Fluoxetine / sertraline / mirtazapine / citalopram: new withdrawal survey


CEP is pleased to support a new research project undertaken by a prominent UK university which will assess the impact of withdrawal from four common antidepressants: fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral), mirtazapine (Remeron, Zispin) and citalopam (Cipramil, Celexa).

The researchers have asked us to help identify the most common withdrawal symptoms from these drugs so that their questionnaire is better able to distinguish between withdrawal symptoms and pre-existing symptoms. Please only select symptoms which did not exist before withdrawal, or which existed before but were significantly worse following withdrawal.

If you have taken one or more of these drugs, and have experienced negative effects during or after withdrawal from them, then we would be most grateful if you could take this online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CPCCKCD.

17 Responses to Fluoxetine / sertraline / mirtazapine / citalopram: new withdrawal survey

  1. kiwi 25/09/2015 at 11:53 am #

    Why is seroxatparoxetine/paxil left off the list. In 2001 the WHO listed this as the most difficult drug to get off off all prescribed drugs.with number 2 venlafaxine.
    It seems ‘odd, strange, unusual and unfortunate’ to have overlooked this one especially in light of recent events.

  2. Laura 25/09/2015 at 12:04 pm #

    Helpful for filling out the survey:
    You can drag the items up and down by clicking on the 6 little dots on the left, holding the mouse button pressed and dragging the items up and down.

  3. Laura 25/09/2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Could the survey also include how long the withdrawal lasted? It would be such a good opportunity to shed light on the long, debilitating, life destroying duration of withdrawal.

    • Sandra Villarreal 25/09/2015 at 3:10 pm #

      Yes, it really doesn’t give us opportunity to say just how life destroying the withdrawals were. While taking Klonopin, side effects, adverse reactions, and tolerance withdrawals robbed 7 years of my life while doctors were busy concluding that my withdrawal symptoms were my ‘underlying’ mental illness surfacing when this was the furthest thing from the truth. I never had symptoms this bad until I took the drugs for years, and years until they almost killed me.

  4. Norma Brooke 25/09/2015 at 12:59 pm #

    I was put on Mirtazapine 8yrs ago by a Phsychiatrist,who I believe now thought I was suffering Depression because of chronic IBS. I now realise what a mistake that was on his behalf,as I was not Deppressed I was upset at suffering chronic pain.Back then I put my trust in the medical Profession ,but not any more I question everything now.
    Back to the Mirtazapine I was put on 45mg to start,when I was starting to withdraw I reached 15mg,when I had an unfortunate stay in Hostpital to which I almost lost my life,when I was in there they put the Mirtazapine up to 30mg,why I don’t know.

    Anyway 6-7yrs on and I’m still trying to withdraw,but I’ve only reached 15mg because my stomach pain is almost unbearable,so I’m now stuck at 15mg,I don’t think I will ever be free of it,and I know I’m not alone. So my withdrawal is Severe Stomack pain, Anger issues,Brain zaps,Nausea,and Cramps,Spasams,and a Lack of Concentration.
    I believe it’s the worst drug I ever tried to Withdraw from without success.

  5. Sandra Villarreal 25/09/2015 at 2:56 pm #

    Please do a survey for Klonopin withdrawal. And other psychiatric drugs. I have withdrawn from other drugs as well: Effexor, Trazodone & Lithium and became so psychotic from the withdrawal symptoms for over 5 months I had to be hospitalized. But the true horror and psychosis was from Klonopin ‘cold turkey’ withdrawal.

  6. Susanne 25/09/2015 at 4:49 pm #

    And please do a survey in the future for escitalopram. I have shared your survey on a swedish Facebook page where people try to quit antidepressant. I hope they will and can contribute.

  7. j.hill 25/09/2015 at 7:01 pm #

    A survey of benzo prescribed drugs as a whole class is indicated. Benzo withdrawal may have some elements on common with other psycho-active drugs, but its prominent mode of action is different from other drug classes. Benzos need to be studied apart from other drugs.

    Current studies usually have obvious flaws. One study concluded that the use of an anticonvulsant during an 11 day benzo withdrawal caused a successful benzo “taper”. How could anyone conclude this? First real benzo-dependent people were not the experimental group. They were ordinary people put on a benzo for six weeks and declared to be benzo-dependent and suitable subjects to test a withdrawal. Of course they were well post benzo withdrawal . They were not dependent at pre-withdrawal.

