 am

    Hi guys reading all these posts make me feel so motivated knowing there’s people out there like me! I have been on pristiq 50mg for about 1 year and 4-5 months. I have been seeing a naturopath and as a personal choice I have been wanting to come off this drug. I was also told by my doctor that I should tamper with this tablet. I was to take 25mg for two weeks and then half off the 25mg for another week and then for another week every second day half of the 25mg. I have decided to do cold turkey. I have tried the above and know I can push through hoping the side effects don’t last long.

    I have had the side effects which have been very bad dreams, tiredness, dizziness, Not able to sleep well and worst off all crying to the point of suicidal thoughts. My partner is very supportive. I am 26 years old and knowing that I am in a better place now I don’t need to be on this drug any more… The worst thing off all is I have just started a new job and hoping these side effects go away quickly, so I can get back on with my life!! I use to be very active and due to these side effects and coming off this drug it has taken over my life. I agree with deb keeping your mind occupied is the best medicine! :) and reading all these posts are very supportive :) everyone you are not alone!!

  • Stu November 10, 2014, 4:21 pm

    Hi everyone, I just wanted to update that I’ve been taking some 5-HTP, originally 100 mg on my off days from pristiq – I’m no longer taking Pristiq, but have uped my dose of 5-HTP to 100mg twice a day. Now I’ve been completely off the pristiq for about 6 days and my symptoms have minimized tremendously. I couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made. Accupuncture has been very helpful as well.

  • dave November 11, 2014, 5:58 pm

    This is my first post on this site. First of all I encourage all of you to report all adverse events related to pristiq to the FDA med wash program. Here is the link: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/. I am a former pharmaceutical sales rep with a lot of knowledge about Pfizer I interviewed with them many years ago and decided not to work for them based on their business practices. Pfizer paid a record fine of 2.4 billion dollars for promoting drugs off label that means for uses they are not indicated for.

    Any and every adverse event you had related to the use of Pristiq should be reported including lack of efficacy or if the drug did not work for you that is considered an adverse event. I was prescribed this drug after a life changing event. I had a battle with sleep apnea which nearly cost me my life. In the years since then I have been taking Pristiq 50mg. I am experiencing memory loss, lack of efficacy, dizziness, foggy brain activity, hyperhydrosis, muscle aches, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. All of these adverse events occurred after a period of time not within a reasonable period of starting the drug.

    My mistake has been to think that because they came on over a long period of time and independently of each other that they were related to my battle with sleep apnea and not the pristiq. This drug has ruined my life. My wife of 26 years divorced me recently due to my fatigue, constant headaches, and foggy thinking. She believed that I was not interested in her anymore. Today I am visiting my physician to determine a plan to get off of pristiq.

    I have been on 50mg for about 10 years and my adverse events mirror exactly the discontinuation symptoms listed in the beginning of this thread. I could not convince my wife that my behavior was not related to her. Please, everyone on this thread needs to report these events to the FDA. remember even if the drugs simply did not work for you that is an adverse event and should be reported. Since I already have all the symptoms of discontinuation I am expecting the very worst in discontinuing this drug. If anyone is interested I would be happy to describe their business practices.

  • Sharon November 12, 2014, 12:34 pm

    This is so very scary to me! I have been on Pristiq for over 4 years now, and I want to get off of it. I have gained a lot of weight, I sweat profusely, and I am extremely fatigued. Doctors have not been able to tell me why I have these symptoms, other than my fatigue is from depression? Isn’t that why I am taking the medication, for depression?? Can I ask if any of you have experienced these symptoms/side effects? I have been at a loss as to why this is happening to me, so I am going over my medications to try and get some answers on my own.

    • Lisa November 14, 2014, 7:17 pm

      Sharon you do not say how old you are, but I have experienced similar symptoms. I am 51 and have been taking Pristiq for 5 or 6 years now. All of my symptoms came on gradually and I just considered it part of life, getting older ect… I now realize the 40 lbs I gained was probably from the pristiq, and with the weight gain comes the fatigue. Your body tires more easily from carrying the extra weight. I also sweated alot!!! Again from the extra weight. I would have the a/c cranked up so high in my house you could hang meat in my kitchen! I also started snoring real bad from the weight gain. Husband started complaining about that.

      So it was time to loose the weight. I asked the dr for an appetite suppressant, she gave me phentermine. That’s when my problems started with the burning sensation, dry mouth and metallic taste in my mouth. Quit the phentermine but the symptoms persist. After almost 2 years of misery from that I am finally realizing the whole problem is the pristiq. I have been weaning off the pristiq for a week now and I FINALLY have periods of feeling slightly normal with my tongue!! I am not fully there yet, but I have high hopes that this is it.

      So yes, Sharon. I have experienced what you are going thru right now. You are not alone here. Every time you google pristiq and its side effects I can get different results and will find little snippets of new info here and there. I can not wait until I do not have to put another one of those pills in my mouth again!

    • Dave November 15, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Your adverse events or side effects are definitely from the pristiq. Here is the link to the prescribing information which is the FDA approved source for all documented literature for this drug: http://labeling.pfizer.com/showlabeling.aspx?id=497#section-14. Here is a quote from the prescribing information; In studies directly comparing 50 mg/day and 100 mg/day there was no suggestion of a greater effect with the higher dose and adverse reactions and discontinuations were more frequent at higher doses [see Dosage and Administration (2.1). Sales representatives convince the doctors to escalate the doses of Pristiq only to increase profits. according to their own approved labeling there is no need to use more than 50 milligrams. I don’t know what dose you are on but you are experiencing side effects which are common enough to be documented with this drug.

      • Lisa November 15, 2014, 8:02 pm

        Dave I am not understanding this technical stuff you are giving us. It has something about taking Pristiq with Ablilify (arpiprazole). What does that mean? I was taking that also for many years until I started having muscle twitches and stopped taking that as well.

        • Dave November 16, 2014, 4:31 am

          Hi Lisa, I am 52 years old as well. Just to clarify, you did take Abilify in addition to Pristiq? I want to make the point that all of your symptoms WERE caused by Pristiq. The weight gain and sweats (hyperhydrosis). Taking Abilify also carries a significant risk of weight gain and the potential to develop diabetes. All drugs should be used with a risk benefit strategy so that the benefit (reduced depression) does not come at the cost of developing a life changing disease like diabetes.

          In my case, I have all the symptoms of discontinuation even though I NEVER stopped taking the drug. I have been amazed at the number of people who have had the same experiences. Since this is not described in any of the Pfizer FDA approved literature, it needs to be investigated by the FDA. My professional opinion is that this is a potentially very dangerous drug whose effects are being intentionally withheld or minimized. Please report your experiences with Pristiq directly to the FDA instead of to Pfizer.

          If everyone with these symptoms would report them, there is a good chance the FDA will take action. Certainly they would issue warnings to physicians and they could go as far as rescinding approval for Pristiq. Report them at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/. The biggest takeaway here is that the FDA approved labeling describes these side effects as being in the 10-20% range, however it is apparent that they increase over time to levels that are potentially very dangerous. Scary stuff.

          • Lisa November 17, 2014, 1:25 am

            Yes I WAS taking both at the same time for a number of years. I quit the abilify about a year or so ago. I was edging toward diabetes, but I have been able to get that under control. I am in the middle of my second week of easing off of pristiq and I am feeling pretty good. I do have a voracious appetite though! I want food, and ALOT of it! I have never been like this before. I worked hard with the phentermine to lose 38 lbs and now I am afraid I will gain it all back.

            Have you ever heard of my weird symptoms of the burning tongue, dry mouth and metallic taste being a effect of the pristiq? My new neurologist wants to test me again for Sjogren’s Syndrome. I was originally tested for that with a lip biopsy that came back “zero markers” for sjogrens but my blood test showed a possibility. So I go tomorrow to repeat that blood test. I will definitely visit the FDA site and report my symptoms. Thank you so much for your help.

        • Dave November 17, 2014, 5:42 pm

          Lisa, Burning Mouth Syndrome is not common but not unknown.

          • Lauren May 11, 2016, 5:46 am

            I had a terrible metallic taste from taking Lunesta for sleep, like sucking on a dirty penny. So yes, meds can definitely affect taste, you just may be more sensitive to them than most. I would suggest steering clear of anything that lists strange/bad taste as a side effect.

    • Tess November 17, 2014, 8:14 am

      Sharon – you are correct in that this very scary. Never thought I would find myself in the position of trying to wean off a drug. Just wanted you to know that you are not alone and that for me, it was due to the profuse sweating and weight gain (although, not as much as the sweating) that I looked into the side effects of Pristiq. It was then, I found out that I was experiencing other affects (muscle weakness, nausea, full blown panic attacks, exhaustion, yet suffering from insomnia – how is that even possible?).

      None of it was adding up, especially given my good eating habits and exercise routine. At first I attributed the excessive sweating to para-menopause, but these were not just the dreaded hot flashes. No, these are someone is poring water over your head sweats. Two weeks ago, I had my yearly exam and told my doctor what I had learned and that I wanted off of Pristiq. She told me to start taking the 50 mg vs. the 100 mg for two weeks before being replaced with something else.

      I am not taking anything else and two days ago stopped taking the 50 mg dose. I am experiencing just about all of the withdrawal side effects that have been discussed on this site. A big thank you to everyone for sharing what you are going through. It has brought me piece of mind hearing that what I’m experiencing is normal for coming off of the drug and that it will eventually pass.

      • Sharon January 30, 2015, 4:02 pm

        Hi everyone! I just found this site again. Thanks so much for all your replies! In answer to Lisa, I am 66 and have been on Pristiq 50mg for 6-7 years. I was diagnosed with Chronic Depressive Disorder when I was in my late 30’s, and have been on several different anti-depressants in my lifetime. I went for several years without anything, and I was fine! Then I made a major move in my life, and started over, which meant a new doctor.

        I was having some sleep problems, and a few anxiety issues but felt it was nothing major. Other than that I felt fine! But the new doctor going through my medical history decided that I must be depressed. I have learned that when you have that diagnosis on your medical record, that no matter what you see a doctor for, it ends up that you are depressed! That’s how I ended up on Pristiq, and when my symptoms didn’t go away the doctor wanted to increase my dosage but I flatly refused.

        And decided I wanted to get rid of these pills, especially when I read all the side effects people were having. I could now understand why I was gaining so much weight, and why I was sweating profusely, and why I was so fatigued all the time. Not to mention the daily headaches! I am terrified to try and go off these pills with everything I have read here! I assume it is even more difficult the longer a person has been on them? I will be seeing my doctor very soon and will ask her advice on getting through this.

        I am so angry about this! We trust our doctors to do what’s best for us, and I can’t tell you how many times I have lost faith in doctors. Then you hear stories of doctor’s getting kick backs from pharmaceutical companies if they push their drugs. I often wondered why drug companies gave so many samples to doctor’s offices for free!

        I have recently come to realize that doctors themselves are not as knowledgeable on the whole drug thing as we think they are! I trust my pharmacist more than my doctor, to have knowledge on any drug, and I go to them first if I have questions or concerns! I am hoping when I post here the next time that I will have or will be trying to kick this drug to the curb! In the meantime, thank you all for this information! Be well!

  • Lynne November 13, 2014, 1:17 am

    I am just starting my journey on getting off Pristiq and quite frankly am terrified of all the side effects. When I forget to take it for a day or two I get the electric shocks so I hate to think what coming off is going to be like. I have been on 100mg for at least 8 years. My biggest concern is the advise we all seem to be getting from GPs re-tapering off. I have been told to take 100mg one day then 50mg the following day and alternate for the next two weeks, then 50mg per day for 2 weeks then 50mg every other day, etc.

    I don’t want to take that long to get off this poison so am taking 50mg per day for a week then 50mg every other day then 50mg every three days for a week then stop. I am so sick off not really feeling anything, I am prepared to go through the withdrawal and hopefully never have to take another anti depressant for the rest of my life. Thanks to all who are sharing on this forum, it really does help to know you are not alone in this.

    • Dave November 15, 2014, 10:48 pm

      Lynne, please do not alternate days taking Pristiq and taking nothing. You will be creating a rebound effect in the chemicals of your brain. This will have the net effect of creating huge imbalances of natural chemicals in your brain. Talk to your physician and try and find a different drug or natural remedy to taper off of pristiq. Every person is different and I know that there are some who have done this and some who have not but it is certainly a very poor choice to make considering the potency of this drug with even a single missed dose.

      The truth is that if you miss a single dose, the discontinuation effects can be seen almost immediately. The half life of pristiq is 11 hours which means that the medication in your bloodstream has been reduced from its highest potency after administration to half of the highest potency after 11 hours. I have seen DHT mentioned as an over the counter way to taper off of pristiq and I would choose that before alternating doses with no doses. please let us know what you decide to do!

      • Sarah T August 18, 2016, 3:16 am

        I’ve never replied on one of these sites but wish I would of found it about 2 years ago when I decided to come off. Postpartum wad the first time I was recommended an antidepressant, but did not find one that really worked. Then a divorce sent me over the edge and was prescribe Pristiq, did good, but had no idea and was completely surprised about the withdrawal so this support I see is amazing!!!

        I was on 50mg for about 2-3 years and wanted to go med free. I went thru all the withdrawal and I promise you it does get better and MOVE for at least 20 min 2-3x a day, even when you don’t want to. I’m a single mom so no breaks and still worked but looked forward to my move therapy… Gardening was my mine. DO NOT blame your self… Write a note if you have to and hang it where you can see it to remind yourself, hang them everywhere if that’s what it takes.

        I see everyone is in the beginning stages. I came off about 2 years ago. Kinda been “off” ever since. The first two weeks were awe full (after a taper of 2 months…which is why I wish I could if read this!) After about 6 months after my last dose I was feeling pretty good. Felt my anxiety was a lil more here and there but could pull it together ok…ish. Blamed it on life and stress and thought it was because I was use to being medicated.

        But the brain fog never really went away. Better some days, but worse on others. Then in the past year or so I felt the fog spells getting worse. Has anyone been off for a long time. My doc keeps telling me I’m depressed, but it’s NOT it. (And not ashamed to admit it). I even get the 🙄 From him and every other Doc… Lol.

        I don’t feel right and haven’t since coming off. It’s off and on, being on more recently and one Doc thinks Fibromyalgia and started treating with Cymbalta, which has helped…some. I still don’t feel “right.” Slight muscle weakness started with Pristiq but just put that together reading this. I stand for a living and well was told that came with the job.

        Even brain fog in the beginning of taking it and was told that was my brain adjusting… makes sense. Pretty much went away while as long as I was taking it. The occasional missed dose happened and I would know when cause it would set in. I have read the new warnings with Cymbalta but will talk to him when I go in on about 2 weeks.

        The warnings on Pristiq’s and the withdrawal also mimic fibro. I guess my ? Is there anyone who stayed off for a long time still having any symptoms like this??? Can there be permanent nervous system damage?

  • dave November 13, 2014, 4:32 am

    The sweating is hyperhydrosis and the fatigue is definitely from the Pristiq. I forgot to mention high blood pressure as one of my symptoms also (last post). When this drug was first promoted to the medical community one of key messages the reps delivered to the physicians was that there would never be a reason to adjust dose since no clinical evidence existed to justify any dose other than 50mg. This was a huge reason the drug had early success, since Dr’s spend a great deal of time titrating doses of medications to get patients on the optimal dose.

    I have researched these and there is still no reason to take anything over 50mg a day. There is no benefit in any study that exists. The dose escalation does result in a significant increase in adverse events however. I have been shocked to read of the huge unnecessary doses in these posts. The promotion of the 100mg and higher doses is an old RX industry trick to increase revenues by introducing:
    1. A higher dose
    2. An extended release version
    3. Multiple pills per patient

    These marketing practices result in huge increases in revenues for Pfizer along with the introduction of the 100mg strength at a premium price. THERE IS STILL NO CLINICAL EVIDENCE THAT ANYTHING OVER 50MG PROVIDES ANY ADDITIONAL BENEFIT FOR THE TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION. Early in my pharmaceutical career, after a layoff I received a job offer from Pfizer and a different company. After taking the other job, I will never forget the regional business manager telling me that I was an “idiot” for not accepting Pfizer’s offer (which was 15K less than the other company).

    Part of the candidate interview process was to work with an established representative for 2 days. I was floored by the deceptive techniques they used to sell products. Most insiders, sales representatives and managers commonly refer to the industry as “The Evil Empire”. I have an enormous amount of empathy for the people in these posts. I truthfully believe they are the victims of a greed driven industry and in particular victims of Pfizer. There is no reason other than profits to promote the prescribing of more than 50mg of Pristiq.

    At this time, I am convinced that a class action lawsuit will be initiated within 1-2 years and I will be at the head of the line to sign up. I am endeavoring to determine if this is the case, and if not I plan to initiate it through legal channels myself. My Dr. added Prozac to my Pristiq on the following schedule:
    Week 1 Pristiq 50mg plus Prozac 20mg.
    Week 2 Pristiq 50mg plus Prozac 40mg
    Week 3 Discontinue Pristiq and increase Prozac to 60mg

    I will leave feedback on how this works out, my physician said at industry conventions this has been discussed as a good regimen to discontinue Pristiq. I can’t wait to get my life back. Bless all of you!

  • AJ November 15, 2014, 1:24 am

    I started taking Pristiq 4 years ago. Never increased to more than 50m a day. So I’ve decided to try cold turkey. I have been taking L-tryptophan. I think it’s been helping with the withdrawal symptoms. Only day 4 of not taking pristiq so not sure if my symptoms will get worse as time goes on. Feeling light headed, minor headaches ( Tylenol helps a lot) , nausea at times. Major appetite loss and no more joint pain. Which is a plus. Didn’t get much sleep last night so the “zaps” have been bad. But I was getting those while taking the drug. Don’t know why.

    • Jane March 20, 2016, 8:14 pm

      Thanks for your share. I am 56 and have been taking Pristiq since it came out prior to that was taking Effexor. Tried to get off several times. Been on these for 30 years minus one year for pregnancy. Always stated on 50 mg and am 2 weeks cold turkey. The 1st week was horrible zaps and lightheaded and headache. Now the zaps are almost gone. I would love to find natural supplements or oils for this. Anyone know of any natural remedies to offset the withdrawals from Pristiq?

  • Megan November 16, 2014, 12:07 pm

    Hi guys, it’s day 6 for me and I’m happy to say the nausea and dizziness have gone! Worst of all the fatigue is still there, very hard to get by when you just started a new job and the concentration and motivation is extremely hard. I have been getting regular acupuncture treatment I see a Chinese herbalist and naturopath I am taking a few herbal mixtures and Chinese herbal tablets which I believe help. I had relaxing hot stone massage and cupping done today. I hope sometime this week the fatigue goes away.

    I am also seeing a psychologist who specializes in hypnotherapy which will be giving a go in a fortnight. I also have an appointment to see a psychiatrist my blood work will be given to him and hopefully by the time I see him the withdraws have fully gone! I try listen to mediation and mindful tunes before I go to bed to relax the head :) Guys you are not alone these horrible withdraws will be soon in the past.
    P.S. I was advised by my doctor to taper off this horrible drug.

  • Megan November 16, 2014, 9:41 pm

    Dave so you know how to get rid of the body sweats and fatigue ? I cannot sleep for the life of me and when I do manage to fall asleep I get up several times in the night.

    • Dave November 18, 2014, 8:13 am

      Benzodiazepines like valium, lorazepam or xanax are the only thing that will help you sleep and WILL stop the hyperhydrosis. These anti-anxiety meds should be used at the lowest possible effective dose because they require higher doses to maintain their effectiveness. After you wean yourself off of the Pristiq you can lower the dose of benzodiazepines gradually to stop them as well. You can try a product called I-Cool which is for the relief of menopausal hot flashes, but it is unlikely to help with your sleep disruption.

      Your brain is an amazing regulator of your health. Insomnia is frequently caused by your brain acting to protect you. Many things that occur during sleep which are disruptive to your health can cause your brain to trigger insomnia. For example; nightmares, physical maladies like restless leg syndrome, distress such as flu symptoms, headaches, anxiety and snoring all trigger your brain to repress the urge to sleep as a way to avoid these stresses on your body. As we all go through the rigorous discontinuation of Pristiq, it is probably inevitable that we will lose sleep. I am losing sleep as well. I wish there was an answer for this one. Keep in touch Megan and hang in there….Dave

  • Dave November 20, 2014, 9:20 pm

    Well today is day 2 of my discontinuation of Pristiq. I have had horrible feelings of hopelessness. Day 1 was uneventful. How is everyone else? Megan? -Dave

  • Lisa November 22, 2014, 8:42 pm

    Today is day 8 for me completely free of pristiq!! I started weaning off it on Nov 7. I took a couple of 50 mg doses for one week and have not taken another one for 8 days! I am feeling great! I doubt the drug is out of my system completely, but I don’t feel like I need it anymore. I got my Rx report from this past year and I spent $630 on pristiq last year.

    So looking forward to not having that expense next year. I am having joint pain in my knees and hips. Not sure if it is related to pristiq or not. But I am feeling much lighter at heart than I was. Things don’t feel like such a big deal right now. I like it. Also I might be sleeping a little better. Will have to see how this continues.

    • Lauren May 11, 2016, 6:08 am

      What country are you writing from, if you don’t mind me asking? I know in the US I couldn’t find Pristiq for less than $260 for 30pills at 50mg. I now order them from Canada, $60 for 100 of the same strength.

      • Alex July 21, 2016, 10:36 pm

        I’m IN Canada and I pay about $150 US for 60 50-mg tabs.

  • Eve November 24, 2014, 2:19 pm

    Hi all, I’m so pleased I found this site to learn that I’m not alone in my experience on this awful drug. I’ve been taking it for 4 years (50mg). At the time I was prescribed Pristiq, I was also seeing a counselor who advised me to stop taking it… I wish I’d listened to him. I’ve tried weaning a few ways, but it interrupts with work so much that I’ve ended up going back to a tablet a day.

    I’m so determined to get off this drug. So I think I’ll plan some time off work to get through it. This site will also help my husband understand the withdrawal process – and hopefully help him deal with the moods etc. Dave – thanks for all your info. Whilst I’m in Australia, I took the time to check the FDA website and noticed they’ve just approved a 25mg tablet of Pristiq in the USA (hopefully Australia to follow soon after!).

    The link to this info is http://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/informationondrugs/ucm423324.pdf. It’s listed under desvenaxaline, not Pristiq. Good luck everyone and please keep posting your progress – whether it be good, bad or indifferent. Thanks again for sharing your stories. -Eve

  • Martha November 24, 2014, 7:08 pm

    Day 67: Was on Pristiq for 5 years at 450mg. I still want to die. I cannot even face this another minute.

    • Mandy November 25, 2014, 2:47 am

      Martha, are you tapering? If you are feeling like that I strongly suggest you see your doctor. That’s an extremely high dose of PRISTIQ and if you’re still having those feelings of despair I would think it’s not working for you :-/.

    • Lisa November 25, 2014, 2:54 am

      Hang in there Martha! I want to cry for you!! You were on a VERY strong dose! Please give yourself some time. Did you go cold turkey or did you reduce your dose?

    • Dave November 25, 2014, 2:56 pm

      Martha, please hang on. I have been off Pristiq for 6 days. The regimen of taking prozac to wean off of Pristiq has worked very well. Other than a few mood swings I seem to have no problems. I also found that taking 5-DHT has improved my sleep 100%. I take 40mg Prozac daily. -Dave

    • marie November 26, 2014, 6:04 am

      Hang in there Martha! you can beat it!!!!!

    • d November 28, 2014, 4:59 pm

      Martha you were on what I would consider to be a toxic dose of Pristiq. Consider contacting a very experienced perscription drug attorney. I posted this before but let me remind you what Pfizer says about their own drug, “The recommended dose for PRISTIQ is 50 mg once daily, with or without food. In clinical studies, doses of 50 mg to 400 mg per day were shown to be effective, although no additional benefit was demonstrated at doses greater than 50 mg per day and adverse reactions and discontinuations were more frequent at higher doses”. I looked up all the data and there is truly no reason to give any patient more than 50 milligrams. As we can see from these posts there is a huge increase in side effects which even Pfizer admits. I am very concerned for you please email me at daveberry267[AT]outlook.com DON’T GIVE UP!

  • Mandy November 25, 2014, 2:43 am

    Ok guys, had my last 12.5mg cut Pristiq a week ago and I have a new withdrawal symptom that I haven’t experienced before. It’s like popping candy in the back of my lower head. It’s freaky lol. Other than that I’ve just got the brain zaps still and irritation at loud noises.

  • Patrick November 26, 2014, 4:14 pm

    This is a long reply so sorry in advance. Have been on 100mg for 4 years. No adverse effects. Seems to have been a huge help in curbing my depression associated with my divorce. I am moving to Nicaragua in 2 weeks. Pristiq is difficult to get there and extremely expensive if you can find it. Tried to get my dr to prescribe an alternative 3 months ago, but they claimed I had to schedule a visit and the first available time was too close to departure for me to have started that process for any real length of time for them to monitor me so I am still taking pristiq 100mg every other day.

    Next week I go to 50 mg every other day and then after 45 days I will be cold turkey. So far the symptoms I am experiencing are irritability and fatigue. I could sleep all day if I let myself. Moving to a new country and immersing myself in a new culture is going to be a crazy experience. I am looking forward to discovering a lot about myself and one of the specific things is how I will deal with this withdrawal and new life without it.

    I am currently on celexa 40mg, ambien 10mg and have a prescription for clonazepam .5mg that I rarely take. If Buzzz would like me to provide daily updates on my withdrawal symptoms and other noticeable side effects I would be more than happy to oblige. I’m not sure how many folks find themselves in this situation, but it seems unique in my small world. Maybe it could help someone?

  • MJ November 27, 2014, 7:37 pm

    I want to post about tapering; taking pristiq ‘every other day’. Just for those who may be considering but are put off by it being ‘not recommended’. The reality is: this drug doesn’t come in quantities less than 50mg so if you are only taking 50 like I was you don’t want to break them in half since it makes them quick release (not how they are designed to work and therefore potentially dangerous) the only method left once you are down to 50mg is to start the ‘every other day’ approach.

    Now, I have been on pristiq for a year or so, 50mg Max dose per day, I am a tall female of average build. I started out by missing a day once a week, to missing every second day, to missing every third day and I have now run out of my script and am considering not renewing it. I have probably been tapering for two/three packs and making a greater effort to eat well, stay active and keep a balance. I have had more anxiety but nothing major, I have had funny dreams and sweats and irritability at times and the brain zaps but these symptoms have by no means been all consuming I am still socializing and working. I believe this is because I tapered! Cold turkey seems to me to be counterproductive as does supplementing Pristiq for a new medication.

    I do feel a little flat and don’t feel like having sex as much as usual but knowing that these things are normal for withdrawal takes the pressure off. Acceptance of withdrawal is key. I have personally found marijuana very helpful in providing relief and helping my appetite and insomnia: I am currently awake at 3.30am because of course, I don’t want to become dependent on weed for these things and so haven’t had any today but I can’t emphasize enough how much weed has helped. Using it in combination with a slow tapering and self awareness has meant that withdrawing from Pristiq hasn’t been “very” hard, merely uncomfortable and unpleasant at times.

    • Dave November 29, 2014, 4:41 pm

      MJ, a post above from Eve mentions that pristiq 25mg has been approved in the US. I found that this is true but it is not available yet and there is no schedule about when it will be available. This would help with the tapering however breaking extended release tablets and alternating days while ithey might be the only alternatives now are not very good alternatives. After being on this drug for 10 years I have tapered onto Prozac and have had minimal side effects. I do plan to taper off of the Prozac as well. A prescription for valium has helped immensely at the lowest possible dose and I plan to taper that off as well. Good luck to all and Martha please contact me. Dave

  • Tam November 29, 2014, 5:42 pm

    So glad I found this information! Really thought I was losing my mind. Was really hoping to see a gradual taper off the meds including cutting the pills was the answer to a lower amount if withdrawal time. After reading everyone’s posts I’ve concluded on average it didn’t matter if you quit gradually or cold turkey, we are all screwed for about 6 months!!! So I’m in it for the long run. Never taking anti anxiety meds again!

    I’m 46, had a total hysterectomy 2 years ago. Been trying to balance my hormones and menopause ever since. After experiencing a nervous breakdown a year ago my Dr prescribed Pristiq, starting out with 50mg, after a month no change so she upped it to 100mg. The first 6 months I felt a lot better even lost some weight. I started getting very foggy brained and couldn’t process things again so I thought maybe I was overmedicated and went down to 50 mg. The last 6 months I’ve had no drive, no sex drive, foggy headed, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, etc.!!!

    I started tapering from 100 to 50 then cutting the 50 in half and the half in half then after a few weeks of the 1/4 decided I could finally quit. In the mean time I was and still am taking some natural herbal pills by Sunrider (Dr. Chen), recommended by a friend who is a rep for the company for the last 30 years and explained how bad these synthetic drugs are for us and how there are natural remedies out there. So I took her advice and ordered them with her guidance. I really believe they have helped me get through some of the withdrawals while tapering.

    I’m on day three of no more pristiq. Day one was extreme dizziness, fatigue, cloudiness and headache, day two was the extremes brain zaps, fatigue, dizziness, restless night sleeping, day 3 has been headache, dizziness and irritability. During the holidays is probably not the best time to quit but so anxious to get this drug out of my system that I can’t imagine putting it back in if I’m still going to experience the same withdrawals the the same lenghth of time!

    I’m willing to tough this out and will update my progress if it will help others. Thank you “Dave” for your Pharma Rep info, I will be reporting my experience in hopes that will help get this drug off the market!! My mother recommends the medical marijuana also helps with the withdrawals. Not a fan of any drug but might have to look into it if it might help me cope through the next 6 months. Then again, I will have to taper myself off that once the pristiq withdrawals are gone. Geez…

  • Luis December 1, 2014, 11:19 pm

    It’s been 4 weeks since my last take, I am feeling really crappy (as discussed in the thread), I need a to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Can anybody give me hope? Has anybody been able to function post-Pristiq? How much more do I have to wait? Thanks.

    • Dave December 3, 2014, 3:41 pm

      Luis, my doctor tapered me off of 50mg Pristiq to 40mg Prozac over 3 weeks he also gave me some valium to help with anxiety, the anxiety disappeared with the pristiq and I don’t take the valium now. I don’t plan to stay on the Prozac any longer than I have to. How much pristiq were you taking? Did you go cold turkey? please report all of your symptoms to the FDA at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/

      I consider this drug to be extremely addictive due to the fact that I had none of the adverse events but all of the withdrawal symptoms even though I never stopped taking the drug. This is exactly what you see with narcotics when you need to keep increasing the dose to keep withdrawal symptoms to a minimum. I listened to a presentation from a research and development vice president at Pfizer who insisted on using the terminology discontinuation symptoms instead of withdrawal symptoms which they clearly are. Consider talking to your doctor about a first generation drug like Prozac to help you taper down. -Dave

      • Amanda January 19, 2015, 2:08 am

        Hi Dave -I was on 200mg of pristiq for 4 years. During the past 6 months I had been having ALL the withdrawal symptoms especially severe panic attacks. My Dr and I decided to stop the pristiq 5 days ago and start taking 50mg of zoloft each day. No panic attacks since, but I am really suffering from other severe withdrawal symptoms (i.e. dizziness and a complete and utter sense of despair). It has greatly affected going back to work from recent holidays and have had to take more time off.

        I just want the symptoms gone, I feel tremendous guilt that my wonderful husband and 23, 18 and 16 year old girls have to see me like this and put up with my utter despair and constant crying. This thread however has been wonderful in knowing I’m not alone although it feels like it at times. It would really good if anyone who lives on Gold Coast, Australia would like to get in contact with me on aesse1@eq.edu.au, perhaps we can start our own support group and meet up once a month (PA – Pristiq Anonymous) lol, at least my humor seems to be with me today.

    • marie December 7, 2014, 1:06 am

      I’ve been off pristiq for 6 weeks and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I only get brain zaps once or twice a week and that’s it.

