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Questions about PRISTIQ medication....
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Questions about PRISTIQ medication....

I am a 35 year old male with Anxiety and Depression. I was diagnosed a year and a half ago but have probably had this condition most of my adult life. I started having panic attacks in the winter of 2008. I went to the emergency room several times before I was diagnosed with a panic disorder. I was prescribed Valium for a short period of time but it didnt really work for me.

So in the spring of 2008 I decided to make changes in my life. I began therapy, lost wieght, worked out everyday, changed my diet, deep breathing and dedicated myself to getting better medication free. The best advice I can give to anyone with Anxiety is to pick up a copy of "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Edmound Bourne. It changed my life and helped me more then any drug so far.

By the summer of 2008 I felt much better but didnt fell great. So in August of 2008 I started Lexapro. It was the biggest mistake of my adult life. I went on Lexapro for four months. During this time I gained an extreme amount of wieght, was exausted all the time, had no sex drive and started to see symptoms of early male pattern baldness. I couldnt understand it cause I always had a full thick head of hair. I did some research and found out this is a common side effect of this drug and my doctor never warned me about it. The hair loss has added a huge amount of stress to my daily  life. I went off the drug in December 2008.

Last month the stress and anxiety in my life got so bad I had the worst panic attack in my history. This attack was  way more intense and severe then anything I had previously experienced, so I went to the emergency room with classic cardiac arrest symptoms. I was kept there for two days and eventually checked out fine. I was diagnosed as having a severe panic attack.

Lately, things have been much better but not great. Too be honest it has been so long, I forget what great feels like.  I am tired all the time, my muscles are sore, have no energy, no motivation, have gained wieght and havent had a good nights sleep in years. Does Pristiq make you feel great?

My Psych doctor wants to put me on Pristiq. Yes, the same doctor who never mentioned the side effects of Lexapro to me. So, I am naturally worried and have done a ton of research on Web Md and other sites. It seems that this medication either works great for you from day one or it is a complete nightmare with side effects worse then your initial Anxiety.  Exaamples: Naseau, Brain Zaps,, High Blood Pressure, Sand Shakes? and blurred vision are common in the 248 posts I read on Web Md. Not to mention the awful withdrawl (withdrawal) symptoms associated with this drug.

There has to be better options out there so I am wondering why anyone would take this medication?

Questions:


1) Would anyone who has ever taken this medication please tell me about their own experience on Pristiq? What do you feel like? Can you describe how you feel?

2) Does the positive decrease in Anxiety and Stress outweigh the side effects?

3) How do you feeel on this drug? How long have you been on it? Are you happy? Less depressed? Please describe.

4) Considering the awful effects of witdrawl from this medication would you still have taken Pristiq? Describe the way in which you went off this medication. If 50 mg is the lowest dose then how do you taper off this medication?

5) What is a Sand Shake? Is it like a shudder?

6) Could low magnesium increse anxiety and stress?

7) Is the blurred vision all the time, a few minutes a day or just certain parts of the day? Does it ever go away?

8) What does a brain zap feel like and how long does it last?

9) Did you experience high Blood Pressure or High Heart Rate? Was it temporary?

10) Did you feel different the first day you took this medication?

As you can probably tell I am very anxious about starting any new medications. The thought of blurred vision, rapid heart rate , or high blood pressure sends me into Panic Mode.

Thank you all for your opinions, feedback, understanding and patience.


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I have been on prestiq now for about 8-9 months.  Yes, it has helped me tremondously.  I have been on so many different med's for depression that I couldn't count them on both hands.  Most don't work for me.  After being on prestiq, I did have a few side effects at the beginning but they were more like mild dizziness.  They went away within a couple of weeks.  I was then added Lexapro because I was working in an extremely volatile job and it was making things extremely hard to cope with.  I had a couple of nervous breakdowns and decided to leave that job.  I've been doing better although I've now had to be separated from my husband in order to find a job, since I had to move closer to his family to help out with ailing family and he is to follow this fall.  Prestiq took about 3-4 weeks to start to see a difference.  I'm up to 100 mg.  I've not had any real other side effects but like I said, each person is different and what may be good for me may not be for you.  I've tried some med's that were good for others and weren't for me.  So it's a hit and miss trial with depression and anxiety.  I wish you the best in your quest along this hard path.  I do not envy anyone who suffers from depression and anxiety.  We are a class of our own. LOL.  Best to you.  A.
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Avatar_m_tn
I would say my experience on Pristiq is pretty much the same as Alto2.
It works better for me than SSRI type antidepressants because it has an effect on Norephineperine in the brain which SSRI's like Lexapro do not.

