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Coming Off Antidepressants (Weaning From Paxil: A Reader Shares Her Story)

Weaning From Paxil

I recently heard from a reader who is struggling with weaning herself off of Paxil. (She shares her story about coming off antidepressants below.) Years ago when this SSRI drug was originally prescribed for her, she was led to believe that it was non-habit-forming.

Most doctors are completely ignorant as to the withdrawal effects of Paroxetine (not that that ever stops them from prescribing these pills as if they were as harmless as Tic-Tacs). My doctor told me, “The great thing about Paxil is that you can stop taking it cold turkey.” It doesn’t get any more ignorant than that.” (Source)

First, what’s an SSRI?

SSRI stands for Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor – they are a class of drugs typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. They are also typically effective and used in treating some cases of insomnia.

Antidepressants such as SSRIs have some dependence producing effects, most notably a withdrawal syndrome. Their dependence producing properties (depending on the antidepressant) may not be as significant as other psychotropic drugs such as benzodiazepines, however, withdrawal symptoms nonetheless may be quite severe and even debilitating. SSRIs have little abuse potential, but discontinuation can produce disturbing withdrawal symptoms that may not be able to be distinguished from a reoccurrence of the original illness.[50] Since physical dependence is a reality, discontinuation should be discussed with a medical practitioner before beginning treatment with this class of drugs. (Source)

A reader’s story about coming off antidepressants:

I started taking an SSRI (not Paxil) several years ago after going through counseling for anxiety. The counselor recommended that I might get through the rough patch I was experiencing by starting on an SSRI. After considerable deliberation, I decided it was the right thing for me to do at the time. I don’t regret using an SSRI to get me through, but I do wish I had more information that would have helped me realize the reality of what I would face upon discontinuation.

I consulted my doctor the first time I decided to quit Paxil, and he instructed me to wean myself off it. I did this in the summer when I knew my life would be as stress-free as possible. After my last dosage, I experienced mood swings, irritability, and overwhelming anxiety that was much worse than what I remembered feeling when I decided to go on an SSRI in the first place. I felt as if I were broken and was horribly discouraged that-without Paxil-I couldn’t feel the goodness that was in my life. Each summer for 4 more years, I tried to go off Paxil and ended up back on it, beating myself up for not being able to love the wonderful life I had. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t get off this stuff?

It wasn’t until just this past winter that a girlfriend mentioned to me how difficult it had been for her husband to get off of Paxil, when I did some research I found numerous examples of people who experienced minor and major withdrawal symptoms as they weaned themselves off of Paxil. As I read each testimonial I felt a flood of emotions. Every time I went off Paxil and felt worse, I thought I was broken. I never imagined these feelings were the result of withdrawal and didn’t represent who I really could be. This knowledge was a powerful catalyst for me. It gave me the strength to persevere through the withdrawal symptoms until my brain stopped craving Paxil and returned to its own equilibrium.

I tell you my story, hoping that it might help just one of your reader friends who is struggling or knows someone who is struggling with Paxil withdrawal. It took a huge amount of willpower and family support to resist starting Paxil again, especially on days when my emotions were overwhelming me. But, it can be done. Encourage your readers to be particularly mindful of their nutrition during this time, too. That has been an important part in my success.

I wanted to share this with all of you because I know a lot of people are on antidepressants these days and may not understand why they can’t get off of it.

Should docs prescribe anti-anxiety meds so easily for every stressed out patient that walks through the door?

I know that some really need these medicines and they can be lifesavers, and if that’s you, I’ll bet you’re darn glad that they’re available. However, depending on the situation, I do wish they weren’t prescribed SO easily, and that more natural remedies were tried first. Here are some options that come to mind (not that most docs even know about most of these ideas):

Two more added by the reader above…

  • Exercise – this was HUGE for me! Even a walk can help reframe my feelings and thoughts.
  • Being open with your loved ones when you decide to do it. They need to know that you’ll struggle and how/when to offer support.

Do you have more suggestions? I hope you’ll share your experience in the comments to help others who may be struggling at this very moment.



  1. 5HTP or a supplement with both St. John’s Wort and 5HTP have been very helpful for both me and my husband with panic attacks and depression management. The combo supplement we found also includes GABA, taurine and B Vitamins which are also both helpful for mood management and you can read more about in Julia Ross M.D.’s excellent book “The Mood Cure”

    • YES! I’d forgotten about The Mood Cure, but heard it is a MUST-read for anyone struggling with these types of issues. I’ll have to add it to the post when I get back to my computer. (I’m on my phone now…)

  2. Also read ” could it be b12,an epidemic of misdiagnoses” by Sally m. Pacholok &jeffrey Stuart. … An eye opener !

  3. Adding in my voice for 5HTP. I was on Paxil in the mid90s and took myself off it cold turkey one day because I was tired of being an emotional zombie. (I should not I did not take it for anxiety but for depression) Don’t much remember about withdrawl problems but my life was going to hel at the time anyway so it would have been minor in comparison.

  4. My husband is trying to get off Cymbalta after successfully getting off many more SSRIs and anti-anxiety medications. He’s hoping to even out a bit and then try the cymbalta. It’s been a long, tough road, but I feel like I have my husband back. Before he was on so many drugs I don’t know how they could know what symptoms were caused by what drug, or that anything was even helping him. It’s been nice to see him succeed, and I’m so glad he’s feeling better. Gluten free, FCLO, and raw milk have all assisted in getting rid of these medications. I wish doctors would think more about the long term effects of these drugs. :(

  5. A friend of mine dumped her drugs cold turkey when she accidentally became pregnant. I kept telling her how proud of her I was when no one else gave her any credit. Many people are enablers of these drugs because that’s what our culture says tod o.

  6. i just want to say i was on antidepressants for 10 yrs and in march ’07 was the last time i ever took them. I’ve had up’s and downs and some panic attacks since. but i have found panic attacks are assocated for me when my tsh gets aroudn 1.0 which most doctors say is normal. my panic and depression was because my thyroid was dying. and no doctor ever looked at it till i asked and then they still kept me under dosed. I found a naturopath and my life has changed. I used a lot of supplements and homeopathic meds (when i first started didn’t even know what tehy were or if they would work, but they did!).

    i feel this readers pain of coming off of them. I switched to many different ones.. but my when i started weaning i was on two different ones.. one to put me to sleep and another to wake me up.. effexor was the morning pill and i forget the night time one. effexor was awful to come off of.

