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How do I stop taking Pristiq?

20 Answers

Official Answer by Drugs.com 16 Jun 2009

You should never stop taking Pristiq abruptly. If you need to stop taking Pristiq, you should do so under the supervision of your doctor and the dose should be reduced gradually (or by taking less frequently if the dose is one pill a day) to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal symptoms of Pristiq include dizziness, nausea, headache, irritability, insomnia, diarrhea, anxiety, fatigue, abnormal dreams, and sweating. The longer you have been taking Pristiq, the more likely you will be to have any of these symptoms. If any of these symptoms occur and are unbearable, your doctor will increase the dose of Pristiq, then gradually start reducing again. Good luck.

Votes: +3
don17097 7 Jul 2011

Since I am on the lowest dose of 50mg od how do I take less frequently?

shanihib 25 Sep 2011

I've wondered it myself. I'm also on the lowest dose. I figure I'll have to space out the pills? I have a meeting with my doctor this week to discuss weaning me off the meds.

Flightrisk 26 Sep 2011

Hi, I have been taking pristiq for almost a year now and I tried to come off my dose (the smallest possible - 50 mg once a day) and had really bad bouts of anxiety, crying, apathy. THe method I used was to stop taking third pill in each 3 day period. So, Monday - take it, Tuesday - take it, Wednesday - skip it. This didn't work. The doctor told me to cut the tablet - which the leaflet says not to do.
I'd love some advice. Thanks :)

shanihib 30 Sep 2011

My doctor just told me to do the same thing today. Cut it in half. While it is supposed to be an extended release pill, it seems to work for his patients.

katstew 14 Jan 2012

My doc prescribed Prohexal to be taken while withdrawing from Cymbalta which is in the same class as Pristiq. It was a tapering procedure over a few weeks and I still had some dizziness but it really helped. I tried cold turkey previously and it was quite awful. Ask your doc about this method. All the best.

thecross4us 3 Sep 2012

Just talked to my Psych about that. I have been on 50 mg. for about a month and she suggested starting by taking it every other day for a few days or a week, then cutting the pill in half for a few more days or a week. Then cut it into a quarter for the same amount of time and then stop. Good luck with that, I am doing the same thing right now. Let me know how it goes. God bless you! @}~>

SusanO 4 Apr 2013

You should really never start this drug without a very in detail discussion with your physician, the reason being, this drug is very powerful and leaves you with a huge array of horrible disgusting side effects that are far worse than any reason you thought you had for taking it in the first place. Talking about it here is a start for you. But you should get help from your congress person or anyone else with some sort of authority because this medicine is dangerous and leaves you with unwanted SE. I have done some independent study and have learned these SE will go on for a very long time, maybe forever. If so, you are damaged and will never be the same in your head. The SE I am having are (today) miniature tambourines banging behind your ears. Yesterday I had what some folks have described as Brain Zaps. This is like having to sneeze in a big way and you wait and wait and wait and then you never sneeze.

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It is also like being in a dark room waiting for someone to arrive for a surprise birthday party. When everyone yells surprise, it never stops and you never know when they might yell again. Now I am having all of it at once, fun? NO. Tolerable, barely. I am a health care professional, and have been for more than 35 years. This is absurd. This drug is a poison, it should be removed from the public. Pfizer, Wyeth are getting rich off the sad unknowing population, the best thing you can do is contact your representative and write tho the FDA. There is website with a form. Put it in writing where it will count, not here. Follow up and be real and very serious about it. You may even want to donate your brain to science to see what kind of damage has actually taken place. Just my take. Be well, here's hoping the surprise part ends soon! Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kia1170 28 Jul 2017

Curious about this too. Been taking for about 6 months. Want to get off meds

Mmcallister11 2 Nov 2017

Every withdrawal symptom you mentioned are the side effects I had while taking this drug. Not a fan of Pristiq.

sherman-a 10 Dec 2017

They make a 25mg pill just for reducing off Pristiq. You doc can order the 25mg pill to help you taper off Pristiq

sherman-a 10 Dec 2017

They make a 25mg pill to help you taper off.