Like Alto2 I also take 100Mg's a day. A lot of people don't know that Pristiq is very much like Effexor. In fact they are so much alike that 99% of the active chemical in Pristiq is the same as in Effexor, althouh the release of the medication is slightly different.

So I guess you could sort of consider pristiq kind of a tweeked version of Effexor.

My only complaint with Pristiq is that at 100Mgs a day dosage I have sexual side effects from it. I am male and it has reduced my sex drive by about 50% which I hate.

The side effects of stopping Pristiq are much the same as with Effexor. They can be rough as I once ran out for two days and had withdrawls. The withdrawl (withdrawal) from the medication kind of feels like a swurling feeling in your head, dizziness, nausia and a kind of flashing sensation in the brain that can be very uncomfortable to say the least.

There are ways to taper off pristiq using the (every other day method) should you decide to stop. The longer your on the drug the worse the withdrawl (withdrawal) will be if you stop cold turkey. In my case I get antidepressant withdrawl (withdrawal) from any antidepressant. Got it when stopping Lexapro, Zoloft, Remeron, Nortriptilyne, ect.. So this idea that the discontinuation withdrawl (withdrawal) is somehow worse with drugs like Pristiq and Effexor that are SNRI's just doesn't hold water to me.  

Most of the side effect you listed I did not experience on Pristiq and most people do not, but the drug companies have to list all "possible" side effects even if they only effect a very small cross section of patients on said drug.

Actually, you can find a list of horrible side effects on any drug if you read the fine print. Even over the counter drugs list some horrible potential side effects if you read them. That doesn't mean that you will get them. The pain reliver Advil can cause bleeding ulcers in some people that take it, but that doesn't mean you will get bleeding ulcers if you take Advil for a headache. It just means that during the test phase of the drug they found that a VERY small cross section of test subjects developed ulcers due to taking Advil

If you do take Pristiq expect to feel a bit worse before you feel better. It takes about 3 to 6 weeks before it kicks in and works.

Good news is that it won't make you hair fall out.
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Avatar_m_tn
Im kinda on the fence about starting this medication. Things have been going pretty well lately but I just dont feel great. A few months ago I would have done anything to feel better because my anxiety and panic attacks were ruining my life. My anxiety and depression are so cyclical and event triggered that it may be a good idea to start a medication now before an event triggers a bad cycle for me....


It is so hard to fing good info on Pristiq because it is new to the market...Thanks for your advice and understanding.
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Avatar_m_tn
The decision to start any psychotropic medication can be a difficult one depending on how often and bad your actual symptoms are.

If my anxiety and depression were only a rare occurance I might have made the choice to go med free. With these meds you need to weigh the disadvantages with the potential advantages to taking it.

In my case I can not fuction without a combination of meds for my condition so the decision is a pretty easy one to make. Your case may be different as is everyones.

I guess it kind of depends on how disruptive your anxiety is and how often it negitivly effects the quality of your life. There is no Magic pill that will make it all just go away completly. The meds are an aid to help us better cope with the illness of anxiety and depressive dissorder.
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Avatar_f_tn
If you are still considering taking Pristiq, make yourself very aware of the possible side effects, and if you start to feel any side effects at all, talk to your doctor.  

