Stopped Paxil B/C of Pregnancy Horrible Withdrawl

Updated on May 09, 2015
R.U. asks from South Weymouth, MA
12 answers

Another question for you amazing moms, So I had just posted that I found out I was pregnant, Not planned. I have been on paxil for anxiety attacks for years. My OB said I need to switch to Zoloft immediately. He told me to just stop the paxil and take the Zoloft. I am only on day 2 and my head is spinning! I can hardly concentrate! I know you cannot stop cold turkey on paxil as I have tried before, But my doctor and the pharmacist assured me they were the same medicine and I should be fine. I am so FED UP with doctors not knowing what they are PX to patients and how to get off of them. When I was originally PX this medicine I was assured it was not addictive nor harmful. My question is have any of you had to do this? Do the side effects get worse, Or do they go away? Is this dangerous? Sadly I am coming to you ladies because I have asked my OB my PC and the pharmacist and all have the same ummmm you should be fine answer. I can deal with this for a while, I close my eyes, But cannot really function well, And cannot deal if this becomes worse!!!! I am about 6 weeks and pray I have not done any damage.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU I already feel better from your responses. For everyone who is saying to wean off, If I was not preggo I would have done that. But I do not want to take it at all anymore because it could be harmful. I will just deal with the side effects, I would rather that. More just wanted to make sure It was not going to last forever or get worse.

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

i understand your concern. psychiatric drugs are showing up all the time on '1-800-BAD-DRUG' so clearly we don't understand the effects many of them have on developing fetuses. so it's a very good thing to be vigilant about one's birth control when taking them.
since that ship has sailed, i'm not sure what to tell you if you don't trust the doctors or pharmacists. 'you should be fine' is about as good as it can get. i don't know of any psychiatric drugs that are effective and 100% safe to take during pregnancy.
let's all hope that the professionals are right in this case.
i suspect your anxiety over it is even more debilitating than the potential side effects of the meds, or of switching the meds.
it's a pickle for sure.
sending you calming blue energy.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Well, if they were the same medicine, you wouldn't need to switch, now, would you?

That said, I discontinued and switched to something else with no problem. I went to Celexa to have something less sedating.

Is is possible that being pregnant is affecting any of this? I wonder if hormonal changes are throwing off the effects. Also double check to see if it matters when you take it, or if certain foods affect the uptake. If you don't get answers or relief, ask for a referral to a psychiatrist more familiar with antidepressants especially in pregnant women.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I quit paxil cold turkey because I quit my job and didn't want to take it anymore. This was some 20 years ago. Anyway, are you sure the head spinning isn't in your head? I had to have knee surgery when I was three months pregnant with my second. I drove the surgery team so insane with me I am feeling this or that that they said we are knocking you out. I really was out of control because it is completely terrifying to introduce drugs to your unborn child. She is perfectly fine by the way.

Oh back to my quitting cold turkey. Two days I was perfectly fine and all pfft, stupid doctors. The third day, this will show I didn't think it through, I was flying to Florida with my in laws and family. Sitting next to my mother in law, yay! Turbulents, brats all around me, kicking the seat, I was already feeling bad on the way to the airport but that flight, it is a wonder I didn't puke all over the plane. Next day still nauseous, the next day I was like I have never taken it in my life.

I hate to say this is in your head but my less than expert advice says it is in your head.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Have you heard of the Placebo Effect?

You and your history of anxiety are probably contributing to the stress level, because you are also just pregnant and your body is adjusting to pregnancy hormones, and it's spring and perhaps you have developed some light seasonal allergies, and perhaps you haven't slept well for a few days worried about stopping Paxil, so now you're sleep derpived.. Have a strong cup of tea, take a nap, or hot bath and try to relax and focus on keeping calm for the sake of everyone.

What I'm trying to say, is that I'd trust the professionals on this one. There might be absolutely no cause and effect relationship between you stopping Paxil and starting Zoloft and your head spinning. The pharmacist and MD's are right, they drugs are nearly the same. People with anxiety do tend to over analyze and over react to outside stimuli and then want to find something to blame it on, other than themselves and their own coping skills. Really try to relax, do yoga, stretching, massage....something to deflect your worry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Did your PCP prescribe the med in the first place? Or did you see a psychiatrist? If you saw a psychiatrist, please go back to him or her. If your PCP prescribed it, look for a psychiatrist immediately. Call the office of any psychiatrist in your plan and ask if they have experience with pregnant women. If so, make an appointment ASAP. I completely agree with you that you need to talk to someone who knows what he/she is talking about!

You need to talk to someone who can make sure both you and your baby stay healthy during this pregnancy!

My heart goes out to you, I hope you find someone quickly.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest you talk with the pharmacist. I think stopping suddenly is not good. I would find someone who manages meds to monitor your meds. I see both a counselor and a nurse practioner. My appts. with the nurse are short because her focus is on meds. I would call your insurance customer support person to get names.

Do talk with a professional who knows more about meds. When I've had to wean off meds the nurse practioner has said that quitting cold turkey can have dangerous side effects.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you're asking a Walgreens or Walmart pharmacist they're sort of out of touch with a lot of things. I always ask a pharmacist that has a local compounding pharmacy. To me it seems they're more up to date with stuff.

By the way, an OB is not a psychiatrist and they shouldn't really know all that much about psychological meds. Of course they should know some, like he said to stop taking this but that's about the extent of their knowledge.

Find a good psychiatrist to get your mental health meds from, please. They are the experts in meds for anxiety. They should work closely with your OB.

Yes, your body is full of Paxil, it builds up and stays there, keeping your body from having the flight or fight reactions to stimuli. It goes out of your system gradually too. So the longer you 're not taking the easier it is but the more you might revert back to your previous anxiety.

