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General Discussion Open discussion about Paxil, Paxil Withdrawal, successes and progress, good stories and bad, with and without.

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Old 09-15-2009, 04:16 PM   #1
BrennanColt
 
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QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

My dealings with Paxil are a long and arduous story - but I'll make it brief - because I think it's an important one to tell for others out there who may be dealing with the same issues that I did.

Paxil Proscribed for Nervousness in Public Speaking
In 2000, I mentioned to my primary care physician, as a new grad student who had to speak in front of a large class on a daily basis, that I was extremely nervous in class every day and that it wasn't going away. After trying beta blockers unsuccessfully to combat some of the physical symptoms (e.g. sweating, shaky voice, etc.) he perscribed Paxil (10mg daily) as a solution to ease the nerves without ever mentioning any of the negative side effects or difficulties I may face one day when deciding to stop the medication.

Suprisingly, the paxil seemed to work well, and did actually help to decrease my nervousness when speaking in class. Initally I had no side effects, so as a result I continued to take Paxil throughout grad school and after graduating into the working world thinking it could only help mentally. This went on for six years.

Heart Attack Like Symptoms
In early 2007, at age 27, after eating breakfast one morning, I experienced severe chest pains, dizziness, nausea, severe stomach pain and diarrhea. I went to the ER thinking that I was having a heart attack. An EKG showed no signs of heart attack and I was released with a referral to a cardiologist. In the ensuing weeks before my cardiologist appointment, I experienced periodic chest pains, nausea and dizziness. One episode sending me back to the ER with certainty that I was having a heart attacked based on the chest pains, nausea and dizziness. Another EKG showed no signs of cardiac distress. After ongoing episodes of the same pains, dizziness and nausea, and four additional visitis to the cardiologist to have a series of ECG's, Treadmill Stress Tests and wearing a heart holster monitor for over a month - they could find no cardiac related causes.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms
With the cardiac like symptoms, I began experiencing ongoing gastrointestinal symptoms. Shooting chest pain was often accompanied by stomach pain/discomfort and diarrhea. Often at times I was unable to eat for days because I was so nausous. After researching my symptoms for weeks, I thought it may be plausible that I had something severely wrong with my digestive and/or gastrointestinal system. Multiple visits to the gastro prompted both an endoscopy and colonoscopy - the results of which ONLY revealed that my stomach lining had the signs of "severe errosion from reoccuring NASID use". Strangely, I don't take any asprin or anti-inflamatories - the only drug that I regularly took was Paxil? The gastro also said that this erosion caused what potentially could be acid refulx and proscribed the use of a series of OTC and perscpription acid reflux remedies - none of which cured the chest pain or gastro symptoms.

Ongoing Physical and Mental Syptoms
Over the period of the next year and a half, I experienced daily ongoing phsyical and mental symptoms consisting mainly of reocurring shooting chest pains, stomach pain, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, diarrhea and acid build up. Returning to my primary care physician, he determined that the cause of all my problems was "stress" or "increased anxiety which was manifesting itself physically". He actually increased my dose of Paxil from 10mg to 20mg in order to treat this "stress manifesting itself in a phsyical form". With the increase of Paxil my symptoms actually got worse. For an entire year, the chest and stomach pains continued, diarrhea was ongoing (and almost immediately after taxing Paxil) and now I started to experience headaches, more prominent dizziness/vertigo and an inability at times to focus on a computer screen or be in places with bright lights without the room spinning. I could no longer associate with my friends, function at work or sleep without waking up with chest and stomach pains - drenched in sweat. I began to think about dying on a daily basis and had convinced myself that I had a brain tumor, cancer or something severelly physically wrong with me that was causing all these symptoms. Or, that my stress and anxiety was so great that I was no longer able to cope with it and that I was going mentally insane. Two years before, I was a happy 27 year old with no physical problems or history of family ailments, exercised daily, ate heathly and considered myself extremely emotionally and mentally fit. Now, I was a shell of my former self unable to function phsyically or mentally.


