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Old 07-08-2018, 06:33 PM   #1
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Confused How long to be off Prozac before deciding whether to stay off or go back on?

I was on 20 mg of Prozac for the past 5 years. I am a small person — 5’1 and 105 pounds, so it wasn’t a tiny dose for me. My ob/gyn put me on it because I had had (untreated) post partum depression with my previous pregnancy, and we wanted to prevent that from reoccurring. I stayed on it because I felt good and to help deal with PMS and seasonal affective disorder. This Spring, I decided that I wanted to try being off of it, to see whether I really needed it. I slowly tapered off over 2 months and didn’t have any issues until recently. I noticed that I felt things more clearly — both happy and sad. But overall, I felt pretty good.

I have been Prozac free now for 3 weeks. I have noticed that for the past week that I have been more tearful, easily upset and depressed. I’ve had one period off the med— it was fine, no bad PMS symptoms. My question is — how long do I have to be off the medication to fairly evaluate whether I need it?

I am in therapy, but don’t have a doctor helping me with this besides my ob/gyn. Thanks for any insights.
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Old 07-11-2018, 01:40 PM   #2
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Smile Re: How long to be off Prozac before deciding whether to stay off or go back on?

Hello Leftie: I don't know as I really have an answer for you with regard to this. The thing is... everyone's response to psych med's is so individual that I'm not sure there is really any reliable guidance anyone could give you. (Perhaps other members, here on PC, will disagree.)

I have gone on-&-off psych med's numerous times... sometimes with my doctor's guidance... sometimes without. And I can't say as I ever noticed a point at which I could really say, yes, now I can tell that it's okay for me to be off of med's or, no, this just isn't going to work out. Even now, after having been off of my last SNRI for several years, I still have days where I believe I'm fine & others where I wonder if I'm just kidding myself... (Fortunately, at this point, the former significantly outweigh the latter.)

I know that doesn't really help much. But it's about all I think I can say personally. I do think you have to give it some time because you were on Prozac for 5 years. It's clearly going to take some time for your system to readjust as well as for you to get used to your "new normal", so to speak.

I noticed this is your first post here on PC. So... welcome to PsychCentral! I hope you find PC to be of benefit. Here are links to a selection of articles, from PsychCentral's archives, that may be of interest, the first by our host Dr. John Grohol, Psy.D.. This looks like a lot of reading! But the articles are short. So it's not as much as it may appear:

My best wishes to you...
"Like vanishing dew, / a passing apparition / or the sudden flash / of lightening-- already gone-- / thus should one regard oneself." Ikkyū Sōjun (1394–1481), Japan.
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Old 07-11-2018, 05:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: How long to be off Prozac before deciding whether to stay off or go back on?

Welcome to PC! Sometimes drugs like Prozac cause withdrawal symptoms so I think three weeks may be a little soon to go back on but it's best to ask your doctor. Like Skeezyks said, it is highly individual. I was on 60 mg of Prozac for a couple of years, which is a high dose but I'm a rather large person. I ended up switching to Zoloft for a few months and then went off anti-depressants altogether. I didn't have many withdrawal symptoms but was only on it for a couple of years and you were on it longer so there's a greater chance of you getting withdrawal symptoms.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: How long to be off Prozac before deciding whether to stay off or go back on?

Everyone is different. When I first went off another SSRI after 2 years, I was overly sensitive to everything. I could cry about nothing and I normally never cry. Everything had a mental effect on me. This wasn't going back to my normal me, because before meds I was quite mentally stable in that aspect. I wasn't easily moved or easily affected.

It took about 4 months to start recognizing the person I was.

For some reason I had to eventually go back on the same med for yet another year, and that time when I stopped I became depressed. I had never had depression prior. So meds can really cause a rebound effect, when you stop it it might actually cause the symptoms it is treating, even if you never had these symptoms in the past.

It can take quite a long time for the brain to find its own balance. For me, 2 years was the magic point, I was still salvageable after that. After 3 years, my brain never went back to the before feeling.

Only waiting can tell you how long it will take for you.
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