Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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October 21, 2003

Addicted by prescription

You say a drug would surely not be approved if it was addictive? I thought so as well, but it appears that a whole class of drugs called the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibiitors (SSRIs) is actually addictive and there is even a name for the addiction. It is called SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome.

Of course that is a nice way of saying you can't stop taking them, and in my book that means they are addictive. What are SSRIs? They include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa.

Not a REAL ADDICTION - Yeah Right!  

September 29, 2003  

When I first started in pharmacy practice doctors seemed to give out Phenobarbital and Valium like candy. Those days are gone - thankfully. Doctor's know better now. It turns out that both phenobarbital and diazepam (the generic name for Valium) are addicting. But the mass addiction of unsuspecting housewives, professionals and laborers, even our children - couldn't possibly happen today could it? Ya wanna bet? Take a hard look at the SSRI's.

You may see these drugs advertised on TV (drug advertising on TV - is there something wrong with that picture?). They include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa. These drugs are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI's. The ads all claim these drugs are not addicting or even habit forming. This is turning out to, once again, simply not be true.

The ads are not disclosing the group of symptoms known as SSRI discontinuation syndrome. These symptoms include anxiety, vomiting and tremors. They occur in up to 25% of patients who stop taking these drugs. Now, that's an interesting combination of words - SSRI DISCONTINUATION SYNDROME.

* Can A Leopard Change Its Spots? *

When Valium first hit the market, the Roche company told us that it was unlike the previous generations of sedatives. It was not addicting. Within a few years, Valium became the number one cause of addiction in the country. You may recall the song lyrics that mentioned "mothers little helpers." It took a nosedive in both popularity and level of addiction when another - safer - sedative was introduced - Xanax.

Upjohn (the makers of Xanax) claimed that their drug was better than Valium because Xanax is absolutely nonaddicting. And, Xanax quickly became the number one cause of prescription drug addiction. By most accounts, it still is.

Soon, SSRI's may displace it.

Millions of Americans take SSRI's. They are the medication of choice for many psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Part of the reason for their popularity is that drug companies have gone to great lengths to prove that they are not addicting.

Now these drugs have been in very widespread use for years. We are beginning to yield results from non drug company sponsored studies. Not only are they being prescribed for known and suspected psychiatric disorders, they are also being offered to women to help with PMS and menopausal symptoms. No, they aren't hormones. One company (Lily) actually took their drug - Prozac - and renamed it and offered new indications just for premenstrual disorders. Prozac came off patent and Lily then turned around and came up with their NEW DRUG. Many of our readers will know that we strongly favor approaching PMS situations as if they are a form of hormone imbalance (which they really are) - instead of a psychiatric disorder (which the drug company would have us believe). From our perspective, using drugs to treat a hormone imbalance doesn't resolve the underlying problems. Furthermore, the current Eli Lily drug of choice is their renamed Prozac - SARAFEM.  Read about some of the horrors you might experience with this DRUG.

All of the SSRI manufacturers stand firmly behind their claim that the SSRI's are non-addicting. I think they're pulling our leg again.A recent report in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine notes that up to 25% of patients who stop taking their medication experienced a number of bothersome symptoms.1 These symptoms include:

Crying spells
Mood lability
Vivid dreams

The cause of SSRI discontinuation syndrome is the interruption of the acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is used for memory and concentration. You burn more when you are under stress.2

The symptoms begin 24 to 72 hours after stopping the SSRI. They last 1 to 3 weeks but resolve if you restart the antidepressant. It sure seems that their discontinuation syndrome sounds a lot like withdrawal to me.

The symptoms are not life-threatening. Yet they can be distressing to those patients who experience them acutely. The drug companies' failure to disclose this information has led patients to make unnecessary trips to the ER. The symptoms are sometimes mistaken as signs of a heart attack or pulmonary embolus and many have costly diagnostic tests.


The incidence of discontinuation syndrome is highest with Paxil followed by Luvox and Zoloft. Celexa and Prozac have a lower occurrence.