  • Jaclice December 5, 2014, 3:56 pm

    Started taking 50mg Pristiq about 2 years ago. At the end August I wanted off. Dr suggested skipping every second day. Tried that for 10 days and could not cope. After extensive research I decided to cut. Took a while for my system to adjust to reduced dose. I’m now down to 1/4. For the first time since cutting I’m struggling with all the side effects. I think it’s because I made too big a drop from previous dose, being 1/2. I phoned Pfizer who told me not to skip and not to cut but also not to stop abruptly. So when I asked how I am supposed to come off was told “oh you’re on the lowest dose so you can stop abruptly.” Need I say more??

    • gabriela December 17, 2014, 10:32 pm

      How frustrating!

  • Wendy December 6, 2014, 2:22 pm

    I have been off pristiq now for about 3 months and the zaps are gone except maybe on occasion. I have had weight gain since stopping the nauseous stage. I now have crying stages still for no reason and am on edge a lot. I really hate what this drug has done to me.

    • Kathy Brunelle December 7, 2014, 5:07 pm

      Wendy how did you wean yourself off of Pristiq? I’ll been on it about 3 years I need to get off not working! My Dr really isn’t familar in this field and told me the wrong way and went off into a very dark place had to get back on. Any suggestions? My Physiologist said you can’t do it the way she told me.

  • smitty December 8, 2014, 6:11 am

    My son was 15 when he was put on Pristiq for PTSD and depression. He started on 50mg for 3 months, then up to 100mg for 2 months then 150mg. He suffered severe night sweats and uncontrollable rage along with his depression whilst on this medication. His depression became so bad he tried committing suicide a couple of times. We decided to reduce Pristiq to see if this helped. He dropped to 100mg for a month then to 50mg and was going to stop after that.

    As you all know, stopping is impossible. The side effects were dramatic and his emotional stability even worse, with yet another suicide attempt. We found a brother drug to Pristiq that comes in 37.5 mg and we switched him to this; (Venlafaxine). He took one per day for a week and then tried one every 2nd or 3rd day. If his symptoms were too unbearable he just took one. This has taken 4 weeks but he has now not had any medication for 5 days.

    His emotional stability seems improved mostly, but he C/s of severe discomfort at times, like he just cant sit still and feels very anxious. No more night sweats and I’m feeling optimistic that no medication is better. It is so distressing to see your child suffering. As a mother I can only ever be as happy as my saddest child! I wish all of you the very best, and a life of health and happiness. I just want my son to be happy!

  • Tybo December 8, 2014, 10:17 am

    Eight days cold turkey off Pristiq now, and I hate to sound arrogant but it was a relatively easy. I’d been on 50mg of Pristiq for just over two years and after a bungling of my script at the chemist, I made a confident decision to come off. I expected brain zaps, hightened anxiety, chills and generally a gradual decline over a fortnight or so. But honestly it has been very, very mild. Dull headache for about three to four days, the occasional random hot sweat, and a little irritable, that’s it. I had a bigger come down off Panadeine Forte I took for a week after my wisdom teeth removal.

    I had used Lexapro about a decade prior to my stint on Pristiq, and came off of it because of the sexual side-effects it had. Lexapro had all the withdrawl traits people have written about, and required a strong focus to push through it. Comparative to Lexapro, Pristiq is really quite tame. Everyone is different I know, but I firmly believe state of mind is everything. You CAN come off Pristiq easily, as long you are focused and have gotten through the problems that lead you there in the first place. Of the both times in the past fifteen years I experienced anxiety, it was because of the pressure I put upon myself. CBT, and talking through my issues were far more effective and lifelong tools then the medication I was prescribed.

    Listen to your body, “Are you tired, stressed, tense, angry at something or someone, eating poorly, not exercising, not resting properly, not enjoying life?” Your body will tell you this. If you feel like coming off Pristiq, do it! You can! But if you’re still working through things, or just don’t feel right, stay on it, it will help. Sure modern medicine has it’s side effects, but so does everything else. Drink heaps of coffee, or consume large amounts of sugar, and tell me they won’t display side effects. Life is all about balance, and all Pristiq is, is something to help you achieve that. If your mind thinks you can, then you can.

    P.S. A few tips I used to help me over the last week are: 1) Drink coffee, that way if you get anxious, convince yourself it’s just the caffeine. 2) Work hard, stay busy. Always be doing something, and throw yourself into it. Much like exercise, keeping your body and mind moving will give you confidence and energy. 3) Give yourself a time limit and rest. Don’t do anything, rest and relax. Have a drink if you have to, or two, or have a bath, a chamomile tea, smoke a cigarette, have a fire and stare at the flames, whatever.

    If you feel funny, convince yourself you’re just tired. 4) Don’t go to bed until you know you’ll sleep, and don’t worry if you haven’t fallen asleep quickly. Tell yourself, ‘at least my eyes are shut and I’m resting.’ 5) Eat plenty, don’t worry about your weight. A full person is always happier then a hungry one, and a steady blood sugar level is the key to your mood. Good luck!

    • Natalie January 30, 2015, 1:31 am

      This post has helped me more than you’ll know, very helpful thank you.

  • - December 8, 2014, 10:51 am

    I’ve been off them for three days, experiencing brain zaps, headaches and irritability. Not so much depersonalization as I already suffer from it permanently. I found pristiq put me in auto pilot, major mood swings and I could not think straight. I will continue this withdrawal off the drug as I am no better on it.

  • cyndi December 10, 2014, 6:57 am

    Withdrawal cold turkey is terrible!! I’m talking severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, body aches, and feeling of impending doom. Taper over a number of weeks. << That's how I finally got off of it. Every other day for a week, then every 3 days for a week, and so on… Just fyi

  • Alyssa December 10, 2014, 4:15 pm

    I started 50 mg of Pristiq about 2 years ago and about 9 months ago went up to 100 mg. My doctor recommended that I stay on it but because of sexual dysfunction I wanted to get off. The doctor suggested that I split the 100 mg in half- take that for two weeks then take a pill every other day for two weeks. I’ve been taking a pill every other day for a week now and have a week left to go.

    I am very depressed at times, have mood swings, am tired but can’t sleep, have chills and sweats through out the day, and am having some very scary thoughts. All I want to do is sleep and isolate. The worst side effect has been the restless legs, and I just started to vomit this morning due to stress.
    I’m scared that I’ll have to go back on the medicine and I don’t want to be dependent on it anymore but I’m starting to give in because I feel so hopeless.

    As I’m writing this I realize that I have to just push through and have faith. I have a strong support system and know that as long as I take it easy I’ll be able to get through. This blog has really helped me. I hope I can help and to anyone who is reading know that this too shall pass. God Bless. -Alyssa

    • Alley January 25, 2016, 2:03 pm

      Have you tried counseling? I’m tapering off now and started going to weekly counseling sessions 4 months ago and developed coping skills with depression with paranoia and depression and untrue thoughts. Now as I’m tapering off, I know how not to let the mental part get the best of me.

  • gail December 12, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Everything they say about coming off is so real and so scary. I hate this! I just want my life back.

  • Lisa December 15, 2014, 9:06 am

    Thought I’d leave a post to share my withdrawal from Pristiq. I am now day 7 cold turkey from 5 years of taking 50mg. Back story: For me the drug had stopped providing any sustained benefit and I felt like I was just treading water while on it. In the past year I have noticed a definite cycle starting to happen where I would feel okay for a couple of days and or weeks then bottom out, then come back up and everytime I would go down it was darker and was harder to shift. Other side effects started appearing, non diet related nausea, hot flushes, crying spells, intense fatigue.

    I was starting to feel mentally and physically unwell. Symptoms didn’t align with ‘normal’ female cycle and I had full blood work done. I don’t have any major external stressors. I eat well and get adequate sleep. I don’t drink or take illicit substances… I’m doing all the ‘right’ things for someone with history of depression yeah?… I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. SO under the supervision of my GP I have stopped Pristiq with the view of starting Valdoxan after a flush out period of time. As mentioned today is Day 7… Woohoo.

    First few days were as expected pretty sh*tty, felt like I was coming down with the flu, sweats, headaches, brain zaps, crying spells, dizzy periods, felt dissociated, weird food cravings, really hungry then full after one mouthful.. I was prescribed temazepan to get adequate sleep for the first few days. Had a couple of days off work. I went back to work on day 4 & 5. Was a little despondent and just felt really… out of it! Today I feel much better, still a few brain zaps and a bit dizzy now and then. Everything seems so much brighter and louder.

    For me it hasn’t been that bad. Sure first few days were crappy, I just rested and listened to my body. If I was hungry I ate, tired; I slept, feverish I took showers. I took neurofen for headaches and flu like symptom’s and I used my support network of family and trusted friend (singular) to check in with. Knowing what to expect and remembering it is my body’s normal response has made it easier to deal with. Most importantly I visited my doctor day 1 and day 3 and will go back tomorrow.. I hope this helps someone else going through the same experience…

  • Sarah December 15, 2014, 2:52 pm

    I took Pristiq for over 7 years, along with Wellbutrin. I reduced to 50 mg. and then after a month I quit cold turkey. I have been totally off it for a couple months now and am still miserable. My most difficult symptom is nausea — it is constant. I also get a lot of headaches and am quite depressed without energy. I am just hoping that I can get through this soon.

  • Dave December 16, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Please everybody push through this I’m on my 8th week tapering off and onto prozac which I will eventually taper off of as well. For the first time I woke up feeling normal, it has been an incredible 10 years I have been on this drug and it has wrecked my life. All of the symptoms I thought I was treating I was actually causing with this drug. If you took more than 50mg, see an experienced prescription drug attorney who has experience with Pristiq.

    After nearly 30 years as an experienced pharmaceutical rep I have never seen a drug which states in its own literature that a dose above 50mg will not help your symptoms, but will increase adverse events and dangerous side effects. Your own physician was only trying to help you, the fault lies with the company who makes this product. -Dave

  • Donna December 17, 2014, 4:55 pm

    Stumbled onto this site because I was looking up how to get off Pristiq, so glad I did…I actually was planning to go to the doc tomorrow because I’ve had what I thought was the flu and nausea, headaches and bad dreams etc never even considered it was because I’ve just started to taper off 100mg Pristiq. Have done every 2nd day for one week, now doing every 3rd…I was actually concerned about feeling so sick guess I’ll hold off a bit longer and just keep an eye on things. Thanks everyone…I feel a lot less worried now.

  • gabby December 17, 2014, 10:43 pm

    I have been trying to get off pristiq (50mg) for about 3 mths, finally got down to 1/4 every other day, but it is hard to cut the pills adequately and I think the variation in dose is catching up to me. I have a lot of stressors at work and several things going on, all this coupled with a type A personality. To make matters worse, I am going through menopause (although I think pristiq might have induced early menopause, I am 49 started meno at 47).

    I have 2 kids and hardly any time to myself. I hit rock bottom today- actually last few days. I will be going back up to 1/2 a dose until at least the stress of the holidays pass and will make it a point to have SOME time to be kind to myself. I feel depleted emotionally and physically – I feel for my children and my husband, they have seen the worst of me these last few days.

  • Kiley December 18, 2014, 5:26 pm

    I’m a 17 year old girl who has been depressed for 4 years now. I’ve been on 8 anti depressants and none of them have worked. I was on pristiq for one week and during that week realized my suicidal thoughts were actually worsening. Of course the dr said to quit taking it immediately and wanted to try cold turkey. Didn’t take it and 10 hours later was unable to get out of bed i was so dizzy and nauseous.

    Managed to get myself to school but only for a couple hours before i was so sick I was unable to sit in class and had to get picked up. Today is day two. Was unable to go to school, I have ever withdrawl symptom you can think of: dizzy, irritable, nauseous, pressure in my head, confusion, depersonalized. My friends don’t understand either so I don’t know how much longer they’ll be around. I don’t recommend this drug at all.

  • Natalie December 19, 2014, 10:23 pm

    Nearing the end of day 4 aftering quitting 100mg cold turkey. I had been on Pristiq for the last 4.5 months. I mostly felt better on this drug, at least not suicidal! But now that I’m experiencing the withdrawal symptoms, I’m regretting every going on it in the first place. The first day without the drug I had a bad headache but didn’t notice much else. Each day since I have been struggling so much with the dizziness – its unreal and I hope to God that this ends soon. The world needs to stop spinning, I can’t function like this!

    • Jerome Griffin December 27, 2014, 6:25 pm

      Hello, I am praying for you. How is it going?

  • Stuart December 20, 2014, 9:09 am

    I have been taking Pristiq for nearly 5 years. I was on 200mg, after starting on 50mg. I eventually, slowly reduced down to 50mg and stopped taking it 3 days ago. At the moment I am getting brain zaps and dizziness, but apart from that I’m coping quite well. No other withdrawal symptoms. I actually feel quite positive. I decided to stop taking Pristiq because I retired in August and I felt much better, without the stress of work. I don’t know how long it will be before I feel normal again, so I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’m getting brain zaps as I’m typing this but just smiling and telling them to go way. I hope everyone going through the same thing and worse, eventually come out the other side and feel better for it. (Stuart…in Australia)

    • Stuart December 21, 2014, 12:35 am

      Update: Following day after my last comment. I’ve now started to feel weepy. Just little crying spells. Fortunately I know it’s part of withdrawal so I can tell myself not to worry. Keep smiling Stuart.

  • Stephen December 27, 2014, 8:31 pm

    I was on Pristiq for three months at 100mg. I am transitioning off as it completely screwed up my sleep patterns and resulted in more frequent and darker depressive episodes. I went from 100mg to 50mg for seven days and am on day five of no antidepressant. I have extreme debilitating vertigo, uncontrollable crying spells and extreme depressive episodes. I start on my new meds tomorrow and I hope that there will be some improvement.

  • Jaclice December 29, 2014, 11:59 am

    Last posted early December when on 1/4 tablet. Went down to an 1/8 mid December but felt that I was not getting a regular dose as some days more coating than anything. On 26 December I quit having taken last dose Christmas Day. It has been about 110 hours since my last dose (yes I’m counting the hours!!). First 3 days were manageable. Constant buzz in my ears, fuzzy head. Lots of pain all over. Insomnia set in on night of 28th and today, 29th has been awful. Usual buzz, but louder, head even more fuzzy and face just does not feel right.

    Noticed slight nose bleed, not sure if that is related, taste blood in back of throat. VERY agitated. Trying to stay active. I’m hoping that these symptoms won’t last or will have to reinstate and I really don’t want to but I need to be able to function at some level to work. My poor family are feeling it. Wish I’d never touched this dreadful drug. The only thing it did help with was pain which I suffered a lot of before. -J

  • David December 29, 2014, 7:06 pm

    After approx. 3 years of being on a daily regimen of 50mg of Pristiq, I accidentally forgot to take my meds for 2 days over the Christmas break. Since I felt good on days 1 and 2, I thought “WTF…lets just stop taking htis stuff!” Well… on day 3 of my CTS (cold turkey stupidity) I begin to have some side effects that others have described: dizziness, weird buzzing and dizziness when I moved my eyes back and forth too quick, diarrhea, stomach cramping, and a general malaise.

    Today (Day 4) I’m feeling better but am still out of sorts, and now a tad bit worried after reading everyone’s tales of withdrawal! Now I’m thinking I should go back to taking at least 25 mg (split a 50mg) each day and slowly taper off. But then again, I’m at a point that I think I might just say “F this!” and power through the weirdness. Good luck to everyone out there that has be prescribed this horrible drug! So glad I found your site and all the info! God speed and remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

    • katie January 7, 2015, 6:47 pm

      David! Make sure not to split pills! Pristiq has an extended release coating and if you break the coating, you will get hit with too much of the active ingredients way too fast. I highly recommend talking to your doctor before you decide to stop taking Pristiq altogether. I suggest continuing 50 mg until you and your doctor work out a program to stop taking the medicine. Usually these withdrawal symptoms are quite quick (as Pristiq has such a short half-life, it is out of the system very fast). And the withdrawal symptoms people are describing above can be very real – but not everyone has them. Keep in mind, your body is readjusting regardless so definitely don’t stop these sorts of drugs cold turkey.

      I just needed to stop for a clinical trial (to switch to another SNRI) and did not receive any recommendation on tapering so I tried to do what I’ve done before… lower my dose and taper for a couple of days with Prozac. This time was so horrible. :( Zaps, irritability, anger, crying spells. I thought I was possessed. I’m lucky I have a very patient partner or I would otherwise likely be divorced. Pristiq has helped me with my MDD and anxiety. It isn’t a horrible drug, it just has very real withdrawal symptoms. Talk with your doctor before going off any antidepressant!

  • Ange December 30, 2014, 3:38 am

    I have been tapering off pristiq for the past 6 weeks. I took the last tablet a week ago and for the past three days I have been feeling miserable. Bouts of sobbing, irritability, ruminating, catastrophising, and that the world is. Against me. I really am not coping at all well. Scared my boyfriend is going to dump me even though I know it’s not true and extremely dizzy. Trying to decide whether to go back on it or not. I know it helped me through an extremely difficult time in my life, but wish I had never started taking it.

  • Luna January 7, 2015, 1:20 pm

    Hi all, after 2 years of Pristiq(50mg), I have decided to go cold turkey. Not easy, but as Nathan above mentioned, The feeling of empowerment is leading me more than anything else. Symptoms experienced to date (5 days) were brain zaps, nausea and vomiting (once). Noticed also that I could not fall asleep till late hours. However, as long as I would preoccupy myself with any kind of work or fun activities, I was good. At the moment feeling the chills, even though my body temp is always super high. I am not giving up! It helped me (maybe) when I felt weak, but now, I am ready to face life with full control! We all can do it! We were feeling much worse when we got it. Now it is our time to shine!!!

  • Cat January 14, 2015, 3:26 pm

    I started taking Pristiq 50mg. in August, to treat ADHD. By the time Thanksgiving was here, I was starting to feel depressed, which I didn’t have before starting the med. My doctor agreed that I should taper off the Pristiq. She told me to take one every other day for a week, then to take it every third day for another week. It’s been less than a month since my last dose. I’m still feeling depressed, uninterested in things I’ve always loved doing, and worst of all is the anger and irritability.

    I feel like I’m terrorizing everyone around me, and even though they know I’m going through this withdrawal process, I am very hard to live with at the moment. I’m even annoying myself! Last night I was entertaining the idea of just taking off to the woods to be a hermit just so I won’t upset my loved ones and they won’t be able to trigger me. I have had emotional problems since early childhood, so this withdrawal process is wreaking havoc with my emotions and making me 100 times worse than before I ever took the Pristiq.

    I had taken Effexor before and all it did was make me feel extremely high, which I told my doctor, yet she still chose to put me on Pristiq. So now for my ADHD I’ve been taking Adderall for a week. It seems to be making the withdrawal symptoms even worse. So I decided to stop it as well. I’m grateful to know that I’m not alone in this, and that even though I feel like I’m going crazy, I’m not. God I hope this is over soon though, I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

  • jef January 16, 2015, 7:03 am

    I am almost 18 years old and I have been taking pristiq since I was 15 and even though I am still only on 50mg (I also take Lamictal) I have terrible withdrawal symptoms if I just miss a dose. I usually catch it by the afternoon because I get a terrible headache but recently I’ve been getting a lot of migraines regardless. So when I forgot my dose this morning and had a headache this afternoon I figured it was just a migraine coming on so I took painkillers and took a nap. But I woke up from my nap extremely dissociated. Nothing felt real, and I was extremely confused and disoriented. I literally felt like I was going to dissolve because of how generally cloudy everything seemed. This med has helped me through depression, but it scares me how much my body now needs it to function.

  • Em January 19, 2015, 2:30 am

    I was only taking Pristiq 50mg for a short period, a few months and a doctor told me to go off it because I had bruising appear on my legs. He didn’t however, tell me of any sides effects of going off! “brain zaps” as you call them is the biggest problem, something I had never encountered before. Dizziness, headaches and mood swings are the next big features. It’s just a little scary that I was only on it for maybe 3 months on the lowest dose and my withdrawal is like this. (Also that I wasn’t told what to expect).

  • Shannon Mason January 20, 2015, 10:19 pm

    I have been off of Pristiq since the end of December. I tried replacing my 200MG dosage with 40MG of Prozac, but the side effects were the same with or without the Prozac, so I’ve decided to cold turkey it. NOT FUN. I am so flipping dizzy, and it has been a few weeks so that has subsided a little but now the crabbiness has started. I wanted to hurt an old man at the library who wouldn’t stop sniffling… Headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, chills, sweats, and crabbiness so far.

  • Jenn Ludgate January 21, 2015, 2:45 pm

    Hello all, I am in the process of tapering off Pristiq by cutting the meds despite pharmaceutical advise not to do so. I am doing this because the most successful stories I have read so far utilized this method. I have been on Pristiq for 7 years at 100 mg and never tried to go off until now. Over the past 3 weeks I went down to 75 mg for about 3 days, then 62 mg for 3 days, then 50 mg for 4 days, then 37 for 3 days, then 25 mg for 4 days and now am on day 3 at 12 mg.

    Each drop in dosage is very difficult the first two days then seems to settle. Worst of the symptoms so far have been anger, anxiety, lethargy, depression and that good old foggy feeling :). I have avoided the brain zaps and dizziness so far which is my main goal so I can keep functioning at my job while doing this. So far things have been tolerable and I’ve got the full support of my long term boyfriend and loved ones who are all aware of what I’m doing and that my personality may be a little different for the next couple months. To help my body adjust I’ve been eating very clean with lots of fruits, veggies and nuts as well as taking magnesium and Omega 3’s to help my nervous system repair itself.

    I also used to drink a couple glasses of wine at night but have been avoiding that and instead trying to exercise to help with serotonin levels and avoid depressants. I am looking forward to being off of this completely and trying to manage my anxiety and depression with herbal teas, St John’s Wort and exercise in the future. This has been very tough and it just feels like the beginning, but I’m still hopeful. Thanks to everyone else who is writing in here, even the tougher stories are encouraging and I hope this might help a few. Good luck to everyone getting off of this or finding what works for your body! -Jenn

  • Elle January 22, 2015, 12:36 am

    I know these posts are getting on in age but are still very relevant to someone like myself seeking the information, so I’m also adding my experience. I am currently on day 6 of ‘cold turkey’ from a 100mg daily dose of pristiq that I took for approx 2 years. After convincing myself the symptoms I’ve been experiencing had to be some type of type of illness that has just happened to coincide with coming off the pristiq I have now realized that I was wrong, boy oh boy was I wrong!

    I mean surely a drug they tell you that is ‘non addictive’ cannot possibly cause such horrendous side effects when you stop taking it right?!?!? I was glad to read that for some stopping caused little or no side effects. It’s also damn scary to read what it has done to others in their experience. Unfortunately I am one of the unlucky ones that has copped the majority of the physical withdrawal symptoms, the 24 hr nausea and vomiting being the worst part for me so far.

    I have to say that for me it is a horrible drug and I would never ever recommend anyone take it unless it was literally the difference between life and death! On a positive note though if I can withdraw from it and still function enough to look after my children anyone can do it! No it isn’t pleasant, but you can do it and the sooner you stop taking the nasty stuff the better.

  • Adria January 22, 2015, 6:58 pm

    Hi everyone, today is day 15 no pristiq after weaning for one month from 50mg to cutting in half and then cold turkey. I had all the withdrawal symptoms like everyone else. I want to know has anyone had ringing in the ears? It’s driving me bananas! I don’t know if it is a withdrawal symptom or my anxiety is just making focus on the sound. Help!!

  • Melissa January 23, 2015, 5:45 am

    Hi all. So glad I found this website! I am on day 3 of coming off 50mg pristiq that I was taking for 6 months to treat PTSD. At the drs recommendation I cut the tablet in half for 2 weeks and then went cold turkey. Am feeling very unwell and watching the clock until my husband gets home from work and can look after the kids! I am struggling with severe dizziness, ear aches, flu like symptoms, stomach cramps, unexpected bouts of crying and a panic attack today also! I called my dr who said I’m obviously not ready to come off them yet and to start my dose again!! There is no way I’m putting another tablet in my system. So glad I came across this website as need motivation and support to quit this. I’m determined as I know I am better and can face the world without this drug. -Melissa

  • barb January 24, 2015, 1:13 pm

    I have reduced from 100 to 50 mg while adding 150 Wellbutrin. I feel better from the Wellbutrin, but I have weakness and tingling for 2 weeks since I made this change. This tingling has made my left arm weak and exercising has become a challenge. I now hope to get off this drug completely and see how Wellbutrin alone works for me.

  • Jenny Armendariz January 24, 2015, 7:08 pm

    This article and comments have helped me stay positive and GET OFF THIS EVIL DRUG once and for all. I wish I was told how severe the withdrawals were by my doctor. I am a freelance artist and have been so debilitated by the brain zaps, nausea and dizziness that it’s been impossible to work. It’s only been 4 days and it’s not going by fast enough. I started by halfing the 50mg but that was a bad idea as I just read. So I’m trying to taper by taking one every other day but it seems to be making me feel worse. I’m wondering if I should just quit cold turkey. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Much love, Jen

  • Geoffrey January 26, 2015, 12:31 am

    It has been 8 days since I’ve stopped pristiq cold turkey. I have constant headaches and dizziness. Just read this may last for weeks…

  • Kelli January 26, 2015, 12:50 pm

    I am 44 and have been taking 50mg of Pristiq for only 2 months. I’ve never taken any drugs before and was disappointed by how useless it seemed to be. I do NOT want to raise my dosage, and chose instead to stop taking it. Today is day 6 cold turkey. First 2 days were fine, but then I developed a headache that won’t go away. I’ve tried panadol, ibuprofen, and aspirin (at different times).

    They take the edge off the headache, but it still hurts. I am dizzy most of the time… I feel unbalanced, like I’m standing on the deck of a boat. I feel slightly nauseous probably 50% of the time. This morning I woke up and felt good for about 10 minutes and got excited that maybe I was over the worst of the withdrawals… then I moved my head too quickly and with a stabbing pain my headache returned, followed by the dizziness and sickness.

    I’m really hoping this passes soon, as work is very difficult at the moment. Lying still and quiet helps me the most. Watching TV or using the computer makes my head worse. I have been on a low dose for a short period of time, and I really feel for people trying to get off Pristiq from a higher dosage, it must be awful.

  • Anne February 2, 2015, 1:07 am

    I stopped taking Pristiq cold turkey in June, 2014 after being on it for about 18 months. Prior to that, I had been on Tamoxifen post breast cancer, which combined with chemo sent me into early menopause. This triggered the depression for which I was prescribed Pristiq, one of the only antidepressants you can take with Tamoxifen.

    After I stopped, it was the worst summer of my life. I was a hundred times more depressed than I had been before–frankly, I was a nut case. I even checked myself into the emergency room in the middle of the night at one point out of desperation. My brain was in a total fog, I had no concentration. I was moody, crying all the time and had no perspective.

    I really am a high functioning, resilient person who doesn’t feel sorry for herself, and bounces back from setbacks pretty quickly, but this almost did me in. I would rather have cancer than feel like I did. However, I am writing this to say to those going through the withdrawal Have Faith. It does get better.

    I think it took me about four months before I felt like myself again. Now, finally, after 4 years of cancer, treatment, hormone drugs and then Pristiq withdrawal I feel totally normal. These are serious, serious drugs. I owe my life to modern medicine so don’t want to knock it, but I wish I had never taken Pristiq. Please look at all options before you start. And if you decided to stop, be prepared–and make sure those around you are as well as you will need looking after and patience.

  • Deanna Pavay February 7, 2015, 8:26 am

    I’m a very healthy 51 year old woman with generalized anxiety and breakthrough panic attacks. My new insurance company would not fill my Pristiq prescription so my Dr prescribed Effexor. They would not fill half a month of Pristiq so that I could taper off. The bottle of Effexor simply stated “take as replacement for Pristiq”. I started on Effexor January 17 and by January 25th I was violently ill.

    But I thought I had the flu… Low grade fever, chills, horrible upper back pain, a vise-like headache, stabbing pains in my feet and hands. Spasms in my legs at night, lightheadedness, loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, etc. The chills became so severe that they were actually small seizures and I would wake up having bitten my tongue or the inside of my cheek. On the 10th day I forced myself to see a local nurse practitioner. She ruled out bacterial infections but also was reluctant to diagnose me with the flu.

    She knew I had changed medications but denied that was the cause and sent me home with the advice to take ibuprofen. I honestly thought I was dying. I started looking at symptoms for every kind of cancer and debilitating disease I could think of. I had not felt so hopeless since my being diagnosed with generalized anxiety in 1993. I wanted to die. I contemplated taking an overdose, something I have never even thought to joke about in the past.

    Yesterday I gave myself a pep talk and researched withdrawal from Pristiq, and side effects of Effexor. I phoned my psychiatrist this morning. This afternoon we discussed what I had been going through. She had not been informed that my insurance company did not provide me with enough Pristiq to taper off while I added Effexor to the 40mg of Lexapro I take. She assured me that although my withdrawal symptoms were severe (I had been taking Pristiq for 6 years) I was over the worst of it. I had been in bed for 11 days wishing I would die.

    Tonight our grand babies are here and I’m so thankful I did not give in to the negative thoughts swimming in my head. The fevers have been replaced tonight with mild sweating. The ever-present head pain is almost gone. I am weak, off balance and can still become really confused over simple tasks, but now I’m tapering the Pristiq and I’m confident I can finish weaning myself without the return of these frightening symptoms. I’m also tapering off of the Effexor and will go back to Lexapro as my only daily med, with .50mg of Alprazolam (Xanax) for break through panic. I hope my experience can prevent others from accidentally going cold-turkey. -Deanna

  • maureen February 9, 2015, 6:56 am

    If I knew just how difficult and how unstable getting off this medicine is I would never have taken it. I will be surprised if I will ever be normal or gave any friends or family around. I was feeling a little depressed when put on this crap a year ago. Now I feel like a psycho getting off this. I will never take any medicine without research again. We are a pill popping world and want a pill to cure it all. In this case this only did harm.

  • Anne February 15, 2015, 5:28 am

    I’ve only been on pristiq for 6 months. It did its job and I’m now coming off. Dr has had me tapering now for 6 weeks. Emotionally I’m good, but the migraines are really wearing me out. Dropping to one 50 mg tab every day and a half was OK. Dropping to every second day was not good by the end of the second day, but we made it through 3 weeks of that and it was better near the end. Now on every third day and it is hell almost every day.

    My whole head aches, even my face, and light is not a friend. Painkillers ease but don’t actually stop it. I’m supposed to endure this for another two weeks, but I’m seriously considering going cold turkey from here. Being in constant pain is not healthy, so I’m thinking a couple of bad days might be preferable to ongoing bad days for a couple more weeks. Over the years I’ve had other anti-depressant medications and this is the first time withdrawal has been so horrendous. If I need something in the future it will definitely NOT be pristiq or any related drug.

  • Shane February 21, 2015, 8:44 am

    I have stopped cold for three days. Was on 100mg a day. I cannot sleep. I vomit. I cry and sweat. I feel like a junkie. I can’t handle it. Have to get back on them.

  • Krystal K February 22, 2015, 6:20 am

    Coming off Pristiq is fast becoming as difficult as it was to get going on it. I have lost 8 weeks of my life. Sure I felt less anxious but the multitude of side effects both during and after are not worth it.

  • Barbara S February 23, 2015, 3:13 pm

    Weaning since August, 2014 and just stopped February, 2015 – Sinus, headaches, fatigue, nausea, flu like body aches, anxiety, periodic crying, very loud tinnitus (pre-existing) – definitely the depersonalization described above as well. Have been greatly aided by my naturopath – don’t give up, you can do this!

  • Daniel February 25, 2015, 3:00 am

    I have been taking SSRIs since the age of 15. My parents thought it would be the best way to help me deal with insomnia and depression during my teens. Throughout the years my doctor has tried different medication and Pristiq was the last I have take. I was on this drug for over 6 years. Last January I moved to another country and decided that it was time to stop taking Pristiq.