  7. I went off Cymbalta cold turkey because there was a mix-up over my prescription on a weekend . . . oh my gosh, I thought I was going to die. Massive migraine, nausea, diahrreah, shakiness. I looked online to see if this was normal and was horrified to read that some people even have seizures! The forums suggested benadryl and pot; since I had no idea where to get pot (I was THAT desperate), I had my husband go to the store and get me benadryl. I also took some prozac that I had had from 10 years prior and that also helped. It took me a couple of days to recover. I was on prozac for awhile but then weaned myself off that too (slowly that time) because after that awful experience I decided to see if I still needed antidepressants any more (depression does run in my family, but I originally went on them when I was going through an awful divorce). I’m glad I went on them for that time in my life, but I agree that doctors need to be more up front about the dangers and side effects.

  8. @Heather, Cymbalta is basically the same thing as Effexor. Effexor XR is now generic (which may help with cost if that’s a factor). I was on Effexor XR for years, then my doc switched me to Cymbalta with no discernable difference for me. I have tried on numerous occasions to wean myself off Effexor with no success–even after tapering down to 37.5 mg every other day over a 3-4 week period. One of my healthcare providers said it would be better for me to have them switch me over to paxil THEN taper off that. I’ve also read that in England (or Europe?) Effexor is banned. Just some info for you. Good luck to your dh.
    p.s. I have a lot of stress in my life right now and was advised to wait to try to remove Effexor from the equation! I tend to agree :)

  9. @debbie,

    when you are ready and if you are still on effexor… just open up the pill and start dividing that down.. I got all the way down to just one of those little pills in the bottle and that was hard to wean off of.. look into homeopathic.. i used homeopathic l-tyrptophan that helped a lot with the brain zaps..

  10. Dr. Ann Blake Tracey has written an excellent book, “Prozac: Panacea or Pandora” which describes how essential oils protocols she has developed assist in getting off anti-depressants. I highly recommend it and Young Living EO’s
    When taking homeopathics, take separately from essential oils for best results.

    • I have also read Dr. Ann Blake Tracey’s book. I was shocked to read this information and am positive that there would be a lot less people on their SSRI’s after reading this book. Let the truth be told. It is what you do with it that matters.

  11. We had a similar experience taking our then 13 year daughter off of Luvox which was perscribed for her Obessive Complusive Disorder. The pyschiatrist also said it was not addictive, and you could stop ‘cold turkey’ without any problems. She became suicidal after being on the drug about a year. When we called the doctor he wanted to just lower the dose. That did not help. We finally heard of Dr. Peter Breggin, an expert witness against Eli Lilly ( he has a ton of books including Prozac Nation) for numerous court cases. He had tons of information showing the dangers of these drugs. He helped us to slowly get off the Luvox, but our daughter suffered terribly while doing so. She experienced in her body what a heroin addict goes through.

  12. I have been prescribed many of these meds as an off label use for chronic pain. The dr’s told me they were benign and that I would have no side effects and no trouble stopping them. Every time I tried one I would notice that my thought patterns would be very strange. I had strange violent impulses and cried a lot. Eventhough I am a chronic pain patient I am a happy girl and these mood swings were totally out of the norm for me. I also would be zombie like during the day and then wide awake at night. And for the record they did nothing for my pain levels. I had a hard time going cold turkey to get off them, too. I used a pill splitter or if the med was a capsule I would break it open and pour small amounts into applesauce to titre down slowly. I understand these meds may do wonders for many, but they were not successful for me. I also understand doing everything in your power to bring about healing and still being sick and needing medication. I just felt like these drugs were messing with my brain chemistry and not producing any desired results, and that scared me. Just my experience.

  13. I don’t know much about depression – but we have found that to help relieve stress in your body (both physical on your muscles etc and emotional) that magnesium helps tremendously – has even helped with my irregular heart beats and pms symptoms. We use Peter Gillham’s Natural Vitality – Natural Calm – either in unflavored to add with juice in the morning or the Sweet Lemon flavor to drink straight. Magnesium is known as the anti-stress mineral – works for us!

  14. My MIL was on Prozac for awhile. As it turned out, her thyroid was badly mismanaged. That is…they knew it wasn’t good, and she was also on synthetic thyroid drugs, but…depression goes along with that whole package.

    She’s now on a natural thyroid supplement, raw milk, kombucha, and moving more and more towards real food. Recently they had to bump her dose DOWN because her thyroid is healing on its own!! After they told her two years ago that it would just need to be removed because it was too damaged.

    She is not on any depression meds or any synthetic meds anymore and feels SO much better.

    Don’t discount the role thyroid can play, especially for women.

  15. I was on an SSRI for migraine pain (Relpax) and I had noticed when I was taking the Relpax, I got this super calm over me and took everything much slower than I normally would. I guess this would be considered a success if I was taking the drug for depression or anxiety, but the purpose was so that I could manage the migraine pain and still be a functioning member of society.

    After I discovered real food and started really questioning the prescription drugs my husband and I took, I went off of Relpax cold turkey. It’s been tough giving it up especially when I have really bad migraines, but looking at the side effects,it was definitely worth it.

    I just wanted to mention this one because not all SSRI’s are prescribed for depression or anxiety.

  16. I’ve been taking effexor xr for almost 10 years now to control (prevent) my migraines… at the time I started taking it, I was getting migraines almost daily with no relief from pain killers but I was also definitely suffering from depression. I haven’t been depressed for the majority of the 10 years but every time I’ve tried to wean myself off of the effexor, within 48 hours of cutting my dosage, I get a migraine. If I continue at the lower dosage, the migraine does not get better. I’m not sure how I could take enough (and afford it) vitamins, supplements, raw food to completely replace the effexor -and that thought is depressing 😛

  17. The Mood Cure is a tremendous option! I am also a certified Fitness trainer, and I have witnessed clients’ going off medications once they began a program – woohoo!