SuzanneGauthier 9 Mar 2018

How do I properly get off two 50s a day to 0? Please help. I no longer have a psychiatrist

sholloway3 14 Jan 2012

I quit pristiq over about a month to six weeks, after taking it for 3 months. I cut tablets in half, then quarters, taking half for a month, then quarter for two weeks, then quarter every second day for another two weeks. Was fine this way.
After 10 months, I am now looking at beginning pristiq again.

Votes: +2
Naz52 24 Jan 2012

I currently take 100mg pristiq and have been for almost 3 years now, I want to stop taking pristiq, My doctor proscribed it for anxiety, Going to the Dr. office is expensive. I went one day with out the pill and I was ok, that was yesterday, today I've had the with drawls and i just took a pill. I will try cutting the pill also, I use to have a 50mg pill in the beginning maybe i should start with cutting in half and so on. Still researching.

mile2102 12 Oct 2012

I agree with sholloway3.
That is the only way to reduse or eliminate the withdrawals.

SusanO 4 Apr 2013

Tablets should never be crushed cut or chewed. They are time release and can make you very ill if taken this way. It does make sense to do it this way but the tabs are not scored, the insert says specifically do not cut.

Kyocum42 14 Apr 2017

I am going to try this method. I have written down the dates on my calendar, when to take 1/2 pill then when to take the 1/4 pill. I have been taking Prestiq for 10 years come this September, my fear is that this will not be very easy for me, but hoping for the best. I have already experienced the side effects of missing several days in a row, my balance goes off and I fall to the side for no reason, my dizziness and headaches start until I get back on the pills. Time for a change, this time doing this slowly.

kataleya 15 Jun 2017

How effective is Prozac w/Pristiq in coming off. My shrink told me to do just that. I haven't started but I have tapered from Pristiq 200 to 50 mg/day. Today I forgot, did not take any, and I have minor head zaps, but major nausea.

babyr0423 14 Jan 2012

I agree strongly with robo. Never just stop taking Pristiq, or you will have horrible withdrawls from it. You have to taper down from it, like shalloway3 was saying. I did that once, and it was no walk in the park. I ended up missing it and getting back on Pristiq. I'm still taking it. Good luck to you, and take care. Ruth

Votes: +3
SusanO 4 Apr 2013

Ruth, I feel so sorry for you. If you are happy great! But that drug could be not so good for you. Some folks have to go on PROZAC to get off Pristiq. can you imagine? Blessings.

Susananddon 23 Sep 2019

I’m taking 50 mg of pristiq for 5 months. How do I taper off?

Susananddon 23 Sep 2019

I’m taking 50 mg of pristiq for 5 months. How do I taper off?

Mary411 18 Apr 2012

Stop taking Pristiq very, very carefully especially if coming off 100mg tablets. I believe my doctor has very good professional credentials but he failed to mention the pitfalls of reducing Pristiq dosages to zero. Withdrawal symptoms are accurately described in the patient information so study them carefully and be prepared for the worse case scenario. I came off 100mg much too quickly and have been miserable for a week. I think I'm through the worst withdrawal symptoms but it has been a rocky road getting to this point. I am determined to exhaust all non-prescription treatments for depression before going back to Pristiq because getting off the drug is so difficult. I believe my depression is more of the seasonal variety (SAD) so my first line of defense when daylight decreases will be a lightbox and exercise.

Has anyone had experience with a lightbox? Did you find it helpful? What is a reasonable cost for such a device? Thank you for any insights on managing depression without becoming dependent on medication.

Votes: +0
SusanO 4 Apr 2013

Go with the light box, also mirrors help if you have a desk away from a window, you can see the window over your back then. Chocolate, exercise can help and distraction. Definitely never take that Pristiq again. (If ever you have a notion to do anything legally against Pfizer/Wyeth, consider me, I am not a litigious person) I am so unhappy my MD failed to tell me the same. I am a health professional and should have known better. Curious, have you ever been able to stop the med? Are you OK? I am in the midst and have tried all sorts of things, mostly distraction helps. The noise and sensations in my brain are horrible, I will no doubt donate my brain to science someday and ask for a review of the damage this drug has permanently caused. I have reported it to the FDA and I suggest you and all others who suffer from this should do the same if they can.