I will not deny that SSRI's can be helpful for those with severe depressive conditions. If you and your physician decide that you are a candidate for one of the SSRI drugs take the following precautions.

- Never abruptly stop taking your medication.
- If you stop treatment make sure you taper the drug slowly
- Eat choline rich foods such as eggs, beef, cauliflower, peanuts and spinach

1. Ditto, Kara E. SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome: Awareness as an Approach to Prevention. Postgraduate Medicine, August 2003; 114: 79-84.

2. Host, Paula. SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome

Larry J. Frieders

See also:

by Dr David Healy MD

Antidepressants Linked to Withdrawals in Newborns, Study Says
Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc's Paxil, Eli Lilly & Co.'s Prozac and other antidepressants may cause convulsions and other withdrawal symptoms in newborns whose mothers took the drugs during pregnancy, according to a study in the Lancet medical journal.

Child warning on anti-depressants

Has the Romance Gone? Was It the Drug?

Depression is the most frequently searched-for topic at And no wonder. Those of us that have experienced the depths of clinical depression know just how awful it really is. When you are in the bag, it is hard to think out of the bag. But there is a way out...

Effectively Managing a Child's Behavior

Prozac Nation? Is the Party Over? - by Richard C. Morais, 09.06.04 Forbes Magazine

SSRI Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome in Newborns - by Elizabeth Rudy, D.V.M., R.Ph. (file is in pdf format, available from Washington University)

Antidepressants Potentially Misused In Treating Adolescents, Stanford Study Finds
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared in 2004 that certain antidepressants are linked to an increased risk of suicide in adolescents, there was surprisingly little data about how depression was being treated in young patients. Now new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine provides critical documentation of the potential misuse of these medications in the years leading up to the FDA's decision to issue the so-called "black-box" warnings.

Medscape: Antidepressants May Increase Risk Of Abnormal Bleeding

Child Suicide Rate Spikes
Child and teen suicide rates rose for the first time in more than a decade in 2004 - and many psychological experts said the stronger warning labels that led to a drop in the number of prescriptions for antidepressant drugs may be to blame.

Vince Boehm comments: Something strange is going on here. A spike in adolescent suicide in 2004?

However, this spike cannot be attributed to a decline in SSRI use, because sales actually increased in the first six months of that year.

If such a spike happened later in the year in the wake of the September 2004 blackbox decision; it may be attributed to uninformed "cold turkey" detoxing from these substances. This is a "catch 22". The industry will not acknowledge such a problem exists. The FDA colludes in this. Therefore there is no medical help going off of these chemicals, and no insurance to pay for it.

Video: Fox News Big Story with Doug Kennedy on Big Pharma's Lie
Fox News Big Story with Douglas Kennedy on how Big Pharma leaves out the bad studies and downplays the nasty side effects of their highly addictive drugs.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Tuesday October 21 2003
updated on Tuesday December 7 2010

URL of this article:


Related Articles

FDA Waffles Over Antidepressants Causing Suicides
According to an article in the New York Times, officials of the FDA are now acknowledging that antidepressants do cause children and teenagers to become suicidal, but the FDA is not taking the steps it should - ban the drugs for use in children, as the UK has already done. The major preoccupation seems to be that if antidepressants are removed or carry strong warnings, there is nothing left to... [read more]
September 15, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

FDA Covers Up Report - Mosholder: 'Antidepressants Double Suicides in Children'
According to a recent article published in the British Medical Journal, a scientific report by one of its researchers, Dr. Andrew Mosholder, showing that antidepressant drugs double the suicide rate in children taking them, was suppressed by the FDA. Instead of owning up to its mistake and issuing generalized warnings, the agency has launched a criminal investigation to find out which employees leaked Dr. Mosholder's report. Apart from the FDA's... [read more]
August 12, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Antidepressants - Drugging kids in school
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, is a custom-made "disease" to start selling drugs quite legally to school kids. Have the doctor prescribe them. Your kid will be that much better off - or not? It appears that the real dough about the adverse effects of antidepressant drugs has been kept secret so as not to ruin sales. Violence and suicide are common side effects of those drugs, and... [read more]
February 11, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

