Coming off SSRIs

Fluoxetine (prozac) specifically.

I've been taking it since late October, and it may or may not have helped with the depression, but I haven't had more than 2 decent nights' sleep since I started taking it.   Okay, my sleep pattern was pretty crap to start with, but this has completely destroyed it.  I'm up at 2 or 3am every night, sometimes get back off for an hour about 5ish, but it's gone on so long I'm no longer functioning, so the pills have got to go.

There were mixed views on the depression thread a couple of months back.  Some said gradual withdrawal, some said cold turkey had been fine. The GP says cold turkey "shouldn't" present any problems, but.....

Anyone done it and if so how did you find it?



  • We always recommend weaning off, Hash, rather than going cold turkey.
  • Cheers Slugsta

    Red wine and beer kk.image

    Seriously though, enough of the pills. Option 2 is the sort that dope you down, which I really don't fancy and I think I'll do better with running and just trying to think more positively.  Also I thought I might give meditation a bash.

  • When i came off them i had the shakes and headaches, i was slowly reducing the amount i took. I have'nt taken them for a few years now. Have you tried the natural alternatives? My mum used St johns wort for some time and found it helped and i have been taking something called 5HTP for a while now, no side effects and for mild to moderate depression it might be worth a try. Hope you feel better and keep smiling even if you feel like crying!! image x
  • Slugsta wrote (see)
    We always recommend weaning off, Hash, rather than going cold turkey.
    i second this Hash, any SSRI,s or MAOI,s are better with titration down over a period of time. neednt be a long time.. just better this way than a total halt.
  • limperlimper ✭✭✭

    Hash - is the beer and wine comment a complete joke? Only if you are drinking, even in moderation, and are having trouble sleeping then I'd suggest that you give up ALL alcohol before anything else. A glass of wine may make you sleepy at the time you are drinking it, but alcohol is renowned for messing up sleep patterns.

    I think your doc is the best judge of how you come off the a/d's as he/she knows more about you and the dosage you have been using.
    I had more trouble swapping between different drugs in the search for the appropriate one than I did in coming off them completely when I felt the time was right.

    I don't think 6  months is a fair trial of a/d's if your depression is still an issue. Maybe you should try a different drug?

    Good luck. Sleep deprivation is the pits.

  • I don't think there's a simple answer to your question, I think the effects of coming off SSRIs varies between people, much as whether they work or not varies between people.  I have had treatment with fluoxetine a few times and citalopram once.  I have come straight off fluoxetine every time, and had no problems at all, but I found that citalopram made me really agitated and I had to taper the dose over a couple of weeks.
  • Vicky Pea wrote (see)
    I don't think there's a simple answer to your question, I think the effects of coming off SSRIs varies between people, much as whether they work or not varies between people. 


    Speak with whoever gave you the prescription (your GP?). They might want to monitor you as you taper down. 

  • Thanks for the replies, all.  I really don't know what to do - the way I felt when I walked into the surgery in October was waaaay better than how I feel now after three months of almost total sleep deprivation, at least I could function in my job with depression.

    I just remember the hideous, chemical induced anxiety from fluoxetine in the first couple of weeks of taking it.  Part of me thinks tapering is the way forward, part of me wishes I'd never taken one in the first place so don't touch them any more.

    Shoplady I can't take St John's Wort as I'm on the pill for oestrogen in place of HRT, but otherwise I definitely would do, it used to work a treat with no side effects.

  • I'm sure your GP wouldn't advise that you stay on fluoxetine if it's making you feel worse instead of better.  They may suggest stopping and seeing how you feel without any tablets, or changing to a different one.  If they suggest tapering off it'll only be a matter of a couple of weeks of taking a tablet every other day or something.
    Good luck image
  • Thanks Vicky.  It's amazing how many runners are in the same boat, considering exercise is supposely a cure-all for depression!

    The GP said cold turkey should be fine Vicky.  But then that's the same GP who said he doesn't like HRT on principle.image

  • mr fmr f ✭✭✭
    id echo liasie wit the gp. maybe they may want to keep you on some form of meds but change them? a friend had massive probs with fluxotine and when he changed to citilopram all was rosey. different types suit different people.
  • Hash. wrote (see)

    Thanks Vicky.  It's amazing how many runners are in the same boat, considering exercise is supposely a cure-all for depression!

    It is isn't it?  For me, running helps me keep my head above water. I'm sure I would get more severely depressed, and more often, without exercise.
  • I too did'nt do the St johns wort due to the side effects that it can have with the pill, but the 5HTP does'nt interfere with the pill and so that is what i use, it might be worth giving it a try. I order it online as its much cheaper and i take 100mg each day as i found 50mg did not do much. I found exercising made no difference in my moods but did help me to sleep better. x
  • limperlimper ✭✭✭

    I think running does help with mild depression but it also gives one a big stick to beat themselves with (when the running goes wrong / is missed etc).

    This probably flies in the face of good advice Hash, but I dropped straight off a long term, high dose of a/d's. I didn't have any side effects that I was aware of, but my family may tell a different story!