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I am a rational, intelligent, informed person who is not crazy and would like to protect and save others from this horrible thing that has happened. The drug was prescribed to me because I have a disability and the MD must have bought it would alleviate some of my symptoms. Believe me, I like my symptoms now, they are way better than PRISTIQ (the drug from you know where).

PClarkH 21 May 2018

I use one now. My doctor recommended it to be used 20 to 30 minutes a day upon rising. He also recommended against going back for that one more hours sleep. Now I have brought my light to work, since I get no natural light here. I am buying another one to use at home. You can get one on Amazon for $30 to $40.

bwilderlk 10 Nov 2012

I believe I was a depressed baby! I am a 59 year old married mother of 5 and an RN. I started taking Prozac about 20 years ago. Worked wonders for my depression. About 5 years ago, my depression started getting worse and worse. To make it short, I started going to a nurse practitioner at that time. I have been on SO MANY different meds... alone and in combination with others. A couple of months ago I was on Lamictal, Celexa, Pristiq, Adderall, Ambien and Klonopin (prn)... I'm sure spelling is incorrect on some... but all these at the same time! NOTHING worked over a month or so at most. She kept adding and taking away. These are NOT the only meds she tried. I swear! There were times I thought I was going to die... and could very easily have done just that. After a horrible meltdown one Sunday, I started doing some research. I want to be off meds!! I started looking at ECT. I saw her that week and told her what I wanted.

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She took me off everything "cold turkey" except the Pristiq and Ambien. I have started ECT... have had 8 treatments and feel better than I have EVER felt in my whole life... but the problem is Pristiq!!! Withdrawal is horrible!! Was on 50mg a day for 2 1/2 year. Even going one day without is not good, although going to do every other day to start off with. I was NEVER warned about this. Everytime I stand I think my heart is going to explode! I have researched Withdrawal from the drug, and realized that the feeling is very common. I called my pharmacist today, too, for reassurance... otherwise I would have been in ER! I hate this drug! I feel horrible on it, and I know getting off is going to be even worse. Check out ETC. Expensive, but thank GOD my insurance covers it. Good luck!

Votes: +0
SusanO 4 Apr 2013

Wow, ECT? That is serious. But I am happy you are feeling better. I too feel t he same as you. PFIZER/ WYETH should be exposed for what they are. A class action law suit would be appropriate.

PClarkH 21 May 2018

ECT is less frightening and traumatic than you think and many people achieve great results using it. I had it many years ago and I was able to get out of the hospital and off the frightening drugs they had put me on. I have lived long enough with anxiety and depression and a long cocktail of ineffective drugs that I am considering this for myself. Life's too short not to give it a chance.

h-buch 6 Aug 2016

My doctor adviced me to come off pristiq once I know that I'm pregnant. But he is not sure if its safe for me without pristiq during pregnancy, because it depends on me if there is no anxiety during the pregnancy term. But afraid to come off.
I hope someone who has the same problem advice me.

Votes: +0
VJo 8 Sep 2016

Please know that there are potential class-action lawsuits against Pfizer by pregnant Mothers who took Pristiq during pregnancy and had children with birth defects.
I would encourage you to discuss titrating down off Pristiq prior to getting pregnant. The discontinuation can be horrendous. I've been going through it for 3 months. I cannot image being pregnant and titrating down at the same time.

kataleya 15 Jun 2017

If you want to get off, do it only with your doctor's supervision. But don't risk depression and anxiety during your pregnancy. Do whatever it takes: exercise, meditation AND have the doctor prescribe something that works and is ok for pregnancy. It's easy to say try natural things, but if the brain needs help from meds, they are lifesavers. Good luck with a safe, happy pregnancy.

