When trying to taper off Paxil I quickly discovered that it can be a horrifying experience. I suffered all the symptoms of brain zaps, feeling suicidal, twitches, jerks, extreme anxiety and fear, akathisia, dysphoria, unbearable feelings of hopelessnes and depression.
I have seen estimates of the percentage of people experiencing withdrawals from antidepressants to be anywhere from 21% to 67%. Not surprisingly, it was GSK that came up with the lower number. Please read this entire page and look into the links. I have been there and have done much research on withdrawals from antidepressants. If you need more help, please visit the support group listed in the links. The people at that site are very understanding, helpful and will try to answer your questions.
You do not need to enroll in a high priced recovery system that only repackages multivitamins and herbs and marks the price up. More information about these programs can be found here.
I am not a doctor. This site is for information purposes only. Please see your doctor for medical advice if you're having symptoms.
Someone keeps reporting this website as having malicious content and I frequently have to unfreeze it. So if you like this site and come back to find it closed, please know it is only temporary and I will have it back up shortly.
Taper Off Antidepressants Slowly
Do not quit antidepressants cold turkey! This can cause damage and withdrawals will be much worse. You must taper off them slowly. Don't allow your doctor to rush you.
Chances are that you started to cut your dose of SSRI as directed by your doctor, only to discover that it is an unbearable horror. A lot of people react to that with extreme fear of the drug and want to hurry and get off of it. However, that is not going to help and will only make it worse. At that point, the best thing to do is to reinstate the original dose, get your bearings, study this issue and make a plan. It is best to accept that you will have to spend some time getting off of this slowly so that you won't suffer.
If you can get liquid Paxil from your doctor this will help. Cut down 10% every 3 to 6 weeks. I wasn't able to get liquid, so I bought a digital jewelers scale that measured down to MG, and cut my pills down with a razor blade. You can find scales for around $25 at eBay. Do not alternate days as most doctors suggest. It’s better to have a small, equal dose every day because many of these antidepressants have a very short half-life. Please see the Tapering Off Drugs section for important information.
On this website I’m going to share what worked for me and others. I chose to use Homeopathy and Reiki to combat my symptoms. It was especially helpful for the emotional and mental symptoms. Homeopathy is very gentle on your nervous system and won't cause any side effects or reactions like many supplements do. I’ll list here the Homeopathic remedies I used.
Arum Metallicum 30C - Depression, wanting to die, loathing life, suicidal.
Stramonium 30C - Anxiety, fear, nightmares, depression, suicidal feelings.
Arsenicum Album 30C - Brain shocks and zaps. depression, nausea. Also try Cicuta Virosa 30C for brain zaps.
Calcarea Carbonica 30C - Heart Palpatation (PVC), Head noise, dreams, fear, depression, sweating, tinnitus
I find the Stramonium the most valuable as the extreme fear and depression was the worst symptom for me. Homeopathy is affordable at around $7.00 a bottle. Buy the smaller quantity bottles until you know what works for you and what dose you would like.
Homeopathy is safe and effective. It has no side effects and works with your body’s immune system, not against it. It is even used for babies. Many of us as parents gave teething tablets to our babies not even realizing that is Homeopathy.
I highly recommend contacting a Homeopath to help and guide you. However, many Homeopaths from the start will simply want to make a remedy out of the antidepressant. This does not work for antidepressants and only makes symptoms worse. This is called Isopathy. It is essentially "the hair of the dog" kind of thinking. It does not work and should always be a last resort for any situation. However, many Homeopaths want to try it from the start. If a Homeopath does not go over your symptoms with you from the start, which could take some time, then they are not the Homeopath for you. Or, you can simply tell them that you know that Isopathy does not work for antidepressant withdrawals. The reason it doesn't work is that we are still having to take doses of the antidepressant to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, making a remedy out of the antidepressant actually remedies the good benefits we're getting from the antidepressant (the small amount of antidepressant we're taking during taper is preventing w/d symptoms). If it weren't so, we'd just be able to stop taking antidepressants and forget tapering altogether! So please, tell your Homeopath; no Isopathy.
"Homeopathic medicines are considered non-toxic with no known side-effects making them extremely safe for adults and children. There are no known drug interaction risks between homeopathic medicines and conventional pharmaceutical drugs" - ritecare.com
Please visit the section on How to Buy and Use Homeopathy.
Quantum Homeopathy by Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph.D. - Quantum Physicist
If you find that reducing even by small amounts is just too unbearable and you don't feel you can make it, you can try a Prozac switch. Prozac has a longer half-life than Paxil and Effexor so it might be easier to taper off of it. I chose to use this when I was having too difficult of a time getting below 20 mg. of Paxil. It helped me tremendously to do this. I have been off of Paxil for months and tapered much easier off of Prozac. You can find out more about this here. If you are unable to take Prozac, ask your doctor for another long half-life antidepressant.