  18. I’ve struggled for years with what I call panic attacks. My symptoms are usually racing heart (often in the middle of the night), tremors or shaking, and butterflies in my stomach. Sometimes I’d have nausea or loose stools, muscle weakness, and a feeling like I couldn’t breathe. I used to get them frequently in my 20s when I was eating very poorly and under a lot of stress while working to support myself while going to college. I went to many doctors, all who administered heart tests and who told me that I should go on anti-anxiety medication, never mentioning anything about healthy eating (real healthy eating, as we know it). I never took their prescriptions because I was too scared.

    When I changed my diet about 6 years ago, the panic symptoms slowly began to disappear. But I got them back in full-force in January of this year. I had been working a lot on my new job and our family was very stressed out after having no income for 3 months and falling behind on our mortgage, in addition to it being the holiday season. I know I had really neglected to eat as much as I should during December and January because I was working 16 hour days and was unable to tear myself away from the computer to eat a proper lunch or get a drink sometimes (for maybe 5 or 6 hours). I know this probably contributed in a big way…but whatever the reason, I went full-flung into panic episodes every single night. I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep now since early January. I went through every single natural thing I could think of. I drove my family crazy. I had my thyroid tested (which I had done a year and a half ago) which was showing low – and that was bizarre given the symptoms I was having were more indicative of hyperthyroid (too much thyroid hormone), but still, the second blood test showed it to be low again. I started taking extra magnesium because I also had my Vitamin D levels tested and I was showing very low – despite taking almost 8 fermented cod liver oil tablets daily during the winter months and taking Premier Research Labs liquid Vitamin D3 supplement daily, and eating foods naturally rich in Vitamin D like pastured meats, eggs, butter, etc. If you don’t have enough magnesium, you cannot absorb any of the Vitamin D you intake, and our soils are almost completely depleted of magnesium now. I tried amino acids for a few days, and then stopped because my husband thought I was taking too many supplements and that my body was overwhelmed. Then I became desperate as none of the practitioners could figure out what was causing my continued panic episodes and no sleep – and I took a beta blocker. I had some side-effects I didn’t like such as nausea, so I stopped that. Then my doctor gave me Xanax because there was nothing else. I took it for a short period of time just until we could figure out what the problem was – I hated taking it and took the lowest possible dose. But I had to get some sleep. I was just about to lose my mind. In the beginning, my doctor had me doing some detoxing too, which I don’t think my body was really handling very well since it was so frazzled – I did about 6 days on MMS and before that I also tried chlorella for about 5 days to move out heavy metals that might be causing this problem. But I took too much chlorella and it constipated me so I had to stop. I was puzzled as to why the magnesium wasn’t moving metals out a little faster since minerals are supposed to do that when you are dosing them at higher levels than previous intake, and also magnesium is one of the primary minerals that is supposed to help with panic and anxiety…but it didn’t seem to make any difference.

    Then I decided to try amino acid therapy again to see if that made any improvements. I stopped taking the Xanax I had read Julia Ross’s The Diet Cure Book and was following her recommendations from the amino chapter. I definitely can’t take anywhere near the upper end of her recommended doses, it’s just too much for my body. But I think what I’m taking is starting to help – I’ve been taking GABA and a little L-tryptophan, glycine, passionflower (in a supplement formulated by Dr. Eric Braveman called Brain Calm) and some inositol (from the B vitamin family), but have also heard L-taurine and L-theanine are useful too. I’m still very new to amino acid therapy and in the beginning stages of experimenting with the dosages. I’m far from over my panic symptoms, but they are getting better. I had the Mood Cure book, but loaned it to someone and I need to get it back.

    I also learned that panic and anxiety can be caused by EMFs and other sources of radiation like Wifi, microwaves, and cell phones. So I asked my husband if we could stop using our Wifi and just go back to wired. He rewired everything for me and I did notice some improvements within 2 days, but not enough to eliminate my symptoms completely.

    I can’t explain what a nightmare this has been and how much this has disrupted my life. I’ve had to put everything on hold just to deal with this problem. As a result, everything has gone by the wayside including my job and the work I do with my blog. I have also been very disappointed in the little progress I made with 3 different practitioners – an M.D. who is also board-certified holistic, nutritional therapist, and a chiropractor/acupuncturist. I think I’m on somewhat of a right track with the aminos, but have very little knowledge of all the possible aminos that work on anxiety and combinations to try. If anyone has any insight about natural solutions for panic-like symptoms or protocols, I’d appreciate it very much.

    • Raine, I had no idea you were going through all this! My heart goes out to you and to everyone struggling in this way. I’ll pray you find the answers to help you.

      I want to thank all of you who have commented so far. I’ll tell you what I told my reader friend who prompted this post:

      “Thank you again for sharing your story – think of how many people were comforted that they’re not alone, relieved that they’re not nuts, and who eventually can be HEALED and OFF these meds because of you and all the great suggestions from others that were brought out in the comments! :)”

    • 5-HTP got rid of my panic attacks pretty quickly, within a couple days at most. If you have any kind of thyroid issues though you may benefit from a combo with St. Johns Wort and 5HTP. GABA and Taurine also promote relaxation and I have had luck with adding them in too. If you’ve only read her book Diet Cure I would really still recommend the Mood Cure. After our results with taking Amino Acids I wanted to buy copies of the book and give them to pretty much everyone I know :)

    • I am 39 and I have been on Paxil for 15 years (10mg, then 20mg) to deal with Panic Disorder. During those years, I was seemingly fine, but hated the fact that I was dependent on Paxil. I have attempted to wean off twice with no success. Three months ago I weaned off successfully with no side-effects. I felt like a hero. However, last Friday, while driving home on the freeway, I had the WORST panic attack EVER. It’s been a week since then with no attack, but definitely jittery. I don’t know what to do. It’s hard to find weaning off success stories on the internet. I don’t want to go back on Paxil. I’m going to see my therapists today.

      • Ron,

        Congrats on getting off Paxil! That must have been scary to have that panic attack last week. You’re doing the right thing to go see your therapist.

        Also, can you pinpoint anything different around that time, in your diet or in your surroundings or situations? Maybe if you can pinpoint something that could help??


  19. I so understand this. I take 5 mg of Paxil every 3 days to stave off the heavy withdrawal. I, too, felt like I was broken. And to be honest, in some way I still feel broken. I know by God’s grace I am restored. I just can’t seem to get out of the mindset that I can’t do this withdrawal thing.

