Sleep Problems After Stopping Antidepressants?

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November 5, 2019 | 193 Comments


  1. annie says:
    October 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    In 2002, Seroxat cold-turkey, one every other day for two weeks and then stop…worse than cold-turkey actually, up down, up down, up down…

    My GP thought I had sleep apnoea and an appointment with a sleep specialist meant I rigged myself up with the machine at home. The results came back normal.

    I could have told them that, but, you know, how you do, go along with their suggestions, or else, they get cross..

    I was barely awake for the two years of withdrawal, two withdrawals consecutively, almost vegetative in state, but, for the shocking vivid nightmares that would jolt me awake from a short benzo respite. Comatose for almost two years. I was almost unaware that two years had passed.

    I was incredibly fit and healthy prior to Seroxat withdrawal.
    Bed was at bed-time; books were at bed-time, and then zzzzzzzz til the next morning for another action-packed day with my child, my labrador, my exciting days ..

    After the second withdrawal, I would sleep all evening whilst we were watching tv. Nodding off.
    At the cinema, Harry Potter, even, my daughter, thrilled, I missed it all, a deep sleep.

    I had virtually no sound or light for two years.
    No radio, no tv, no books, small bursts of company and that was it.

    The sleep problem, for me, from Seroxat, was an enormous issue.
    There was no circadian-rythm, zilch, zero.

    This is still somewhat problematic.
    Too much stimulation and I can become exhausted, hence, tv is very limited.

    I was acutely aware, with a teenager, just us, that I had to fight the need to want to continually go to sleep, and sometimes, I used to feel on the verge of being sick, just to try and be what should have been my normal self and stay up, for her.

    This sleep problem is nothing to do with being ‘tired’.
    It is a complete draining and almost impossible to fight.

    So glad you have brought up this detrimental condition, brought on by, for me, Seroxat.

    • I am in my second week of being completely off Lexapro. I took about two months slowly weening myself off the drug, down to 5mg from 10mg… 20mg I was a zombie. I slept so well on Lexapro, like my head would hit the pillow and bam! I was asleep 20 mins later. Even the 5mg put me to sleep, but since stopping the antidepressant I have begun to experience horrible insomnia. Tonight I am not even able to sleep at all, even after herbal medication etc. If I had known how bad the insomnia was going to be I may have not come off the drug.

      Be warned: withdrawing off antidepressants can be a bumpy ride!

      • Has it gotten any better now? You are right that it’s a difficult path. I’m in the midst of weaning off of Pristiq and nights are bad.

      • I too am weaning from lexapro. I took a pill every other day for a couple weeks then every two days then three days then stopped. I’ve been 100% free for about 50-60 days. I can get to bed just fine 90% of the time. It’s STAYING ASLEEP that I struggle. I’m up almost every hour at least two times within an hour. I’ve been taking melatonin and it’ll keep me out for about 2-3 hours if I’m lucky but then I’m finding myself waking up so much. I don’t want to take it again considering how hard it was getting off it. But it’s making me miserable.

        • My exact same issue coming off paxil. Sleep was NEVER an issue before antidepressants. I slept a great 8 hrs. I’m 5 months completely weaned and I feel hopeless and in despair. People NEED sleep to function. Antidepressant withdrawal sucks, and Drs are clueless IDIOTS!

  2. About one month ago I took Zoloft, one pill and a half. Unbelievably, it took me more than three weeks to recover physically, my main problems being insomnia and genital numbness/complete loss of libido/emotional numbness. I can say that physical issues are now resolved, except maybe occasional teeth grinding during the night but this almost disappeared now as well. Still surprised how powerful these drugs can be. I think it has been fashionable until very recently to not believe to what certain patients (psychiatric, women, etc.) have to say, because our experience is ”subjective” and we are just making things up anyway, we are being “too sensitive”, “typical women”, IT IS ALL IN OUR HEAD …
    Thanks again for writing this blog!

    • hello sarah i started taking paroxaltine for a panic attack from cannabis dont know why they thought id need something crazy like paxil for basically one episode anyways i only took it for 5 days and it seemed like hell sore chest blurry vision and left foot near pinky toe and arm pain between my thumbs also started then seemed to have went away after i discontinued thank god.

      however i also had numbness in both my legs the glutes seemed like severe cramps and pain it kinda stopped when i discontinued cold turkey a few days ago however i seem to have cramps off and on in my left leg glutes doctor says try tomato juice which i doubt that works coming off ssri meds maybe for a person with a fairly normal body.

      i am also experiening genital numbness as you described and trouble sleeping i am a 37 year old male fairly healthy i hope these 3 problems will go away eventually or soon i wonder if any other males have dealt with this?

      is there anything i can do to help myself start sleeping again such as taking antihistamines like benyadril or hydroxzine or trying to restart cannabis maybe something with less thc if anyone has some solutions let me know

      • I believe you may be experiencing PSSD. Genital numbness is a hallmark symptom. There are a lot of Facebook groups and forums out there for support on PSSD and adverse reaction to medications and psychiatric meds. Hope they can be of help to you. From what I’ve read anectdotally, some heal from PSSD and some do not. Sending prayers and well wishes.

  3. When I stopped Seroxat after 13 years use I had insomnia so bad I slept for two hours a night for 18 months I honestly thought I’d never sleep again. I was terrified even in the day where I hadn’t slept the night before I still couldn’t sleep while this was happening I lost two and a half stone I looked like the walking dead. I remember vividly being so weak I struggled to lift a shopping bag one day how I survived it I don’t know I have people I lived with witness all what happened and one person that basically was there for me for years who saw it all she saved my life as far as I’m concerned and had never seen me like this. Before taking and coming off seroxat I’d never had a bad nights sleep in all the years off my life while this was happening I would get shocks through my head all through the night sometimes at night it would be so bad I’d jump out off bed and land on the floor the person I lived with next door to my bedroom would come in because she would hear it. Sometimes i would jump up and be clinging to the head board it was terrifying. After 18 months I started to sleep some nights but was getting zapped shocked for the next five years intermittently with my jaw gurning at times I’m sure coming of seroxat sparked off some kind off seizures it was the worse thing I have ever experienced. I would also get similar feelings in the day I went for MRI EEG saw a couple off neurologists told migraines ( load off b@@@@cks) this all started when stopping seroxat.I sleep okay better now I’ve been off seroxat over seven years but still have occasional bouts off insomnia that last about a week which I can tolerate. I was told I have fibromyalgia in 2017 when a sudden onset off body pain that hasn’t left came on I’m convinced this came on after the shock off the whole withdrawal process insomnia hundreds off other symptoms that has taken years and I’m still not better far from it but I’m alive. I had zaps to my brain for seven years after stopping with the worst off them being at night I remember speaking to one guy when I was desperately searching on line for info when I was in the thick off it and he had took seroxat and stopped and said he hadn’t slept for more than 3 hours a night for 3 years. It might not sound humanly possible but I know what happened to me and when I say I slept for two hours a night if I was lucky for 18 months I really did it was hell and people I live with witnessed it all this is my story.

    • I believe you Karl. I believe you that the sleep problems were caused by Seroxat. What you have been through sounds very difficult, and i hope you are getting some relief now. I have had my own lingering problems from Citalopram, and to some extent benzodiazepines.

      A lot of my family really don’t understand what has happened to me, and some are skeptical symptoms can linger on like this. It has caused a lot of bad feeling within my family, and a lot of them feel i just need to get on with life, and are critical of my time being unemployed during my years withdrawing off benzodiazepines.

      Not being believed by the medical profession is bad enough, but not being believed by my own family was a double blow.

      • Thankyou Spruce family members or everyday people couldn’t comprehend the severity off an adverse outcome off stopping these pills so I know it’s hard but even your own family might not understand. I wouldn’t off untill it happened to me I think if I’d off been a heroin addict it would off been alot easier to get off and over quicker.
        I believe that when symptoms last year’s it’s damage not withdrawal I’m definitely better than I was and work a few days a week and every day’s hard i’m still symptomatic and don’t believe I’ll ever recover fully it’s been nearly eight years I’ve been drug free. Think I’ll still improve but I’m alive and that’s something I trusted my GP was given a tablet for panic attacks and was left maimed when I stopped I thought panic attacks were bad when I was young but when you come off this stuff you realise what insanity realy is and then it physically does you at the same time for good measure.
        Couple off things I’ll add don’t dream much since stopping pills use to dream alot before and had vivid dreams while on the drug.

        • Thanks Karl.

          You mentioned in your first post you had brain zaps for 7 years after coming after Seroxat.

          I was wondering if this has now completely resolved for you, i.e you had the zaps for 7 years after coming off Seroxat, but then somewhere in the 7th year or so off, they stopped etc.

          Is this correct?

          • Hi Spruce was just visiting this article again after this week being terrible for brain zaps when drifting off to sleep still getting them 8 years off Seroxat. They are severe but what I will say is there episodic Now can have them terrible for a fortnight and then have a period off months without have a single zap sorry for late reply hope your well.

        • Hey Karl I am currently going through the same situation as you. I get around 3 hours sleep every night with terrible brain zap shocks that wake me up night. I also get really bad twitching in my legs, arms and even my kneck I’m wondering if the brain zaps ever went away I can’t deal with it anymore all I want is a good nights sleep for once ;(

      • I can empathize with struggles with family members not believing the trials and tribulations of going through benzo withdrawals. I was on Valium for 5 years, up to 30 mg, the next psychiatrist refused to give me Valium and my sleep went to 0 hours. In the last 10 years I’ve been getting 0-2 hours of sleep a night and most of the time my sleep has to be induced my NyQuil or some prescribed meds all, of which, only last a short period of time.

        • Are you feeling better? I have a friend who is going through this and I don’t know how to help, she is seeing a counselor but seems like he is not helping

    • I am so glad to have come across this article. I thought i was going crazy from nightmares and insomnia. If I was told I would have been told how bad Paxil withdrawals were going to be I don’t think I would have ever started. The other thing that bothers me is that my doctor to me how to wing off this drug but nothing about possible side affects. I really think that knowing I’m not the only one experiencing all the side affects will me help going forward.
      Thanks for sharing!

      • I came off Paxil 9 months ago. My psychiatrist said it would be no problem. I was on Paxil for 27 years. They just kept upping the does each time a major trauma happened. They said I could cut the pills in half and every 2 weeks cut them again. Wrong. It was way too fast! I am paying the price. I have been hauled in on (3) suicides. I sometimes go days without sleeping. When I do sleep it is only 1-2 hours. I feel like I am dying. I was also on benzos that never worked after coming off Paxil. Some worked one night, others made me extremely anxious. I can not work. My family does not understand. Neither do the doctors and there have been many of them. Today, I am shaking, like cold inside my bones. I am so exhausted and have barely slept more that 6 hours in 8 days.

      • Hi Steven, I agree with you. I wish my doctor had also communicated withdrawal symptoms with me or at least been a bit more empathetic when I explained my symptoms. I usually get a “it’s not withdrawal. It’s you.”

        How are you doing now that a few years have past? Reply.

  4. One more thing too add I’m sure this whole ordeal I have gone through has left me with some kind off PTSD I often fear what happened to me insomnia/zaps having to go through it again which I couldn’t I know it’s sounds strange but sometimes I can’t believe what i went through and don’t now how I survived years off constant torture every minute off the day. I don’t trust many doctors and scared off taking any pills in any form. I suffer from burning and tingling feet at night and feeling hot I thing it’s all related and all started with stopping the tablets i refuse to give up and when I’m having a better. day I make the most off it. Any way off to bed nice to be able to kip without being electrocuted for a change ( touch wood) ?

  5. Thank you.

    Very important area of additional ADR injury.
    Our loved-one has markedly dysfunctional “sleep” pattern after cascade of inappropriate and unnecessary psychotropic drugs.

    Also nightmares – night-terrors re-living the great cruelty, and absence of empathy in none-caring establishments.

    Started eight years ago with inappropriate SSRIs for normal, new job/exam stress. Never ever depressed.

    Serial AKATHISIA misdiagnosis resulted in multi-systems iatrogenic injuries.
    Each new series of ADRs misdiagnosed as “Emergent M.H. Disorders”.

    Endured protracted, multiple, intense withdrawal syndromes – also misdiagnosed.

    Now well over six years off all medication. Multiple legacy issues.

    “Never had mental illness”: – Confirmed by greatly respected specialist.

    Tragic. Shameful prescribing.
    Labelled for life via ignorance of real psycho-pharmacology, yet
    fights on with great resilience, amazing humour and immense courage.

    “Each new psychiatrist only sees the injuries caused by the previous psychiatrist”.

    Psychotropic adverse drug reactions (ADRs) routinely misdiagnosed as “M.H. Disorders”.
    Prescribers largely lack understanding, awareness and skill in identifying and managing AKATHISIA.

    Denial of SSRI/SNRI/AD withdrawal syndromes. Rejection of PSSD – PGAD.
    Denial of AKATHISIA induced suicidality.
    Unaware of SSRI induced increase in alcohol intake et al. et al.

    Doctors and coroners in denial.

  6. I’ve never taken an SSRI or antipsychotic but I watched my son in the two months before he ended his own life, struggling with such horrendous waking dreams, that he dared not sleep in the end. The horrors he described in this semi dream state were unbelievably awful. He became terrified to even close his eyes. He had the brain zaps Karl and Annie describe. In the end, he felt there was no way to escape this unceasing terror so he died.

    The prescribed drugs involved, during those two months, given to him in quick and unmonitored succession, were Citalopram, Zoplclone, venlafaxine, Sertraline and Olanzapine. I have never witnessed such suffering. My mother died in pain from cancer but she was cared for and treated with understanding and practical kindness. My son was treated with contempt and no understanding whatsoever. There was no way he could hold on and stay alive, they had made him feel as though he was mad. There was no honesty. He was effectively thus murdered.

    • Heather,

      Symptoms like these can be scary, horrible and quite unbearable at times. Lack of knowledge about how to resolve these issues is one thing but a lack of belief, empathy and guidance to try and help ameliorate your son’s symptoms was cruel and unacceptable. I feel terribly for the pain you’ve suffered and for the loss of your son.

      • I agree too with Jayme, Heather. The way the medical establishment treats people who have adverse reactions to prescription drugs, can be shockingly bad.

        It is totally unacceptable, and has on its own, independently of the adverse reactions, led to loss of life (I know of two people with PSSD who were tipped over the edge into suicide because of the nasty reactions they received when trying to get help for PSSD).

        It has to change.

        I am also very sorry for your loss Heather. The doctors dealing with your son had a duty of care, which they failed spectacularly to live up to. That should be on their conscience.

        At a minimum it was manslaughter, if not murder. The medical establishment has a lot of blood on its hands.

    • So yet another day without sleep can not sleep wish I never took anti depressants… I’m not depressed… Anixeity through the roof…. Comes and goes not in my head but my body… Anyone that goes through this your not alone… Feel like we are just test tubes…. Going to doctors…. As I can’t stand it no more not being able to sleep… 8 thought in time it would get easier.. Yet my own self study shows that, I am now no longer able to sleep… When i did sleep, I thought brilliant I’m actually doing this gunner free myself from the grips of pharmaceutical company drugs…. 4weeks just 4 weeks it’s not got better its got worse…. The last week I would sleep eventually then a whole night in the dark no phone or TV on…. Yet still not able to produce the chemical to go to sleep…. I was having a panic attack this last night… Felt like.. Well its almost undescribable….. I could breath yet felt it wasn’t enough…. Felt like I was waiting for my body to just shutdown… On a scary rola-coaster I just couldn’t get off…if only doctors knew the side affects of these drugs… I’m pretty sure I will never be “normal” again…. #antidepressant

    • Omgoodness… Im on citalopram 40 mg eachday and if i accidently miss a dose i get bad leg cramps, nightmares and sleep paralysis. This is really scary. Im terrified to stop taking my antidepressants now. What do i do???

  7. Weed is the only thing that I can rely on when it comes to my insomnia and pssd related depression. Doctor suggested I take lorazepam for sleep, quickly rejected not taking another pill ever again. Finding the right strain of weed is the difficult part as some completely do the opposite and make my pssd worse.
    I also find that high stress levels increase pssd symptoms especially my emotional blunting, and insomnia.
    Weed, meditation and a low stress job is what I found helps me the most.

