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Tapering off prozac having major side effects

I have been on 20mg of prozac scince may of 2006. 5 weeks ago I decided to taper off taking 20mg and 10mg on alternating days. I was fine until about 3 days ago. now I have uncontrollable crying, a creepy crawling sensation and find my self having a lump in throat and having trouble breathing. I saw a hollistic doctor and he said it is withdrawl symptoms. i was under the impression that prozac isnt that bad especially at such a low dosage. can anyone tell me how long this will last. I want it to get better but it is like i am obbessing about it and it is making it worse. PLEASE HELP
48 Responses
193245 tn?1189989722
Hm.  The way I understand it, Prozac and other SSRIs do not have dependency or addiction issues, and wouldn't technically cause withdrawal.

You may want to talk to your doctor about this.  You could be coming off it too quickly or something.  Good luck and let us know what you find out.  It may help somebody in the future.
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I had these same symptoms, and more while taking it and while coming off of it, the withdrawal symptoms lasted for about 1 1/2 months.  I too was taking 20 mg also.  Jen
Avatar universal
so if i just stick with it eventully the symptoms will go away? i am having a hard time and thinking about starting again becuase when i am om it i have no side effects
Avatar universal
SSRIs do have major dependancy issues. I know because I went off Cipramil cold turkey under the instruction of a doctor (who obviously knew nothing). I experianced MAJOR withdrawal symptoms, so dizzy I couldn't walk around, manic episodes of wanting to kill myself at night, depression.

I think you probably came down to quickly, your suppose to go down by maybe a quarter of a tablet each week. Its slow but it turns out better. Everybodys tolerance to withdrawal is different, I dont tolerate it well at all, and you dont sound so good either. I suggest a slow taper, maybe a different doctor for a second oppinion as to what to do.

best of luck
193245 tn?1189989722
Well, I wasn't clear when I wrote.  It's not addictive like heroin or hydrocodone or whatever, and so you're not having withdrawal in the strict sense of the word.  I remember this from talking to my doctor years ago.

That doesn't mean there won't be adverse effects if you stop.  Lots of pills are like that.  I'm tapering off Prevacid right now, and supposedly that's one you can just stop cold.  Well, you can't.  Or at least I can't.

But it won't be like someone trying to kick a narcotic addiction where your immune system goes crazy and all that.

I'm not sure you're tapering correctly.  One day you're taking a full dose, the next day half a dose, and then the next day you're back to a full dose.  I don't know how it's supposed to be done, but you shouldn't be taking anyone's advice about it unless they're a doctor.  Typically, tapering is done by reducing the dose slowly over a period of weeks.
Avatar universal
Actually, I am pretty familiar with this, and you are tapering much slower than most people do.....and correctly, I might add.  Prozac has the longest half-life of any of the SSRI's, so it takes the longes to clear your system.  It stays in the bloodstream, and the levels come down very slowly.  Taking a 10 every other day shouldn't be much different than taking, say 15 every day (although, obviously, they don'd make 5's or 15's, so your doc did the next best thing.  Usually, people dont experience the trouble coming off prozac, like they do paxil, effexor, and some of the others.  The timeline, though of 5 weeks since you lowered your dose sounds like it is definitely related....4-6 weeks is when the blood levels would level out.  May I ask why you are stopping the drug?  Some people, like me, need them for life, and will have a recurrance of symptoms if they try to stop.  You might be experiencing a recurrance of anxiety, due to not being on a high enough dose.  If you are adament about going off the prozac, the only options besides switching to another SSRI/SNRI are: Benzos (ativan, xanax, etc to help the anxiety until you get over the hump), therapy, proper diet & exercise (can't stress the importance of the exercise enough--helps tremendously), and determination.  
Most importantly, don't stop the medicine for the wrong reasons.  If you need it, there is no shame in taking it.
PS Stick with your doctor, and let him know how you are feeling....as you can see from previous posts, many doctors are ignorant about SSRI withdrawls, and proper tapering.  It sounds like your doc is hyper-vigilant---definitely NOT a bad thing!!
Avatar universal
Friday I started taking my 20 of prozac again only...i am still crying about once a day...and i have terrible dieriahha.. but i am actually not as anxious anymore...i think right now it is best for me to just stay on the prozac. i think i felt ashamed of it and there were other factors(i want a baby someday and not being on prozac is a must) but if i need it well then i will take it....i will keep everyone updated
Avatar universal
Hi,,, I could almost hear and feel what you were going through when I was reading your comments on getting back on the prozac.  I know, it is like a sigh of relief when you actually start feeling better.  The interim stinks.  Take it from me, I am taking over 150 mg. of prozac and am planning this summer to begin to taper off.  With respect to getting pregnant, listen, I have had awful anxiety for over 10 years.  I can tell you that there is hope.  I wanted to get pregnant again and this amazing pharmacologist held my hand throughout my pregnancy,  You can actually take ZOLOFT while you are pregnant.  Look into it....Have and baby and begin your life!
Good luck!
Avatar universal
I was told to start on 20mg around 18 months ago and did not benifit in the slightest , I saw my doctor after 9 months and he up'd me to 40 mg, still I was having bouts of depression and he put me onto 60 mg and reffered me to anger managemaent, my depression always rears it's ugly head in this manner , the vicious circle thing, you know what I mean , feeling down frustated and then the smallest thing fires me up, i had a spell in hospital with a leg fracture, quite nasty two lots of surgery and ended up wih pul emb's, mix up with the hozy and my surgery had to go thursday till monday without prozac, i turned into an absolute nut by sunday , paranoid angry aggressive real real nasty, i did not know i could be affected in this way by just missing a couple of days without prozac, as anyone else experienced this ,,  Dominic
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my 15 year old daughter has been taking fluxitine a generic name for prozac.  she had been taking it for 1 and 1/2 years.   She developed a heart problem called prolonged qt and was taken to a cardiologost who promptly took her off of it cold turkey to see if the drug was causing the problem.  5 weeks later she had  her ekg retaken and we were told that it was now normal. Although i feel bleesed tat my child does not have a heart problem her behavior has been very defiant, angry even violent. I am so worried. she is not allowed to be on any medication that will prolong the qt and her cardiologist says that the sr inhibitors are prone to o that. Help!
Avatar universal
My husband just went off prozac and depakote cold turkey he has been experiencing major anxiety.  He has been off the drugs for two months by choice.  It was hurting our sex life immensly.  He still has mood swings and bouts of depression however he seems happier to be off the drug. He told me that the only thing he regrets is that he has severe anxiety and wakes up from a tingling sensation that starts in his feet and works its way up his legs.  Does anyone else experience this?  He doesn't want to go back on any meds.  He is resorting to St John's Wort after the drug prozac is completely out of his system.  Any suggestions.  He has been taking vicodin to fall asleep lately.


