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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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  • Michael September 16, 2018, 10:11 am

    I’ve been on Pristiq for six years. It’s day 3 of withdrawing going cold turkey. I got up this morning and cried for the first time in 6 years. I’m experiencing weird dreams of horses and chariots galloping up wide stair cases and hooves brushing my face.

    I’m constantly having brain zaps. I’m experiencing loud noises and bright lights. My thinking and speaking is very fast. I’m very emotional with tears. I’m having head jolts.

  • Rebecca D September 11, 2018, 7:03 am

    I had a terrible time withdrawing from Effexor years ago. Even with tapering it took four months for the symptoms to go away. My doctor changed me from Celexa to Pristiq about three weeks ago. I was on 50 mg for only 2 1/2 weeks when I realized it was the same “coming off” as Effexor.

    I am very surprised how miserable I feel right now going cold turkey, and shocked because I only took it for such a short time. I also stopped Celexa right before that. Ugh! My ears are ringing, sleep problems, depressed, nausea, diarrhea, major foggy brain and dizzy. I recognize all of this and wish I never started this drug!

  • Jane August 31, 2018, 4:53 pm

    I only took Pristiq for 30 days and am now stopping because it’s just not for me. When she prescribed the Pristiq, my doctor told me she chose it because there are no withdrawal symptoms or adverse effects from missed doses. Boy is she wrong!!

    Even after only having been on this for 30-days, I’m in to day 4 of the cold turkey withdrawals and absolutely miserable. No brain zaps, but nauseous, exhausted, unable to think clearly, irritable, depressed, and disinterested in engaging in life.

    I’m hoping that this lasts only a short period of time given that I was only on Pristiq for such a short period of time. Anyone know if that’s likely?

  • DeeDee August 29, 2018, 6:15 am

    Experienced pristiq user here. I wanna say I’ve been on it since it came out. We tapered all the way down to 50mg every 2nd day, and now I am in the final stage where there is none in my system. For 4 days now, I woke up 2 hours earlier than intended, used the bathroom, have panic attacks, and will be unable to sleep until I vomit a small bit of stomach bile – and then wretch for another 5 to 10 minutes.

    Also my ribs are killing me as a result. IT HURTS TO YAWN. Also the vomiting is weird, no food or drink comes up at all. Afterwards I seem to get hot and cold flashes until I fall asleep for about 3-4 hours. It has hardcore suppressed my appetite because of the anxiety related to vomiting.

    Oh, and all the psychological symptoms? ALL OF THE ONES LISTED. I never EVER would have taken this medication had I known of the high likelihood of withdrawal symptoms. Also it didn’t work. I gave this drug a damn good chance, and the only thing I have to show for it is pain and misery.

    If you can get access to medical cannabis before coming off this medication, I wholly recommend it. To be honest, weed is the only thing keeping me alive right now and that is sad. I shouldn’t have to use this to come off these kinds of medications.

  • DebraWTX August 16, 2018, 3:27 pm

    I am on day 11 of getting off of Pristiq 100mg cold turkey, 8 years on it. I did not intentionally get off of Pristiq. It started with missing a dose at night. The insomnia started immediately and was intense for 5 nights. I have been battling the sweats, cold sweats, interment dizziness, fatigue, crying hysterically, depressed, worthless, suicidal thoughts, anger outbursts, and throwing things.

    I hid in my walk-in closet for several hours last Saturday to keep myself from destroying all my material possessions and personal relationships. My husband saved my life this week. I don’t know how we survived it, because we really did not know what was happening until Day 9 of the last 11 days I have been off of it.

    I was so out of it, I could not even read about the withdrawal symptoms of Pristiq. I am getting tired of taking a pill to wake me up, one to go to sleep, one to make me happy, etc. I have increased my exercise, eating better, drinking lots of fluids, getting rest and am reading up on what’s happening to me.

    I have been wanting to get off Pristiq for a long time. I had no idea I would do it cold turkey and be in such a dysfunctional state. I would never do it again. I am thankful that my husband of 24 years stood by me and helped me through it.

    I also want to thank my dog, Clifford, for letting me hold him while I cried into his neck one night! If it were not for the understanding of my husband and animals, I don’t think I would have survived. I was ready for eternal silence. Mental Health drugs are serious medication and slipping up is dangerous. Be conscious of your mental health and wellbeing.

