Depression/Mental Health Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Paxil withdrawal?

I was on Paxil CR 12.5 mg/day for about 2 weeks, following 3 weeks on Lexapro, for panic attacks.  

I weaned off Paxil over 2 weeks by going to every other day, and have been off completely for about 10 days.  I noticed symptoms within a day or two of tapering- mainly tingling in arm/foot on one side when I walked. Those tinglings have subsided a bit, but now I find a general tenseness and tightness in my chest and neck, and have begun having at least low-grade anxiety almost every day. (by the way, before taking any meds, I only had a few panic episodes but otherwise felt fine.

I'm feeling jumpy and find that, although relaxation techniques help somewhat, Xanax is the only thing that will shut off rather than lessen the symptoms.

Question is: Is this to be expected from the Paxil withdrawal? I just had a physical, and save for a slightly high BP, everything else was normal...resting EKG, blood and urine work-up, etc.  

I want to believe this is nothing more organic and serious but it's tough when you feel like **** so often.


41 Responses
242532 tn?1269550379
It sounds to me like the Paxil is not the problem, but a generalized anxiety is the problem...both the description and the response to xanax.  Its quite common for a few panic attacks to be transformed into this kind of anxiety, and actually its for the better since it is more amneable to talk therapy and xanax.  I recommend you begin to talk with a therapist.
Avatar universal
Hi!  I just wanted to let you know that I stopped taking Zoloft because I had pins and needles in my legs all day long. They continued for about 3 or 4 weeks after I stopped taking it. Now they are all gone.

When I stopped taking Paxil, I experienced a really uncomfortable tight feeling in my chest. It lasted a few days and the doctor put me on Ativan to relieve the discomfort.