  8. Before starting to use an antidepressant at my 20s (Zoloft, at that time, for diagnosed dysthymia and bulimia) I always had problems to get into sleep at night (mostly because of ruminant thoughts) and, of course, to wake up early in the morning. I was that kind of teenager that could sleep the whole day on weekends and stay awake all night. After starting it, the ruminant thoughts became much better (and the bulimia was almost gone), so it was easier for me to fall asleep, but it was even harder to wake up in the morning. I`ve tried to switch to other antidepressants because of side effects, but sleep was always an issue (too much sleep with some or insomnia with others). Then I changed to venlafaxine (75 mg) more than 10 years ago. Depression and anxiety symptoms improved, it was a little bit easier to wake up in the morning, but not easy to fall asleep (I would describe it as some sort of RLS; bruxism is also a problem). And I have to sleep for 10 hours to feel like a normal human being. 50 mg of trazodone works really well for me, so I fall asleep in less than 45 min. But waking up in the morning is always a sacrifice.

    When I got pregnant (9 years ago), I had to taper off venlafaxine in only 2 weeks. Of course, it was tragic. Long walks under the sunlight in the morning, acupuncture, homeopathy, psychotherapy, praying, massage, nothing worked. The brain zaps got better after 2 weeks, but insomnia got much worse. It was a much worse version of RLS, or akathisia (if you prefer). I was so tired that I couldn`t keep my eyes opened, but every time I have finally dragged into sleep something inside would wake me up in the next minute. This process persisted the whole night and only at the beginning of the morning I could sleep in peace, but for only 1 or 2 hours. Depression symptoms came hard after that and when I reached the 12o pregnancy week, my doctors and I decided that it was better to take a half dose of Zoloft until after giving birth. After 2 days my sleep went back to normal.

    I won`t get into the details, but after that experience, I have tried to taper off venlafaxine two more times, with more time, counting granules like everybody else, or even trying a different antidepressant (with a short half-life) to help with the transition. It was always the same. Besides having more control over the brain zaps, sleep was always a problem, and after a while, the depression symptoms were back again. So I just gave up. Although some side effects are annoying, I still think that my life is better with a small dose of venlafaxine and trazodone. Or maybe I just don`t have enough money and guts to stop working for a year or two to try a much slowlier tapering process (like you all recommend). I also believe that unfortunately, we all need some sort of anesthesia at some point (antidepressants, drinking, illicit drugs, crazy beliefs or something else) to deal with so much work, pressure, artificial light and with the idea of death (unfortunately, the Western world still didn`t learn how to deal with the inexorability of death).

    • Your experience sounds very similar To what I’m experiencing at the moment, I decided to cut down and maybe remove the small dose of Zoloft I have been taking for the past 20yrs, sleep has never been great, around 6hrs a night and not good quality, since cutting back I’m in a horrible place sleep wise to the point there is no switching off this inner momentum in my head that is like a radio constantly on all day and night, only a sleeping pill will work and even then I’m have only 3-4 hours of a horrible sleep. I’m going to go back to my usual dose but am afraid I have done damage that can not be reversed. Have others experienced something similar?

      • Daniela, I am going through the exact same thing. I can’t sleep very well at all. I have been trying to come off of a small dose of sertraline that I’ve been on for 17 years. The insomnia is horrible. I didn’t even need this drug. I wish I had never taken it. I’d love to talk with you further. Email me if you’d like to compare notes.

        • Hi Scott, I gradually weaned off Sertraline and stopped months ago. Insomnia hit me so intense. Some nights can’t fall asleep even hour. I was on Sertraline since . Did your insomnia get better or still bad? Do you take something slee

      • Daniela ,
        I had taken Zoloft for about 20 years and decided to taper off the drug. I had no problems with sleep but the anxiety level was unbearable so my Dr. put me on Lexapro. I was on that for about two years and decided I needed to come off that (found out it contributes to bone loss and I have osteoporosis). I had taken 10 mg of LExapro and cut down to 5 and then to half of that (very hard to cut that pill). I stopped completely in mid December–no sleep problems, but I did get those brain zaps which I had gotten while on Lexapro. Then about the third week of January I started having problems staying asleep. I tried ZZquill, melatonin, and Ativan. The ativan helped me get about 4 hours of sleep. Then Dr. prescribed Trazadone. That stuff makes me dizzy and even more anxious, so I stopped that. Now, I sleep every other day for about 5 hours and then the next night, nothing–no sleep at all. I am 71 years old and afraid that this lack of sleep will eventually give me a heart attack or stroke. I’m asking my Dr. for Ativan even though it may be addictive, I don’t care as I figure I only have another 10 years or so, so any sleep I can get is better than dealing with this awful sleep deprivation which causes more anxiety and general feeling of yuck.
        I feel your pain…

  9. I titrated down from Cymbalta 30mg over a 9 month period using a weighing scale and putting the beads into rice capsules. I had to come off the drug as my liver enzymes were very raised. I took herbal and vitamin supplements to help as I was very aware of the reported reactions to coming off this drug. Despite that my sleep was incrementally badly effected the more I titrated down. By the time I was halfway down the dose I was getting around 4 hours a night. By the time I was towards the end of the titration period it was worse.

    Two weeks after being off the drug the sleep issues got worse – for seven months I was getting 2 to 3 hours per night at the most. I had remained on a lose dose of Remeron (about 3mg). Finally I got an appointment with an OB GYN and got progesterone which I took at night. Within a month or so I was sleeping up to 7 hours most nights.

    Bloods taken 2 months ago showed that my liver enzymes had returned to normal – still slightly raised but within normal limits.

  10. I have used cannabidiol (CBD) now and then for the past several months It is very useful for sleep and for calming stress related pain It can be bought all over the place now in different strengths and ways of using -no need to pay extortionist prices in health food shops or even a well known chemist, if you can find vape shop it is probably there. Of course it will work differently for different individuals but it works for me One man buys it for his elderly mother who has severe arthritis and she has stopped taking the strong painkillers which were causing added problems – like constipation which for someone who is in pain already can be horrendous because of the strain of pushing on old arthritic hips and back.

  11. Insomnia with acute withdrawal and akathisia. 6.5 years out from initial withdrawal—I wake up multiple times a night. Fortunately am able to go back to sleep quickly. Didn’t used to wake up multiple times a night before the withdrawal. But not the most bothersome nighttime symptoms. Those would be the night sweats and bruxism. I’m very sick of soaking my sheets and pjs multiple times a night more nights than not. Night sweats and bruxism started while taking SSRI. The night sweats have gotten worse over time. Also have other temperature issues that could elaborate on.

  12. The barbaric way of healing, as what I have witnessed and experienced, needs to change.
    Each and everyone one of us, may be able to relate with the unfortunate stories that have been kindly shared with all to read on rxisk.
    It takes a lot of guts and courage for anyone to come here and say it as it is.
    Healing, is not an easy process once you have been poly drugged and many have had to use their own inner resources, to heal the best way they can and know how because there has been no simple answers.
    You just don’t want to go from one place to another place, once you have been poly drugged because it may make your health issues worse.
    I was given a care plan that did not work for me however, from there I had the basic knowledge that was going to get me out of a dismal situation.
    Diet was the roadmap that assisted me to get out of a hopeless situation. Sadly, anything else just did not work for me.
    It was all trial and error however, I eventually made an impressive mark to my poly drugged body.
    I am still standing and still breathing ~ I am a survivor and if I can do it, I am a living testimony, here to tell you how diet can immensely benefit ones health.
    When one suffers from a disease or health issue induced by big pharma, we have to search heaven and earth, as to what will benefit us.
    My journey, may be the same as yours and if you listen to that ‘inner intuitive knowing’, it may assist or even prevent you from doing something which may not benefit you.
    For millions of years, man, in the Amazon forest have utilized insects and plants, as a medicine to treat diseases.
    The tribes in Amazon and the indigenous tribes, Yanomano, have been using plants to treat diseases for a hundreds of years. All these medicinal plants have healing properties.
    There needs to be harmony and balance when healing.
    Unhealthy cells need to be restored by plants, herbs and other non harmful means, that purge the aberrant ones. We still have a lot to learn from other cultures.
    They have a wealth of knowledge that modern medicine fails to acknowledge.
    We have to go back to grass roots to better understand why western medicine is failing a lot of people. Sadly, there is something not right when innocent people get harmed or pass away and if we want to make the necessary changes that is going to benefit humanity, I like to think that we are all on the same page.
    ~ DO NO HARM!

  13. I started on SSRIs after a relationship breakup and a badly broken leg> at the time I was self employed and had the stress of my business suffering through not working. Three years of various SSRIs and then seven years of polypharmacy. Over a decade off and my sleep is still affected not to mention the other debilitating symptoms. Some nights i cannot get to sleep, frequent waking, being jolted awake, night terrors and rarely sleep paralysis. This has taken a further toll on my health as without quality sleep we set ourselves up for other problems.
    All in all those drugs wrecked my life whilst taking and ceasing. They are a modern day plague.

  14. Contact Us
    BBC is looking for people willing to appear in documentary on antidepressant withdrawal
    by Admin on 09/11/2019 in News, Psychiatric drugs
    The BBC is producing a documentary about the long-term side effects and withdrawal effects of antidepressant medication. They are looking to speak to individuals who have decided to come off their medication and would be open to allowing us to follow their journey throughout this process, alongside the reporter of the film who will be doing the same. By following a number of people on this journey, the film will illustrate the diversity of peoples’ experiences in coming off medication and the advice they are given on how to do so safely. Filming will mainly involve video blogs.

    The BBC appreciates the very sensitive nature of making a decision like this and will ensure you are supported throughout. If you are someone who has decided off this medication and are open to finding out more about the programme, please reach out to: or

    Share this:

  15. Since tapering from Pristiq 100mg over a year in 2010-11, my sleep has been terrible in a few ways. The worst is waking with panic and absolute dread of life, racing pulse, etc. I’ve been told it’s a rebound of cortisol, which should be highest in the morning. However, my AM cortisol has been measured and is very low and I was diagnosed with Addison’s/adrenal insufficiency. The standard treatment of steroids did not help and only exaggerated the morning panic and dread.

    Also, I sometimes recall EXTREMELY lucid night terrors. This has escalated dramatically in the past year+ after my entire remaining family, 2 dogs, and 2 horses died (all independently). I have smashed windows trying to escape an RV and done other physical things in my sleep. Possible REMSBD?

    Just to note, I have been diagnosed with Degenerative Brain Disease based on significant cerebral atrophy and ischemic white matter disease (MRIs 2012 to 2019), primarily the frontal and temporal lobes (FTD, Pick’s). I am scheduled for further testing.

  16. recovery&renewal Retweeted

    Dr Evgeny Legedin‏ @DrEvgenyLegedin 33m

    Protracted debilitating withdrawal syndrome from depression pills #NNH202 is known for 30 years, but only now NHS timidly admits that “some people” have severe #antidepressantwithdrawal symptoms that last for months or more. Cold turkey isn’t a rare bird!

    Page last reviewed: 6 November 2019
    Next review due: 6 November 2022

    • Hi Annie they say lasts for months wish mine had off I could off handled that most long termers seem to have symptoms for YEARS unless you are very lucky

      • It is like trying to shift a brick-wall with a teaspoon…they are out-of-touch and spreading a lot of mis-information.

        Unluckily, for us, we are left out.
        Luckily, for us, we know it…

  17. Something i have noticed recently which might be of interest.

    I keep a regular eye on the BNF (the British national formulary), which is a book on medicines which most or all doctors have access to, and which they refer to for guidance when prescribing.

    I recently had a look in the most recent September 2019- March 2020 BNF, hoping there might be a mention of persisting sexual problems with SSRI’s since the June 2019 acknowledgement by the EMA. I was also hoping there might have been a mention of how withdrawal symptoms can persist for a lot longer than a few weeks, and can be quite severe in a lot of people, since the recent Roehampton and East London University studies on Antidepressant withdrawal, and the expected upcoming changes to be made to the NICE guidelines.

    There is no mention in the new BNF that sexual side effects can persist in some people after coming off SSRI’s and no real mention of sexual side effects in regards to SSRI’s in general, when we know that sexual side effects affect almost everyone taking SSRI’s.

    There is also no mention that withdrawal can persist for more than two weeks when coming off SSRI’s, and that in a lot of people it can be severe. In fact if my memory serves me correctly, i think the statement in the new BNF still states that withdrawal from SSRI’S is mild and only lasts two weeks at most.

    This needs to change.

    Most doctors see the BNF as almost like the fountain of truth when it comes to these drugs, and i have actually been told by a doctor once that the BNF is seen as the gold standard in knowledge about prescription drugs, and that doctors often treat it like a bible.

    If persisting sexual side effects, and sexual side effects in general in regards to SSRI’s are not mentioned in the BNF, and the fact that for a lot of people taking SSRI’s the withdrawal can be severe and often can last months or years etc, is not in the BNF; when a lot of doctors treat the BNF like the gospel of truth, how are they going to believe their patients when these issues are not in the BNF.

    We should really try to find a way to get these two issues with SSRI’s into the BNF somehow, so that doctors cant look in their BNF when a patient complains of PSSD or withdrawal symptoms lasting longer than two weeks, and say “sorry its not in the BNF, and i have never heard of it”.

    Until persisting sexual problems, and the true severity and duration of withdrawal from SSRI’s is included in the BNF, we are still going to face a big hurdle when trying to get taken seriously by doctors.

    Any ideas on how we could get these changes made to the BNF to include these two issues?

    • http://PAST.WALES are conducting a small survey about the side effects of #antidepressents with regard to PSSD to glean a possible reflection of its commonality within the population. Please RT!



      Antidepressants & Sexual Side-Effects
      This ANONYMOUS small survey is to help ascertain and gauge how many people feel their sexual functionality and possible relationships have been negatively affected by prescription medication. At…
      5:21 PM · Nov 15, 2019·Twitter Web App

  18. Spruce – Would there be anything useful in this ?

    The False or Misleading Information
    Offence: Guidance for Providers
    Prosecutions under the FOMI offence……………………………………….12
    What happens if my organisation is convicted of the offence?………14
    FOMI – Due Diligence Defence………………………………………………..16
    Case Study – Applying the FOMI Offence………………………………….17
    The Regulations ……………………………………………………………………..22
    The False or Misleading Information Offence – Introduction
    1. The Care Act 2014 has put in place a new criminal offence applicable to care
    providers who supply, publish or otherwise make available certain types of
    information that is false or misleading, where that information is required to
    comply with a statutory or other legal obligation. The offence also applies to the
    ‘controlling minds’ of the organisation, where they have consented or connived in
    an offence committed by a care provider.
    2. This guidance sets out the context for the offence and explains how the offence is
    3. The need for a criminal offence in response to the provision of false or misleading
    information was raised by the Public Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS
    Foundation trust.
    “It should be a criminal offence for a director to sign a declaration of belief that
    the contents of a quality account are true if it contains a misstatement of fact
    concerning an item of prescribed information which he/she does not have
    reason to believe is true at the time of making the declaration.” – Report of the
    Mid Staffordshire Public Inquiry – February 2013
    4. The Government accepted the recommendation to make it a criminal offence for
    a provider or individual to provide false or misleading information in a quality
    account, but felt that the offence should be applied more widely.
    5. The offence forms part of the Government’s overall drive to improve the
    openness and transparency in the provision of health services, by making clear
    that a sanction exists for failing to provide or publish accurate or honest
    information about the performance of services.
    6. The offence is in two parts. The first is a strict liability offence where a provider is
    found to have published or provided false or misleading information. The second
    is where a director or other senior individual are found to have been culpable in
    the offence. This means that the provider must first be found to have committed
    the offence before any individual can be prosecuted.

    • Thanks for sending this Susanne, it has given me a few things to think about.

      I have also filled out the Past Wales questionnaire, telling them about my PSSD etc.

      The issue i mentioned in my previous comment about persisting withdrawal and persisting sexual dysfunction not being in the British National Formulary, is quite a big problem and hurdle for people with PSSD being taken seriously by their doctors, and also a hurdle to raising awareness about these issues in general among medical professionals.

      I really think we should try and find a way to put pressure on the people who deal with updates to the BNF, to include these issues in the BNF, particularly as PSSD has now been officially acknowledged.

      If the drug labels can be updated to include about PSSD, why cant it be mentioned in the BNF, which doctors use as a guidance for prescribing these drugs.

      I am hoping to try and contact them soon to see what they say about this.

  19. I can’t say for sure it’s the pills because my sleep was already not that great. Likely has to do with GERD and it seems to be common with people with autism. But interrupted and light sleep issues increased greatly when I got off of my anti dipressants. Not being able to finish sleep cycles well greatly affects how tired I will feel all day. I’ve had many moments where I’d fall asleep completely calm, then wake up 10 minutes later with some annoying dream. These dreams are also often different, they often take place close in the area where I fell asleep and just involve men walking around.

