Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Paxil Withdrawal

OK, as I'm feeling stalked by cramps, I have to share my Paxil withdrawal experience.

I read up on Paxil, which I've been taking for three years, and I knew that I needed to wean myself, not quit cold turkey. I originally started taking it because stress, caffeine, and sleeplessness had combined to give me anxiety attacks. I was headed for Barcelona and couldn't afford to deal with these attacks, which were sometimes paralyzing.
After nearly four weeks, the Paxil worked like a charm. Unfortunately, there was a side effect that became progressively worse: I went from being a very cold-natured person to being a very hot-natured person. Instead of shivering and putting on a sweater when everyone else was asking to have the air conditioning turned on, I was fanning myself when everyone else was putting on a jacket. I hate being hot all the time. A nursing student told me that Welbutrin wouldn't cause me to be hot and that, additionally, there was a chance it could help me lose weight.

So five weeks ago I began taking Welbutrin and weaning myself off Paxil. I took 4 1/2 weeks to do so, but apparently, that wasn't enough. Or maybe there's no way to avoid side effects. I'm having a variety of symptoms, one of them apparently due to starting Welbutrin and the others due to withdrawal from Paxil.

I was at Wal-Mart the Saturday before last and started feeling lightheaded. I thought my blood sugar might be low, so I ate something. That helped only a little. It occurred to me my blood pressure might be high, although it's never been more than 120/80 my entire life and tends to hover around 110/72. I took it in the pharmacy area and found that it was 149/87. I went to the hospital, but no one would tell me if that was dangerously high without admitting me to the emergency room. I called an M.D. friend and found out that it wasn't. So I went home and started doing my research.

Paxil withdrawal doesn't cause high blood pressure, but Welbutrin does. So I stopped taking Welbutrin, which I'd been on for a month. Paxil can cause a whole host of symptoms, including lightheadedness and flu-like symptoms. Something else that was strange was that I developed a crick in my neck while coming my hair, and the next week I developed one in the other side of my neck while I was lying down watching TV. Lo and behold--one of the symptoms of Paxil withdrawal is muscle cramps. I never would have believed it if I hadn't had a crick in each side of my neck and a catch/cramp in my back all in the space of ten days. Even now I have to be careful, because I can feel one wanting to develop in my left calf, and when I turn my head, I can feel the one on the right side of my neck returning.

I've sworn off caffeine, which I never drank daily, because I found that it made the lightheadedness worse. And if I ever have anxiety attacks again, I won't go on Paxil or Welbutrin. Welbutrin, I discovered, can cause liver damage, and it doesn't work the way all the other anti-anxiety medications do and is apparently less innocuous. Paxil is apparently the worse SSRI (which seems to be the most common type of anti-anxiety medication) of all. It takes longer to get out of the system and seems to have more side effects when you withdraw. Also, of all the anti-anxiety/depression medications on the markets, Paxil seems to be the worst for causing weight gain. I'd started rapidly putting on weight four years before I started taking Paxil, and I've continued, so I can't blame that on Paxil, but no one who has a problem with weight gain needs to be taking something that can make matters even worse.

The anxiety attacks were so bad that the Paxil was worth it, but now that I've done my research, if it ever happens again, I'll definitely take something else. Be smarter than I was, and when your doctor prescribes something for you, do the research and find out if there's something that might be better for you.

1 comment:

  1. Paxil is really hard to wean off from. It's better if to start medication with another kind of antidepressant than with Paxil.