  20. And if you think SSRI withdrawal syndrome is bad for us adults – try watching a newborn withdraw. As a neo-natal intensive care nurse I’ve seen several babies go through withdrawal and the only thing their mothers took was high doses of an SSRI antidepressant medication. The unfortunate thing for the moms was that in many cases their physicians didn’t warn them that this could happen.

    I would add that those struggling with depression should have saliva testing done to gauge their adrenal, thyroid and sex hormone function. There are many natural ways to treat these hormonal imbalances including natural supplements, glandulars and diet change. Much more hopeful long term than medication, although in the short term sometimes it may be necessary.

  21. @Raine and others, I recently had my neurotransmitters tested by through my holistic nurse practioner. It was a urine test and showed the levels of each one. They suggested specific supplement combinations (amino acids, herbs, vitamins) to reset the nerotransmitters. Supposedly treatment is about 3 months. I’m only 1 week in, feeling a little better, but have yet to really know. I think it is worth looking into for anyone dealing with mood, sleep or headache issues.

  22. Many thanks Laura and Kelly – I appreciate your comments and prayers! Laura, I had my cortisol levels tested with a blood sample, but I have heard the saliva tests are more accurate, so that’s a good idea.

  23. Wow! Fascinating forum. The doctor’s don’t tell you about the side effects of these medications before you start them, or when you try to wean. I’ve been on different SSRI’s for most of my adult life (17 years). I was convinced that my clinical depression was too serious for natural remedies. Terrible depression. Horrible anxiety. Panic attacks. Near complete nervous break down. I tried drug store St. John’s Wort & 5HTP natural supplements. Didn’t help at all (although I may not have had high quality supplements). For a while I thought that my SSRI’s were a miracle. But what I didn’t know was hurting me.

    I had very frustrating side effects for years on prozac (this was before I had a PC and the internet), and I had no idea that the side effects were caused by the prozac. Uncontrolled weight gain, sexual disfunction, fatigue, burn out. Finally, I switched doctor’s and he told me that all of these side effects were due to my SSRI, thank you very much. Shouldn’t these doctor’s be required to tell you what you are getting into? I have since taken Lexapro, Wellbutrin and am currently weaning from Celexa.

    My most recent bout with anxiety/depression came from a temporary thyroid disorder that has resolved. Unfortunately the side effects decided to stick around. My internist just wants to throw medications at these unresolved symptoms. She finally got frustrated and “washed her hands” of my situation by referring me to someone else.

    About a month ago, I decided to once and for all rule out the possibility of using natural remedies. I went to the health food store, paid for Electrodermal Screening and Hormonal Screening, purchased several supplements and left feeling pretty discouraged. The whole experience seemed very suspect to me. I sat there while the screener poked and prodded me with a energy reader. He would hit a certain part of my hand and say, “This reads your pancreas.” Uh… ok. Seriously? Then he would put these medicines on a tray and see if they helped increase my energy output. He literally put the whole bottle of supplement, packaging and all, on this tray which was suppose to measure the frequency of the medicine against my frequency. I thought the guy was crazy. But I decided I was going to give this a try before I ruled it out. We settled on 3 supplements to start with: Lithium (for mental stability), liquid Iodine (for thyroid) and a hair supplement (to help with hair shedding from said resolved thyroid problem.) He also concocted a liquid supplement with a frequency that was made especially for me (how special!)

    Well, the Iodine looked funny when I opened the bottle so I didn’t take it. It had something dark in it. I started with the other 2 and my own personal supplement. The first week, I didn’t really feel any better. In fact, I felt a little worse. I suspected that the Lithium was making me more anxious. I went back to the health Food store and he recommended Holy Basil. He also said that the dark stuff in the Iodine was herbs. I stopped the Lithium and started taking Holy Basil & liquid Iodine. Almost suddenly I could feel a difference. My mood elevated. I felt calm. I felt positive and happy. This wasn’t just the absence of sadness and anxiety. I felt happy! I’ve been ok while on my meds, but I haven’t felt anything like this. I’m in a really good, positive mood. It has only been a week, but I just feel better and better. Mentally, that is.

    So I’ve boldly weaned myself off the Celexa. And like said, mentally I’m solid. But physically, I’m a mess. I’m dizzy, constipated and my hands are going numb. I also have insomnia. I hope that this doesn’t last long. I quit my low dose of 10 mg. cold turkey (I was taking half of my 20 mg pills). The doctor wants me to take some 5 mg pills for a week. I’m hesitant to put anything back into my system that causes these kinds of withdrawls.

    As for the natural remedies, it is too soon to tell for sure. But I am becoming more and more optimistic. The process can be a little costly, and you have to suffer through some misses before you hit on what works for you. But if I’m not too far gone for natural remedies, then I’m guessing that most people who suffer from clinical depression and anxiety disorders could find relief with more natural cures.

  24. P.S. I am wondering if anyone knows about taking SSRI’s while nursing. I started to have horrible panic attacks when my baby was 3 months old. (Turns out I had post-partum thyroiditis.) The doctors assured me that it was perfectly safe to take Celexa while nursing. They preferred this to formula. So I proceeded. I never went above 20 mg per day. She weaned just before 1 year, so she was nursing for 9-10 months while I was on Celexa. I just read the post about weaning newborns from SSRI’s and wondered if there could be any lasting effects on my baby from nursing while I was on Celexa. I did not notice anything wrong with her after she weaned. She has been weaned from nursing for about 3 months now. Is there anything I should be concerned about?

    • Cat, if you haven’t noticed anything and it’s been 3 months since weaning your daughter is fine. SSRI withdrawal symptoms are noticed right after the drug is withdrawn. In babies it’s usually extreme fussiness that can’t be soothed, shakiness, jitters, vomiting, and light sensitivities. It is an acute (however painful) phase that ends when the drug is detoxed from the body. I’m no expert on the long term effects of taking SSRI’s, but it sounds like your daughter if fine!

      • Thanks Karla! I think that she is fine. I am a bit concerned that it may have caused a deficiency during this important formative time that could show up later in life. At the time the panic attacks were so bad, I had to take something. And I have a good pediatrician who is very pro breastfeeding. I hope that they didn’t misguide me.