  20. It does seem odd that the BNF hasn’t been updated – surely can’t be a slip up? I guess there must be updates- wonder when was the last one? By the way Can you tell me whether GPs have certain number of drugs they can choose from per condition eg say 6 for anxiety or 8 for depression or are they allowed to go outside the BNF? I remember the GP had it on the desk but assumed it had been replaced by info on computer.Will be interesting to see the response to your letter.
    Hope all groups like PAST are sharing info .

  21. I stopped Prozac in 2014 and have not had a proper nights sleep since. For the first 2 years I regularly slept 2 hrs a night waking with panic and surges of adrenaline jolting through my body like electric. Now I wake after 1-2 hrs then every hour until 7 am when my brain feels like expresso caffeine has been poured into it, I can’t describe it it’s like my body is exhausted but my brain is wired to the national grid and my breathing changes almost like I cannot reach the end of my breath..I never dreamed on Prozac but now the dreams are vivid and cause electric like sensations to flow over my legs. I cannot be referred to the sleep clinic as apparently My problems are solely due to anxiety not the antidepressant I took everyday for 16 years. Apparently Prozac at 20mg doesn’t cause withdrawal problems only higher doses cause issues on withdrawal. The fact I have had little balance and suffer almost constant vertigo is Simply down to my anxiety..sigh

    • Hi Kat,

      I stopped Prozac Sep 2018 after being on the 20mg daily dose for approx. ten years. I had the worst withdrawal effects ever. I couldn’t handle it, after about 9 months of debilitating withdrawal effects, I found the only thing that helps me deal day to day is taking cannabis. Its finding the right strain that helps with sleep. The doctors will tell you there are no long term withdrawal effects and the broken sleep is depression so go back on the drugs. Im no way ever taking Antidepressants again they have ruined my life, if I had known the Crazy withdrawal effects I would of stopped a long time ago. I think more needs to be done to recognise this as a valid medical disorder and stop giving Antidepressants as the first line of support and more CBT treatment instead. I blame the doctors for putting me on this drug long term.

  22. I have chronic sleeping problems from previous SSRI (escitalopram) use. It’s been seven years since I stopped and back then in 2012 I only used 5 mg for two and a half months. SSRI’s left me with dementia, pssd and a plethora of other problems. Yeah, those SSRI’s are heavily brain damaging. They destroyed my social life, working capability, and studying ability. My whole life. 🙁

  23. A mental health counselor 22 yearrs ago said Trazodone would help with insomnia; a nurse prescribed it. [I was grief stricken after both of my parents died within 8 days time] No doctor ever evaluated how the doseage and duration affected me. I am tapering off because I was not living real life …… terrible depression, hopelessness, despair, super high BP spikes and insomnia, A new doctor arrived in my rural area and he at least listened. Others merely told me I was mentally ill. The discontinuation symptoms are almost unbearable and I am tapering slowly. Thank you all for writing. It helps me feel less alone. Every day I question my sanity but the over-riding arc of recovery is positive, Started tapering in October 2019. I must keep going. I can’t give up. The withdrawal is painful. The pharma companies bear responsibility for bringing this nightmare people. I hope my neurology can recover to a degree that allows for some type of normal life. Now I cannot go out or be with others. BC

  24. Good day
    After gradually stopping Venlafaxine (3 – 4 months time) in 2014, I developed a insomnia. It worsend over time. In about 4 months after I stopped I was not able to sleep at all. If I did dose off.. I could hear everything around me. Also get the Zaps (like electricity going through me) if I start dosing off. Psychiatrist put me back on Venlor and added low dose quetiapine to get me to sleep. (nothing else on the market helped). However, after 5 years I still can’t sleep naturally. Not even a nap. Most difficult thing ever.

    • Hey. Hope you’re doing better these days. This is exactly my experience. I’m 7 months out from when I stopped ven. Ended up in hospital for continuous brain zaps whilst trying to fall asleep. Back on the ven. It was too late, damage has been done. Now I take seroquel every night and mirtazapaine. Would be great to chat if you’re still around.
      Sydney, Australia

  25. I’m pleased to report my sleep is pretty good now. 17 years on Seroxat, 15 trying to stop with each time characterised by insomnia, weight loss and high anxiety. Such an innocuous little word “insomnia” – someone described to me recently how they had insomnia because they “only” slept 6 hours a night. That made me chuckle! When I finally stopped the drug just over 6 and a half years ago, each night, for the next 18 months or so, as I started to drop into sleep a loud crack in my head would pull me awake and my body would jerk (Seroxat has left me with a movement disorder). Then there would be a surge of adrenaline from the shock of this, the palpitations would start, I would feel terrified and that was it for the rest of the night. I would go downstairs, jerk and tremble and then have violent diarrhoea. Typing this is reminding me just how awful it was – a few times I banged my head against the wall because the feeling was preferable. Many things that I ate made me jerk too so taking any drugs to help with sleep were out of the question. But in the end I did go to the doctor because I was beyond desperate, and he prescribed melatonin which made a huge difference. My gut tolerated it and I slept. During the years since then as my nervous system has calmed down, my gut problems have improved and that has led to my sleep improving. All my withdrawal symptoms, including the movement disorder which started whilst I was still taking the drug, seem to stem from a traumatised hypersensitive central nervous system. I hope one day someone can describe specifically what is affected, why and how.

    • Hi,
      I am glad to read a positive message.
      I am on paxil for 14 years now but I have not been able to stop.
      Would you describe the process of getting off the drug more in detail?

      Best regards

  26. I’ve always had sleep problems before I went on sertraline. When I was a kid I would hallucinate before I fell asleep, I still do occasionally but it looks like swirling shadows or colours now rather than anything coherent. I’ve also had really vivid, lucid dreams, but never nightmares as I ‘rewind’ my dreams if they go badly, and have experienced sleep paralysis since a young age, though I never used to hallucinate.
    After I went on sertraline, I experienced sleep paralysis at more frequent rate than before and for the first time I was experiencing the hallucinations (demon dogs, attacking shadows etc) which frankly was and still is terrifying. I also find it a lot harder to snap out of now. I also for the first time started to experience nightmares, horrible nightmares which seem extremely vivid and real. While I’m in them I’m honestly convinced I’m awake.
    I stopped taking sertraline two and a half years ago but I’m not getting any better. It’s currently 1am, I have to be up for an early shift at 3am but I just experienced a particularly scary sleep paralysis hallucination and I’m too afraid to go back to sleep as I know I will likely fall back into sleep paralysis.

  27. When I forgot to take my venlor (60mg) I get sleep paralysis and very vivid dreams where I can’t wake up as well as night sweats all in one day of forgetting

  28. I am suffering from extreme insomnia after ending my last anti-depressant a year ago. I tapered Effexor ( which I took for 12 years) very slowly ending in May 2017 then finished my small dose of Remeron 7.5 mg Jan. 2019. I have had insomnia issues through the whole process .
    Occasionally I will have a 7 hour sleep but at least once a week I do not sleep at all and most nights it can be 2-4 hours. I am exhausted by this. I have had a sleep study & all they suggested was sleeping pills – more trouble. It is very hard to function like this.

    • Hi, I’m wondering how your sleep is now? Did you find anything that helped with sleep?

      I took Venlafaxine for 25 years and came off 2.5 years ago. Since then, I’ve had bad insomnia that affects my ability to function.

      • Hi there…
        My mum was on Cipramil and Citalopram since 2002 to 2019
        She was initially diagnosed with
        Post menopausal psychosis and Ocd at the age of 56
        In 2019 she weaned herself off the prescribed meds (dosage 20mg, increased to 40 mg after a few years and back to 20mg)
        She should have been placed on hormonal therapy instead (which would have alleviated the issue of PSP) I’m sure, but I was ignorant at that point and didn’t know any better after a neurologist referred her to psych opd clinic in our area and she was prescribed the above chronic meds.
        She has tried every alternate treatment for insomnia that I could think of since coming of and to date nothing had helped.
        No one in our the family believed that her insomnia is directly due to withdrawal symptoms of citalopram and cipramil, except I.
        It would be appreciated if anyone who had successful alternate or natural therapy to overcome the issue of insomnia.
        My mum is so desperate to sleep, now at 76, it grieves me to see her in the state she is in due to lack of sleep 😟

  29. Hi my name is Helen. I am completely off of ssris and Benzos now 6 years. I was put on ciprelax and than Zoloft and than back on ciprelax total of 3 years on these poisons. I was also on a benzo. I have been off ciprelax for 8 years now and the benzo 6 and I sleep about 5 hours broken up, when I first came off ciprelax I did not sleep for a full year. I’m still not healed from the damage these drugs did. Is anyone healed. Any advice? Anything that’s helped. Thank you.

  30. I have been off sertraline for 16 months. Initially there were no adverse problems, but about months after coming off the tablets I developed a sleep problem, much the same as most people have reported here. I took rescue remedy at night which worked for a while, when that sopped working I started taking melatonin which also worked for a while, and then stopped. I saw a homeopath who put me onto GABA and melatonin and this too worked for a while, but has now also stopped working.
    I have no idea where this will go, but I was hoping to read somewhere that the withdrawal effects would eventually settle down, and I could get a normal nights sleep without any aids. It seems, from reading the accounts here, that this might or might not be the case. Another problem I find is that the doctors here in the UK do not take this seriously and you cant buy melatonin or GABA over the counter adding to the stress of these running out.
    I feel as though I can not go on like this, and have even considered going back onto antidepressants just to get a good nights sleep, but I realise that that would only make it worse. Antidepressants are a scourge of the 20th/21st century and I feel that they have been oversupplied to patients. The pharmaceutical companies have a lot to answer for.

    • Hey Margaret. How are things going now? Any updates. Wish there was a way to hear back from everyone months down the line. Hope there’s some improvement. I’m in a similar boat, 2 years out from the initial reaction and severe insomnia continues

  31. I stopped Prozac Sep 2018 after being on the 20mg daily dose for approx. ten years. I had the worst withdrawal effects ever. I couldn’t handle it, after about 9 months of debilitating withdrawal effects, I found the only thing that helps me deal day to day is taking cannabis. Its finding the right strain that helps with sleep. The doctors will tell you there are no long term withdrawal effects and the broken sleep is depression so go back on the drugs. Im no way ever taking Antidepressants again they have ruined my life, if I had known the Crazy withdrawal effects I would of stopped a long time ago. I think more needs to be done to recognise this as a valid medical disorder and stop giving Antidepressants as the first line of support and more CBT treatment instead. I blame the doctors for putting me on this drug long term.

  32. I was on prozac for 2 years, 20 mg daily. Suddenly whilst on it, I developed severe insomnia. Whilst on it.
    I was sleeping 45 mins per night. Saw my doctors and they tried increasing the dose, changing meds but nothing worked. I was contemplating my existence.
    So, I stopped the drug cold turkey and my sleep very very slowly improved. I spent years sleeping 2 to 3 hours per night broken sleep.

    It’s almost been 6 years now and I am still not ok. A few weeks ago I was getting 5 hrs total of broken sleep. Now I’m only getting 2 to 3.

    When I close my eyes I almost go to sleep but never do. I also feel like there’s some sort of blockage in my forehead.

    I’ve always had anxiety. I’ve never had this kind of insomnia. 1000% caused by prozac. Never putting a psychistric drug in my mouth again.

    Search on YouTube for Dr Breggin, a psychiatrist who tells it like it really is.

    Because of my insomnia I live every day scared that I’ll die today. So scared.

    Happiness is not in a pill, but instead in healthy food, good relationships and connecting with nature/faith. Wish I’d known that before seeing my psychiatrist who insists that my insomnia is my anxiety returning.

    God bless us all.

  33. Hi i took one half pill of zoloft 50mg i stole it from my mom 🙁 im 17 i was having anxiety that day for really silly problems i got really sick by taking it a lot of vomit nausea didn’t sleep at all the week i took it i got really ugly brain shocks when i was trying to sleep and lots of acne it was a torture first week then saturday i got something called mania i was so agitated it was like torture its been 5 months now i getting better only problem is sleeping only like 5-4 hours and lots of mood swings but no more ugly brain shocks when i trying to sleep also sometimes i heard like really loud explosion sounds when i sleep like once two weeks i hope i get normal again tough i doubt it i used to think mom pills was just to calm u down a bit but i was mistaken those pills are really ugly they make u brain really sick

    • Arturo, your story matches mine! I took half a pill for only 3 days. I’ve had horrific insomnia ever sense! I slept fine prior… For 3 years now sense zoloft I only get 1-2 hours per night with vivid dreaming. I too had the brain zaps… Have you improved??? I truly need to know if we will improve? Thanks so much!

  34. Hello I have been taking Lexapro for about one year. It has caused major issues with me not being able to sleep and excessive increase in my appetite. About two weeks ago I stoped taking it because I just couldn’t bare.not being able to sleep and I was tired of waking up at night raiding the fridge like I hadn’t eaten in days. Since I’ve stopped taking it , my eating habits are back to normal , I’m able to sleep through the night but there’s one thing now …..I’m having the craziest dreams and I’m speaking out loud in my sleep to the point of waking myself up. And the dreams are aggressive dreams. When I first started taking lexapro my dr told me to be aware of the vivid dreams. And I experienced that for about a month. Is what I’m doing experiencing now a normal withdrawal from the medication. ?

  35. Great post and very helpful as well. to all the people who have stopped the antidepressants. I would like to share it with my sister as she is taking an anti-depressant for a long time. Keep sharing!

  36. When stopping lexamil 10mg I experienced sleep paralysis for the first time ever. It was an unbelievably terrifying experience and one that haunts me every day . I am now back on lexamil after being off it for just over a year due to having my son. I’m on lexamil for anxiety and it works great to prevent my panic attacks. This drug is also used for depression in some

  37. I was put on Concerta and Lexapro and my ADHD insomnia troubles caused my sleep to diminish to about 4-5 hours a night despite being put on various prescription sleep aids. In 2011 I was taken off 20mg of Valium cold-turkey and my sleep dropped to 0-2 hours per night. Since then I’ve had two sleep studies and been on various meds to help me get 3-5 hours of sleep but quit working after a couple weeks. POd in MN for the psychiatrist who refused me 20mg of Valium. Ninety percent of the time I need to be drug induced to get a few hours of sleep.

  38. Back when I was on antidepressants the 2nd time around, I needed 12 hours of sleep to wake up and be refreshed! Most days I just couldn’t do that of course, being a college student. It’s been 2 years since I got off them (Zoloft for around 2 or 3 months and then switched to Lexapro for 6 or 7) and now need around 10 hours of sleep to wake up naturally! And I could honestly keep resting after those 10 hours! Before all this I only needed 8, maybe 8 and a half hours of sleep before naturally waking up feeling refreshed! I didn’t have this continuing issue the first time I went off Celexa antidepressants maybe 2 years before this second time for about 10 months. I did sleep a lot more when on them but I went back to normal after getting off them. I don’t regret taking the antidepressants because I was soooo anxious and could only stay asleep 5 hours at my worst time, and after taking hours to fall asleep, but I do need to deal with this new sleep issue. When I told my family doctor once about sleeping 10 hours, she said in her 20s she could sleep that long as well and it’s probably age related. But I wasn’t like this before the medication so I don’t agree. I know I should get checked again.

  39. In Sept of 2018 I went on Zoloft for mild and situational anxiety. After the first dose I had insomnia and extreme anxiety coupled with panic attacks. I came off the Zoloft after 5 days of it. It is March 2020 and my sleep is horrific. It is difficult to perceive the sleep I get because it is so light. I get about 3-5 broken hours, many times nothing at all. Initially I woke every 20 minutes from a light dream filled sleep and would fall back asleep within 5-10 minutes. Now I can sometimes get 1 hour chunks.

  40. I was prescribed Sertraline in 2016 and spent an entire month with no emotions, severe insomnia, and it was awful.

    Luckily everything returned, but I accidentally weaned myself off it last year. Got into a bad habit of missing doses and eventually stopped taking it, no negative symptoms whatsoever, which was new as missing a couple of days would’ve sent me manic. I was fine and sleeping well etc.

    This year decided to put myself back on as my anxiety returned. Instantly my emotions cleared off and I lost my appetite and insomnia kicked in. Freaked me out and disturbed me. So after 3 days on 50mg I stopped.

    Felt very disconnected from the world and couldn’t enjoy food or smile, but it’s been a week now and I’ve regained my appetite, I have sudden periods of strong happiness and emotion, I’ve laughed the other day and slowly I’m sleeping a little more.

