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Geodon (Ziprasidone) Withdrawal Symptoms + Duration

Geodon (Ziprasidone) is an atypical antipsychotic drug that was developed to treat schizophrenia. It is also used to help control acute mania and treat mixed states among individuals with bipolar disorder. In some cases this drug is prescribed as an off-label treatment for depression, anxiety, autism, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and aggression. The drug comes in oral (pill) form as well as an injection (intramuscular) form.

It works primarily on the dopamine and serotonin receptors, but also has a fair effect on adrenergic and histamine receptors. It should be noted that it can inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, but not dopamine. It is thought that Geodon works well for treating positive symptoms of schizophrenia (e.g. hallucinations) because it acts as a D2 dopamine receptor antagonist as well as a blockade at the 5-HT2A receptor.

It is thought that the effects the drug has on serotonin receptors also may reduce negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Although this is a drug that may work well for many people, there often comes a time when an individual wants to withdraw from the medication. Reasons for withdrawal include: a desire for “natural” functioning, unbearable side effects, and/or minimal benefit from taking the drug.

Factors that influence Geodon withdrawal

Below are various factors that influence a person’s withdrawal from Geodon. These factors include: time span over which the person took the drug, dosage, how quickly the person tapered from the drug, and other individual factors such as: environment, social support, etc.

1. Time Span

How long did you take Geodon? In general, the longer you took this medication, the more difficult it will be to withdraw. People that have taken this drug for years may experience severe symptoms at even slight reductions in dosage. In cases of people who haven’t been on the drug for a long term, the withdrawal symptoms may be relatively minimal.

2. Dosage (20 mg to 100 mg)

Most people taking Geodon for schizophrenia will start out at an initial dose of 20 mg twice daily. Over time, a person may gradually titrate their dosage upwards until they have successfully managed their symptoms. In most cases, people will be taking anywhere from 20 mg to 80 mg, twice daily. However, in some cases, people end up taking up to 100 mg twice per day.

There is no clinical evidence in support of dosages that exceed 80 mg twice per day. In reference to withdrawal, the greater the dose that you take, the tougher it’s going to be to withdraw. When you titrate upwards to a relatively high dose, your body becomes accustomed to receiving high quantities of the drug. When withdrawing from a high dosage, the withdrawal symptoms are usually more severe than quitting from a lower dose.

3. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

It is never recommended to quit an antipsychotic drug “cold turkey.” If you quit cold turkey, it is thought that the acute withdrawal symptoms will be increasingly severe. Additionally, cold turkey withdrawals may lead to a protracted or post-acute withdrawal (i.e. experiencing symptoms for months after your last dose).

It is always recommended to work closely with your psychiatrist or someone knowledgeable in recognizing withdrawal symptoms from this medication. To reduce the severity of withdrawal, your tapering period should be based on the amount of time you have been on the drug as well as your current dosage. The slower the taper, the easier it is for your body and brain to gradually readjust to functioning without the drug.

Most people that have come off of the drug gradually reduce their dose by 20 mg every 2 weeks. If you try this method and are noticing that the withdrawal effects are too difficult to cope with, you could taper by 10 mg every 2 weeks or 20 mg every month. Go at a rate that you feel is slow enough to reduce symptoms.

4. Individual Factors

There are also individual factors that will play a role towards influencing your withdrawal. These factors include things like: whether you take other medications, whether you are transitioning to a new drug, your sleep patterns, environmental stressors, dietary and exercise habits, etc.

It should also be noted that some individuals have an easier time coping with withdrawals than others. One person may have a low sensitivity to withdrawal symptoms, while another person may feel as if each day of withdrawal is pure hell.

Geodon Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Below is a list of withdrawal symptoms that people experience upon discontinuation of Geodon. Keep in mind that you may not experience all of these symptoms and that the severity of symptoms differs based on the individual. Some people will experience more severe symptoms and more overall symptoms than others when they quit the drug.