I hope that you feel better soon.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the response.  I do believe that I've developed anxiety...no question. I just think the fact that these symptoms of late only came with disconituning Paxil is more than a coincidence.
Avatar universal
I have just recently stopped taking Paxil.  I would just like to tell anyone who is having withdrawals from Paxil that they are real and I do not care what any doctor says to the contrary.  The reason I am quiting Paxil is because it, like many other medications, causes more problems than I had to start with.  I started taking paxil because I had a seratonin and a melatonin deficiency. Paxil definately does not help at all with the melatonin problem, in fact it makes it even more impossible to sleep than before.  It also raised my blood pressure to where I needed a medication for that too, and I am omly 29 and in descent physical health.  The whole time I was on paxil I was not able to have the big "O" if you know what I mean, not to mention the fact that I didn't want to have sex at all.  This was not a problem I had before the paxil even with the depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD.  I decided to go the natural route by taking a small dose(1-mg) of melatonin at night to aid in sleep and small dose (50mg)of 5-HTP during the day to help with a natural feeling of general well being and wakeness. Yes if you're wondering they do work I have been sleeping like a log for the first time in my life and I actually started laughing and wanting to do things with friends and family again.  I can also go through a normal day without being anxious about every thought that runs through my mind.  I did a lot of research before I decided to go this alternate route.  I figured it was a lot easier to pay approx. $20.00 a month for something natural and helpful than to pay $150.00 a month for something that was practically killing me as I watched.  I suggest than anyone on any kind of antidepression, anxiety or ADD medication to seriously think of giving the  alternatives I have mentioned a try.  There are not any studies of how these work on children yet, but I have heard stories of them working wonders with children with behavioral problems that are aggressive, or that have ADD or ADHD.  Because of these supplements I have gotten rid of Paxil, Ridilin, and Amerol, not to mention a few others the dac wanted to put me on.  I suggest that you do your own research by looking on the internet for these supplements.  They also are said to help with Fibromyalgia symptoms.  My mom is currently testing this for me.  These supplements actually for me started working for me within minutes especially if you find sublingual ones that disolve in your mouth.  But you should expect terrible withdrawal symptoms for a while such as extreme dizziness that is almost debilatating.  I could bairly work.  I had to sit still in a chair and even when I would move my eyeballs I would get something almost like vertigo where I got very disoriented and would fear losing conciosness.  My flesh became unbearably sore to the touch even to bathe or apply lotion , like a very bad case of the flu or like being bruised all over.  I also had terrible headaches and stomach cramps.  My vision was sometimes blurred and I would start shaking.  I got cold very easily.  I started getting very itchy like an allergic reaction.  I would get what I have heard others describe as zaps or flashes where it feels like your whole body and mind just flashes or tenses all at once.  I got an extremely bad case of acne(yes I'm 29) and I felt exhausted constantly. I found my chest to be tight as if I was coming down with a case of bronchitis without the flegm.  I would get disoriented and confused and I am sure I have forgotten a few other less severe symptoms.  I would personally like to repremand the doctor who put me on ridiln and paxil and a few others that I don't care to mention.  I know that these were withdrawal symptoms because they started before I started taking anything else and to anyone who would say it is just my anxiety coming back I would tell them that that thought is a bunch of bull krap.  I have never felt that bad in my whole entire life.  I am still having withdrawals after two weeks and am having a difficult time with it.  I have just heard that ginger pills are supposed to be good for helping with the withdrawals and I am going to get some as soon as I leave work.  Anyone who is having the same problems my prayers are with you.  To anyone who has not started taking Paxil I would tell you not to and to try a seratonin and melatonin natural alternative.  And to anyone who is about to stop taking paxil I will say good luck and to try your best to stay off it forever.  The supplements I mentioned above in small doses will help with any emotional problems that you are having I can almost promise.  If I had my say in things Paxil would be taken off the market completely and the people who made it would have to take it then come off of it and experience what I have had to go through and then maybe they would retract their statementse about withdrawals not existing and I would laugh at them and tell them that they are wacko.  Hence my nickname "not wacko" -God Bless-
Avatar universal