  • Nettie August 14, 2018, 12:06 am

    I have posted before, but in all fairness, need to post that several of the symptoms that I though were related to the Pristiq were not. I had bad pain in my jaw and it turns out, after a CT scan, a full mouth X-Ray, and a very good dentist – I form stones in my salivary glands.

    It had nothing to do with the Pristiq. I know this because I quit it to see if my mouth would be less dry. I am back on it and feeling good. It may not work for everyone, but it does for me. The electrical shock feelings were real from getting off of it. THEY do go away. Stay healthy everyone.

  • Darren July 30, 2018, 10:46 am

    I’ve been on Pristiq for 10 years, going up to 300mg for several years before coming back to 100mg for the last few and 50mg for the last year. I stopped cold turkey 7 days ago and I’ve found the symptoms mostly tolerable although I would take time off work if I had the time again.

    Insomnia for three nights was severe and a day of diarrhea was uncomfortable. Irritability was high and exacerbated by tension like when I play an action video game. I burned off extreme energy levels with high intensity workouts so I’d recommend keeping active for anyone going through withdrawal.

    The White Noise I’ve had in my head for the last 10 years is even starting to decrease.

  • Chris July 27, 2018, 11:39 pm

    I took Pristiq for 6 years, after trying basically every SSRI on the market. I could not tolerate Effexor but could tolerate Pristiq. The SNRI’s do seem to address anxiety where as the SSRI’s did not, at least for me. Last year my depression broke through with a vengeance – I was moved from 200mg to 300mg but became zombie like, just like I did on Effexor.

    I returned to 200mg and kept being depressed. I constantly fought the increased appetite with weight gain, then I’d lose weight with exercise and shear will power, then gain it back… I can’t sleep and take Seroquel (as little as possible as this drug leaves me stuffed next day). Pristiq destroyed my sex drive, but it didn’t bother me, my wife hardly ever wanted sex and I felt less frustrated.

    However I left my wife early last year and met a beautiful woman late last year. I have been lucky to have sex once a week, so I’d skip 2 days Pristiq and be able to preform, but on the second day the awful withdrawal symptoms would appear, like an awful flu. Added to this I spend most of time in bed when not at work, struggle to get to the gym or to socialize. My girlfriend is sexually frustrated… enough is enough!

    My psychiatrist of 15 years passed away late last year. I told my new one I can take no more of this second hand existence and that I am through with Pristiq. I am now on 25mg Valdoxan at night and 10mg of Brintellix in the morning (I will work up to 20mg). I was informed that Valdoxan can help sleep but is a weak antidepressant, while Brintellix is known to improve cognitive functioning.

    This is Day 3 and I was hoping the new medication would aid in the reduction of withdrawal side effects… Forget it! I feel like I can hardly stand up and I need to go to work in one hour. Already I do feel more switched on in the day, and sleepy at night with no hangover feeling – just as the doctor said, but I am highly irritable and anxiety – I feel like something awful will happen any minute and like I want to vomit.

    These new medications are known to NOT decrease sex drive and NOT increase appetite – so I am pushing on regardless – but right now as I type I just want to die, no exaggeration. I will update this post in a few weeks to try to help fellow sufferers, if not myself.

    My advice to anyone is to choose another medication – after 6 years Pristiq has truly taken more than it has delivered, and now I want my life back! Depression is an underrated mental illness in my humble opinion.

  • Matty July 24, 2018, 3:18 pm

    So I have recently come off 50mg Pristiq cold turkey after 8 months. It has been 5 days and already the withdrawals are ruining my relationship.

    I have experienced (in order) cloudy feeling in my head with a slight ringing (even as I’m writing), sensitivity to noise, headaches, restless sleep with sweats and what feels like ants crawling over me, dizziness with an occasional tilt to one side as I’m walking, confusion, crying spells, worthlessness, minor memory loss, mood swings and I just can’t seem to stop my mouth once it gets started.

    I don’t no what to do, I’m so lost and feeling slightly alone. On top of all that my partner is 6 weeks pregnant with our first and this is not what we expected would happen. In saying that I should have done a bit of research first and it probably wasn’t the best time to come off. However, we are trying to start our future with a clean slate i.e. drug free.