Bettolli14 29 Jan 2018

I took Pristiq 100mg while I was ppregnant and my baby did not have any birth defects. I was worried about her having withdrawal symptoms after birth but she’s been a pretty good and happy baby so far. She is now 5 months.

Tpellets 27 Aug 2016

There is 25 mg dose of Pritiq. I am in the process of coming off Pristique after a few years on doses up to 100 mg. I was on 50 mg and my doctor put me on 25 mg for one month and then Proxac for 10 days. She said this will bring me off Pritiq smoothly.

I know how bad it feels to try to quit this drug. I tried it once and the shocking feelings in my head were terrible.

Check with you Doctor.

Votes: +2
kataleya 15 Jun 2017

Good answer. My doctor also told me to add Prozac and I have not begun. But in the past six months, I have gone from 200 mg to 50mg by s l o w tapering. There is no way around that. Slow is the way to go. Anyone who tries it quickly is in for a SHOCK, literally. Zaps are what we call it, too. My history shows that it is absolutely doable. Be patient all of you struggling to get off.

Tlpousson 16 Sep 2017

After taking the 25's for a month and then the Prozac for 10 days were you ok? How were side effects once on Prozac then off of Prozac? I was on 50 mg Pristiq then 25 mg now cutting the 25 in half. The mood swings (among other things) are horrible... dr said she could give me Prozac to help so I was wondering if it helped you!! This sucks!

shelleygrace 24 Sep 2016

Iv been taking Pristiq now for 2-3 years I'm on 100mg,Iv been coming off them.
It's been really hard,I was working today and had to go home.
Dizzy,tightness in my head,anxiety,feeling jittery,irregular heart beats and feeling as if I'm going to just drop to the floor...
My doctor prescribed this drug for depression and anxiety,but honestly they seem now to be the least of my worries. This is horrible!!! I don't want to be reliant on this drug anymore.
I'm decreasing my dosage under the watch of my doctor,am I coming off too quickly? It's been a 2 week proses off doing 100mg 1 day and then the 2nd day 50mg,I was fine though this proses now I'm just on the 50mg once a day.this is when the symptoms became a lot worse... Iv also quit smoking at the same time. Will I be ok? Will these symptoms pass?

Votes: +1
17-76-62 6 Dec 2016

I was on 100 mg as well. I stopped pristiq by cutting the pill in half, half again, then stopped. I've been off them now for 8 weeks. I went through the nausea, vomiting, headaches, body pains,I still suffer the brain freeze at times, but a lot better. Never again will I use that drug. It's not safe for human consumption. Be strong, you can get off it, positive thoughts. Good luck everyone.

Votes: +0
Kia1170 28 Jul 2017

How long did u cut in half? I've only been on about a year. I've gone from 100to 50 mg already. Wondering how long to taper down?

eleh 29 Dec 2016

I was on 400mg pristine for several years, it was the hardest to come off (I was also taking dothiepin, cymbalta and others that I can't even remember). I stopped because the psychiatrist wanted me to start taking Lamictal despite being 90% sure that I will end up in hospital for stevens-johnson syndrome. The others were easy to taper down but as I'd been on such a high dose of pristine for so long it has really taken its toll on me. I went down slowly to 100mg then stayed on that for a few months, then 50mg for a few months (had to go to my gp for a new prescription - do not cut the tablets in half!)

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A few days ago I forgot a dose and was crying etc so I thought I may as well stop now if I'm already past the mental breakdown, so I was off it for a few days then accidentally took one 50mg by force of habit and then nothing for the last few days. I feel physically awful though, I am so dizzy I feel drunk all the time. I slept for 14 hours last night and I'm just as tired as I have been for the past few days, which is extremely tired. Not sleepy as such, but like if I close my eyes I have the overwhelming feeling I will fall down and sleep for another 10 hours. It making blinking exhausting.

I'm not sure if this is due to pristiq or something else, I'm hoping its the pristiq as I have a family history of MS and vertigo was my mums first symptom. I am not having "brain zaps" I don't think, lots of other people reported that on other websites.