FDA Orders Antidepressant Suicide Warnings Over Psychiatric Association Resistance
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has been strangely resistant to the idea of warning patients of an increased risk of suicides when taking antidepressant drugs or SSRIs. One would think that psychiatrists should be the first ones to call for such warnings, but perhaps they fear to "lose ground" to natural alternatives in the treatment of mental disorders, which they have been persecuting for decades, concentrating their treatment efforts nearly... [read more]
October 16, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Paxil, Zoloft, Xantax - Drug Induced Violence
23 August 2004 - The New York Times reports on the Murder case of Christopher Pittman coming up for trial. The 12-year-old has shot his grandparents and put their house on fire, but he says it was the effect of the drug he was on at the time - the antidepressant Zoloft. The case comes amid widespread allegations that antidepressant drugs cause many to commit suicide, a charge hotly denied... [read more]
August 26, 2004 - Sepp Hasslberger

Eli Lilly Knew Prozac Causes Suicides, Violence - FDA Closed Both Eyes
Prozac, called fluoxetine by generic name, is a psychiatric drug prescribed to over 50 million people including millions of children. The drug was linked to increased suicides and violence as early as 1988, in a recently emerged document. Apparently the evaluation was known to Prozac's maker Eli Lilly as early as the 'eighties, but was never even given to the FDA. This is the preoccupying picture that emerged just days... [read more]
January 01, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger




Readers' Comments

Regarding the comments made
9/29/03: "Upjohn (the makers of Xanax) claimed that their drug was better than Valium because Xanax is absolutely nonaddicting. And, Xanax quickly became the number one cause of prescription drug addiction. By most accounts, it still is."

This writer once served as an Associate Product Manager for Xanax:

The language used is a bit strong. Allow me an attempt to reshape the verbiage:

Patients may become physiologically dependent to the medicine Xanax. If they are addiction-liable, e.g. known alcoholics or drug addicts, then these patients should not be indiscriminately prescribed Xanax. Prescribers must be careful in their patient selection.
The medicine, used judiciously, is one of the finest ever to hit the U.S. in my humble opinion. It works.
Ransom Scott

Posted by: Ransom Scott on January 22, 2004 08:25 PM


The SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome is painfully real as I can attest. My problems coming off Zoloft (Sertraline) after using it for several years is a textbook study for this syndrome. Several weeks after a long regimen of slowly tapering the dosage and then discontinuing the drug altogether has resulted in just about every symptom listed for this syndrome. The worst symptoms are the "electric shocks" felt in my brain, the gastrointesinal distress (diarreah and incredible bloating), and insomnia. I get these shocks on a continuous basis at the rate of several per minute. My concentration and memory are both profoundly affected. The insomnia is so bad, I sometimes go for three days with no sleep. I never get more than three or four hours sleep when I do manage to sleep. The only thing that helps with sleep is taking large amounts of Clonzepam which was prescribed for panic attacks for which the Zoloft was also prescribed. I have just begun experimenting with Valerian root and may try 5-HTP. These symptoms have been going on for several weeks now and I am beginning to despair whether I will ever get back to "normal" - whatever that is. The only thing that dampens the SDS is to take a small dose (25mg) of Zoloft, but that brings additional symptoms similar to what I experienced when first starting Zoloft and seems to "reset" the SDS cycle back to the beginning.

Unfortunately, I am without health insurance but earn good money. I have been unable to secure an appointment with a psychiatrist without insurance even when explaining that I have the means to pay out of my pocket. I have tried securing private insurance but of course my pre-existing medical conditions are excluded outright.

Being uninsured with psychiatric problems in the U.S. is a living hell!

Posted by: anonymous on November 20, 2004 10:30 AM


My Psyc. ( I've never had one, nor seen one till now), just took me off Zoloft and put me on several other pills. I feel like ass, can't sleep, nervous, followd by days of never ending sleep, with an hour of so of wake. I truly feel now, as if I've lost it.

Posted by: Jesseca on December 14, 2005 03:52 PM


I happened across this posting by way of a google search for SSRI discontinuation symptoms. It is distressing for me to think that individuals may happen across this and interpret many of your opinions as fact. Please refrain from using the polarized and biased language/attitudes presented in this article. It is very true that benzodiazepines are addictive, overprescribed, and a significant source of abuse in this country. I would always recommend a trial of therapy (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) to a non-emergent patient prior to him/her embarking on a lengthy relationship with SSRIs. However, SSRIs can be very helpful for people - either to increase their initial responsiveness to therapy or to address emergent needs (e.g. suicidality) or to help one deal on his/her own with depression or anxiety.

With the lingering taboo of mental health tx in the US, the last thing we need are unempirical and biased postings such as this. SSRIs do indeed posses some withdrawal effects in some BUT you CANNOT say that they are addictive in the way that benzos are addictive. This is irresponsible and inacurate reporting. Without going into the physiology of it all, there is a huge difference. SSRI discontinuation symptoms are NOT analogous to symptoms of physical dependence. Please do not perpetuate unecessarily a fear of soliciting treatment for mental health issues.

Also, physically addictive medications can absolutely be approved by the FDA. Benzos, of course, are one example, but also consider narcotics (e.g. Oxycodone/Oxycontin - EXTREMELY addictive - morphine, hydrocodone, etc). If you wish to take a stand against legitimately addictive meds, perhaps start with these.

If you want to continue to express your opinion on the SSRI matter, please do so in a less authoritative and more sensitive way, qualifying it by saying that you are not in the field of mental health and you are not an MD or PhD with training in making medication recommendations or, apparently, in pharmacokinetics. It is admirable that you wish to warn people of this phenomenon, but extremist tactics are unecessary.

Thank you,
Elizabeth Moore, PhD
Department of Psychiatry and Psychology
Mayo Clinic

Posted by: Elizabeth Moore, PhD on December 14, 2005 07:33 PM


Well thank you, Elizabeth, for your comment.

Just so you don't think that I made these things up, please check out these other articles that can be found by googling the subject:

SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome
Part 1 - Cause and Effects

SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome
Part 2: Practical Tips for Tapering Off

SSRI discontinuation syndrome
Awareness as an approach to prevention

Suddenly Stopping Antidepressant Treatment Can Lead to Some Nasty Side Effects

Getting Off Antidepressants
Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome

There is also a book on the subject "Break Your Prescribed Addiction"
which is written by by two PhDs, and I suspect that they have actual clinical experience with patients trying to come off of the stuff and running into real trouble.

I would suggest that you please hold your criticism for a better day. There is very little positive that can be said for drugging people because they have mental problems. Perhaps the CATIE study should have clarified things, but it seems that your colleagues are not taking no for an answer, when it comes to profitable drugs like the SSRIs.

Oh - lest I forget, here is a comment on the CATIE study:

What happens when drugs are found to be unsafe and ineffective? Not much.

Posted by: Sepp on December 14, 2005 09:59 PM


I would like to comment on Elizabeth Moore's following statement (oh yeah, sorry, forgot to add the PhD bit to her name)

"If you want to continue to express your opinion on the SSRI matter, please do so in a less authoritative and more sensitive way, qualifying it by saying that you are not in the field of mental health and you are not an MD or PhD with training in making medication recommendations or, apparently, in pharmacokinetics."

As one of many thousands of sufferers of a debilitating illness caused by repeated pharmaceutical poisoning administered by a vast array of ignorant and obscenely well paid doctors, I'd just like to point out that for many victims of the medical establishment's industry with poison and disease, that letters after the names of these same 'authoritative and highly qualified' doctors have as much worth to us as the body bags being used to dispose of their millions of victims.

Recommended reading: Death by Modern Medicine by Carolyn Dean

Posted by: Emma on December 15, 2005 01:09 PM


See also: The Drug Pushers In Lab Coats

Posted by: Chris Gupta on December 15, 2005 05:09 PM


I don't believe in this 'Medical Model' withdrawal protocol, at all. For one thing, the gradual withdrawal method is the wrong approach.

Years ago, I withdrew myself, BY ACCIDENT, from SSRI's, very easily. I employed 2 back-to-back 10-day prescriptions of an antibiotic; I believe it was

Later, I learned that this very same method had been discovered and tested over a long trial, years ago. This trial was never published in a mainstream medical journal.

A few years later I developed a herbal/ homeopathic analog for trhe anti-biotic approach, and successfully quit smoking, WITH NO WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS OR CRAVINGS, henceforth.

My method is now used in some clinics. I was informed that my main contributiobn (they were already searching for this 'magic bullet') was the intoduction of the 'cold turkey' drop-off, after a one-month preparation period. Apparently doctors are taught that a gradual weaning off is the method to recommended in your report.

Posted by: Steve on December 15, 2005 05:53 PM


Thank you for your responses - I appreciate the feedback. Unfortunately, I feel as though my intent was perhaps not well-understood. I am in no way dismissing SSRI discontinuation sydrome, Sepp, I simply disagree with the tenor of your article and felt that a balanced opinion should be offered. It's often very difficult for people to reach out for help and it would be sad if someone hesitated to do so because he or she misunderstood your posting. BTW, for anyone interested, liquid Paxil can be prescribed to assist someone in titrating down his/her SSRI extra gradually. This is usually a very effective way to combat stubborn discontinuation symptoms.

Emma, I'm sorry that you've had such bad experiences. Unfortunately every profession has its less competent. I agree that it can look pretentious to use a degree in this type of venue. But I also recognize that people are coming across this site and having no way to determine who is simply listing opinions based on something they saw on the web, vs. someone who may have more training on the topic.

For clarification, there is a big difference between psychiatrists (MD) and psychologists (PhD). Although most psychologists have training in psychopharmacology, they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe. Instead, they specialize in psychotherapy and assessment and, usually within 12 sessions or less, can often achieve better and more permanent results than psychiatrists or GPs using medications. This is why in my first posting, I made the reference to cognitive behavioral therapy. I think you may have missed this part, Emma. Again, CBT is incredibly effective with many types of mental health difficulties and, unless there is some type of crisis situation, it is often the best bet. Whether we like it or not, SSRIs and other meds have helped a lot of people and, although I strongly wish therapy were more often the first line of treatment, we cannot dismiss their value in certain circumstances. If anyone is interested in finding a good psychologist, you can do a search on,, or There are also frequently search engines by state. Best of luck, Liz

Posted by: Elizabeth Moore on January 4, 2006 11:44 PM


Sorry, mistake - it's, not

Posted by: Elizabeth Moore on January 5, 2006 12:53 AM


I have tried numerous times to get off of my Zoloft, but I can't tolerate the symptoms that come along with skipping out on the meds. I have a 2 year old and I about tore his head off for opening a package of sidewalk chalks today, I immediately got back on the medication. My head was humming and I was so dizzy and IRRITATED about everything under the sun. I have tried cold turkey, I have tried gradual, I feel like I'm stuck with this drug even if I don't want to be. I was originally prescribed when I was having extreme difficulty getting pregnant and my time was running out due to a disease that I had. Obviously, our infertility treatments were effective, but now I can't shake this drug! I feel cheated now, like I will never know if I could actually make it on my own WITHOUT this drug, because I can't get through the weaning period. My doctor doesn't even want me to try because every time I do, I get serious side effects that result in a major stressed-out mommy and wife. I can see Dr. Moore's point of view, but I have lived the flip side of her view. Sometimes the only way thing get accomplished are through people who are willing to put their necks out there and really stand behind their opinions.

