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Avatar universal

Is Pristiq worth the side effects and witdrawl?

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 II 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 w way more intense and severe then anything i had previously experienced, so went to the emergency room with classic cardiac arrest symptoms. I was kept ther for two days and eventually checked out fine. I was diagnosed as having a severe panic attack.

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. 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?

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

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

4) Considering the awful effects of witdrawl from this medication would you still have taken Pristiq?

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

Thank you all for taking the time to help someone who is truly in pain...
28 Responses
Avatar universal
A few more questions continued fro my original post...

6) Could low magnesium increse anxiety and stress?

7) Is the blurred vision all the time 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?
685562 tn?1447158831
Low magnesium could cause anxiety
I had blurred vision....and it was on and off, but I was on Prozac
Brain zaps for me didnt feel like a actual "zap" but kind of like a cold chill..almost like brain freeze
Pristiq is with all the rest of the SSRIs, SNRIs, etc.. My Theroy..along with allot of others is that these meds do not make things better.
The problem with them is, they are intended for depression, or depression related anxiety "still dont believe in them even for that", and when a person with "pure" anxiety is prescribed these "pure anxiety is without depression" it makes things worse because all of these types of medicines act as a type of stimulant "thats why theres allot of reports of chest pain side effects"
When a person with "pure" anxiety takes them..it stimulates the Nervous system..THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what people like us need.
No..the side effects and withdraw are not worth it, most of the active drugs that are in them is Sodium Floride, which is proven to have a number of REAL health dangerous, and is proven to make you dumb decreasing brain cells...might as well smoke some pot, lol

What was your dose of Valium?
I think they meant "hand shake" not "sand shake" that gos allong the stimulant properties of these type of meds.
I was naturaly "un naturaly" trembling from my anxiety.
I expierenced really bad chest pains while on Prozac,
Please go to this site for more information on Phycs, and there "medicine"
I was on klonopin while on prozac, and the sad thing is....at first the Klonopin withdraw was worse, but the Prozac withdraws have "stuck" around
Avatar universal
Prestiq is just newfangled new-patented effexor.  Try anything before effexor or paxil.  Since you did so well once with just that workbook, why not take it to the next level and see someone who specializes in CBT and exposure therapy?  You seem a good candidate for it.  Drugs are a last resort, not a first, and if Lexapro gave you such bad side effects, you're gonna love the other ones!  

Disagree with Jake on one thing -- I did get relief for anxiety with ssris and tricyclics, though both were originally devised for depression.  Serotonin works on both anxiety and depression.  But quitting Paxil ruined my life, so you have to be careful.  Try other things first, and Jake is absolutely right, magnesium supplementation can help with both anxiety and depression, but then again, it might not if that's not your problem.  On the other hand, most Americans are deficient in magnesium because they take too much calcium, which leaches magnesium out of the body.  A proper balance is necessary.  If you want to try magnesium supplementation, try a 1:1 or 2:1 magnesium to calcium (the usual ration is 2:1 calcium to magnesium).  There are also a lot of other natural remedies you can try if you wish to go that way, but a good naturopath would be useful in that case.  But I still feel, based on your experience with that workbook, that you're in that 30% that therapy actually can help.  I'd go for that first.  
Avatar universal
I've been on Pristiq for 8 days & am very happy with it. I started it for anxiety mostly but some depression. I've lost 5 lbs. The only side effect which hasn't been terrible is nausea. If I  take the pill in the a.m. after eating its better. Other than slight dry mouth I've had no other problems. I don't take any other medications - just vitamins. I'm not concerning myself w/what will happen when/if I come off the med - I'm looking at just feeling better - which I already do.
I've taken a few other antidepressants in the past & for various reasons did not stay on them - mostly due to side effects such as no emotions/fatigue/weigh issues/sexual side effects..to this point none of those are an issue.
Good luck!
Avatar universal
I don't think that Celexa hair loss you mention is very common. Someone posted on another thread that it is like <1%. If so, look at all the other side effects of this drug and you will see why doc didn't tell you about them. It might take all morning.
Same for any medication, even Motrin, yet how many people take it without a care. If every potential side effect listed was taken into consideration by patients, no one would take anything and we would all be sick with infections we had years ago.

