|Polyvore by Grace2244|
Although born depressed, I didn't begin antidepressants until 2005 at the age of 52, mainly because I was unable to tolerate the many I did try. Cymbalta was a different kind of antidepressant (AD) and stopped my then "unable to stop crying" symptom within two days. I stayed on minimal 30 mg dose until a few years later. Circumstances in my life caused depression to worsen to where the maximum dose of 180 mg a day wasn't working.
A crisis in 2011 led to hospitalization and I was weaned rather quickly off Cymbalta and put on 50 mg of Pristiq for several days with no side effects. Bumping to the 100 mg was also not an issue and my depression symptoms improved immensely within a month. I had been on the 100 mg/day (maximum dose) for two years. A few months ago, my healing had reached a point where I knew I no longer needed the AD. With the help of my psychiatrist, I dropped to 50 mg a day for a week.
I cheated a bit though thinking I was doing so well I could stop taking the 50 mg. I was fine for three days and then it was like a cyclone hit center brain. Very strong dizziness and nausea. I couldn't see straight, let alone walk without wobbling or falling over. When I realized it was a response to stopping the Pristiq so quickly, I went back on the 50 mg a day for another week (using a pill cutter to cut my 100s in half). My psychiatrist gave me a sample pack of 50s to cut in half to take for a week after that. He thought I should have no withdrawal stopping after a week on the 1/4 dose. He was wrong.
Again, about three days after stopping the 1/4 dose, I was hit with dizziness and nausea...not quite as strong as the first cyclone but still debilitating. I am now on the 25 mg every other day but am experiencing lightheadness constantly. That has been going on since I started reducing the dosage. It's difficult to read much but I can function. I'm retired so don't have to worry about my job being impacted.
The hope is that, after a dose every other day for 10 days, I can stop. If not, the back up plan is to go to every three days. I have never experienced withdrawal from any prescription medication before so this was a huge surprise. Of course, since having the withdrawal, I have found many online suffering symptoms. I hope my experience and findings will help someone out there.
There is controversy over cutting the pills in half, but that was recommended by my psychiatrist over 50 mg tablets every other day. It seems my mild daily symptoms are far preferable to what others are going through. Many speak of "brain zaps" which is experienced differently by each person. I have had sudden twinges in my head. It feels like a brain cramp for several seconds in one spot. It's not painful...just disconcerting.
Others speak of crying after brain zaps or being more tearful. I realize I have been numb to crying pretty much since being on Pristiq. Just recently I had a normal emotional response to a happy/sad movie and had tears where I would have in life before AD. I would guess that it might feel like a side effect when it might be normal emotions returning. That's for you to decide with your doctor.
Before many surgeries from 2007-2009, which rendered me unable to return to work, I was a psychotherapist. I didn't prescribe drugs but always knew a client's history and knew which ADs were causing the most issues and witnessed transformations as people went on meds and came off of them. I'm not an expert on this. Just sharing because of what I'm finding on the internet. Hopefully if you are reading this, you found it by Googling.
For what it's worth, at the same time I started weaning off the Pristiq, I began neurofeedback. I've only had one treatment since several sessions are needed to map the brain and see what treatment will be best. I did want to be AD free for the neurofeedback to work on an unmedicated brain hoping it would normalize and AD no longer needed. Those sessions will be long term since it is training the brain to be calm instead of spastic as my brain shows to be. *sigh*
I am not opposed to going back on a low dose of Cymbalta if, for some reason, the depression still needs help post neurofeedback. I guess I don't know if Cymbalta has withdrawal symptoms because I went from that directly to Pristiq. I do know I will not return to Pristiq knowing how difficult it is to go off of it.
Good luck to you on your journey to AD freedom. The Mayo Clinic has a discussion group on Pristiq withdrawal for those interested in others' experiences. People have freed themselves which is good news. I hope to be one soon.