Many people withdrawing from antidepressants have a sensitive nervous system. When trying new supplements, it's wise to start out with small doses and give it some time to see how your body can take it. I have not had any trouble with Homeopathy, and that might be because Homeopathy isn't toxic and isn't actually a medicine, vitamin or herb. It's more of an energy imprint. If you have trouble with the lactose in Homeopathy, remedies are available lactose-free. Homeopathy can be found at Amazon, eBay, your local natural food store or at ABC Homoepathy.
I recommend a Fish Oil supplement taken every day. If you find you are sensitive to Fish Oil, try Flax-seed Oil. Crystallized Ginger is helpful for nausea. If that doesn't work, you can try Ipecacuanha 30C (Important; make sure it is Ipecacuanha Homeopathy). If all else fails, ask your doctor for Zofran, my nervous system took it well. I would stay clear of St. John's Wort and SAM-e while still tapering from antidepressants because of the risk of Serotonin Syndrome. Once you are off antidepressants, it should be safe to look into these alternatives. Calcium is the best natural remedy I know of for the jerks. Magnesium is good for anxiety, depression and stress.
Foods that aggravate the nervous system are: MSG (Monosodium Glutimate) found in many packaged foods such as soups and lunch meat. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) found in many diet sodas and diet foods. Avoid junk food, sugar and caffeine.
Pranayama is an easy breathing technique that adds more oxygen to your bloodstream, and is very healing to your brain and nervous system. Pranayama Technique
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide is also very beneficial in this way. Add 1- 2 tsp. to 1 gallon distilled water and it adds a lot of oxygen to your bloodstream, benefiting the brain. Be sure to use only distilled water so the peroxide won't react to certain minerals that may be in drinking water. The Many Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide - By Doctor Williams.
Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of a few large ones. Many people have noticed they have more severe symptoms when they are hungry.
Colloidal Gold supplements are healing to the brain and nervous system. Some symptoms of a Gold deficiency: Brain dysfunction, heat flashes, insomnia, depression, circulatory disorders. Gold boosts, corrects and balances the body's neural system, opens neural pathways, boosts brain neural transmitters, harmonizes the nervous system, enhances brain function, increases IQ and has unequaled effects on physical and emotional health. Keep in mind that Gold is only a mineral supplement, it is not a miracle cure.
I have successfully recovered from the antidepressant withdrawal nightmare and I'm back to normal. I have also read many stories from people that have successfully come off of antidepressants and they are doing fine now. Some still have lingering problems for a while but I believe time heals. Some have a longer battle with it.
When you look on the internet for support, you will find much of it, but there is one thing to beware of; too much negativity and fear. The success stories and advice on most of these support groups get quickly buried and so when you are searching for Hope, it's hard to see it.
Please do not let all the negativity get you down. I am doing perfectly well as are so many others. And yes, I experienced the worse hell and scariest time of my life, but I am recovered now. People that are doing okay withdrawing do not usually seek out websites about withdrawal because they aren't experiencing it. Many that recover don't bother to come back to post about it. So naturally you will find far more negative stories than success stories. Believe me when I say, this is temporary and you will stop feeling the feelings of gloom and fear about the world. You will feel again that the world is a beautiful place and it won't feel scary. I did it, and you can do it too.
List of Some of the SSRI Class Drugs
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inibitors - Wikipedia
Fluoxetine, Celexa, Cipramil, Cipram, Dalsan, Recital, Emocal, Sepram, Seropram, Citox, Cital, Citalopram, Dapoxetine, Priligy, Escitalopram, Lexapro, Cipralex, Seroplex, Esertia, Prozac, Fontex, Seromex, Seronil, Sarafem, Ladose, Motivest, Flutop, Fluctin, Fluox, Depress, Lovan, fluvoxamine, Luvox, Fevarin, Faverin, Dumyrox, Favoxil, Movox, indalpine, Upstene, Paroxetine, Paxil, Seroxat, Sereupin, Aropax, Deroxat, Divarius, Rexetin, Xetanor, Paroxat, Loxamine, Deparoc, sertraline, Zoloft, Lustral, Serlain, Asentra, Silazodone, Viibryd, Zimelidine, Zelmid, Normud.
Other antidepressants that are very difficult to withdraw from are Cymbalta, Zoloft, Seroquil, Cepralex, Pristiq, Amitriptyline, Trazadone, Lamatrizine, Venlafaxine, and many others. I do not cover Benzos (Benzodiazapine) here, though the supplements I suggest would be helpful. For support in Benzo withdrawal, I recommend Benzo Buddies.
Brain Zaps and Electric Shock Sensations
"Brain zaps", also known as "brain shocks" or "brain shivers", are a fairly common withdrawal symptom experienced during discontinuation (or reduction in dose) of SSRI and SNRI antidepressant drugs. The symptom is described as brief but repeated electric shock-like sensations in the brain and head.
Paresthesia and "electric shock" sensations are clinical terms used to describe this symptom, though paresthesia by definition is clinically incorrect. The "brain zap" effect appears to be nearly unique to serotonergic antidepressant drug formulations which have an extremely short elimination half-life in the body; that is, they are more quickly metabolized by the liver and leave the general circulation faster than longer half-life antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac). This attribute of abruptness leaves the brain a relatively short time to adapt to a major neurochemical change when medication ceases, and the symptoms may be caused by the brain's attempt at readjustment. There is yet no evidence that these "zaps" present any danger to the patient experiencing them however they can be very disconcerting to patients whom have no prior warning or knowledge of them.