Docs would be able to see a max of 1 person per hour if every prescription involved discussing every possible effect and its probability, and argue with patients that don't understand decimals, etc.
Avatar universal
I started Pristiq about a month and a half ago.  Very happy. I had mild panic attacks and depression. Cried often.  The first week or so my heart raced a little and I had dry mouth but those side effects have gone away.  My life has changed for the better. No longer irritated at work, just go with the flow. Actually felt like getting off the couch to exercise and want to spend more time outside. So far so good.
I tried Welbutrin  several months ago, it also made me feel great but the side effect I had was severe muscle pain so I had to stop.  I think it is worth trying Pristiq, give it at least a month. If you have a side effect that you cant handle just stop taking it.  Its worth it to feel good for a change there is no reason to suffer through life when there are alternatives. You only live once, make the best of it.  Live!
Avatar universal
Try Magnesium Taurate ask the doc for Klonopin???? I tried almost all ssri's on the market and they don't work for me; moreover, they create so many side effects and I feel even worse. Maybe liitle dose of benzo, supplements, excercise, relaxation will work for you. Also if you like to read i recomend " Hope and Help for Your Nerves" by Clarie Weekes. When you read it, you will be suprised!!!!!!!! Email me if you would like to talk.

Thank You
Avatar universal
I am taking Pristiq and not sure if it helps or not. I was taking Eflexor 225 mg daily and this pristiq is only 50 mg. The withdrawal from Eflexor was terrible. Had nightmares and felt like I was fading away while trying to fall asleep. What does low magnesium have to do with depression? Never heard of that before. Can you get this over the counter? Thanks styles53
Avatar universal
I have chest pain and saw ribs like I have been exercising for days (rib inflamation?) It all started when I started taking Pristiq. I also came out in all these bruises after my doctor increased the dose from 50 to 100mg. I am scared. I have an appointment tomorrow.
Avatar universal
Are you taking any nsaids such as Tylenol or aspirin?  in conjuntion with antidepressants they can cause bruising and bleeding problems.
Avatar universal

I have the same symptoms after being on Pristiq for about 4 weeks:  sore ribs and my chest hurts at my sternum.  I feel more anxiety now.  My doc put me on it due to trouble I was having with my IBS.  I'm going to call him tomorrow (after a 2 day hospital stay with chest pain and nausea) and tell him I need a different drug.
Avatar universal
ok so this is a late post but maybe it will help someone else...

1) Would anyone who has ever taken this medication please tell me about their own experience on Pristiq?  

I have been on pristiq for almost a year and it works great for me, as long as I remember to take it.  The biggest problem is that if you forget to take it, it effects your whole body you feel like your coming down with something.  I would say about a day and half after not taking it the withdrawl symptoms start and they are horrible.  The longest I have been off it was 4 days and go look at the side effects and in full honestly atleast for me, 75% of those symtoms start taking place day in a half after forgetting to take your medicine in 3-4 days I had 75% of those syptoms no joke and that list is LONG.  Eventually you realize oh crap I forgot to take my medicine because you start to recognize the feeling but the feeling is awful and takes a good half day after taking it to kick back in and start to feel better.  So in my opinion it works well as long as you are perfect about taking it around the same time everyday if not you will get side effects.  I wouldnt reccommend this just because of how crazy the side effects feel, and how quickly they come on for just forgetting to take your medicine for 1 day or running out of medicine and not be able to get more for a few days.  You cant do that with this stuff without going through horrible withdrawls.  If your suicidal I think this is a good medicine, I would have to say to use this product if you truely feel hopeless it will help, just remember to take it everyday or expect side effects if you dont.

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

Only if the anxiety and stress are extreme and often.

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

I feel normal, it dont make me happy just feel normal which means I can be happy if something that would normally make me happy happens.  I would say much less depressed.

4) Considering the awful effects of witdrawl from this medication would you still have taken Pristiq?

NO, I would have figured something else out.  I hate being on medicine everyday and not no when or if I can get off it.  Almost scared to get off it, I think I would need a couple weeks off work just to handle the withdrawls.  The withdrawls that are the worst are brain zaps which feels like electricity shooting back and forth from one side of your temple to the other, they hurt and your pretty much useless until they stop.

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

I never heard of it as sand shake but it could be what you feel about 2 full days after being off it you get that same brain zap along with the electricity feeling shooting thru your entire body kinda makes you shutter or shaky feels awful worse then brain zaps its like a zap thru the entire body and same thing your useless until it goes away and even then by 2 days your too sick to be productive.  So yea it is a shudder, just thinking about the feeling man its really bad.

6) Could low magnesium increse anxiety and stress? I have no idea to be honest.

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

I never got blurred vision unless I was off the medicine for I would say 2 days as well you start getting more and more side effects the longer your off it so it seemed atleast I was only off it for 4 days.  Its not all the time, and it does go away.  You wont care about the blurred vision if your going thru the zaps.