Posted by: Ann on January 8, 2006 04:07 AM


Anyone who is trying to get off of an ssri and having difficulty, take heart. Things will get better. I began taking ssri's when I was 14, prescribed by my doctor for depression and suicidal tendencies that I was exhibiting at the time (keep in mind this was the early nineties, before it became apparent that ssri's can induce suicidal tendenicies in youths). From the start I hated these drugs. The prozac I was prescribed made me jittery and paranoid. I spent two years hiding the pills in my closet and dealing with my depression. One day my mom found my pill stash and we had it out. After that I took the pills, not only to lessen her fears, but also because I was in very real pain and I didn't see any other way out (every therapist I had ever seen recommended medication - most likely because they were on it themselves). When I was eighteen the prozac I had been taking stopped working and my doctor switched me to effexor. I consider the switch to be the worst thing that could have happened. Effexor is far more addicting (in my case) than prozac and had intense side effects. Eventually the side effects went away and I turned into a literal zombie, remaining that way for five years until at the age of 23 I decided that i wanted to live. It took me six months to ween myself off of effexor, and even after that I experienced withdrawal. The withdrawal eventually ended and I felt like I was living normally for the first time in my adult life, then autumn came and the depression hit. I was a mess for about 4 months. I couldn't get out of bed. I felt like I had no control over my feelings let alone my life. While this is not included in the withdrawal symptoms it certainly is a very real experience that any longtime user of ssri's will experience upon discontinuation. Anyone who wants to stop taking these drugs but doesn't know how please keep the following in mind: This is a very difficult process, you have to want it like it's your life (and it is!). The most important thing is to not give up and prepare yourself for the worst. Set up a safety system so that if you encounter problems there will be real things you can do to combat them. For example, before I stopped taking effexor I began a regimen of regular exercise, by the time I was completely drug free I was running about 15 miles per week. The regular running got me out of bed and kept me active, the endorphin rush didn't hurt either. Make sure you have a safety net of friends and family around you as well who support your decision to go drug free. While my family was not in favor of my decision, I had many friends who were. Without their support I'm not sure I would have been able to make it. Most importantly, don't give up! This is your life. Do you want to live it?

I have been drug free now for going on three years and I have to say that when I look back at the time I spent on ssri's I feel like I was a different person, someone who wasn't alive, a zombie simply going through the motions. Perhaps my only regret about choosing to stop the drug was not doing so sooner. I have finally managed to get through to some members of my family and I am helping them get off of ssri's too. You must believe that this is a very difficult process, but it is worth it. Your life will become yours again.


p.s. Don't forget why you began taking these drugs in the first place. Most likely your depression or anxiety problems have not gone away and will be there when you stop using these drugs. Be prepared to deal with them when you come out of the withdrawal. Remember, these drugs don't cure depression, they just make you too numb to feel it.

Posted by: mm on March 3, 2006 01:51 AM


Concerning Dr. Moore's statement:

"If you want to continue to express your opinion on the SSRI matter, please do so in a less authoritative and more sensitive way, qualifying it by saying that you are not in the field of mental health and you are not an MD or PhD with training in making medication recommendations or, apparently, in pharmacokinetics. It is admirable that you wish to warn people of this phenomenon, but extremist tactics are unecessary."

Yes, your education means you get to put letters after your name and tout superiority over your patients. Good luck with that! I'm always amazed how psychoanlysts have managed to avoid the caustic tension of the post-modern condition unscathed. Interrogate the position from which you speak, please!

To everyone else, I bring you the same message. Why did you start taking these drugs in the first place? Were you feeling stuck, helpless, alone, trapped? Look at where you are living, the lifestyles that dominate your world...are these not possibly some real causes of your bad feelings? I find the best way to combat feelings of sadness, helplessness and paranoia is to try to find real ways to change the world around me for the better, e.g., community service, etc. (Indymedia centers are always looking for help!)


Posted by: mm on March 3, 2006 02:13 AM


I have recently stopped taking a relatively new drug that has some of the same qualities as the drugs mentioned on this site. It is an ssri, but is also a painkiller and used to treat mostly patients with diabetic neuropathy. I wasn't aware of this until I had been on it for 10 months. I have come off this drug, Cymbalta, because I am 7 months pregnant, and my doctor is just recently becoming aware of the potenital risks for the baby if I stay on the drug until the baby's birth.