  • Anxiety: During withdrawal, the anxiety that you experience may be overwhelming. In order to reduce overwhelming sensations of anxiety, it is important to taper slowly. You will need to be prepared to deal with some anxious thinking so do your best to realize that it will eventually reduce as weeks and months pass.
  • Chills: Many individuals report feeling “chills,” cold sensations, and shivering when they discontinue. These can be uncomfortable, but the symptoms are a result of your body detoxifying itself from the drug that you were taking.
  • Concentration problems: Don’t be surprised if you have difficulty concentrating on work-related tasks during the first few weeks of withdrawal. You may experience major brain fog and when accompanied by other withdrawal sensations, it can be very difficult to even think, let alone work for 8 hours.
  • Confusion: Many people experience a combination of brain fog and memory deficits upon withdrawal that leads them to feel “confused.” If you experience confusion, it should improve over the next few months.
  • Crying spells: If you become severely depressed when you stop taking this medication, you may end up having periods of crying spells. This surge in depressed emotion that leads to crying is usually a sign of abnormally low levels of various neurotransmitters.
  • Depression: You may fall into a deep depression when you initially quit taking this drug. The depression is a result of your brain trying to regulate neurotransmitters without the influence of Geodon. As time passes, your brain will restore normative activity and your mood should improve.
  • Dizziness: If you feel dizzy during withdrawal, you are certainly not alone. This is perhaps the most common symptom for people to experience when withdrawing from any psychiatric drug. The dizziness should gradually improve, but may be severe in the first few weeks of withdrawal.
  • Fatigue: If you feel especially lethargic, tired, and low energy, this is a result of withdrawal fatigue. You may feel as though you lack the energy it takes to get out of bed in the morning. If you push yourself though and keep doing what you can, your energy levels should consistently improve.
  • Flu-like symptoms: The combination of hot flashes, cold chills, dizziness, headache, vomiting, and nausea can make withdrawal feel similar to the flu.
  • Headache: It is extremely common to have headaches during the initial few weeks of which you withdraw. In order to reduce headaches, be sure to stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, practice relaxation exercises, and consider over-the-counter headache relief.
  • Hot flashes: Some have reported experiencing hot flashes during the first week or two of withdrawing. These shouldn’t last longer than a month.
  • Insomnia: People have reported extreme periods of insomnia upon discontinuation from this medication. Therefore to minimize insomnia as much as possible, it is important to taper very slowly. To reduce insomnia consider melatonin, exercise, and/or relaxation techniques.
  • Memory problems: It is common to experience memory problems upon discontinuation from an antipsychotic drug. You may experience difficulties with both short-term and long-term memory retrieval. These should gradually improve over time, so don’t panic if they don’t immediately improve.
  • Mood swings: Withdrawing from any psychiatric drug can lead a person to experience mood swings. They may be difficult to deal with at times because your brain is highly sensitive and neurotransmitter levels are trying to restore themselves. One minute you may feel highly anxious, the next tired and depressed. Do your best to put up with these swings and they should gradually improve throughout your withdrawal.
  • Muscle weakness: If you experience muscle weakness, aches, and cramps, these are very normal. It may take some time for your body to regain energy and strength after your withdrawal. Any muscle weakness should improve within a few months.
  • Nausea: Feeling intense nausea is common during the first few weeks of withdrawal. In many cases the nausea is so severe that it leads to vomiting.
  • Palpitations: If you notice changes in heart rhythm, these are known as palpitations. You may experience sensations of abnormal heartbeats and/or pounding in your chest.
  • Panic attacks: Another fairly common symptom upon withdrawal is that of panic attacks. Your arousal level may be higher than normal and you may experience intense anxiety. This anxiety may lead to panic attacks if you are unable to relax. These will not be permanent if you had not experienced them before the medication, but they may take awhile to go away.
  • Psychosis: It has been documented that withdrawing from antipsychotics can cause psychosis. This means that you may experience hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices) and delusions as a result of chemical changes in the brain that occur during withdrawal. If you do not have schizophrenia, it is probably just a withdrawal symptom. If you have schizophrenia, this may signify a relapse.
  • Restlessness: You may feel unable to sit still and extra restless during the discontinuation process. Consider utilizing relaxation techniques to help lower arousal and increase calmness.
  • Shaking: Other people have experienced the “shakes” and/or tremors during withdrawal.
  • Sleep changes: Most people experience some sort of changes in their sleep quality and/or patterns when coming off of this drug. You may experience nightmares, poor sleep quality, and/or inability to stay asleep. This should improve as time continues to pass.
  • Suicidal thinking: This is a very normal symptom to experience during withdrawal from any psychiatric medication. Feeling depressed and suicidal after using a medication for a long period of time is because your neurotransmitter levels have been altered by the drug. They will need some time to recover. Consider seeking a professional psychotherapist for emotional support if you feel suicidal.
  • Sweating: Having sweats is thought to be a natural byproduct of your body going through detoxification. You may notice that you sweat more than normal throughout the day or while you sleep.
  • Vomiting: Most people that report vomiting usually have to deal with it for about a week. This is typically only a symptom that occurs during the acute stage of withdrawal.
  • Weight loss: If you experienced weight gain while taking Geodon, you should lose the weight that you packed on while taking it. Although many experts consider it “weight neutral” the fact is that some individuals gain a fair amount of weight while taking it.