    Any suggestions to help me help through this or even a heads up to what’s to come would be forever appreciated in so many ways.

  • Frank July 23, 2018, 2:53 pm

    Hello all. I took Pristiq 50mg ER for anxiety for just over 5 years. Never experienced any major side effects while on the drug except for the occasional strange dream, some random muscle twitching, and a slightly embarrassing case of hyperhidrosis. While medicated, I found that while it helped me to feel little or no anxiety – it also helped me to feel little of anything at all.

    I wasn’t quite a zombie… but I wasn’t quite human either. So, I quit cold turkey just over 2 months ago and I am happy to report that I experienced no major withdrawal symptoms. Don’t get me wrong… it hasn’t been rosy. I certainly experienced the brain zaps for well over a month, though I would consider mine to be mild.

    For the first few weeks, I had many crying jags over very trivial things (song lyrics, sad commercials, etc.) but I didn’t mind that… as I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I cried. Even as recent as last week I’ve encountered small bouts with depression and hopelessness, as well as some severe mood swings… but none of that seemed to last very long.

    After two months, the only lingering ill effect seems to be more frequent mild migraines – always with aura first. (Suffering through one as I type in fact). I’ve had these in the past every so often but they seem to be more frequent over the last month. I’ve recently made drastic changes to both my diet and overall lifestyle which has helped this process tremendously.

    I’ve lost weight, I sleep much better, the hyperhidrosis is gone, and things are generally going in the right direction. Of course, I would not recommend quitting cold turkey – I got lucky here – but I hope my experience gives some of you, that are looking to quit, hope that it is possible.

    Thank you all for listening.

    • Nettie July 24, 2018, 1:54 am

      I have written before. I have been off pristiq for over 5 weeks now and am not pleased with my level of depression. I am going in a new direction. I have recently sent in genetic (swab from inside of mouth) that helps determine which antidepressant is more or less likely to cause you problems due to your genetic makeup.

      It is not covered by insurance but will be a max of $330. My doctor ordered it when I asked for it. If there are those of you that have medicaid, in some states it is fully covered by Medicaid – not sure about medicare. It is backed by clinical trials to be useful.

      If I cannot adjust my life to be happy and tolerant without an antidepressant, I will use this as a tool with my doctor to try to pick the right one. Just wanted to post in case some of you are in the same place.

  • Phoebe July 18, 2018, 2:48 pm

    I have taken 50mg for 3+ years, this is Day 4 and I’m already struggling. Head zaps every few minutes when I’m active, sometimes it’s a few in a row. I’m sweating like crazy at night and getting both cold and hot flushes.

    My muscles ache and I feel very very heavy and weak. I’ve tapered off the medication for a few weeks. I hope it doesn’t last too long. I previously tapered myself of lexapro and I don’t remember withdrawing like this.

    • Sabine July 19, 2018, 2:07 am

      Hang in there, mate. The head zaps get a bit better every day. I’m on day 9 after quitting cold turkey from 100mg/day and while the vertigo and zaps are still there, they are nowhere near as intense as last week. Good luck!

      • Phoebe July 23, 2018, 1:17 pm

        Thanks for your reply. I’m staying hopeful and your comment has definitely reassured me. I’m on day 8/9 now. The zaps aren’t too bad but they’re still there. I’ve been sick for a few weeks with the flu that’s going around (I’m getting better now).

        However, my muscles have been aching like crazy and I’m waking up in sweats still. I’m not sure the flu is affecting me like this as well, but it can also be a combination of it plus withdrawing. I had to leave work early because I was so sluggish and unwell. It’s like a constant feeling in my stomach that worsens every now and then.

        Panicking a lot more often, as well as crying (LOL). I’m seeing my doctor tomorrow, but I’m not keen on getting onto Zoloft when I’m already trying to get off pristiq. I’m changing medications and the withdrawals make it so uncomfortable that I’d rather just take the medication to feel better, but I have to keep moving forward if I’ve come this far.

  • Heather July 17, 2018, 7:22 pm

    Slow tapering. Week 2 of withdrawal. I’ve had every symptom and feel absolutely awful. My doctor told me 4 weeks, but I’m reading all comments and looks like 3 months.