    Although I feel detached, there is tiredness looming and I manage to get 7 hours of sleep. Despite having to rely on whether I had a vivid dream as an indication of whether I did sleep.

    I think I’m slowly healing day by day. I’m thankful that I didn’t continue longer and that it was only 3 days. But wow, I was not well on 50mg for those 3 days.

    I’m still experiencing some mania and moodswings, but I’m working through it.

  41. I weaned myself off antidepressants over a period of 12 months. At first, things were fine. After about 6 months I developed symptoms similar to IBS, and did not associate this with antidepressant withdrawal. Then I developed insomnia. At first, melatonin helped, but that stopped working. I then took melatonin with 5HTP and Gaba but nothing worked, not even sleeping tablets. Between the IBS like symptoms and the insomnia, things became too difficult to live with and I could not function normally. My doctor put me back onto antidepressants, and things are back to ”normal” I feel really upset about this as I am not depressed, and the antidepressants make me gain weight.

    • Hi Margaret, I am afraid it is not so simple as keep taking the antidepressant only for being able to sleep if you are not depressed at all. According to Dr. Peter Breggin, in the long run the antidepressant will cause what he calls a “Chronic Brain Impairment” and usually people do not notice this process is going on. I highly recommend his book “Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal”. I stopped amitryptiline on december and I am struggling with insomnia, with 4 hours of sleep per night on average, but it is worth enduring till the end, according to the literature I have reviewed most people get rid of their symptoms in the long run.

  42. Hello. I’m a 43 yo female who stopped taking celexa about 3 months ago…I used the weaning method to do this under my doctor’s supervision. I had been on it for anxiety issues for about 10 years.
    Almost immediately after stopping I had 3 separate experiences with sleep paralysis that occurred during nightmares – all 3 nightmares were about a demonic looking something attacking me. I was awake and unable to move, and it felt like I had died and come back (at least that’s the only thing that seems to explain the experience correctly). The sleep paralysis/demon nightmare stopped, but for the last two months or so I am guaranteed to wake up at least once during the night. Sometimes it’s because I’m thirsty, sometimes it’s a bathroom run, but mostly it’s for no apparent reason, and always between 2am-4am.
    I slept like a 10 ton boulder before I stopped the antidepressant, even during times of heavy stress, illnesses, etc. The only thing that has changed is me stopping this medication. I have been tempted to start taking it again just so I can sleep but really, really don’t want to. Melatonin doesn’t help, benadryl doesn’t help, spraying the room with lavender scent doesn’t help – nothing helps.
    The kicker is that I feel so much better OFF the celexa – I feel human again. It just stinks that I can’t sleep straight through the night anymore – at all.

  43. Hi everyone,
    I tapered off of Cymbalta 60 mg in a little over a month and a half using the bead count system. I was on Cymbalta 60 mg for a little under two years after taking Zoloft 50 mg for over 10 years. The Doctor switched me because of chronic pain and at first it was great! I remember telling my husband how it helped me stabilize my emotions like i’ve never been able to do on my own.
    In January 2020 I decided nothing was worth feeling this dead inside and decided to taper off. I went to my PC who thought 2 weeks was long enough to taper off… I decided to do it a little slower and was completely off in mid February.
    The withdrawal symptoms happened immediately! I was nauseous with a horrible headache and dizziness that kept me in bed for over a week! Gradually those symptoms got more tolerable and I was able to work with the help of Zofran, and ibuprofen. The beginning of March is when my sleep problems started.
    My whole life I haven’t had any problems sleeping! In fact I have been able to sleep through anything and everything!
    It started out with horrific nightmares jolting me out of my sleep and me feeling like demons were in my room waiting to do something horrible! It has been a month and a half now and most night I sleep around 30 minutes to 2 hours. I truly thought I was possessed because of the terrible dreams and the evil feeling I would have after being jolted from a 20 minute sleep until I figured out it was this 2 nights ago.
    I have tried melatonin, Trazodone, and even Ambien but still toss and turn all night while dreaming even though I can open my eyes as i’m doing this!
    I am in dire NEED of some help which is why I am reaching out!
    I am a 42 female self employed and am so scared this is going to be my life!
    Any idea is so welcome and thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

  44. I took Lexapro 5mg for 8 months after dealing with terrible anxiety/depression from switching birth control. I stopped taking the birth control and waited a month to stop the Lexapro to let my body adjust a little. I was still experiencing some anxiety/depression from PMS, but the first 3ish days that I stopped taking Lexapro it was a huge plunge of despair. The 4th day those symptoms subsided. Full disclosure, it has only been 8 days since I stopped taking Lexapro but here are how I’d rate my ‘withdrawal’ symptoms and their duration thus far:
    Anxiety- moderate for 2 days, mild for 2 days, scarce since
    Deprission- severe for 3 days, mild the 4, subsided since
    Dizziness- moderate for about 5 days and mild for 3
    Nausea- mostly mild for 5 days and only a couple instances of severe that subsided quickly enough.
    Heightened senses: -smell- I can smell everything (like being pregnant again); -hearing- I definitely have misophonia but I can generally keep myself calm. However, the first 5 days I wanted every annoying noise in the world to burn in hell (i.e. xbox controller, chewing, wrappers crinkling.. even talking)
    Irritability- mild most days for about 5 days, but with noises it was extreme
    Insomnia!!!!- mild for the first few night and then 3 nights ago I literally didn’t fall asleep until between 9:30a-10:30a and was wide awake throughout the night. I finally fell asleep for 5 hours and then I was awake and alert. That night I managed to relax enough to fall asleep around 12:30a and slept until 11:30a (refreshing). Alas, last night I couldn’t sleep a wink and have been wide awake all night and it’s currently 9am. Obviously, I haven’t been off the medicine to know how long these side effects will truly last, nor do I know if they are all just from the Lexapro or residual from the birth control. But I do know that I am generally a rockstar sleeper and have only experienced insomnia with the anxiety from the birth control and now with stopping lexapro- and former wasn’t quite as bad as now.

  45. Prior to Sertraline, generally I slept ok. Would always get to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and wake around 1am, but get back to sleep after awhile till 7am. I went onto Seraline 25mg for 4 days taking in the morning and from the second day, I had full on insomnia, not a wink of sleep. I cut down to half tab for another 2 days, but following several heart palpitations episodes lasting up to 4 hours and the insomnia I had to stop. Now 16 days after stopping, I can still not sleep and it drove me to calling the samaritans at about 7 days after stopping Sert. I was desperate. Got some Zopiclone but after 3 nights, that is no longer effective and I ly awake hour after hour and its draining my life away. I dont day nap but am so tired and anxious now about not sleeping, its making things worse. When trying to sleep, I dont feel my brain is actively dwelling stuff, it just wont go into sleep mode. I may have to try 7.5mg Mirtazipine as when I was on it few years ago, it helped me sleep well. The doc also suggested 25mg Quetiapine for sleep, but that is seriously hardcore for bi-polar and scizo-thingy, that really scare me as all reviews suggest it can permanently change the brain and cause serious mental issues. Anyway, I am desparate to sleep and hope thing settle down as I worry about my own sanity with insomnia.

    • Hi Nigel
      After nervous breakdown I started back on Zoloft, with insomnia as side effect. I basically didn’t sleep for 8 weeks. At the recommendation of psychiatrist I started quetiapine 25mg up to 100mg for sleep. It was a game changer. I’m now sleeping 7-8 hours a night. Problem is I now need to come off it as long term use for sleep is problematic. As you said it is a powerful drug for psychosis etc. The lack of sleep and stress was horrible, the quetiapine has put me in a better place to make some changes. Long term use can affect your blood sugar levels also.
      Best wishes

  46. Sleepwalking in week 3 of cutting down escitalopram and olanzapine after being on it 14 yrs. Has anyone else had this problem? Aside from this the usual flu like symptoms.

    • Yes! I’m cutting down lexapro (last stages, gone from 5mg every day to every other day) and I had my first ever sleepwalking episode last night. My roommate said he saw me go in and out of the front door of the apartment, and I also prepared some food but didn’t eat it (and I have no memory of any of that).

  47. Vivid Dreams ongoing week 2 now since cutting my dose of Lexapro in half in order to wean off of it….I am so sleepy most days now because my sleep is so erratic with all these dreams.

  48. I have been taking sertraline for a few years now since I lost both my parents. Before my mum passed I fell into depression linked to insomnia, was going 3 to 4 days without sleep , ended up on prescribed hypnotics which made things ten times worse so had a meltdown and ended up on sertraline.
    I have been coming off of them since Jan 2020 and have been taking 50mg every other day and every other day I would gave a rubbish nights sleep. I’m back on 50mg a day May 2020 and this week have slept only one night for 4 hours in three nights ,it seems like my insomnia is back.
    I have never been a good sleeper taking anything up to 2 – 3 hours to drop off and can honestly say that from back when the sertraline started working to when I reduced down to 50mg I would take 20 – 30 minutes to drop off , something I wasn’t used to so I am now thinking this is a long term condition that I have always had and I will be ringing my doctors today to get an appointment to relay my concerns.
    I have no problem continuing with taking 100mg everyday as it helps me function properly, only thing is cost but I’d rather that than insomnia as it can be a very dark and lonely place and It has cemented a fear into my mind , flashbacks of wandering my neighbourhood’s in the night chasing foxes.
    Anyway, hope you can take what you need from this, i think personally I have always had an underlying problem with sleeping, lack of serotonin or melatonin or both, as I said , I have never slept so well as when I’m on full dose of sertraline.

  49. Withdrawal symptoms from 50-100mg Zoloft included brain zaps and horrible nightmares. The nightmare would climax with the brain zap and jolt me awake with lock jaw. It was like an electric shock going through my jaw, throat and head. After 13 years of Zoloft which kept me relatively well, I foolishly stopped regular use and ended up stopping use all together. It wasn’t a planned withdrawal, I just felt better and was busy with life. Big mistake. Depression and anxiety, irrational thinking slowly crept back into my life, the brain zaps stopping after a few months of withdrawal. End result was a massive nervous breakdown due to bad decision making when unwell. Rushed back onto Zoloft, insomnia for 8 weeks (basically no sleep), some psychosis due to lack of sleep and stress, then quetiapine to help sleep. 9 months on 200mg Zoloft, 100mg Quetiapine has stabilized my mental health but damage done during lead up to breakdown due to bad life changing decisions. So basically brain zaps and nightmares are real when coming off Zoloft. I feel for anyone with mental health issues as it can make life intolerable even with love and support around you. In many aspects the irrational thinking and subsequent bad decision making due to anxiety and depression has ruined my life. I knew something was not right in my teens, early 20s and despite many GP visits nothing diagnosed until 37yo after second nervous breakdown. It’s gut wrenching, not sure why I deserved a life of poor mentail health. I can see all the good in life and tried my best to participate but the experiences were always tempered by not feeling well. Not sure I can handle it much longer.
    Best wishes mark

  50. I’ve been off 20 mg of paxil/paroxetine for a week. I needed it for depression and honestly social anxiety.
    I was on it for a total of about 6 years from 2014 or 2015. My psychiatrist recommended my getting off it I think in 2018 in November. Not because I was suffering from anything from the medication, if I remember right it also included getting off my olanzipene/zyprexa at the time I took for schizoaffective disorder/bipolar 1. I’m not sure why he recommended getting off it, but it also coincided with an eye surgery I had scheduled 2 or 3 weeks later. I couldn’t work for 2 or 3 months after the surgery because my eyes needed to recover and I couldn’t put contacts in to see during the recovery period. I had a psychotic episode a few weeks after the surgery then they put me back on the same drugs, olanzipene and paxil. As I remember though getting off paxil the first time wasn’t that difficult though the most notable side affect I remember was the brain zaps/shocks.
    This past week I have been suffering from insomnia unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I came off a marijuana binge lasting about 3-4 months that left me with very little sleep for about a week but I was fine after that aside from the physical withdrawals of a sloshing sensation as if having spent hours on a boat, that lasted about 4 weeks. The marijuana binge was about 8 years ago.
    Normally I sleep well and on zyprexa and paxil I slept like a log. At first I slept lightly when I did, and just the movement of a person walking in the house would wake me up, my sleeping area has no door or walls, and I’d instantly feel exhausted. I’m always exhausted getting maybe 1-2 hours of sleep. Only been a week though. Working at night from 5pm and not getting home until 12 some nights I haven’t been able to get to bed until around 2 in the morning and sleeping in until 12 pm the next day, but the last two or three days having to get up to care for the dogs and cat has left me so tired that the only way I could function at work is to try and get some sleep until I leave for work. Now I can’t do anything with my day.
    Sleeping quality has been variable, light sleeps you get as if you had to much coffee or sugar the day before. I’ve also noticed having brief snaps of vivid dreams and then fully waking up 1 second later and then still feeling exhausted.
    The first 4 days off paxil left me very volatile in my mood. There were ups, downs, suicidal thoughts, and moments of complete anger. I nearly quit work twice last week. I need the job, minimum wage though it is; I still have my bills to pay and that is the only thing that has kept me there. I can’t get any other job in my small town.
    At first I thought the lack of sleep was from my changed diet and coffee. I’m still on my diet, but have quit drinking coffee until this insomnia is over. I was taking 20 mg of paxil and tapered for about 2-3 weeks to 10 mg. Having only 3 pills left I’d have to cut in half, I decided enough was enough and stopped. I’m not going back to the pharmacy for more of that crap to have a nice easy weaning period because I don’t want to spend the money or the time at psychiatrists office to be told I need the paxil. I read last night the symptoms of withdrawal from paxil last 2 to 3 weeks. I’m really hoping that’s the case. I don’t know how any others have suffered withdrawal effects for years. I hope all of you suffering are able to overcome this problem, the sooner the better.

    I decided it was time to quit paxil because I found I just couldn’t think clearly, any hope of being able to argue or rationalize things clearly went out the window. Rather than save my money I’d go on uncontrollable spending binges after paying my bills. I’m hoping off the meds I’ll be able to think and rationalize more clearly. Also massive weight gain is another concern I’m facing. I’m prediabetic and felt heart pains regularly before I started my diet and quit the meds. I needed a complete drastic 180 turn to take care of myself. If I need an antidepressant I’ll be trying St. John’s wort. I’m off the zyprexa also which I was taking 5 mg to be stable. That was tapered from 20 mg. I’m hoping natural remedies and vitamins can prevent future psychotic episodes and depression.

    I know my struggle hasn’t been as severe-as others, but I just felt compelled to share my experience. If you actually read through all this, thank you for reading.

  51. I have the opposite problem. Took 6 different meds, one of which was an antidepressant, all made me sleepy; took 6 that gave me diarrhea; 2 dizzy; a lot of meds, but some side effects are overlapping here. Also have bad case obstructive sleep apnea that’s being treated with a BIPAP going on 12 years now. It’s like I’ve not slept in years. I’m almost off everything now, (only 7.5 Buspar & Elavil for migraines)and I’m so sleepy in the morning and during the day, I can’t get up. No alcohol. Sleeping 11hrs. total each day. Is there such a thing called “Catch-up sleep” because you’ve not gotten “real quality sleep” in years?

  52. I tapered down from 20mg lexapro. I did it slowly and was doing great. I jumped off at 2.5mg. Still felt fine. But two days after I quit I just stopped sleeping. Started taking 5mg ambien for sleep. After a few days I had to up it to 10mg. After another couple of days I wasn’t sleeping on 10mg. I continued not sleeping any more than two hrs per night for a month. I ended up going back onto 5mg leaxapro as I don’t do well with insomnia. After a few nights my sleep returned. Now I’m stuck on lexapro unless I can deal with severe insomnia which I can’t.

    • Jumping off Lexapro at 2.5mg is way to big a jump. I am not at all surprised you went back on. I made the same mistake and had to go back on. I switched to liquid lexapro and tapered every three weeks or longer depending on how long it took me to stabalize at the new dose. Once I got to 1mg I got a different syringe to measure the liquid in milligrams and went all the way down to .01 mg. I know it sounds crazy but it is the only way I got off. It takes a long time but it is worth it. BTW, 2.5 mg of Lexapro is equivalent to 10-15mg of other antidepressants. You are not stuck on Lexapro but it takes a real commitment to get off.

      • hello im korean.
        I tapered very slowly the same way you did.
        Don’t you have any sleep problems now?