    My doctor slowly weaned me off my 50mg dose using dominium in order to reduce side effects. As of mid January I haven’t taken any Pristiq. I have noticed the dizziness, brain zaps and other “physical” side effects have decreased, but anxiety and depression overwhelming me. That cloudiness in thoughts hasn’t gotten any better either, which is affecting my performance in University. I am truly shocked as during the time I took the medication I barely had any side effects, I felt great!

    Today I realized that all these years I haven’t really dealt with my emotional problems, but numbed them with psychotropic drugs. I am still taking Clonazepam for anxiety (paired with levetiracetam) and I am truly scared to stop taking them. I’ve decided to start therapy, it’s something I should have done years ago. If any of you have experienced a similar situation please let me know about your experience. I will be glad to share mine!

  • Joy February 26, 2015, 10:05 pm

    I have clinical depression. Over the years, I coped without meds with prayer and exercise/eating right. But several years ago I began menopause. My gyno. prescribed Pristiq 50 mg saying it was a new product that proved to help with menopause symptoms. At first, I loved the drug. I felt so much better but after a while had to switch to 100 mg which seemed to work well. After a while I gained a good bit of weight, began blood pressure med and had elevated cholesterol. Early afternoon I become very tired, but just attributed it to being overweight.

    During menopause I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Finally, last week I spoke with my endocrinologist and she suggest I stop Pristiq and begin Wellbutrin. I am currently on day 4. Yesterday was horrible. Besides the brain zaps, dizziness, and nausea, I could swear I have the flu. Fever, chills, body aches, headache, etc. Last night, I finally took 3 advil and got some relief and actually slept some. When I woke this morning I felt much better but the “flu” returned this afternoon. The only other AD I have ever taken was Prozac. It made me a mean person. I was on it for about 3 years then weaned off.

    I haven’t taken anything else until Pristiq. I have read from some of the other posts that in a week or so I may become a raging lunatic. Nice. BUT My God is bigger than any of this stuff so I’m looking to Him for help during this time. Also, I have read about several supplements that can help: Fish Oil, Super B Complex, large doses of vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and essential oils. When I went to bed last night I placed a cloth on my chest sprinkled with lemon, lavender and peppermint oils. I hope to one day not have to use antidepressants. I am a stubborn person with a strong faith in God and it bothers me to have to rely on chemicals to feel “happy.” Good luck to everyone. I will post how I am progressing in a few days. -Joy

  • Donna Ranieri February 28, 2015, 12:04 am

    I have been withdrawing from a 50 mg dose for this is my 8th day, I am a mother of 2 boys that the second left me with chronic sleep deprivation lasting 3 years I now can not sleep even with sloping tablets. My withdrawal has been so brutal with savage depression constant brain zaps or pop, extreme fatigue headaches blood noses (which I have never suffered from previously) agitation feeling hopeless, my anxiety is absolutely through the roof muscle pain sweats and chills.

    This has been more horrific than the way I felt going to see my doctor before I started this medication. I am a stay at home mom: 1 child in school full time and the other sufferers from separation anxiety… Seeing me so ill has sent him into overdrive. I am barely hold on to any semblance of sanity and just want all this to stop. I curse the day my doctor prescribed me Pristiq and thankful that every time he suggested I up my dose I explained my unhappiness to do so. I was on 50 me every morning for 8 months. Most evil drug ever I have had to stop.

  • Dan March 3, 2015, 5:36 pm

    I am tapering. Instead of the Dr. I spoke to a compounding pharmacist about how to do it. He asked. “If you miss a dose how long before you feel the effects?” For me its 8-12 hrs. He said okay “Instead of every 24 hrs, set the timer on your phone and take it every 32-36 hrs” Do that until you are not noticing any symptoms 2-4 weeks. Then push it out to 48 hrs for 4 weeks or so. Then when you reach 72 hrs between doses you can with stop or continue pushing it out further. I’m a week into it, irritable and not sleeping well but it is bearable.

  • seahawk March 5, 2015, 11:50 am

    I’ve been on 100mg pristiq for 6 years. I went to 50 mg 6 weeks ago. 50 mg now every other day. Can’t see my doc for another week. Been rough: brain zaps, insomnia, dizziness and my lips throbbing feel like I’ve been smacked in the mouth. Going into my 7th month of separation and miss my wife dearly. I get ill every other day didn’t understand till I started reading this blog. It has helped a lot. I now understand what is happening to me.

    My two boys live with me and they catch hell from me for no reason. I’m usually a level headed person, but this is terrible. The anxiety and hopelessness is unreal. Want to start dating but I’m afraid what might come out if something goes wrong. It would be nice to move on but I can’t seem to get it together. So sorry for rambling on, it’s just nice to get this off my chest. Thanks -Seahawk

  • Little t March 6, 2015, 4:16 pm

    Believe it or not, I have extreme mixed emotions after coming across this site. Thank you all for your comments, it all makes sense now. I’m thrilled that I don’t have cancer, which I have been thinking I had for the last couple of weeks. On the contrary, I’m so pissed off at those in the medical field associated with the dispensing of this poison. If I had the energy and clear mind that this toxin has depleted, I would start a class action suit against those responsible for the poison they recommended we ingest.

    I’ve never been so nauseous in my life. The headaches are constant. I have been the most irritable intolerable b*tch in the world. Now reading what you all have shared, I guess I have a long ways to go. I cold turkey’d a couple of weeks ago and don’t want the hell to be for nothing. I never want to take the poison again, so here I am. Hopefully the withdrawal won’t kill me.

  • Jon March 6, 2015, 5:17 pm

    “Brain zaps” every 5-10 minutes, tingly all over, head is all foggy, headaches from light that make me want to lay down and sleep all the time, poor hand coordination, feel like I’m in a dream (dangerous when crossing a road), can’t concentrate, dizzy (almost like vertigo), feel like I’m going to fall over when I walk and turn my head… the withdrawal from pristiq sucks! Do not start taking this unless you have no intention of ever coming off it.

  • Canadian_Girl March 11, 2015, 1:29 pm

    My doctor mentioned that one of the advantages of taking Pristiq was that many people could refrain from taking the drug “cold turkey,” others however, have difficulties. I am one of those who have had difficulty. I have only been on Pristiq for 7 months and I made the decision to stop as my husband and I plan to have children in the near future. I tried to cut “cold turkey” and withdrew two days I was experiencing severe withdraws such as: vivid weird dreams, night sweats, headaches, nausea, brain fog, dizziness, sleep many hours.

    I couldn’t take the withdrawals anymore so I decided to slowly wean myself off. I reduce my dose from 100mg to 50mg I did this for a couple of weeks. Now I’m take the 50mg every other day. I still feel off some days but I figure this is the only way since there is no 25mg dose. I hope to eventually stop completely within the next month to give my body a chance to repair and readjust itself. I never thought that being on an antidepressant for such a short period would have such severe withdrawals.

    My advice for people considering taking an antidepressant – it’s a commitment and you should make yourself aware of the potential side effects. There are also some positives, mental health is a serious issue and sometimes the only remedy is an anti depressant. I’m not a fan of taking drugs but Pristiq did help me go through some very difficult moments in my life – unfortunately getting off the drug is not as equally rewarding.

  • rosemary March 18, 2015, 1:50 am

    I wish I knew about these withdrawal symptoms before I started pristiq. I’m so sick to my stomach and lightheaded. I want to vomit and I can’t keep my head up. I only took it for a few months and I would tell my worse enemy don’t take it. I may end up in Emergency tonight. I’m so worried of getting dehydrated.

    • Kim March 18, 2015, 3:59 pm

      Rosemary, Electrolytes will help with the fluid loss. I’ve had Hydralyte tonight as I’ve had similar symptoms. But any sport drink with electrolytes will help. You need to replace the salts lost. Do this and you shouldn’t dehydrate :)

  • Kim March 18, 2015, 3:56 pm

    I’ve just gone off Pristiq cold turkey. I’ve been on Pristiq for a year now and I was 200mg a day. My psychiatrist and I decided to go off it as I was worse of as what I was before going on it. Tonight was a difficult night after 36 hours of being off it. I was nauseated, flu like with hot and cold chills, teary, and I am currently suffering insomnia.

    My nausea got so bad tonight that while I was showering I vomited and proceeded to do so for half an hour. I took maxalon to help with the nausea and my symptoms subsided within an hour or so. I’ve had an upset stomach most of the night but I’m pushing through. The zaps are starting but I’m hoping it will subside. I’m confident I will be antidepressant free for a long time :)

  • Alexa March 19, 2015, 6:35 am

    Pristiq is a nightmare. I had been on 10mg Lexapro for 2 and a half years before it began to lose its effects. I switched to Pristiq and stayed on it for 3 weeks, but realized it wasn’t working either. I quit cold turkey without consulting my doctor first – what a horrible mistake. I felt fine for about two days after stopping, but it hit me like a ton of bricks a week ago.

    Severe nausea, feverish, fatigue, trouble concentrating and forming my thoughts into words, some anxiety, and worst of all, depersonalization / derealization. I quit cold turkey because I didn’t think 3 weeks was a very long time to be on a drug, but have since realized that this is a withdrawal from both Lexapro and Pristiq. The physical symptoms are terrible but I can deal with them. My question for everyone here is has anyone experienced this horrible depersonalization?

    And if so, how long will it last? It is constant and is very frightening. It’s hard to explain, but I rationally recognize my surroundings, yet they don’t feel familiar to me. I feel like I’m in a dream. As I’m writing this in my bed, I almost feel like I’m in a hotel or a place I’ve never been before. After a week of feeling disconnected from my loved ones and feeling like a stranger in my own home, I’m wondering just how long I will have to live with this. If anyone has any insight, please reply.

  • AJ March 25, 2015, 1:21 pm

    Hey Everyone, I have been on Pristiq for 4 months (50 mg). At first, I thought it was a miracle drug because I tried to take Prozac and the side effects were unbearable. Pristiq evened out my depression and has been keeping my panic attacks at bay. I gained probably close to 20 pounds while on it and I recently changed jobs and don’t have insurance until next month so I don’t have any more pills to take.

    I’m on day 5 of cold turkey. First 4 days I was perfectly fine. Today, I’m dizzy and foggy. This is making me realize that I need to beat this and not be dependent on a medication to regulate my moods. I’m stronger than any medicine. If I have to smoke pot a bit more to alleviate the symptoms then so be it. Has anyone been on 50 mg and just stopped? Can somebody let me know how long this will last? Will it get worse?

  • ABL March 28, 2015, 5:43 am

    I was on 150mg pristiq for 15 months as treatment after losing 2 premature daughters. My depression only started when a work colleague stated taunting me about my daughters. Pristiq left me exhausted and apathetic. Probably the worst thing was it made me stop exercising which I relied on heavily for grief and managing an old spinal injury.

    I have just made it to 3 weeks without Pristiq having previously only made it to 3 days on previous attempts. The only reason I made it was I had a spinal fusion in my back and I spent several days in intensive care on morphine and several weeks on oxycodone (hillbilly heroin). Both morphine and oxycodone were easier to come off than Pristiq.

    For those of you wanting to come off Pristiq you need to get rid of your daily pressures first. Leaving your job and time away from family for spinal fusion worked for me. Had it not been for me ceasing exercise (due to reduced energy due to Pristiq) I wouldn’t have needed the spinal fusion. However I needed the spinal fusion (a $100000 operation) to get off Pristiq.

    • ABL June 20, 2015, 11:23 pm

      I have now made it to 3 months since I stopped taking Pristiq. When I previously posted I was at week 3 and from that point the withdrawal symptoms reduced relatively quickly. Thinking back week 1 of withdrawal was the zaps, week 2 the night sweats were particularly bad and then week 3 was when the anxiety and depression started again. For me it was week 4 and week 5 that I came back to being quite balanced. Although I was in a lot of pain from the surgery I don’t think I had a recurrence of the anxiety and depression that lead me to taking Pristiq. Hope this helps someone.

      • Ahl May 29, 2016, 3:48 pm

        Great help, thank you!!

      • ABL August 3, 2016, 11:29 am

        It has been 18 months since I posted when I stopped taking Pristiq. About 3 months after I stopped taking it my eldest child was diagnosed with cancer but is now in remission. I managed to avoid taking Pristiq again but have developed some sleep problems and now wake at 4am every morning. For some short periods of a couple of days I needed to take diazepam (valium) but was careful to avoid becoming dependent on it in the same way that I was on Pristiq. I would be interested if anyone else has sleep problems since ceasing to take Pristiq.

  • Clue Farah April 2, 2015, 12:43 am

    I was on Pristiq for 2 years. It was prescribed to me for relief from burning mouth syndrome that l got after chemotherapy from aggressive breast cancer. Today is day 47 of withdrawal and l am still very sick. I have head pain, severe dry mouth, sweats, nausea, severe ear ringing, involuntary spasms, and don’t get me started about my emotional state. This drug is poison. It never helped with my BMS and has made my life hell. My cancer battle started four and a half years ago. Burning mouth syndrome has taken away my will to live and Pristiq and all its suffering, will probably be the end of me.

  • Monica Bliss April 3, 2015, 1:47 am

    I’ve been on 100 mgs for a few years and went down to 50 mgs for the last three months wanting to get of Pristiq all together. I saw this on Pfizer’s website, the maker of Pristiq. It shows a tablet for oral use at 25 mgs. Excerpt from their website: “DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION: The 25 mg per day dose is intended for a gradual reduction in dose when discontinuing treatment or dosing in severe renal and end-stage renal disease patients (2.1).” Why isn’t this offered to patients wanting to wean off of Pristiq? My pharmacist says they can’t get that dosage. -Monica

  • Josephine April 6, 2015, 4:48 pm

    After about 13 years on 50 mg Pristiq (used Effexor for 3 years prior) I began to taper by taking it only when I really couldn’t cope without it. First span was 52 hrs, then 97, and finally 121 1/2 hrs. I haven’t taken it in 13 days and the main reason I’m concerned is your mentioning that too quick can cause problems. I am VERY irritable (I have used Valium, which increases brain fog but eliminates some of the desire to scream at everyone) and having trouble moving around: fatigue, achy joints, and feel like I’m moving through very thick Jello.

    I’m breathless after climbing stairs, and suddenly feel my 65 years like a 2,000 ton weight dropped on me. The brain zaps are minimal now, but I have had fluctuation of cold and heat. The heat reminds me of menopause. This morning I woke from a horrific dream of being unable to breath deeply, and a heavy fog impaired my ability to see or stand up. Now that I’m awake, and in my 13th day “clean”, I wonder if I should take the drug one more time to ease these symptoms. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

  • Nicky April 7, 2015, 12:53 pm

    This is THE worst drug. I have been taking it for 18 months and desperately trying to come off it. I have been tapering off for 3 weeks on 50mg. Had I known about the withdrawal symptoms I would never have agreed to go on it. I have a constant headache, dizziness, tingling, ringing in my ears, weird dreams, mood swings and really really irritable. I am usually very placid and even tempered but this drug is messing me up.

    Tomorrow will be my third day off completely and I am going to throw the rest of the ones I have left away. I fell over yesterday and have no idea if I blacked out or what. I have read about class actions related to this drug… I wish I could join the fight. This drug is dangerous. I hope my withdrawals go away soon. This is intolerable.

  • Marcia April 8, 2015, 2:20 pm

    I’ve been off Pristiq and Abilify and Nuvigil now for a week. Due to insurance issues, I can’t pick up the prescriptions yet. I’ve experienced nausea, sweating profusely, headaches, fatigue, concentration issues, anxiety, insomnia just to name a few. I’m thinking now that I’ve been off of it for a week already, why not just stay off of it and see how I am? I’ve been on 100mg for 4 years along with 10mg Abilify, 250mg Nuvigil, and 40mg Adderrall. My Adderrall ran out this morning… all of these for my major depressive order.

    I wonder through this all if I would be without without all of these meds, and see where it takes me. Even on these meds, I’m still sad; still thinking bad thoughts; still in a lot of emotional pain. The only thing they might help with is crying… But I still have my good cries too more often than not. Maybe my body needs to be rid of these meds and I can start eating healthier. I’m on a low carb/low sugar food plan now and I already feel better and have lost 13 lbs! So if I continue with better eating, and try exercising, maybe I can get through all of this.

  • Chelsea April 8, 2015, 4:11 pm

    This withdrawal is driving me crazy its been two days from stopping pristiq cold turkey from 100mg a day for the last 6+ months. I’m going insane. This withdrawal is unbearable. I can’t eat I can’t sleep and I just don’t want pristiq anymore. This is the worst antidepressant I have ever been on and I had withdrawal from Effexor after 3 years of 300mg. That was NOWHERE NEAR THE ANGUISH I AM GOING THROUGH AND IT’S ONLY DAY 2. I’m considering going to hospital because I can’t bear this. My prescribed valium won’t even help for my anxiety or sleep.

  • amy April 10, 2015, 1:21 am

    Was on 50 mg of Pristiq for over a year. Have suffered from depression for many years and have had tried many drugs. I have a great psydoc and we decided to go off pristiq since it wasn’t helping. Can’t taper from 50 and I didn’t want to add Prozac just to taper off that as well so I decided to go cold turkey. First two weeks were hell with brain zaps, aches, and extreme fatigue. Then the extreme mood swings and irritability kicked in and, to make a long a story short, I just got out of an eight day stay in the psych hospital.

    Not much they could do for me but let me scream and cry, and get give klonopin and xanax as needed. I’m home today but not much better. I’m now on day 30. I cry all the time and the I feel rageful. See my T tomorrow and psyd in a week. In the meantime, I’m taking klonopin and trying to stay calm and grounded. The is the worst thing I’ve ever been through. I’m truly hoping this will be in over soon. I can’t handle it much longer.

  • Clue Farah April 11, 2015, 3:51 pm

    If you go to the hospital they’ll put you back on Pristiq. You are going to suffer badly. If you have to go to work or take care of someone you will not be able to. I am starting my 9th week of withdrawal, that 63 days since my last Pristiq and I am Very Sick, still. I may not be the norm but my symptoms are not lessening at all. My husband wanted to hospitalize me this week because I didn’t want to live anymore.

    I was put on Prozac (slow release, stays in your system 2 weeks after you discontinue). After 3 weeks on Prozac I stopped 50 mg Pristiq, then 1 week later I quit Prozac. This gave me 2 more weeks before full blown withdrawal. I am still suffering so much but if I go to the hospital they put me back on it. Pristiq is a devil drug. Be prepared for the worst for 3 to 4 months.

  • Beck April 13, 2015, 11:34 pm

    Hi all, have been reading through all the posts and just want to ask has anyone experienced zaps in the chest? I tapered off from 100mg and have now been 3 days with nothing. Feeling very tired and have zaps in the chest not the head. No other side effects so far.

  • Mary April 20, 2015, 1:06 am

    I’ve been on Pristiq twice. This most recent time for about 5 years – since my mother passed away in 2010. I started to feel like everything in life was just kind of dull, knowing that the med was dulling negative feelings, but also dulling good feelings. I don’t need it any more. I was only taking 50mg (I did 100mg for a short time, but it didn’t make a big difference, so I went back to 50mg). Two days without it entirely was not good. As you all know, there is no way to taper from 50mg.

    People say don’t cut the pills, but I do. There’s nothing else you can do. So I am going to try taking 1/2 a pill every day and then 1/2 pill every other day. During the 2 cold turkey days, I was very foggy, irritable, and had no verbal filter. Not good. The worst part was the disturbed sleep because I am a person who really cannot function without high quality sleep. I was having wild, vivid, exhausting dreams and when you have a lot of REM (dreaming) sleep, your mind is very active and therefore, not being rested. So for me, the sleep loss is the worst thing.

    And mega night sweats, which kills the sleep as well. Caffeine during the day helps (with focus), a beer helps (with relaxation), B12 helps with energy. I was going to start taking 5-htp today, but I bought the wrong dosage (bought 200 mg and meant to buy 100 mg). I’m going to do Ambien tonight so I can catch up on the sleep. I usually save my Ambien for when I travel, but I will be less than functional tomorrow if I don’t sleep.

    Can you tell I’m obsessed with sleep? I have gotten off the drug before, so I know I can do it. And I want to take the gray haze off of life and really experience it fully. Good luck to all of you. We’ll all make it to the other side!

  • Suzy April 23, 2015, 5:19 am

    I’m in the process of coming off Pristiq. Been taking anti-depressants for about 10 years so I’m a bit scared. I’ve been taking B multivitamins which seems to help with the brain fuzz and zaps, but I’ve been grieving so much!! I thought I had finished grieving the loss of my kitten, but since weaning off the meds I’m back to how I was the week we lost him. AGH!

  • Caroline April 25, 2015, 8:06 pm

    I’m on day (2) of being completely off Pristiq and I feel pretty crappy. I had been taking the 50mg for 2 years. I was on 100mg for about 6 mos., but finally realized my extreme fatigue wasn’t due to my demanding stressful life and the fact that I was creeping up on 50. I am a pharmacist… I should have known. The horrifying thing is that I started on this med at such a low point in my life that I actually thought it made me feel better.

    Being apathetic may offer some benefits with respect to self preservation; however, thinking you are so much better at coping and having no fight what so ever are extreme opposites. I started trying to taper off of Pristiq about 8 months ago. I began supplementing with amino acids, folic acid, vitamin D and Super B Complex. I first dropped from 100mg to 50mg. I was then faced with how to get off a tab that is the lowest available dose and that isn’t supposed to be split. I had such extreme “brain zaps” and syncope that I couldn’t drop to every other day dosing.

    I switched to bedtime dosing and took half tabs for several months. This seemed to help with the withdrawal symptoms; but, wrecked havoc on my sleep. Melatonin, Mg and a strict sleep routine seemed to help. Though I felt so much better, I was still having daytime exhaustion that I contribute to the med. Trying to reduce to 1/3 or 1/4 (crumbs) precipitated brain zaps, nausea, syncope, palpitations and daytime exhaustion. I assure you that most health care providers are oblivious to the extreme withdrawal symptoms associated with this medication.

    Yesterday I was sitting at my desk working and was shocked by the pain in my back when I went to stretch. The back pain combined with all of the other symptoms began to cause me more concern. Hence why I went searching for patient experience. I read several blogs that mentioned back pain. Though mortified that a drug I once thought was safe may be the source, I’m actually relieved that my back pain may just be another neurotransmitter site trying to readjust to it’s new “normal”.

    Without a doubt this drug is evil. Furthermore, I work with depression patients and I know their psychiatrists aren’t preparing them for what lies ahead when their SNRI needs to be discontinued; much less the primary care providers. Please report your symptoms to MedWatch! This med has got to go!

  • Nick April 26, 2015, 11:47 am

    Hi Everyone. I am seeking advice/experience from anyone who has been off Pristiq for at least 6 months. It has been 9 weeks now since my last dose, was on 100mg, tapered down to 50mg and then off. However I feel cognitively impaired now; memory loss, difficulty concentrating, constantly lost for words. I basically feel stupid. I am half way through a Paramedical science degree and this is making life extremely difficult. I have read that antidepressants can be compared to a trellis with plants growing up it. As soon as you take the trellis away, the plants fall down. Your brain becomes reliant/dependant on the drug to function. Any advice from those who have had similar experiences would help a lot!

    • Theresa April 26, 2015, 9:01 pm

      I think I am experiencing the cognitive impairment. I am 7 weeks post Pristiq and I have not been able to spell things correctly lately. I didn’t really understand why until I read your post. I don’t really have anything to add to help you but it was very comforting to know it’s the medicine withdrawals and not just me. I basically have been lucky with the other symptoms people having been talking about. My problem mostly seems to be I feel like my serotonin levels have bottomed out. I feel really depressed some days and just can’t shake it off.

      One thing I noticed about the Pristiq that will make me never get on it again was that I didn’t have an emotional range. I was just middle of the road the whole time. Since stopping it I have experienced the highs and lows to the extreme and now know what the medicine was hiding. I am going to talk to our local alternative health medicine doctor for help. I started 5-htp last week and it has helped a good bit. I feel I need more though. If he gives me any good tips, I will let you know.

  • Theresa April 26, 2015, 8:49 pm

    I had first been put on an antidepressant when I was 24, I am now 40. The first time was for a good number of years on Prozac and Effexor. Effexor was good for me but the withdrawal symptoms of dizziness for 3 days was a bit much. So when I relapsed a number of years later in depression, I did not want to try it again. This next time I tried Zoloft, Wellbutrin and finally Pristiq. On the other two I had side effects of my hair falling out. Talk about stress.

    So Pristiq did very well for me for 7 years. The only bad side effect was that I couldn’t sleep at night without something to help me. I decided I have been well enough so I wanted to get off the meds. My doctor suggested several weeks of my 50 mg dose every other day for a few weeks. My last actual pill was March 6. I had the wooziness and electric “zaps” so after 12 days I did a 2 wk liver cleanse with herbal supplements. That cured those symptoms. I can’t say I’ve felt very “happy,” but all of a sudden I have had a horrible depressed episode.

    I have started taking an herbal supplement to help and it helps but I still don’t feel normal. I feel like everyday is a struggle. Currently I am 7 weeks post Pristiq. I contemplated going on Prozac to help lift my mood to a somewhat workable level. I have read most of the comments here and some were encouraging that what I am going thru now might be normal withdrawal symptoms. I sure hope so. I just wish there were more success stories of people did get off this and were able to stay off antidepressants.

  • Gabrielle April 27, 2015, 12:39 am

    I’m on day 5 of no antidepressants after my doctor has changed me from Pristiq 50mg to Effexor 47.5mg then cut me back to a tablet every 36 hours then to a tablet every 42 hours. I am starting to become very overwhelmed just purely from being very dizzy! I am unable to do anything and am increasingly anxious about returning to work tomorrow. After going to the chemist to see if I could get something to tone down my dizzies and the chemist turned me away not even offering me some over the counter travel sickness tablets. I almost had a panic attack and now I just feel like crying. I can’t see this working and I wish I never took them in the first place.

  • Kimberly April 29, 2015, 9:12 pm

    This has been one of the most informative finds about discontinuing Pristiq, even better than the Pfizer home page for Pristiq. It is not giving all of the medical garbage and statistics that Pfizer gives. I am trying to discontinue Pristiq because of the weight gain that anti-depressants cause. Sometimes I don’t feel that it is necessarily depression I have but more anxiety of dealing with life’s issues and constant change of the fast paced world we live in. Our bodies are not made for this kind of experiences we encounter in today’s living. Thanks for this information.

  • Sian May 1, 2015, 7:11 pm

    This post has been amazing to read — it’s so great to see the support offered by everyone and to know that I’m not alone in this. After taking 200mg daily for 10 months I am now down to 50mg per day, and hoping to taper off completely in the next little while. Since reducing the dosage I’ve noticed increased aggression and killer insomnia (it’s 4am as I write this) with depersonalisation and dizziness as described by so many of you. My psychiatrist is switching me to Lexapro once I have stopped the Pristiq entirely, and I am hoping for better days to follow. Sending you all support and strength in your battles.

  • Deborah May 3, 2015, 10:55 pm

    Our insurance company suddenly cut us from Pristiq 9 days ago. It has been the only AD that has worked for both of us. Our doctor put us on Effexor. I haven’t been able to stop crying. The ” bad” thoughts are back. I don’t want to get out of bed and face the day. I miss the laughter in this house. Why is Effexor not helping since it was the formula Pristiq was modeled after?? We feel like we are doing it cold turkey. The depression is really scaring me. Any ideas?

  • Jackie May 4, 2015, 3:38 pm

    I’m on 200mg and have been for a while now, if I forget to take mine in the morning by that afternoon I’m getting withdrawal symptoms! I tried to drop down to 150mg it was horrible! Night swears, brain zaps, nausea, dizziness, irritability, anxiety and very emotional. I ended up going back up to 200mg as I wasn’t coping with my kids and was yelling at them all the time because I couldn’t stand the noise. I don’t want to stay on this medication forever and I hate having to take such a high dose. I feel like I’ve lost my personality, don’t feel anything just numb really.

  • Jenn May 6, 2015, 1:12 pm

    Day 5 of withdrawal. Symptoms: tingly feeling all over, lack of focus, trouble sleeping but so tired, when sleep comes I have very vivid dreams. Really hoping this will get better and not worse, hard to work like this!

  • Emma May 6, 2015, 1:49 pm

    I am on day 4 of cold turkey from 50 mg. My brain zaps have been the hardest to deal with but today was better than yesterday. I can’t stop eating and drinking tea, but am sleeping really well, and feel OK emotionally. I like that I have emotions again, it feels right. I also have a bit of irritability, but it’s all controllable.

    I even managed to do some study today, I decided to be kind to myself today and not expect too much and it was much easier than the previous few days. I am also finding light and noise painful, and it sort of comes in waves through the day. I think it’s all going OK so far, I’m hoping it doesn’t get worse before it gets better. But I think it’s doable and I’m happy that I am withdrawing.

  • Lucy May 15, 2015, 11:12 pm

    Only been on Pristiq for about six weeks, but had to stop taking them to go on different medication. I was told to wait about five days before taking the new meds. Day 3 started out okay, then got sudden dizziness that wouldn’t go away. All of a sudden I felt nausea, and about two hours later began vomiting. Really wish my doctor had warned me about this so I could have called work instead of having to be sent home three hours into my shift. Hopefully, symptoms improve soon.

  • Cara May 24, 2015, 8:32 pm

    I have been on Pristiq 50mg for 7 1/2 years. My doctor tapered me off with 35mg for 21 days and now I have been off for 3 days. Today has been the worst day I have ever experienced, I wasn’t sure what was going on with me till I did a little research and found this site. The information here is very helpful. I have chronic lyme disease and I am also going through these awful withdrawal symptoms. My biggest challenge is the nerve issues and severe vertigo, that Meclazine is not helping. Unfortunately lyme disease exacerbates everything so all of my symptoms are amplified. If there is anything, any advice that would be helpful in curbing these symptoms please let me know. I do not want to go back on this stuff, and it is tempting.

  • Kristina May 28, 2015, 3:02 am

    I am on day four of going off cold turkey. The dizziness was what got me really bad the first couple of days. It was so bad it gave me headaches and made me nauseous. I am currently experiencing issues with being really hungry all the time. I still have some headaches and I do have a little dizziness still but it has subsided to a manageable and almost nonexistent level.

    In all honesty the reason this country is so over medicated is because there’s no money in healthy people and more money than you could ever imagine in sickness, be it mental or physical. I’m a huge advocate for natural alternatives and I’m going to try 5-htp once the pristiq is out of my system. Honestly I’m hoping Marijuana becomes legal in my state soon. It’s legal for medicinal uses here but fairly hard to get and I’d prefer to get it from a source where I know it’s pure and not spliced with anything. Good luck to you all. <3

  • danni June 1, 2015, 4:16 pm

    Pretty much feeling everything you have listed above. Tapering down was easy until I had to go from 50 to 0 and even tho it was hard it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. Been 1 week now off. It’s irritating but bearable. Hope it doesn’t last 6 to 8 weeks!

  • Cdn eh June 4, 2015, 11:52 pm

    I’m on my third week of getting off of Pristiq. I was on it for four years at 50 mg a day. My doctor suggested upping the dose when situations become too much for me to handle. I declined to do this since I figured it would be more difficult. I decided to put on my big girl panties and just deal with stuff without medication. I have to admit it’s easier for me than Effexor. My doctor told me to cut the pills. So basically I dose dumped twice a day one quarter each time.

    A week and a half later I dropped to a quarter each day. Minor headaches and minor vertigo. Yesterday was my first day without any. Vertigo isn’t fun but it’s manageable. No nausea, headache or attacks of any sort. I occasionally get ringing in my ears but again this is tolerable. There is mild brain fog. I’m hoping all will be fine in a month or so. Just remember all can be handled and tolerated. Good luck!

