SSRI withdrawal

Hey Guys,

I need to hear fellow MAVer’s experiences with dumping an SSRI-type medication. I took Cipramil 10 mg for about 4 years and then switched over to St John’s Wort in May. There was a crazy week of transition that occurred but I survived and things were pretty OK on the SJW in the end which acts as an SSRI. Now that I’m completely off SJW as of last Thursday (exactly 5 days since the last dose) the fallout has hit VERY hard today. I’ve been taken by surprise really. Things weren’t great yesterday but then were better by evening. I went for an 8 km walk last night which feels like it made things worse in terms of migraine activity. I woke with a crushing headache this morning. My dinner was ultra plain so was definitely the exercise.

So I don’t know if this is MAV unplugged or is it SJW withdrawal or what? The thing is, I’m due to fly up north to join friends for Christmas next week and really don’t need this going on. Do I just tough this out and keep using 5HTP in hopes that it’s just a temporary backlash or is this me going down the drain with heavy MAV again? You’d think I’d have an idea after 5 years of this sh*t but I’m at a loss right now because it’s rare that I’ve ever been off some sort of SSRI.

Maybe these meds keep MAV caged for me in some weird way or perhaps my body just flips out trying to come off this stuff. No idea but this is looking ugly today - very ugly.

Thanks … Scott :shock:

Hi Scott,

I have experience with Zoloft, Paxil, and St. John’s Wort - all years before the MAV kicked in full-time. I foolishly quit taking Zoloft cold-turkey after taking it for several months. By day 3, I was absolutely miserable. I liken the experience to my worst MAV days. The vertigo, nausea, and headache were awful. I had to go back on the Zoloft and wean myself off over a few weeks. Paxil made me miserable like that with the very first dose, so I gave up on it immediately. On the other hand, I took SJW for years and was able to stop it abruptly without any negative consequences. I’m amazed at the difficulty you are having with it. It sounds a lot like my Zoloft experience, only it seems to be hanging in even longer with you.

I’m not sure what to suggest regarding the 5-HTP. I’ve been trying it myself, but I’m considering giving it up. I think it may be making me more tired during the day. Of course it is hard to know for sure with the MAV symptoms and the other supplements I’m taking, but I think it is the 5-HTP doing it.

I’m sorry I don’t have any great advice. It very well could just be a flare up of the MAV. If it were me, I would probably try giving up the 5-HTP too and give it more time. I’m not saying that is what you should do, but it is what I would do. Whenever I get to a point where I think the meds or supplements are causing more harm than good, I tend to try to clean out my system, get back to a baseline, and start again. That may not be wise, but the waters sure get muddied with the layering of medications and supplements.

Good luck. I hope you feel better soon!


Hey Scott,
I’ve withdrawn several times from different anit depressants, that didn’t seem to work or just plain hindered, And had my share of withdrawal nightmares, or though SJW wasn’t one of them, I came off cold turkey with no problems, after using it for a year.

For myself, most times after dropping an antidepressant, there is a month or more break in my migraine cycle complete remission, now there’s one for the books, isn’t it.
I’ve often wondered who else this happens to.

Normally during withdrawal, my migraines symptoms are worse
And trust me it doesn’t appear to matter how long or slow I take to withdraw,
The process is still the same, hell for the first few weeks, and then remission for a month or so.
Then back to migraining.

Very strange!

Sorry you’re suffering like this, I wonder if upping the 5-HTP would make a difference or make things worse.

Marci your right!, it is hard to tell what’s what, withdrawal or just more rotten symptoms of migraine.

thinking of you Scott ,and hope you start to feel better quickly,
Have a good healthy happy Christmas.
and that goes for everyone else here too


Not sure how to advise you but will say it is hard to get off SSRI’s and I, personally, wouldn’t try any changes while visiting away from home. I was on Lexapro for about 3 years and I took about 8-9 months to get off. I did it very, very slow as I was petrified of withdrawl effects (this was before my vertigo issues). Everytime I lowered my dosage by a quarter of a pill I felt the same kind of little twitchs all over. On the other hand, I took serzone for 6 weeks way before lexapro and it did nothing to help my depression, just left me very cranky and with insomnia. I finally said the heck with this and quit cold turkey (didn’t know about withdrawl effects) and that night I slept well for the first time in six weeks and only got better after that, no problems.
Just to keep my body happy I would probably stay on something familiar until I am back home after the holidays. It’s stressful enough to be away, why add to the stress by adding another worry?

Scott me old chap

Sorry to hear you are being knocked about so bad with the SSRi withdrawal. There isnt a lot I can add as I personally havent had too many problems with SSRI’s that I have taken on a long term basis. Lexapro & Ami knocked the absolute hell out of me after 2 days so I dumped it ( I felt like I had taken E).

If I were you I would flush all of them out of your system. Clearly SSRI’s are not a long term solution for you. The sooner you get all the serotonic agents out the better - its not making a huge difference at controlling your MAV (and by controlling I mean 90% better - we shouldnt settle for any less).

So maybe get your Migraine Programme in check & look to begin Topamax in Jan.

Happy to chat more if you want to PM me.

Hang in there dude - you are a proper trooper - & in the end we will beat this curse.

Thanks for all the feedback guys! :stuck_out_tongue:

I think I was probably “MAVing” hard more than experiencing withdrawal actually. Both are at work but my symptoms have dropped today after having not done any exercise yesterday. I’m definitely much more wide open for attack at the moment though and really need to lie low. Really have to find something to raise my threshold. It’s quite clear that that is the real issue is to get that threshold up.

Marci - agree that it can be impossible to know what’s causing symptoms at times with muddying up the waters. The bottom line is that I have to raise this threshold. Didn’t realise you were on 5HTP too. I’m going to stay with 50 mg daily I think. I’ve been on it long enough to feel fairly certain that it’s not messing with my head in a bad way.

BW - thanks for your input … I’ve come this far with ditching SJW and think I’m going to tough this out. The prospect of being free of anything that causes serotonin reuptake inhibition is too good. Before I took those meds I never had any of the sensitivities I currently experience with foods etc. I’m hoping I might be able to reverse it.

Jenny - I’ve experienced what you describe where dropping the SSRI dose causes a short period of remission (usually about a week) followed by a return of symptoms, usually worse than ever. This happened for two days when I dropped SJW from 1 tab to 3/4. But nothing good has happened since.

Luke - not surprised by the Lexapro disaster. That stuff was like swallowing rocket fuel for me. Hard core stuff. I think the only way to handle it is to titrate up ultra slowly over weeks. But then Adam was on it for a good two months and it never stopped messing with him. I actually did manage to raise my threshold on Cipramil but at the cost of becoming a lard-ass, losing my mojo, and generally feeling devoid of emotion. It wasn’t worth it.

Scott 8)

thanks Scottie,
and yes the lard ass I know soooo well.


I thought this pic from the 1981 movie Scanners was a good depiction of how I was feeling at the Christmas lunch yesterday. Maybe they all had MAV in that film! :mrgreen:

Scott…i have tried a number of anti-depressants over the years but didnot stay on them very long because the side affects. The only one i stuck with for 9 months was Prozac back in 1992…and weening off that was fairly easy.


Scott…when i referred to anti-depressants i was referring to the SSRI’s.


Heeeee! :lol: