Prozac Withdrawal: Early Days

I don’t know why, but a while back I must have been feelin a little more energetic and decided it was time to get off the Prozac.  I have been taking 10 mg daily for maybe a decade.  And I saw all of sudden I was getting a huge mass of reading material with my prescription refills.  So I read some of it and didn’t like what I saw.  And I saw stuff on the web, as well as from my medical plan, suggesting old people like myself should probably think about getting off the junk.

So I had been thinking about it some time.  But I kept putting it off because maybe two years ago I did drop one of the 10mg a day.  I dropped the Friday pill in my medbox.  And I felt pretty damn bad.  Not at first.  The first four weeks seemed ok sort of.  And then in weeks five and six things got bad.  My wife remembers I was agitated and ready to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat.  I remember it having been really  hard.  So I procrastinated.

And now here it is in the middle of a depressing and anxiety producing pandemic, and I think, if I don’t do this soon, I will never do it.  So last Tuesday. I stopped taking the 10mg.  And-wham!-two days into the process and I feel symptoms of withdrawal.  Increased fatigue.  Increased brain fog.  Tighter muscles.  Disturbed sleep.  And mostly strangely, according to my Fitbit, an abrupt increase in the amount of dreaming.  I don’t remember the dreams, but they are so intense I feel like I am not sleeping at all.

I was taken by surprise.  I thought the symptoms wouldn’t appear so forcefully for a couple of weeks at least.  That’s one of the traits of Prozac.  It takes a long time to leave the system and a while then before you start feeling withdrawal. But this time: wham.  Last time when I dropped 10 mg, I was pretty deep in benzo withdrawal.  So maybe the one withdrawal masked the other.

Who knows?  But I am disturbed by this development.  I may decide to go back to taking my Tuesday 10mg.  Or I may just drop 5mg instead of ten.  I ordered and got Prozac pills that I can cut in half.  We will see.


Live and learn, I guess.  Among other things I had not taken seriously enough: this thing called “kindling.”  I had seen the term used off and on in the remarks of benzo sufferers: as in, “I believe I kindled” or “Have you kindled.”  I gathered from context that this was not a good thing.  It seemed to happen mostly to people who had been “poly drugged” and had a history of going on and off benzos.  Finally, I decided to look it up.  The definition above is pretty clear, and pretty much what I had inferred from context.  You can find the term used in reference also to alcohol addiction, and I would argue also in relation to AD dependence and withdrawal.

I can’t think of any other sort of explanation for my recent dive into the pits than this kindling thing.  I mean I only stopped taking one ten milligram pill of Prozac, one of my weekly seven, and it is as if I have had to start the whole process of withdrawal over again.  I guess, when one has kindled the whole CNS becomes way overly sensitive, and any change at all can produce a tempest.  That’s what it feels like anyway.  And if your CNS is shaky and all wired up, then you are too.  Because, let’s face it, without a CNS a human being would be pretty much just a pile of bones, fat, and muscle.  Without the CNS that pile of bones, fat, and muscle would just lie there.  The CNS creates our world for us; it interprets and organizes and makes sense of all the information pouring in through those sensitive nerves, and it organizes and directs all our responses to that information.

Accordingly, benzo sufferers report problems with all the sense organs.  I mean the CNS is attached to and gets information from the sensory nervous system.  Benzo sufferers have problems with their ears–hyperacusis and incessant tinnitus–and problems with their eyes.  Sometimes they can’t stand bright light, sometimes they see double. Then there are the nerves that control and organize the digestive tract, or the ones that activate and regulate the muscles.  Accordingly, benzo sufferers report, over and over again, muscle tension, tightness, cramps and fatigue, and a whole array of digestive disorders under the tag of “benzo belly.”

I made a big mistake messing with my CNS.  Hell, when you mess with your CNS you mess with all that is you, excluding bone, muscle, and fat.  And then, just when it seemed my nerves were settling down a little, I made a mistake by getting over-confident and dropping that Prozac.  As a result of that I now have a better, or at least more experiential notion of what “kindling” is.