Sleep Problems After Stopping Antidepressants?

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November 5, 2019 | 57 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.

  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!

  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.

      • 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.

  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.

  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?

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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

  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.

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