I had a HORRIBLE experience with Pristique.  I took it for about 3 1/2 weeks.  At first, I didn't notice any side effects at all, and then after several days, I began to feel really sad and depressed.  Then a little later, I became really irritible.  Then all the side effects hit me all at once in full force.  My heart started to pound, I became anxious and had panic attacks more and more.  I was so distraught.  It was like I had come unglued.  I started crying over nothing and I became really angry.  I was nauseous, I sweated a lot, my whole body itched, I had no energy, and it was literally all I could do to get out of bed.  I had very little strength and I felt so bad.  I went to the doctor and she prescribed another antidepressant, but said I could still take the Pristiq.  She didn't question Pristiq.  I came home, still not knowing what was wrong with me.  For some reason it dawned on me that Pristiq might be the problem, so I read some articles about it on the internet.  Sure enough, I had every single symptom.  I googled "Pristiq and itching" and found that yes, other people itched all over when they took this horrible drug.  I stopped taking it.  The last dose I took was on July 10, 2009.  I am feeling a lot better now, but I'm still very itchy and my energy level is not back to normal.  I'm not nearly as nauseous, and I am not sweating as much.  The depression and anxiety and that totally distraught, basket case feeling is going away.  Please be aware of the potential side effects before taking this drug.  If I had been to the point of being suicidal, I think I may have killed myself.  Know what to look for just in case you can't tolerate the drug.  It was a scary experience that mainly hit all at once and I hope no one else has to go through it.  That's why I'm posting this.  I'm also in the process of filing a complaint with the FDA and the drug company itself, (Wyeth Pharmaceuticals).  

CONSIDERING PRISTIQ?:  BEWARE!!!!  
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Avatar_n_tn
I have only taken Pristiq for 10 days and have felt like I have been on a completely different planet for the entire time.  My eyes have been dialated, my skin has broken out and has been dry/oily/irritated, I have also had blury vision, constant horrible sweating, heart pulpitations, lack of concentration, insomnia, increased anxiety and have not felt good at all.  I have never taken an antidepressant before and am only on 50mg per day.  I have been trying to find out information about the effects of stopping the drug but have not found a thing!  I am tired of not feeling normal and am just going to stop.  
I have spoken with a naturopath and am going to go the natural way - apparently there are some strong natural medicines which do the same thing without the side effects .. Hypericum/St Johns Wort over the counter are like placebos and so am getting a stronger natural remedy.
I cannot handle the effects of Pristiq any longer!
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Avatar_n_tn
I was on Pristiq for about 5 months. I absolutely loved it when I was on it. I was a bit dizzy when I first started taking it, but that went away in no time. I am also on Wellbutrin. My therapist and group therapist find it funny when I talk about how much I love my medicine. I know it sounds weird but to see how I was before taking it and to see how I was just weeks after made a huge difference! It helped me concentrate, stop obsessing over what happened to me, helped me sleep, and helped me stop crying all the time.
The benefits certainly outweigh the side effects for me. However, my doctor just pulled me off the medicine last week. The reasons he pulled me off were because: 1. My blood pressure was elevated (it's usually very normal). 2. I just didn't care. Bad things could happen and I just wouldn't care. 3. It made me nauseous, but I didn't realize it. I thought I was hungry and thats why I felt sick; it was one of those "If I don't eat I'm going to get sick" type of feelings. Anyway, it made me gain 16 lbs in just 3 months! Most people don't gain weight on this drug, I did but it's because I didn't realize the nausea was normal. And of course I knew I was gaining the weight but I didn't care... which I normally do. I'm a gym/diet addict so to see this happen and not care shows something wasn't right.
4. I wasn't excited about things anymore. Nothing made me happy. For example, I love hockey. I went to a hockey exhibition game last Wednesday and I wasn't excited at all. Normally if you hand me hockey tickets I am the happiest girl alive!
Anyway, my body is going through withdrawl (withdrawal) now. I feel drunk, which was fun the first day but it's going on day 3 now and I am ready to start feeling normal again. I feel very tired too! Saturday (day 2 without Pristiq) I slept until 2pm! I am normally up at 7 am. I feel drowsy/drunk right now.
Overall, being on the medicine was GREAT! It helped me a lot, but it just wasn't the right medicine for me. I just hope Wellbutrin alone is enough to do the trick. We'll see!
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Avatar_m_tn
I had been reading a bit about pristiq as was on it for a few months myself. Ive since stopped taking it and thought i'd share my experience in case it is of interest to you (trust me, i was so interested in hearing others experiences and couldnt find any information at all online!)


1) Would anyone who has ever taken this medication please tell me about their own experience on Pristiq? What do you feel like? Can you describe how you feel?

