This is my withdrawal experience.
- I was originally on 10 mg. I was instructed to wean down to 5 mg, and then 0 mg. My doctor estimated I would be completely off my meds in about a week. I was told the process would be quite simple.
- The process was not simple. After going down from 10 mg to 5 mg (per doctor's orders) I woke up every morning for almost three weeks with dizziness, a zapping sensation in my head, nausea, stomachaches, and fogginess. I could barely function, and was afraid to drive even short distances for fear I would endanger myself and everyone else on the road. I also felt an increase in anxiety (but no full on panic attacks), hopelessness, and depression (probably due to feeling ill for weeks).
- I finally called my doctor's office to get to the bottom of this. I got a response that I wasn't having withdrawals, and it couldn't be the Paxil. Needless to say, I was furious. I marched into her office, torch in hand, ready to burn her ass.
- We met. It was actually a case of mixed messages. She apologized, and felt bad I felt so miserable. She stood behind her assertion that it was such a low dose that coming off of it would be fairly easy. I was in the "slim chance" category of people who are very sensitive to medication. Her scientific evidence for this claim was based solely on her personal experiences in prescribing Paxil. In all the years she has prescribed Paxil only one other person has had a bad reaction. I find that very hard to believe, but, what can I really say?
- We decided that I needed to wean much slower (duh), like 1 mg at a time. I get to be my own doctor, and decide when I can handle going off more. With my track record, I'll be med-free in 2012. I'm kidding, I think.
- I got a prescription for Zofran to help my nausea. I also got a prescription for liquid Paxil. Liquid Paxil allows me to more accurately measure my dosage, rather than try and shave off portions of a tiny pill.
A few days after my appointment, I started to feel better. I feel occasional head zaps, and dizziness, but they don't seem to last too long. My energy levels are improving, and I'm somewhat back to normal. I am now on the last leg of weaning from 5 mg on down. So far, it has been tolerable.
For those of you that shared your experiences with anti-depressants, thank you. Your experiences helped me make sense of what I was going through. If you are considering going on an anti-depressant, I cannot stress more to (a) do your research (b) ask extensively about withdrawals (c) perhaps even devise a plan of how you will eventually come off of your medication and (d) make sure your plan involves weaning SLOWLY. You can always speed it up if you are reacting well.
Obviously, I'm not a doctor, and this is my personal experience. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments or email me. I will try my best to respond in a timely manner.