After nearly five years, I am trying to come off seroxat for the fourth time. I plan to keep a diary of my efforts and to discuss a few issues relating to the greed and lies of GSK, the makers of the drug, the woeful ignorance of the real effects of this drug amongst the medical fraternity and hope to find out what help is available to the thousands of people who struggle to come off it.
Thursday, 11 January 2007
Palpitations and Prozac
Bad news: see title.
They started in earnest on Tuesday. Thumpety thumpety thump. I was editing a legal article, not particularly exciting, certainly not sufficient for my heart to start leaping around my chest as though I'd just spied my love across the quadrangle. I used to be able to be able to quite clearly feel my heart beating through my chest but, because of the seroxat-related weight gain, I can't anymore which is probably a good thing. Bad enough feeling it rattling around from the inside.
The patient information leaflet includes this on its list of possible withdrawal effects:
Withdrawal symptoms seen on discontinuation of paroxetine treatment
Withdrawal symptoms when treatment is discontinued are common, particularly if discontinuation is abrupt (see section 4.8 Undesirable effects). In clinical trials adverse events seen on treatment discontinuation occurred in 30% of patients treated with paroxetine compared to 20% of patients treated with placebo. The occurrence of withdrawal symptoms is not the same as the drug being addictive or dependence producing.
The risk of withdrawal symptoms may be dependent on several factors including the duration and dose of therapy and the rate of dose reduction.
Dizziness, sensory disturbances (including paraesthesia and electric shock sensations), sleep disturbances (including intense dreams), agitation or anxiety, nausea, tremor, confusion, sweating, headache, diarrhoea, palpitations, emotional instability, irritability, and visual disturbances have been reported. Generally these symptoms are mild to moderate, however, in some patients they may be severe in intensity. They usually occur within the first few days of discontinuing treatment, but there have been very rare reports of such symptoms in patients who have inadvertently missed a dose. Generally these symptoms are self-limiting and usually resolve within 2 weeks, though in some individuals they may be prolonged (2-3 months or more). It is therefore advised that paroxetine should be gradually tapered when discontinuing treatment over a period of several weeks or months, according to the patient's needs (see "Withdrawal Symptoms Seen on Discontinuation of Paroxetine", Section 4.2 Posology and method of administration).
I am going to see what happens over the weekend before going to the doctor. I expect they will tell me to either (a) I am depressed again or (b) that it's nothing to worry about. Having watched M:I3, I of course know how to rig up my own defibrillator, now I just have to train up the cats to use it.
Chest disturbances excepted, things are not too bad. I make sure I don't stand up too suddenly or turn my head to quickly as it feels a bit strange. Definitely wouldn't go on any kind of fairground attraction at the moment. I'm feeling upbeat and positive, though and as prepared as I'll ever be for whatever lies ahead. I am lucky to have friends and family who know what I'm doing and are supporting me; my parents have even offered to come down and look after me if I'm in a bit of a state and Mr 5ml is away with work.
The thing I'm particularly interested in at the moment is whether I might be able to switch to prozac at some point soon. The theory is that prozac has a very long half-life compared with seroxat, thus it can help ease the DTs as you come off the latter (if you buy the serotonin theory) and then is much easier to come off itself. I even believe it makes people lose weight (only kidding! no more long-term medication for me). Dr Healy endorses this method so maybe I can persuade my GP with the help of his print-out from the Mind website. I think I will try this if I have problems coming off the seroxat in a tapered manner. In the meantime, I am guzzling water like a crazy person (I feel really thirsty when I wake up), taking actimel magic yoghurt, omega 3, 6 & 9 tablets and drinking a lot of herbal tea.