I could be wrong but i felt i was an odd case when it came to pristiq. basically I have always been content, happy, optomistic type person but have suffered from severe shyness and some social anxiety. When something bad happened in my life (relationship breakdown) i basically had a little breakdown myself - couldnt eat, cried a lot, panic attacks, hated myself, felt suicidal, withdrew even more than usual. the dr put me on pristiq. basically the first wk was hell - locked myself in bed for about 4 days straight, suffered nausea, dizziness, tiredness, cried a lot and felt like i wanted to just die. then suddenly came out of it.
While on pristiq i felt more myself. was happy enough and confident enough (may have helped that i had wonderful friends and family who 'distracted me' a lot and kept me busy). i suffered some side effects such as numbness in one leg, lack of tiredness at night but during the day felt groggy, bad constipation, some headaches, and wasnt able to drink alcohol as would get really emotional (not that it is recommended you drink anyway).

2) Does the positive decrease in Anxiety and Stress outweigh the side effects?

definitely - for me time and good support may have helped. but i felt pristiq had a HUGE role in helping me get past anxiety. and i know this now as ive stopped taking it and some anxiety has come back.

3) How do you feeel on this drug? How long have you been on it? Are you happy? Less depressed? Please describe.

feel fine on the drug. was on it for about 3 1/2 months. not long, i know. but it definitely took effect and I felt myself and much more positive than i had felt for a while. I also was told to see a psychologist so along with the pristiq i definitely came out feeling much better!!

4) Considering the awful effects of witdrawl from this medication would you still have taken Pristiq? Describe the way in which you went off this medication. If 50 mg is the lowest dose then how do you taper off this medication?

withdrawal was awful at first. i stopped cold turkey and suffered severe nausea, brain 'zaps' as they call them (think it was brain zaps - felt like suddenly i got a shock to my head particularly moving it quickly) I suggest taking a few days off when you need to stop this medication (if you go cold turkey). i also think the longer you are taking pristiq or any antidepressant for that matter, the worse you should expect the discontinuation symptoms. remember stopping it doesnt mean you are withdrawing (that is when you are addicted to the meds) but instead your body is adjusting. so it is wise to reduce the tablets down to 2 or 3 days and so on. i actually saw my dr who said it was fine to stop cold turkey but to monitor it closely if i get severe symptoms. everybody is different so its really hard to say but thats just my experience

5) What is a Sand Shake? Is it like a shudder?

i have no idea!

6) Could low magnesium increse anxiety and stress?

ive heard it can actually. back at uni when i  suffered stress/anxiety i had a dr suggest magnesium supplements and found they helped slightly taken regularly.

7) Is the blurred vision all the time, a few minutes a day or just certain parts of the day? Does it ever go away?

Never really had problems with blurred vision besides when i first started and once i stopped pristiq

8) What does a brain zap feel like and how long does it last?

If i was in fact experiencing a brain zap, to me it felt like someone poked my brain. i'd just suddenly get a weird sensation in my head that would last only a second or two at most. it would come out of no where, usually when i moevd my head fast. i only experienced them coming off pristiq. i actually had one this morning (as been about 2 weeks since i stopped)

9) Did you experience high Blood Pressure or High Heart Rate? Was it temporary?

no.

10) Did you feel different the first day you took this medication?

definitely. i was also going through a tough time but i know the meds definitely made me feel awful the first wk or so.
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Avatar_f_tn
I took 50mg of Pristiq and it definitely helped me.  It is also weight neutral and for me at least, the sexual side effects were less than other ADs.  They were still there though.  

I am currently trying to come off Pristiq and I've been switched to an equivalent dose of Effexor.  They are very similar chemically and not easy to come off of for most.  I have found the Effexor much harder to come off of than Celexa, although that was hard too.  On the other hand, I didn't feel as numb on Pristiq as I did on Celexa.  

50mg of Pristiq=150mg Effexor XR per my psychiatrist.  I have gone from 150mg to 112.5 over about a month.  

Many people need more than that to feel optimal.  I didn't, but  I question whether I should have been on it in the first place if that's the case.

Have you had your thyroid checked?  Some of the things you've mentioned can come from thyroid problems or exhausted adrenals.  This is more common for women though.

Do you see a therapist?  It sounds like you've benefited from therapeutic techniques.  You could also try faster acting meds for anxiety.  

It's a real toss up as to whether to go on meds.  I would only do it if you think you really need them and plan to stick with it.  Pristiq is an SNRI versus Celexa being an SSRI, so it could work better for you.