After about 72 hours without the med, I felt like I could die. I had dizziness that was more than just dizziness, nausea, headaches, extreme nightmares, tremors, a feeling of my "skin crawling", not to mention IRRITABILITY to an extreme, mood swings, and a general feeling of not being at all in control, or being myself. I had tried the gradual approach to stopping, and was experiencing these symptoms every other day, and decided I had to get it over with. Now I am feeling much better. After a week and a half drug free, I am having only mild dizziness and irritability. I want to mention that I DO HAVE A BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY. That doesn't mean crap in relation to this experience. The experience I have gone through is what matters.

Advice to anyone reading this: don't go on this medication, Cymbalta, unless it is your very last resort. Although very effective, with little side effects, the withdrawal is hell on earth. Not to mention the risk I have placed on my unborn child... You never know when a pregnancy might surprise you, or you may want to stop for some other reason. This drug is so hard to stop...

Posted by: dorothy fannin on March 6, 2006 09:17 PM


I was on effexor 11 years. I thought it was a miracle drug and recommended it to my friends and relatives. I have suffered from depression since my periods started. Effexor was the only effective treatment I found that didn't give me horrible side effects (or so I thought). It gave me the strength to make very positive changes in my life to the point where I thought I could live AD free when my new insurance refused to pay for it. I figured I'd be ok going off it, as long as I followed directions, reducing gradually for as long as I could. I feel absolutly horrible. I had to stop working 3 weeks ago because of the debilitating nausea and dizziness/vertigo--it's like constant motion sickness. Wyeth's drug insert is inaccurate. It suggests gradual withdrawal will reduces symptoms, but mounting evidence suggests that's not the case. I agree, the addiction/withdrawal model doesn't fit with effexor. As least with heroin addiction, if you can get past the withdrawal, you're free. I think they even have medicines to help you get through it. With effexor, it seems there is no getting past the "withdrawal". I read of people suffering months, years after taking their last dose. There is no proven treatment for effexor discontinuation syndrome. I think Wyeth should be forced to fund research out of their effexor profits. We need an effective treatment, an authoritative study. Everyone who has ever taken effexor should be notified. I had no idea I would suffer like this and the doctors Wyeth was no help--they said it's the doctor's responsibility to get the patient through discontinuation, but the doctors are clueless. For the last month, in addition to the nausea, I've had continuous uterine bleeding. I thought I had breast cancer and my gyn-onc scheduled abdominal surgery to remove my uterous and ovaries (the only way to biopsy the ovaries and get a sure diagnosis). I canceled the surgery when I discovered I was going through effexor DS. Now I'm wondering, maybe the abnormal uterine bleeding that I've been experiencing for the last 6 years is a side effect of the effexor.

Posted by: NancyinDenver on May 2, 2006 04:26 AM


i have been on lexapro (the brand name in ireland, i don't know what your American equivalent is) for three years. every time i try even to cut down i go seriously suicidal - much,much worse than i ever was before i took them. please don't take these tablets. time is running out for me to have a child and i need to get off the tablets. but i can' was the worst decision i ever made in my life to go on them. i am very angry with the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies. i suffer from depression as often now as i did before i started the SSRI's. DO NOT TAKE ANTI-DEPRESSANTS. It's a money scam. join a gym, or run.

Posted by: sally byrne on May 19, 2006 05:57 PM


It's been 7 weeks since my last tiny fraction of a pill and I am still sick. The bleeding finally stopped after 5 weeks and the night sweats are gone, but the nausea, brain zaps, dizziness, vertigo, aches in my muscles/joints/skin, diarrhea are still with me. When I move, my eyeballs even, my symptoms intensify. All the doctors I have spoken to are clueless. I am afraid, I am preparing myself for the possibility that I will have to live with these symptoms for the rest of my life. What a nightmare.

Posted by: NancyinDenver on June 12, 2006 09:34 AM


I know what you mean exactly. this process is physically debilitatiing. I am not sure how I will make it through myself. I stumbled upon this site because I was trying to find out if I was dying. It genuinely has such profound discontinuation effects.

Posted by: robert on June 22, 2006 08:58 PM


Received by email:


My name is Laina Bartlett. My husband and I are currently compiling stories for a book on anti-depressant survivors.