The new med your taking is slowly building up in your body and it will be okay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

If you can avoid anything synthetic in your body, it's wise. If you really need medication, then be careful what you use. Synthetic chemicals rarely leave the body. fat cells store the chemical..even though you may not "feel" a side effect, it doesn't mean the drug is gone. You're pregnant and wise to be cautious. There are many many natural supplements that work with anxiety that are completely safe. Chiropractic care works to help anxiety and Torque release technique works even faster. (The Australian judicial system requires at least one year of TRT chiropractic care for any violent offender because of the neurological benefits.)

Medical doctor's wheelhouse is medicine. You need to talk to a Naturopath and/or a Principled Neurologically based Chiropractor. If you need a referral in your area, get back to me....

Congratulations on your little one!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Can you talk to your psychiatrist about this? You do have one, right? I don't have any experience with this, but I have always heard or read that you have to wean off these drugs and not go cold turkey. Just switching is not the same as weaning off.

I think that you need to work with a psychiatrist whose business is knowing these particular drugs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

It took me three tries to wean myself off Paxil (it was hell on earth!!)...this was with a the doctor's okay to get off of it...I was having side effects while on it.

I was pissed too because I was told it was non-addictive and I could come right off of it...Like h3ll!! You can Google discontinuation is real. brain zaps, dizziness, nausea, etc etc etc. I can't see how getting off hard core drugs could be any harder.

They put me on Welbutrin to "help" me stop taking the Paxil...HA!!

I found a really good doctor who knew that it was hard to discontinue anti-depressants.

For what it is worth I was on Paxil while pregnant with both my kids, at the time my OBGYN told me that the piece of mind of the mother was more important than the slight chance of it harming the baby. This was over 10 years ago so I haven't researched it lately. Oh, both my kids are physically fine and neuro-typical.

The side effects will go away but it will take a while, maybe even a couple of months for your body to purge the Paxil and "reset" itself to the old way of your brain communicating.

If you can hang in there you will feel so much better off the Paxil but making you go cold turkey is...well I don't even have a word for the nastiness I feel for your doctor taking you off cold turkey...

Zoloft and Paxil are two different will not take the place of the other...without tapering...argh, I can't even imagine...

You are not imagining the side effects because of your anxiety...only someone who has never taken these types of drugs can tell you that...

My kids are fine and odds are your child will be as well....I am so sorry you are going through this!! I asked my OBGYN before I got pregnant if staying on the Paxil would be okay or if I needed to get off and got the green light ahead of time.

Big hug to you!!!


answers from Milwaukee on

Overall, you should be able to switch from Paxil to Zoloft without significant issues. However, some people are VERY sensitive to the differences in the medications, and it can cause some side effects such as you are experiencing.

I did a quick Google search for "switching from Paxil to Zoloft" and there are a number of message boards that discuss this - in most cases people don't have a problem, but if they do, it can be alleviated by reducing the dose of Paxil & then ramping up the Zoloft, or just waiting it out (lasts a couple of weeks it appears).

As for the drugs being safe & non-addicting, almost all antidepressant or anti anxiety medications will have physical withdrawal symptoms. This is because they actually change your brain chemistry to control the levels of chemicals that alter our mood or pain perception (called neurotransmitters, examples are dopamine, norepinephrine & serotonin). In most cases, they are -not- addictive in the way street drugs are - you don't need to take them & do so in increasing doses to get the same effects.

So, part of what you are experiencing is likely due to the differences in the chemical make-up of the drug (they are not exactly the same, but very similar & it is common to switch from one to the other), and part of it is probably because your body is very responsive, & thus sensitive, to the changes.

Just as a personal example - I took Cymbalta for a number of years when it was first approved for Fibromyalgia. However, I didn't really need an antidepressant & it didn't offer the pain-relief benefits I needed. I quit "cold turkey" when I forgot to get it refilled. Had mild dizziness for about 2 days & then I was fine. My pharmacist weaned off it when she got pregnant, & it took her over 2 weeks - she had to open the smallest dose capsules & take a portion of the drug powder, and had moderate to severe reactions when she tried to back off the drug too quickly. Same drug, different effects.

Regarding their safety - most drug testing is done on the general population. They are not usually tested on small children, or pregnant women, due to the greater likelihood of adverse effects, some of which can be severe or damaging. Prozac & Zoloft are 2 antidepressants which have been given a FDA grade C - meaning that they have not been proven to harm fetuses. Paxil is graded D - it HAS shown adverse affects on unborn babies, and should not be taken while pregnant.

Since you weren't pregnant or trying to conceive when the Paxil was prescribed, chances are the more appropriate drug was given to you, but under these new circumstances, allowances need to be made to protect the baby. It sounds like your doctor & pharmacist have given you the correct information, I hope some of this extra info was helpful as well.

Try to stay calm, and perhaps contact your doctor/pharmacist to see if tapering your doses @ this point might be helpful, or if there is anything you can take to offset the side effects you are experiencing. Best to you & the little one yet to come! T.



answers from Portland on

This is certainly Paxil withdrawl. Both my husband and my mom have gone through it. It is real. Zoloft is NOT the same medication. If it was, it would be safe for your baby. I don't know what I would do in your situation. Paxil is a class D drug, which means that it has been shown to cause problems in the baby. Zoloft doesn't do this. I know that the withdrawl and "brain zaps" as my hubby called them can take a really long time to go away. I am so sorry that you are going through this! Maybe if you could add another SSRI or something to the Zoloft it would help? I know I have had to be on combos before. I wish you and your baby the best. Congrats!

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