    Another flaw is the standard of recovery. If, at the conclusion of a study, the subjects were asked if they had symptom A,B, or C and they did not, they were pronounced asymptomatic. However, if they had symptom X,Y, or Z, well that was not asked or recorded.

    These are obvious study construction flaws. The study of benzo withdrawal is in need of a complete “do-over”.

    Medical providers claim that the withdrawal is composed only of psychological symptoms. This is absolutely false. The idea that normal life always is possible when withdrawing from a benzo also is false. The withdrawal can be both physical and emotional, and it can be both torture and torment.

    Those who survive would be pleased to feel that they are doing something to study the carnage. Involuntary commitment of those experiencing extreme psychological withdrawal symptoms really does happen in many countries.

  8. kiwi 25/09/2015 at 10:53 pm #

    I felt Glenmullen had a good checklist with 58 symptoms.
    Also there is:



    Dont forget decimated testosterone producing ability

    being rendered a non functioning human for several years

    traumatization/terrorization -spending many hours over 2 years on the floor wanting to die! It was a daily battle of survival starting in the early hours of the morning lasting throughout the day and receding somewhat in the evening.

    Having your brain turn against you and persecute you /crucify you/torment you in respect of any past errors or mistakes filling you with off the scale guilt and remorse and trying to get you to kill yourself because of them.

    overwhelming desire to cut your wrists then after surviving that it was an overwhelming desire for many months to hang myself then after surviving that it was an overwhelming desire to jump off a bridge or drive the car into oncoming traffic then after surviving that it was wanting to shoot myself…funny never was suicidal or depressed ever prior to being given paroxetine.

    weakening in strength of voice

    I feel all these withdrawal checklists are unable to convey the sense of terror that is felt and went on for in my case several years. I am still suffering withdrawal symptoms and i am 5 years drug free.

    I am very thankful for the work CEP is doing.

  9. Steve Hawkins 26/09/2015 at 3:29 am #

    You should be asking for both positive and negative experiences of withdrawal. It is quite bad enough that the drug cos are selectively biased, without the ‘good guys’ doing the same!

    I actually had bad experiences with both seroxat and mirtazapine. They both made me trip like on LSD every time I got hungry, and then a big surge after eating. Mirtazapine was so bad during a pub lunch that I had to leave and lie down till I stopped seeing stars. I had been warned not to stop taking the drug suddenly, but it was impossible to get a doctor’s appointment for several weeks, so I just stopped. It took a few days for the effects to wear off, but there was no adverse effect from stopping: Quite the opposite! I had no problem stopping the seroxat either: it just took longer to wear off, but had not been so bad to start with.

    I would not touch either of those with a bargepole ever again. I had tried both LSD and psilocybin in my college days, so knew what a drugged brain could ‘look like’, but these were much worse. If I had not had this prior experience, these ‘medicines’ could have frightened me to death, or made me run under a car in panic.

    We are all told to give these drugs time to start working: ie. to keep taking them even if we feel no benefit, until it then takes months to get them out of our systems again. This seems like a deliberate ploy to get people hooked, if you ask me. If a drug is any good, it’s going to work within an hour or so: if it doesn’t: it’s a con. Who would take paracetamol, if there was only a promise that it might cure your headache in a month or two? Nobody: So why do we let the drug cos con us into taking substances that do nothing but slowly damage our brains?!

  10. Valerie 26/09/2015 at 4:17 am #

    I was given sertraline many years ago, I would not have taken it if I had known I would never be able to stop taking it.

    I have tried a few times but even just reducing by a quarter tablet a day makes me feel strange and ill.

    The feeling is very hard to describe, last time I tied to carry on with adjusting to 1 quarter less thinking I would adjust/settle eventually, but it went on for so long I gave up and went back to full dose again.

    I only take 40mg per day, but as I have M.E. that is probably a high dose for my body to deal with.

  11. Anonymous 26/09/2015 at 11:12 pm #

    So people who suffered from Escitalopram/Lexapro/.. withdrawal can’t take part in this survey?