A concerned wife,
Avatar universal
Hi there,

I feel your pain, my husband like your daughter was prescribed the medication.   I am sure that a lot of love goes a long way.  I have been married to my husband for seven years now and it has not always been easy.

Hang in there, and pray a lot!

Avatar universal
My husband is still feeling the strong tingling sensation in his legs... he has extreme anxiety.  He took melatonin, valerian root nothing helps.  I know you all have experienced similar issues.  As soon as we get on medicaid we will see a doctor.  He has been without work for three months so no insurance.  He has read up on prozac and it seems like it is technically the safest but nobody knows what the long term side effects are and since he went off of this medication cold turkey and he has been on it for seven years we are worried that he now may need to be on paxl or some kind of anti anxiety medication.

Your advice is appreciated,

Concerned wife,

Avatar universal
I would strongly recommend that you contact a psychiatrist or PCP first thing in the morning and seek medical attention.  Cold turkey can be dangerous.  Depokote is a very different medication than the SSRIs. It's a mood stabilizer.  Don't fool around with this stuff.  One of the most difficult aspects of treating patients with bipolar disorder is their inconsistency with med. compliance.  Good luck.  Maybe he doesn't realize how difficult it can be for you to be dealing with this.
Avatar universal
I've just started tapering off prozac.  I've been on 20 mg. for over 10 years!  I'm doing it slowly and after 33 days I'm down to 10 mg.  I'm feeling a bit spacey and can definitely cry easier.  I just want to know what life is like without mind altering chemicals.  I'm trying to exercise everyday and eat well.  Does anyone know or experienced how long this process will take?
Avatar universal
hi hilary ive been on prozac since 2000 and im jst startin to come off it im reducing 1 a week as insructed by my gp i have the tingling sensations and very lite headed but i think my life will be alot better without it.
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Does prozac cause extreme sweating? I have been on 20mg for close to 7 years and want so badly to wean off. I also take Welbutrin, which doesn't cause the loss of libido like prozac. Any suggestions?
Avatar universal
hi mom2sixkids,yes fluoxetine can cause extreme sweating, I have had particularly lovely night sweats ever since I started prozac, and now that I am coming off it they are gradually lessening in frequency and severity!

I ave been on prozac for about 7 years and am tapering off graudualy, from 60mg I am now on about 5mg but ever since 20mg and below I am having real problems, especially this week, I feel totally rubbish, anxious, shaky, with headaches, chills, upset stomach, stomach cramps, crying spells, dizziness, hyper-emotional reponses to everything, random sleeping patterns.I do not understand how it is that I could go from 60 to 40 and 40 to 20 without any problems but as soon as I go below 20 the evil withdrawal effects kick in. I know this is unusual given that prozac has such a long half-life and I am tapering gradually (5mg per 2 weeks to start, now ging to go down by 1mg per 2 weeks (using liquid fluoxetine) until Im off it.