    I have 3 kids and don’t think I can allow them to see me like this another day. It’s not fair to them. I’m so lost and scared. I really don’t see an end to how terrible I feel. I’m sorry I sound so awful. I really want to be happy for my kids and husband.

    • Nettie July 19, 2018, 1:15 pm

      Do not give up. It will get better.

    • Phoebe July 23, 2018, 1:19 pm

      Keep looking forward, we can do this. The only way to go is up from here!

  • Kevin July 14, 2018, 2:10 am

    Been on Pristiq for about 8 months @ 100mg. Started a week ago to taper off and now @ 50mg. The ‘brain zaps’ had me a little freaked out to say the least. That came out of the blue and I had no idea.

    Wasn’t sure if I was going through some neurological issues, sudden high/low blood pressure etc? I’m a first responder, so I did take my blood pressure a number of times and was fine. Thanks for these posts! Now at least I know what I’m dealing with!

    Hope they go away soon!

    • Sabine July 19, 2018, 2:09 am

      These comments really helped me too. I quit cold turkey 100mg/day 9 days ago after tapering from 200mg a few months ago. The zaps will slowly get better. Hang in there!

      How funny is first responder/med student syndrome though? I’m on that same boat. I was convinced I had C. diff. last month after a course of antibiotics haha.

  • Rob July 12, 2018, 9:51 pm

    I was on pristiq 100mg for about three years. Went down to 50mg for about 4 weeks and have been off it for about 10 weeks now. When I was on it, I felt great and it definitely worked. I wanted to come off it because I felt so good.

    Now 10 weeks off it and I am really struggling with anxiety and feeling depressed. Just last night I was up all night having panic attacks. It seems to be whenever I have alcohol it really affects me, but my anxiety has been through the roof for the last 5 days.

    I don’t know what to do. Should I go back on pristiq? I’m scared of the side effects that may happen when I go back on though. Anyone been off it and then gone back on again?

  • Sabine July 10, 2018, 4:10 pm

    I’d been on 200mg for nearly 10 years. I put on weight and have had nothing but bad dreams and nightmares since I began taking it. So a few months ago, I cut my dosage in half. I’m now on day 2 after quitting cold turkey and it’s been hell.

    I’ve experienced all the withdrawals mentioned above, down to vomiting. Tried taking some Valium to help me sleep but I had horrible sleep paralysis as a result and even experienced the brain zaps as I slept. I had no idea it was going to be this bad.

    • paun July 10, 2018, 9:29 pm

      I do know what you are going through. It is not easy but I am so glad I quit. Be sure to listen to your body and mind. I do believe that you will make it through as have so many others. Stay strong and I wish you all the best in your journey.

    • Cathy August 1, 2018, 6:29 pm

      Sabine, I know how you feel. I was on Paxil for many years and it seemed to quit working – so my new psychiatrist put me on pristiq 50 mg and tapered me down on Paxil. Problem was the pristiq made my heart race and I stopped it cold turkey.

      I am suffering now. On top of that, Paxil (I think) is even worse to withdraw from. Between the dizziness, nausea, insomnia etc. I don’t know what’s up. It’s all very depressing!!!

  • troy July 5, 2018, 5:59 am

    I started taking Pristiq to help with mood swings. The tablets worked well for me, and from what the prescribing doctors told me, it’s ok to take for as long as I liked. It’s basically a natural chemical that my body produces, but some people like me, have an imbalance of those chemicals.

    I took 50mg for about 4 years, it worked quiet well, mood swings had abated. But I sort of became emotive, lethargic, and put on lots of weight. 25kg +/- 5kg from time to time. Last week I went to the doctor and he said, I’m better off getting off Pristiq, and can’t continue, because it’s not good for me.

    I saw another doctor at the same practice, who I also have seen in the past, and she told me about tapering off. Once my mind was made up to get off Pristiq, I couldn’t see the point in dragging it out. The doctor said I would experience withdrawals, but not to worry too much, as all the effects are mental and wouldn’t harm my body.

    So… I stopped cold turkey 4 days ago. Day one: Felt the usual sensations, the same as I’ve felt before from taking my regular dose late. By the afternoon, brain zaps were continual, and I could here droning noises when my eyes moved. Odd to say the least.