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

It feels like electricity shooting thru your brain giving you a major headache, no concentration you just want to lay down until it goes away.  Brain zaps start fairly quickly I think its the 1st major side effect you notice there light zaps starting I would say a day and half after not taking meds then they just get worse and as I said above it starts to give you that same type feeling thru your body like shuddering or chills type feeling.  Electricity is the closest thing to the feeling in my opinion, they are off and on lasting anywhere to 10mins to a few hours usually stop when your eating or distracting your mind but come right back only way I can get rid of them was to pop a pill and within 12 hrs they should stop.  I dont know how long they last when trying to get off the medicine, I am worried about that like I said above i think I will have to take weeks off work.  These side effects are no joke which ***** cause the medicine works so well.

Avatar universal
I see NOW Y.......this is 1 of those meds that u r NOT suppose 2 suddenly stop taking ! (everything u went thru from just 4 getting the 4 days) I'll make sure 2 ween myself off it !! When u slowly lower the dose 2 get off any of these types of meds.....it allows ur body 2 get use 2 not having the chemical. Stopping without weening "shocks" ur system. So i think if u want 2 stop taking the med and do it the proper way......u'll be fine and won't have 2 take a few weeks off.  How long b4 u noticed a diff. when u 1st started taking it ??? Was it a month? I'm nervous about even starting it !! A lot of people feel great and others not so much ! Maybe they were not good about taking it @ the same time every day or 4-getting 2 take it all together ! I know i myself need 2 try (every1 is diff) i would just like 2 know how long b4 i c a change. (or expect 2 c a change)
Avatar universal
I have been attempting to get of Pristiq for a month now. I started with 1/2 a pill for 2 weeks, then 1/4 pill for another. This weekend I tried to go my 2nd day without any pill. My body zaps got so bad and I got so dizzy I ended up taking 1/4 of a pill. I don't know how I'm going to be able to get off this without staying in bed and being still for at least a week. This has been a HORRIBLE experience trying to get off of this stuff! I have noticed that I get more panicked coming off this medication. I have NO patience and become easily irritated with stupid things. My doctor felt I need a change of meds so she put me on 150mg of Wellbutrin. I have been taking both while trying to get off the Prestiq. I don't know if the Wellbutrin is working or not.

Anyway, the body zaps are the worst! Good luck to anyone trying to get off of this stuff!
Avatar universal
I was on Pristiq - It didn't change anything for me, but the withdrawal was terrible.  The problem is, most people take the 50mg pill, which is the lowest dose, and you're not supposed to cut the pill because it has different layers.

There was no way I could have worked during the withdrawal period, which luckily got better after about a week.  I felt like I had the flu with crazy brain shivers.

In my experience with SSRI's, they are not worth it.  They end up working out for some people, but they wreak havoc way too often.  It's not like they were designed for anxiety or depression, the drug companies just thought they could make a case that their pills might help with depression symptoms.  And the "new" versions of old pills is a sham.  Docs prescribe the new ones and act like they're something great, but they're just influenced by big pharm.  I don't get how a doc could put someone on Pristiq if effexor didn't work for them.  Too many docs like to pretend that antidepressants are great because they can't be abused, so they give up on the proven treatments like xanax and klonopin for anxiety.