Brain Zaps and Sensations
Symptoms described as "brain zaps", "brain shocks", "brain shivers", "head shocks", or "cranial zings" are a withdrawal symptom experienced during discontinuation (or reduction of dose) of antidepressant drugs. The symptoms are widely variable in description and of unknown etiology; common descriptions include dizziness, electric shock-like sensations, sweating, nausea, insomnia, tremor, confusion, nightmares, and vertigo. The MedDRA "preferred term" for coding these types of symptoms in adverse drug reaction reports (for use in pharmacovigilance databases such as under the Yellow Card Scheme) is paraesthesia.
In a 1997 survey in north-east England, a "sizable minority" of medical professionals were not confidently aware of the existence of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms. A 2005 review of adverse event reporting showed that descriptions of "electric shocks" from patients on paroxetine had been reported more frequently than some other symptoms.
One or more of the following sexual symptoms may persist or begin after the discontinuation of SSRIs:
I had an EEG while experiencing brain zaps and twitches. My EEG was normal and no seizure activity showed up. I had them for months and it hasn't harmed me in any way that I can see. It's scary but I do not believe it hurt me. I have read much about withdrawal syndrome and I haven't found any stories of people experiencing long term damage from the zaps.
Paxil Withdrawal Symptoms
Here are other symptoms that have been reported on forums and experienced for myself. This is not a complete list:
Negative Thoughts About Yourself
"Is it a withdrawal symptom to have negative thoughts about yourself?"
Yes, very negative thoughts that my very existence is stupid and worthless. "Why am I even here? Life is ridiculous!" --- those kinds of thoughts creep up and tear at your soul and make you detached from reality and ungrounded, scared and alone to your core.
It is important for me to do mantras and repeat often in my mind rosaries and I AM affirmations to keep grounded and centered in positivity. I repeated them out loud as much as I could and they would echo all day in my mind like a recording. I stayed tuned to that, repeating them. I also focused on angels and spiritual beings, visualizing them around me helping me with love.
I believe that this is the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. It is the most sinister because it's like an attack to your spirit. When I first experienced this feeling I was curled up in a ball crying "God help me". No one can understand this feeling unless they've been through it; it is indescribable. I took more Paxil at that time and realized; this requires serious strategy to get through before I dive in. I had to remind myself that this feeling is a veil, it is not how real life is. It's a false image imposed over my mind to make me feel my life is worthless. I have a purpose for being here. When I am in a good mind I post how I succeeded so that others can get out of this trap. I can write all over the internet warnings about SSRI withdrawal to help souls come out of it. That is a purpose.
You are a unique, special person with reason for being and a reason for going through this. Affirm it often even if you don't believe it, say it. "Fake it til you make it". This is a process that we do get through and be on the other side in real life where life isn't scary. It's there and you will get there.
I prayed a lot every day. It proved to be just as helpful as the Homeopathy:
Prayer is one of my most important tools in this process for me, even though I am not religious. This is a spiritual crisis. It doesn't matter what religion a person is in, cling fervently to the divine. Prayer is powerful but may feel ineffective at first. It must be repeated like mantras to make a vortex through the astral to allow Light in. It can be hymns, mantras, affirmations, or prayers.
In Step two of the 12 Steps of recovery, you're asked to "Come to Believe that a Power Greater than Yourself Could Restore You to Sanity." What 12-Steppers tell you in the beginning is that you can choose your own concept of what that Higher Power is, as long as you choose something. I feel that in this withdrawal progress, that is a very helpful step.
Sign the Paxil and Effexor Petitions
Heal O God, these souls of Light
Hold them in your presence bright
Give them strength to weather pain
Let their Spirits fly again
Heal O God, these precious ones
Hold them in a blazing sun
Of perfection, love and peace
Let all fear and darkness cease!
Heal O God these gracious ones
Let their trials now be done
Free them from this current plight
Resurrect them in the Light
Heal O God these Spirits true
Let their cells be cleansed anew
Help them win their victory
Raise them up and set them free
- Prayer from The Hearts Center
Making Sense of it All
Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging. -Joseph Campbell
Ram Dass on Suffering
Ram Dass - Wisdom from Suffering
Eckert Tolle on Suffering
"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty." - Maya Angelou
To call what the Hyde family has been through a "parent's worst nightmare" sounds like a horrible cliche. But, it's hard to imagine what else you could call it. Their two-year old son Cash was diagnosed last year with a stage 4 brain tumor; he nearly died more times than they can count. He was miserable from the chemotherapy coursing through his body. Until his dad made a controversial decision to give cannabis to his young son. KXLY 4's Melissa Luck reports.
THC Oil Curing Many Diseases
Paxil Side Effects
This is not a complete list.