  12. Melissa Pring 27/09/2015 at 1:05 am #

    I suffer worse now and dosage so much higher than it was when depression and stress became too much, I am on citalopram plus it seems M.E and CFS plus chronic pain disease are all what I am and panic attacks are out of control, I no longer socialise, lost my job, no longer go into garden asdont want to speak to neighbours and unless it an emergency I dont leave my house, I cant answer telephone calls or speak on phone and I never answer if someone knocks front door.
    I have always been a people person, loved my job and its all stripped me of myself, my fun attitude.
    Havent slept in same bed as partner for 20 months, it impacting on everyone and we wont save our relationship from what this illness and meds have damaged.
    This existence is a waste of human life as its no quality of life at all, many times I have thought suicidal temptation and I cant impact that on my kids and my mother .

  13. Polly 21/10/2015 at 7:32 pm #

    I didn’t have a chance to fill in this survey, but would have liked to contribute. I took Citalopram at just 10mg and when I suffered documented withdrawal effects I was told they were impossible, due to the dose.
    I also took escitalopram at 10mg and the withdrawal effects were far, far worse and very long lasting.
    Both of the drugs at the stated doses have produced cardiac rhythm disturbances and autonomic nervous system disturbances in withdrawal. These have been diagnosed by my doctors using current information on antidepressant side effects. Which has meant that my concerns have been trashed and my symptoms misinterpreted as part of known cardiac conditions. This has had negative effects on my treatment and my overall health – both physical and mental.
    It is time for delayed and protracted withdrawal effects to be recognised. The consequences of misdiagnosis are significant.
    I got treated with a pacemaker and my concerns dismissed as medication anxiety.

    Something has to be done. Please contact me for further information on this drug and it’s cardiac effects in withdrawal. They matter !

  14. j.hill 06/04/2016 at 1:27 am #

    I had much of the experience that Stave Hawkins describes. I suddenly stopped many antidepressants and found immediate relief from their deleterious effects. I had no withdrawal syndrome at all.
    I even C/t’ed 1.0mg of Alprazolam with no problem.

    Does any of this mean that there are not ugly and life-destroying withdrawal effects for billions of people? It does not. Billions of predatory prescribing victims do suffer, and an unknown number die.

    Was I an oddly lucky patient to have discontinued so easily? No, I was not. When I was prescribed Ativan, 1.0mg. almost a hear later things went badly without discontinuing it. I’ll omit the years the followed to get to the point.

    Having taken a benzo previously, even though I was not made dependent then, sensitized me to benzo withdrawal with a later exposure. I found nothing but falsehood and ad lib excuses where help ought to have been. The second benzo withdrawal was, indeed life-threatening. I found no valid information in modern medicine or internet help-sites. I was dropped by medical providers because I refused to submit to psychiatric treatment for a case of physical drug damage. I consider my improper treatment for benzos to be have been a subclinical poisoning.

    I lived only because to dropped out of medical sight and “discontinued” benzos very differently while using no additional drugs. Benzo-lore is what we get. Medical discussions seem mostly medical-gossip lacking science. “How do you know?’ is an essential question. Not every statement from medicine originates in science.

    I now know that ;lack of suffering of one person does not mean that hideous suffering is not the fate of others. When people say that they are suffering, they are.

  15. David Brown 12/09/2016 at 10:39 pm #

    I am in protracted withdrawal from 8 years of 45 mg mirtazapine. My third attempt to get off the drug was due to cardiac rhythm problem, and was ordered by my cardiologist. It has been over two years. My main symptom that is left is severe abdominal spasms and pain. And, I have had every test there is, including colonoscopy, abdominal CT scans, and blood work. I know that this is over, but I hope that this is posted, and anyone with a similar problem let me know. My last dose was 12/11/15, 3,75 mg. I am laying in be in awful pain right now. The thing about the protracted issue was that I was improving daily, then one morning I woke feeling like it was in the middle of the worst of it. Twice I had to go back on it because I couldn’t take the pain, but now I can’t because of the heart rhythm problem. I am taking 1 mg Ativan, 4 times a day prescribed by my GI doc. Now if time takes care of getting me better from the protracted mirtazapine withdrawal, I will have the Ativan to taper from, and I am afraid of it. My best wishes to all who are suffering.

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