I am currently weaning off Paroxetine (Paxil) and the withdrawal symtoms are taking over my entire day and I can't function properly.  I am having "hot flashes" on my neck and earlobs (It's not a menopause thing, I'm 35 years old), I am having vision problems (focusing), racing heart beats, electric shock sensations, vertigo and mind flashes.  This is like being tortured!!!!  I am going off the medication so I can try Effexor.  Paroxetine has increased my appetite so much that I've gained way too much weight in a short amount of time.  I have Panic Disorder and Social Phobia that started back in 1995 when my nephew past away and I was going through a divorce.  Paxil/Paroxetine has helped me live as a normal person.  I didn't have many problems being on it and it totally "cured" me of the Disorders, but caused weight gain and no sex drive.  Sitting here at my computer is taking alot of effort right now.  I am having the electric shock and vertigo symtoms as I type.  Another problem since weaning is that as I'm trying to fall asleep at night, I have a door-slamming sound in my head.  I don't understand this.  There is no noise, except in my head...it is soooo weird.  Has anyone else had this?  These withdrawal symtoms are ruining me right now and I feel all alone in this.  I would love to hear from anyone who is going through this now too, or has gone through it before.  I would love some help in how to get through this. Thanks!!!!!!!
Avatar universal
I've taken Paxil, along with lithium, for the past ten years for bipolar disorder.  Although Paxil worked wonders for depression and anxiety associated with bipolar disorder, the sexual side effects became too annoying.  After ten years I've weaned of Paxil and feel like total ****.  I haven't had a dose in seven days and can barely function.  I'm confused, disoreinted, irritated and feel I have the mental capability of a two year old.  Does this **** ever go away?   If so, when?
Avatar universal
I was on Paxil for 5 years. I went on paxil for menopause and anxiety symptoms. It worked for me for the 5 years. I quit cold turkey. I had the zings in the head, the cold feelings the flu like symptoms, the sleepless nights, hot flashes,nausea extreme irritablilty.just miserable. It took about two weeks to feel better. However I am left with the anxiety, and fatigue. Recently I had an Ansar test of the nervous system,what a surprise,I have an imbalance. So Paxil did me such favors for awhile,but it will will not let go. It has been almost two months without the Paxil. Now I have to deal with fatigue and many tests to staighten out my body.Any one else in my position?
Avatar universal
I am up once again because I cannot sleep.  I have not had Paxil for 8 days.  I was taking Paxil CR 25 mg. for about 10 months.  Without warning it was pulled from the market by the FDA because that said it had not been proven to be "controlled release"  I loved CR.  I lost 10 lbs on it and did not have sexual side effects.  I went on Paxil because I was afraid of what would happen if I did not stay on an SSRI.  I suffer from severe panic attacks that began a few years ago when my father passed away in his sleep.  Now I am very fearful of the night and sleep has eluded me.  In the two months on Paxil, I gain back the 10 lbs plus 5 more.  The sexual side effects returned.  I am a 40 year old happily married adult and that is important to me.  Since coming off the paxil, I think I am going to die!  When I read others comments, it assured me that I am not crazy.  The "Zaps" or "Buzzes" in my brain scare me.  I have vertigo and have had to sit down several times to keep from falling.  I feel nauseous and like I have the flu.  I am irritable and say things to my family I don't mean.  I can't think straight.  I go to the pantry to get something and can't remember what I'm there for.  I can't remember anything.  I'm really scared, especially sitting here at this computer in the middle of the night.  I have 2 Klonopin left that I use to help me sleep.  My doctor won't refil it unless I agree to go back on an SSRI.  I pray that I can make it through another night.
Avatar universal
OMG! I'm on my 3rd day of being off of paxil and I feel like hell!!! I hated the drug to begin with for all the same reasons that are posted.  I feel I have these constint "jolks" going through my head, chest and arms!  Does anybody know what i'm saying nor feeling? Is this a commion side effect?
I hate how I feel!! Anybody have any advice??
Avatar universal
I have been taking Paxil 20 mg for about 10 years.  I have noticed that my head is clear when I first get up in the morning, but shortly after taking the Paxil, I get confused and feel spaced out.  It felt like dementia.  I told my family doctor, and he said he would help me stop by cutting one quarter of the pill each week.  The first week, I took 3/4 pill.  Yesterday, I started the second week of 1/2 pill.  I could hardly stand up, I was so tired and sleepy. I did not feel depressed.  I went to bed at 7 PM and woke up at 6 AM the next morning (today).  I have had a splitting headache today.  I took Vicodin, which I have for the Fibromyalgia.  An hour and half later, I took a Frova, thinking maybe it was a migraine.  Nothing is touching it.  Last week, on 3/4 pill, I felt really good.  I keep telling myself that what I am feeling now is not real, it's the withdrawals and it WILL end sooner or later.  I will not have a lifetime of these feelings.  I absolutely refuse to let anything control my life like this.  I know that it's not going to be easy, but I must keep these thoughts in my head.  I pray that you do the same and perhaps my words will help someone.  If my psychiatrist had taken me off the Paxil, I know he would NOT have done this as slowly, and I probably would end up back on the Paxil.  May God be with you.
Avatar universal
I have been on 20 mg of paxil for 2 years.  I haven't had problems while on the paxil and feel like it has helped with the depression.  However, in trying to get off the drug, I can sure relate to the noise in my head that others have commented about.  Everytime I blink I get the weirdest noise going off inside my head.
Avatar universal
I have been on Paxil for 6 years.  I have been weaning myself off of it for a year, I finally went off of it, taking my last dose a week and a half ago, by Friday I was dizzy'ish, Saturday I was a crying, emotional, angry, mess who couldn't stand for more than 5 mins at a time without feeling like I was going to pass out.  I have had all of the symptoms such as :