Geodon Withdrawal Duration: How long does it last?

Most people report that their symptoms resulting from Geodon withdrawal last up to several months. It should be noted that if you were on Geodon for a very short duration and/or were taking a relatively low dose, you may experience less severe and persistent symptoms. Individuals that quit taking this drug “cold turkey” or those who tapered too quickly are thought to have a longer lasting withdrawal.

Those who have been taking this antipsychotic for an extended period of time may report that their discontinuation symptoms last up to 6 months. I recommend keeping documentation of symptoms upon withdrawal and reevaluating them every 3 months (i.e. 90 days). By giving yourself 3 months to reevaluate, you are giving your brain and body time to slowly readjust back to homeostatic functioning.

Many people require longer than 3 months to experience full recovery from withdrawal. As mentioned, you may not recover at the same rate as other people based on individual factors. One individual reported that in his experience it took a full 5 months for him to feel 90% better (in his subjective estimation). If you have gone through Geodon withdrawal and/or are currently going through with discontinuation, feel free to share your experience – you may really help someone else.

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{ 98 comments… add one }
  • Michelle July 1, 2018, 2:43 pm

    My doctor just cut me off of Geodon. I’ve been taking it for five plus years and OMG this is the second day! I’m about to lose my mind, then cry, then punch someone in the face – I can’t do this! I have liver cancer and they are taking me off of all my psych meds (lithium too).

    They had me on geodon for schizophrenia and bipolar plus manic depression. My health is deteriorating very fast! I can’t control the person that is not on geodon! I get so angry and the mood swings are ridiculous! I thought finally something helped – now cold turkey… noooo!

    A few times my scripts weren’t filled right away and I didn’t have my geodon. Even going one day without it I lose my mind. I can’t stop yelling at anyone and everyone. No one is safe now. Cold turkey – plus I’m PMS-ing and my son’s birthday is coming up, but my son committed suicide five years ago so there’s that!

    Even the wonderful ladies at my drug store know not to let me run out! So here I am in the midst of a huge meltdown. This should be illegal! WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS?! Just let me keep taking it and let me die! I hate being mean! Ok here goes a rush of anxiety followed by water works… well gotta go can’t see to text!!

    • Randy July 1, 2018, 3:27 pm

      So sorry to hear how terribly this has affected you. Have you considered getting an ambulance to the ER, or possibly calling the doctor’s office?

    • Jennifer July 15, 2018, 11:36 am

      Praying for you <3

  • Nelda June 28, 2018, 11:54 pm

    I am post Geodon 10 months. I can honestly say I’m not sure I’m completely over stopping the Geodon. I am probably about 95% better. I was put on Geodon for anxiety and depression. I was on 20 mg three times per day for about 10 years.

    The side effects were becoming more severe and due to a new heart medication, I was having to change to another antipsychotic. Rather than start a new one I made the stupid decision to just stop the Geodon. I had read that there were side effects with both stopping and tapering, so I decided to stop.

    For at least the next 6 months I thought I was going to die. I had severe nausea, fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches and much more. I would highly recommend not to make the same mistake I did. Knowing what I do now, I would very slowly taper. Your brain just cannot take the sudden change of serotonin and dopamine.

    I was very dependent on this drug. If I ever accidentally missed a dose, in about 2 hours my anxiety would let me know I had forgotten to take it. Abrupt withdrawal was like a long nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. If I can keep one person from stopping Geodon cold turkey, it will be worth sharing my story.

    It feels so good now to be off this medication. It helped and harmed me at the same time. Again, my recommendation would be to taper very, very slowly. I was also on several other medicines at the time. I hope this helps someone!

    • Emily July 18, 2018, 2:12 pm

      I was trying to decide weather to do it cold turkey or not and your story has made me rethink it and decide to taper down slowly! I’ve been on 80 mg twice a day for at least 10 years and last night was the first time I didn’t take it. This morning I am trying everything to get these physical and mental pains to stop! Thanks.

  • Leslie June 24, 2018, 9:32 pm

    I found a previous comment I made on here from 2015 – 3 years ago! I teach, and every summer I try to get off ziprasidone, but I can’t. Well I’m trying again. I’m on 120mg a day, and I reduced that by 40 mg about 3 days ago. I’m feeling withdrawal symptoms today.