    • Heather McMahon June 10, 2015, 4:59 pm

      Hi “Cdn eh” (I am too): How are you feeling now? I have just moved from 50mg of Pristiq directly to Cipralex (10 Mg) – no tapering – as I understand it’s easier to get off Cipralex. I’m on day 2 of the switch-over and feeling some of the withdrawal symptoms of Pristiq (fog, zaps, chills). Wondering if you are feeling better at this point. Hope so!

      • Cdn eh June 11, 2015, 12:22 am

        Feeling awesome! First day today without dizziness. I was worth it. Good luck with your discontinuation. Anyone can do it.

        • Heather McMahon July 12, 2015, 5:34 pm

          Hi again Cdn. eh.. just checking back in. Hope things continued to be good for you. I haven’t taken the plunge yet. Are you now fully off Pristiq and feeling fine?

  • Abigayle June 5, 2015, 7:18 pm

    I started, with my doctors consent, tapering off of 100mg Pristiq in mid March. It is now early June. The tapering has been very successful, leaving me with minimal physical side effects. The tapering started with 2 weeks of alternating once per day of course: 100mg, 100mg, 50mg, 100mg, 100mg and so on. Then 2 weeks of 50, 50, 100, 50, 50.. And so on. Then 2 weeks of all 50mg. Then 1 week of 50mg, no dose, 50mg, alternating. Then 1 week of 50, 50, no dose, and so on.

    I am now at a point where I am completely off of Pristiq. In the first month or so, I did feel some physical side effects such as occasional brain zaps, fogginess, cold sweats were the biggest along with full body shaking. I also felt a bit of social anxiety and occasional bouts of depression. It honestly was not too bad. Getting through the physical withdrawal symptoms has been quite easy. It was even easier after I started smoking marijuana to lessen these symptoms.

    I would smoke whenever they flared up. It had not been terrible during this time of weening off of 100mg to 50mg. Then mid May hit, when I started skipping doses (on plan with my doctor). At first I could really feel on no dosage days the physical withdrawal effects. The biggest symptoms I had were sweating and shaking. Then the mental and emotional symptoms started to appear. It happened very suddenly, after about a week of moderate skipping of dosages. I went down quickly and am almost back where I started before I even went on Pristiq.

    I feel all of the lessons I had learned while I was on the drug have vanished and I am left with a chemical deficiency in my brain (due to the lack of chemical Pristiq was giving me). Especially now that I am completely off all dosage, I am going crazy. I can easily get through the shaking and sweats, but this extreme anxiety (which I had never even had before I started Pristiq) has put me in a depressing mindset. I feel I have to build up all the skills I once had to cope with all the stress of life all over again. The anxiety is keeping me from progressing in life.

    I am usually always irritable, unless I am high on marijuana. I am impulsive and restless. Most of all, I am angry at everything and everyone, an emotion that I never felt while on Pristiq. I have hurt the ones close to me and made it difficult for them to have a healthy relationship with me. I have brought my boyfriend down with me in this depression, though we are aware it is only med withdrawal and we are taking steps to repair our relationship and help me get through this.

    I suspect that the reason I have these mental symptoms is due to the chemical lacking in the brain that the Pristiq was providing me with. I am definitely keeping in mind that all that I am stressing about is not needed, and that I am only stressing over it because I am going through withdrawal. I do not feel like myself, and I do not like myself lately, but I know that the withdrawal is NOT who I am. It will be passing, I suspect, within the next couple of months, as long as I do not become a slave to this evil drug.

    I do appreciate the way Pristiq has helped me. If not for this drug, I believe that I would have killed myself. But it is time to officially get it out of my system. It is a long and very tough haul, but it does not last forever. Do not lose hope. I think I am going to try ingesting foods and performing activities that restore whatever chemical I am lacking in the noggin. Then I may be able to focus on learning skills to cope, instead of focusing solely on not feeling like sh*t.

    I wish the best to any and all who is going through Pristiq withdrawal. It is important to note that GETTING THROUGH PRISTIQ WITHDRAWAL IS A PRIORITY. If you do not make it a priority, you may find yourself in an even worse condition than before you started the drug. Remember to take care of yourself. It is a drug that has helped me well, but it is truly evil. I will never go back to Pristiq. It has brain washed me and left me with nothing after I decided to leave it. I would love to get this drug off of the market. Thanks for reading.

  • Tanys June 13, 2015, 1:50 pm

    I was on Pristiq for 18 months. I started on 50g and went up to 100g. I was so scared when I started taking medication. Scared that I would become reliant on it and unable to come off it. The 18 months were a God send. Pristiq removed all my anxiety symptoms. Once I felt completely normal, I decided it was time to come off the medication. 6 weeks later, I no longer take Pristiq.

    I just want to reassure people that it is possible and in my case I feel fine. My normal self before the panic attacks. Withdrawal had minimal side effects, crazy dreams and some difficulty sleeping for a week. The only negative impact has been weight gain. I’ve gained 16 kilos which is a bugger but getting my old self back was well and truly worth it.

  • Fring June 15, 2015, 5:39 pm

    I recently took myself off 100mg Pristiq, I did everything I was not supposed to do. I began by breaking them in half (for 6 months), then started taking 1/4 (for about 4 months) then completely stopped. I am 3 weeks out (cold turkey) and boy o boy was my doc upset. I feel real bad but cannot go back. I feel horrible inside, lost two friendships, have many arguments with hubby, no loving emotions towards my children. Every morning all I can think about it what people have done to me that has piss’d me off. Think ima call my doc…

  • Annie June 16, 2015, 3:16 am

    This is a horrible drug. Came off after 8 weeks (after I missed one pill and felt absolutely horrible) the withdrawal side effects are very unpleasant and not anything I have ever experienced. Dizziness that’s dibilitating and feeling just crappy. My doc gave me 10 mg of Prozac to help ease the transition. I wish I’d never gone on it. It did not help my anxiety (made it worse) made me so hungry I gained over 10 pounds in 8 weeks (was binge eating) and had horrific leg cramps and bad dreams.

    Since I’ve been off Pristiq for a week I’m back to normal eating and less anxiety and better sleeping. If it helps you and you feel better on it then stay on it, I am not writing this to dissuade anyone from getting help with depression or anxiety. I just know for me the withdrawal has been so bad. I’ve never written on one of these blogs before but I feel so strongly against the use of Pristiq that I wanted to share my experience.

  • Rosa June 21, 2015, 6:36 am

    I wanted to add an update to encourage others who are trying to get off pristiq. I first posted in Oct 2014 when I was trying to “give up”… I was 100mg and had been taking pristiq for many years. It was easier to keep taking it than to try and cope… or so I thought.. anyway, I’ve been well and truly drug free for 6 months and I feel great.

    The withdrawal was tough but I was determined and I didn’t follow the doctor’s advice. I was too impatient for that. Once I decided I was giving up the drugs I cut the dose down fairly quickly. I’m never going back. The headaches, the mood swings and the nausea “do” stop once the drug is out of your system.

  • Natalie June 21, 2015, 4:57 pm

    I accidentally started taking Pristiq irregularly about 3 weeks ago because my exam period at uni was coming up, so my routine went out the window. I’ve been taking 50mg and it’s now roughly 2 weeks since I stopped taking it cold turkey. The main side effect has been insomnia, but my depression has definitely gotten worse and I’ve also had some crying spells. Lately I’ve noticed a few flu-like systems. My main issue right now is getting rid of the insomnia; I’m really not good at handling lack of sleep/constantly being tired. Thanks to everyone who’s already posted! Before I realized it was Pristiq withdrawal, I was really concerned.

  • Jenna June 21, 2015, 5:44 pm

    Okay… so I’m on day 1 of only tapering off for one week. My insurance changed and I could no longer afford the pristiq. Like I said it’s day one and I’m dizzy, nauseated, and hands and feet are constantly tingling. I’ve on 50mg for a couple years now and feel horrible. I wish I had never went on this!

  • Jane June 22, 2015, 12:47 pm

    I had been on pristiq for about 4 years on the lowest dose and sometimes 100. I wish I had read all this information and the side affects before taking this horrible drug. I had been suffering really bad anxiety and was very emotional and would cry at anything. A bad relationship did not help! It has taken that to end and to meet someone wonderful to realize you don’t need to take this, there are other options out there…exercise, yoga, herbal remedies…I thought I was normal on this stuff until my partner said I didn’t seem to be present a lot of time.

    Also my memory started to suffer as I was unable to recall information at work as quickly and accurately as I used to be able to. So I discussed with my doctor a plan to get off it and options to reduce dosage but there were no options to reduce as I was on the lowest does and I couldn’t cut the pill in half unless I asked a pharmacy to re-compound at a lot of $$$. I therefore tried taking the lowest dose every second day and then I stopped altogether. It was not good…I had bad stomach cramps, upset stomach and the worst side effect was the motion sickness.

    The motion sickness got so bad at night that I was scared to drive and ended up just going to bed hoping it would pass by the morning. I had really weird bad dreams and night sweats. I felt awful and didn’t like the withdrawal effects at all. I however perceived and there was no way I was taking any more after the side affects of stopping and it has taken 3 weeks and I am happy to say that I am feeling so much better and glad to be off this yucky drug. Stay away!!!

  • Shae June 27, 2015, 2:51 am

    I started my taper off of pristiq 3 weeks ago. I was on a 50mg dose and for the first 3 days I took half the dose by biting them in half. The 2 days after that I took a quarter dose by biting half in half again, and I haven’t had any pristiq since. The withdrawal symptoms I experienced were headaches, dizziness, flu-like symptoms (stuffy in the sinuses) and pulsing sensations in the head and eyes. This all sounds horrible, and yes sometimes I felt pretty off, but it is manageable if you know what you’re in for.

    I read this thread before deciding to come off pristiq and it really helped me. I think if I had come off it without knowing what I was in for I would’ve freaked out when I started feeling dizzy and just taken it again. I treated withdrawals like getting a cold, just looked after myself, lots of sleep, panadol, and exercise really helped even out my mood. I’ve also found meditating really helpful. Anything relaxing and therapeutic. ‘The Happiness Trap’ is also a VERY helpful book based on mindfulness.

    I feel much better now than when I was on it. It is TOTALLY worth pushing through it. I feel like I’ve come out of a pristiq haze, I feel brighter and lighter and more confident in my dealings with others. I know pristiq is supposed to help counteract anxiety, but I think it did the opposite for me and made me feel much more self conscious, as I just didn’t feel like myself. I was going through a tough time and needed some help to cope, but the sooner you can get off that stuff the better!

    Since getting off it I’m smiling more, laughing louder (like I used to) and feeling moved by things. I heard a song and it brought tears to my eyes and I though to myself “oh wow, FEELINGS!! Good ones”. The stuff dulls you out, and while it can be helpful to push away bad feelings, it also dulls the good ones. My Aunty said to me “you’re never dealt more than what you are able to overcome”. We humans may be fragile at times, but we are also filled with great strength. I wish you all the best, and the strength to take control and make the changes you desire.

  • Marie June 29, 2015, 2:12 am

    Hi, I had been taking Pristiq (50 mg) for only 6-7 months and gradually stopped taking it a month and a half ago (every other day for 3 times; every 3 days for 3 times; every 4 days for 3 times). Things were pretty smooth at the beginning, I didn’t have “major” side effects such as brain zaps or hallucinations. But lots of fatigue and crazy dreams. And also, most disturbing, return of some depression related symptoms (short fuse, angriness, feeling like crap, etc.). I am at the point where I wonder if those are withdrawal symptoms or the return of my depression. Following your recommendation, I guess I’ll wait 3 months to have a better idea.

  • Bettina July 6, 2015, 8:21 pm

    I’m going on day 5 pristiq free. It’s really walking on a tightrope without a net. It’s all at once exhilarating and anxiety causing. One foot in front of the other, right?

  • Rachel July 7, 2015, 3:49 am

    My doctor never mentioned the effects of missing a dose. I’m on 200mg daily and also Valdoxan for my sleep. Recently ran into money problems and couldn’t afford the medication. I wanted to die. I was a zombie at work, then became irritable with customers. Nausea and headaches. Even vomiting. Extreme shakes, and I work in a restaurant, so that was bad. Cried for an hour, couldn’t stop. Oh and my vision was blurred and I couldn’t focus otherwise my eyes would hurt. Back on it, and I’m starting to feel normal. I couldn’t go cold turkey if/when I decide to finish. I was too close to suicide and I don’t want to feel that again.

  • Kevin July 11, 2015, 8:47 pm

    I have been off the Pristiq for about 2 weeks now and still lingering nausea, headaches, and fatigue. I only took the medication for about 6 weeks so hopefully I will be near the end soon. The drug made me suicidal.

  • Amanda July 11, 2015, 10:20 pm

    Hi de-pristiquers, I’m now on my 7th day cold turkey after 2 years mostly on 50mg. I was glad to find your comments as I do not have a support system, I live alone in a foreign country where English is not the first language so I’m feeling a bit isolated and sensitive and I’m scared that I’m going to slide into the abyss! I was having withdrawal symptoms really badly for the past 6 months even though I was taking my dose everyday???

    The zaps, tingling lips, sweats, chills, off balance feeling and crying were ridiculous, that’s why I felt I needed to come off it. I’m happy with my decision but I feel like I’m losing my mind today. I have been experiencing a “speed” like effect since stopping, I just need to go walking everyday to try to get rid of the intense feeling!! I’m very restless, the dizziness and ear ringing has been annoying, the zaps aren’t as bad as I thought they were going to be, but I have been vomiting and not in exactly the most appropriate locations or situations!

    I thought the walking might make me tired so I can sleep at night, but noooo, insomnia is welcoming me with open arms. I know its only been 1 week and I have a long way to go, but reading your experiences have helped immensely, thank you for sharing and best of luck to those who are in the first days or week of depristiquing.

  • Suz July 16, 2015, 4:41 am

    I too have been on pristiq (50mg twice daily) for two years. As well my Dr. had me on abilify and clonazepam. I had no trouble going off the later two, but pristiq… Wow. I’m doing it on my own. Very difficult. I’m down to 50 mg every other day but that’s like ping pong alright. Dizzy, zapping, very emotional and agitated, ear ringing, etc. Been tapering for three weeks and no signs of it letting up! God help me.

  • Courtney July 19, 2015, 9:57 pm

    Hi, I feel a little concerned as my withdrawal symptoms are getting worse and worrying me. I was on pristiq for 5 years and it slowly increased over the years. I am on 250 and my psychiatrist is bringing me down and putting me on Prozac at the same time. It has not even been a week and I am on 100mg of pristiq and 10mg of Prozac. And in a couple of days the pristiq is going down to 50mg.

    These are the symptoms I am experiencing: terrible headaches/migraines, sore eyes, body aches, hot and cold sweats, brain zaps, my body honestly feels like it is bruised all over because that is how much it is hurting, body aches, diarrhea. Honestly just feel like rubbish and finding it so hard to go to work. Not sure if I should go back to the doctor and slow down the process more or not.

  • Shannon July 23, 2015, 9:09 am

    I am struggling on day 5 and so tempted to go back on it. After 6 years of Zoloft and the Pristiq 200 mg the time has come to feel some feelings for a change. I dropped from 200mg to 100mg for three months. I did struggle a little and a GP then tried to add two more medications (anti psychotics). I took them for three days but was way too spacey, dopey and could barely get my words out (I work a stressful job in which I need to communicate well).

    I chose to atop the extra meds and met with a Dr who prescribed me 50mg Pristiq. Two weeks on that I was okay, brain zaps but I could still function. Now going from that to zero I am freaked out. I just shook my 5 year old son in rage over something that would barely bother me. I am so angry it scares me. The brain zaps are horrible, I’m foggy, depressed and just want to eat constantly. I’m interstate for work next week and I need to be competent. Should I just go back on it and try again?

    I have three kids under 6 – I’m becoming the aggressive psych Mum that I had which is devastating. How long will I feel like this? It seems easier to just stay in the 50mg long term.

    • Carmel November 12, 2015, 10:14 am

      I guess it’s only you who can decide in the long run. If it helps write letters to yourself querying the decision, pros and cons. It might help the indecision. Good luck.

  • Billy July 26, 2015, 12:37 pm

    I’m currently tapering off of Pristiq 10mg at a time and am down to my last week of this dosage. I did a lot of research and ended up getting a compounding pharmacist to compound the drug into 10mg capsules. This seems to have been OK so far, although each time I’ve dropped 10mg I’ve noticed that I go through a surge in anxiety, anger and crying spells until my body gets used to the change. Once I end the taper I’m going to start taking an amino acid supplement called Inkephlin to support the production of serotonin and noradrenaline. I’m hoping that this will be enough for me and will ease withdrawal. Will let you know how it goes :)

    • Julie D, July 28, 2015, 8:03 pm

      Thanks for this info Billy. Your comment is the first one I’ve seen to offer any real solution to the problem of tapering off. How do you find a compounding pharmacist that can do this? Do you have to bring him/her the pills to reformulate? I’ve been tapering for two months now and can’t seem to make it past 36 hours before the brain zaps become unbearable. Please keep posting on your progress. Thanks.

    • BGY February 18, 2016, 11:40 am

      Hello Billy, Can you help me with more details of your tapering. Are you totally off the drug now? How have you been doing?

      I am on 50mg twice daily of Desvenlafaxine and I am also talking to a compounding pharmacist in my locality. They have asked me the details of dosages required. I am quite confused whether to go 50mg-40mg or 45mg-45mg to start with. I also want to take it slow no matter how long it takes. I had been on other ADs ever since 2003 and this one Desvenlafaxine for about a year now.

      Can you tell me:
      1. What was your dosage of Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
      2. How long had you been taking it before you started tapering
      3. How did you go about instructing the compounding pharmacist.. what dosage strengths precisely.

      I hope you see this and take some time to reply. Will be very helpful.

  • leah July 27, 2015, 2:13 pm

    I have been on Pristiq for a year now and stopped it 3 days ago. I am experiencing headaches and nausea that come in waves. I had nausea the first day of taking it initially then only mild side effects, dry mouth, mild insomnia which went away after a few months.

  • Miss B August 2, 2015, 1:16 am

    Ok. So I can breathe. I took my last does of Pristiq October 6th, 2014. I am OK. I made it. It was rough, and I wasn’t sure I could do it many times – I only went off the Klonipin tapering down over three months and now 90+ days free of EVERYTHING! I was on Pristiq, Lithium, Klonipin, Prozac, Adderall, Serequel, Topamax, Depakote and Tegretol in various forms for 10 years. IT IS OVER AND I MADE IT. I made it. Hold on. Get help. Exercise.

    Surround yourself with people who will look out for you, even if you have to “rent-a-friend” like a therapist, psychiatrist, holistic healer, counselor or use any available resource through no fee mental health care through your county. Hit up your church. Any church. Ask. Seek help. Don’t do it alone if you don’t have to, and save your family by looking outward when you are really really sick. THIS ENDS. THIS ENDS. THIS ENDS. I did NOT believe this statement four months ago. I believe it now. #yourstoryisntoveryet #thesemicolonproject

    • Carmel November 12, 2015, 10:07 am

      Hi five✋??

  • Mary August 3, 2015, 7:13 pm

    Hi. I was on Pristiq first at 100mg and now down to 50 mg for almost a year. I am coming off it because I feel it does me more harm than good. I have never had such weird dreams and nightmares since being on this med. Also feel more agitated on it then when I was not. My DR has advised me to take 50g every other day to wean off, and it is horrible, I am agitated, having anxiety attacks and cry all the time. Maybe I should chuck the rest of the tablets away and go cold turkey form here on out? I wish I had never ever gone on this med and I would’t wish the side effects of this on my worst enemy. God help me and all of us trying to detox from this horrible med.

  • Lisa August 6, 2015, 3:24 pm

    I want to say that I have found Pristiq to be the most helpful antidepressant I’ve been on (also tried Paxil, Lexapro, Buspar), and I have had dozens of moments over the past 18 months when I’ve thought “thank you, Pristiq!” I stopped ruminating and having constant catastrophic thoughts; I felt generally more happy each day; I got on an airplane for the first time in 16 years; etc.

    This is not an ‘evil’ drug, and doctors are not evil for prescribing it; drug companies are not nefarious for creating it. It affects people differently, as the brain is complicated. So, after that shout out to this drug, I will say that I’m going off of it — because after a year on it I started gaining weight that I cannot lose no matter what I do; and now I have put on 20 lbs. no Weight Watchers, low carb diet, or exercise plan can budge.

    I’m now on Day 3 of a cold turkey withdrawal from 50 mgs, and while I feel kind of crappy–horrible dreams, mild nausea and dizziness, irritability (yelled the “F…” word at a work elevator yesterday, and a coworker looked at me like I was crazy)… it really isn’t horrible yet, nor unbearable. I expect the brain zaps to start soon (I had them with Lexapro) and I’m just glad I know what the heck they are, as they are absolutely freaky weird.

    So, good luck to everyone… and if you are thinking of going on Pristiq, know it’s a good drug for many, and not always horrific to go off of.

    • Carmel November 12, 2015, 10:03 am

      Nice one Lisa. Looking forward to hearing about your progress. You seem more calm and less frightened by the side effects. Hope all is well.

  • Tiffany August 11, 2015, 1:54 pm

    It has been 48 hours since I stopped Pristiq. I took 100mg for about 6 years and then went to 50mg 10 months ago with very little withdrawal symptoms. Today, I am hot, nauseated, dizzy and have a mild headache. Yet I am determined to stop taking the medicine as I do not believe that I need it and do not wish to be on any medicine not necessary. My doctor and I discussed stopping the medicine and I realized that I may have symptoms. I just hope that they pass quickly as I do not like feeling sick.

    • Tiffany August 11, 2015, 11:03 pm

      I read that Dramamine, Bonine (two over the counter medicines for motion sickness), or benadryl can help with the nausea. I began vomiting today and took benadryl; which did provide a lot of relief from nausea and I stopped vomiting. I wanted to share in case it helps anyone else.

    • Julia August 12, 2015, 1:43 pm

      Hi, I have been on Pristiq 50mg for 4 years and started withdrawal 20 days ago. For the first 10 days I took one tablet every 36 hours and for the next 10 days I took one tablet every 48 hours. I start tomorrow with one tablet every 72 hours for 10 days and then stop altogether. Over the last 4 years I have put on 25kg and have developed psoriasis on both hands. I used to be a colorful, emotional, outgoing and energetic person before I started taking Pristiq but feel that I have lived in a monotonous fog for four years.

      It has been safe and I have dealt with lots of issues relatively calmly but it’s time to get back to reality and start to find other ways of dealing with my anxiety and depression. I want to try exercise, healthy diet, a changed career plan, hobbies and laughter. I want to enjoy family and friends without being on medication for the rest of my life. I have had withdrawal symptoms over the last 20 days.

      After I have taken a tablet I return to a zombie like state for the first 24 hours and then start to clear until the next tablet is due during the withdrawal stage. I have experienced severe headaches during these “clear” hours but pain relief has relieved these. I have already had a couple of bouts of crying having totally overreacted to a couple of situations which didn’t warrant it but talked myself around very quickly and didn’t let them take hold.

      I am also suffering from insomnia, finding it hard to get to sleep or if I do manage to get to sleep easily, waking after a couple of hours and finding it really difficult to fall back to sleep for hours which leaves me feeling pretty tired the next day. My concentration levels are so low also which isn’t great having just started a new job but I want to persevere. I have already lost a couple of kilos since tapering and I’m hoping this is a positive sign. My appetite just isn’t as great as it was. I will let you know how I go after the next 10 days. So far I haven’t had any brain zaps.

  • Tom August 20, 2015, 3:33 am

    Hi all, glad I found this page. I’m away from my home country and ran out of Pristiq and don’t want to re-up so I guess I’m going cold turkey. I started at 50mg then moved up to 100mg after a month. Was on that for about 3 months then moved back overseas so started taking 50mg again to prolong it. Ran out 5 days ago. Didn’t know what these weird microsecond surges in my head were so turned to the internet to see what the withdrawal symptoms were for Pristiq and boom, I get it now.. Brain Zaps. That and the tingling sensation in fingers and toes.

    The Brain Zaps occur about once every 2 minutes. Have just started swimming laps and found it is a good way to get away from them as there is so much going on with your breathing and body movement and the noise swimming makes tends to drown the zaps out. I’m glad they’ve been identified and that other people have been able to explain them. It’s damn strange but I just try to get through another day to see if the next results in any less brain zaps and that the another symptoms I have (nerve tingling, depersonalization, hopelessness and sensitivity) subside just a little. Will be nice to be me again.

  • Michelle August 22, 2015, 5:50 am

    I have tapered off from 150mg (which I couldn’t tolerate due to side effects) back to 100 and then down to 50mg. I took my last 50mg tablet 2 days ago and frankly I feel like dying. I have had nausea so bad I have been clutching a bucket for 24 hours, I have headaches, back pain, chills and overwhelming despair. I haven’t been to work for 2 weeks due to the severity of my anxiety and depression.

    The reason I’m stopping Pristiq us because it hasn’t been working. I’m being put on something different. I may need to be hospitalized, which I’m trying to avoid. I’m on a waiting list for TMS. I can’t see myself getting back to work anytime soon and my employer is starting to make life even more difficult than normal. Without my income we could lose our house. I read this article in the hope that I would find out that these symptoms won’t last too long. Now I just feel hopeless.

    • Kevin August 28, 2015, 6:38 am

      Hang in there friend, it’s not fun at all and I’m going through it too.

  • Shelley August 26, 2015, 6:30 am

    Pristiq is awful! I’ve tried going off cold turkey, but brain zaps, fits of anger, and dizziness had me running back to this awful shit drug after a couple of days. I’ve now tapered off to a 1/4 of a tablet – yes I’ve cut these and feel just fine taking the cut tablet and GABA 750 mg X/1 per day really helps.

    I took 1/2 tablet for 2 months with GABA, then 1/4 tablet for another 2 months, also with the GABA. I also started taking Relora to help with sleeping, 2 before bed and 1 in the morning. My hair and nails are starting to grow back, I’m starting to “feel” again, my digestive complaints are getting better and super happy to get off this sh*t.

  • Kloe August 28, 2015, 4:13 am

    I have been on 50mg of PRISTIQ for around 6 months and today is my fourth day going cold turkey. I am struggling. It’s my second day of side effects. I’m experiencing a foggy and heavy head, my hearing seems almost blocked but loud noises are heightened, getting hot flushes and sweating, concentration is difficult, my emotions are overly sensitive and I’m crying really easily.

    I feel very separated from myself and just all round negative. I’m scared for how long this is going to last. I hope since I was only taking them for a little while and on the lowest dosage that hopefully these side effects will die down sooner rather than later. Reading some comments has made me a little more positive on it all. Good luck to everyone else who is trying to come off this drug!

  • Kevin August 28, 2015, 6:35 am

    This is real and it stinks. I have been tapering and made it to three weeks before the real side effects kicked in. I can’t see straight so I started taking pristiq again. Three days back on it but I don’t feel any better at all. Someone please give me some hope. I am so mad at my doctor for ever prescribing this.

  • Amandaa September 4, 2015, 8:31 am

    First day off withdrawing off Pristiq, the problem for me was I just constantly felt light headed and nausea, and immense lack of sex drive. So far I have had some brain zaps, nausea and headaches but I am sure it will get worse. Fingers crossed it gets better.

  • Jodie September 7, 2015, 9:50 pm

    I tried to reduce my dose a couple of weeks ago from 250mgs to 200mgs. I gave up after 4 days and went back to the 250mgs. In that 4 days I had headaches, nausea, vomiting, crying spells, depersonalisation increased depression and anxiety and irrational thought patterns. I am absolutely petrified to come off this drug. I’d know if I had forgotten or I was overdue to take my medication because I get a tingling sensation in my face.

    I’ve had this from when I started taking pristiq. Thing is even when I take it on time now I still get this feeling and I’m wondering whether my body is adapting to my current dosage. I really don’t want to go any higher than 250mgs. I’ve noticed on this blog that there aren’t as many people who are on such a high dose. Any help would be appreciated. Like other people on here I’ve considered rehab.

  • Mike September 10, 2015, 11:59 pm

    The first time I took pristiq for about 2 months, it only took about 4 weeks to feel better after I stopped. This time I was on it for 2.5 years and it’s been about 5 weeks and I’m still feeling like I’m in a fog and just not feeling right yet. I’m just wondering if anyone knows if it takes longer to start feeling better because I was on it a lot longer?

  • Sammy September 11, 2015, 12:07 am

    I went cold turkey 8 days ago from 100mg to zero after 1 year. The first 5 days were terrible. Brain zaps and moments of anger. Now I’m back and feel good. I would recommend sticking it out and ridding your body of it. I’m exercising, eating heaps of vegetables and smashing the water. Good luck and stay positive.

    • Janette October 16, 2015, 2:57 pm

      Wow! Cold turkey? I’m impressed. I am cold turkey after a 2 month taper and it’s kicking my butt. I am DETERMINED to stay on course and be done with it. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • kiki September 14, 2015, 4:01 pm

    Hello- I am writing to tell of my success of getting off Pristiq. After reading all the chilling tales of folks feeling trapped by the awful withdrawal symptoms, and after trying to go cold turkey from a daily dose of 50 mg about a year ago, I have been really nervous about starting the process. When I tried the cold turkey method it was a nightmare… zaps, noise sensitivity, vertigo, brittle feelings, crying, the whole caboodle. I am a single working mom of a young boy and can’t really take time away from work, etc.

    So for the last half year of so, I have been cutting pills so my daily dose has been around 25 mg. Then I went every other day with 25 mg. I did that for about 2-3 months. finally last week, I stopped taking it altogether… and I am happy to report, the withdrawal has been pretty mild. I notice a tiny bit of vertigo, and a little headache but not debilitating (I can drive fine), a little sleeplessness, and a little short of patience, but nothing I can’t deal with. It is SOOO LIBERATING!!! I figure I will have minor symptoms for another week or so, but I am going to amp up my cardio workouts to replace the serotonin that way. NEVER AGAIN!!!

  • Sam September 16, 2015, 10:56 am

    I have been taking Pristiq for about 10 years now. I began at the 50mg dose and was increased to 100mg. I decided on a whim to stop cold turkey even though I knew it wasn’t a smart thing to do. I’ve just been so sick and tired of feeling numb. I’m ready to feel again. I stopped taking it all together about 12 days ago. It’s been absolute hell. No brain zaps, but the dizziness has been off the charts and the crying spells have been frequent.

    While on Pristiq, I never really COULD cry, even in situations where it was warranted. The crying spells have been out of control, but I must say, I’m much happier being able to get it all out. I’ve definitely been irritable and short tempered which is unusual for me. I’ve also experienced major sweating spells, but that’s nothing new bc sweating was a major symptom I had while taking Pristiq. At least now I know my body is sweating in order to try and detoxify and get the medication out of my system.

    Twelve days later and things seem to be improving. I’m not nearly as dizzy, but it’s definitely still there. I also feel foggy and out of it on occasion. I didn’t experience fatigue in the beginning, but seem to be experiencing it now, although, I suppose that could be due to other factors as well. All in all, I’m shocked that I’m showing any improvement whatsoever after quitting cold turkey after a decade. I assumed it would be months before I got any relief from the withdrawal symptoms.

    I hope I’m not being overly optimistic and am going to backslide here soon. My emotions are still all over the place, but I have committed myself to at least 2 hrs of exercise daily and have been surrounded by a great support group. I think it’s important you let those closest to you be aware of what you’re doing so they can keep a close eye on you, especially if you’re doing it without a doctor’s supervision like I am. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my symptoms continue to improve and that there is a life after Pristiq. I’d never recommend taking it to anyone. I wish you all the best of luck.

    • IamPositive February 18, 2016, 11:51 am

      Great to know you are off meds Sam. How are you doing now? I am currently tapering klonopin. Took over 5 months to come from 0.25 mg to a 16th of 0.25 alternate days. Crazy I know, but I had bitter tapering experience a few years back with another AD that has left me with terrible ringing in the ears.