I think Effexor/Pristiq are effective ADs, but not to be taken lightly.  Personally, I am coming off it for trying to get pregnant.  If I go back on meds post-partum, I would like to try Prozac/Wellbutrin combo because it's supposed to help with libido/anorgasmia.  But, I would consider Pristiq again too if needed.

Some people really need medication, some don't and then some of us are in the middle I think.  It's a tough call.

Just work with your psychiatrist.

Jenny
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Avatar_f_tn
I've been on Pristiq for three days.  I had taken Zoloft for the last six years and slowly weaned myself off thinking I could be off of antidepressants.  Within three weeks off of Zoloft I started having anger issues and frequent bouts of crying.  I went to see my MD and she recommended Pristiq as when I was on Zoloft I had side effects.  Well day three I haven't slept more than four hours I do have a decreased appetite and feel quite mellow.  Does the sleeplessness stop???  I'm kinda nervous after reading about some of the side effects.  I feel maybe I can go without the drugs but if they make me a better person why not???  
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Avatar_m_tn
Little breakdown:
Always thought I was normal, but seemed too have this way of spiraling out of control only in my head but not enough to act it out. So even something that had no major repercussions especially incidences that I felt were designed to **** with me not only lasted longer but became more intense and it became a rush.

So Ive been on Pristiq since August 2010
Its in full effect, and working the way it should. Doctor nailed it on the head first try.
Questions:

1) Would anyone who has ever taken this medication please tell me about their own experience on Pristiq? What do you feel like? Can you describe how you feel?

I was always a very logical, un-offendable kind of guy who wouldn't act on the way he was feeling. I would mostly just absorb an experience and process it HARD like the more intense it was, like a crush on a girl, or a bad memory, or a great song. The Saddest feelings were the most intense and my mind was just set on autopilot to fly there the quickest after many let downs and short comings.

2) Does the positive decrease in Anxiety and Stress outweigh the side effects?

I think the level of anxiety and stress is totally normal, Im not stressed at all because realistically I am a free guy and has a (mostly) stress free life RIGHT NOW. I have since put myself on this path on purpose. What Im trying to say is, is that this is NOT a by-product of Pristiq. Seriously.

3) How do you feeel on this drug? How long have you been on it? Are you happy? Less depressed? Please describe.

I feel...what "normal" people must feel like, its Nothing I havent felt before! Just...its a lot easier to keep my mind of things that used to nag me. Id say I am happy because of my circumstances and less depressed because my mind does not go crazy with intense pumping crowded negative thoughts.

4) Considering the awful effects of witdrawl from this medication would you still have taken Pristiq? Describe the way in which you went off this medication. If 50 mg is the lowest dose then how do you taper off this medication?

One time I thought I took my pills one morning, but there was the remote possibility I did not. By 3:00 I felt something was WRONG. But not enough to panic, because I am very logical. I had a minor panic attack upon seeing 2 young tweens laughing on my drive home, definitely something up. When I got home I saw the 2 empty slits in the pill pack and was convinced I took them until I sat down and some them on my coffee table.
I got very upset was what went wrong, I have never had persistent nausea or sickness.
If you get very sick, this is not going to fix the particular problem I have. If you have to ween off it, GO HARD or go home.

7) Is the blurred vision all the time, a few minutes a day or just certain parts of the day? Does it ever go away?

I am not sure Pristiq causes this...?

8) What does a brain zap feel like and how long does it last?

Now THIS I know, I thought it was crazy until I read 'brain zap' because THAT is exactly what it feels like, its almost like this...electrical signals are being sent throughout our brain right and if there is a gap, two electrical wires will *spark* thats what it feels like in my brain, A sparked wire. Doesnt hurt in the slightest, feels kind of ****** up but other than that kind of cool, like the other guy said when you move your head fast which sort of proves that this is some sort of physical chemical balance that can be girated by movement. Longest ones may last 3 seconds.

9) Did you experience high Blood Pressure or High Heart Rate? Was it temporary?

No. Main side effect was excess sweating, my body just seems to open the flood gates a bit too fast on the old sweat-o-meter. If I need to cool down just a bit, I need to wipe my forehead clean. But I was always kind of a big sweat-er. So the acceleration is a bit out of control, but manageable. winter should be "no sweat". lol

10) Did you feel different the first day you took this medication?