Quitting Paxil Cold Turkey
Four weeks ago, I missed my regular dose of Paroxetine (I was now taking the doctor proscribed 20mg of generic Paxil once a day). This was the first day in two years that I felt better. On a hunch, after nine years, I stopped taking Paxil cold turkey. Every day my phsyical syptoms started to get better. It has been Four weeks since I took my last dose and I have had ZERO withdrawal side effects (no zaps, no mental breakdowns, etc.), no chest or stomach pains, no dizziness, no vertigo, no inability to look at bright lights, etc. Today, I feel much better - although I can still tell that my body has been affected by what I went through over the past two years.

Paxil is Posion
In addition to over $10,000 in medical bills for all the tests, I am positive that the stress, pain and suferring I went through over the last two years has taken years off of my life. I am also positive that Paxil has damaged my digestive system as it is just not the same anymore. If I could find a lawyer that would be able to causally connect everything I went through to Paxil I would sue GSK for everything they own. I am positive that there was nothing else responsible - noting that as soon as I stopped taking Paxil - all of the issues I was experiencing immediatley started to fade.

For everyone who is contemplating taking Paxil - please avoid it - it is poision. And for everyone who is on Paxil - and experiencing any of these type of symptoms (chest pains, gastro, dizziness, veritgo, depression, etc.) - please talk to your doctors about discontinuing it immediately.

Lingering Questions
So my experience leaves some outstanding issues:

Why after years with no side effects did Paxil suddenly start causing chest pains, gastro issues, vision and headache problems, etc.?

Why didn't I experience any withdrawal symptoms when I stopped Paxil cold turkey?

What damage has Paxil done to my body? (For this only time will tell as it has only been four weeks but I can say for certainty that in my mind Paxil caused me to experience hell for two years straight - time which I can never get back)
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:48 PM   #2
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Hi! Here are my guesses to your questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanColt View Post

Why after years with no side effects did Paxil suddenly start causing chest pains, gastro issues, vision and headache problems, etc.?
Paxil stops working at some point for almost everyone. For me, it happened after 5 years. When you hit tolerance (we call it "poop-out" here), your body is suddenly thrown into withdrawal and you get all kinds of crazy symptoms. I also had chest pain, heart-like symptoms, and gastro issues, as well as insane health anxiety and some other lovely stuff.

Quote:
Why didn't I experience any withdrawal symptoms when I stopped Paxil cold turkey?
My flippant answer is because you're lucky.

Honestly, no one can tell you that -- and no one can guarantee that you won't get symptoms next week or next month or six months from now. Please make sure that you've got a close friend or family member who knows that you've quit cold turkey and can keep an eye on any sudden bizarre behavior.

Quote:
What damage has Paxil done to my body? (For this only time will tell as it has only been four weeks but I can say for certainty that in my mind Paxil caused me to experience hell for two years straight - time which I can never get back)
No permanent damage. Everyone recovers physically, some slower than others, but everyone does. Most people have reported some form or another of PTSD, though, so again, make sure you have someone you can talk to in case you need some support.

Hope that helps!
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:05 PM   #3
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

That is wild, paxil so you could be confident in front of your class....sorry your doc did that to you.
And paxil did it's own number on you too!
Had you ever taken a SSRI prior to beginning paxil?
I hope that you are indeed a lucky one, considering how horrible you felt taking the stuff. Slow tapering is suggested here, but what you've been through is pretty miserable...too bad the doc didn't think to reduce it instead of increasing it ....Hope the CT doesn't bite you worse....I truly do. What a difficult situation...
Keep us posted.
Betsy
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1999 - 2004 tapered 25 to 12.5
Nov'05 10 mgs.
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Jan'06 up to 15 mg.
Mar 07 - Mar 08 10 mgs to 7.5 tiny tapers w/digital scale
April 09 - approx 6.25 mgs
Sep 09 beginning of crash, worst anxiety ever
Dec 12 Checked into hospital on 49th birthday,
There for 5 days and they did NOTHING to help
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:17 PM   #4
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanColt View Post

Why after years with no side effects did Paxil suddenly start causing chest pains, gastro issues, vision and headache problems, etc.?
Welcome to poop out...ssri's are known for this and especially at the length of time that you were on it.

Quote:
Why didn't I experience any withdrawal symptoms when I stopped Paxil cold turkey?
I don't want you to take this wrong, and I hope against hope that I'm wrong, but 4 weeks of cold turkey is to early to judge any potential withdrawal.