dizziness, extreme nausea, crying spells, light headedness, vertigo, coordination problems, gait disturbances, sweating, vomiting, high fever, abdominal discomfort, flu symptoms, agitation, tremulousness, irritability, aggression, sleep disturbance, nightmares, tremor, confusion, memory and concentration difficulties, lethargy, malaise, weakness, and general fatigue."

    * intense insomnia
    * extremely vivid dreams
    * extreme confusion during waking hours
    * fear of losing your sanity
    * depersonalization- feeling of existing outside of reality
    * memory and concentration problems, panic attacks
    * severe mood swings, like extreme irritability and anger
    * suicidal thoughts
    * dizziness/vertigo
    * electric feeling shocks throughout your body
    * unsteady gait
    * slurred speech
    * headaches
    * profuse sweating
    * muscle cramping
    * blurred vision
    * outbursts of tears for no apparent reason
    * hypersensitivity to motion, sounds, smells
    * decreased appetite
    * nausea
    * abdominal cramping
    * loss of appetite
    * chills/hot flashes

Other Possible Paxil Withdrawal Symptoms: fainting, scratching sounds within one's head, tingling sensations in lips and areas around them, heart palpitations and chest pain, swollen and sore eyes, fatigue, bursting headaches, lump in throat
rash, dry, flaky, and/or irritated skin, grinding teeth, difficulty with swallowing, itchiness, numbness, speech problems,trembling.

I can't beleive that I have almost all of these, how wrong is that??  Why don't the doctors tell people of these ??

I am so sick, I blacked out at work today, I have had non stop stomach cramps, my legs and bottom half feel like I've been in a car accident, Im always sick and nauseated.  

How long does this last?  Honestly, nobody can live like this, I am on he verge of my boyfriend breaking up with me, because I am like an alien from another planet.


Avatar universal
i am currently withdrawing from paroxetine(paxil) and have been on it for 7 years.  initially it did wonders for the depression and anxiety that had plagued me for years.  but whenever i felt even keeled mentally and emotionally and ready to get off of it (i've been on paxil/paxil cr/and the generic all at different times didn't notice much difference) the horrible withdrawel symptoms scared me too much and were impossible to bear.  in the past there wasn't alot of info on the w/d symptoms but now it seems like there are at least alot of medical message boards and people are all reporting very similiar experiences.  it makes me feel confident that i won't experience any permanent health problem due to going off it as long as i taper off slower than in the past.  now i've been tapering for four weeks and am on my third day with none.  i started at 10mg a day (the dose i've been on for the last couple of years) and found that as soon as i got down to 5mg's that i started experiencing all the horrible vertigo, dizzy, exhausted, electric shock, etc type symptoms.  i've only been cutting the dose by 2mg's a week, just to give anyone else trying to get off it an idea how minisculely you probably need to taper off the dose.  so i spent a week on just 2mg's a day (essentially a crumb of the 40mg tablet) and still the symptoms didn't abate and so just stopped taking it altogether, they got a bit worse but i'm determined to get off this stuff and see where my emotional state is at on my own.  oh and i also have the crying jag/anger outburst bits, but i try to keep them to myself and hope that they will go away just like the more physical symptoms.  its hard seeing so many people post saying it can take a month or two to no longer feel these withdrawel symptoms but hopefully somehow it will turn out to be shorter.  good luck to anyone out there dealing with the w/d also, it sure makes it hard to function in daily life, but being on any drug eternally seems like an awful thing to be forced into. just go off it as slowly as you can manage and try hard to be patient.
Avatar universal
Well, here I am again. I began the last quarter of Paxil on Saturday. I could not, for the life of me, tell you what I have been doing since then (it's Tuesday night) except for today. I got up, ate breakfast and returned to bed. My muscles and joints ached worse than usual. I have Fibromyalgia. I've been crying on and off, sometimes hysterically. I feel lost, alone and extremely fearful of completely losing my mind. I'm 57 yrs. old and my mother has been dead for almost 22 yrs, but I walked around my apartment crying, "I want my mama."  Guess I'm going through the depersonalization some talk about.

It seems to me, from all my reading, that it doesn't make one bit of difference how long you taper off, you'll still get these side effects. My doctor has been tapering me off one quarter of pill each week. This last week has been the kicker!

Thank God for this website and everyone who writes here. It certainly helps me not feel so alone, and this little bit of journaling helps also. I feel like someone is listening.