    • Are you taking the ambien too? And if so does this help with Lexapro? I am weaning celexa soooloo slow but have insomnia lately and haven’t even changed dose in a month🙄. I was given belsomra but didn’t work last night

  53. I am tapering off paxil now. I took 10 mg for 2 years then it was increased to 20mg 4 months ago. The side effects with the increase consisted of emotional numbness, weight gain, brain fog, anorgasmic. I then ran out of medication with this covid 19 stuff. I had discontinuation syndrome bad after just 3 days without it that I called a pharmacy and begged for them to help me. I have decided to get off this medicine. I went from 20 to 15 for a week then down to 10. That drop was too much and I started having withdrawal so I increased it 12.5. I have been here for two weeks but don’t feel stable enough to drop it further.
    As far as sleep goes, I can’t keep my eyes open. All day long I am fighting sleep. I started exercising and have eliminated all foods that aren’t “whole” foods from my diet, except chocolate coffee creamer for my cup of coffee in the morning. I drink only water and 1 cup of coffee and 1 green tea.
    The whole discontinuation syndrome caused me to reevaluate everything I put into and onto my body. And the dude has to be increased to remain effective is scary to me. I am actually trying all the natural recommendations, like affirmations, exercise, limiting screen time, healthy eating, social interaction, therapy, ( I have become the poster child of beating trauma and depression without medication!) going to bed at a decent time and allowing myself 9 hours to sleep (and I do…I sleep as many hours as my 3 year old and still can’t stay awake during the day!)
    I know going back to my dosage will only prolong this. I have to face the discomfort sometime or surrender to a lifetime of ssri’s.
    Another concern was I am still producing breast milk. I breast fed my youngest for a year but he has been weaned for 2 years now and I am still producing. After some research I learned paxil can cause this and along with this side effect it brings an increase in breast cancer. Another reason to not take the easy way out and just keep taking it.
    My quality of life is better withdrawaling than it was stable on paxil. Looking back I can see how much I changed. I was indifferent about everything. I was unmotivated. I read somewhere a doctor said paxil makes people “fat, lazy, and anorgasmic”. That was me and that’s not me!
    I hope my sleep returns to normal when I finally get through this taper.

    • Cami have you had your thyroid levels checked?
      I was also sleeping a lot and even feel asleep driving and it ended up being hypothyroidism.

  54. I have been off Zoloft for 4 years now and I am better today than a few years ago. The dizziness is gone. The brain fog is also gone. I am actually able to focus again. Unfortunately the insomnia, agitation , worry and fear are still there. I am grateful for what I have that’s good and hope that eventually I will sleep without agitation and worry.

  55. I was switched from Effexor to Cymbalta. I had a hard enough time getting off the Effexor, and now getting off the Cymbalta is even harder. I believe I had an allergic reaction to Cymbalta and then had to get off it so it didn’t matter if I weaned myself of not, I was just sick either way.

    I would not recommend the medicine at all!

    Now I am having a VERY DIFFICULT time sleeping!

    It’s a nightmare!

    • I’m so sorry Kelly. How long has it been? Your experience sounds most similar to mine. I hope we can all get our sleep back. I go multiple days without sleep and when I sleep I wake constantly with no deep sleep. Is that similar for you?

  56. I taek Escitalopram and I stop it I have sleep disorder I have brain zap I don’t know when thes sied effects go away.. I sleep and sleep vivid dream and wake up .. always I waek up after 3 hours sleep.. soon time I fee dizzy parlance lost

  57. Severe akathisia from Latuda (akathisia then misdiagnosed as anxiety).
    Latuda increased and symptoms persisted (Barnes level 5)
    Given Propanolol
    Got off Latuda and symptoms decreased
    Anxiety and insomnia persisting after three months of withdrawal
    Sleeping 2-5 hours per night. First broken then consolidated with Cognitive Behavior
    Therapy for insomnia.
    Tried melatonin, Benadryl, CBT-I,
    Afraid to take any kind of prescription medication, afraid I’ll never return to normal, not sure where to get help

    • When I tried Latuda,

      I had sleep terror, paralysis. I was awake and felt like a demon was there in my room during the day it was very sunny in the room and I was terrified. I couldn’t move and was sweating all over trying to turn my head. My bed was completely soaked.

  58. HELP. OPPOSITE ISSUE HAPPENED>… Zoloft 25mg the first week. First day of taking it I was pacing and such. Got worse but I tried to brush it off. Sleep got bad. Second week 50 mg. Took for a full week even tho all sleep stopped. What is odd is that I took it for 20 years. I was off it for a while and re started it.. That is why I was confused …. I told them what was happening.. and no one told me to get off it. I had no mania or anything else. I only met a total of 3-4 people similar to what happened to me. This happened over a year ago. Over 20 pills tried on me to “fix” this. Nothing worked.

  59. I’m 24 years old female and I’ve been taking many different medications for Bipolar disorder , generalized anxiety disorder and such.

    I just stopped Venlafaxine it’s been approx. a month. I had stopped dreaming for years and now it’s back and I don’t feel rested when I wake up and I remember my dreams and most of them are very suspenseful. I feel tired all the time no energy and I’m very stressed out. I stopped because I couldn’t go under the sun anymore or enjoy my life. I don’t know if i’m going to feel good one day. My psychiatrist is gone bc of covid. I’m on a waiting list. Pray for me.

    • Forgot to say I was losing all of my hair because of buspirone and venlafaxine. I stopped everything gradually (After approximately 4 years) 75 mg Venlafaxine and 30mg buspirone. with the “help” of my family dr who doesnt give a **** about me. I don’t tolerate any medication. The best for me was Lithium but I was going to pee 3-4 times during the night and it was painful. Now I only smoke weed and it’s so expensive. The only person who can help me is my boyfriend with massages during the day and him telling me to calm down because he’s scared I have a heart attack. My scalp still hurts very much like i’m still losing hair. . I really don’t know what to do now.

  60. I have taken generic Cyblta 60mn for 7 years & went off of it because the generic brands were giving me head zaps, so I wanted to quit. Before I was on/off several others like paxil, effexor, wellbutine etc.

    I stepped the medication down for about 3 months & had many side effects from withdrawal: head aches in the back of the head, brain zaps, brain fog & trouble sleeping.

    Of those side effects, only the insomnia didn’t go away. I am scared that I will never sleep well again & may need to go back on it to try to get better sleep. It’s a vicious circle…..beware before you start Cymbalta!!!!

  61. I tapered off Lexapro, finishing my last dose a week ago. I’ve had all the usual crap discontinuation syndrome symptoms, as well as sleep paralysis. The other symptoms are shivering non stop for hours, muscle twitching, crying at the drop of a hat, vertigo, slurred speech at times, unable to find words, short term memory problems, and dissociation.

    I went on lexapro three years ago during a separation from my violent ex, who threatened me with a gun. The lexapro helped me gather the courage to leave as I’d been severely depressed due to the abuse and had felt unable to leave at that point.

    This last week since coming off lexapro, I’ve experienced sleepparalysis something I’ve never had before, where I wake up with this overwhelming fear that my ex is in my house and might shoot me, but I can’t move or do anything. I know in my head that he’s not there and that I’m stuck between being asleep and awake, but I can’t pull myself out of it. It’s quite horrible.

    I stopped the lexapro as it was causing me significant health problems. I’m really glad I went on them in the first place as it saved my life, but coming off is rough.

  62. I was going through some difficulties coping with my divorce, so I took Zoloft for a period of 1-1/2 months. Within two weeks of taking it, I started noticing disturbing side-effects. While asleep, I would hear a loud noise (like glass crashing or thunder or a boom like a gunshot) that didn’t actually happen and instantly feel as though someone I knew died. Like a soul-crushing, permanent, never see them again, finality kind of feeling. It occurred multiple times a night, so not only was I not getting any sleep, but I was starting to feel traumatized. I immediately began the back down process of getting off of the medication safely, all the while still experiencing those symptoms. This was in 2014. I have not been on any medication since, and refuse to even consider it, seeing what this has done to my mind. I still periodically experience this awful symptom, only now I’m starting to notice a pattern. It only occurs now when I am stressed. I do my best to calm my mind before going to sleep now, but every now and then (like last night), those night terrors come back. I regret ever taking that medication. If I had only known…

    • Hey Kelli I am 18 years old and I am experiencing the exact same thing as you are. My sleep is completely
      Screwed up, I wake up to a loud bang noise every night. I’m wondering if they ever went away and can you ever get a good nights sleep anymore ?

  63. I came off fluoxetine gradually after 20 years. Been off it totally over a month. Not noticed any change in my mind or positivity/anxiety etc. However I have had trouble sleeping ever since stopping. I lay there for hours with my mind spinning. It doesn’t make sense as there’s nothing bothering me. I’ve tried breathing exercises and meditation with very little success. Then when I do sleep it’s like I’ve not been asleep and I wake up every hour or so! It’s a really disappointing outcome as enough sleep is essential to feel positive and ready to face the day. I bought some Sominex as I know they work wonders but I’m reluctant to take them as do not want to rely on a drug for sleep. I don’t know what to do about it really. I’m just hoping that it rectifies itself.

    • Becca

      The fluoxetine is still not out of your system at 4 weeks. What may be keeping you awake is all the bodily adjustments your gut and bones and muscles and skin and eyes will be making to not having it around – there is much more serotonin in all these organs than in your brain and the problem with Sominex is it may interfere with some or all of these.

      In the longer run, one of the other issues antidepressants can interfere with is awareness in some sense – people who have insomnia have the experience of not sleeping but in fact are often getting as much sleep as people who think their sleep is great. Perhaps we have to find some way to persuade ourselves that even though it seems like we aren’t sleeping we are – the alternative as you hint is to fling pills at the problem that this risks disturbing things even more


  64. I discontinued Venlafaxine HCL 75mg on 10/15 of this year.
    Since discontinuation I have experienced “sleep starts”, what feels like a significant adrenaline surge when falling asleep. Accompanied by a suddenly increased heart rate, and sometimes gasping for air. Often this will happen multiple times before getting to sleep.
    I started mirtazapine 15mg about a week ago, and while these disturbances during the night have dissipated this is still a routine occurance while trying to fall asleep.

  65. I am a 24 year old female. I’ve been taking zoloft (sertraline) for three years (150mg). I initially was put on it because I was finally getting sober from meth and heroin IV use. I mentioned to my doctor last summer that I probably would want to withdrawl off of it sometime soon. She said, “Sounds good! It’s easy. You can start whenever you want. Just drop 50mg off of your dose and come in and see me. We will figure out a plan for the taper.” I hadn’t decided yet if I wanted to. Finally, a week ago I decided I would try it. Rather than taking 100mg taper, I just didn’t take it at all for about 6 days. I figured it would be like the recreational drugs I used to use- take it when you feel sick. Eventually you won’t need it. But it builds up in your system. After 6 days I saw spiders crawling on my pillow and a little girl in my living room. I quit eating, extreme nausea, irritability, isolation. I began taking my regular dose (150mg). Because it’s not worth it. Tonight is night 5 again taking my regular dose. I have slept 8 hours in the last three days. I am a nursing student, and an employee! I am foolish for attempting this on my own. I also tried to withdrawl, by the way, because it was harder for me to reach an orgasm. I could still do it, but it was very difficult and I have to be CRAZY about the person. Like in love with them. Anyway, this is miserable! I mean the first few days were fun and games. Now I’m so deprived from sleep I’m still seeing things (shadows). Suicidal thoughts consistently. Crying from not being able to fall asleep. Extremely jumpy. Oh, and tremors! I was shaking so bad the other day. Tight Jaw= yes. Please pass on the message, SSRI should only be used in severe cases.

  66. It is extremely difficult to quit these medicines. Try on some herbal supplements like Aswagandha, passiflora tincture, valerian root extract, brahmi, Jatamansi, melatonin to ease sleep and anxiety during withdrawal. I have no idea and hope the sleep will restore to normal after taking anti psychotics and anti depressants that too without psychosis. If you visit a psychiatrist, you will definitely get some mental illness including insomnia.

  67. Back in December 2016 I started to take Sertraline (50mg) for depression, I lasted 3 days, the side effects were horrific, to this day I am left with tinnitus, memory problems and sexual dysfunction as well as terrible insomnia. I usually go to bed at about 11pm and go to sleep fairly easily only to wake after 1.5 to 2 hours later, the rest of the night I am awake, I may fall asleep for an hour around 6am, any sleep I do get seems very light, like being semi awake. So for four years this has been the story EVERY night, I dont know how I’m still alive.


  68. I am exhausted and so sleep deprived. I was on Paxil for 27 years and over the last nine months have weaned off of it. Four weeks ago I stopped it completely and I was down to 2.5 mg. Since then I can’t sleep at all. I found an old prescription of Klonopin and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Last night I took it and I was awake all night they gave me so much anxiety. This keeps happening. I finally took three Advil and I slept for three hours on top of the Clonopin. And by the way the Clonopin makes me so depressed that it’s almost not worth even taking that Because I never know what the outcome is going to be… I know I’ll be depressed the next day and maybe I’ll just be so anxious after taking it I’ll be awake all night. Why is this happening? And I’m just so tired of it somedays working and some days not working. I feel like I’m killing myself. I don’t know what to do? I had horrible insomnia for six years before they put me on Paxil. I’m going to try 5HTP and see if that works. If anybody has experience with that please let me know. I’m not living. And people that have not been through this do not understand and so I am completely isolated.

  69. I was on 500mg of antidepressants for the last eight years. I have been on cocktails of antidepressants since 2003. Now I have completely weaned off all. I have had chronic insomnia for almost a year now. Ironically, now I take Trazadone (an antidepressant) to help me sleep. I am concerned that my brain is messed up and I will never sleep right again.

  70. I was on Lexapro for 4-5 years… 2 years on 10mg, 3 years on 20mg
    decided to quit…
    went from 20mg, to 10mg for a month or two, then from 10mg to 5 mg for another month or two.
    was doing ok for the first 3 weeks and I was so happy about myself
    then started to sleep badly, then consistently slept worse and worse. waking up multiple time in the nigh and then being up a 4:30 or 5… awful…
    never had sleep problem before. would never in my life wake up in the middle of the night.
    yes in period of stress and anxiety was waking up at 5:30 but not in the middle of the night, and be easily irritable and feeling down.

    but this time there is no stress… and I haven’t been able to sleep for a year after that.headache walking sleep deprive for the entire day. day day after day after day.
    went to see a psychatrist telling me it was my anxiety and had nothing to do with Lexapro, and offered to put me back on it… I said BS, my anxiety never made me sleep deprived at that level and I never would wake up in the middle of he night and look at the ceiling for 3 hour straight. never.
    then i went to see a specialist, who really thought that i had sleep apnea (from looking at me you would see I don’t have sleep apnea). I followed all of this advice, no caffeine, no alchol, go to bed same hour every night yadi yadi yada.
    no change.
    they did the sleep study… well I did not sleep the entire 5 hours of the sleep study… and he went to conclude there was probably no sleep apnea…
    and he had nothing for me.
    he just prescribed some strong sleeping pills on which it is known to create dependency. and so after this lexapro dramatic story i felt like, one dependency is enough
    and so conclusion …. about to lose my job because I can’t function… i decided to go back on Lexapro, I am back on 10mg almost 2 month now and the sad story is actually still sleep very badly, waking up several times a night (that was not the case while i was on it the first time) and i can’t get myself out of bed in the morning… can’t arrive or show at work at a decent hour… but the few hours i have in the day I can function, and i am not depressed… but I only have 6 hours where I feell good and functional day.
    and you remove the 2 hours I go work out, to try to get myself out of this mess…

    I wish I had never, ever, ever started Lexapro and just ride out the bad times in my life…

    • I’m so sorry to read this and I.m in the same boat with Amitrytiline. Wished I never started it ! Hope things get better for you someday.

  71. Been on One particular anti depressant starting with P for 2 years now. For 3/4 of that I have been on 60mg (3 tablets).
    I had to take a break recently, I did this on my own and rather abruptly as I had run out of tablets and I was sick of the side effects that I was experiencing with medication.
    – Tiredness all day long (I tried less sleep, more sleep)
    – Lack of natural emotion in the day (wasn’t happy or necessarily sad, somewhere inbetween). I felt like life was seeing both whole sides of an A4 page at once.

    Coming off the tablet has been absolutely shocking (at that stage I was down to just 1 tablet per day.