      So don’t want to take chances. I still have 100mg Pristiq (50mg X 2) to taper after I am done with klonopin taper. In all I have been 13 yrs on various ADs and now I am determined to wean and hence asking people. Do let me know. Thanks.

  • amie September 21, 2015, 2:35 pm

    This is my 7th day on 350mg (coming off 400). This drug has been a life saver for me but it’s time to attempt this thing called life naturally. I’m getting the head aches and the vomiting, nauseous, insomnia and much to my surprise my favorite food is not tasting or the texture is all wrong. The crying spells started today and the feeling’s of absolute hopelessness. The past two nights the dreams. Today I was so tempted to just go back to 400, but I did not and refuse to. I realize this is going to be one big journey and I’m hoping to finally meet who I am. I’ve been on this dose for 3 years to long. I can do this! Chin up people we are finally not alone.

  • Sean September 21, 2015, 9:06 pm

    I am on day 7 off of pristiq. What a roller coaster it’s been. I visited my physicist last Monday. I told him I was put on Wellbutrin by my GP because I could no longer afford pristiq. She was giving me samples of pristiq for now till we had a game plan. He tells me why? Just stop taking the pristiq I said what about the side effects? He said oh don’t worry just stop on a Friday they only last 4 days?

    Wow was he wrong. This has been a horrible 7 days. Up, down, crying, not sleeping, pain, brain zaps, basically every symptom listed above. I’m so upset 4 days I can handle but it’s sounds like it could be months. I have an appointment with my GP tomorrow. I hope she can help. I feel for everyone that has to go through this. What a nightmare.

  • DudeWayne September 23, 2015, 9:14 pm

    What some people call brain zapping is different for me. My hearing becomes distorted when my eyes move back and forth. I call this “eye-inducted audio distortion”. It’s been going on for at least two months now after ending cold turkey. If my eyes are closed, the movement causes a single ‘crunch/hiss’, but if open, the movement can cause multiple audio crunches.

    The only relief I get from this is listening to music at a high volume level. The crunching sounds are drowned out by the music. I do not recommend Pristiq because the withdrawal symptoms following 50mg for 5 months usage are bad. I’m in my third month and the dizziness and crunching are with me throughout the day.

  • Annette September 29, 2015, 9:46 am

    I have been on Pristiq 100mg for a long time now cant remember how many years and decided to stop taking them, reason to cut down on the drugs I am taking. It is almost a week now I decided to take one every other day for a while and then I will reduce to 1 every 3rd day and so on to I get off them completely. I agree not to cut them in half or quarters its not a good idea to do this with certain tablets, as it says the tablet has a time release and by cutting interferes with the time release. I am getting brain zaps now and then and a little dizziness only when I’m sitting, I can cope with them. I have not had any other symptoms. Keep active mentally and physical with a positive attitude.

  • TiffL October 12, 2015, 12:40 am

    I started experiencing brain zaps, vertigo and occasional confusion 4 weeks after I started taking Pristiq. My doctor recommended that I go off it as its inhibiting my ability to go to work/live a normal life. It’s weird though because I took pristiq for a couple of years a few years ago but never had any problems. Has anyone heard of this? Now I’m day 3 in coming off it and still feeling awful. Should I be expecting to start feeling better soon seeing as I was only taking 50mg for 4 weeks?

  • Janette October 16, 2015, 2:51 pm

    I initially started on Effexor XR 12/2/13 37.5 mg daily for treatment of migraines. I eventually increased to 150 mg. Because of my main sides effects, my neurology CNP switched me to PRISTIQ. I am now tapering with many unpleasant side effects of withdrawal. I am very determined to quit this monster pristiq. It did not have less side effects than effexor. No difference. My list of side effects while taking 100mg of pristiq for a year and a half were 15 pound weight gain, elevated BP, extreme constipation, inability to have an orgasm.

    It did eliminate my migraines. The ONLY reason I was changed to pristique from EffexorXR was because of the side effects. My withdrawl is so bad. I tapered from 100mg pristiq daily to 50mg once day for 1 month. Then pristiq 50mg daily every other day for 1 month. I decided to just stop and my last dose was 10/09/15. I started tapering down my pristiq on 8/10/15. This is some tough business.

  • Stephanie October 20, 2015, 3:33 pm

    I am currently going through the withdrawal process. Its horrible! When my husband and I found out we were expecting, I voiced my concern about my medication to my OB. Instead of tapering, I was advised to just stop taking it. I’m on day two and I feel like I’m going to die. Brain zaps, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, irrational irritability, the whole shebang.

    I’m not sure if my withdraws are worse because they are accompanied by pregnancy but I sure feel like they are. If anyone else has experienced this or is going through this, please share! I would love to know I’m not alone and that I can make it! On another note, although this medicine has proven to be a royal B$@#H to get off of, it did do wonders for me and my mental health!

    I wouldn’t be the happy healthy woman, mother, and wife I am today without its assistance! I think that once I get through this, God willing! I will be able to live my life medication free! I didn’t have hope like this 3 years ago. It gave me hope which lead me to my wonderful husband!

  • Jeffrey October 21, 2015, 12:55 am

    Wow I can’t believe how often people are posting on here I didn’t think people would have posted this year let alone today! I have been on antidepressants for 7 years and pristiq probably 3. It has some nasty side effects I used to get really bad stomach aches and flu like symptoms if I forgot a few doses then took it again. My thoughts were very foggy and desensitised emotions. And worse anxiety then normal when starting it.

    I have been tapering off it during this whole year and was taking it very irregular because it made me feel sick all the time. I had really bad dry mouth, eyes and then my face was so dry I couldn’t put water on it or it would take the oil away. Eventually I was sooo thirsty all the time I just stopped. I’ve been off for about a month and a half and my dry mouth has slowly been going away. Sometimes my eyes are OK sometimes not.

    And just last Thursday I took salmon oil and my skin was better the next day. Now I’m trying cures for dry eyes. Apparently the oil helps that and I started eating flax seed yesterday. Since stopping the drugs I’ve been feeling the urge to shake then it slowly started getting worse now I’m actually shaking my arms and legs. I find the more I use the muscle the more it shakes. I feel like its another deficiency caused by the drug like my skin.

    Mentally I am stable. Weight lifting and diet change helped my anxiety enormously. However it did take a little while. (A few months) If I don’t work out for like 4-5 days I feel depressed again. I don’t eat many processed foods anymore. But I am afraid the anxiety will come back once I am back to normal. I hope more people try working out and eating better because I know it can make a differences for lots of people suffering mental disorders!

  • jennifer brewer October 25, 2015, 1:51 am

    Hi there everyone, I have only been on Pristiq for 28 days and decided to stop due to severe insomnia and urinary problems. My doctor said to cut them in half which was the wrong advise and then said to go cold turkey as I have not been on them very long and should not have any problems. Easy for him to say. I am very emotional at the moment after only 2 days and feel very flat plus the insomnia is still bad even with a sleeping tablet. Has anyone else out there been on them a short time and had any problems? I need some advice. Thanks, Jennifer

  • Fadline October 28, 2015, 4:36 am

    This is my third attempt at trying to withdraw from pristiq. At this point I have given up on the hopes that these medications really does work. I have been on quite a few different ones with no luck. I don’t feel like these medications help at all. I am I have stopped taking Wellbutrin and now I am trying to taper of pristiq. Yesterday I felt really horrible.

    This is absolutely the worst medication to get off of. I spoke to a pharmacist and he told me to get Bonine complete which are over the counter tablets that treats and prevents motion sickness. So far it’s working a little. Today is the first that I’ve gone without pristiq. I still feel weird but I’m not throwing up, feeling really bad brain zaps or nausea. So far so good. I feel much better today than I did yesterday.

    Please do research and think twice before taking pristiq or Effexor. They are by far the worst depression medications to go off of. If I am unable to go without medication then I will try something else. Won’t count on it working because they work for a little while and then they stop working. Just wanted to share my experience.

  • Haley October 29, 2015, 11:09 am

    It’s so comforting (and scary) reading through all these comments. I have been on Pristiq for about 5 years, initially on 50mg then 100mg for the last year. Day 2 of cold turkey. Brain shocks and visual trails are awful. Insomnia. Dizzy. Tearful. Irritable. Lethargic. Hope this doesn’t last too long…I still have a pack in the drawer which is hard because I know it will make this all go away.

  • Vicki November 4, 2015, 4:58 am

    I’ve been on antidepressants for around 20 years – Aurorix, Zoloft, Prozac and now Pristiq. My doctor changed me to Pristiq because I had an episode of not coping a few months ago. Last week I missed a dose accidentally and felt dreadful – nauseous, dizzy and tingling tongue / mouth / head. I decided that I didn’t want to be on this drug if that’s what it did to me so I went back to my doctor and virtually begged him to change me back to Prozac.

    (I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll always be on an antidepressant). He said I’d have to put up with three days of withdrawal and then start my Prozac again. This is day 2 and I have never felt so ill. Nausea, dizziness and brain zaps, totally incapacitated. Thankfully my mum has some stemetil which has given me an hour or so relief from the nausea and dizziness.

    I’ve read with interest that Prozac has been used as a bridging drug for coming off Pristiq and an so tempted to start my Prozac a day early. I don’t want to feel like this for one more hour, let alone another day. I can’t imagine coping with these symptoms for weeks on end.

  • Emma November 5, 2015, 2:52 pm

    My doctor has made me stop cold turkey and says he will put me on Prozac next week. It’s been nearly 5 days since I took my last 100mg tablet. I feel like my brain is on the other side of the room trying to catch up with my head as I walk. I feel so depressed and scared. I’m crying over so many things I see online and on the news. My fiancé is so supportive luckily, I don’t know what us do without him. All I can think about is family members dying and downright horrible headaches and nausea. This drug is do awful to come off. I haven’t slept in days and even Valium isn’t helping.

  • nancy November 8, 2015, 7:01 pm

    I have been on 50 my a day for the past 5 years. I was originally put on it to lessen the awful side effects of Gabapentin, which I was taking for nerve damage in back and neck. Last year I decided I was getting off all the narcotics as well as Gabapentin. I was on 3 morphine a day, 3 gabapentin a day, 1 Pristiq a day. Well I got off everything leaving Pristiq for last as I had issues with this drug missing a dose.

    I am currently tapering off 50 MG per day to every other day for two weeks. There is now a 25MG dose. After seeing my doctor last week he put me on the 25mg every other day for two weeks. It hasn’t been pretty. The eye noises, brain zaps, sweats, chills, disorientation, weight gain and severe headaches along with ears ringing have been rough to say the least. But, I am now taking 25MG and have not taken any for 3 days.

    I want off this crap in the worst way and to get my life back. I’m crying occasionally, still having some minor brain zaps, headaches, ear ringing and chills/sweats but not as bad. It’s by far worse than Narcotics, recreational drugs, soda, and the nerve blocker as far as withdrawals. But I am determined and my husband is a big supporter. Soon things will be back to normal. For my pain I use Aleve and a compound cream. We can do this!

  • nancy November 9, 2015, 7:19 pm

    Today is by far the worst day so far of my withdrawals. Day 4 and I’m a complete mess. I walked early this morning but couldn’t do the duration, feeling tired and way too hot. I am way too agitated today. Freaking out, yelling, confusion, having terrible thoughts. Hoping the mood would get better, but everything is much worse today than any so far.

    • Carmel November 12, 2015, 9:57 am

      I know you will get through. I believe in you. Why? Because you haven’t given up and you are engaging in a support page to encourage your progress.?

  • Rebecca J November 11, 2015, 7:00 am

    It’s almost day 6 of no Pristiq for me and I’m a mess. I’ve spent the past few hours reading everyone’s experiences of quitting pristiq and I am scared of what is to come. I’ve been on pristiq for almost 4 years, 100mg. Even though I have insurance it is very difficult for me to afford almost $70 a month for this medicine. Actually I can no longer afford it, that’s why today is day 6 that I stopped cold turkey taking the 100mg tablet.

    I’m glad to hear people have gotten through the evil withdrawal stage but for me it has only began. I’ve experienced many of the same symptoms everyone has mentioned, such as, brain zaps, crying spells, depression, irritation,tiredness, night sweats, nightmares and I could go on. I have two sons, 11 & 5, who depend on me daily, but I feel like a terrible mother.

    Today was extra rough BC my 5 year old was very sick with a stomach virus and it took every ounce of me to take care of him BC I can barely keep my sanity. I’m thankful I ran across this site and got to read these stories. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one feeling this way and that I may not continue to feel like I’m going insane. Thanks to everyone again.

    • Darryl November 15, 2015, 4:45 pm

      Rebecca – please don’t give up. Your sons will thank you for it and not call you a terrible mother at all! I realize they are young but maybe there is a way you can help them understand what you are going through. Children are amazingly resilient and if they know their mom needs them they’ll do what they can. You’re in my prayers!

  • Carmel November 12, 2015, 9:49 am

    I’ve been on Effexor and pristiq for 13 years. I class them the same. Was on 100mg then went down to 50 mg for a month which showed no real difference. Now I’ve been off it 3 days. The first day nothing, the first night I had hallucinations of seagulls in my bedroom. The next day I was as high as a kite and felt like Jim Carrey in the movie liar liar where I just laughed and said anything that came in my head.

    A crazy but happy side effect. Today I’m one minute crazy happy then next I’m just normal. Then one minute I’m going to do so much then the next I’m asleep with a dodgy head. I take ibuprofen which seems to help the body and brains inflammation. Depersonalization is present but I don’t mind that as it is the brains natural defense mechanism to trauma so I actually welcome it.

    So far so good. The doctor has given me a week off work to get my head around the side effects. We will see how I go. 15 years ago when I went off Zoloft due to pregnancy it took around three months before I felt normal. So I know my body will acclimatise eventually

  • Darryl Bowen November 15, 2015, 4:34 pm

    Greetings everyone and thank you all for your posts. I admit there were so many that I did not get through them all and as they all seemed, empirically, to be much the same I wanted to add in my two cents. Mine comes vicariously so I think this may help some of those who are supporting someone who is withdrawing from this insidious drug! My husband has been on it for almost 6 years @ 50mg.

    We recently had some life changing events that have caused us both to question the validity of continuing to be addicted to a drug. We decided as a couple, after a lot of research, that the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies are not in this for him, they’re in it for them. He recently started divulging to me, and this is after 6 years of marriage mind you, that there are A LOT of things from his early years that were the true causes of his depression.

    However, when Pristiq was originally prescribed it was because he was going through a bad break up and was having issues coping and focusing so naturally once a shrink got hold of him it was “let’s do an instant fix” – typical of the western medicine philosophy. Anyway, now that he is seeing a true therapist and is in a DBT program and is learning coping skills with his issues he realized that for a very long time the Pristiq was doing nothing. Well, I stand corrected, it was seriously affecting our sex life!

    He tried discussing this with his shrink and her answer was to UP the dosage! He did this for about 2 days and it created immediate nausea, disorientation and worsening problems all around. Her response, switch him to Cymbalta! At this point we said enough is enough. We are taking back his life! He had existed 44 years without anything, using his own coping skills for the early life issue and now that he is learning more constructive coping skills why do we need this addiction?

    REST ASSURED READERS! This is a bad drug. I am actually surprised there are not multiple class action suits out there already for this crap! As an aside he recalled to me that I had asked him to PLEASE reconsider when he first started taking this drug in 2009 because I know the spiral this stuff takes you down. If you don’t take back your life, you just keep getting switched around to other drugs, passed around to different doctors and not helped.

    Sorry for the long winded intro but hope it helps you understand my position. As to his condition. He started weaning off about 3 weeks ago (note when we made this decision he switched back to the Pristiq because it could be cut – Cymbalta is a capsule). I know the blogs and the so called experts do not recommend cutting the pills because of the time release function of the coating. I ask my readers to think about this for a second. I am an aerospace engineer, know more than a little about my subject and I freely admit, I am NOT a biochemical engineer.

    But, I ask you, does it truly make sense that there is a superficial coating for time release that if cut will cause an instant release of the drug? So if I cut it, I expose a cross section of the raw drug. Does this mean the pill is instantly exposed and then dissolves from inside out? Granted, possibility does exist. But here is my counter to that. How deep and thick is this coating if unaltered?

    Why does it not eventually dissolve away with the same result? A sudden burst of the active chemical! With what I do know about chemical properties, I postulate that the drug actual is microencapsulated in molecular sized doses that release over the course of the day and that the “do not cut” is a ruse. Again, this is my opinion and I could be wrong. In weeks one and two he cut the 50mg to 25mg with a pill cutter. Net effect was that almost immediate return of his sexual powers.

    (Also think about how THAT plays on a male’s depression when you’re taking something that supposedly is helping you but it is taking away a very primal instinct at the same time) how is that supposed to be even remotely logical? He also had headaches periodically in the first two weeks and some cases of disorientation and dizziness but short lived. Worst was going from a sitting to standing position quickly – so he learned really quickly to stand slowly (this happens to a lot of people normally anyway from time to time).

    Week 3, which we are in now, he cut back to 12.5 mg (approximately since they make the pills so strangely shaped that it is impossible to cut with accuracy). He has been on this dosage for about 4 days and as he says, the struggle is now real. He is having mood swings and will go from very talkative and happy to silent. HOWEVER, I will note to you all the biggest change that I see from 6 years ago… His awareness of his past affecting his way of thinking, his knowledge that he is getting help and therapy and his ownership of the situation instead of just “giving in” to the medical community.

    This is how he is coping with the withdrawals. Before this when he would have an anger outburst toward me or anyway, he’d never think a thing of it, let alone ask for forgiveness. Now that his awareness is heightened, he asks forgiveness all the time to which I response – not necessary, it’s the drugs and your past talking, not my beautiful husband who I would die for if necessary! I truly believe that one and all of us need to take back our lives.

    Our lives are constantly bombarded by externals that, sad as they may be, we cannot do anything about. Current events example, the Paris attacks. I have friends and family in Paris. We checked on them, they are fine and coping. Beyond that, what can I do? Watch the news constantly, get depressed over and over and over again. I can’t control it. The ways that I can help I do (contribute the Red Cross feels really good to give, even a little) and THAT releases natural brain chemistry that helps!

    Watching the depressing scenes and gore are only going to serve to depress anyone – and isn’t that truly the goal of mass media and the pharmaceutical companies – to keep us on these emotional roller coasters? Further exacerbating our situation is that I work in a different city from our home. I fly home every two weeks for 3 days. So he is going this mostly alone (family and friends notwithstanding, he does not have his husband there every moment).

    But he is owning it, doing very well with it, understanding what he is going through most importantly he has accepted that his choice 6 years ago was a bad one and he is doing everything he can to take back his life. So unless this drug has permanently altered his brain chemistry and by what I have read this apparently is NOT the case, there is no reason that he can’t lead a normal healthy life with the help of therapists, an excellent support system and most importantly his own belief in himself! As I have discussed with him over and over (to the point that he would get a little sick of it I admit) – as soon as you take the step to believe that you can be happy and accept yourself without this horrible drug, you’ll be in good shape.

    And he’s getting there. And I am more proud of him than I could ever express! BTW, we are very big believers in natural remedies (read as Marijuana) but at the moment we feel that the first step is to get him off the drugs and then find the correct strain that is meant for people who suffer from depression. I have high hopes for our future because he does.

    We talk more now about all of this than we ever have – it’s always been like the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. Well, I’m here to report that the strings are being cut, the sword has begun its descent, but it will not come nigh. We will both make sure of that. I hope everyone takes inspiration from this and takes the action to get off this and any and all other of these type drugs. We don’t need them.

    What we need can be grown in our gardens and with any real luck (for those of us not in states that allow it) soon the federal government will allow us to grow our own medicine, at our own strength for our own use and as Colorado and Washington have demonstrated, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the world will NOT come to an end! Peace!

  • Ross Hayden November 21, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Going cold turkey off 100mg for 12 months. 4 days in. It’s still hurting / freaking hard up stairs.

  • Belinda November 24, 2015, 8:11 am

    I started taking this over 2 years ago and remember the first month feeling and acting absolutely manic. Insomnia has been a problem nearly all my life so increased energy was not helping. Of course came the “crash” from all that hyperness and I went from being high as a kite to so low I could have killed myself. In hindsight I should have stopped taking pristiq then but the high I had felt was probably the best I had felt after taking similar medications for anxiety and depression for years so went back to the doctor and doubled my dose.

    Now going cold turkey off 200mg a day I’m 5th day in and feel like absolute shit. No rage but my body is having a mental breakdown I’m zapping like crazy hearing the same way like moths flapping in my ears, sweating, flu like, body itchy, not sleeping largely due to sweating but admittedly if I was 2 hours late with my dosage I would get a lot of these symptoms anyway and ever since I started taking them I have been overheating at night to the point of drenching the bed.

    I think the final straw for me was I wet the bed a few times and my bladder has felt “blocked”. After relentlessly going to the doctors there was no explanation. So although I’m aware of the downsides I’m facing now and still to come I think after 7 years of this kind of sh*t it’s time to try face things on my own!

    • David January 11, 2016, 3:58 am

      Hi Belinda, I just read your comments regarding bladder issues. I had real problems during the first few weeks of taking pristiq with the ‘blocked’ feeling you describe. It would take me forever to go & even then it was only small amounts at a time so I was going to the toilet repeatedly all day. I described the symptom to my doctor who hadn’t heard of the problem before, so in a way it’s ‘good’ to hear someone else has had similar problems.

      I think a lot of the doctors really are not aware of just how severe & varying pristiq side-effects can be. Anyway, I’ve been tapering off & plan to stop taking them this weekend. Fingers crossed it’s not too bad.

  • Erica November 24, 2015, 6:57 pm

    First off, thank you all for sharing your stories, I feel so much better knowing that I am not alone battling this horrible withdrawal. I have been on some sort of Anti Depressant for 13 years, and on Pristiq for 7 years. I knew I wanted to get off them a few years back but have been living abroad and wanted to wait until I was in a place with a solid support system.

    I decided to try to taper off of Pristiq a month ago, first I was trying to space out the dosage (50mg/day), I got unto 58 hours between dosages and then got a massive headache out of the blue while working out. I had never experienced a pain like this while working out and knew something was off. It turned into a migraine that lasted nearly 2 days.

    I decided to try to lessen the time between and take only half the dosage, and have been doing that for the last week. I also took a few days off the gym (I am training for an event and thought maybe I was over training and that is where the headache was from). Last night I was warming up on the rower and within a minute the same, pulsating headache came. It is distinctly on the left side and so powerful you just want to curl up in a ball in the dark and be left alone.

    I’ve read that others experience headaches, nausea, and the electric zaps, and am curious if anyone else’s headaches are as intense? I have been hesitant to go to a doctor about this because I feel like they will try to keep me on some sort of medication and I want to see who I am without medication. Would love anyone’s input.

  • Susan Roland November 26, 2015, 11:21 am

    Thankfully now there’s a 25 mg dose of Pristiq and my psychiatrist has been tapering me off of it. I am going through withdrawal from it and am finding it much easier than previous withdrawal from Effexor. The one thing that I am noticing is restless leg syndrome during the night. I have never had this before and it is disconcerting.

  • Annie Peteran November 28, 2015, 11:11 pm

    I suffer from depression and anxiety. I was taking 100mg Pristiq and 10mg Lexapro. I had to switch doctors and he changed me to 150 Zoloft. I have been having many of the symptoms here and it’s been over 30 days. I thought the Zoloft would pick up where Pristiq left off. Could I still be dealing with the withdrawal effects of Pristiq?

  • Mary Ferguson December 15, 2015, 7:20 am

    I was prescribed Pristiq instead of HRT. This was done without consultation regarding what Pristiq really is – an antidepressant. I had been experiencing hot flushes but nothing too significant and was not suffering from depression or anxiety. Recently, after reading sites like this one, I decided to stop taking this hideous drug. I had tried previously but the brain zaps were too severe.

    I am a very mild epileptic and the zaps were debilitating. I decided to cut the tablets even though it is not recommended because of the slow release factor. I took a month to wind down the tablets with first taking three quarters for a week, then a half and then a quarter. This worked very well for me but it was not a smooth road. The zaps were harsh but not as bad as going cold turkey. There is also the diarrhea and nausea.

    I am now nearly six weeks on and I am feeling much better. I feel that the main contributing factor to my successful withdrawal was that I really wanted to get off this medication. Antidepressants are not the answer for menopause symptoms and the pros and cons should be discussed fully with the patient should any GP decide that it is. Thank goodness for the Internet and the ability to research these medications and other people’s opinions.

  • Veronica December 17, 2015, 3:43 am

    I have been on pristiq for over a year. I was careless and ran out of half a dose one day, and had to go a day and a half without any at all. I am on 100mg, which my psych hated doing. I wasn’t thrilled myself, because one day, I will have to taper off it. Within 24 hours, I started to feel withdrawal, all but the brain zaps (thank god, I hate those). This experience has made me far more wary of this drug. It works for me, but if for some reason I cannot pay the copay, I know I will have to be rushed to the hospital.

    I was a mess, and haven’t been that bad for a long time. All from a few days of not having it. I sadly need to be on this, but it helps. The huge downside is, that I find I have a plethora of these side effects from taking it.. Shakes, bp elevation, sweating, headaches… For now, nothing else is an option. I have been in bed all day though from fatigue of shocking my system with 100mg again. That truly shows how influential this drug is on the system, and that terrifies me.

  • Linda December 17, 2015, 3:57 pm

    This drug almost killed my fiancé’. He has bipolar, so he is on more than one medication. It’s a nasty disease itself and then to add pristiq… He is being tapered, but he is still withdrawing severely!!! He wants to tell all out there that sees this… Don’t let any Dr. Give you this. He was on it 15 months. Went from 50-100. Wasn’t feeling right so asked the physician to take him off it.

    She explained it’s hard, but gave him a paper to follow the taper directions. He has up to 90 days of pure hell… Do your research and it will blow your mind. For the people that have been on it a long time. May god be with you. Take it one day at a time…

    • Lori Lovison December 30, 2015, 4:45 am

      Linda – I have been on Pristiq for about 2 years. Withdrawal has been like living in a nightmare! Physically sick. Was laying around in bed for about 3 days. Slept on and off during the day and had the weirdest dreams/nightmares. Even had nightmares during the day while napping. I have felt disconnected to myself. Quit cold turkey December 22nd. Sick to my stomach, achy flue like symptoms, headache.

      I’ll bet this runs a close second to heroin withdrawal. My fiancee thinks I need to be on it because of my depression, but got tired of feeling absolutely “nothing” at all. Felt like a zombie. He even thinks that my snoring has gotten worse since I have gotten off of it. Don’t care what he thinks, I am already starting to feel so much better physically and mentally! This is a devil drug. My suggestion is to never try it or use it!!

  • lauren December 19, 2015, 8:10 am

    Hi everyone, I’m hoping to find SOME encouraging words here. I’ve been on pristiq for about 4 years at the 100mg dose. I recently (unexpectedly) became pregnant and my husband and I really don’t want me to continue taking this while being pregnant. Fortunately, I learned of the pregnancy very early on and I immediately spoke with my doctor.

    He pushed me down to 50mg for 3 weeks and now has me cutting the 50mg in half for 5 days and then stopping completely. My doctor said that even though they advise not to cut the pill in half, it is ok for short-term tapering purposes. I will say, moving down to 50mg has helped my withdrawal symptoms be less severe than what I experienced when I ever accidentally missed a 100mg dose… but i’m on day 4 and really scared to stop after day 5.

    I’m already experiencing brain zaps, dizziness, headaches, and everything else that everyone is talking about. So if I’m already having this with just the 50mg reduction, I’m terrified about being completely off. Combine this with a pretty hellish first trimester of morning sickness, etc. and I am a very unhappy camper.

    I don’t want to give up and I want a pregnancy clear of any anti-depressants, but I’m soon terrified of the withdrawals. Can someone please give me some hope and/or anything you were able to do that helped with these awful symptoms? :(

    • Amanda January 24, 2016, 5:30 am

      Curious how everything is going. I am going to start getting off the drug as I am hoping to get pregnant summer/fall. Has the baby been great motivation for you?

      • Jo March 17, 2016, 2:26 pm

        To be honest – the withdrawal symptoms after not taking 50mg for 2 days (by accident) are the same severity as stopping my 10mg dose on purpose. Hang in there.

  • Lori December 20, 2015, 10:33 pm

    Today is my 5th day off Pristiq… what a wicked evil drug. I’m so fatigued and have brain zaps. Has anybody experienced an aching body? It’s like I’m burning. An awful feeling, hope it gets better soon or cry, wow can’t stop.

    • Melissa January 3, 2016, 8:03 pm

      YES! I had body aches the entire time that I tapered off of it! 5 longs weeks. I am now on my 7th day of no medication. It has been a very long week.

  • Brandi December 25, 2015, 3:18 pm

    I recently stopped taking Pristiq 50mg. I am 5 months pregnant, and spent the first 4.5 months with horrible morning sickness. I’m not sure if my medication ever stayed in my system because I was throwing up 10-12 times a day. I kept taking Pristiq at my doctors recommendation that the benefits outweighed the risk to my child. After doing lots and lots of research I decided to stop taking it.

    The only major side effects I’ve encountered are insomnia, and horrible sweating. I wish I had decided to do this at the beginning of my pregnancy instead of half way through. My hormones are not helping with my crazy emotions. Has anyone stayed on Pristiq during pregnancy? I do not plan on staying on this, but I am nervous that this could have harmed my baby.

  • David January 2, 2016, 5:07 am

    Thanks to all those who have posted their experiences here. I came across this site while searching for info in cutting pristiq tablets in half, as I have been on 100mg for about 3 months after 3 months on 50mg, & feel like they are no longer working other than for the foggy thinking which I have had enough of. So I had the idea of tapering off for few weeks on 50mg before going cold turkey, but see there are conflicting views (here & elsewhere) as to cutting these tablets.

    Only one way to find out I guess, so will try a half dose tomorrow. As for side-effects, I had awful side-effects for the first week after starting on pristiq (headaches, insomnia, bladder issues, electric shocks) & almost stopped taking them, so can only imagine what withdrawal will be like, not looking forward to this at all.

  • Victoria January 3, 2016, 10:52 pm

    Day 3. Tapered from 200mg to 50mg about a year ago. Script ran out, pharmacy closed due to holidays, decided to ride it out. Been here 4 times in the past and chickened out on Day 4. I work for myself from home and money is tight, so I’m nervous about being able to support myself if I get really sick. I don’t (yet) have any psychological symptoms, mainly zaps and dizziness at this stage.

    I am ready to once again experience the full range of emotions, instead of numbing them. Good and bad. If I do start getting anxiety or depression that I can’t handle (as opposed to being in situations where a bit of anxiety and feeling down are actually normal) I will see my psychologist, who is wonderful. Pristiq didn’t improve my life. In retrospect, instead of going the drug route, I wish I’d committed to more exercise, yoga, meditation and good food.

    I am clear that I could be in better physical health before quitting BUT I also realize I’ll never take the steps to get healthy while I’m on the drug. I have read that magnesium, zinc, omegas and B complex vitamins are a godsend while weaning off. I am giving myself today to stay in bed and rest, tomorrow I ‘act normal’. I get up, get dressed, walk the dogs, eat breakfast, talk to people. Let my body heal itself. And help it do so.

    I WILL NOT let this drug run my life anymore. As an aside, the doctor who initially prescribed me Pristiq actually Googled it in front of me. She had never heard of it. You could almost call it malpractice.

  • Terry January 4, 2016, 7:51 am

    I’m on day 6 of being pristiq free and the only 2 side effects now are insomnia and restless legs at night. I was on 100mg tabs and went to 50 then I did actually cut those in half. The weaning off wasn’t bad, but the sleep issues are wreaking havoc. Anyone have a similar experience?