Meh, a bit. But I was also syke-ing myself out. I knew something was different after a few days for sure. withdrawl (withdrawal) effects again, 30 hours or so. I may not be able to stop taking this medication.

Bonus: It has not really lowered my libido but it has definitely suppresed my fetishes and impulsive obsessions. However I am still me.
Pristiq appears to not really be an anti-depressant but more or a way to speed up the traffic jam in my busy brain which prevents a clog which would cause anxiety and panic.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have been on pristiq for almost a year.  It worked great for me.  I went on it due to having some extra anxiety, and I feel it stopped those nagging worrying thoughts.  I did lose weight, which wasn't a bad thing, as I had put on a little extra.  I looked great, and felt great.  I have some sexual symptoms, but nothing compared to what I had on zoloft!!!   \

I am at a point now where I want to wean off of it.  I have 7 pills left, and I read what others posted.  I'm dreading going through withdrawals and not feeling well.  I don't have the time to not feel well!  

I'm thinking that instead of this medication, I would like to try being myself again.  Exercise more....as that could help anxiety.  I'm not a depressed person.  

Anyone have any suggestions on what to do, or had an easy time going off of this medication?  Or should I go back to my doctor to tell him I want to wean off???  I am not sure I would get better advice there then people who have physically/mentally experienced it!  I don't got to a p doctor, but just my family practice doc.  Thoughts?
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Avatar_f_tn
I would call your doctor and ask for a weaning schedule and ask for more medicine for the weaning process.  I've read that you have more chance off recovery off a medicine if you are weaned off and your body can gradually adjust.  Otherwise you will put yourself through worse withdrawal symptoms and have less chance of recovery and have a higher chance of having to go back on meds.  Wishing you the best!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello! I understand where you are coming from. My doctor just put me on the same dose of Prestiq and I feel extremely unfocused and cannot think straight! However, I have tried a few other antidepressants and the same thing happens as soon as I start them. I was NOT depressed until no doctor could figure out what I had. Possibly CFS...but not enough symptoms confirm. I have chronic pain and burning around my shoulder & neck area and get a foggy brain the worse the pain is. I am VERY optimistic (well, I was, lol) and only ultram helps but wish there was something natural. I am also getting off the Pretiq and perhaps grateful that none of these "hard" drugs have helped then I would be addicted. Imagine going on a vacation or business trip and you forget your meds!! Oh dear...major problem. Ciao and feel better!
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Avatar_f_tn
Weening off pristiq... I've been on 50mg for a yr.  Everything is going well in job and life and thought it was time to get off of it. I am on week 3. I was taking it every other day and doing well. Now I've cut back to every two days but feeling lethargic. I want to push through it but think I felt better on it! It just must be withdrawal symptoms.  The other day I had a dull headache all day. Today I'm just tired, but I am not sleeping my usual 8 hrs due to job commitments. Should I keep pushing through this? Is there a rainbow at the end. Hate being on drugs!
Thanks!
Ms. Personality
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Avatar_m_tn
im going through something so similar im crying worse anxiaty nose beeds itchy all over how long does it last.
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Avatar_f_tn
After being on Cipramil on and off for 19 years and still feeling a bit down and sleepy all the time I have been put on Pristiq. I have been on them for about 9 months starting out on 50 mg and then after a few weeks 100mg thought they were great. I now feel very sad and so emotional and also still depressed I can't get to sleep of a night and am awake till 3 and 4 am but then I find it hard to wake up in the morning not to mention the full on weird dreams. I thought at first these just might be the wonder drugs Id been hoping for BUT unfortunately they are not for me. Also I ran out for a few days and the horrible headaches and circling and zooming in your head is horrific, well that's how Id explain it feels hahah. So today Ive gone straight back onto the cipramil and see what happens as Im over feeling so sad again .... Hope this info is helpful for some ..Cheers Haylz  
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Avatar_f_tn
The last comment on this thread was 12 months old so I doubt the participants will see your comment today.
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Avatar_m_tn
I am just weening off of Paxil 30 mg after being on it for 20 yrs off and on, was on celexa in between and some other drugs, The doctor is putting me on Pristiq, and I am so nervous, for one I have to be completely off of the paxil for 2 weeks before starting it, and the whole idea of trying yet another drug. I have always been afraid to start anything new, and that causes some anxiety, just thinking about it. I hope it works for me like it does for you.
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