        • I’m not sure I believe in the theory that a small deficiency during one part of your life sets you up for failure forever. I think our bodies are incredible at managing during a crisis and healing when given the right tools. If your daughter missed out on something during that phase, providing her with the nutrition and love she needs now will most certainly make up for it. Just my opinion…

  25. A little over a year ago I was having panic symptoms severe enough to accept the Paxil my doctor gave me (one night I was so panicked that I got in my car after work and realized I had forgotten how to drive, had to walk around for 15 minutes before I felt like I would not be a menace behind the wheel). I did not notice any symptoms when I stopped taking it, but I was on a low dose and only for about 2 months. While I must admit (reluctantly) that it probably saved me from a serious breakdown, I do not like the zombie-like state the drug makes it so easy to fall into. After I was off the meds, though, I Paid Attention to what I had done, where I had been and what I had eaten anytime I got anxious beyond ordinary frustration. Number one suspect appears to be food dye, usually when eaten in a baked good of some kind (I’m looking at YOU triple chocolate brownie!). On the upside, though, one day when I came home with hands shaking and the stutter that is the first visible symptom of a oncoming panic episode, I walked into the kitchen and scooped up a mug of the broth I had in the crockpot and added a sprinkle of pink himalayan salt because I wanted something warm and cozy. Within minutes my hands were steady, I could speak without trouble and my mind cleared. Usually it takes me a full day to recover once it starts. This seems to help me every time, and if I make sure to prepare meals frequently with the stuff I have little trouble, but when I start to slip into a bad spot and look at our eating habits, I usually find either less bone broth, more non-homemade baked goods, or both.

  26. Hi Kelly & all!

    I’ve been busy (and with my energy level it doesn’t take all that much to feel busy to the point of feeling overwhelmed) so I haven’t been on here for a long while.

    I’ve just finished reading Carolyn Dean’s (MD, ND) book ‘The Magnesium Miracle’. I saw that a few posters here referenced Magnesium so I thought I’d chip in and at least share a little about the book. We’ve used the Natural Calm (also mentioned earlier) for awhile but not consistently enough or in high enough doses to really know if it’d help us enough.

    The reason this book caught my eye was because of all the symptoms and diseases that can result from (or be contributed to by) a Mg deficiency — so many of them either I, a family member, or friends had. Here are just a few: anxiety, asthma, bowel problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, food cravings (chocolate is high in Mg!), headaches (including migraines), heart disease, hyperactivity, infertility, menstrual cramps, mitral valve prolapse, muscle cramps and/or tics, osteoporosis, tremors, wheezing and the list goes on and on…

    Toward the end of the book she got more into magnesium oil or gel that you could put on your skin to bypass the diarrhea caused by too much oral Mg or to give your body a better way to absorb it when the digestive system is already overwhelmed and can’t absorb enough of it to be helpful. It sounds like it can take a year or more for even well-absorbed types of oral Mg supplements to bring the body up to a therapeutic level and only a few weeks if done topically. I don’t want to prescribe it yet since we haven’t used, or even ordered, it yet. But it sounds promising! The book is full of magnesium-related diseases and maladies being improved by supplementing Mg, eating foods higher in it, and decreasing things that cause the problems (even weaning off meds, with a doctor’s help, that are for symptoms really caused by a magnesium deficiency in the first place).

    ‘Just my two-cents’ worth! Thanks, again, to all of you for being honest health detectives and so willing to share yourselves, your frustrations and your triumphs!

    Very sincerely,


  27. Wow, there is a lot of great info here. I am currently attempting an integrative approach (meds and alternative therapies), so I did want to point out a few things:

    1. Julia Ross’s Mood Cure amino acid protocol is AMAZING (plus she’s a big traditional foods advocate), but I always give people a heads-up that her warnings about contraindications need to be followed to the letter. If you suffer from depression as part of bipolar disorder, as I do, several of those amino acids can trigger manic episodes (I speak from experience — I went ahead and tried those aminos and wound up hospitalized for mania).

    2. I have had absolutely fantastic results with GABA for anxiety. It works just as well as benzos (the family of tranquilizers that includes Xanax, Valium, Ativan et al) for me, without the nasty over-sedation. I really like the Source Naturals sublingual formula — orange flavor is gross but peppermint is yummy.

    3. SSRI withdrawal in infants is a really tricky situation — I was on Zoloft while pregnant and nursing, and had no issues, plus the drug made the difference between having suicidal ideation versus enjoying my pregnancy, but I will say that going cold turkey off lithium while pregnant was extremely scary. I think it’s really crucial to have good support from a mental health provider while tapering off meds, particularly when nursing or pregnant — though whether or not your provider will support you going off meds is a whole other question entirely …

    4. Fish oil is another fantastic supplement to add to your arsenal. I know there are some concerns about fish oil versus cod liver oil, so maybe some of the more knowledgeable folks can comment, but I’ve seen people manage their illnesses on fish oil alone, it’s that powerful.

    Best wishes to everyone on their healing journeys!


  28. YOUZA I love you guys. You have NO idea how many people you are helping with your honesty and willingness to share all you’ve learned!!! Keep it comin’…


  29. I need your help everyone!!!

    My reader friend from this post who is coming off Paxil just emailed me and said this, “Either I

    • Ya know, what worries me about her not taking anymore is the fact that it’s involving heart racing. There are SOME meds that you HAVE to gradually taper off or the heart is effected permanently (think: clonodine). I have a feeling she needs to stay on 2.5 for 2 weeks, then maybe even move down to 1 mg …. this stuff is NASTY!

  30. i recommend her reading this this is a great wealth of info.. homeopathics helped me alot.. but the one that really helped me she can’t get w/o a naturopath or natural doctor. l-tyrptophan homeopathic.. but she can get that in pill form and i feel it would be a little better then 5htp.

    rescue remedy could help too.. my friend just came off antidepressants to and had this exact same thing happen. she ended up taking one zoloft or xanax.. if she’d like to email me she is welcome too.