  • Anthony January 11, 2016, 8:25 am

    Hi all, so my partner has been on pristiq for about 2 yrs 50mg. We have talked a lot about getting her off it, we both believe she got on it for the wrong reasons but if she misses even a day, all the things talked about in the above comments happen pretty dam quick (sickness, etc). Basically I want to ask anyone who is in the process of quitting or has quit, would it possible to quit this drug with the following taken into account…
    -I work away on a 4-1 roster
    -We have 4 children 8,6,3 and 6 months (the last is still being breast-fed)

    Now obviously we will be talking to a Dr about it before we do anything, but I really wanted to hear from people actually quitting. All the above stuff sounds scary as hell and I didn’t realize what a nightmare situation we’d be in if/when she wants to stop taking the drug. Being the sole provider for my family I’m wondering if I will need to take a month off work (not sure if this is an option, more just an idea right now), and wondering if we should wait for the youngest child to stop breast feeding. Any thoughts?

  • Becky January 19, 2016, 4:46 am

    I have no psychiatrist until Feb 1. My primary does not feel comfortable with psych drugs. My new medicare plan does not have pristiq in its formulary. I tried getting into the psych earlier, but not going to happen. So I have to taper my pristiq myself, unfortunately. I am on 200mg and already having problems. What I have to do is go as long as I can without a dose then take it, 100mg pills 2x a day.

    Today the headaches started. I have had to go off effexor and pristiq and other meds cold turkey, not easy. I wonder if taking a small dose of tramadol would help since it increases serotonin levels and is not an antidepressant, classed as a pain killer. I am also getting a device called an Alpha-Stim that treats depression, anxiety, and pain, the sooner the better. I am hoping it will help the withdrawal. Going downhill fast, but I do know that this won’t last and I will feel much better off the drug.

    My pain levels from several neurologic diseases is going much higher than usual and that also is due to the withdrawal. The worst is Trigeminal Neuralgia and Occipital Neuralgia listed under some of the most painful disorders known to man. Just trying to avoid the ER for as long as I can. Right now, my legs d on’t feel like they belong to me, so I am back to mobility devices for balance and proprioception.

    I am calling my primary after sending an email to explain things clearly, the triage nurses don’t have enough time to listen as carefully as needed. Back to treating my face pain, ear drops for the horrible ear pain. ER tomorrow possibly – puke and gag, I more than hate the place, tired of being thought a drug seeker or worse. I am getting the alpha-stim so I can reduce or eliminate my opiate pain killers and applying for medical marijuana which is not a narcotic, despite what the DEA says.

    It is legal at the federal level now so I have no hesitation in using it. The more ways I have to treat my depression in addition to pills or instead of them, the happier I will be. Especially since I have tried all the antidepressants for my recurrent, treatment resistant depression. I sure won’t miss pristiq once the discontinuation is over and it is out of my system too.

  • Nicky January 19, 2016, 3:31 pm

    400 mg daily for 4+ years. Been tapering down for 3+ months now. Today is day 2 of not taking any. I’m in hell and have been for a long time. Can’t function any longer.

    • Amanda January 24, 2016, 5:22 am

      Hang in there Nicky. My counselor recommended I set daily goal in five areas… You don’t have to do all five but do what you can. They all play a huge part in balancing ourselves.

      1. Exercise
      2. Diet
      3. Prayer
      4. Fun
      5. Rest

      Don’t give up! See if there is a counselor near by you can talk to. I haven’t been in a year but I continue to go back to what ey told me when I feel down. I plan to go back too while getting off pristiq as I am sure I will be in for some bad days.

      Prayers for your journey!

  • JO January 20, 2016, 12:21 am

    I am just starting to wean off Pristiq. My doc has recommended 3 months on a half dose, then dropping to every second day for a further month and then see how I’m travelling. I am now extremely worried about how I will cope with withdrawal after reading all of these posts. It seems that this is going to be a very rough few months. After 3 days I am already becoming emotional, tired, dizzy and have a feeling of utter confusion.

  • Angela January 20, 2016, 12:23 pm

    Day 3 without taking pristiq. This is hell! I can’t eat, I can barely have a glass of water without feeling so full and nauseous! I cry randomly, my face just scrunches up and the balling beings and it hurts! Head is spinning constantly, I cant stand up long or sit long or even consider thinking (I am having a good hour at the moment so I can write this).

    I sleep all the time and thats weird as its 40 degree Celsius heat here. So naturally I have sweats! I had a cold bath and nearly drowned myself in there, on purpose, but its clear I want to live. I think I am having that depersonalization or whatever it was called. And definitely hopeless, anxious (I couldn’t put my dog to bed because there’s a forest out there and it’s scary – there is no forest out there, it is relatively safe – and now I keep hearing scary noises!)

    This is very real, it is scary, but got to hope its for the best! Best advice is to have support!

  • jeannie January 23, 2016, 2:23 am

    Hi, progressively over the last 12 moths reduced from 400mg day to 50, been on the damn junk for 6 years… Now the hard work begins. I’m sort of accustomed to chills, weight fluctuations, swings in eating, sleeping, energy, oh and sex-drive took it self off on leave. I have managed to hold down a professional job these past 3 years, been a bit interesting at times, but hey, so is life. Now comes exciting part of final withdrawal. It will be HARD. But came off SSRIs about 26 years ago, and got through it OK. So hey, press on. Do the deed do the time. Watch out for me….

    • Wendy April 5, 2016, 12:10 am

      How is it going for you Jeannie?

  • Amanda January 24, 2016, 5:10 am

    Reading these post has me ready and scared all at the same time. I have been on pristiq since June 2014, 50mg the whole time. I have not has many negative symptoms since being on the drug butnI would have to say I feel more forgetful about basic things. I tend to miss a pill every now and then and notice on day two when the Brian ZAPS start in. THOSE SUCK!

    My husband and I are planning on trying to start a family in the summer or early fall. My hope is that my faith in God and my motivation to start a family will be enough to push through the difficult moments/days/weeks… What ever is a head of me. I plan to talk to my doctor but honestly he is in and out the door so fast Im not sure what good it will do.

    Peace of mind for myself that I saw a professional I guess. Not sure when my journey getting off pristiq will begin but I am very glad to find others out there to talk with that UNDERSTAND. Thanks for sharing everyone! Amanda

  • Cassandra January 24, 2016, 9:40 pm

    Day 10 off my dose of Pristiq and I have chills and anger/frustration, also muscle pain. A bit of sleep loss but I have been forcing it. Concerned about further withdrawal, but determined to see this through.

  • Celia Powers January 24, 2016, 10:43 pm

    I am on my second week of no pristiq. I am still extremely dizzy, can’t sleep at night and having hot flushes and night sweats. I am now having bouts of crying. I was on 100mg for 3 years. I’m determined to stay off them, but I sure hope these symptoms stop soon.

  • CazPerth January 26, 2016, 7:03 am

    Today is 30 days since my last dose of Pristiq. I was on it for 10 years varying between 100mg and 50 mg. Many times I tried tapering and every other day etc but always gave up and went back to it because I felt so sick within 48 hours. This time around the difference is I went in to a clinic for 7 days and my psych dosed me up with 4 x 10mg valium daily and introduced 20mg then 40 mg of Prozac.

    During the 7 days the valium was decreased and now I only use it occasionally at 2mg doses to cope with anxiety (I didn’t have anxiety before, it is a lingering withdrawal symptom). The plan is to taper of Prozac eventually. We are also trialling Valdoxen at night to help with insomnia, it really knocks me out but I am concerned about liver damage from it so will see how the blood tests look.

    I understand 7 days in a clinic is not possible for everyone but some doctor monitored at home variation may be possible so I thought I’d share the treatment plan. Overall, apart from zero appetite and the generalized anxiety I feel really positive that I’ve finally beat Pristiq.

  • Leah January 26, 2016, 11:49 am

    I have just read all the posts here. My heart goes out to everyone experiencing the pain of coming off this poison. I was given the crap by my GP when pristiq first became available in Australia. It’s been many years, I have forgotten the year he started me on 50mg. I wasn’t given it for depression. It was told to me that it was a new wonder drug that would help my fatigue symptoms of the autoimmune disease I have.

    My kids were young, and I needed to have more energy. He told me no side effects, very safe yadda yadda. At first it really felt like I had loads of energy, then my fatigue returned. Like a zombie, I kept taking the 50mg daily, and I never questioned myself. Kids grew up and flew the nest. Without them there, I began to let housework go and felt like clutter was drowning me.

    It wasn’t fatigue I always get from my illness, that is still here, but I was always able to push thru that. This feeling I have is like something I never experienced. Say I go to put stuff away, and I just can’t function to do it. Not a strenuous task, but it does my head in. I’m struggling to get out of bed, yet I don’t even care. Sometimes I don’t bother answering my phone, or answering the door to friends.

    Hubby and I have become like we are just 2 people sharing a house. I have no romantic emotions whatsoever, no interest in life anymore, and I used to be such a strong person. I was not going to mention this, but just maybe someone will read this and it may help. I was not depressed when given this poison, but it sure took me down a dark and scary road. About a year ago, I woke up one morning and decided out of the blue I was going to end my life.

    I tried, thankfully I was unsuccessful. I landed myself in a mental hospital. That was different. I was told to increase my pristiq to 100mg. I did what they said, because at that stage I had no idea the pristiq may have caused all of my severe personality changes. I was also suffering chronic insomnia, constipation, no appetite, hot flushes, fatigue beyond my wildest dreams, back pain, headaches, nausea, sinus infections, mania, the list is endless.

    The hardest thing to live with is I almost left my beautiful children without their mum. Something I am still struggling to forgive myself for, I don’t think I can ever. I was googling pristiq cos after going up to 100mg, I began stacking on weight, even tho I had no appetite. That’s when I read other people’s horror stories. How could I have been so stupid not to realize that my life went down the toilet the time I started taking pristiq all them years ago.

    Went straight to my GP, and told him I want off this shit. He put me straight back down to 50mg from 100. I did it without tapering, and had no side effects at all. I know it will not be so easy when I get off the 50mg. I experienced horrible side effects once when I had gastro and kept spewing and pooping them out. I did have an idea, not sure how it would work, but I will put it here in case it’s a good idea.

    Get a compounding chemist to make up some new pristiq in 45mg, 40mg, 35mg etc in slow release. Could give them the pristiq out your pack to break down. Do it by lowering the dose gradually and in smaller increments until we are free. Thanks for reading, it feels good to get this off my chest. A lot of doctors hate us reading stuff online. Can’t get better advice and knowledge than from someone walking the same walk.

    I sure appreciate everyone who has publicly shared their very personal stories. Sometimes I say to doctors who criticize info online: “I would probably be dead if the internet wasn’t invented.” Good luck and hope to all of us getting off this nightmare that was given to us with out informed warnings. Disgusting. Shame on the lot of them.

    • Jo March 17, 2016, 2:13 pm

      I got a compounding pharmacist to make me a whole bunch of 10mg XR capsules so that I could taper down myself from the 50mg I was on. Yesterday I took my very last 10mg tablet, I’ve decided. It’s taken MONTHS. The side effects are pretty awful, but the withdrawals are even worse. I want this stuff out of my body. Best of luck.

  • Don January 28, 2016, 12:18 pm

    Hi everyone, I find the comments here very useful indeed. I went to my doctor and told him I wanted off of this stuff. I forgot to take it for 5 days once and was only sleeping a couple of hours a day and hallucinating. Another time I forgot for 2 days and had sensory overload… like a sound I heard 30 seconds ago was still echoing in my head along with all the other sounds.

    Anyway I went to my new doc and said I wanted off of it because it was too dangerous when I forgot to take it. He put me on lithium – lowest dosage- and said I could stop cold turkey. I was too afraid of the side effects so we agreed on continuing with 1 50mg for one week and then every second day for a week. I am now 4 days without and am functioning.

    Today I was going to cut down the Lithium because I thought it was giving me the side effects of stomach pains, loose bowels, overheating and wacky feelings or no feelings. Now I see from reading your posts that I was wrong and that I am still going through Pristiq withdrawal. Thank all of you!

  • Shaun January 30, 2016, 12:31 pm

    My experience has been that by the 3rd day of no longer taking Pristiq, I have a loud, constant ringing in my ears which is amplified whenever I blink, move my eyes or there is a loud sound/noise. I am experiencing brain zaps which I have described as “fireworks”. Some days its about a “firework” every couple minutes and some times its like the grand finale of the fireworks show with dozens of zaps going off at the same time for several minutes.

    I do feel the foggy and dreamlike state of mind as in, it just seems that everything going on around me isn’t real. Almost like I am “drunk”. I have only had one crying spell that lasted all of 2 minutes. I have been on Pristiq 50mg for 6 months. My plan for tapering is to only take the drug when the symptoms are at their peak. This gives me 3-5 days off, then over time it becomes 5-7 days off and so on.

    I’ll be glad to be rid of this drug, but overall it did a fantastic job of helping me control my depression during my time of need. I started on Lexapro, and let’s just say that I will NEVER take that again! With any drug, over time and the longer we are on it, there will be nasty side effects when we go to taper off. Everyone is different and you will have to create your own personal plan.

    These aren’t “normal” pills, these are to bridge our gaps in times of need. Good luck and don’t give up! You’ll make it!

  • cindy February 4, 2016, 10:28 pm

    I was put on Pristiq in 2009, was taking 100 mg, then 150 and back to 100. I am on a different antidepressant now. So with my doctor’s permission I went off Pristiq a month ago. I am experiencing major withdrawal symptoms. I had the zapping last over 2 weeks and tingling in my legs and face. I am not sleeping much at night (even on sleep meds) and crying on and off at cartoons! I’m nauseated daily and have migraines daily. Also blurred vision when I have migraines. I will be glad when things begin to balance better.

  • Christine February 11, 2016, 7:36 pm

    I stopped taking on December 11, 2015. I decreased my dose to every other day then every third then stopped. It helped with some of the brutal SE’s but I am still experiencing dizziness and difficulty focusing and articulating. The dizziness is severe enough I have fallen several times. I’m becoming concerned.

  • Margaret February 13, 2016, 4:16 am

    Thanks to all who have contributed to this site. Helpful to find that I’m not alone in trying to come off Pristiq. I’ve been on it for almost 3 years. Started at 50mg and for the last few months have been on 150. When I was still feeling ill on that my psych upped it to 200 even though I wanted to reduce it.

    I’ve never been so sick in all my life so I went back to 150mg. Psych agreed to let me go to 100mg which I’ve taken for 6 days. First 5 days all was good. Today not feeling so well – foggy head, headaches, sweating profusely, crying spells. Hope I can get off this medication. I wish all of you on this site success.

  • Caitlin February 14, 2016, 11:30 am

    I have been forced to go “cold-turkey” as I am on holidays and forgot my script. After 3 days is when I began to get symptoms, severe heart palpitations, dizziness and chronic mood swings followed by flu-like symptoms and emotions I just want to run away from. I never even thought of withdrawal symptoms as my doctor explained there was no possibility of addiction I didn’t realize I would experience what I am.

    And to be honest, I’m going to put up with it and get this drug out of my system. Feeling like I am now is worse than how I felt before I was even taking pristiq and I know I don’t want to experience this again. Can anyone recommend ways in which may get me through this a little easier?

  • Tracy February 17, 2016, 10:08 pm

    Hello. I just took my last pristiq tablet on February 9th. My GP was really good at working out a tapering plan that worked for me with minimal side effects. But we did have a plan B just in case… my GP said that often people go on prozac for 10 days to replace the pristiq. Apparently prozac has a longer half life and weans out of your system more slowly with much fewer side effects. Something to consider for those of you that are really struggling.

    • Margaret February 21, 2016, 10:09 am

      Hi Tracy, Can you share your plan for coming off Pristiq. Would really appreciate knowing how you did it. Thanks.

  • Anita February 24, 2016, 4:21 pm

    I was on 50mg for 18 months and this is my 3rd week of withdrawal. 1st week I took every other day, 2nd week every 3rd day & today I stopped completely. I felt like continuing to take it every 3rd day would prolong the symptoms but that remains to be seen. I don’t consider myself sensitive to drugs and no one mentioned withdrawals.

    Thankfully after 6 days of feeling like I was going crazy I looked up possible side effects of withdrawal and there they were. I can’t remember ever feeling this off-kilter. Brain zaps, foggy, emotional, crying, tingling sensations, sensitivity to lights and sounds, unable to concentrate and headaches. The headaches remain but thankfully everything else seems to be getting better.

  • Monica February 28, 2016, 12:14 am

    Against my better judgement, I allowed my doctor to talk me into taking Pristiq 50 mg. By the second dose, I developed severe eye issues, but did not connect it to Pristiq until the 4th dose. I stopped immediately. The blurry vision cleared up almost immediately, but I was left with light sensitivity, which is a very scary matter.

    When I informed my doctor about my eye issues, he admitted that he didn’t even know what serious eye issues can develop from Pristiq. I am not a young person and he is a geriatric doctor. I would have thought that he would have taken the time to find out what effects this drug can have on people, especially older people who don’t bounce back as well as younger ones.

    I never heard from him again, even though I called him trying to get more information about the drug. I am now on day six off the drug. The light sensitivity is improving very slowly and I am extremely anxious about it. I haven’t experienced any withdrawal symptoms so far other than I feel a little headachy tonight.

    I hope that I am at least spared withdrawal issues as I still have to contend with side effects. I am glad I found this forum to share my experience on.

  • Ric March 2, 2016, 6:24 am

    Been coming off of Pristiq for about 4 weeks now. Began by taking probiotics and stretching out the ingestion of Pristiq doses: 24 hours, then 25, then 26, etc. since the drug stays in your gut about 60 hours. It was ok at first, then got the brain zaps – first time I have ever had them and did not know what they were called until lots of Googling came across the terminology.

    I have been weepy at times – strange too. I am still on a low dose of Wellbutrin (for many years) and hope to someday wean myself off of that too. Sick and tired of having the depression monkey on my back, so I got serious about exercising too. Anyway, about a month ago I came across some natural remedies from Dr. Amen (Nuclear Brain Scans is his claim to fame).

    Serotonin is created in your gut, so be sure to take varieties of probiotics that will produce what your body/brain is currently lacking. Also check out Dr. Amens supplements. You can help your body heal itself. I haven’t felt this good in years, and I have just begun to fight.

  • AN March 4, 2016, 8:53 pm

    I had terrible withdrawal symptoms from Pristiq. To this day my psychiatrist dismisses what I went through as withdrawal. I switched to Prozac over a week or two. I was a complete mess for about a month. I could not function at all. I couldn’t eat or sleep and was even having trouble standing up. I finally went to my family doctor for help.

    He is the one that explained to me that I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I had not even thought of that. I finally convinced my psychiatrist to give me Xanax which I would take 1/2 a pill in the morning and another half later in the day only if I needed it. The Xanax helped me to function enough to wait out the withdrawal. I know Xanax is a highly abused medicine and I had never taken it before.

    I just knew I needed something to calm down my body. I had switched anti-depressants within the SSRI family with no problem so this was a complete surprise for me. I thought I was losing my mind. This is a very real thing and should not be ignored. I would not recommend Pristiq to anyone. There has to be a safer alternative.

  • Linds March 6, 2016, 7:47 am

    I’m currently using 50 mg of pristiq. But lately I feel as though I’m not as happy as I used to be when it first started working. It used to work great for me and now it’s like halfway through the day my body starts to tingle and I feel like I’m in a rush to take it the next day to make it go away. Even if I miss one day by accident, my brain zaps can become so severe that I literally feel blind for a split second. It is the worst feeling in the world. I was considering raising my dose because I feel like it’s not working as well as it used to but not I feel like it is just not worth it… I just want to be free from this medication.

    • Jane March 20, 2016, 8:19 pm

      Sounds like it’s time to say goodbye to Pristiq.

  • Jo March 17, 2016, 1:09 pm

    I found a compounding pharmacist to make Pristiq into 10mg capsules for me to taper, as I couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms that happened every 2nd day with my 50mg tablets. I took 4omg for a week, then 30, then 20, then 10 – I’ve just finished taking 10mg every 36 hours for a week because of the withdrawal symptoms of not taking it for just one day. TEN MILLIGRAMS and I am still facing these horrible symptoms. I hate this.

    • Michael March 21, 2016, 2:48 pm

      Errrr… Pristiq is a time release tablet. You found a compounding pharmacist?

  • Oliver Max March 18, 2016, 10:35 pm

    I have been on Pristiq 100mg for about 7 weeks and found it increased my anxiety so I met with my doctor and asked to switch. Very scared due to all the comments on here but at least I’ve only been on it for 7 weeks compared to several years like some of you. I trust my doctor and she is not tapering me.

    My last Pristiq was Wed and started me on 40mg of Prozac yesterday (Thursday). And she told me to go up to 50mg of Prozac after a week. She seems to think my withdrawal will not be bad as Prozac is being used and we are going to try to keep on that long term. Very scared but have to do this. I hope my family will not be too traumatized.

  • Michael March 21, 2016, 2:44 pm

    I’m a 30 year old male. I’ve been taking Pristiq for 7 years. Throughout that times I’ve been back and forth from 100mg to 50mg. The last year always 50mg. I’d had enough and wanted to stop. After many failed attempts due to not being able to handle the symptoms, I decided to give it a really good go. — You must completely stop Pristiq cold turkey, I’ve seen comments on here with people cutting tablets, taking them every second day etc.

    It’s terrible advice. However, a lot of general practitioners don’t know too much about antidepressants, they really don’t. Anyway, it’s been 4 weeks now. The first week was really sh*t – the ‘brain zaps’ as people call them were most active through this period. As well as some headaches, dizziness, vertigo. By the 5th day, I felt terrible, but, I also felt literally like a genius. My ability to concentrate and plan, problem solve was extraordinary.

    That unfortunately only lasted 2 days. Things started to get better as far as the dizziness and brain zaps subsided. But, now after 4 weeks, I’m finding it very difficult to deal with stress, I feel anger and rage and helplessness often. My concentration is shocking and I feel like I have early onset dementia. I’m really pissed off with life right now. Humans can be really sh*t… like the ones that design these nasty pharmaceutical drugs.

    My advice, get off them ASAP and never go back. I’m not sure how long this will take, but I’m never going back. Michael.

  • Sue March 21, 2016, 3:34 pm

    I was taking Pristiq for years. I couldn’t sleep and thought it was my anxiety, so the doctor put me on sleeping pills also, Clonazepam. I decided to go off with every other day for a week then cold turkey. Also stopped taking all other medication at the same time. That was 3 months ago. I experienced all the withdrawal symptoms.

    I discovered that it was the Pristiq that gave me the insomnia I sleep like a baby now… which I am angry at… because not sleeping was causing most of my anxiety. I am still experiencing the sweating… day and night. Oh and now that I am off it my doctor discovered I have high blood pressure… I am not sure if that is a symptom of the withdrawal or not… now I am on high blood pressure medication.

    Just wondering if anyone else has had this happen to them? Thanks.

  • JJ Miller March 22, 2016, 1:19 am

    Hello all… I have been on antidepressants for over 25 years and have was on Effexor but found it not working so was put on Pristiq. I have been on Pristiq for a few years now… Am very surprised to read how and why Pristiq really shouldn’t be working properly as an antidepressant, yet somehow it does…. Maybe it is a “placebo” effect or something, but it has obviously worked well for thousands.

    I’m a bit perplexed… I’m mainly writing today to ask WHY WHY WHY WHY, when given so much information about withdrawal of drugs, and especially Pristiq would ANYBODY choose to not follow the instructions properly? WHY would you NOT take proper professional advise and taper off VERY slowly. I cannot emphasis enough the “WHY” in gods name would you ever go cold turkey?

    You obviously must know way more than the professionals for you to be doing the exact opposite of what they are recommending. Stop playing the hero, your body and brain will thank you for it. And from the descriptions so will your friends and family. Reading so many blogs of people obviously just “doing their own thing” on withdrawing, and going through horrendous experiences. It’s total madness.

    After reading all of this information on Pristiq withdrawal I can assure you if and when I ever come off I will be using Effexor and coming off very very very slowly…

  • Cat March 25, 2016, 12:32 am

    Pristiq withdrawals – very real, really horrible. Day 32 and I am STILL on the net looking for answers to stop the withdrawals. Insomnia, aggression, headaches, aches all over the body, skin breakouts and restless legs, to name a few. I did the tapering off of 50mg over 2 weeks and now it is just over a month since my last pill and I seem to be finding new withdrawal symptoms each week!

    I was encouraged to take Pristiq by a doctor after my 23 year marriage broke up and I was suffering emotionally. I had never suffered any form of depression prior. I have been taking it for 6 years and now that I am off of it, I feel like I need the drug to function – which is very sad. I feel horrible and finding it difficult to control my anger.

    My family and friends have noticed a negative change too, but it’s nothing compared to what’s going on inside of me!! Feeling like crap!! Hopefully I am on the final leg of kicking this drug and it’s nasty effects! 😳

  • Elle March 26, 2016, 11:56 am

    I have read quite a few comments here about Pristiq and I am surprised. I found it to work highly effectively for me at 50mg. There were times when I ‘lost my sh*t’ in the early days, but I pin point this to my mental state and not the drug. Fatigue, dizziness, nausea and lack of concentration were the side effects in the beginning but these passed within a week or two.

    Of course, if I forgot to take a tablet, then I’d feel dizziness and super tired – so it didn’t take long for me to be more habitual with them. I have never felt so good and can see the joy again and so after almost a year, I spoke to my GP about getting off them. She advised cutting the tabs into halves and then into quarters over a few weeks – which I did. No issues until I tapered completely off them. The first thing I noticed was the dizziness.

    Fatigue, lack of concentration, body aches and irritability began soon after. I’ve had bouts of depressive sadness and crying, and feeling as if I can’t go on… but after sleep and talking with a loved one, I can see through the clouds. It’s been a week and I am still suffering them but less and less. The dizziness is the only side effect that is lingering the worst… I’m going to go back to see my GP again this week to see if she can help.

  • A March 26, 2016, 7:59 pm

    I was on Effexor, then Pristiq for 6 years for hot flashes after ovary removal. I wanted to get off Pristiq but was in the same situation as many: 50mg per day, time release, no lower dosage. My doctor told me to split the pills, which I did once, and I took about a fourth in the morning with the idea of taking another fourth in the evening. By the time the evening came I had severe muscle cramps and a fever of 103.

    So, that wasn’t going to work. I finally decided to just increase the time between doses by one hour each day. This seemed to be the best choice: 1st day, 25 hours, 2nd day, 26 hours, etc. until I reached a point of needing to sleep overnight. I took the next dose as soon as I woke and would stay at that time for 3 to 4 days: Example, every 30 to 36 hours. I continued in this pattern until I reached time between doses of 48, then 60 hours plus or minus.

    I had gotten to the point of taking a 50 mg tablet every third or fourth day. Then one day I took a tablet and had such a strange feeling that I decided to quit entirely. That was my last dose. It took 7 to 8 months to get off Pristiq and it has been about 4 years. I did have some jitteriness and dizziness but that was the worst of it.

    If I had known how difficult it was to quit the Pristiq, I would have stayed with Effexor which comes in as low as 37.5 mg tablets and a non-time release form that can be split. Hope this helps someone.

  • Melissa April 9, 2016, 8:26 pm

    At first, this was a wonder drug for me, but then it didn’t seem to be working as well, so my doctor doubled my dosage from 50mg to 100mg. I have been on 100mg for almost 3 years now. After realizing the medicine was no longer working for me and I hated feeling absolutely numb to everything, I decided it was time to come off the meds. When I contacted my doctor to ask the best way to taper off, he instead insisted I make an appointment to see him and he’d increase the dosage.

    This wasn’t an option for me, so after an upcoming vacation I had planned on going to another doctor to find out how to taper off the Pristiq. Fate had a different plan for me as we went on vacation and my my daughter accidentally forgot to pack my meds. Today is day ten, cold turkey. I am overwhelmed with emotions… mostly crying… but I’m okay with that.

    It feels good to be able to actually FEEL any kind of emotion again. I’ve had a few “zaps”, but the worst part for me has been what I call the “wa-wa’s”. Every time I sit up, stand up or move after sitting for awhile, I feel and hear my pulse in my ears and under my scalp. It’s the feeling you have when your blood pressure drops suddenly and you feel like you’re going to pass out.

    The intensity of the “wa-wa’s” is finally starting to go away, but honestly that has been the worst part…well until I read all this. I just assumed I was coming down with a cold, but turns out I was experiencing a lot more of the withdrawal symptoms. I still have the chills, the achy muscles, the fatigue, and the sweats if I do anything other than sit still. All these things suck, but not worse than not being able to feel any kind of emotion.

    Distraction has literally been my best friend…and my life saver at this point. I am making sure that I get out in the daylight and just absorb some sunshine when I start feeling blue. I’m talking and cuddling with my husband and kids constantly. I refuse to take any more Pristiq, no matter how bad the withdrawal is.

    Good luck to each and everyone of you. I hope you find a way that makes this process the least painful and physically taxing. Namaste.

  • Kate April 19, 2016, 3:57 am

    If you don’t want to read all this, then the most important point is that it took me 12 months to come off of Pristiq.

    I had been on Pristiq 50 mg for a year when I decided to come off because I was doing well mentally, but had gained a lot of weight and had no energy. My doctor knew I was coming off, and I saw her regularly during my withdrawal. At first I gradually introduced smaller doses, e.g. 50 mg one day, and then 3/4 of a pill (I used a pill cutter) the next, and then gradually increasing the number of 3/4 pill days, until it was time to introduce a 1/2 pill.

    This lasted about 3 months, and while it wasn’t pleasant, it was tolerable, but then I read that jumping back and forth between doses was bad for the brain. During those 3 months, I had dizziness, nausea, irritability, anxiety, and flu/cold symptoms at times. I tried to be patient with myself, and reminded myself that when withdrawing, it was normal to feel more depressed.

    However, when I tried to cut from 1/2 pill to 3/8 of a pill, it was getting harder to get a clean cut, and then I’d be left with these crumbs of a pill. Also, all of a sudden, I started having terrible panic attacks and anxiety. I felt like I was doomed to be on this evil drug forever. My doctor wasn’t really helpful.

    She kept saying that her other patients who had come off of it had just taken a few days to do it. I felt like a failure when I heard that, until I read posts like the ones on this website. It was encouraging to hear of other people’s stories, and it kept me motivated. I knew I just had to persevere and find a system that worked for me – by trial and error.

    So I went back to the doctor and this time she prescribed compounded Pristiq (in my case I think 1 ml of compounded Pristiq = 2 mg of the pill but you need to check that with the pharmacy and always keep that in mind). I’d take the compound using a syringe that could be accurately measured (the syringes got smaller over time!). That was my godsend. It was more expensive, but luckily my health insurance paid for it.

    I worked out a plan with my doctor where I’d split up the total daily dose into 3 smaller doses and take one in the morning, late afternoon, and evening. So, e.g. I’d take 2 separate doses of 3.8 ml (compounded), and 1 dose of 3.6 ml everyday for 4 days, and then go down to 1 dose of 3.8 ml, and 2 doses of 3.6 ml, etc. So, every 4-5 days, I’d reduce 0.2 ml. My doctor wrote this up as a prescription, and I’d take it to the compounding pharmacy, and they’d only make 30 days’ worth of compound at a time, because it deteriorates after that.

    So, a few days before the month was up, I’d need to be sure to phone them up to order some more, but having calculated the next month’s total (and the pharmacy would do the same), as it would getting smaller. Usually my doctor gave me a 3 month prescription of this, having worked out the daily plan so the pharmacy also knew what I was taking daily. I kept a notebook where I’d write the daily dosage (split up) everyday, and then tick off every time I took a dose.

    This was very helpful. If I knew I had to be out at the time I should take a dose, then I’d take my drug, syringe and notebook, and just be sure I stuck to my schedule as closely as possible. I continued to have dizziness, tiredness, irritability, and sometimes nausea and anxiety, but my husband was my best cheerleader, and I kept reminding myself of how far I’d come. I also took Vitamin B50.

    After 10 months, again I had terrible panic attacks that lasted a week. My heart was racing, and I went to the doctor thinking I was having heart trouble, and she said it was panic attacks. I was desperate, so she put me on Wellbutrin 150 mg while I was still withdrawing from Pristiq. This was again a godsend. Toward the end, when the daily dosage was very small, I just took it twice a day.