    You sound as though you don't have a totally perfect relationship with your GP?
    Maybe a new GP and a new look at your depression / sleep problems is this week's priority?

    Meanwhile sleep when you can if you can't do it when you 'should'.


  • jennnjennn ✭✭✭

    If its any help, I used to be on Seroxat which is an SSRI. Seroxat (or otherwise known as Paroxtine) has a bit of a history- google it. you'll see what I mean! It wasn't something I wanted to be on because it wasn't working that much and I don't like taking pills for no reason, then I saw the headlines and the idea that this drug had not been properly researched, that at 18 I had been prescribed it yet the new findings had banned it for people under 18 years freaked me out. So I decided to drop it probably for the wrong reasons, eg fear rather then if it had been doing anything at all.

     I knew there were side effects so I cut back from 40mls to zero over 9 months. After this, 2 months later I landed myself a stay in a psychiatric hospital. I wanted to kill myself, the depression and anxiety had been creaping up over the past few months and some news knocked me off my balance, I was unable to cope. I went back on to the pills soon after my stay.

    I had another hack at trying to come off the pills again over 18 months- managed this time but it was a 20mg drop to zero over this time period so much much slower and it seems to have been do-able. I am by no means cured, I still battle with my moods, depression/anxiety and etc but I still see a psychotherpist (had seen one throughout) and really rate this for helping with things, pills just were not doing it for me and if anything left me feeling disorientated as I would feel out of sorts, or hyper or randomly fine when things that normally would have bothered me didn't. People had killed themselves on this drug, killed others in random bouts of rage when they had been previously described as pacafists, I don't trust myself not to flip out, jump out a window or take an OD, this drug did not leave me feeling safe, I had no reason to believe it would affect me in the way it affected others but I'd bet they felt the same way originally too.

  • Jennn that sounds absolutely hellish, what a horrible thing to go through. A friend of mine was also on seroxat a few years ago and said the same about coming off it - it completely messed him up.  He knew what he was feeling was chemically induced, but it didn't make it any less real when he was experiencing it. Glad you managed to get away from it, but sorry to hear you're still battling with the depression.  

    I noticed the time you posted that.....   Hope you managed to get back to sleep again.

    limper wrote (see)

    Meanwhile sleep when you can if you can't do it when you 'should'.

    Hear hear Limper
  • Ive been trying and failing for years to get off seroxat.In my humble opinion they should never have been licensed.They helped with the anxiety,but given the choice again i would refuse them.
  • I was prescribed Seroxat for post-natal depression about 14 years ago and as it had zero positive effect on me after 4 weeks, I was switched to fluoxetine.  I'm relieved that I stopped Seroxat, given the bad experiences so many people have had on it. I'm surprised it hasn't been withdrawn.
  • Gawd.  Only two days of not taking the bloomin' things and it's like being right back at week one again.  Free-floating anxiety rocketing around and looking for something to pin it on.  If I'd never had PMT, I'd think it was real

    What are the chances of a prescription for two weeks somewhere hot and sunny on the NHS for £7.20?image

    I just want shot of this, so I've got to hang in there remember it's not real, it's just wrong chemicals.

  • Hash- have you got any tablets left? You could try taking one every other day - you'll be surprised it'll probably make a difference.

    I had that anxiety thing when I took citalopram several years ago so i know how you feel- my jaw  was trembling and my leg took on a life of its own and kept twisting round when I was in bed!

  • I went cold turkey on the one lot but took half lots for the other........can't remember which was which but they all knocked me out so much I couldn't keep awake...............

    If you are having withdrawel symptons it might be better to take them every other day for a few days and then every third etc......

    good luck

  • ((( Hash )))

    I did what Seren suggested - took one every other day for a week, then one every 3 days for a week, then stopped altogether. I didn't get an withdrawal symptoms that way.

    Hash. wrote (see)

    What are the chances of a prescription for two weeks somewhere hot and sunny on the NHS for £7.20?image

    Probably pretty slim, but if you find a doc prepared to sign that one, let us know and we'll all come with you image
  • jennnjennn ✭✭✭

    Its comforting to know I am/was not alone in my battle with seroxat but its sad to hear others had to go through the withdrawal nightmare or even the depression/anxiety/panic attacks that often preceed it.

    I did find a really helpful forum which is basicly just built for seroxat withdrawal or users, its worth a vist though I don't have the address you can easily google for it. My best advice is to try the liquid stuff as trying to halve and quater a pill is difficult! And taking every other day can mess a bit with the head-shocks and dizzy spells which are at best irritating and at worse a risk to your life! (Eg do not operate heavy machinary etc).

    I think talking-therapy is what got me through and definetly recommend to anyone (even if your not on seroxat) to give psychotherapy or similar a try, but don't do it because I say so; you have to have some degree of faith in the world of psychiatry for it to really go anywhere and you need to have a certain amount of trust and belief in your therapist or doctor (whomever you chose to see) for it to really touch any part of you.

    Anyone trying seroxat withdrawal? It does get easier, it can be done and don't give up!