    Day two: Same feelings and noises in my head, but added was the feeling I was constantly coming to a stop in an elevator. My mood was very low, and I lost control of my emotions, once at work, (felt good to tell the boss off for a change though). And once on the way home, at someone who abused me in traffic.

    Ok… this is not good. Maybe I just need to keep taking the tablets? I did feel some relief from all these symptoms, when I was exercising at the gym and at home. When I was eating, and when I closed my eyes or meditated. Day three, same feelings, and sensations, but worse than the last 2 days. Not good.

    More exercising, eating and meditation seemed to help. (And keeping away from the boss at work). Day four: Felt great in the morning, exercising at home, meditated. All great. But the sensations came back in the car on the way to work…

    It’s the end of day 4 now and I’m feeling ok. I think I can get over this. Been years since feeling, angry, happy, down and excited. Maybe my brain is getting used to dealing with things again without the drug. Feeling positive. Troy

    • jo August 13, 2018, 6:10 am

      How did you go Troy?

  • Rachel June 29, 2018, 3:01 am

    I was on 50mg of Pristiq for approximately 9 months. This medication worked so well for me. The first few weeks were hard as I adjusted, but it treated my anxiety so well after those first couple weeks. I became pregnant in March and started cutting my pills in half (as instructed by my doctor).

    Unfortunately in May I had a miscarriage. We are hoping to try again soon, and decided it would be best to get off the meds completely just to be safe. My anxiety isn’t severe at this point, which I am so thankful for. I continued tapering down to 12.5mg and about two weeks ago I took my last piece.

    Since then I have had brain zaps throughout the day, I’ve had headaches and been dizzy often as well. The past few days I have noticed that my lips go tingly after my brain zaps. I find I am exhausted as well. The brain zaps are my least favourite symptom.

    I had a couple days they were so severe I was very tempted to call in sick. I naively assumed the withdrawal symptoms would last just a couple days. I’m hoping to be done with them soon. I want to go back on this medication in the future, but the withdrawal is long and hard.

    • Nettie July 1, 2018, 7:07 pm

      Hang in there. The brain zaps do go away!

  • Sarah June 25, 2018, 11:22 am

    I’ve been on Pristiq for I’ve 4 years now. I started on 50mg but every time I show a recurrence of depression or anxiety they’ve increased the dosage. I’m now on 150mg a day and I find if I’m even a couple hours late taking the medication I get the brain zaps, tingling from head to toe, nauseous and the feeling I’m about to pass out.

    I’m also experiencing excessive sweating on a nightly basis and clenching my jaw all of the time. I’m starting to feel the hopelessness and depression come through again and I’m absolutely terrified to increase the dosage (and possibly the symptoms), but also terrified to stop if the symptoms already hit after a few hours!

    Anyone else experience this type of thing?

    • paun June 27, 2018, 11:39 pm

      Hi Sarah, I am so sorry to hear that you are suffering. When withdrawal hit me I was terrified as I felt that I had lost control of my body. All of the things that you describe happened to me (and more).

      If you do want to stop taking Pristiq, the best way seems to be tapering down with the help of a health care provider. It can be a difficult road but some have noted that they experienced few symptoms. It depends on your body.

      It sounds as though you are still deciding whether you need to continue on the medication as your original symptoms seem to appear again. I am not a medical professional but a different drug may help you if you and your doctor feel that would work.

      I wish you all the best and please know that you are not alone.

    • paun June 27, 2018, 11:50 pm

      5 Months off Pristiq – The symptoms that remain are facial/nasal/gum nerve pain, tinnitus, memory problems, dry mouth/lips/tongue/palate, sweating and post nasal drip. I am still hopeful that these symptoms will also go away as they are ones that remain of over 75 to begin with. Good luck to all.

      • Nettie July 1, 2018, 7:04 pm

        3 months off. Still dealing with jaw pain – switches from right to left. I often wonder if it is depression rather than withdrawal? Did you end up off of everything for depression?

        I did start on St Johns wort and a couple of supplements Serotrex and GABAtrex. The last 2 at the suggestion of a great chiropractor. I think they are slowly helping. Have fatigue even when I am off work and slept all night. Depression?