    Just to give you an idea of the symptoms i’ve gone through in waves:
    Upset stomach (Diahrea) / lack of appetite
    Lack of taste
    Flu like symptoms which are evident (have been self isolating for many months with little contact)
    Incredibly vivid and long dreams (feels like these dreams are in real time, thats how long they feel. I know because of the time it takes for me to work out certain things in the dream as I become lucid)
    The most terrible nightmares i’ve ever experienced. I reckon like anyone i’ve had my fair share of nightmares, but here are my examples to give you some reference. Oh and I would return to this “situation / scene” every single time I would fall asleep.
    Nightmare Situation:
    I was under the sheets but could not do anything, then could feel something strugging at the sheets to try pull them off
    The sound of a boy on the other side of the sheets.
    – I woke up shortly after with the sheet over my head.
    A dream where I was stuck in the bed again and things would move in the dream, I would try activate google to turn the lights on in the hallway just outside our room. Shortly after a girl who could only be described as a demon girl suddenly appears 30 cm away from my face on the bed and pulls me down forward.
    – I woke up screaming but no sound came out. My partner had to wake me.
    An elderly gentleman ghost character appeared his head slightly from the door way. He asked me to come with him. My partner in the dream said “its ok to approach him he would have attacked you by now if he mean’t bad”. To make things worse I move towards him and wave my hands and like a cloud of smoke my hands go straight through him. He offered something to us, like an old gift and left it on the end of the bed while we sat on it. We asked what did he want and he told us to come to the back room of the house. All of a sudden there was like a gush of air and I woke up screaming, sweating profusely and unable to get bacck to sleep due to pure fear.

  72. I have been on a handful of antidepressants for the last 10 years. Lexapro was the first to give me problems when I was on it–horrible, debilitating fatigue that I only figured out was caused by lexapro when I had to wean off of it for a sleep study (my dose was 40mg which is crazy high).

    More recently, however, I was on a low dose of effexor for about a year when I started getting bad restless legs and hypnic jerks (jerking awake with a jolt of adrenaline when drifting off to sleep). I decided to wean off effexor and was nauseous and kind of out of it for about two weeks, but now I’ve been off of it for a little under a month and I have even worse restless legs and hypnic jerks that happen almost every night.

    Some nights I can fall asleep after an hour or so, but, like tonight, other nights my body jerks every single time I am about to drift off to sleep. I am so tired but I dread going to bed. It’s like torture getting jolted awake, and now the twitches/jerking are starting to happen when I’m awake too. I’m afraid I will never be normal again.

    • Hi Mariel,

      I’m experiencing the same issue with the hypnic jerks. I went on Mirtazipine (15mg) 2 months ago for postpartum anxiety (overactive fight or flight response) and insomnia. The mirtazipine stopped the adrenaline rushes I was experiencing and made me drowsy at night, but I developed the hypnic jerks after I started the drug. The same thing as you describe happens to me. I’m jolted awake the second I start to fall asleep and it will happen over and over all night long. They occurred a few nights a week for the first month on the drug and I would have to take a low dose of Xanax to sleep on those nights. Then they became less frequent during my second month on the drug. But then I decided to cut my dose as part of a slow tapering process (mirtazipine is causing me to gain weight and so I was hoping to gradually work my way off of it), but the jerks came back and I have them almost every night. I take Xanax to get past them, but I really don’t like having to take it so frequently.

      From what I’ve gathered online, these jerks can both be caused by going on antidepressants and they’re a symptom of withdrawal when coming off of them. Basically any changes in the brain chemistry affected by these drugs can cause this to occur. I think I may have been adjusting to the med during my second month when they decreased, and then the change from dropping the dose caused them to come back more frequently.

      I have so much anxiety about these jerks and insomnia in general. Plus I’m also having an increase in my overall anxiety and I can’t tell if that’s a relapse of the original issue or withdrawal, or sleep deprivation and stress over these stupid jerks. I agree, they are like torture! My only hope is that over time our brains will adapt to the changes and the jerks will subside. I plan to stay at this decreased dose for a while longer to see if I can stabilize for a bit before trying to drop again. I hope it improves for you! Let me know if you or anyone out there has some advice or encouragement for dealing with this issue.

  73. I have been taking cymbalta for four years for chronic fatigue syndrome. I was on 90mg a day and over the last 12 months tapered down to 30mg every second day (15mg /day). Every time adjusted the dose down I would have a few nights of terrible nightmares but it would settle. I didn’t mind as long as I was getting sleep. Since I was down to just 15mg/day I thought I would give a complete stop a try. I stopped 2 weeks ago and went through the usual nightmares and this settled. I felt good and apart from the brain zaps and some dizziness which have settled in the last few days and the itchy skin (that drive me crazy) . But my sleep has been getting progressely worse. I’m full blown insomniac the last few nights and feel awful. No depression, no anxiety but no sleep either and my bowels feel like they are lined with cement. Should I start taking it again, maybe every third day and work my way down until 1x30mg per week before I seize completely? Or will I simply go through all this again if I start taking it again? I’m struggling to function at the moment.

  74. Just after Christmas the drug I was on Milphram stopped working – I had only been on it for a few months but it was starting to give me bad thoughts/voices/no sleep. I spoke to my GP who started to wean me off it and the withdrawal was horrendous. However she did give me some sleeping tablets to give my brain a rest- they worked for 2 nights and then stopped.. this was over a weekend so I couldnt even get in touch with her I had to call 111 because I was feeling so rock bottom and tired. I then was put on another drowsy drug (it was not a sleeping tablet) – i cant remember the name – and again it worked for 2 hours on the first night and then I was wide awake again.
    I am now off both of them; but still no sleep. I lie there thinking all sorts of things, not as nasty as it was before I came off the Milphram but the thoughts are still there and at 2am, 3am, 4am, it is rather difficult to shake them off! I am also having fixated thoughts of having a full bladder, literally everytime i am comfy and ready to sleep it happens.. and nothing i do can ignore it i HAVE to get up. (15+ last night) It is like my brain is scared to let me fall asleep , because of all the horror before.
    It keeps blocking it. I am mentally exhausted.. every night i do the wind down, no laptop after 9, no drinks, i do colouring in .. I am ringing my GP again today – maybe i need some therapy..

  75. 12 years ago I had chronic insomnia I believe from hormonal changes with the menopause. After many trials of things Doctors prescribed Amitryptiline. It was amazing after a few days I slept and I was happy. 10mg a night did the trick. However, after 10 years on the drug I decided to wean myself off, I wasn’t working and the side effects of constipation were getting to me.

    In October 2020 I started to wean myself off. 0.5mg for a month. Everything was going well. So I continued for November on 0.5mg and in December went down to 0.25mg. Then all hell let loose and the chronic insomnia was back. I battled with it for 3 weeks in December 2020 but then beginning of January 21 in desperation I went back onto to 10mg of Amitryptiline. It didn’t work. Doctor said try 20mg still didn’t work. I’m now back on 10mg and hope to taper more slowly by 1mg a month or with more time BUT my insomnia is off the scale. I go to bed at 11.00 and don’t get to sleep until 3 or 4 am. I then wake several times between then and 6am. I’m a walking zombie surviving on 2 hours sleep a night. Today I’ve hit a brick wall and am not coping. I’m really going to be tough with myself and say there is nothing I can do because I can’t. I’ve just got to go with the tide and hope it comes good one day soon. However, reading your heart rendering stories here I don’t feel so hopeful.

    I’ve been put on a CBT sleep course but that’s making my anxiety worse. My sleep window is 1am – 5am. If I don’t got to sleep until 4am how do they expect me to get up at 5am. Ill be on even less sleep.

    I wish I could get onto a proper sleep trial to find out what the root of the problem really is because I had this before I started Amitryptiline . I’ve now got chronic insomnia and the task of weaning of Amitryptiline which is going to probably take a good year and add further to my anxiety.

  76. I stopped prozac 2 years ago and yet I have vivid dreams which i get exhausted next day. IT has bee 2 years snce my dreams hav’t subsided. Doctor prescribed many other anti-depressants and yet none helped me to stop dreams. Any advice

    • I started taking fluoxetine a few years ago as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant during that time on an offer I have experience terrible night terrors a relative asked me if I was still on fluoxetine and if so that is probably what’s causing my night terrors I stopped taking the men three weeks ago so far my night terrors have decreased.

  77. Hello there,I am a 32 year old male and I was prescribed escitalopram 20mg when I was tapering from opioids. I foolishly stopped the ssri cold turkey when I had finished my opioid taper and had the worst year of my life. Terrible insomnia, restless legs (I also had a bad flare of Crohn’s diease but that’s somewhat seperate). This was in April of 2016. 5 years. 5 years my sleep has been so shit, I have had to go back on opioids just to be able to get through the day, barely.

    No matter what I do, when I lie down at night, even if I had started to feel tired – I can’t fall asleep. I just lie there, it’s like some part of my brain or nervous system can’t shut off, not in the sense of racing thoughts but in the sense of just pure wakefulness. If I do fall asleep (with the aid of other drugs now, often) it lasts for between 1 to 3 hours (numbers I feel I have seen a lot of reading the comments on this site) and I wake up with brain zaps when I move my eyes around.

    Just fucked. I had never experienced any sort of sleep problems IN MY LIFE before this, even when going through very stressful times.

    I feel like the most important question is – where do we go from here? My quality of life is very poor and I am supposedly in my prime.

  78. I am still on venlafaxine 150mg (15 years ) I have tried at various times (3 times) in my life when I thought I was ready to taper off them and the dr gave me diazepam for 4 weeks while I done this but each time I was an emotional wreck over trivial little things so ended up back on them. I do know that even though I done it correctly it was horrendous coming off of them I felt like I was dying and lost weight each time…brain fog,disoriented,nausea, hallucinating, insomnia and sleeping through the day I was crying while out alone most the time I didnt even know why.
    I had a break down prior to be putting on meds I was basically babysat for 6 months and couldnt leave my home as agoraphobia had taken over my life, but now 15 years later I’m totally different infact you wouldn’t know I was taking these unless I told you, i did change a lot in my life to make it easier, i do still get the odd few bad days but tbh i couldnt manage without them as i have tried the longest i was off these meds was months but i struggled so much….the only thing that is strange is if I miss 1 day I sleep a very long time my body is so used to them I start withdrawing very quickly.

  79. I was on Effexor for 8 weeks after my first bout of depression. It caused serious insomnia. My Dr changed me to mirtazapine. It helped me sleep for a while but then that effect wore off. Nonetheless I stayed on it for years.

    When I tried to come off I had a range of side effects and invariably had to go back on. Eventually I found surviving antidepressants and Learnt about withdrawal and how to taper. I did this over years, making minute cuts to doses. I managed to keep withdrawal symptoms to a minimum and had my last micro dose 2.5 years ago.

    Insomnia was and remains an significant issue. I have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. My sleep quality is very poor. I never dream. My memory and concentration are impacted by this. I have tried everything but to no avail. I believe the antidepressant and the withdrawal from them have changed my physiology in a way that produces chronic insomnia.

    I found a way through everything else but this. It’s very frustrating and impacts my quality of life

  80. I was on Zoloft some years back for many years. I started getting vertigo and nothing could be associated with why. After getting an MRI and being told it’s inner ear and nothing could be done, I decided to go off the Zoloft. I thought maybe that was the cause. I stopped cold turkey no problem and no withdrawals. There was a time after that, that I felt I needed to be back on the Zoloft so I went and got a script. It made me crazy. I had to stop it. I couldn’t understand why it was making me feel that way when it had worked so well previously. I had gone on a couple of different antidepressants in lieu of Zoloft. I could not handle SSRI’s anymore, I guess. Well, 6 years ago I went on Generic Effexor. It seemed to work until Covid hit and other problems arose. Dr. switched me to Wellbutrin and I was feeling the same way as I did trying to go back on Zoloft. I decided at that time, I would just go off antidepressants completely. I went through serious withdrawal for a couple of days. After that, mostly just the zaps. I was ok for about 2 weeks and then I started getting terrible insomnia. This has been going on now for about 4-5 weeks. I fall asleep about the same time but then wake up at all different times and cannot get back to sleep. Anxiety and fearful thoughts takeover. I’ve been taking OTC sleep aids and melatonin but does not seem to work. I know I can’t go back on meds but the not sleeping and anxiety is debilitating. As well as the thoughts of overwhelming fear, loneliness and like the walls are closing in.

  81. Hi all,
    Your comments have been strangely encouraging. Last year I came off Effexor after 22 years, slowly titrated over many months with the help of my psychiatrist. Covid meant less interactions with people, and it was an opportune time to get off it. Overall a good move, anxiety decreased, I experienced emotions again. Main problem was sleep and lack of a brake whenever I’m with people. Covid made the social part easier but sleeping has become problematic. I thought it was because I was getting older, having too much screen time, drinking too much coffee, disturbed by the cat, by my son getting up etc and have addressed these except for the ageing part. I went off Effexor because as a night owl I was sleeping less. I had no idea going off Effexor would worsen the insomnia. It is as many of you describe – my body has forgotten how to sleep – at night. I’ve gone from sleeping every second night to not sleeping at all at night. Lying awake at night is no fun – that’s a lot of hours until I start hearing others go to work and the birds singing, and there I am again snatching a few hours from 6 in the morning. I’ve tried all the simple remedies, antihistamines, cold and flu caps, sleep hygiene and music etc and have decided I am a nocturnal beast and that sleeping from early morning, or through the day is better than becoming more anxious and not sleeping at all. Perhaps I’ll trick my body into wanting to sleep at night – eventually. Meanwhile I’m taking advantage of being awake at night when my son is asleep by writing a book. I can sleep through the day when he is at work. Thank you all for your contributions.

  82. Hi all,
    PS to my above comment: I got out of the habit of taking my supplements when I stopped taking Effexor. Last week I started taking Magnesium again. The comments about restless legs in this forum helped remind Magnesium assists with that. I put myself into bed at 9 p.m. and told my 34 y.o. son I wasn’t available (he has a disability, has a sleep after work and then wakes up around 8 p.m.) I slept through the night and every night since so am back on track. Wishing you all well.

  83. I’ve been on and off Lexapro 10 mg most of my adult life. The last time I stopped it was 6 weeks ago and I have been taking something almost every single night to help me fall asleep. (melatonin but now it’s not working, Xanax which I hate to take but works great, zzzquil works…) I’ve been struggling badly to fall asleep and been waking multiple times a night. I have always struggled with insomnia probably because I’ve been on lexapro so much. I do all the right things… Today I had no caffiene, I limit screen time, big meals before bed, etc. So many people have commented that their sleep hasn’t improved for months to years and that scares me. Lack of sleep is supposed to be so damaging to your brain. But maybe my brain was already damaged or damaged by lexapro? Argh. I’m so tempted to go back on it or try another medicine but I’m sick of taking meds. I keep hoping it will improve. 🙁 so it’s 2 am and I took melatonin hours ago and just took zzzquil. I’ll be a walking zombie again tomorrow. Someone had mentioned it felt like something blocking their brain? It almost feels like a fullness in my head. I don’t have worrying thoughts (except about my lack of sleep) keeping me awake. It’s like there is a brightness in my head/brain. I can yawn and feel physically tired but my brain is wide awake. I guess it’s good to know we’re not alone… Misery loves company, huh? I wish you all the best.

  84. I have been on sertraline for ten years, since I was eight years old. I stopped about seven months ago I believe. I have had the worst insomnia of my life and paranoia that I haven’t experienced since I was a child. I was taking up to 300 mg I believe of sertraline for a while and was taking 100mg when I stopped. It has been taking me about five hours to fall asleep, sometimes longer, and once I wake up, even I only got three hours of sleep, I often cannot fall back asleep. I experience drowsiness all day and sever exhaustion at the end of the day due to lack of sleep but still cannot fall asleep at the end of the day. There are often many thoughts but more often I just feel jolts of awakeness that interfere with my sleep sometimes with a flash inside my eyes. It’s as though I’m being jerked from falling asleep. My head feels very full and no level of exhaustion will stop it. My body is fighting off sleep, even physically. I can calm down completely and relax and then something shocks me into feeling a deep pant of anxiety momentary that shocks me awake.

  85. I ve took Lexapro 10 mg for about a year and than stopped when I got pregnant- currently 6 months and I have the worse insomnia ever. I know pregnancy hormones can cause that etc but this was never so bad with my first baby – this one is a nightmare . No matter how tired I am I can’t fall asleep for hours and if I do I can’t stay asleep for long and wake up multiple times a night and I’m not able to go back to sleep . Only sleep I get is early in the morning 1-3 hrs that’s all ..

  86. In December 2016 I took Sertraline 50mg for a total of three days, I had to quit as the side effects were totally intolerable. Since that day I have not had one decent night’s sleep. I fall asleep fairly easily but wake after just an hour or so, then I’m totally unable to get to sleep again. I’ve been wearing a Fitbit for the last two years and the sleep graphs are just crazy. I developed several other serious problems at this time too….none of which have resolved.
    How can just 3 tablets have destroyed my life? I live in misery,

    PLEASE don’t take these wretched drugs.