Well, that's just my opinion, but I would ask to try something like xanax first.
Avatar universal
I am currently on Pristiq....I have been on it for 9 months.  I have to admit I have not noticed a significant change.  I do bruise VERY easily.  I also have been loosing a substantial amount of hair.  I have in contact with the manufactuer.  I am in the process of trying to figure out how to procede with this as so many others are inquiring about the hair loss and the use of this medication.  I am cutting it in half as well trying to go off it.  It is horrible.  Body aches, cold chills, irratibility, nausa, dizzy, headache, sweating, loose bm's, and finally so foggy in my mind I almost ran a red light.  I would never reccomend this drug to anyone.  I believe that unless there is a serious problem, ie Bi-Polar, clinical depression...etc that meds should be taken.  Sometimes it is truly healthier to attempt to muddle through.  It is hard to do that, it is A LOT of work.  It is almost like parenting yourself!  Good luck to all out there.  The cloud of darkness and feelings of over-all sadness can be lifted.  
Avatar universal
Hi guys, I've been on Pristiq for about two months now. I've had the worst of the side effects from shaking hands, blurred vision, nausea, headaches, night mares etc.....For a few weeks it didn't seem like it was worth it.
Within the first 3 days I saw significant reductions in my obsessive compulsions, my anxiety and worry was reduced and I felt more secure, like so many of the websites say you will.
I started a blog about my experience inpristiqcondition.wordpress.com, it helps me to remember why I'm taking it.
I hate medications in general, but I hate not being able to control my mind. If I remember to take my pill at exactly the same time every day, I'm ok, if I'm off by even an hour, I'm screwed.
I've been on just about every drug for anxiety and depression: paxil, effexor, welbutrin etc....nothing gave me that relief from my worry that Pristiq did.
Avatar universal
I really wanna try this med also but very scared to.I hate side affects i took lexapro,paxil n prozac none work for me but i really need to take something cuz i cannot function right.My OB dr prescribed this med for me says it wil kick in within 2-3 days is that true.I wish that was true.From reading the bad experience about it i'm not sure what to do.I really just need something for ANXIETY not depression.Please what do u guys think.What meds is good for anxiety.I have xanax just in case but that med is also addicting.I'm so lost n confused i really rather not take any meds but my anxiety is so bad right now.thx
Avatar universal
i have been on pristiq for a year now it was working really well for me but now i am having withdrawl symtons even though i am still taking 100mg a day. i feel dizzy around the time it is to take another dose. has anyone else felt this while taking this medication?
Avatar universal
I have been on effexor for years. Current dose of 300 mgs. Recently, my dose only lasts for 12 hrs, then the brain zaps start, and there's no way to get rid of them unless you take another dose. There's NO WAY I can function with the zaps. They feel like electricity reaches a peek, circles around with dizziness, light hurts my eyes, then whoops, another around of zaps. It's a horrible feeling and it does hurt.I often lose my balance. I asked my pharmasist why this was happening. He said most likely the drug is no longer working for me. So, my Dr changed me to pristq. Nothing has changed, if anything, the brain zaps have gotten worse. I'm going to wait till after the holidays to start some type tapering down, along with another anti - to help. I plan on speaking to my pharmasist for suggestions. I trust his judgement better than my Dr's judgement. My Dr doesn't understand the severity of "brain zaps"  So, for now, when the zaps start? I will take another pill to get rid the damn brain zaps. I don't recommend either of these drugs, but I do understand there are some people who have no choice but to try them
Avatar universal
Omg reading all of this is scaring me horribly =o i started Pristiq in Septemberfor depression/anxiety and i felt fine at first but for the past 2 wks or so i bn having HORRIBLE nightmares its bn just bad.. I bn having really BAD hot flashes for about the same 2 or 3 wks idk if it has something to do with Pristiq or whats going on.. Also ive had lil panic attacks about twice.
Avatar universal
Hi I had physical sickness when I first started prestiq. This is why I was put on prestiq. I have halfed the dose for the last week and a half, though for 3 days last week i took nothing. I was so ill, couldnt get out of bed when I took nothing, so Ive started taking 50 mg again. The dizzyness has gone and I do feel a lot better. However I had a panic attack out of the blue yesterday, and have been feeling so nauseated and unable to eat since. I dont know whats going on with me. I am a Social Worker, and have had generalised anxiety for nearly 2 years since I had a lot of trauma happen to me. The only thing that maintains it is the fear of having a panic attack. I really feel like I cant overcome the anxiety, as much as I want to. I have so many things I want to do in life, Im only 21. I just feel so stuck by the anxiety. I dont even know if the anxiety is from the drug or me, its all just so confusing.
Avatar universal
I am getting off Pristiq! In 2 months have gained 10 pounds, the last 3 weeks, I have awful shoulder, lower back pain and leg pain. Now I am so irratible I feel I am going jump out of my own skin! Does anyone know of any anti-depressants , don't make you fat and irratible! And Sore all over?
Avatar universal
My psychiatrist was trying to wean me off of Pristiq. I was taking 100mg for years after being on 50mg per day before that. We had a fairly straight forward. I guess she thought she was taking me off too fast because I had a panic attack very similiar to the one you described after weaning for about 2 weeks. I had severe short term memory loss, racing heartbeat and breathlessness to name a few of the worst symptoms. I had to get up and leave work and have my mother come and pick me up to take me home. I scared the crap out of her I was so disoriented.

I called into my psychiatrist and tried to explain what was happening. I had one remaining 50 mg she told me to take that. She said I was allowed to take a Xanax to ease the racing heartbeat, panicking.

My original doctor back around 2007 or 2008 had pharm reps all the time with free samples. I was broke and couldn't afford the exorbitant pricing of these drugs so I just took them without regard to any side affects and my doctor didn't really warn me about them. Pristiq is a scary scary drug and I feel that it needs taken off of the market.
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