  • Ashley C. June 20, 2018, 7:39 am

    I’ve been weaned completely off Pristiq for a month now and am taking Zoloft in its place. It was an ok transition with a few up and down moods – plus a terrible headache the first week. I also have been taking CBD oil drops to ease some anxiety side effects.

    The last three days I’ve been feeling zoned out and have had dull headaches the turn into dizziness. I feel like my bad withdrawal symptoms are creeping in slowly.

    I pray I can get through it but I just feel out of sorts right now and like my head is always swirling. I’m seeing a new psychiatrist on Thursday and hope they can give me some advice.

    • Tammy August 30, 2018, 4:04 pm

      How are you getting on?

      • paun August 30, 2018, 10:33 pm

        7 Months off Pristiq – Thanks for asking Tammy. As per my postings you will notice that I have had a very difficult time coming off this drug. I believe that my withdrawal symptoms are gone, but I can’t be sure as I am suffering more than ever from orofacial pain that I believe was brought about by bruxism caused from withdrawal.

        It seems that when I ground my front tooth down I may have changed my jaw alignment causing intense constant excruciating pain. I can’t sit, stand, walk or lie down comfortably. Most days I am at an 8.5 of 10 and the others 9.5 of 10. In addition to the pain, I suffer from severe sweating (mostly at night), severe tinnitus and severe dry lips/top of tongue/gums behind my top front teeth (these all happened several months after the initial withdrawal symptoms).

        I have been referred to an orofacial pain specialist but there is a wait and the pain increases daily. I of course do not want to take drugs for the pain since I have been off 7 months, but I really don’t think I can take it anymore. I have an appointment tomorrow and may see if I can get in earlier to a specialist.

        My life is consumed by this pain and feel very discouraged at the lack of a definitive diagnosis. But at least the good news is that I think I made it through withdrawal. The warning in this is use a grind guard if you withdraw from any drug that depresses your CNS. I would not ever wish this on anyone.

  • Alanah June 11, 2018, 4:59 am

    I have been under a lot of stress from exams recently and have forgotten to take my pristiq for about a week and a half. I have been irritable and last night I had a massive panic attack, my whole body tingled, I felt like my brain was going to explode, and I had random bouts of crying every ten minutes.

    I had a slight headache and it felt like every nerve in my body was firing at once and had to curl up in the foetal position on the floor. It was not a fun experience and I would definitely not recommend forgetting this medication. I am definitely going to go through with a slow tapering off and get onto something else.

  • Mark June 7, 2018, 1:07 pm

    I have not taken any pristiq for the last 8 days. My symptoms have so far been minor. I do get a foggy head and an occasional brain zap but overall nothing that I would consider terrible. Emotions seem to be ok but I have notice and trying to to control quick to anger symptoms.

    This too is very infrequent and when I notice it taking place I try to put myself in another place and calm down. I’ve kept my wife informed of all the symptoms when they happen and we talk about it. I’ve asked her to update me if she sees anything strange in my behavior.

    My Dr. had just cautioned me to be aware of an reoccurrence of my depression/anxiety symptoms. I think being active and getting plenty of sleep has helped a good deal in keeping the symptoms to a minimum.

    I feel if that after 8 days without and the ability so far to cope that I should be able to survive the detox process.

    • Nettie June 16, 2018, 12:28 am

      Very glad to hear of another getting along well. Keep up the positive work. Great that you are keeping your wife informed and involved.

    • troy July 5, 2018, 6:28 am

      That all sounds good Mark. I hope I have the same success as you. And hopefully, being on Pristiq the last 4 years has taught me I can cope, without getting angry.

      The fog is lifting for me and I’m hopeful I can deal with depression and anxious feelings better now. All the best mate. 👍

    • Renee September 14, 2018, 6:08 am

      I’ve been taking Pristiq for maybe 8 months & have gone cold turkey for the past week. Very foggy, dizzy & a little ‘out of it’. My mood is ok, emotionally I’m actually feeling good.

      Feeling a bit ‘different’ as in sometimes a racing heart etc but I’m doing ok. I really want off all antidepressants so I’m hoping I can keep coping with the few things I am experiencing and I’ll start feeling a bit clearer in my head soon.