  31. I agree with all of the suggestions in the post. I’ll add avoiding sugar and eating to keep your blood sugar as balanced as possible (including not going too long between meals/snacks). Low blood sugar can trigger a panic attack and certainly contribute to depression. I got a lot out of the book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome by James Wilson, which helps explain some of the physiological effects of stress and how we can help counter some of that. The other reality is that sometimes it’s perfectly normal to “fall apart” for a while. We sort of forget that in our modern society that has a RX fix for everything. I got through 5 years of PTSD, including major anxiety and depression, mostly without drugs, so I can attest that it can be done! I tell you what, if God can get me through, He can do it for anyone!

    • I will add the the only drug I was on was also Paxil, but I didn’t stay on it more than a few months because, even at a low dose, I had side effects that I just couldn’t stand (including weird profuse night sweats, and occasional electric shock sensations in my head/brain). So really, time, prayer–with lots of time spent reading my Bible for daily “reality checks” :-) –and following the types of recommendations in this post got me through. Over those 5 years I gradually got better and I learned a lot along the way (though I wouldn’t want to go through it again).

  32. google—-dr mark sircus
    read info on magnesium oil, it will help most every problem on
    this web site
    click on the letter p (pain) , a(acne) and read info

  33. Wow lots of interesting info, when reading other peoples stories I wonder if they relate to me or someone like me, some have depression and get by without meds, some stay on meds a short time and can come off with or without the aid of amino acids/magnesium or other supplements, I wonder though and have tried to find a story of person who has taken paxil or Seroxat as it’s called in the UK for decades and successfully come off, I have been on Seroxat (Paxil) for 17yrs and my doc says I may need to be on it for life, since going on it all those years back I have been trying to come off, the fist few years I could come off but my depression would come back after 8months and I would have the usual electric zaps etc but as time went on even coming down to 10mg was a real struggle but I didn’t get any zaps or the physical withdrawal issues but just plain depression and anxiety, basically it hits you more in your core, it’s like the drug has become so part of you that you are trying to tear away a part of your brain when trying to taper off, my doc says why do you have to come off it? Well I say to him, I worry about ‘poop out’ = the drug doesn’t work after a certain amount of time, and I told him I worry about taxing my liver with longterm use of drugs, his answer was if it was going to effect your liver it would have done and poop out would have happened even in the rare case that it does I would change you to Effexor.
    My question is … is there a book that deals with coming off seroxat successfully by hopefully someone who has done it themselves and has been on it for a serious length of time, not one year for example, different rules may apply to us who have been on this drug for say 15yrs than the person who has been on it for a few months or even a few years.

    • Hi Gerald,

      I’m sorry that I don’t know more so I could help you. Have you tried Googling for a while?

      Hopefully someone else here will jump in who has experience with this.


  34. Been on 20 mgs of Paxil for 15 years. Met a Holistic Healer who suggested taking a “Complete Amino Acid Complex” twice a day to help with blood brain function and the natural production of nuero-transmitters during weaning. I started weaning with 10 mg on April 17th, 2012. Took that for two weeks. I did completely fine. I credit the AA ( Amino Acids ). Tuesday May 1st, I started 5 mg. This week I have been extremely tired. Could not figure out why. I knew something changed. I have been more emotional. A TV show would get me teary eyed. Thursday, I was depressed. Didn’t know why. Today, (friday) I was irritable, frustrated and bitchy. Words came out of my mouth that were so unlike me. I decided to look up withdrawal symptoms of Paxil and found my answer. I have to say, this all passed by 4 pm today. I was back to my silly self. I credit the AA’s again, for doing the very best it (possibly can) to balance the shock and withdrawal my mind and body are experiencing. Withdrawals symptoms of Paxil are, tiredness, crying (emotional bursts), depression, irritability. I had them all this week. The brain zaps are still there, but when I feel them strongly, I realize it is time to take my second dose of AA’s for the day. I feel good and balanced right now. Anti-depressants ( Paxil in my case), “metabolize” serotonin. Amino Acids naturally “produce” serotonin. The way I see it is, my feelings have been suppressed for 15 years. When I cry, or get bitchy, they are real feelings. I acknowledge them. I know they are from the withdrawals. I know they are not the real me. But I love them just the same. I embrace them. Because, with the bad comes the good. My sense of touch has come alive again. When I am touched sexually, I can actually feel every nerve in my body reacting to the touch- the way it is suppose to. It tingles and feels wonderful. I am alive again. I am sexual and not numb to the touch. Its hard to believe how non existent and absent I was to my feelings. I smell things, like I never smelt before. I taste like Ive never tasted before. I feel more deeply, than I ever have before. If you have found this site while searching for answers and help with the withdrawals of Paxil, I can tell you from experience to add an Amino Acid Complex into your daily regimen. It has worked for me thus far. Remember that AA are VITAL proteins for every organ in your body. Especially your brain and its nuerotransmitters. With much love and sucess my friend….

    • Hi Terri,

      I am SO thankful to you and everyone here who has shared their story, you’ll likely never know how many people you have helped!


    • Thank you so much for your post. It has inspired me to try the AA complex. I am definately going to go see a natural healer and see what they recommend. I am tapering on my own and have been for several months. I am at the point where when I try to go any lower now my biggest problem is the flu like symptoms, no energy, headach, nausea, etc. I am really scared but I have been on this drug for 17 years and am trying to get all chemicals out of my life.

      • Hello Aida,
        Welcome to the best website out there for “weaning” support!
        We have all been where you are and we hope by sharing our stories,
        you can know what to expect. We are also so very proud of you! Its a grueling and difficult task, but the payoff is truly rewarding! I am so pleased you commented on my post and are considering including an Amino Acids Complex. You will be so very glad you did! They help tremendously! Its the food your brain is screaming for. I have been free from paxil now for 5 weeks. I have never looked back or regretted my decision. I have felt more powerful, more alive, and more complete as a human being. I mentioned in my first post about my senses coming alive. I can’t believe how numb I was to my feelings. The flu like symptoms, headaches, nausea and fatigue will subside. I promise you that! Once it is completely out of your system, you will notice the fatigue is the first to go. Nausea, and brain zaps were slight, but were gone for good after two weeks “free”.
        Please share with us how your visit went with the Natural Healer…..
        until then, keep up the GOOD work! Yea Aida!