  87. I took Nardil (Phenelzine Sulfate), an MAOI, for thirty years. One and a half years ago it became hard to get due to production problems by the manufacturer and I was forced to wean from it. Fortunately I was able to obtain enough of the antidepressant to allow me to wean slowly but nothing prepared me for the hell I would experience for the year that it took to withdraw from it.
    Most of the effects were physical: extreme lethargy, headaches, itching and sometimes excess salivation. The mental effects kicked in after about eight months with depression and feelings of doom. I began to have trouble getting to sleep at night but, once there, slept well.
    It took a whole year to come off the drug fully. Having been on two 15mg tablets daily, my last dose was one sixteenth of one tablet every four days. Up to that time I had decreased the dose by tiny amounts every two weeks. To do otherwise meant all the withdrawal symptoms became worse again.
    It is difficult to believe that lethargy can be so debilitating but I spent an entire year feeling useless and apologizing to my family. It was extremely distressing. I felt as if I was dragging myself through the day.
    I have been free of Nardil for one month now and some days I feel I am improving and the lethargy is decreasing and others it returns.
    All the comments I have read above mention trouble sleeping. I now have the opposite problem. I sleep ten to eleven hours per night and it takes me two more hours to really feel awake. For years I used to get up at 4 a.m. to go to work and was fully awake the moment I got up.
    I would like to know if this tiredness will ever wear off. It is not depression but perhaps it is a form of physical depression but that comes from the change to my brain chemistry and neurotransmitters. I don’t want to have to go on another antidepressant to feel fully alive again especially having been let down by the pharmaceutical company that made Nardil.
    If only the pharmaceutical companies would undertake proper studies into the effects and time frame of discontinuing antidepressants so that people would know what to expect. The drugs can do wonders but the agenda of pharmaceutical companies is to put people on, not help them get off, when they no longer need them.

  88. I’ve been unable to sleep more than 4-6 hours after taking the lowest dose of Pristiq generic (I think the ER version) I only took it for 2 days. It’s been 2 weeks since stopping and I’ve been waking up anxious & jittery & with bad stomach issues. During those 4-6 hours some nights I’m waking up multiple times. I feel very alert but anxious and grouchy later & overwhelmed.

  89. I was previously on lexapro but recently switched to Zoloft or whatever the generic equivalent is. I noticed that in both medications if I skipped them for just a day I would sleep for 10+ hours and it would be the best sleep I’ve ever had. I would also have the most vivid dreams that I just never got while on the medications consistently. It was also very difficult switching medications as I had to stop taking one for a while. I slept all day. It’s not like a huge issue, although it probably would be if I ever decide to stop taking any medication, I’ve just always wondered why that is.

  90. I stopped taking Zoloft about 25 years ago due to severe insomnia, even now I’m only only able to sleep 3 or 4 hours with out waking up for 2 or 3 hours most night’s.

  91. I have had terrible insomnia after coming off Olanzapine (an antipsychotic) that I was on for less than a year. It has been a year since discontinuation, and I generally get five hours of sleep a night and wake up twice a night. Before Olanzapine, my sleep was perfect; I’d get seven to eight hours without awakening. It is sad that a minority of folks taking psychiatric drugs has these really terrible, life altering experiences due to the drugs but many psychiatrists don’t take us seriously and dismiss the effects.

    • Hi John, I’ve had the almost same story, but after comming off Risperdal. I was exhasted and anxious, and I spend in this condition about 2,5 years…But by accident I have found the article about melatonin The discpription impressed me, so I decided to at least give a try. I start to take melatonin, and my quality and duration of sleep increased. It’s not a cure for 100%, but gave me some hope of having normal life.
      However I’m not recommend to take it without consultation with a doctor. It’s just my exprience, my story. I still looking for a way how to resovle this problem.
      Wish you luck!

  92. I tapered down Brintellix 15 mg (vortioxetine, an SMS drug) after being fed with it for four and a half years my mild depression recovered. After a mild dizziness for a few days, the most horrible withdrawal symptom, insomnia, begun. I have had a succesfull Mirtazapin 7,5 mg (mirtazapine) for sleeping, but that suddenly stopped working. Now I have been sleeping maximum three hours per night for two weeks. I simply cannot fall asleep, not even in daytime. I am really stressed about this. The worst is that I cannot know, whether this is ever going away or has my brain been changed by the drug permanently.

  93. So I was recently diagnosed with adhd and was put on focalin along with lexapro. I felt great and then felt like it was causing issues with the lexapro and my research said the drug combination in not advised and I was worried I was building up Seratonin syndrome because I was having strange depression, extreme exhaustion for months, and I pretty much thought I was dying. I decided to give up my lexapro now to go thru the withdrawals before I start nursing school. I have slowly been tapering down my dose and was doing good but then the insomnia has hit me the past two day and I have only slept 2 hours in the last 48 hours. Surprisingly I really don’t feel bad but I know this is very bad for my health I really hope I get some sleep soon. I hope i get through the withdrawals soon I have got my dose down to 1/4 of my normal dose I am afraid to drop it completely now. If anyone has advice I would greatly appreciate it.

  94. I had been on Cymbalta for 3 years, felt good mentally and in most aspects of my life and decided to stop taking the medication cold turkey one day. I was completely ignorant and oblivious to the risks of doing that. I experienced hightened anxiety, dark thoughts that I hadn’t experienced in years, paranoia and the worst was a night of sleep paralysis which I thankfully have not experienced again, but will always remember as it scared me enough to never stop taking medication without consulting a doctor first. It also reminded me that I have no true idea of what is in these medications and to be aware of the risks involved. The question that will always be pending is whether it’ll have to be something I take throughout my life for management of anxiety

  95. I ran out of my Remeron and when I go to sleep as I’m drifting off it feels like I stop breathing and am dying so I awake with a jolt scared out of my mind. Currently I have been up for 36 hrs straight and am trying 2 lay down but can’t help but stop myself as I drift off I feel like I stop breathing and I dont know what yo do. I went to a doctor while I was in prison about a year ago thinking it was sleep apnea, but they did an xray on my chest and said it wasn’t. But the dr’s in there only do the bear minimum in there so I can’t tell if they checked all resources. If someone knows a way to help me it would be much appreciated

  96. I went off Paxil three years ago, and I’ve had issued with insomnia ever since. I don’t have trouble falling asleep, but I often wake up about 5-7 hours after I’ve gone to sleep, and then I can’t fall back asleep.

  97. I don’t know where to start…I am 35 y/o and have been through the ringer prescribed a multitude of psychotropic pharmaceuticals. Once I found a regimen that seemed to work for me I was back and forth on a few main ones being Effexor 250 mg, Citalopram, Klonopin etc. for over 16 years of my life….

    I am currently undergoing a weaning off process for the second time of Effexor and it is unbearable…the withdrawal has left me non function able and I can list a copious amounts of crazy side effects that had me running to the hospitals etc, however I am TRYING to stay focused and on topic with the sleep issues during Antidepressant withdrawal.

    I too have been having Vivid lucid nightmares/terrors that wake me up with cold sweats….I feel trapped in these dreams that I can’t wake up from…when I eventually wake up, my whole body feels like it’s been through a boxing ring, my anxiety is through the roof and I have to take a nap, from my previous sleep to somewhat function….exhaustion doesn’t even seem to express this horrifying and uncontrollable experience enough…

    So I have been off of Effexor now for maybe a week while being out back on a small does of citalopram/kilonopin/adderall …. I KNOW for a fact that these dreams these side effects these sleep habits and extreme fatigue are 💯 % due to withdrawing from Effexor and I have tapered off for about three months.

    I USED to be a completely different person that really struggled with depression/anxiety/focus….I have my BA in Business administration and I haven’t been able to keep a job probably for the last 7 years. I am looking into temporary disability as I am a single mother, living with my parents and not functioning AT ALL.

    I will say that I am a fighter!!! Which is why I am still here regardless of all of the turmoil psychotropic meds have destroyed my life…Credited to Big pharm, the desire to have addicted patients for life which makes them $$$$$$$$$$$ as well as negligence and malpractice of doctors!!!! I’m beyond infuriated, but I’m not giving up hope! I’m so glad that each one of you shared because I strongly believe that this is a huge part of our testimony and purpose to help others, enlighten, save, prevent, and hopefully make a difference!!!

    I also started digging into holistic and natural remedies that are supposed to help regenerate our malfunctioning brain chemistry. But, it’s not a quick fix. Healing takes time…just don’t give up and don’t lose hope!

  98. I was back in 2010 on Paxil (seroxat) for 3 weeks. And after stoping this drug, after 12 years I still didnt recovered. My sleep is weak, not refreshing like before, my muscles on whole body are softer and tired, my concentration and memory is weaker, erection is weaker… Its like one part of me is missing. I feel much older then I am, even Im 34 yrs old now. Ssri drugs are very dangerous, and then altered my whole well being to worse. I regret taking it and wouldnt recomend anyone to take it even if it was a matter of life and death. I mean, i read some stories about peoples lifes after they stop this ssri drugs, its like HORROR stories !!!

  99. I was on Effexor for 10 years. I recently tapered off over a 6 month period under the supervision of a psychiatrist. I have taken no antidepressants for 6 weeks now.
    I am experiencing sleep problems and bad dreams which wake me and set off panic attacks. Never, in my entire life, did I experience these until weaning off the antidepressants.
    Very difficult to deal with. My doctor cannot offer an explanation or cure.

  100. I tried to wean Trazadone and sertraline, but had to stop. I have not slept in 7 months and am continuing to take tapered amounts of both. I can no longer taper bc my CNS and gut are destroyed by these drugs. I never feel full no matter how much I eat on a restricted diet bc I can’t handle carbs, coffee, dairy, etc. i lost all muscle and am barely surviving at 95-100 lbs. I also developed neurotoxicity and am living in an old house with lots of toxins that I can’t get away from. My hearing and vision are going as well, in addition to sleep, and many other health issues. I was healthy and slept 8-9 hrs prior to these drugs and now life is destroyed. I’m retired and all plans have been nixed for me. My hubby will eventually carry on with out me….which he’s fine with now after 20+ good yrs together. Everything he liked about me has totally changed and I can no longer drive. Family won’t believe all that’s wrong and are fed up. They think there are other ways to treat this but have done no research like I have…but just think I’m crazy… which is where I am headed. Lost almost all my hair and look 80 instead of the young healthy and fit 60 yo I used to be. These drugs should be outlawed here as some of them are in some countries. Ironically, the Greek word for sorcery is Pharmaka. The Bible tells us that sorcery is evil in so many words. Wish I had figured that out prior to getting into this mess. My doc wanted me to see a psychiatrist for my sleep disturbances…. DISTURBANCES??…I wouldn’t call 7 months with no sleep a disturbance. I call it lethal. Of course he doesn’t believe the drugs caused this. I feel for all of us here! Big Pharma does all they can to hide the bad press online and even on FB. They will delete a post or ban a person for criticizing AD drugs. I’ve seen it firsthand. What a shame that thousands die each yr trying to stop these drugs. Many by taking their own life or by other health issues caused by the drugs. There is no good in them and I never got the slightest benefit. I wish more doctors would get a clue. There are so few that do. God bless and keep you safe!

  101. I was on Sertraline for about 11-12 months, first at 25mg a day, then 50mg a day (around the 2 or 3 month point). 25mg was a good balance for me, but it was raised to 50mg since my ADHD like symptoms were more prominent at 25mg, so my psychiatrist upped the dosage of Sertraline. Ever since the 50mg, I’ve had extremely vivid dreams nearly every single night. So real feeling, yet the dreams are so out of nowhere/random that usually know they’re a dream after waking up. I’ve stopped Sertraline and Wellbutrin (which was added about 9-10 months after I first started Sertraline). I’ve stopped both at about the 12 month point, by tapering off over a few weeks.

    Even still, ever since being off both of them (about 4-5 months now), I continue to have these vivid dreams. The concerning parts about it all, is how each day I feel so incredibly tired and unrested. As if I didn’t even sleep, where my body (but especially my brain) are so, so, so tired, that I just have to fall back asleep. I always end up snoozing or even just sleeping through my alarms entirely (despite having 7+ alarms). Somehow my body seems to be able to sleep through these due to this tiredness I feel.

    On top of that, the other concern I’ve had is that because I have so many vivid, realistic (yet not realistic) dreams, I have started to get mixed up in memories, and whether or not they were from a dream or reality. Like if I said XYZ to a person, or if I experienced this one random thing with a project I would work on – I would really those instances, but then realize that they were actually from a dream and it never happened. I would only realize what memories were a dream or real life if I really try and think about it, or I have to ask someone if that memory even happened.

    It’s pretty frustrating and so exhausting dealing with this. I’m glad it seems to be mainly my sleep that has been affected negatively, and not anything more. But it’s been tough because my sleep has been pushed back later and later into the night, where I’m not even remotely tired even at 4 or 5am anymore. I sleep until 11am-12pm after multiple alarms, and can only really get out of bed (where I still am as I’m typing this) after doing something that really has to stimulate my brain (like now). Only until then would I feel even remotely enough energy to move and get out of bed. But otherwise, if I didn’t have alarms, I’d no doubt sleep until much later in the afternoon. I’ve had times where I slept in until 4pm, despite sleeping by 1 or 2am, and even with 12+ hours of sleep, my body and brain are sooooo tired, that I can absolutely keep sleeping. The only thing that has stopped me from that is work, or starvation, or bathroom.

    It sucks because my time with friends and family has decreased because of my tiredness, and the tiredness feeds into this sleep schedule being pushed back further and further. I’m so fortunate and lucky my job is flexible with hours, and can handle me coming in in the afternoon. But I don’t want that at all. I feel so ashamed and worthless when I’m into work so late, and I’m out so late that people I know are about to go to bed.

    It’s all very odd, and I can only presume it’s been related to the use, and removal of, Sertraline in my life. I don’t think if this all as “big pharma” being evil or anything. Everyone’s body is very different, and these medications are capable of helping people for the very best. I know people with having superb experiences with their medications, and there are plenty of stories out there as well of similar experiences. But not every medication works for everyone, which is the very sucky thing about the trial and error required to find what works with you. The extra sucky part is the possible side effects, and especially the ones that seemingly linger well after stopping their use.

    I gotta stop typing, otherwise I’ll just keeping blabbing about stuff and be later into work than I’d want to be 😖 Don’t know if anyone would read this anyways lol

  102. I’ve halved my venlafaxine dose again from 75 to 37.5 and have trouble either getting to sleep or staying asleep. It’s really problematic. It’s been weeks now with no resolution

  103. I consider myself a Paxil guinea pig. I started the drug in 1994 at age 27 and remained on the drug for most of the following 27 years. I took a couple of very short-lived breaks, and one that lasted about a year in 1997-1998. I didn’t acquire the tools to help me remain drug free until 2020. Up until that time, I mostly took 20mg, although i did take 25 mg for a while when the controlled release first became available. Then I switched to generic paroxetine and back to 20mg. In 2020 I completely changed my eating habits-moving to a mostly plant-based diet. I was able to decrease my dosage to12.5mg. I also started meditating. In October of 2021, I started tapering off the drug. It took me at least 2 months with some side effects, but I persisted and have been off since late November 2021. I struggled with some anxiety and moodiness, but that seems to have dissipated. Over the last 2 months or so, I have developed insomnia which seems to be getting worse. This is my second night in a week of only sleeping for 2 hours. I had Covid in early May and have heard that might be a cause. However, after reading some of the posts on this website, I have to seriously consider the possibility that it could be a consequence of my long-term use of Paxil. I am more committed than ever to stay off this drug and any like it.

  104. Battling with severe treatment-resistant Atypical Depression, I eventually tried the MAOI Tranylcypromine — After it failed to work and gave me insomnia most nights, I was tapered off of it this March ( 2022 )…the insomnia became progressively worse…Now, four months later, I am still battling to correct the insomnia — and it is STILL becoming progressively worse ! It has gotten to the point that, for the past several nights my mind and body have struggled to sleep at ALL.

    The Article and Comments have confirmed for me that there may be a rare, but medically very SIGNIFICANT risk — that, for some people, using certain anti-depressants may lead to a LONG (maybe even PERMANENT?) issue of struggling to improve sleep issues !

    ** This is one of the many reasons why research must be done to determine exactly what course of Treatment will work for EACH individual patient !

    If you really think about it, the current medical norm of playing “Antidepressant ROULETTE” can be a long and somewhat torturous extension of a patient’s suffering. For some patients, this “antidepressant roulette” even ends up being a contributing FACTOR in the progressive worsening of their Depression itself !