  • Jeanneen May 31, 2018, 4:42 pm

    I have been off 100 mg of Pristiq for 6 weeks now, tapering with 20 mg of Prozac. The symptom I am STILL experiencing is tingling, pins and needles throughout body. Anyone have this?

    • paun June 2, 2018, 9:26 pm

      A/D’s depress your CNS so if you look up the link between Pristiq and CNS you will find that it is your body trying to start working without the drug. From the information that I have seen, it would seem that this is temporary. Good luck in your recovery.

    • Nancy September 17, 2018, 7:40 pm

      How are you now? I am on day 3 without pristiq now taking 10 mg of prozac and almost passed out when I went shopping. Thought I was okay. Back in May I did the every other day tapering off pristiq and passed out – hit my head on bathtub and went to ER. Pristiq is awful!

  • lyn May 31, 2018, 10:35 am

    Hi. I have been on 100mg pristiq for 5 years now. I really want to come off it because even one day of forgetting to take this drug I suffered from side effects of major dizziness, “brain shocks” and poor concentration.

    I feel that if this is how I feel without it, then my brain is being severely chemically changed every day and for 5 years who can tell what my brain can or cant do anymore without being dependent on this drug. What has it done to me long term?

    So I am about to start a new job with lots of travel!! Seeing some of the posts here are really scary. It’s taken ages for my doctor to agree to stopping pristiq and she wants me to taper onto cymbalta. Am I just going onto another 5 years of chemical changes that could change my brain permanently?

    Does anyone have a good story to tell me? Anyone? I think it sucks that we have suffered at the hands of pretty severe depression through no fault of our own, and then agree to take medication to help us get out of our hole, then have more heartache and pain just to have a chance at living with a brain and its natural chemicals.

    • Tawny May 31, 2018, 3:50 pm

      Hi Lyn, I have a good story!!! If you taper slowly you can avoid withdrawal symptoms!!! Slower than your doctor will ever tell you though! You can use a compounding pharmacy to have your dose lowered monthly at 5-10% drops. The side effects will be minimal, if any!

      No one on this forum seems to believe this but I am doing it and I know of a few others who have and are doing this successfully. Why everyone wants to be suffering I don’t know!? And, I ALWAYS run into those that think the side effects of withdrawal won’t happen to them if they just stop cold turkey or do what doctors recommend – like skipping days, etc yet they do.

      Every single one of them. And what’s worse, is their symptoms can and do last for many months and sometimes years from getting off the way their docs tell them or how they do it on their own. Just read this thread and you will see.

      You should google cymbalta and see all the awful effects those people are having coming off of it too! If it were me, I wouldn’t do it! Just wean slow. You can do it! Good luck!

    • paun May 31, 2018, 4:23 pm

      Hi Lyn, Many of these stories are awful, but you must keep in mind that everyone is different. There are people that have successfully come off of anti-depressants with few side effects. Some find that tapering works for them, while others body chemistry may have allowed them to withdraw with little effect.

      I stopped cold turkey and I would not recommend this as I suffered/suffer hell. I was too far in before realizing that stopping was what caused my problems. That was a decision that I made and you need to make your own as well. Some have said that tapering worked for them.

      I assume there are many that stop without problems as I feel there would be a great deal more people looking for support on these forums. I wish you good luck in whatever decision you make. The people on this forum helped me survive with encouragement and support. I believe that we can all do this.

  • Ashley C. May 24, 2018, 8:22 pm

    I have now been off my last dose of 25mg Pristiq for one week and the last two days have been slightly miserable. Constant head spinning and pounding. Not really a headache but feel my head could explode. I weaned onto Zoloft now to help the withdraw process.

    At first it was fine and now these side effects are hitting me. Hope it goes away soon because it’s hard to function when your head is swimming and pounding. Anyone else have this withdraw symptom from Pristiq?

  • Caroline May 20, 2018, 11:13 am

    I have successfully (over time) tapered from 200mg to 50mg with minimal side effects. However I’ve now stopped taking the 50mg and on day 5 I feel like I’m dying. Tunnel hearing (feels like I’m in a fish bowl/ chimes in my ears) dizziness, head spins, nausea, sweating, etc.

    Sure hope this doesn’t last long as physically I’m struggling to function (yet still having to). Driving is a challenge with the dizziness and so is single parenting… I can deal with most of these symptoms but the dizziness is the killer.