Hope I've helped someone.  God bless all.
Avatar universal
Today I went to see my doctor. The crying, etc., that I wrote about last night was about to put an end to me, or so it felt. (This is my primary doc that is helping get off the Paxil, not my psychiatrist, who would never agree to this.)  My primary prescribed Prozac, 10 mg. to ease the horrible withdrawal symptons of the Paxil and said when all were gone, I could discontinue the Prozac.  My pharmacist said I'd probably notice a difference in a couple of days.

So, hopefully I'll make it through all this in one piece!  I'll let you know.
Avatar universal
I have been off Paxil for two months, after taking 37.5 mg. of Paxil CR for over a year.  Yes, I had the symptoms most everyone experiences: dizziness, vertigo, the "Wooshing Syndrome" of falling through an elevator shaft, rage, mood swings with more rage, weight gain, hair loss, insomnia, and so forth.  What bothers me now, after more than 8-9 weeks of having no Paxil whatsoever, is that I am still hungry all the time, have a very difficult time losing weight, and am very moody.  Having weighed 117lb. at the onset of taking the drug, and weighing 140lb. now, unable to get into any of my clothes, and losing my overall desire to look presentable, I am ending my denial. This drug has affected my metabolic rate to the downside.  I feel like my thyroid is sluggish, and am presenting symptoms of hypothyroidism.  Nice drug, that Paxil!
Avatar universal
Hi, everyone! I to am trying to get off paxil after taking it for 6 yrs. I had tried once b4 with no sucess due to the zaps and overwelming dizzyness, however after doing some research online I found several suggestions of taking fish oil(omega3) and vitamin e. So far this has worked VERY well for me....Ive been taking the fish oil and vit.e while tapering off the paxil. Im down to 15mg about every 3-4 days and usually only have to take that when the zaps and dizzyness are bothersome but I will say they are A LOT less severe. Hopefully soon I can be done with paxil all together!! Best of luck to all of you and thanks so much for sharing your stories, its good to know Im not alone!!!!
Avatar universal
i have been on Celexa for 3 years-and about 4 weeks ago i went off (having weaned off previous to that)
I am STILL having major symtoms of withdrawal-the list is endless-however some include:
-those head zappers
-severe mood swings
-GI upset
-the list goes on and on

I want to know-HOW LONG IS THIS GOING TO LAST? am i ruined for life?
please help
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
The 'life-invading' effects of this withdrawal are absolutely astounding.  If I had any inkling that the effects would be of this magnitude, I would NEVER have started taking Paxil.  In retrospect, I suppose it was simple naive trust in the white-coated person, and the casual nature of the prescription.  I was on Paxil CR for about 8 months before switching over to regular Paxil when SGK goofed up.  I have gained weight with Paxil, gotten skin rashes, and brain fog.  Two months ago, I weaned from 20mg to 10mg, and the past 3 weeks down to 5mg.  Cutting to 5 has been hell.  Aren't these debilitating symptoms supposed to decrease??  I called my doctor, and she said (no kidding) that it was really odd that I was having symptoms like I described to her (you know all the biggees -- the head zaps, the vertigo, the nausea, extreme fatige, having to close your eyes to make the world stop spinning...) after being on the drug for such a short time (going on 11 months).  In fact, she repeated this twice in our conversation.  Did she mean to imply that I am not actually experiencing these??  She advised me to continue with 5 mg. for the time being.  I desparately want to get off this substance that I feel has invaded my body, and was hoping to get some solid weaning advice.  Instead, she said to continue.  Needless to say, I am frustrated.   I've been perusing some websites, and have seen people post that they have used Benadryl or Dramamine to help with the withdrawal.  Has anyone used such things to good effect?  Any advice on how to get off these last 5 mgs?
Avatar universal
My psychiatrist refused to take me off Paxil.  Wonder why!  My primary doctor helped me by tapering off 1/4 tab each week.  I was taking 20 mg. and the last week was hell!  I could not handle it, so my doctor prescribed 10 mg. Prozac to lesson the symptoms.  It really helped.  He said, and I had read, that when the withdrawals stop, I could discontinue the Prozac with no problems.  I'm praying that will be true.