Welcome to paxilprogress! I'm sure what is on this site will be VERY enlightening to you.
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Old 09-16-2009, 05:47 AM   #5
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

I'm kind of with Scotty on this - four weeks might be too soon to tell. I tend to think your body may be in some kind of "euphoria" right now, which is why no specific WD symptoms. That's not to say you're DEFINITELY going to get them - but it's not impossible.

The damage will NOT be permanent - it's amazing how the brain can heal, albeit sometimes very slowly. Despite any lingering symptoms I'm still having, I have no doubt that at some time in the future they will have diminished considerably, if not be gone altogether.

I wish you the best - keep us posted with how you're doing.

Terri
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Old 09-16-2009, 05:55 AM   #6
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

I wonder how many people are taking SSRIs and staying sick all the time, having no idea that the drug is causing the illness.
I had a similar experience, but with different symptoms when taking paxil several years ago. I had health problems for years that I never could connect to the paxil until I took antidepressants again later on and was able to understand what happened.
 
Old 09-16-2009, 06:05 AM   #7
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

What's funny is that whenever I had any of those symptoms (which I did) during my many years on Prozac, the doctor always upped the dosage! (or wanted to add more to the "cocktail", which thank goodness I always refused....)

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Major setback after 5 days on bc pills - Started Citalopram 20 mg 5/10 -Back on Prozac/Trazodone combo by 10/2010
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:44 AM   #8
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

I cold turkeyed two or three times. The last was after 10+ years on and off. I experienced extreme hypo-mania for a number of weeks, crazy weeks, and then crashed hard, the results lasted for years... years not months. That is simply my experience but I wouldn't want to see any one else experience that kind of crash. Not to be too dramatic, but I came close to not being around any longer, more than once. Be careful and inform someone close to you. Today would not be too soon.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:37 AM   #9
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

That you all for the feedback. Not that I don't doubt that withdrawal symptoms can sneak up on you at anytime - especially given the amount of time the drug has been in the system and the known affect on the brain. However, wouldn't one think that if there was going to be any withdrawal symtpoms they would have happened before 4 weeks? At least in some form or gradually? Based on Paxil's known half-life and documented withdrawal side effects for those that have just decreased their doses - it seems a little strange that a week or even 6-months down the road all of a sudden withdrawal will take place after having nothing (except for a few crazy dreams) for close to a month? Are there any documented cases of quitting CT with no symptoms and then a month or longer afterwards they appear out of the blue?
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Old 09-16-2009, 08:16 AM   #10
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Unfortunately, I don't believe any one can answer exactly how your CT off Paxil will affect you. I can tell you that very few experience a safe CT especially after 9 years. The choice of course is yours, but I'd never ever do it again, ever. It could be like playing Russian Roulette, literally.
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Old 09-16-2009, 08:33 AM   #11
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

i have to agree with tcg

i quit ct after 6 years of paxil and 2 years of ctalopram before that. i am 2 years down the line and suffering badly still. the first 6-7 months post paxil i was relatively fine apart from some physical problems and a little irritability, then wham! horrendous mental symptoms that have continued to this day. i expect it will be at least a couple of years more before i am semi-functional, if i am lucky.
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Old 09-16-2009, 08:45 AM   #12
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

When I took paxil quite a few years ago, I did not notice any obvious or immediate withdrawal symptoms. If I remember correctly, I took it a while, quit, tried it again, etc, sort of took it off and on, I would feel bad after some time passed, and try it again. Little did I know I was throwing myself in and out of withdrawal over a few years. I couldn't tell what was happening because I felt bad both on the paxil and also off the paxil. I guess my withdrawal problems were delayed, not immediate.

I had problems over those years, pain, exhaustion, lack of motivation, maybe depression. But as the years went by, the pain, etc, went away. I never knew why. Later took lexapro to help me sleep during a stressful time, bad mistake, and it gave me some insight into what had happened to me before.

You're luck you were able to figure out that you felt better after quitting; you may have saved yourself years of more medication. Just don't be surprisd if you feel bad mentally or otherwise as the next few months go by. But knowing what caused it will help you to deal with it.
 