    Been on pristiq since 2013 and felt that after increasing to 200mg for a couple of years, it was no longer working the way it should’ve. Thanks for the write up about this… it all made sense and was very informative.

    Hang in there guys… it has to get better right?

    • paun May 20, 2018, 9:09 pm

      Hang in there is right. I have been off for over 3 months and I suffered all of the symptoms you describe. Fortunately for me the dizziness and head spins lasted only a few weeks. The sweating was intense for a few weeks as well although I still sweat occasionally at night.

      My hearing is still messed up (tinnitus) but in the last few weeks getting better. I am so glad I stopped despite experiencing extreme symptoms all over. I had many moments when I thought it would never get better, but it did.

      Now just a few lasting problems (nerve pain in my nose/gums etc) and extremely dry lips. Compared to where I started, this is much better. You can do it and I hope you see a light soon.

      • Nettie H May 28, 2018, 3:25 am

        My story. This is a continued one on here. Took pristiq 50 for several years. Wanted off due to dry mouth and salivary gland issues. Struggled through the 25mg every day then I thought after taking only 25mg every other day for several weeks I would be home free… NOT!

        Had the same weird dizziness when moving head much at all. Only lasted 3 days but the tension in my jaw and muscles is high. Through all of this I now have a night bite plate in case that will help the jaw pain after a trip to the specialist.

        Biotene dry mouth treatment. Warm packs to jaw each nite. Chiropractic helped a lot. Still determined not to take it because of the dry mouth issues. I know I miss its positive effects but anything that potent to have such unbelievable withdrawal effects seems too potent to ingest.

        • paun May 29, 2018, 8:52 pm

          4 Months and 1 Week off Pristiq – I have weathered the worst of the storm I hope. I still suffer from very dry lips, some night sweats, tinnitus (better than at first) and nose/gum/sinus pain (still severe). I have been to physio and craniosacral therapy but not a chiropractor.

          Not sure if it helps yet as I have not felt a sudden change for the better. I am a little better but I think it may just be time. I was thinking of trying a chiropractor as well. Please keep posting if you find anything that helps the muscle tenseness as I suffer this as well. Good luck to us all.

          • Alex Smith May 31, 2018, 11:49 am

            Thanks for continuing to update on how you’re doing. I’m just starting my reduction journey, and it’s so helpful to read other people’s experiences. I hope your symptoms cease soon.

    • paun May 23, 2018, 5:54 pm

      16 Weeks off Pristiq – I still have intense tinnitus, especially in my right ear. It goes from very loud to loud to loud moderate. It changes throughout the day. In my left ear it is still there but barely noticeable because of the sound in my right ear.

      I still have pain in my gums and nose, but it seems to be changing as well. Still very intense but seems to have centralized. I continue to have very dry lips and tongue along with occasional sweating.

      Withdrawal has been a very long and terrible experience but I have hope that my remaining symptoms, if not go away entirely, at least be at a level that they stop consuming my every waking hour.

  • paun May 7, 2018, 7:13 pm

    14 Weeks off Pristiq. I still have some night sweating and facial/nasal/gum/tooth pressure pain (extreme at times). The tinnitus started to change last week. I still have it but almost gone in the left ear but holding on in the right. It seemed like it changed overnight.

    I have had one session of craniosacral therapy on April 25th. I think that may have moved things around. I am also using a hand held massage tool on my back and neck. This has been such a long horrible road but I am so glad I am doing it. I cannot even begin to explain how hopeless I felt for 3 months.

    I NEVER thought I would come through. I can now say that although I am still suffering with pain and tinnitus, I have real hope that these symptoms will also go away with time. Stay strong to all who are going through this journey.

    • Kelly May 9, 2018, 1:27 am

      Hi Paun, I’m glad you are doing better! I’m sorry it’s taken so long though. I am at week 11, and am still incredibly dizzy. I went to a naturopathic doctor as a last resort to see what she would say. I’m three days into 5HTP and Tyrosine.

      I had a good day today, but we’ll see if it lasts. I joined a Facebook group filled with supportive people. I would highly recommend you join it, as it’s benefitted me greatly.

      All in all, I’m glad you’re doing better. It’s comforting to hear I’m not the only one struggling.

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