Coming off SSRIs – a not so fun journey

I’ve been coming off SSRI meds (specifically, Fluoxetine) over the past almost 2 months now and I *think* I finally feel ‘normal’. But boy has it been a roller-coaster. I want to start out by saying I did not go cold turkey. I tapered off with guidance of a very expensive psychiatrist, my psychologist, and GP. I cut back to every second day, every third, and so on until it got down to once a week THEN I stopped completely. So when I talk about the two month time-frame, that’s two months without any dosage at all.

Symptoms have included:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Muscle spasms
  • Brain zaps
  • Headaches
  • Night time anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Sleeplessness

To preface this, I should mention that I had been on 20mg Fluoxetine for just over 2 years. You can view my experience of beginning the medication here: Anxiety meds – analysis (‘cos I’m super nerdy and like to track things…)

Coming off it has been a very, very odd journey. I’ve felt like a complete crazy person a lot of the time. I wanted to document it in more detail, but unfortunately life continues to happen around feeling yuck, so there hasn’t been a huge amount of time for me to do that. I’ve heard (from psychologist, psychiatrist, GP, people who have done this) week 6 is the worst, and that’s not wrong. I would say week 5-6 were the worst for me. I’m in week 7 now and I’m still getting loads of weird muscle spasms and the occasional seemingly irrational attack of panic (but not an actual panic attack, hard to explain the difference).

I’m very lucky to have had the aide of lorazepam and a few diazepam, which I take very sparingly, to help me through the more anxious days/nights of extreme muscle spasms/brain zaps etc. I honestly do not know how anyone would cope without those drugs, unless you were, like, marooned in a rehab facility in the middle of nowhere. It. Was. Hellish.

I’ve definitely noticed a lot of busy thoughts, I’ve been less able to sit back and be mindful/let thoughts happen, and have really struggled to stay on top of self-care things such as yoga/mindfulness/reading/exercising to try to keep that in check. It seems to be the only way.

Have you been through SSRI withdrawal? I’d love to hear your stories/tribulations. Please comment below.

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