    What about the Medical Oath to “do no harm” ?

    That ethically sums up why research needs to be done to develop methods that will allow Psychiatrists to make a determination as to exactly what Treatments will work for each individual patient. A person’s suffering would no longer be extended and increased —instead, they would have the humane assurance that a successful series of steps could be taken to lessen and possibly end their emotional distress.

  105. An interesting study of [SSRI] antidepressant effectiveness has just been published in the UK. The top-line is what many of us here instinctively know already: “After decades of study, there remains no clear evidence that serotonin levels or serotonin activity are responsible for depression, according to a major review of prior research led by UCL scientists.” Read more here:

    I’m seven months into a slowly tapered withdrawal from Welbutrin and Escitalopram (used for at least five years) and can replicate many of your experiences here: Sudden onset insomnia about two months ago. I had never had trouble getting off to sleep in my life – until now! It’s a hell of a shock to the system. Diana Dunning commented above “…my body has forgotten how to sleep.” Exactly. Lying awake, feeling not tired – but wired! Restless leg: check that. Then many hours into the night it’s as though my body suddenly releases itself from a spasm, and sleeps – only to be awakened by the slightest disturbance an hour or so later.

    The usual OTC aids seem to work at first – but then abruptly stop. I’m going to try Melatonin next – but am resisting Zopiclone. Why exchange one pill nightmare for another…?

    I’ve been looking into the basic neuroscience – trying to learn what we’ve been doing to our thought processes by using these SSRIs. It’s worth knowing how thoughts are actually ‘made’ and transmitted through the neurons, through the axons and dendrites to the synapses – then hopping on to the receptors of the next neuron and so on, into an endless interconnected web of cells!

    It strikes me that we interfere with these chemical pathways at great peril! From my very basic understanding it looks like maybe one reason things are so slow to change in brain chemistry might be to do with the stuff called Myelin that sheaths the axon of the neuron. It takes a long time to build up (many months) – and I guess the opposite maybe true. Building up the Myelin sheath is what makes strong neural pathways apparently (especially memories) so maybe this might be a clue as to why all of us here are suffering for such extended periods of time. Maybe a doctor and/or scientist can offer a perspective?
    I feel for you all! Good luck.

  106. Sleep paralysis every single night, so I have to take a minidose of a TCA every other evening, orherwise it’s not a life ;(. Not sure if it’s a well known part of sleep paralysis, but in my case, it seems I can’t breathe every time, so I breathe very fast even while still asleep, until I get conscious enough to move at least a finger and wake up totally. This is the scariest thing that ever happened to me. It would be really great if someone found a treatment that doesn’t involve just replacing a med with another one…
    I have also much worse PMS (even while on the aforementioned TCA) and if I stopped the TCA, I’d also have brain zaps (in case that damn paralisis wasn’t enough ;)).

  107. In Early 2020 I decided to finally get help for my anxiety issues… (I’m 37 years old now). I slept like a rock even with anxiety issues my whole life. The Doctor prescribed me sertraline to deal with my anxiety. The first night I took half of a pill, I got very nauseous and weak. Biggest issue was ZERO sleep that night. I’ve NEVER had a night of zero sleep. The side effects were so bad that I couldnt take it another night but I did anyways. So after a second night the insomnia stayed as well as the nausea. I decided NO MORE SERTRALINE! So I quit but then my insomnia stayed. It took HOURS to fall asleep and if I did sleep I’d have scary and vivid nightmares. I’d also have brain zapps and I’d only get maybe 1-2 hours a night of sleep. I felt dead everyday… Well, I haven’t taken sertraline since but my insomnia has ruined my life. I cannot get but maybe one hour of sleep per night, and everyday is a total nightmare. Trying to work is near impossible, I run a small business and it’s failing due to my lack of energy. All day long I live with EXTREME GROGGINESS, to a point where my brain feels as if it has battery acid in it. I also noticed that I feel like a night owl, I feel much more awake all night but totally dog tired all day. No matter when I lay down I cannot sleep! I try day sleep, no luck. No napping, I’ve tried but never fall asleep. I’ve been on a dozen different sleeping meds with zero luck. Currently I live in Colorado and now I’m addicted to Marijuana… But it doesn’t help either! At first it helped slightly but then stopped. My life has been horrific ever since this insomnia began, and I KNOW it was drom that sertraline. We need to get all of us together and bring our evidence to the FDA!! They need all SSRI’s pulled from the shelves and studied for their after effects!

  108. I have been on SSRI’s on and off for about 20 years for treating (what I now know is complex PTSD, anxiety disorder and depression). Started with Celexa 20mg back in 2002 with no follow up or support other than the meds. It caused alot of anxiety shakiness and made me feel like I was on edge all the time.
    I kept trying to tell my doctor the side effects and she basically said it was all in my head.
    I went off them on my own I think in 2008. Not really sure if there were side effects? I felt awful prior to taking them as on them. I already was a vivid dreamer since I was a child and my c-PTSD nightmares continued on Celexa. Maybe got more vivid.
    Ended up back on SSRI’s after a nervous breakdown of sorts in 2014. Had a different doctor whom I trusted. was put on 10mg Prozac and have been on it until 6 weeks ago.
    It did absolutely nothing for my anxiety, and if anything made it worse when I increased the dose to 20mg for any length of time. Was awful. I felt paranoid.. and was very scary.
    It sort of helped my sleep? My vivid dreaming went next level on it…but I was used to that since childhood.
    After hearing the news that scientists discovered that serotonin deficiency was not the cause of depression, and they don’t know now what it’s all about I decided to stop taking them. I was only 10mg every 2 to 3 days at this point. So it’s been about a month off of the prozac. I have had chronic insomnia for about 6 weeks now (so just before I went off them). The insomnia is not letting up at all… and I’m exhausted. Working with about 4 hours average per night. (sometimes 5 on a good day).
    I have also had a really stressful summer and have been regularly triggered and dealing with that as well – so not sure what is what. Is it the prozac? Or my c-PSTD flaring up. I am in regular therapy as well – and it stirs so much up – so that could be a big contributor. Sigh.
    I am exhausted. I literally don’t remember in my life when I last had a good night’s sleep… maybe once a few years ago?
    My long term use of SSRI could be the reason? My doc at the time told me I would likely be on them for life…
    I wish I had never taken that first SSRI back in 2002. What I needed was a good psychologist… and I had trouble finding one for about 10 years.
    So tired. Don’t know what my quality of life will be? I am very introverted and avoid crowds, groups of people especially if I am new to joining them.
    So just tired.

  109. I am amazed to read these accounts of how our sleep was affected by SSRIs. I am baffled that may people report insomnia- my response was the complete opposite! How can it be that the same drug has completely opposing actions on sleep? How can the same person have one response to an SSRI, yet a completely different response to a different drug supposedly in the same drug class? What is going on?

    I took one citalopram tablet and had a huge panic attack. I didn’t take it again. Many years later, I weaned myself onto sertraline to avoid the feelings of being ‘on edge’. Despite only taking a fraction of a pill, I ended up with severe hypersomnia, sleeping up to 16 hours per day. It was deep sleep, rather like the kind I’ve had when ill with the flu. I nearly crashed my car by nodding off at the wheel- I could not keep my eyes open. It was during this time that the lights went out on my genitals too, but I barely noticed as I was so preoccupied with overwhelming tiredness.

    I have tried a few medications in order to help with my PSSD and I am currently taking agomelatine. I don’t know how much of my perceived sleep changes are due to these drugs or the post-SSRI syndrome I now have. I no longer feel tired or awake, I just ‘power down’ and ‘up’ again. I very rarely recall any dream. I did have a full overnight EEG polysomnography sleep study which showed that there is nothing odd with my sleep stages.

    Like with many things going on with these post-SSRI symptoms, we may have normal things going on, but we don’t ‘feel’ them anymore.

    • Here’s another one…
      I took one dose of Zoloft 50mg on Dec 30, 2021. That was the last day of life. I haven’t slept well since. Most nights are 0-3 hours of sleep. I’ll occasionally get 4-6 but that’s after days of sleep deprivation. While you think I’d crash and sleep for a week, no, my body takes that 4-6 hours and totally recharges so I don’t need to sleep again for a week.
      I have 3 young children to take care of. I don’t know what to do. This doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to heal and the lack of sleep makes me so depressed all I do is cry and think of how I cant end it because of them. I’m a shell of my former self. I never had sleep problems before this, I was happy, and had so much I wanted to do in life.
      This has truly ruined my life and potentially the lives of my husband, children, and the rest of my family.
      It’s a nightmare I can’t wake from, even though I can’t sleep. Go figure…

      • Mary… Your story is identical to mine! I took Zoloft for 3 days (only half tablet) and that was 3 years ago. The first day I took it I had nausea and a headache and couldn’t sleep. I’ve only had 1-2 hours per night ever sense! I slept like a baby before this… Please join the Facebook group “Chronic severe insomnia”. I’d love to know more of your story thanks!

  110. I used Sertraline from March 2017 to November 2019. I started on 50mg daily and ended having weaned off with 25mg once every 2 days. They saved my life.

    Regarding sleep, I slept like a baby all my life to 2017 (39 years old in 2017). The very first side effect I noticed of Sertraline was on the every first day, and it was the impact on my sleep. I found it hard to get to sleep and only got about 4 hours of disturbed sleep. I managed only roughly 4 hours of disturbed sleep every night for the whole time I was taking Sertraline. Night terrors, waking up wet with sweat, and absolutely wide awake and alert instantly every time I woke. Within a few minutes I’d fall back to sleep again, only to wake again a short while later.

    It’s now November 2022 and the duration of sleep I can get has increased to about 6 hours disturbed sleep per night at it’s maximum. I get probably 2 to 3 days per week where I get only 4 hours. The disturbance has never changed. Night terrors, waking up wet with sweat, and wide awake alert instantly. I can wake from as little as 20 minutes of sleep, every 20 minutes all night, to on the hour every hour all night. I very rarely get more than 1 hour at a time.

    I know this is a sleep specific page, but I have other side effects. The one I regard as worse than sleep deprivation is the impact sertraline has had on my memory. Not just recalling long, medium and short term, but I struggle to store new information. I can’t find the mechanism to make new things stick. Simple examples include things like 6 digit passcodes you get in a mobile phone text, that you’d use to authenticate your log-in to a website or app. I can’t recall 6 digits. I can manage 3, and then have to read the text again to get the last 3. Peoples names, place names, shopping lists, I’m in trouble. The personal tragedy of this memory issue, alongside the daily struggle and my concern for my future, is I lost my job because of it. My background is in freshwater chemistry and freshwater biology. I’m not particularly clever, but job was very memory intensive and a very good memory is something I’d been blessed with. I had to leave my position during my time when I was still taking Sertraline. Again, the symptom was immediate, from day 1 of taking them. I was just unable to recall information quickly enough to be able to perform my role effectively. I thought this side effect would subside when I stopped taking them, and I knew stopping was part of the plan from day 1, and so because I was happy just to be alive I carried on taking them. If I’d known that years after taking them I’d still struggle, I’d be telling my doctor of the problem and would have asked to try a different medication.

    I’ve also lost all my libido.

    I’m otherwise a healthy person. I don’t drink other than on marked occasions, and never to excess. I don’t smoke. I’ve been physically active all my life, with cross country running in my youth, to cycling in early adulthood, to both twice weekly gym sessions (weights) and frequent long distance hiking at present. My diet is healthy and rounded, I take a couple of supplements for a couple of minor vitamin deficiencies I have. I no longer struggle with anxiety or depression and live a healthy mostly happy life. I have ups and downs, like any healthy person.

    I’m a stronger, more resilient, confident and capable person than I’d ever been before needing to take sertraline in so many ways. Having beating depression and anxiety with Sertraline, my quality of life and my experiences and relationships have made my life so much fuller and richer. And the Sertraline did save my life and a great deal of anguish and distress for my family and my friends.

    I’ve come to accept at this point that my side effects are a price I’ve paid to get more time and continue to enjoy new experiences. My memory causes me the most concern, for the future, but I’m grateful to have a future and live an otherwise healthy and happy life. My contribution to the world isn’t massive, but it’s not nothing. And that’s something.

    Thanks for hosting a page to share this information. I hope you’re able to learn something that helps lead to something positive for the topic and its sufferers.

    • Hi Matt, I’ve read some reports about antidepressants possibly damaging the hippocampus. Of course this is speculation, but I had to think of it because you mention the inability to create new memories as well. The hippocampus plays a role in just that. Via neurogenesis the hippocampus can grow new cells after shrinkage. Good food, meditation, regular exercise (but not intensive, because too intense leads to cortisol which is neurotoxic), intermittent fasting are just a few things that could help, along with patience, as we talk rather about many months or several years. There are good TED talks about neurogenesis as well. Not sure whether this will help you, but I thought it was worth sharing. Take care and I admire your view on life, to appreciate the things you do have.

  111. It has been nearly three years since I weaned myself very carefully off of Effexor and my sleep has never been the same. Nearly every aspect of my life has improved off of the drug, but my sleep has remained devastated and at one point I was only sleeping every other night and had to be admitted for the effect it was having on my mental health. Three years later and a month-long stint in rehab and I am still coping with the insomnia and extremely vivid dreams with alcohol. I’ve never received a satisfactory explanation and when I try to tell people I think Effexor played a role, they don’t listen. I’ve slept an average of 2-4 hours a night for the past month. When I do sleep, I experience intense, profound, overwhelmingly vivid dreams. I think I might only last a few more years at this rate, if my condition doesn’t improve. So I am making the most of my time and trying to appreciate being alive, while drinking myself into oblivion because I know as soon as I stop, I once again won’t sleep for weeks and will probably end up in a facility again in a state of delirium. Sleep apnea tests have come back negative. The structure of my brain is different.

  112. I took Zoloft 50mg nineteen years ago and developed PSSD while I was on it. I haven’t had any antidepressants since then but about seven months ago I started having sleep problems which I’d never had before, to the extent that sometimes I wake up after two or three hours of sleep at night and feel wide awake. And then I can’t go back to sleep. After this during the day I feel really tired and sleepy at work. This issue with sleep has been accompanied by reduction in emotional bluntness that I’ve had since I took Zoloft many years ago. Can anyone tell me what’s going on in my brain?

  113. I recently started talking Cymbalta and had horrible night sweats. I’ve come off about 2 weeks not and they are still there and still fairly extreme. Will this eventually fade away?

  114. I am a 72 year old male and am 8 months into my withdrawal from Paxil after being on 60 mg for 25 years. Here is what I’ve experienced: extreme shoulder pain at night I couldn’t sleep, insomnia, foot pain at night, depression, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, brain zaps and other weird mental things I can’t even describe. The insomnia was the first 3 months, every night, now just every once in awhile, but still there. All the other things for the first 6 months were constant and intense, now after 8 months they appear out of the blue every once in awhile. For months I took a five minute cold shower every morning, that really helped to ease the anxiety, irritability and shoulder pain. As of right now I sleep really good for 6 hours and then an wide awake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours and then go back to sleep for another 2 hours. I didn’t mention the vivid dreams, they have now subsided.
    There really never seems to be a catalyst for the symptoms, they just appear out of no where. I am hoping these all just disappear completely, but am aware they will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.
    Overall, my entire mental health is much improved since I stopped the Paxil, when you take out the withdrawal episodes. I really question many of the decisions I made in those 25 years that led to many life changing events, I know the Paxil changed how I processed things, saw situations and ultimately made decisions. I am looking at the world from a much more controlled reality. Shockingly, we are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary this July, we’ve been to hell and back in those 50 years and by the Grace of God we are enjoying life much more today.

  115. Currently coming to the end of my phased withdrawal of Sertraline after about 6 months.
    Before taking them I would get sleep paralysis regularly, maybe around 1-2 times a month, usually when napping.
    While on sertraline I noticed I only got sleep paralysis 2-3 times over the six month period. It helped my sleep quality massively, and I was getting 8 hours sleep consistently which for anyone is an achievement.
    Since coming off them my sleep paralysis seems like it’s making up for lost time. I have gotten it 3 times in one week and it feels longer and more intense. I’m waking up sweaty and scared to go back to sleep.
    I know there’s not much that can be done I was just thrilled to see this isn’t just me. Just hope it doesn’t last

    • K

      This is interesting – SSRIs can help with the catalepsy that goes with narcolepsy and this is closely related to sleep paralysis. I wouldn’t be surprised if sleep paralysis was more common on withdrawal from SSRIs – even in people who never had it beforehand


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