    I finally finished Pristiq one year after I started coming off of it. I had some mild symptoms when I finished, and still struggle with irritability (though that is also related to other things). I’m still on the Wellbutrin, and have accepted I need to be on this for awhile. I’ve since felt more energy, and my appetite has lessened a bit now that I’m only on Wellbutrin.

    Pristiq is awful; it helped me for awhile, but the negative side effects were worse. I never post on forums, but thought perhaps my experience might help someone. Stay strong, encourage yourself, be patient and take it slow, and don’t be afraid to get support when you need it.

  • Doreen April 20, 2016, 6:08 pm

    I accidentally stopped taking Pristiq 100mg cold turkey. By accidentally I really mean that I ran out on Thursday and called doctor on Monday to see if he had samples (it is becoming expensive to take this medication), he didn’t but said he would have them in a week… well to say that I have been struggling is an understatement.

    I read all the withdrawal symptoms and could check most of them off. I am thankful that I am not having suicidal thoughts! I was wondering if taking a Xanax would help alleviate some of the symptoms so that I can successfully get off of Pristiq… it has been 6 days so far… I am so sick feeling but I am determined to keep going.

    If there is anyone out there that can give me an answer regarding the Xanax… I would appreciate it… still waiting on a call back from the doctor’s office… could be forever!

  • Kris April 24, 2016, 10:09 am

    Hey y’all. I just wanted to share my story in hopes of giving someone else hope. I was on 50mg for almost 10 years. I unsuccessfully tried to get off a few years ago by going cold turkey. HUGE mistake! Hence the train I ended up back on it. I couldn’t handle the withdrawals. I have been off of this drug for almost 2 weeks now. The key is slowly tapering.

    I started by taking a pill every other day for 2 weeks. I then took 25 mg every other day for 1 week. Then I did I winged it with the 25 mg pill to see how long I could wait before having to take one. I made if without it for 2 days that time. After that I didn’t take another one again! I had minimal withdrawal symptoms doing this. I did have a little vertigo, but nothing unbearable.

    The worst is the anger outburst, irritability & insomnia. I still mostly have trouble sleeping, which is something I’ve never had trouble doing. I do feel more & more better each day & do not feel like I’m walking through like in s fog, which is how that medicine made me feel. If you’re coming off, HANG IN THERE & the key is taper slowly. Keep a chart. Make a plan & be patient. You got this!

    • Margaret April 25, 2016, 5:27 am

      Thanks Kris for this information. I’m about to come off it and this might help me. Grateful.

  • Nicola April 25, 2016, 12:49 pm

    I’ve been taking pristiq (100) for nearly 5 years. Along with other mental health support it has aided me in working through a very tough time of my life. I’ve started weaning myself off this drugs 6 weeks ago. It’s time.

    I’ve had terrible fatigue, horrible drenching sweats, paralyzing bouts of vomiting and brain zaps that frighten me. But everyday I am ecstatic that I got through that day and I feel ready and mentally prepared to brave the next day. With or without a decent night sleep. I want my brain to be free of this drug and I want my body to be rid of pain.

    If you are ready, mentally and physically, you too can do it. It is far from easy but each day is one step closer to your pristiq-free goal. Good luck.

  • Shaw Z. April 26, 2016, 10:17 pm

    I’ve been off of Pristiq (150 mg) since Saturday when I was told by my dermatologist that my biopsy results indicated that I have developed an allergy to the drug. It caused Urticaria (hives) for months which was originally thought to be Ringworm as it looked the same. I have been on Pristiq (first 50, later 100, and more recently this past fall, at 150 mg dose).

    Now, I’m very concerned about ingesting any of the competing drugs. My doctor who prescribed the dosage told me to “taper off” by reducing my dosage in half and breaking one of the 50 mg pills so that I would take 75 mg. I refused since I put myself at risk of further allergic reaction.

    Unfortunately, the alka-seltzer-like buzzing/fizzing in my head just hasn’t stopped or decreased and am very much unable to get on with my day as normal. I need answers on what to do and need them fast. Someone, please help!!!

    • Lauren May 11, 2016, 6:42 am

      Supplements such as Vitamin C, E, 5-htp, and Sam-e might help, they’re all over the counter. I found the fizzy Airbourne or Berroca vitamin C drink tabs work well. If you can get your Dr. to give you another antidepressant that you can taper off of, such as prozac. Prozac is a completely different drug and hopefully you won’t have a reaction to it, but ask your Dr. if he can recommend an antidepressant you won’t react to.

      Stay away from Effexor, it’s the closest chemically to Pristiq. Give yourself time to rest as much as possible, if your dermatologist ok’s it Benadryl might help you sleep and decrease the histamine reaction of the allergy.

  • Craig May 14, 2016, 1:15 am

    I started Pristiq 50mg in December 2011. This past February I decided I wanted to go off it and see what life is like without antidepressants. Mind you, I’d been on medication since I was 31 and self prescribed with drugs and alcohol since I was 15. I’m now 45. I tapered with Pristiq 25mg every day for two weeks and then every other day for another two weeks.

    The first month was awful. Brain zaps, agitated, crying jags, etc. The past month has been better but filled with anxiety. Every day. Not being able to breath, catastrophic thoughts, agitated, hating everything. In short, it feels like depression is back. However, it could be withdrawal type symptoms since I’d been on it for 4 1/2 years. There’s no research. My doctor doesn’t know.

    I’m hoping someone on here has some experience, strength, and hope regarding your situation and how long it took you to get back to square one. Looking forward to your story. Thanks!

  • Ashley May 16, 2016, 3:26 am

    Hi all. I have been taking pristiq for around 3 years now after firstly taking effexor and then Lexapro. I was initially on 200mg for around 1 year and then asked for it to be reduced down to 100mg. I am on day 5 now of not taking it after going cold turkey.

    I have previously forgotten to take my medication for a few days and got very lightheaded. As to date I haven’t experience this, but this morning I was very emotional and couldn’t stop crying. I am yet to experience any other symptoms and how that this continues.

    I just contacted my sister who is very into herbs, vitamins and essential oils and she is going to contact some people to get me onto the right dosage of vitamins for me to take. I will post the information for all when I receive it. Good luck to everyone who is trying to come off any antidepressant medication.

  • Angela May 16, 2016, 1:35 pm

    Hi there: If you are reading this, you are likely in a similar boat as I am. On medication and wanting off!! I am on day 5 of a cold turkey from Pristiq. If you read no further, jut know one thing. It will be ok. I am going to get through this. I had been on 50mg for roughly three years. There were a number of reasons I chose to do this and do it cold turkey.

    1. I realized my life was muted and damped by this drug
    2. The original issues causing my depression/anxiety are resolved
    3. I feel I have the coping skills now to handle issues I could not in the past.
    4. I hate being dependant on a drug.

    You may be asking… well ok, but why cold turkey and not taper? I had read so much about tapering that seemed to just prolong the inevitable. For me I reached a point where I just could not take one… more… pill…I had 5 left in a 100 pill prescription and my doctor could not see me until the day I would have no pills left. I started thinking… man this is really controlling me.

    The only reason I am making this appointment is to re-up this prescription… that seems wrong! I had missed days in the past, so was familiar with the start of the withdrawals… dizziness mainly. I did read up on various people’s experience, and was well aware of the possibility of severe side effects. I still decided to do it. It was the right time.

    My husband is away on business for 6 weeks, and while some may not understand this, it was better for me to do this alone…without having to explain it, or deal with his concerns over this decision. In fact, he has no idea I am going off them. Once I am on the other side, I will tell him. Before you say… you are crazy! get back on those pills… this is the only way this will work for me.

    I know myself now, and I know I have always been a ‘fixer’ for others, to my detriment. Others depend on me to be strong, but I need this time to just be strong for myself… and do the fixing for ME. So,.. back to the reason most of you are reading this… what am I going through on day 5? What did I go through days 1 – 4?

    For me, day 1 was a breeze. I had already adjusted from taking my 50mg in the morning, to taking it at night (because I was trying to stretch them out until my appointment! …ughh). I had gone through a few dizzy spells the day I did this, then two nights later… screw this I thought. I am done.

    Day 1 fully off – few symptoms
    Day 2 – dizziness and some brain zaps, feeling tired by the end of the work day.
    Day 3 – I started to feel pretty crappy…like a low grade flu, with the start of GI problems. Like, anything I ate was flying through me..I am sure you get the picture. The brain zaps were much more severe, and I also started with sweats and fatigue. This day I pretty much just vegged in the house…actually did not go out at all. I do not seem to have any insomnia, and was able to sleep through the night on Day 3.
    Day 4 – pretty much a repeat of Day 3 in terms of symptoms. I forced myself to be more active, and went out and did some normal week-end activity. My mood is good, great in fact. I feel more alive it seems, and I tell myself that my brain is waking up from a lonnng slumber, and needs to stretch and get going slowly. The brain zaps are very weird, but I understand they are caused from my brain trying to cope with the lack of seratonin and repair itself. I have made myself celebrate each brain zap as another step toward freedom. I periodically say to myself “f@%$ YOU PRITIQ, when I get a zap…it helps ..lol.
    Day 5 – back at work and trying to be sensitive to my symptoms. Brain fog, and zaps are pretty much constant, my stomach is sketchy, and I am having problems with focus, but I can deal.

    I do not know what Days 6-10 will bring, but whatever it is I will get through it. I am stronger than this drug, and knowledge is power over it. I am not freaked by any of the symptoms, because I am expecting them.

    I want to also list the supplements I am taking to try to counter balance this rollercoaster.
    1. Fish Oil – high quality Omega3
    2. Tumeric – golden paste – I have been on this for years
    3. B100 complex
    4. Magnesium

    I also have been “juicing” for the last week to try to make sure I get plenty of nutrients. I am considering staring l-tyrosine and 5-HTP. It would be great to hear if anyone else has tried these with success. Please wish me strength and I hope relating my experience so far will help someone. Do not try cold turkey unless you are very ready mentally for it.

    I suspect this approach is not for everyone, and so not feel like you are not strong if you can’t do it. There is a method for everyone, and the most important thing to do is prepare yourself mentally and physically for this. Thank-you for reading. Angela

  • Mike May 17, 2016, 11:48 pm

    Please update this article. The manufacturer introduced a 25mg Pristiq tablet a couple of years ago, which should prove helpful for people who are trying to taper down from higher doses. Amazingly, a lot of doctors and pharmacists still don’t know that this 25mg tablet is available, so patients need to ask for it.

  • Jen May 23, 2016, 1:55 am

    I have been taking pristiq now for about 5 to 6 weeks. And my GP has taken me off of this because I have been having mood swings and nausea. And now since last Thursday, I have been very ill, having almost every withdrawal symptoms that has been listed on this site. My question is how long until this passes?

  • Jay May 25, 2016, 12:58 am

    I was on Pristiq for 3 & 1/2 years. I started coming off Pristiq in February 2016, 1/4 tab at a time, as suggested by my Doc. I did this 3 weeks at a time. During this period I didn’t have any particularly noticeable side effects unless I forgot to take one. I took my last quarter tab 1 month ago.

    I have experienced the brain zaps, which are becoming less and less. But the feelings of confusion, memory loss, lack of motivation, insomnia, itchy feet, twitchy legs, exhaustion, headaches, feeling worthless, guilty and lonely have been overwhelming at times. I actually felt quite strongly last week like maybe I should just have a tablet because I was feeling so strongly of all of these things.

    I realized how addicted I had become when I had this thought. I have progressively become highly emotional. I have started crying hysterically when I am on my own. All of my problems seem HUGE. I find myself analyzing everything, and the results are that I feel worthless, guilty, and so alone. The rational side of me, reminds me that I’m a great mum, who has done every thing I possibly can to provide for and protect my children.

    I am a good friend, I am a hard worker, I am a fun person, and I do have so many people who care. The other side of me says that despite all of that I am alone, so what was the point of doing anything. This side of me wants to close the curtains and bury myself into movie or series one after the other… This side of me doesn’t want to speak to anyone, get out of bed or go to work.

    This side of me feels like I just can’t do this anymore… I feel an enormous tiredness which I can’t shake off at the moment. I closed my eyes and dozed when I had a friend visiting me yesterday… thank goodness she is such a good friend… The headaches are daily. So… reading this article has been so helpful. This isn’t me… the way I’m feeling.

    And it sounds like there is light at the end of this tunnel if I just look after myself. I think my hardest obstacle is support. I have no family in the state I live. And while friends are great, I think you really need family support. I do have an amazing therapist, who I have now booked in some regular visits to over the next couple of months, and hopefully that will assist me through this rough patch.

    Thanks to such helpful reading on the subject of coming off Pristiq. You get prescribed it in a flash, there were hardly any side effects going onto it… who would have known it would be such a jerk to get off it!!

    • Ahl May 28, 2016, 11:32 am

      Hi Jay, hope you are holding up ok, and you have a doctor you can talk to?

  • Jo May 25, 2016, 3:51 am

    I was on Pristiq for about 1 year. Started at 50 mg, then increased it to 100 mg when I felt it was not working. I had minimal side effects while on the drug. I started an exercise program and started noticing my mood improve so decided to come off the medication altogether. I went down to 50 mg for 30 days, then a 50 mg pill every second day for 15 days.

    I have now been off the medication for less than a week and while there are withdrawal symptoms, they are bearable. Mostly brain zaps and irritability. I also noticed I am low on energy and was slurring my words a little bit last night. Every day the brain zaps are getting less and less intense.

    I am hoping by the end of the week they will be mostly gone. What has really helped is exercise. I plan to use exercise from now on instead of medication to help with my anxiety and depression. I only wish a personal trainer was covered by my benefit plan. :)

  • Ah May 25, 2016, 6:32 am

    Hello, I have been off and on anti-depressants for the last twelve years. I am 31 and I am trying to get off pristiq for multiple reasons. It really changed my life in a positive way and I do believe that antidepressants are a positive for many people. I was on 100mg and have been taking 50mg for the last three months which I was able to do without too severe side effects.

    Nausea, dizziness and depersonalisation have been hard, but I have been able to go on with life. Tapering between 50 and 0 (in form of cutting the 50mg tablet into halves or thirds) was not recommended by pharmacists or GPs due to the slow release mechanism and matrix of the tablets that would be damaged by the cutting of the seal. I am now on off the medication completely, it’s day three.

    Day two was hell (due to all the symptoms discussed above) today is a little better, but I am worried that it is not realistic to go from 50 to 0 at this stage as I have to start a new job in a month and I am worried that I will not be able to perform 100%. Is anyone on the other side of a couple of months and can share whether their experience? I want to be healthy and happy and I believe that I am at a stage in my life where I can try being AD-free but nothing is going to make me fall back into a hole as fast as being fired for not performing the way I should be.

    So maybe I should stick to 50mg for another year and see how I go then? Still better than 100mg? I am otherwise quite healthy, I exercise a lot. Would also love to be able to be pristiq side effect free. They are bad, and I have been willing to accept them if needed, but… you know… IMPORTANT: I am talking with my GP and I strongly believe that one should not go through this without the supervision of a doctor.

    But I find with this one as with others in the past, the empathy or understanding for the withdrawal effects has been lacking. Thank you all for sharing, it makes this process a lot easier.

    • Ahl May 29, 2016, 4:24 pm

      Follow up: I’m on day 7 and feeling stronger. The first few days were hell but I expected that and honestly, I just let myself feel rubbish and tried to maintain the clarity that I was feeling rubbish because my body was suffering from withdrawal and not because I had to go back on the meds. This is isn’t too say that I feel amazing, but I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve gone 40 hours without crying.

      For those looking for support or advice I would suggest the following:

      1) It’s unwise, if not dangerous, to do this without your doctor’s support and supervision. Pristiq is not evil and sometimes you just have to be on it. Don’t go off it cold turkey without consulting your doctor.
      2) tell your family or friends or someone you trust what’s going on. They can only offer support if they know you need it. My parents have been in constant contact with me via messages and phone calls. A friend dropped by soup, twice, I burst into tears both times I was so grateful for the support, and I take those kind of tears as ok :) it has made such a difference hearing their words of encouragement and support.
      3) Sticking to a routine that included making myself leave the house every day, even if it was just to talk around the block. I met my neighbor’s poodle and his enthusiasm made me burst into tears but I had a big smile on my face.
      4) No coffee, no alcohol (not that I could have stomached either)
      5) Lots of sleep
      6) I have found a pharmacist who has been able to provide some empathy that my Doctor sometimes lacks. I don’t hold this against him, but it’s something I needed. Due to her suggestions I have been using the following:
      7) Electrolyte drinks (I use the powder that you add to water) to help with rehydration due to the gastro-style side effects. Drink as much water as possible. I found it helped reduce headaches.
      8) Supplements in form of immunity defense and one calming one I take before going to bed. I got cold sores on day three which was further evidence that this doesn’t just affect you mentally (if anyone doubted that in first place) I know herbal and vitamin supplements are another potentially divisive topic but If there’s a chance the supplements help, I’m willing to try. I’ve had doctors that have spoken for and against them. I will also go on a vitamin B complex once I start work.

      I’m still worried I’ll crash but I’m trying to be patient and see how I go. Good luck everyone.

  • Amorr May 31, 2016, 7:38 pm

    This is the worst drug ever. I have been tapering off for 2 weeks taking every other day. This is the worst I have ever felt in my life and I have been through cancer. This drug is HORRIBLE I wish I would have never started taking it. It seriously should be taken off the market. Head spinning, lips tingling, sweats, crying spells, depression. I can’t handle it.

  • Jeff June 3, 2016, 2:08 am

    I can relate to all of the symptoms as described by these people, however, for me one particular side effect when I stop taking Pristiq is I lose all inhibitions, and my sex drive goes through the roof. For some individuals this may seem a wonderful benefit, but being single it drives me absolutely crazy.

    I related my concerns to my local pharmacist, i.e. inhibitions or lack of, and he informed me this drug, when suddenly withdrawing from it had induced the same peculiar reaction in him. I have had to send multiple messages to family and friends (ladies) to explain my abnormal and inappropriate behaviour. Any other people can relate to this unusual side effect?

  • WynnD June 7, 2016, 9:49 pm

    I quit Pristiq cold turkey three weeks ago. I’d been tapering for months and was taking 25 mg daily. All this was with my doctor’s knowledge and the guidance of a nurse. Partly from the many helpful comments on this site and partly from the withdrawal symptoms I was experiencing even on a lower dose, I decided to go the cold turkey route. I’d come to the conclusion (from the comments) that regardless of tapering, going to a compounding pharmacist or going cold turkey, there would be some (or a lot of) discomfort.

    Using some advice this site, I:
    – started prior to a long weekend (Victoria Day weekend), so I wouldn’t be at work and could focus on the withdrawal
    – made sure I was taking my vitamins (Vit B Complex 100, Vit C, Vit D, Vit B12 (slow release), Magnesium, Omega-3, chlorella) and drinking plenty of water
    – told a friend about my plan. She called me daily. It was lovely to hear from someone who cared
    – alternatively kept myself busy watching tv, napping, and doing quiet projects. For example, I built a barbeque, and started painting some furniture.
    – my appetite was low, but I made sure to have healthy food 0n hand that I could get excited about eating.
    – took my dog for walks (slowly in case I fell! 🙄)
    – tried to maintain a sense of humour
    – took one day at a time (probably the most important thing)

    I had brain zaps, tingling, an awry body thermometer, cobwebs in my brain, a wonky sense of balance, fatigue, headaches, and really not wanting to see a soul. Talking was hard, because my brain was processing thoughts so slowly. But you know what? I did it! Also, I much sooner be “sick” like this than have the stomach flu or food poisoning!

    When I went back to work after the long weekend I wasn’t feeling my best, but was confident in my ability to do my job. I did two things to help:
    – I pretended that I felt better than I really was. This wasn’t to convince others, but to convince me! It worked.
    – I continued taking my vitamins, doing neurofeedback and going to the gym

    Three weeks later I can tell you this:
    – my friends tell me there is a sharpness (or less fog) in my gaze
    – I’m able to stick to projects. On Pristiq I was definitely lazier and had to push myself
    – a creative energy has emerged that I’d forgotten existed
    – I’m participating in office meetings. Before if I had an idea, I couldn’t be bothered bringing it up
    – I’ve dropped five pounds and find it easier to watch my portion sizes, eat somewhat nutritiously and keep treats as occasional delights rather than daily go-tos. Only about 55 lbs to go (mostly all gained after I started on Pristiq)
    – I have a sex drive again. I’d forgotten it existed!

    However,
    – I’m more emotional and can weep on a dime. But I don’t feel depressed or sad
    – I’m a bit more anxious about the future. However, I don’t recall this being a problem for me
    – I still get brain zaps, but they are very mild
    – I’m not absolutely certain, but I think alcohol make the zaps worse.

    The emotions don’t worry me because they feel natural, but can anyone tell me how long they’re going to be this raw? Pristiq is a devil of a drug (I know some people would call it the devil), but for the time I needed it it helped me. I was on it for five years, but during that time I’d also sustained a concussion.

    What a great site; your comments helped and supported me a lot. Thank you!

  • Vivian June 9, 2016, 3:13 am

    I’ve been on pristiq for several years now but down to 50mg the past year – I really want to get off completely but have been afraid of WD particularly when I can feel foggy and generally weird/not focused when I miss just one dose. Also, I’m already on wellbutrin (300mg) so not sure if that will help or exacerbate the symptoms. Any feedback from someone who has been on similar medications/combination and has weaned off pristiq would be helpful.

  • Red June 11, 2016, 7:42 am

    I went cold turkey for 3 days and my meds are getting reviewed in 11 days from today, and I decided f#ck this, I am not coping with this pain. I have given up and gone back on it and I’m still waiting for my body to readjust to being back on the medication. I feel sick, sweaty, anxious and my head is so sore it’s left me in tears just because of the pain, and I have a very high pain tolerance. Proof of this is I have tattoos under the bottom of my feet.

    This pain was just too much. To anyone doing this, take time off work or school because this is going to SUCK and treat it like you have the flu or something because your body is going to hate you for moving. I tried to get up to go to the bathroom and ended up having to crawl because I was so dizzy and even changing directions caused the most painful brain zaps I have ever experienced.

  • Lori June 20, 2016, 6:43 pm

    I have been trying to get off the for around 6 weeks. I started cutting it in half and taking half daily for about 3 weeks. Then the nurse told me to start taking half every other day. It has been 6 weeks, I started taking a qtr. pill every other day. I am having brain shocks, crying, not sleeping, headaches, all the systems! I fell down just walking to the car! How much longer is this going to last?

    I thought I had the flu, was throwing up, stomach pain, sweats. After reading all the comments about how all of you have coped with this, I threw the rest of it out. I want off this drug! My husband and I have been going crazy trying to deal with my symptoms. At least now we understand what has been going on with me. That helps.

    Thank you all for sharing your stories it has helped me to know I am not alone.

  • Cathy June 21, 2016, 11:02 am

    The first time I tried to quit, I had every symptom imaginable. I didn’t taper the correct way and it was a nightmare. I had very intense brain zaps, uncontrollable anger and frustration, nausea, dizziness, crying spells and extreme panic attacks.

    I went back to my normal dose and then tapered. I cut my pill in half, then a quarter and finally down to an eighth. I stayed on each dose for 2 weeks and then I quit. I have been pristiq free for a week now and the symptoms are very manageable.

    I still have slight anxiety. The brain zaps are so light that I barely notice them. No anger, no frustration, no crying spells and very little dizziness. I experience moments of forgetfulness and confusion, but I’ll take that any day over what I experienced previously!

    It’s a scary thing to go through and I wish everyone the best. Love, hugs and prayers for your healing.

  • Elizabeth painter June 22, 2016, 3:46 am

    I feel like DEATH! I’ve been on pristiq 50 for 5 years. I feel like it did its job and I no longer need it. Coming off is no joke! I’ve had every symptom listed. Wild dreams. Restless legs. Dizzy, sweating, concentration issues, crying spells, insomnia, panic attacks. I need a pill to get me off these pills!

  • Jen June 27, 2016, 12:54 am

    Hello everybody. I quit cold turkey three weeks ago and I just want to pass the message to all that it does get better and to hang in there. I was on 100mg to treat my anxiety (not depression). I was attacked a few months earlier by an individual and was not able to cope or deal with this nor did I have any confidence to speak or say as little as hi to anyone. I had severe panic attacks.

    I was on the drug for 3 months before deciding that I could not let this consume me any longer. I wanted to enjoy life again. I was determined.*** I do recommend that if you do quit cold turkey to PLEASE take at least a week off. Day 1 and Day 2 had very little side effects. Day 3 to Day 6 will be your worst period. If you can pass this period you can tolerate anything after this.

    I recommend that you take a week off from Day 3 in order to get the best benefit for your time off. Day 3 to Day 6: You will have the urge to jump back on it, but all I can say is HANG IN THERE. You made it this far just a few more days until the worse part is over. Always tell yourself it’s okay. Believe in yourself you’ve come this far.

    ***During this period I strongly recommend when walking to look down. If you look straight ahead / move your head or eyes you will become very dizzy…. Looking at the ground will prevent you from becoming extremely dizzy… I did take gravol during this period so make sure you have some handy with cold ice water.****

    Day 7 and onwards: you will get brain zaps, nausea, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia but nothing compared to the beginning of the week. You will be able to return to work, however I sit in an office setting and it was easy for me to sit and re-focus every now and then. Going on Week 4: Most side effects are gone. On a random day I might have insomnia but that’s all… and this could be due to work…I’m loving life.

    I’m excited to see what’s ahead and I am not looking back… I have returned to my normal hyper self and people have noticed this… my brain activity has also returned back to normal… I no longer have delayed thoughts and is able to focus. Just always remember to hang in there. Surround yourself with positive thoughts. You can do it. The best is yet to come and I wish everybody the very best. Cheers

  • Julie June 27, 2016, 10:34 pm

    After being on Pristiq less than two weeks, I couldn’t tolerate the sexual side effects and went “cold turkey” thinking I had not been on it long enough to experience true withdrawal. Boy, was I ever wrong!! Flu-like symptoms with chilling and sweating, dizziness, and terrible nausea leading to vomiting stopped me in my tracks. So ready to feel normal again!!

  • Shan June 30, 2016, 11:02 am

    I’ve been on 50mg daily for 2+ years. Going on the drug was frightening… tremors, nausea, dizziness. But at the time I felt so depressed I was willing to do anything to feel better. After 12 months of spiritual work, rebirthing, breath-work sessions and generally dealing with the true causes of my depression, I decided it was time to be free of Pristiq.

    It is, in my opinion, the worst mistake I’ve ever made, medically. I have researched discontinuation for months, found nothing but horror stories really. Determined, I started tapering one month ago. Two weeks of doses every second day, two weeks of doses every three days. My last dose was 5 days ago. Symptoms have reached their worst – I think – and I’m working through some pretty severe withdrawals at the moment: dizziness, vision impairment, sensitivity to noise and light, irritability, tremors, sleepiness during the day, insomnia between 8pm-1am, sweats and chills, back ache, headache, sadness due to fear and uncertainty about all of these.

    My saving graces are good food, small meals and snacks throughout the day. Also, drink plenty of fluids: hot chocolate, herbal teas, coffee works well in the mornings. I enjoy warm showers in the morning and try not to spend time in front of the mirror for the time being (be kind and nurture yourself). Also, I have been taking two good doses of paracetamol with calmative (codeine phosphate and doxylamine succinate) each day when symptoms seem to ‘peak’.

    It works wonders, reduces the withdrawal symptoms and gives my body and mind a rest from the intensity of the withdrawal process. I am reluctant to drive my car, I find myself zoning out. My work life has been impacted. But I know I want to do this and I can do this. I am however VERY concerned about what Pristiq does to our bodies and am at times quite scared by how awful I feel. There have been times in recent days when I just sat with my head in my hands and cried because I’m scared, frustrated, angry, irritable and so very confused and foggy.

    All I can do is hope that this process won’t drag out from weeks to months. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that we’re doing the best we can, and it might be a hard journey but it is possible to do.

  • Mark July 3, 2016, 6:14 am

    Was on Pristiq for 4 months and achieved nothing. Now off it for 4 months and I have a constant brain buzz or zap that never goes away it’s so annoying. Has anyone experienced the same brain buzzing and did it go away?

  • Dom G July 4, 2016, 9:21 pm

    Hi everyone, I’m day 3 cold turkey. I’m a bit concerned because I have very few withdrawal symptoms. I’m prepared to go back & taper if it gets excruciating (if anyone experiences concerning low mood or feeling crazy I recommend tapering) but right now I feel extremely happy, I feel nauseous so I take motion sickness tablets “Kwells” (over the counter) and half hour later I’m ok. I did take 10m lexapro day 1.

    Above a girl alternated between lexapro and pristiq. But I’m overstimulated and not sleeping & I’m worried about serotonin toxicity which you can die from & believe I had it when I increased a dose of Luvox in my past – I believe I’m lucky I was so sick). Yesterday I made a chicken corn and chicken stock with bucket loads of veggies, garlic & the essential GINGER to help with nausea & I’m able to hold it down and I went for a walk (lots of water & coconut water with all the electrolytes).

    I drank on pristiq, whilst it’s not recommended to drink on any ADs Pristiq becomes null and void as alcohol blocks it’s function (a psych not my gp told me this). So I think a few times a week I had withdrawal symptoms anyway and compromised the efficacy of the pristiq so I’m wondering if that’s why my withdrawals are minimal. I also wasn’t on it long. Whilst on it I had body jolts & twitches (they were painless but annoying).

    Now I have none and my mood is extremely good. I’ve had horrific withdrawal symptoms on a couple of ADs but this time it’s fine. Are the symptoms coming? I didn’t sleep one minute last night (I’m an insomniac) but I was also overly excited like a kid before xmas because of a very happy event.
    I’m not sure what body shocks/zaps are but wonder if that’s the body jerks I experienced?

    I had a migraine all the time on it, I put on huge amounts of weight, (1/3 my body weight) I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror my face would go red. I looked so sick all the time. I often became slurred in speech. I was extremely calm on it though. It didn’t resolve the insomnia. So if you think I can expect worse withdrawals let me know. As an aside if anyone knows of an AD with weight loss (as with lexapro) not gain and is good for insomnia please let me know.

    Lexapro is amazing but I didn’t sleep. Avanza resolved insomnia but massive weight gain. The key for me has been asking my husband to go easy and explaining what I’m going through so he can be supportive. It would be awful to go through this without support & understanding so please communicate with your loved ones. Thank you & good luck.

  • Dom G July 9, 2016, 10:03 am

    Day 6 now and the horrible withdrawals have kicked in. I’m so nauseous, depersonalized, I feel like I’m about to have a turn like a seizure or something. I just feel horrible. Does anyone know how long will it last? Chest pains too. Constant body jolts.

  • Erica July 9, 2016, 11:11 pm

    I’m so glad to have read some of these comments and know that it is in fact the withdrawals. I keep going back and forth… my withdrawals are so intense I keep wondering if I’m actually ready to stop pristiq… which then sends me in to anxiety. I was put on these for my PPD, by my nurse practitioner…and wonder if it was ever the right choice.

    I have a mental heath work and school background so I’ve just been kind of trying to monitor myself… which obviously doesn’t work I realize now. The angry outbursts, mood swings… dizziness, major fatigue, anxiety attacks, feeling so zombie like…all real deal. I was only every on 50mg once a day for 2 years.

    About 6 months ago I tapered down to every second day. The last 2 weeks I got enough guts to start every 3rd day but the withdraws have been so unbearable… I just hope it gets easier and in a few months can say I kicked these pills.

  • sophia July 11, 2016, 10:39 pm

    I am 22 and I have been on Pristiq for seven unfortunate years. I wanted to get off of this medicine so I gradually reduced my dose from 100 to 50 to 25 and now I’ve gone cold turkey. How is anyone able to physically function throughout the day while going through these withdrawals? I’m only on day 2 without it and basically I’m wondering just how long it will be until I feel “normal’ again.