Old 09-16-2009, 08:59 AM   #13
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Nice Bloke - I'm very sorry to hear of your suffering. As you know too well, it can be a long ride. Do you have folks supporting you during this?
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Old 09-16-2009, 09:40 AM   #14
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Hi Brennan, Thank you for telling us your story. I hope that you will continue to feel well without any withdrawal symptoms. There is a lot of good infomation on this board if you do start to experience symptoms.
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:01 AM   #15
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanColt View Post
Based on Paxil's known half-life and documented withdrawal side effects for those that have just decreased their doses - it seems a little strange that a week or even 6-months down the road all of a sudden withdrawal will take place after having nothing (except for a few crazy dreams) for close to a month? Are there any documented cases of quitting CT with no symptoms and then a month or longer afterwards they appear out of the blue?
You have to remember it's not the presence of the drug that is the problem. It's the changes that the drug has made in your brain, so half life isn't as important as most think.

Ryan took his last dose in June of 2004 and had a great summer that year. September he was a mess, by February things were fine again. There is no definitive pattern of withdrawal and everyone is different. A small percentage can cold turkey and have no problem, more often it's more dramatic than that.

I truly hope that you are in that small percentage and do great.
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Old 09-16-2009, 11:20 AM   #16
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanColt View Post
wouldn't one think that if there was going to be any withdrawal symtpoms they would have happened before 4 weeks? At least in some form or gradually?
No, sadly, the opposite has been true for most members here who CT'd. However, one can probably also assume that most people who CT and have no symptoms don't wind up on a forum like this one.
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Old 09-16-2009, 11:57 AM   #17
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanColt View Post
That you all for the feedback. Not that I don't doubt that withdrawal symptoms can sneak up on you at anytime - especially given the amount of time the drug has been in the system and the known affect on the brain. However, wouldn't one think that if there was going to be any withdrawal symtpoms they would have happened before 4 weeks? At least in some form or gradually? Based on Paxil's known half-life and documented withdrawal side effects for those that have just decreased their doses - it seems a little strange that a week or even 6-months down the road all of a sudden withdrawal will take place after having nothing (except for a few crazy dreams) for close to a month? Are there any documented cases of quitting CT with no symptoms and then a month or longer afterwards they appear out of the blue?
Sad to tell you, but yes, there re people here who have had EXACTLY that happen....you just don't know if it will be you or not.
Betsy
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Started at 30mgs 1997
1999 - 2004 tapered 25 to 12.5
Nov'05 10 mgs.
Dec'05 tried liquid/BIG mess for me
Jan'06 up to 15 mg.
Mar 07 - Mar 08 10 mgs to 7.5 tiny tapers w/digital scale
April 09 - approx 6.25 mgs
Sep 09 beginning of crash, worst anxiety ever
Dec 12 Checked into hospital on 49th birthday,
There for 5 days and they did NOTHING to help
I made it through the shadow of death!
Now on 75 mgs zoloft

"SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE" ~ The Tortoise
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:03 PM   #18
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

My symptoms were bad for the 1st 2 weeks of my ct,my life was liveable for about 4 or 5 months after that,and then all Paxhell broke loose.
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Old 09-16-2009, 02:36 PM   #19
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Wait, so what your saying is - I can be symptom free for months even years and then all of a sudden out of the blue I'll get hit with zaps, paxil flu, severe drepression, dizziness, etc.? How is that medically possible?
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Old 09-16-2009, 02:56 PM   #20
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanColt View Post
Wait, so what your saying is - I can be symptom free for months even years and then all of a sudden out of the blue I'll get hit with zaps, paxil flu, severe drepression, dizziness, etc.? How is that medically possible?
I don't think that years after years of being fine can be strictly associated with paxil. I do know that months can be paxil related and is very common. Remember, when paxil is prescribed the patient is told that it can take 6-8 weeks to notice a change...the same applies post paxil..but add in the other changes that have occurred in the body as a result of paxil use.