  35. I am 5 days cold turkey off of my paxil after taking it for the last 14 years. Today was better than yesterday! I am determined to never take another one. In a strange way I feel so much more alive already. good luck to anyone going through this, it’s tough!

    • Hi Michelle, good job on this! If it gets super tough, don’t be afraid to get help from a local naturopath, holistic doc, or holistic-minded chiroproactor if needed!!


  36. Thank you everyone for sharing. It helps so much to know that I’m not alone. I wanted to share that I’ve been getting off Paxil for about 1 year. Yes it’s taken that long! I had to do it very gradually. If you can, ask your Dr. for it in liquid form so that you can gradually decrease your dose. I started at 20 ml every day and every week (or month) would decrease 1 ml. I just waited to see how my body was feeling to know if I could go down a dose or not. As a women, I felt that the best time to decrease my dosage for the month was right after my period.
    I’ve been off of Paxil for 16 days now. I wish I could say that it’s going great. I’m sure glad I tapered off slowly, cause I’d hate to think of how it would go cutting it cold-turkey. Anyway, I have a question. For those of you who have gotten off of it successfully, how long has it taken you to feel back to normal? I’m struggling with anxiety (sometimes worse than before I even went on Paxil) and worse yet, insomnia, which increases the anxiety and adds a whole other host of symptoms. I’m doing alot to help – 5-htp, fish oil, bone broth, exercise, cutting out sugar, caffiene, bad fats, etc. Anyone have any thoughts?

  37. Has anyone had problems with weaning off antidepressants and then immediately showing signs of diabetes where it never had before? I have been on antidepressants for years but slowly weaned off of them this summer–extremely hard to wean off of them because of feeling poorly, but finally after several months of being off of them, it seems diabetes has set in when I never have had any signs of that—–any comments.

  38. Hello Alice-
    I have not heard of such a thing. Have you tried googling that?
    I would get a second opinion. My father’s Doctor told him one afternoon
    he was a borderline diabetic. Come to find out, he had a chocolate milk shake
    on the way to the Dr’s. It wasnt until he got home and thought about what he had eaten/drank before hand, that he called the Doctor and rescheduled this test- just to see if that could have been the case- and it was! He wasn’t a borderline diabetic! Really? These are Doctors? They don’t think to ask what you had this morning for breakfast if they’re testing for diabetes? Anyway, this should give you some reassurance. I am ( WE ) here are very proud of you for weaning and becoming free of anti-depressants.
    Hugs. Terri

  39. Thank you so much for the reply—-it’s crazy since I have never had any lab work that would indicate diabetes until now—-the emotional part of weaning off for me was easier than the physical. I realized very quickly that every nerve ending in my body had been numbed for years by the antidepressant–celexa and trazadone–and when they “woke up”—wow, they woke up and I could feel it. The underlying thought for me today was what if the antidepressant had “masked” me actually having diabetes all this time and just not knowing it—but, my bloodwork always came out great. I will do some more study on it—-did google it but didn’t find anything out specifically about diabetes and antidepressants. I, too am so glad to be off of them but it makes me wonder if I had not gotten off of them if bloodwork would have come out good again. I will get to the bottom of this—-thanks for comments.

  40. Hi Gerald,
    I have read that paxil leaches minerals in particular magnesium and B vitamins, I was experiencing oh so much anxiety and depression and was sick of the meds I was taking and began to read the forums and that is when I started reading about magnesium and how we don’t get enough in our diets and plus the meds and daily stress all add up. I decided to try a magnesium supplement. I knew that epsom salts was magnesium sulfate and knew from the reading I had done on magnesium that magnesium is infused into the body through the skin. I put 3 cups in my bath water and soaked in the epsom salts solution for 20 minuites. I also put half a teaspoon in 4 oz. of water stirred the solution untill it was completely disolved and used it as a mouth wash and be sure to spit it out. I repeated this swishing for 10 seconds and then repeated this untill the solution was all gone. I swished after every meal and before bed time and took 2 baths a day. In 48 hours all my symptomes dissapeared. This is something that is relatively inexpensive that you can do it wont hurt you and it might help. After my success with epsom salts I was so impressed I began reading everything I could about magnesium and then started looking for a better magnesium supplement there are many good one out there maybe some can recomend a good one for you in the UK. If the epson salts work or at least help than it might be worth exploring. The information I have on paxil is second hand as my own experience is so very limited. I was on paxil for about 5 days and my life just seemed to stop. I was in the middle of a project when I started the paxil and I was unable to finish the project. And I imidately stoped taking it. But I think what I have read is important, a paxil taper should be very slow, no more than 10% taper or slower and the best if you can manage it is so slow that you don’t experience withdrawal, if you can reinstate to a level where you don’t experience withdrawal give yourself a couple of weeks to stabilize and start your taper of 10% if this is too sharp and you begin to experience withdrawal again try a 5% taper and so on. This will take a lot of patience but you seem determined to break your paxil habit. I would start your supplements before you begin your taper during the 2 week stabilization period. There is a lot of info on magnesium on the internet. Dr. Carolyn Dean has been studying magnesium for overr 30 years. I think this would be a good place to start. Researching this stough before you begin supplementing makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve taken my magnesium every day now for over 60 days and I have changed my diet so I am eating fewer processed foods and more foods that are rich with magnesium. And my anxiety and depression have been reduced substantially. I have cut my coffee from 3 cups a day to 2 cups a day. My alcahol by at least 25% and I plan to cut it by as much more as I can, I have reduced the amount of floride toothpaste to a small pea size instead of filling the whole brush head with toothpaste. I have cut the amount of sugar I consume I walk at least for half an hour a day. I replaced my synthetic multi-vitamin with a more natural multi-vitamin high in B vitamins and I purchased a water filter to filter out the flouride out of my drinking water. I think most of europe has eliminated flouride from their water supply allready. I don’t know about the UK. I think these are all sensable things you/we can do to make our lives healthier and should help with your withdrawal but go real slow to allow time for your brain to adjust to a life with less and less paxil. Yes it will take time and lots of patience. You seem determined to get off paxil and this is the best advise I can give you. One other thing that can help is if you have a friend a trusted individual you can talk to to help you through this will also be helpful. You wont feel so alone in your quest. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the best of luck.