  • Angie July 17, 2016, 8:42 pm

    Hi, I have come off pristiq 50 (with my GP knowledge & guidance) after having been on it for 5 years. I stopped it on 10th June 2016 and after 2 weeks had some anxiety, tremors and nervousness. I spoke to my GP who advised this may last another couple of weeks. Everything settled down however as of the past week (now the 18th July, 2016) am starting again with nervousness, bad anxiety etc.

    I am wondering if anybody can advise is this standard with stopping the Pristiq. If so can anybody let me know how long these type of issues have lasted with them. I am trying to stay away from medications. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

  • Stacey July 20, 2016, 9:18 pm

    Help! I’ve run out of Pristiq while in Columbia and haven’t found any yet. I usually take 200mg and now I have nothing so I am suffering from a lot of withdrawal symptoms. Is there anything natural or easy to get that I could try to ease these feelings until I find some?

  • Elho July 26, 2016, 11:43 am

    I am 6 weeks in into tapering, and my god it has been a struggle. I’ve been on Pristiq since I was 17, now 23 start at 200 now on 50mg. I’ve been on university holidays so I have been able to take good care of myself – early nights before the real symptoms kick in. I am now able to go 4-5 days without serious side effects, but on the 5th day I get terrible brain zaps which causes my head to jerk and I’m terrible agitated, fidgety and feel like my head is going to implode.

    I am back at uni this week and taking it slow. Trying to do 5 days at a time, then slowly progress to 7. I’m a little worried about my concentration because I feel like my attention last about 2 mins before I start doing something else. Has anyone been experiencing weird dreams?

    I’ve been having these dreams where I’m sort of going inside of myself and controlling myself through my dream. It’s a really strange sensation and usually have to wake myself up because it’s not comfortable (i.e. I’m scared).

  • Cindy August 16, 2016, 1:13 pm

    I had been on Zoloft for over 20 years, in the past three years I’ve been taking Pristiq. I decided that I wanted to know who I was without antidepressants. I started tapering off Pristiq over 8 weeks ago. The 1st month I took half the dosage everyday. Felt numerous symptoms, anxiety, flu symptoms, headaches and so on. The symptoms improved somewhat.

    Starting the 2nd month I started taking half of the dosage every other day. I did this for two weeks, the symptoms were bad and didn’t seem to improve. I went back on every day half the dosage. Today 8/16/16 I started with a quarter of the dosage to see if that helps with the symptoms. It’s been difficult! Wish me luck!

  • Jeff August 17, 2016, 8:29 am

    Hey everyone, I am trying to come off Pristiq ATM. I have been on them for about 6 months. I first didn’t consult my doctor and cut my 100mg tablet in half, which resulted in terrible withdrawal symptoms… I now have prescribed the 50mg tablets from my GP. I’m wondering how long I should adjust to the 50mg before going “cold turkey”. I was hoping this process would be quick, the main reason I want to come off the medication is that I have a interview in 2 weeks to join the Army. I don’t like my chances of joining the Australian defense force if I’m on anti-depressants.

  • MM August 18, 2016, 5:27 am

    I have been on and off Pristiq for the last 5 years on twice for short periods at (50 mg only). It generally takes about 2 weeks to get out of my system. Normally just on it for a short period of time, then I feel ok. I have always just gone COLD TURKEY, sure I had a little brain fog, and a couple of silly thoughts. But I just got over it and on with other things. Just do it! Stop if that what we want, but remember it takes 3 weeks to kick back in, so if you seriously think you need it maybe stick with it.

  • DonePsych August 19, 2016, 4:52 am

    Three days cold turkey. Same as everybody else. Brain zaps, dizzy, sweats, insomnia etc. I started Pristiq for some mild anxiety and sleep difficulties. What a mistake, and I should have known better. I was a psychologist myself but trusted my GP and later a Psychiatrist. I believed it when I was told that a counsellor couldn’t effectively be counseled and that medication was the way to go.

    The effect of Pristiq on me was poor judgement, irritability and anger, even worse sleep than I was trying to treat, dehumanization and withdrawal from others and life. Of course these symptoms all point to depression and therefore continued Pristiq, of higher dose is necessary. Up to 400mg by one psychiatrist, about 3 years bouncing between 150 and 200mg now. And of course none of these side effects are useful when trying to help others, particularly the dehumanization and lack of empathy that I have felt for 5 years since starting Pristiq.

    I have lost my profession (deregistered and unemployed for 4 years now), lost my marriage, lost all but one friend, and have generally mistreated those who have remained around me (family and new partner). Of course I must take responsibility for my own actions, I did and said the things that have cost me so dearly, but I truly haven’t been me, the person who cared enough about people to quit another more highly paid profession to work as a psychologist… the person who dearly wanted to help others.

    I am deeply ashamed and cannot begin to make amends for the last few years, it is unethical to contact past clients and apologies for my own poor judgement. I have tried to quit this medication on a number of occasions as I have felt worse being on it than I have ever felt while off it, but medical advice has been that I am still suffering major depression and must remain on medication.

    Now I know that it is just withdrawing that mimics depression and anxiety even though my GP, and the Psych Board deny any ill effects of Pristiq.

  • Jessica August 24, 2016, 4:11 pm

    I had been on pristiq for 8 yrs. I had moved to another state and my insurance changed, and even though I had one refill left my insurance required an authorization from my Doctor in my previous state…which he decided not to give because psychiatrists are worthless. I ended up having to quit cold turkey. I had been taking 100mg/day and have been off of it for a couple weeks.

    Luckily I only experienced depersonalization (still ongoing) some lightheaded mess, one headache, and fatigue the first week. I guess it wasn’t doing much for me since the anxiety and depression did not change. Just hoping that being on meds for 16 yrs (started at 10 yrs old) didn’t completely mess up my brain. Fingers crossed.

  • Sierra August 26, 2016, 1:43 am

    I was started in Pristiq 50mg and after my first month of being on it, all I did was cry and cry. So I got reevaluate my and the Dr. Upped my dosage to 100mg. I felt like a completely crazy person transitioning, plus I had missed 2 pills between starting new dosage. It was horrible, tremors, dry heaving, anxiety attacks, suicidal ideation.

    I honestly have no idea if it was the do adage increase adjustment or missing the two pills. Long story short…I adjusted to 100mg, feeling pretty good, and of course to scared to get off it. My prescription got denied refill so I’ve decided to quit cold turkey. Which I have been reading is not the smartest thing to do. Either way I am doing it and today was day three and the first day of symptoms.

    I’m hoping BC I was only on it for 3 months it should not be so bad. My symptoms today have included, agitation, anger, dizziness, light headed, unable to focus my eyes, small headache and tiredness. Hoping to make it through work tomorrow and overcome the weekend. Sending out hope to everyone going through these times right now.

  • Bill Schwerdtfeger August 31, 2016, 11:12 am

    I am 54 years old and stopped taking Pristiq “child turkey” about for weeks ago after taking 100mg daily for eight years. I am experiencing the symptoms mentioned but now experiencing blisters on my skin and severe itching that I have been taking Benadryl (50mg) every six hours to relieve. That only helps some and causes extreme tiredness and tremors. Is there something else I can do to stop this? My doctor doesn’t know what to do. PLEASE HELP!!!

  • Cindy Richardson August 31, 2016, 6:36 pm

    I must be one of the lucky ones…! I had taken 100mg for 8yrs or more… The price has escalated so much to $300/month I thought maybe it’s time to quit. I’m 60 y/o & thought I can cope with the withdrawals without a lot of stress in my life currently. I had about 10 pills left when I made this decision so I cut them in half & took one half every day for a week & then every other day until I took the last half on Wednesday last week.

    Friday, Sat & Sun were pretty unbearable mostly brain zaps, nausea, dizziness, headache & insatiable appetite (probably to curb the nausea). When I found this forum on Sunday I thought this could be a long haul…but no! I still felt kind of unstable Monday this week but yesterday much better & today, Wednesday the symptoms have nearly completely subsided.

    Keep the faith…the horrible withdrawal symptoms may not last as long as others have experienced. :) Good luck to anyone making the transition from drug brain to clarity!! I think it’ll be worth the struggle!

  • Carol September 6, 2016, 12:19 pm

    After being on 50 mg pristiq I hat petted down and I am now off it all together. I have severe withdrawal symptoms. Vomiting, dizziness, confusion, agitation, headaches. I sometimes have to spend the day in bed, I feel so ill. I cannot manage my life most days. My doctor has suggested my taking lexapro and tapering that off. I am not keen to do this… I am very angry that I was never warned about withdrawal problems. It is now about 4 weeks since I stopped this dreadful medication.

  • Susan September 12, 2016, 3:17 am

    Having come of Effexor after 9 years, now coming off pristiq after 18 months feels so much easier. Exercise, lots of sleep (and sleeping when you feel you need to) and a very small dose of Valium if required (I try to only take if absolutely necessary) has made this much less painful than the awful experience of Effexor withdrawal. There’s no easy way to come off these drugs but it’s worth it. So eyes on the prize so to speak really helps boost a positive mindset for me.

  • Maz September 14, 2016, 9:52 pm

    Have been off pristiq 50mg for around six weeks after taking it for 3.5 years. Feeling absolutely terrible. Bad mood swings, insomnia, depressed and anxious all the time. I hate being like this the fatigue and aching legs every day is hard to cope with. I have no motivation anymore – how long will this go on for? Not coping very well as I have no family support.

  • Rebecca September 15, 2016, 4:14 am

    I think Pristiq should be illegal to prescribe and absolutely abolished. I have been off it now for 5 months and it’s been the worst 5 months of my life. I got each and every last withdrawal symptom, plus severe hair loss, (have literally lost half my hair)! The only good thing is I lost the 15lbs I gained while on it but truly, I wish I’d never started the stuff in the first place… it wasn’t worth the relief it gave me.

    I took it to cope after losing my dad 4.5 years ago. Doctors should be made well aware it’s an evil drug that will seem to help but really will destroy you. The fact you cannot even taper because of its time-release coating made it next to impossible to quit. Pharmaceutical companies get richer and richer while they addict us to their poison. It’s so wrong and we need to raise awareness about it. Government should protect us and not allow it to happen. Absolutely evil drug!

  • Adrienne September 17, 2016, 5:30 pm

    I was referred to a psychiatrist by my PCP for depression. He immediately put me on Pristiq. Took it for 2 weeks before considering filling the script. Due to insurance issues I have gone cold turkey and am so amazed at the symptoms I am experiencing! Dizziness, headaches, brain zaps, totally bizarre dreams, etc. This is after only 2 weeks! This is so nuts! I will never take this drug again.

  • Michelle September 19, 2016, 7:32 pm

    I tried to come off Pristiq 4 months ago. I had crying spells & couldn’t concentrate. Went back on & it didn’t work the same… I became anxious, depressed to the point I needed hospitalization. Terrible drug to get off of; I stopped for good 5 days ago; am on several drugs to control symptoms such as restlessness, agitation, suicidal ideations, and depression. I have had the chills, body tremors.

    Luckily I have a good support system and hoping in 6 months I can start tapering a couple of the meds. Going to have to be patient and good to myself. Everyone you are not alone, you are not crazy. Professionals don’t seem to acknowledge this but it’s true. If I would have known this I would have been happy to stay on it the rest of my life but can’t go back in time. Best of luck to all… hang in there & take care of yourself.

  • VIVEK LEONARD J October 17, 2016, 5:24 am

    I was on Desven 100mg for almost a year or more, and started tapering only since August. In addition to Desven 100, I have also been on Lamictal 100mg for a longer period. My doc and I got Desven titrated from 100 to 50, maintained that for a month, and then from 50 to 37.5 for 20 days, and now down from 37.5 to 25 the last couple of days. Yes, the side-effects are definitely there, and making me feel irritable at really otherwise normal stimuli, feel hopeless, depressed, socially uncomfortable.

    But the very thought I am getting OFF of the drugs is so much of HOPE. My doc is extremely supportive and wants me off the drugs, but in a slow, titrated manner so as to not provoke the system. I would encourage you to talk to your doc, and express your desire to wean off the drugs, and if he isn’t supportive (and I am assuming you’re not going to just die if you don’t take these drugs), then switch to a more senior, reliable doctor.

    That is a struggle, but I’ve seen mine over 16 years (of which a 3 year stint was with a different doc who prescribed and preached these drugs for life!), and I’ve had a doctor who’s supported me more than 90% of this period of time. You actually don’t need these neuro-regulators, your body is one piece of brilliant work by God, that NO doctor ever can decipher, and definitely not the brain! Trust in God, trust in your loved ones, and reach out to LIVE LIFE!

  • Anita October 20, 2016, 12:22 am

    I’ve been taking 100mg extended release for a few years now. 20 years on various antidepressants, Pristiq had worked the best with minimal side effects as compared to many of the others. Due to insurance costs and a lot of emotional healing over the last few years, my doctor agreed to taper me off completely. I successfully tapered from 100mg to 75mg over 14 days, with ringing in my ears that subsided.

    Reduced to 50mg 2 days ago, and tonight, out of seemingly nowhere, I’ve had fits of hysterical laughter combined with crying. Unable to fully catch my breath – or take long, deep inhales/exhales. My husband and I talked through what I could do, and I decided to eat something sugary, which increases serotonin. After a bowl of cereal, it’s about 90 minutes now where I’m a lot calmer.

    It feels like the hysteria/crying is on the verge, but it’s controlled at this moment. I have an uptick in anxiety but it’s been manageable thus far. Praying and my husband’s support is most important. It’ll be worth it, I believe (we’ll see in another couple weeks.) To those who indicate there isn’t a dosage between 50 and 0 – there is a 25mg extended release – maybe it hasn’t been available that long.

  • Rachael October 22, 2016, 9:41 am

    I have been off pristiq for two weeks now. I tapered off 50mg over 3 months. I know right such a small dose compared to some. I was on Pristiq for just over 12 months and I was on Zoloft before this for three years. I tried to come off the pristiq only 6 months after taking it I did the alternate dose and I couldn’t cope at all. I am not sure if I wasn’t ready or if the discontinuation syndrome was so bad for me.

    After this I resumed my dose and researched the best way to come off. I ended up cutting my dose right down until I was on 12.5mg and it took me just on 3 months. Even after all that hard work I am withdrawing. However I don’t think it is as bad as it would have been if I did not taper this way. I feel sad and I am moody, nasty almost and this is not me at all.

    I feel bad to the family because I am not my usual self. The worst for me is the fatigue and sleep problems. I have had a bit of anxiety and panic and I am awoken during my sleep with heart palpitations and anger. I do feel very sensitive to noise and I don’t really feel like socializing to much. It has improved from the first week but not much.

    The first week I felt very disorientated and constantly dizzy that has stopped now. I just feel a little confused at times. I am proud of myself though and I hope it gets better soon.

    • Gina October 28, 2016, 7:42 pm

      Hey Rachel, I did the exact same as you did (I went from 300mg to 0 in 6 months) today is my two weeks with out it… the zaps get less intense ever day! Sleep is still an issue but that’s because pristiq masked so much! I’m trying to avoid sleeping tablets, but I’ve missed that much work that some times I have to take them. My doc recommended half a Valium on a bad day. I have it if I know I’m going to be in an anxiety inducing situation.

      My natural remedies that have helped is sleeping with a lavender oil demister, rescue remedy drops. Activated vitamin b’s. Hot baths and showers. Avoid alcohol at all costs and coffee (I work at a wine and coffee company and had to go into tastings had major migraines after that which has never happened before) and just sleep.

      I’m in Australia (not sure where you are) I didn’t have access to the 25mg tablet so I had no choice to cut by 50s into quarters. Naprogesic which I usually use for period pain was amazing. If you’re in America I bought naproxen at a Walgreens which apparently is what helps with the nausea and cramps. Feel free to email if you want any more from me. I feel like we are in a similar place right now, and did the same taper. gina.bowman[@]icloud.com

  • Melanie October 24, 2016, 6:50 am

    I am on day 3 cold turkey. I took 50mg of Pristiq for a year and then 100 for a further 12 months. Emotionally in a good place and was ready to come off. I have done tapering before and so not recommend. Side effects felt cold turkey so far are brain zaps, nausea, diarrhea, pulsating in feet, eyes, legs.

    Today I had a lymphatic drainage massage to help drain the drug faster and tomorrow seeing a naturopath who is also a trained pharmacist and uses natural remedies and food to help the balance the brain. I’m a personal trainer and have found clean eating has helped with the nausea, definitely no sugar and lots of fresh food. Will post again in a few days to keep you updated. Definitely prefer this cold turkey than when I tried tapering.

    Tapering withdrawal symptoms were much worse and cutting the tablet or breaking the slow release coating is a no no.

  • karen November 13, 2016, 11:55 pm

    I reduced from 200mg to 100mg over a period of months as I was not getting a lot of benefit from the medication anymore, last week my doctor advised me to stop taking the pristiq 100mg and in 3 days begin zoloft. OMG I am on day 3 and have been smashed with all the withdrawals. This is a nasty business and I don’t think GP’s consider that people have to work and function during this time. Will the effects reduce once I start the zoloft or am I going to go on like this for weeks. not ok.

  • John November 16, 2016, 12:32 am

    I was on Pristiq for only 5 & 1/2 months. Doctor wanted me on 100mg but it made me feel so drugged and made my blood pressure so high I asked to change prescription back to 50mg. I have been tapering off for two weeks now. Did 50mg every other day for a week. Nighttime on days I didn’t take it was hell. Queazy, moody, depressed, crying. Better next day I took it about 6 hours after ingesting.

    Haven’t taken at all in 4 days now and in most ways I feel so much better. I do feel drunk most of the day everyday and am sweating like crazy also feel a little sick at night last couple of days. Also have a humming in my head which I assume is a less intense version of the brain zaps others mention. I think I was lucky to have taken a low dose for a short amount of time. I will be glad to have this out of my system.

  • d.b. November 20, 2016, 6:00 pm

    After 8 yrs on this stuff at a high dose, I’ve managed to be fully off it for a month. Withdrawal is horrid. The last of the physical withdrawal is easing off (dizziness, fogginess, headaches, chills/fever, etc). Now if I can just get through the “angry at the world” vs “I wish I would die” mental rollercoaster I think I’ll be okay. I don’t remember who I was without this medication but I’m scared that I’m really not a nice person.

  • Stace November 21, 2016, 7:28 am

    You poor buggers. WE poor buggers. I agree with the people who say this is a conspiracy of the drug companies and doctors. The medical money-go-round. Absolutely despicable and deplorable. Isn’t the Hippocratic oath to first not cause any harm? And yet we are MORE suicidal, MORE depressed going on the thing that has been prescribed to help. Then going off. Well…. ARGHHHH and yes, nobody warned us how hard.

    What an evil poison. They don’t even know all the downstream effects yet… and how effective it is at doing what it is meant to do… Well I understand that for some people (my brother is one), anti-depressants can be helpful. Some really benefit. I suspect though, that like myself and many of you; many many people out there are rapidly ushered out the door of the GP with this ‘quick fix’ which in fact may not be the thing to help them.

    In my case age 37, I suspected some peri-menopause contributors. Doc reckons too young though I have since found out that it can take up to 15 years before menopause. Yeah!! More joys of being female. Anyway last few years I have noticed periods shorter duration and less flow. Also few days prior, extreme despondency, depression, you name it. Miserable hoplessness. I suggested Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder to doc but he ignored. (Psychologist now agrees it is a real condition).

    In my case has notably worsened past few years so I just mention this because through this journey I now suspect some of the depression may more rightfully be attributed to hormone disruptions or surges… who knows. So in many cases antidepressant may not be the answer. Now I am going to try some of the natural stabilisers which include 5 HTP (serotonin precursor) and women’s balancer like a natural Oestrogen. (I use Healthpost and read the comments of people who have tried these supplements).

    I had a bad start in life, and am high risk factors for depression, so yes probably I had it over the top cos bad few years and notably cos that pharmacist mentioned; I had a severe concussion about 8 months before doc put me on the meds. I was very proud and went whole life without AD so it was very difficult but I decided maybe doc right, I’ll give a try. I was started on Lexam and I had a bad side-effect; dysuria.

    Doc didn’t believe me but it was real. So real I did all the UTI eliminations to prove. Then in his absence (cos he takes holidays every 3 months.. what, don’t you? Oh something wrong with you for not being a dual doc income house!!!); the doc put me on Pristiq. Apart from the hell and worse depression, suicidal ideation etc going on, they didn’t have any bad side effects for me except for yawing and kill the sex drive; plus no orgasm or really hard work to get one.

    So generally ok. Then I went up to 100 and was on for a year. Recently I had a really really sad day- very down and I had been on 100 for ages. (Happened to be 3 days before period….!). Anyway I thought these aren’t working. Clearly. And I am not going up higher dose, that’s it I’m done.
    I had sacked the GP because that last time I asked him if I could come off them and he said like many of yours; ‘just take every second day’.

    I looked at him in utter disbelief. I said; ‘ you can’t do that. If I miss one dose I get dizzy, very sad etc by end of day’. He belittled me and insinuated I was hypochondriac by saying: ” If you believe that is what is going to happen, then it will”. So I thought I am on my own with coming off these things. Then I talked to a chemistry mate who said I could cut up, and taper carefully. Like the lady said just doing it slowly, throughout the day… he suggested in honeycomb.

    He wrote me this schedule to carefully taper over 3 months. So I began, funny when first attempt to cut created all different size fragments so I knew the dosage was going to be bit hit and miss. Anyway I went 50mg fine (cos as they say, anything over 50 is ? effective), then I went 25 and still fine. 12.5 starting to notice the brain zaps.. Well I had done all this over 2 week period. Much much faster than ideal, I know. Well on about day 14 I had to lie down at 6pm. Very early for me.

    I awoke at 8pm extremely nauseous (and with incredibly painful ovulation, worst ever). I got up to go for a warm shower and I vomited like crazy. Very sick. Well I was so disturbed by that that next morning I wasn’t game to take anything. So I have actually gone cold turkey since. So 2 weeks of very rapid tapering then cold turkey. Not ideal or advised at all, but is doable… I had severe diarrhoea next 3 days where I was scared to eat. Appetite out the window too.

    Very bad brain zaps of course. No headaches but I am lucky there. Mood, well you guys know. Mainly just general grumpiness and some easy crying. Intolerance. Some weird dreams yes. Sleep; weird cos no desire to go to bed, but once there sleep quickly. In mornings I have been SO drousy and fatigued most of day. Moving very slowly and bones sore. Terrible memory and easily distracted.

    I couldn’t take time off work so have just had to put on the brave face and keep going. Some days I couldn’t face anyone and have had a few sneaks around the corner to cry. It is now day 8 and I woke up this morning very sad. Been sad and teary all day but the brain zaps are a little bit better.. slightly less prominent but still there. The digestive system has settled a bit – no appetite but a bit more solid inside no more diarrhoea.

    Knowing what this is and why I am feeling these things has really helped me to hang in. Like 1 guy said, when first tapering off I actually felt emotionally more happy than I have in ages. Once through this withdrawal/discontinuation I am looking forward to being happy once again. Feeling excitement. I forget that feeling. Keep up the supplements like Magnesium and B vitamins, Calcium as they say.

    Keep up the sleep if possible early nights. Keep up the exercise. At the moment I don’t really want to eat much but when you can, eat very cleanly and we are giving our bodies the best chance. Not only by having the nutrients you need available to hopefully generate your own serotonin and norepinephrine etc again, but also to allow the body to regrow the receptors it has got rid of. Neurogenesis. The exercise will help keep circulation, breathing everything good that way and hopefully release endorphins.

    I find animals have really helped me. Plus a reason to live cos they need you, they rely on you to feed them (or kids if you have). I have to thank everyone and sites like this cos it has helped me so so much. I thought I was on my own after that useless, greedy overpaid doctor disillusioned me further, but reading this has really helped. Also to know how many people suffer from this and how awful it is. I just wonder how such things can be legal.

    It is criminal that they can do this to our bodies. Hang in there. Know that you are not alone cos there are thousands of us out there going through this nightmare. Know that one day we will feel joy again. Know that you have survived this long so you can do it. It is a journey of physical, emotional and ultimately spiritual growth. Who knows why we had to experience such an awful thing but ultimately we know ourselves better after it, and how to keep even better health.

    Not ideal at all, but if it only lasts 6-8 weeks the end is in sight. I am on day 8 of cold turkey and yes it sucks, but I am at work, I am not completely unintelligible and I can put on the brave face as required. The brain zaps and digestion and exhaustion, well everything… just awful. But we will make it. After this many days the brain zaps and digestive thing have settled a bit so I think it will keep improving a bit day by day.

    Hang in there folks. We won’t let them dumb down the population without a fight. If enough of us wanted to do a class action against Pfizer, I think we could. We could extract some of their poisonous wealth. I hate the evil. Can contact me if you want. This written Nov 2016. aggjs[@]dodo.com.au

  • Katie November 23, 2016, 10:07 am

    I was on 50mg a day for three months then began alternating to every second day in the 4th month for about 2 weeks before going cold turkey. I tolerated the drug very well from the beginning, only experienced mild insomnia and brain fog for a couple of weeks then no side effects at all. But I read about this drug and how hard it is to get off it and decided I’d rather find other ways to deal with my issues.

    In the first week of cold turkey I got very frequent dizzy spells, irritability, a panic attack and sweating. I planned supports for my withdrawal and on the last week of taking Pristiq also began taking krill oil, rhodiola, magnolia, holy basil (all these are adaptogens that work on the endocrine system) and a multivitamin and continued with those daily during withdrawal. I also made myself do walking & meditation everyday and eating meals consisting of protein and cooked vegetables only.

    No caffeine, no grain, no sugar. Walking elevates your noradrenaline levels, meditation sorts out the serotonin levels. It’s day 6 of cold turkey and I feel almost normal. I’m more emotionally sensitive but nothing major. I made the mistake of allowing myself 1 coffee a day in the first few days of withdrawal, mainly because I felt like death upon waking. This was a mistake.

    Caffeine makes the dizziness worse. I think the reason being that it dicks around with your serotonin levels and noradrenaline levels too. You get a big hit then a rollercoaster for the rest of the day which does you no good at all. Caffeine free during withdrawal is the way to go. Your body has enough to cope with without the effects of caffeine as well.

  • Stacey November 24, 2016, 8:21 pm

    Day 12 and diarrhea still taking the best out of me!! No appetite all day. Brain zaps are definitely easing. Emotions still swinging and extreme fatigue. Yay for big pharmas!

  • Amy November 26, 2016, 6:12 am

    It makes me feel less anxious knowing that I am not the only person dealing with symptoms from withdrawal of Pristiq. I tapered my 50mg by extending the pills every 24, 28, 32, 36, 40 hours. The schedule was insane but did I fine. Then by my doctors advice, every 48 hours for 2 weeks, then took 25 mg every other day for 2 weeks. IT WAS HORRIBLE! Like a Rollercoaster, I said, forget it… took a week off work and went cold turkey.

    I vomited, had bathroom issues, dizzy, anxiety and similar symptoms that have been described by people here. My colon was KILLING me as well as my upper back. It’s been 3 1/2 weeks and I am better. BUT my eyes are still driving me crazy. It’s like I’m car sick most of the time and take Dramamine. I’ve had no emotional issues (except the fact I have a teenager).

    I am hoping the issues with my eyes and equilibrium improve because I can’t deal with this forever. It’s debilitating. The doctor and pharmacist have not had answers and Pfizer is covering their butt. Not sure what to do next.

  • ploppy December 1, 2016, 2:30 am

    I am a couple of days into discontinuation of Pristiq. I have been on a number of antidepressants continually for about 15 years. In regard to splitting pills & tapering, I highly recommend it (with my GP’s supervision). It does specify that antidepressants should not be cut or split. However, modification of my antidepressant dose was the most sensible, & workable option for me.

    I used a set of digital scales accurate to 1mg ($30 AU). I split, weighed, & filed down the 50mg pills with a nail file, stepping down 10℅ each week (or so). I discontinued at 10mg. The pill fragment being so small that it couldn’t be reduced anymore (& the dose hardly lasting 24hours). I always use a weekly pill divider, arranging my meds at the start of each week. I don’t want to be modifying a dose every day.

    I am feeling uncomfortable, a bit dizzy, & tired today. However, I have not encountered anything like some of the withdrawal symptoms described in this forum thread. The idea of stepping off 50mg or 25mg is absolutely insane in my opinion. I encourage anyone wanting to discontinue any antidepressant to at least discuss this option with their health care professional. I have a great GP, one with an open mind.

    At the end of the day, anyone with any decent experience with antidepressants, in my opinion, knows how these drugs interact with their body far better than a doctor does. Also, good diet, magnesium, & regular exercise also play a positive part in this process. I also take 2mg of valium morning, & night to ease the discomfort. Good luck…

  • Kirsty December 1, 2016, 3:58 am

    I am currently on day 5 of my withdrawal symptoms & I can honestly say I wish I was dead! I am so unbelievably sick. Vomiting, nausea, dizzy, severe mood swings, cannot function in general & am experiencing all of the above symptoms severely. I don’t know if or how I can get through this when I’ve only made it to day 5. :'(

    • Amy December 2, 2016, 7:33 pm

      I’m so sorry you have to go through this. The 3 kids makes it very difficult. It gets better, I promise! I took Dramamine and still take it as needed. It usually makes me sleep but I didn’t have that problem. I know it sounds crazy, but if you can’t deal with the symptoms, the ER will help (last resort). You can do this!

  • Marcia December 2, 2016, 7:49 am

    After many years taking Pristiq 100 mg. I am on day 8 of being Pristiq free. I was prescribed this drug for mild depression. As time passed, I had insomnia and was prescribed a sleeping pill that I took daily. Over time, I had high blood pressure, and was prescribed another medication for that. Then, I had erratic heart palpitations and was prescribed a med for that.

    After many years, I finally questioned all these expensive drugs and went to Pristiq’s web site and… there I learned that my multiple medical problems were all possible side effects of this drug. Nuts! My doctor was helpful with my desire to get of this medication – I went from 100 mg. to 50 mg. and stayed at that level for two months. Then I went to 25 mg. and stayed there for a month.

    Thanksgiving was my first day without Pristiq. All was OK for two days – then the nausea, chills, insomnia and fatigue took over. The brain zaps are real – the top of my head seems to want to explode. I went to the ATM and couldn’t make it work. The bank staff told me I was trying to use a Master Card, instead of the bank card. Word retrieval was noticeable.

    I now take frequent rest periods – little sleep – just closing my eyes and keeping warm under the bed covers. I picked this time to quit because I thought I was in a good place in my life. The election was finally coming to an end and I felt sure that common sense would win over most people! Well… funny how life turns out! This web site has inspired me with people’s stories of great courage.

    Knowing this is the right thing for me to do will help me to persevere. Dramamine has been helpful with the nausea – warm soups have helped as well. Chamomile tea at the end of the day – all in an effort to calm myself from within, though my head and body have been going off the deep end. I am encouraged that each day will be better, thanks to the kindness of others who have taken the time to write about their experiences.

    We are not alone …in the middle of a long night without end, that is a great comfort. Marcia

    • Marcia December 3, 2016, 6:38 pm

      As others have written on this lengthy blog about getting safely off Pristiq, the brain zaps have subsided. Food no longer fights nausea. And a blessed night’s sleep has returned. Purpose for the day has re-emerged and a short list for my Saturday tasks has me back, ready to greet the day. There is a calm, clear headed feeling and a smile on my face! I will track this carefully, knowing that I have been to a very low valley and come out the other side. Marcia

  • Steve December 7, 2016, 2:15 am

    Hi everyone, I’m on day one of tapering from 200mg (was on 150 mg for about 6 mths and 200mg for the last 4 mths). I wasn’t really getting any benefit from pristiq so my psychiatrist recommended I try something else. I’m a little worried because his suggested taper is to drop 50 mg each week. I’m in Australia so I don’t think 25mg is an option. I’ve strapped myself in and am ready for the ride. Wish me luck.

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