Votes: +1
Egreenleaf 29 Jan 2017

I have been taking 50mg Pristiq for 3 months. My Psychiatrist put me on it for depression and after Zyprexa was causing me sleeping issues. I was hoping this medicine would help but I have been feeling more depressed and sleeping just as much (12-14hrs). All I do is sleep. I want off of it! I hate it. Plus I don't have insurance so it's $345. How can I get off off it myself? Can I cut it down shortly? Can anyone help?

Votes: +0
eleh 29 Jan 2017

Hi, I'm assuming you've asked your GP/psych first about coming off? They are the best ones to help you, they will probably make you try it out for a few weeks first though. $345 though makes me cringe mine were $6 for 4 boxes :/

It will be an awful experience coming off them and I don't feel better without them, I had been on them so long I forgot what it was like to have anxiety. I don't enjoy it but at least my life doesn't revolve around remembering my tablets and then being out for a week if I forget a dose.

Give it a month I'd say and try to keep an open mind, they take a long time to kick in and wear off (which i don't understand why they're so brutal if you forget one) but then tell your prescribing doctor how you feel. Keep a sleep/mood diary to show them. Hope this helps!

kataleya 15 Jun 2017

Just talk to your shrink. If you hate it, it is not working after 3 months, and too expensive, it is probably not right for you. Even after only 3 months, get your doctor's supervision to get off it. Good luck.

Uplifting 15 Feb 2017

Very slowly. It's absolutely possible. Please check out dr Kelly brogdan's work. Her book: A mind of one's own. She specializes with medication tapering.

Votes: +0
Bellamia86 12 May 2017

Hello!

I have been taking Pristiq since the age of 23. I am 31 years old. I have been on the lowest dose (50mg) and have never increased. I always taken my Pristiq consistantly at night. I have tried countless times to get off of it and it was horrible with the discontinuation effects. I have consulted with many pharmacists. My brother-in-law is a pharmacist and my cousin is also a pharmacist. They have commented that this is also one of the most expensive medications for anxiety and depression because of it's special time release capabilities.

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I would suggest, if you are looking at going off of it, try it as many times as you can, even if you have to retake it because the withdrawal effects are too much. This medication is about building strength in understanding the withdrawal effects and being prepared to mentally withstand the withdrawal effects. I have tried countless times and I have to say that I am mentally and physically ready. I believe that this medication has helped me in many great ways, but in order to have a baby one day, I cannot be on this medication in fear of birth defects. This medication has done it's job and I am grateful that it exists but not so happy that it will hurt to go off of it.
In my many trials of going off Pristiq, I was told to take it every second day - I realized this just played pingpong with my brain and I felt horrible. So I took it consistantly again because I was not ready to handle the withdrawal effects. I did this countless times because I was told never to split the medication because it is time release and it would get into my system too quickly and wear off too soon.
I gained courage again and attempted again but this time, with a consistent follow up with a pharmacist that told me that with antianxitey antidepressant medication, it is all about milestones. What is your goal in coming off this medication? The best solution I have come up with this is this medication has served me for the time I needed it, my goal now is that I am feeling ready to see if I can manage with out it. I look at it positively with the goal that I want to be free of any brain stabilizing medication so I can have a healthy baby.

After bouncing around how I am to do this, I decided I will split the medication. At least it is getting into my system, maybe it will wear off, but at least it won't be as bad as not taking it completely. I bought myself a good pill cutter at the pharmacy and I decided to keep taking my medication at night.

Today is day 22 of splitting my 50mg Pristiq. At the beginning I felt a little weird, but it was completely tolerable. I knew it was something I was mentally prepared to deal with. If you are a woman, PMS is a factor you must configure in as well because hormones can play with your brain. Ask yourself this question: are my tears horomonally induced or chemically induced? Keep staying strong that is the key. Keep reminding yourself that it is completely normal the feelings you are feeling.
I am working with the 12-step model of recovery and doing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is a God-send. It is helping my to process and thinking this through.
For anyone reading this - I have been reading forums and journals about how to get off this medication. I felt it was my duty and service to say my journey with Pristiq. I hope it has helped you. Remember that this medication has helped me when I needed it, and I thank it for doing it's job.