  41. I ended up needing outside help- the road back nutritionals. I tried three times to go off Zoloft and then cymbalta after taking them for 17 years. I’ve turned to whole organic food, no sugar or grain, FCLO/HVBO, etc etc- but still suffering from severe depression. I’m now working with a Functional Medicine practitioner who works with “brain mapping” supplements. Also looking at my hormones as serotonin and hormones have a slight symbiotic relationship. It has been a very long and at times frightening road. But my good days are so much better which makes it worth it. If someone is struggling, don’t give up. It’s so bumpy, but your answers are out there.

  42. Do not quite SSRI cold turkey, warnings of suicides or attempted suicides have been reported. To get off wean by going slowly from daily to every other day for 2 weeks, then every 3 days. Decrease the amount in your system slowly until you are off. Vitamin D deficiency leads to signs of clinical depression and doctors don’t do a simple blood test for Vitamin D (which is only from sunshine and not enough in winter in colder climates).

  43. For me starting a vitamin d supplement made all the difference! I took Zoloft while I was working. I realized after I left to be a stay at home mom that work was the biggest source of my stress and unhappiness, and I didn’t need the meds anymore. I weaned off it very slowly, taking a tiny dose for most of a summer to make it easier…

  44. People who struggle with depression should also look into alternative thyroid testing. The blood tests don’t work and neither does synthetic thyroid medication. If you are told your thyroid is “normal” and you have low thyroid symptoms, your thyroid is probably low. Check out And read “hypothyroidism the unexpected illness” by Dr. Broda Barnes.

  45. Chiropractics greatly helped me wean off anti-depressants. Having your spine aligned so that brain signals can freely flow through your spinal cord to all parts of your body, and even back to the brain, can greatly alleviate depressive symptoms. After only 2 chiropractic adjustments, I felt SO much better and knew I could start taking smaller doses of the drugs. With regular adjustments (2-3x a week at first), in a matter of about 2 months I was completely off and not feeling at all like I needed them. Dietary changes and a little bit of exercise were also tremendous helps. Cutting out soda, refined sugar, and wheat products can make you feel like a new person! Amazing what food can do to the mind.

  46. The AMA recognizes that 10-20% of people put on anti-depressants can suffer withdrawal but they don’t call it that. They call it “the antidepressant discontinuation syndrome”. See article:
    The long goodbye: The challenge of discontinuing antidepressants
    I wish we had known about this before we put our young daughter on Lamictal
    (aka lamotrigine) for a misdiagnosis of epilepsy. We didn’t know it was also an antidepressant. She only took it for 13 days and her life has been turned upside down. Do your research before taking or tapering off any of these drugs.

  47. I every time used to read post in news papers but now as
    I am a user of net therefore from now I am using net for articles, thanks to web.

  48. Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit this website, because i wish for enjoyment,
    as this this site conations truly good funny material too.

  49. My father was diagnosed with leukemia this year and I developed some depression and anxiety—not an uncontrollable amount but the worst part was that I developed IBS. I went to the doctor for the IBS and she put me on bentyl for the ibs and zoloft for anxiety. Well, the medication has a horrible interaction and I ended up in the ER with racing heart, severe stomach pain, and insomnia. I developed panic attacks, which I have never before, and finally checked myself into a mental health clinic.

    The clinic placed me on prozac and klonopin and while they did help, I had side effects that I couldn’t stand. I felt dopey, disconnected from those around me, nightmares, and severe dry mouth. My psychiatrist told my anxiety was creating these problems so he upped my dosage and I just felt worse! I told him, I need to get off these meds! So he said, fine, you can stop taking them but I guarantee you will be back in a month and put back on them.

    Well, I have been off of the meds for two months, and shortly after I stopped them, I did feel more anxious and depressed than I have ever felt in my whole life. I thought, OMG, my doctor was right, I am just a mess without these meds. But luckily, I have a wonderful husband, and he told me I was not weak or broken and I would get better. He held me through my panic attacks, and told me how great I was doing.

    I started yoga every week, an omega 3 supplement, weekly sessions with my pastor who is a psychologist, I treated my IBS with diet changes like cutting out lactose, carbs, and overly seasoned foods.

    I have gotten better! I’m not cured, but I’m doing it on my own. Yes, I still have down days, but I know that I have the control and not the pills. This website has wonderful information and I think I may start the GAPS diet. \

    Good luck and love to all of you!

    • Tech issues are about putting me over the edge this morning so you have no idea how much I needed to read such great news like you shared in your comment. I’m so happy for you and PROUD of you!!!! And give that sweet husband of yours a big hug for me, too. :)

      (And did you tell your doc yet? He needs to know it CAN be done!)

      Take care and God bless,

  50. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to send this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

  51. Finding a good chiropractor/naturopath helped me significantly with w/d effects from an SSRI. He was able to pinpoint deficiencies specific to my body and recommend supplements that helped my mood and insomnia. I think it is wise to consult a professional than to experiment with supplements on your own.

  52. Try the raw food diet… processed,no meats or dairy. Kristina’s Rawfully Organic. Her short videos are so enlightening and she makes a good coach to encourage you to keep going. You won’t be sorry.

  53. Frightening how narrow the definition of “normal” is. I was diagnosed with generliased anxiety and chronic depression at the age of 19. My GP prescribed paxil to me after a 10 minute consult, then sent me to a psychiatrist.
    Of course you want to believe this stuff will solve all your problems but it doesn’t, and this makes everything much worse.
    I have now been off all psych meds for over a decade and, although I don’t condemn people who chose to take them, I fear marketing has done too good a job convincing us that normal life is challenge free or devoid of ups and downs and convinces us that if we feel don’t feel good all the time there must be something wrong with us.

  54. What’s Happening i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & help other users like its helped me. Good job.

  55. For those that have thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism, research all about chia seeds and milk thistle helping thyroid. I slowly weaned myself off Levothyroxine 15 months ago and feel just as well if not better eating a raw food diet with no processed foods and taking chia seeds and milk thistle seeds daily. Check it out.

  56. Jill,
    Thanks for the great article. I am a father of a kid who is showing signs of anxiety. I wanted to get some specific suggestions from you. Is it possible to get in touch with you via e-mail?

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