We are in an excellent position to bring this book to life. In addition to being a Paxil survivor myself, I have recently completed the Creative Publishing post-graduate program at Humber College in Toronto, where I learned a great deal about the publishing industry under the direction of a former President of Penguin Books. My husband is a graduate of the Humber Creative Writing Program.

There has been interest expressed for our book by a Toronto publisher and we are now represented by a Toronto literary agent. This being said, we still require more stories for the project, especially those concerning children, teens and the elderly. The stories we are collecting are emotional, frightening and inspirational. They explain in the writer's own words; how they came to be on an anti-depressant, the experience with their doctor, the physical and mental effects of the drug and /or withdrawal, the impact of the drug on their family, social, work or school life, and life after anti-depressant use.

With the alarming rise in global anti-depressant use (2003-15.5 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were issued in Canada alone), this project is of the utmost importance. We welcome stories from anyone who has been on an anti-depressant or knows someone who has.

If you know of anyone who may be interested in this project (all personal information will be kept confidential), we would greatly appreciate any feedback. For more information please email us at:

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Laina Bartlett

Posted by: Sepp on September 1, 2006 03:44 PM


I am a nurse with multiple sclerosis. I have been on Cymbalta for awhile, now, and have decided to wean myself off. I take 60 mgs a day, and I am weaning to 30 a day, then every other day. I hope I live through it.

Posted by: Cin on September 28, 2006 07:56 AM


I am currently doing the nightsweat routine while weaning off of Cymbalta. Its' too bad that the docs who prescribe these meds don't tell you EVERYTHING about them, although there is literature if, you can get through all the medicalese. I hope this is the worst of it. Maybe somebody can tell me if this is because I am also taking Provigil and one is masking the other's withdrawal symptoms. Any input would be welcomed. Thanks

Posted by: ??? on October 6, 2006 09:13 AM


Zoloft withdrawal

this is from the Alt Med Forum Yahoo group:

"Jen Hetrick" wrote:
I'm in the process of weaning myself off Zoloft. My doctor refused to help get off it, so I cancelled my appts and I'm on my own. I'm down to 25 mg (1/2 a 50 mg tab) every other day. The day I don't take it, I get mild 'brain zaps'. I'm considering trying to cut the tablet into quarters and take it every night.

coupscounter responds:
Have yoy suffered from major depression? I've never been able to quite wean myself off Zoloft. I find your message encouraging.---

and "rochelle" says:
Hi. I had brain zaps all through the night for almost one month. At first I thought it was seizures until I researched online and found these 'brain zaps'. It was terrible but I perservered and then they eventually stopped. I will so never take those drugs again.

Posted by: Sepp on February 9, 2007 11:10 AM


Zoloft withdrawal

Another bit of information from a discussion on the Alternative Medicine Forum Yahoo group and is interesting in the context of this article:

Donna Masi said:

The best place to learn about how to taper properly is It's a message board with 4000 members of which most are in withdrawal or have yet to complete antidepressant withdrawal. A book that will help you a lot is Dr. Joseph Glenmullens book "The Antidepressant Solution" - which I found on

Antidepressant withdrawal is a VERY slow process - due to the debilitating side effects of withdrawal itself. The side effects are usually worse than the original problem for which it was prescribed. There is SO much information you need to know. This is a very serious matter. Please read some of the threads at Paxil Progess. You will be amazed how much you don't know and need to find out.

By the way - 90 of doctors don't know the first thing about tapering and they will tell you there is no such thing as withdrawal. They put you on a tapering schedule that is much too fast so that you crash and burn. Then they will convince you that you are still depressed and need the meds. Trust me, trust 4000 other people - it is withdrawal!

I wish you all the best, as I went through it myself. I am now in month 7 of my withdrawal from several meds.

To which Lynn replies:

I highly recommend that you take a look at The Road Back's protocol...

They do not sell anything - so this is not an advertisement... I just started following their program and it is quite impressive... Their program eliminates withdrawal.

I've tried "everything" but believe this may really be an answer.

Posted by: Sepp on February 11, 2007 07:26 AM


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