Votes: +1
eleh 18 Jun 2017

I'm glad that worked for you :) I never split mine because of the time release and the side effects were awful for 3 months but I also was coming off other meds at the time so I can't say it was all Pristiq. I seem to be doing okay now, so far so good!

Bellamia86 2 Jul 2017

That's great! It isn't easy. I am now 6 weeks off of Prestiq. I get a bit of vertigo from time to time but a'll of that to say, it's amazing I have no more heavy duty withdrawal effects. It's a miracle.

PClarkH 21 May 2018

Congratulations. I hope you can live and drug free and happy life.

Lilah25 2 Jul 2017

I was on 100mg for 4 years. I cut down to 50mg with quite a bit of ease. There were a few sleepless nights and irritability but this passed. I stayed on this dose for a year trying to find the "right time" to get off the medication.

Just over a month ago I ran out of my meds and due to a bit of financial hardship I had to go without for 3 days. This was extremely hard. Mood swings, zaps, nausea, jittery, shakes etc
Once I had the dose I was alright but I used this as a push.
For the past month I have been doing one day on one day off.
The first week was hard but eventually got easier I was able to attend work and just push on.

Now I am going 2 days off one day on. It's slow but I have decreased and don't feel like I need it to survive. It's just a very long process. During this I have avoided alcohol completely kept social calls to a minimum etc the main thing is to ensure there are destructions and to just push through.

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I need to see my doctor again to find out how long to do the 2 days off one day on for but I am starting to see light. Hopefully it continues.

Ps. Since taking pristiq have kept the same diet yet ended up with fatty liver - weird coincidence?

Votes: +0
justmoca 27 Nov 2017

I'm in the process of tapering off after being on Pristiq 100mg for 5 years. It has helped me with my PMSD over the years but need to stop taking because I can no longer afford it. I'm currently alternating 50mg and 25mg each day for 30 days and will be cycling another 30 days with 25mg daily, then every other day for 30 days, then every 2nd day for 30 days. The withdrawal effects are definitely impacting my day to day activities (tinnitus, crying, helplessness, brain zaps, dizziness, unmotivated, insomnia, etc.) but I'm determined to discipline myself from taking this anymore no matter how severe these effects get. How long did your doctor keep you on the every 2nd day dose before you stopped? How have you felt since stopping? Any lingering withdrawal side effects?

DonePristiq 2 Mar 2018

I have been taking Pristiq for nearly 2 years and antidepressants for about 20 years. Pristiq worked for a few months but then the side effects began but dr encouraged me to stay on. Almost a year ago I found an Integrative Psychiatrist who is adamant that in most cases drugs are not the answer and are harmful to the body. I agree. I've been tapering off Pristiq 50 by taking 1 every other day for 10 days, then skipping 2 days and now skipping 3. Ive been having the classic withdrawal symptoms (dizziness, tinnitus, bad dreams, brain zaps, cold sweats, etc.) which are like worsened side effects but are gradually becoming less severe. I swear I will never take this drug again. It's brutal. The most helpful thing leading up to stopping it and getting through the withdrawals is mindfulness meditation. You don't have to be of any faith group, you just learn to change your thinking processes.

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A good app for learning this practice is called insight timer. They have a wealth of teachers who will guide you at no charge. Also while on Pristiq I was very drowsy and could not function before noon. I am now up and alert at 8:00 thanks to starting to get this drug out of my system. Also I find Tylenol really helps reduce the brain zaps.

Votes: +0
PClarkH 21 May 2018

I can confirm the side effect sleepiness. I wake up every morning and don't want to get out of bed. I am pretty much useless at work. I am weaning my self off Pristiq, maybe a little too fast, but I don't think I feel any worse than I did when I was taking it every day. I hope to adopt more natural therapies like nutrition, exercise, meditation and a good nights sleep. Thanks for sharing.

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