  • Cheers all.  Cold turkey wasn't so much a conscious decision, more that I was dithering about which option, and for the last couple of mornings looked at the strip of tablets and thought "no, enough".  Having made a start, I'll give it a bit more of a go unless I turn into the bugblatter beast of traal, so fingers crossed.  If it gets really bad I can always take another one, then have a few more days off them, but I'd really like to stick with it if I can and be shot of them as soon as possible,

    jennn wrote (see)

    It does get easier, it can be done and don't give up!

    Hanging on to that!  I really appreciate all the support and positive comments, thanks a million everyone.  

  • limperlimper ✭✭✭

    Sorry to hear that you are getting withdrawal Hash.
    If you really don't want to try the alternate day method that others have suggested then good luck with battling through it and well done for recognising that it's not 'real'.

    I know it's really hard to do, but try to find something to occupy yourself with. Something that has an outcome and that you feel you have achieved something.
    It really helps to have a focus - it's just really REALLY hard to get started!

    I became a manic decorator for a couple of weeks while settling onto a drug. My anxiety was such that I couldn't get out to the DIY shop though so I only decorated with whatever leftovers I could find in the shed!
    I still decorate now at times of stress. <<heads back to pasting table >>

    Hang on in there Hash. Keep us posted.


  • Will do Limper and thanks.   I'm certainly occupied - organising an office move for 76 people and 10 years' worth of associated filing with less than 6 weeks' notice, and training for VLM.

    At least I'm not boredimage

    I know what you mean about manic decorating.  My equivalent is manic bread-making, you can really thump everything out onto a poor, helpless lump of dough!

  • limperlimper ✭✭✭

    I'll be round for a sandwich then as I am currently sorting out my stresses and anxieties by rebuilding the kitchen!

    You are doing really well to work and train on your sleep deprivation and a/d withdrawal. Reach round and give yourself a big back-pat.

  • jennnjennn ✭✭✭

    And a few more ways which you could try to help with anxiety (things that I do): Interval training. 1 min fast hard blast of sprinting, the next minute to catch your breath- note, you may have to force yourself to take this 1 min off as it can feel that you want to run and run and run until you collapse. But if you collapse you cut your run short for a start and doing interval training properly you can do up to 30 mins fine and depending on the intensity of your sprints, could even go further. If sprintings not your thing try interval hill runs (if your on a treadmill, set the incline and run, walk, run, walk etc the incline- and NO HANDS ON THE HANDLE BAR PLEASE!- See one girl at my gym doing this and her posture is terrible as well as the fact she is going to cause herself a shoulder injury like this!)

    Otherwise, try writing things down as if your describing them to someone- perhaps yourself so you have a documentation of the whole experience or even if you want to theraputicly burn everything as a time which has passed and gone, or if you want to at a later date talk through things which have affected you to a councellor, therapist or even good friend. Sometimes writing stuff down can help whilst your doing it as it creates a focus for the freefloating anxiety and also gives you a chance to look at it from a different angle, sort of separate yourself from it even if its only for a few minutes. Similarly making it into a poem, a peice of art/sculpture/painting/collage of words cut from newspapers (try this last one, its really addictive!).

    Yoga and meditation may sound like the last thing you want to do but the ritualistic aspect of yoga especially can really help and the fact it really does use your entire body and you have to focus on what your doing to get it right really can help. It can also be expanded quite far and wide to encorporate yoga living, yoga eating and a whole new way of life if your really serious. Try Hatha first then I'd suggest Iyengar which is all about the correct posture and skill. If your really in it for the aerobic side of things then Ashtanga could be useful but it can often be taught poorly and just become a shallow version of yoga, not quite intense enough to be cardio not focused or correct enough to be a helpful type of yoga.

    But above all? I really recommend talking to someone, this is what helped me the most.

  • Hi Hash, am sorry to hear of the problems you have been having and really wish you all the best in getting through this tough time. I have recently had a terrible time in my personal life, with family, my relationship and work and after months of feeling like life is not worth living went to the Drs. He prescribed me Fluoxetine but suggested CBT and counselling as appropriate and did say that the symptons will get worse before they get better, since starting the medication I have had terrible thoughts about ending things but am sticking here trying to see the positives and not wanting to put my wife or family through any more pain and suffering.

     I am a 27 year old male and I have always bottled things up and just got on with things as alot of my friends always saw me as the happy chappy but I didn't actually feel that way deep down. My family has a history of depression so I really should have gone and got help before but I never thought things were that bad and didn't want to trouble my Dr of family with my woes if that makes sense- I just kept myself busy through university and early part of my career but now everything has come to a head. I think what I am trying to say is no matter how bad things are at least talk about them with loved ones and close friends as it does help. Also Jenns suggestions seem really worthwhile and may try them myself. After years of being a keen runner I just can't get motivated and everything I used to enjoy I no longer do but there is hope and I am trying to fight off the anxiety and everything else and get my life back on track. Even though getting out into the world fills me with dread right now I know I have to try and will be trying my best to get out for a run later on. To everyone else in a similar situation good luck, and don't keep anything bottled up inside...........

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