In Ryan's case once he recovered from the initial withdrawal, he ended up with adrenal insufficiency after a year off paxil. So, while it may not be a direct effect of paxil, paxil does take it's toll on other bodily functions, which can take time to manifest in symptoms. Then there's the emotional toll that it's taken, which can be significant.
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Old 09-16-2009, 02:59 PM   #21
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Usually people have symptoms show up some time during the first year after CTing, if they are going to have them. But even then, it is, many times, too late to reinstate the med and not have trouble.
So, that is why the slow, deliberate taper is suggested. We KNOW that the chances for withdrawal trouble are MUCH less that way, yes, it takes longer, but compared to the potential disastrous possibilities of a CT, we feel it is worth what we have to go through. You don't know if you will be one of the lucky ones or not. But with a slow taper, it is less likely that you will have a hard time. So, we encourage people to not CT and take a horrendous chance. We just want to warn people, we've been through Hell and are trying to help others avoid the same path.....There are a few people posting right now, who did well initially, and then after a few months, bam, it hit them. Even after 6 - 9 months. Themed changes the way your brain works, don't know why it's possible, but it happens to some people.
Betsy
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Started at 30mgs 1997
1999 - 2004 tapered 25 to 12.5
Nov'05 10 mgs.
Dec'05 tried liquid/BIG mess for me
Jan'06 up to 15 mg.
Mar 07 - Mar 08 10 mgs to 7.5 tiny tapers w/digital scale
April 09 - approx 6.25 mgs
Sep 09 beginning of crash, worst anxiety ever
Dec 12 Checked into hospital on 49th birthday,
There for 5 days and they did NOTHING to help
I made it through the shadow of death!
Now on 75 mgs zoloft

"SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE" ~ The Tortoise
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:22 PM   #22
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

So, at this point my options are stick with CT or start taking the medicine again and taper it over a longer period of time? It just doesn't make sense - I was having a tremendous amount of symptoms while on the the medicine and now since I haven't taken it in 4 weeks I feel 100% better with no problems. But what I'm hearing is that there is a chance that months down the road from now the worst could hit me out of the blue?
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:31 PM   #23
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Brennan,

I am one that CT'd and although I didn't feel quite right at first it reaaally kicked in weeks later.

But of course I know people that CT'd Effexor and only had a little insomnia or nothing.

Everyone is different and I am still paying the price although it is nothing like the beginning when I was bedridden for 3 months. We didn't know what was going on. We didn't make the connection because no doctor and I hadn't educated us about Effexor.

CTing is a bold move and I really hope you don't experience any horrific symptoms like I did. But if I knew then what I know now, I would have reinstated and saved my body and mind some of the torture.

It's really your call.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:36 PM   #24
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrennanColt View Post
So, at this point my options are stick with CT or start taking the medicine again and taper it over a longer period of time? It just doesn't make sense - I was having a tremendous amount of symptoms while on the the medicine and now since I haven't taken it in 4 weeks I feel 100% better with no problems. But what I'm hearing is that there is a chance that months down the road from now the worst could hit me out of the blue?
Here's my completely unsolicited advice.

Don't worry about what may or may not happen. As we see time and time again on the forum, the withdrawal symptoms that one person gets may not strike another person.

In my opinion, worrying about "what ifs" or starting to scan for symptoms can actually cause problems and bring about health anxiety. I mean, honestly, we can all drive ourselves nuts (and frequently do!) thinking "what could happen to me tomorrow?".

So, what I would do is just keep on keeping on. BUT, like I mentioned in my first post, please just let a close friend or family member know that you've stopped the meds so that they can keep an eye out for any bizarre behavior (or so that you have someone to go to in case any symptoms do pop up).
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:01 PM   #25
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Re: QUIT PAXIL COLD TURKEY AFTER 9 YEARS - NO SIDE EFFECTS? (PAXIL = POISON, PROVEN)

It would be really hard to decide to reinstate a medication that was making you so ill, especially with the severe gut trouble. Personally I wouldn't do it at this point, but that's just my personal non-medical opinion. I agree with Carolyn - wait and see.

I did reinstate after a month off lexapro due to terrible withdrawal symptoms -- waited a month because I was too foggy to figure out that lexapro had actually caused the illness. I reinstated mainly to diagnose my illness; hadn't found paxil progress or other sites like this. Felt better pretty quickly, and OK while tapering, even though symptoms did not completely go away. I did not taper slowly enough toward the end. Still having health problems a year later, even though I'm getting better.

I'm not at all sure that reinstating was helpful for me after one month, other than as a means of diagnosing my illness.
 
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