Please can someone tell me how long after stopping toally that the withdrawal effects carry on for.?
Avatar universal
Why would you stop taking Prevacid? I hope you are switching to a different ppi. Once you start taking a ppi you should be on it for life.
1084636 tn?1256385068
I have seen that there is a ceiling effect of relief of depression by these SSRI drugs and that can take different time from one person to another person and after that there is an dependency period that can last for a very long time until confusion can start in the minds if the persons using these drugs. This is very similar to dependency of narcotics and alcohol in a person. It seems it is an intoxication of a chronic use of a chemical in our brain.
When the serotonin syndrome starts appearing with the chemical drugs we should try to detoxify ourselves from these drugs.
In the use of antidepressants and anti-psychotics, a gradual and a declining reduction of the drug is recommended very much like reduction of Methadone by 2.5 mg every day in Methadone dependency. By such a gradual reduction our brain cannot detect the reduction levels and withdrawal symptoms are prevented.
It is a sudden and abrupt and serious withdrawal symptoms which make the patient continue to keep going back to his dependency on antidepressants or anti-psychotic drugs and other chemical dependencies like nicotine and Alcohol which have a trigger phenomenon with the changing emotions during the days of our lives. Therefore the Nicotine has to be stopped abruptly when its sudden withdrawal does not present life threatening symptoms where as Alcohol withdrawal can have seizure activity in our brain. That is why Alcohol detoxification is usually done in a detoxification unit for three to four days, a time in which most seizures appear in a person.
In summary:
SSRI and anti psychotic addictions has   to be stopped very gradual as Methadone addiction
Narcotic addiction can be managed with Suboxone,
Alcohol addiction need hospital detoxification treatment in selected cases.
Nicotine addiction requires a sudden and abrupt cessation because gradual reduction does not work with addiction to Cigarettes.
All outside dependencies will have a diminishing effect on functions of our brain function especially as we get older. It may be the cause of dementia of the brain or of the Alzheimer’s disease. It may also be the cause of our aging faster than our years of lives.
All these addictions and other abnormal behavior can be modified through spiritual and Cognitive (Reality) therapy.
If a person has known God, he can free himself from most Chemical addictions and abnormal behaviors.
This is what I have found in my experience with dependency illness in a human being.
Ramesh C. Gupta, M.D.
Avatar universal
they are ABSOLUTELY withdrawl symptoms.  I just finished a LONG 9 month process of tapering off prozac and am FINALLY a normal, happy person.  I had to go through hell to get here though.  Read the book- The Antidepression Solution by Joseph Glenmullen, MD.  It totally helped me put together a personal plan.  I also worked with a naturopath, yoga healers, counselors, etc. through this journey.

I was on 40 mg a day for 20 years and had tried to taper off unsuccessfully multiple times.  My depression symptoms came back and I thought it meant I needed to be on this.  Actually, our brains become dependent and produce less and less serotonin on their own, so you have to build that back up.  Google increasing serotonin to find suggestions- for me it was DAILY exercise, fresh air, nature, meditation, finding things that bring me joy, fruits and veggies, sleep, etc...  You have to RETRAIN your brain to product more serotonin.

good luck!!
Thank you for your post - has helped me immensely knowing there is a way.
Me too, I have slowly tapered off Prozac for months, but it seems I have hit some sort of threshold and the -withdrawal-effects seem to be showing, I have high levels of anxiety, low motivation ect. It is a bit overwhelming thinking how long it might take to feel better and like normal, but I really want to try and be rid of these drugs once and for all...
Avatar universal
Hi There, I came off Prozac 20mg per day cold turkey, VERY bad idea, 6 months later i had to go back on it for the sake of my teenager.

I will one day taper down over roughly a nine month period, i'm starting my research now about doing it properly this time. So 2 things i know, the book coming off Prozac is suppose to be good and There is a programme called The Linden Method, by Charles Linden, I haven't got it yet but i will when i've money, check out the youtube messages about how it's helped people. It's for server anxiety but has cured depression too, but in many cases depression is due to excessive anxiety.

I'll be in touch
Avatar universal
Hi I've been on fluoxetine for about 8 months and I came off it cold turkey about a week or so ago. I know you aren't meant to but it was only a dose of 20mg a day and I stopped partly because they weren't doing much for me and I would rather deal with it myself than become in any way dependant and also because I was starting to forget to take them alot.

I don't mean to imply that other people shouldn't be on them or even that there is anything wrong, its just that for me I can't help but disliking myself more for being on them.

Recently I have been sweating profusely and feeling irritable and anxious. I sleep my usual amount but I'm constantly tired. I had thought these might be due to diet issues but I'm not so sure. Is it really that big a deal coming off cold turkey if it was only 20mg and for such a short time?

Avatar universal
I have been on 10mg of prozac for about 4 weeks.  Almost immediately, I experiences wrist, ankle and knee joint pain.  The right knee was the worst and the rhuematologist looked at it, drained a bunch of fluid off of it and said let's see what happens.  I missed my daily 10mg a few days ago so doubled up and today, both knees are totally swollen and it hurts to walk, my left wrist feels like I have carpul tunnel syndrome and my ankles and finger joints are sore.  I have been reading all over the net about this being a sever side effect.  Anyone else experience this?

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