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Experiences with Pristiq....

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 symptoms associated with this drug.

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


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.
7 Responses
390140 tn?1219887489
A little background before I start specifically with Pristiq: When I first started taking medication for anxiety and depression, I took Effexor. Over aobut 2 months, I gradually felt better. My doctor prescribed Valium along with the Effexor until the med kicked in and we got the dose set. Having both worked very well for me. As the Effexor kicked in we weaned off the Valium. I took Effexor  75 mg for three years with very good results (I promise I will get to Prisiq soon.) It did not make me feel immediately better but gradually over time, I realized that I was not constantly worrying about things. I no longer have thoughts that my airplane is going to crash when I go on vacation (three months prior to the trip!). The intial side effects were extreme dry mouth and sweating. These went away and what remained was sexual side effects which were alleviated by combining Effexor with Wellbutrin. I also did alot of jaw clenching and had to get a mouth guard to protect my teeth when I slept.
Now to the Pristiq:
My doctor and I decided to swtich me over to Pristiq from Effexor. (Pristiq is essentially the same drug, but supposedly without all the side effects). This was in the hope that maybe I could reduce or get off Wellbutrin (memory problems) if the Pristiq did not cause sexual side effects. I have been on Pristiq for a month and a half now. The transition was seamless. Within two weeks, I was no longer clenching my jaw and stopped using the mouth guard.  I am also seeing a lessening of the sexual side effects. I did not have any of the sweating or dry mouth, but that may be because I have been on an SNRI for awhile and my body was used to it. I think Pristiq (50mg) is great so far and plan to stay on it. I continue to be able to put things into perspective. I can "turn off" the worry and think about things later rather than ruminating on things constantly and losing sleep over stuff that turns out to be okay. Cognitive therapy that I had in the past also helped tremendously . Unfortunately, I do not think any antidepressants work immediately (God, that would be so wonderful!) Benzos like Valium and Xanax have the quick acting effects. Valium was a life saver for me.
    My doctor (who I think is brilliant and I feel very comfortable with) told me he has placed many of his other patients on Pristiq with good results. As I mentioned previously, it is supposed to have very few side effects, if any; but of course every body is different. If you do not trust your doctor, maybe you could get a second opinion. I know it is hard to change docs as it just adds more time to an already painfully long process, but I think having a good doctor with whom you have confidence is essential. If/when the time comes to go off medication (if you decide to start it), a good doctor will have lots of options to put before you and work with you through the process.
    Even with all the horrible stories of discontinuation of Effexor, Pristiq, Lexpro, etc. I would definitey have taken medication again. They are not "happy pills", but they have had a very positive impact on my life.  I could not answer all of your questions but I hope some of the info was helpful. Telling you to "hang in there" sounds so trite, but hopefully it helps to know that those words are coming from someone who has been there.
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Thaks for your input. I really appreciate it...

Avatar universal
Is Pristiq more simillar to Effexor or Effexor XR? When does the Effexor patent run out and when will a generic effexor be available?
Avatar universal
I have been on Pristiq for about a month now.  I was on Paxil for about 3 months and just felt flat, i wasn't happy or sad - just sort of there, so I asked for something different and my doctor prescribed Pristiq with Ambilify as a little booster.  The Pristiq seems to be working, my personality is back and I feel more like myself without the depression.  I had horrible drymouth for awhile but that has gone away but now I am experiencing insomnia which is driving me crazy.  I take Trazadone to get to sleep which works but then I wake up at 2 or 4 in the morning and can't go back to sleep.  I walk at least 5 miles each day so you'd think that would help, but I always end up waking up for the past 2 weeks and average about 4 hours of sleep at night. Despite that, I like the fact that I actually feel like myself.  Plus on the Paxil my sex drive was really down but on the Pristiq it seems back to normal.  
Avatar universal
OH by the way, when I started Paxil, I had blurred vision but did not on Pristiq, the only side effects were the dry mouth and now insomnia (which totally *****) but I hope goes away.
Avatar universal
If I were you, I wouldn't touch the stuff with a ten foot pole!  It is the same as Effexor.  The patent for Effexor will be up in 2010, so they came up with this miracle drug "Pristiq".  78% of patients on Effexor have withdrawals.  Those are very, very high numbers.  And, Wyeth (the maker of both meds) cannot confirm, they are only HOPING, that Pristiq will not have the withdrawals that Effexor had.  They want to make money... period.  I say go to a Naturopath doctor and have some intense testing done to get to the root of your problem.  Medication only covers it up.  Do you want to be one of the 78% who has withdrawals?  I'm in the midst of them, and it is hell on earth.  Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones and have no problems, but then again, you might end up stuck on it for 8 years like I have.  The doctor has convinced me all these years that whenever I tried to come off of Effexor and had anxiety it was my "original" condition returning.  NO it wasn't...it was severe withdrawals!!!  We have become the Lab Rats!!!  I had to teach my doctor how to wean me off of this stuff...they simply listen to the pharmeceutical company, who tells them it's a great drug.  Try another route, stay away from the newer antidepressants, (lexapro, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Remeron, luvox, celexa, effexor, pristiq, cymbalta, serzone).  These all have very short "half lives".  Meaning, they are out of your system very quickly (Effexor being the quickest...24 hours)  So, your chances of having withdrawals are high.  If you have to go on one, go on an older one, like Prozac or Tofranil, etc.  These have very long half lives...3 weeks.  So, they have their own self tapering system.  Only 14% of patients have withdrawals on these meds.  Thats a major difference.  Either route you choose, good luck!  Hope I helped.
Avatar universal
Genetic efferox went right thought me it did not work at all I went on prisque and doing better . My Dr, just prescribed wellbutin also and today for the first time in years I felt wonderful. I also take diazampm and it has helped so much with the panic attack along with prisque and now Wellbutin.
I was more relaxed and calm as well as patient that is a first for me in 19 yrs july 18th Good luck to you!!!
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