Thursday, 7/7 was my last pill.  I was doing fairly well until 7/12 when I was rear-ended by 2 cars on the interstate, the 3rd car charging into me and the one behind me.  I wasn't hurt, but have been aching all over from the jolt, and all the stress has NOT helped me in any way. (The one responsible for the accident had NO insurance!)  I found out about this yesterday and have been losing it left and right.

Tonight, I feel like I'm falling into a black hole and will never get out.  It is really scary.  So I came back to this forum.  I don't even know if I am making sense.

I truly believe that we will all get better, but we must be strong and not give in to it or what anyone else says.  We know our own bodies better than anyone and should follow our own instincts.

Let's all stick together!  God bless you all.
Avatar universal
I also have that bizarre eye thing with the horrible dizziness. I have been taking 10 mgs every other day and keeping a symptom journal for the day I find a doctor who takes me seriously. 10 mg seemed to stave off symptoms for 48 hours. I am revising this after this board to try the 5 mgs a day method.

I do not believe that paxil clears your system in 24 hours in every case.If that is so then why does it(and other ssri drugs) take up to three weeks to become effective?

MECLIZINE aka antivert seems to help with the lurching vertigo dizziness. Shockingly I took a ranitidine and felt better although I cannot tell you why.
Meclizine is available over the counter in a 12.5 and 25 mg dose. I go with the low dose because of the drowsiness side effect.

I am almost out of paxil but I dread returning to the doctor. I feel like they treat mental patients like inmates and use bullying methods to try and control patients. In short the have no respect for you. I want off this awful medicine in part so I do not have to deal with them anymore.

I am so angry that I was made an addict. While paxil may not be addictive in the classic form of addiction to drugs that cause euphoric effects, CLEARLY
Avatar universal

clearly the price is the same. You are forced into a relationship with your 'dealer', your m.d. who holds the prescription pad over your head. You must be 'monitored' while on this non-addicting medicine. You pay through the nose for the office visits-usually $100 or more and my bcbs private insurance doesn't cover but a fraction of the cost and then there are the meds.
Don't think that having private insurance will get you treated any better than the medicaid patients either. Most doctors are not taking new patients so you have to take what you can get and go jonesing for paxil.
I think buying pot would be easier. I haven't smoked in 20 years but I am thinking of taking it back up. I don't really see a huge difference in the difficulty of getting a bag of weed or a bottle of paxil.

anyway, I  think meclizine helps with the vertigo. its otc.
Avatar universal
Hi Folks-
I found this forum...Have been on Paxil 20 mg approx 3 years and am considering tapering off.  I managed to taper off of Effexor a few years ago and that was unpleasant as well.  But it can be done.  The real key is to do it as slowly as possible.  If you are having extreme withdrawl symptoms, you are going too fast.  Invest in a pill splitter and if youre taking 20 mgs, go down to 17 for a while..then 15, then to 10...(usually you probably wont notice too much of a problem until you hit 5)  if you need to approximate 7 for a while, try that.  Also, some things to consider:  Try doing things like increasing your exercise, resting enough, taking care of yourself and explaining to your friends and family as much as possible what could be going on to limit your stress.  Also, I hear there is a liquid form of paxil..if you need to go to 3, or 4 mgs of paxil for 2 weeks or whatever..Sure this may take 6 months or longer, but it CAN be done..worthwhile things like good mental health are worth taking your time and planning out/doing right...Don't let ANYONE rush you...find a new DR if yours wants you to go too fast.  There will be some withdrawl, but if it is debilitating, like I said, youre going too fast.  I employed this technique, like I said, with effexor and was successful in getting off of it completely for two years.  I do wish I had never started taking them again.  But  I also recognize the benefits I feel I gained from it.  Of course these are all just my experiences, your mileage may vary.
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Can depression and anxiety cause heart disease? Get the facts in this Missouri Medicine report.
Simple, drug-free tips to banish the blues.
A guide to 10 common phobias.
Are there grounds to recommend coffee consumption? Recent studies perk interest.
For many, mental health care is prohibitively expensive. Dr. Rebecca Resnik provides a guide on how to find free or reduced-fee treatment in your area