    I take it for chronic depression along with cymbalta. It has helped, but the weight gain has been terrible. I’m so tired of gaining weight! It makes me crave food (mostly sugar) all the time!

    I want to finally be off this terrible med once and for all. I always give up though because of withdrawal symptoms. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

    • Deb June 26, 2018, 12:16 am

      Maybe you are going too fast. 40 mg all at once may be why you are having symptoms. I was on 40 AM and 40 PM. I started weaning by getting gelatin capsules. I emptied my 40 mg capsule into a small bowl.

      I divided the powder into 4 “equal-ish” amounts, dumped 1, voila, 30 mg – put into a gelatin capsule. Did that every night for 1 week. Following week, did the same for day and night.

      Then I would decrease by 10 mg at night, followed in a week by day. I did this over the course of 2 months, and today I am Geo free! Any symptoms I had were mild, and usually occurred the first day of a daytime decrease. Hang in there-this can be done!

    • Nelda June 29, 2018, 12:00 am

      I sincerely hope you succeed this time. I have been off Geodon for 10 months after taking it for 10 years. If you read my story, you will see my recommendation to very slowly taper.

      Don’t put pressure on yourself to get off once and for all. When stopping this drug, time is your friend. I wish you much success!

  • Karen N Brough May 30, 2018, 2:58 pm

    I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 9 months after having a baby. At that time I began to experience anxiety about finances because I was no longer working. My anxiety got so bad that I experienced four days of insomnia which led to mania where my imagination was going faster than I had ever experienced, but I was not psychotic or hallucinating.

    The doctor did not ask what led to the insomnia or about my history of trauma. He just diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. I was 36 years old and had never experienced mania before in my life. I was on 320mg of Geodon for 10 years. In January, I asked my psychiatrist to help me get off of the Geodon because I believe I was misdiagnosed.

    I was diagnosed as bipolar, but the psychiatrist never asked me about my history of trauma. I believe I have PTSD. Geodon is commonly used for bipolar disorder, but it is also sometimes used to treat PTSD. I think the medicine helped me, but I don’t believe I need it anymore.

    Also, I recently read that two 80mg capsules/day is a high dose and there is no evidence to show that a client benefits from higher doses. My psychiatrist started reducing my dosage by 40mg/day for two weeks. Then another 40mg/day two weeks later. At the end of two months I was down to 160mg/day. I felt some anxiety but it was bearable.

    I went a month without making anymore reductions. Then I tapered off another 40mg/day for two weeks and another 40mg/day for the next two weeks so that by the end of that month I was down to 80mg/day (75% of the dose I had been on for 10 years.) At that point, my history of trauma was resurfacing and I was loosing my ability to function in everyday life.

    I wrote a 40 page letter in four days about my trauma/what hurt me and what made me angry. I became obsessed with my writing for the next ten days. My husband and son were very worried about me because I had been tuning everything and everyone out for two weeks. So I increased my Geodon to 160mg/day.

    After a couple of weeks, I was back to functioning but still felt the anxiety. I told my doctor that I didn’t want to make anymore changes to my Geodon for a while. He agreed. I have been taking 160mg for the past three months. I take 80mg of Geodon at night and 80mg at noon. I feel restless and anxious before I take my nighttime dose.

    And I feel restless and anxious in the morning until I get my noon time dose. I’m not ready to reduce it anymore at this time. I may have to stay on this dose for a year until I feel I have completely adjusted to the reduction. Once I feel adjusted, I will try to taper off again.

    I recently read that when you taper off Geodon after being on it for a long time, you need to taper off slowly (by increments of 10mg.) I believe tapering off by increments of 40mg was too fast which is why I still haven’t fully adjusted. My psychiatrist has not given me any suggestions on how we can treat me for trauma if I go completely off of Geodon.

    I hope I won’t need any medication for the PTSD. I’m working on healing from my trauma with a psychologist. My psychiatrist is not convinced that I’m not bipolar. I recently read that we are all on a continuum of bipolarity. There is a spectrum. The spectrum can be understood as a scale of 1-10 where 1 is “boring/lack of creativity,” 5 is “normal creativity,” and 10 is “excessive creativity and imagination/mania.”

    I think my experience with mania was triggered by insomnia which was triggered by anxiety. One day at a time. I need to be gentle with myself and breathe.

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