Withdrawal from Serzone?
August 14, 2005 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Experiences/advice regarding withdrawal from the antidepressant Serzone?

I've been on a low dose of Serzone (or its generic equivalent, nefazadone) for nearly 6 years (after struggling off-and-on with serious depression since I was a kid). I would like to withdraw from it (under medical supervision, of course) in the next few months -- not to go on a different antidepressant, but rather to see if I no longer need antidepressants in the first place. (Also, there's that pesky risk of liver damage that I'd like to avoid, though I should say that I've never experienced any negative side effects in all the years I've been on it.)

I've tried searching for info about Serzone/nefazodone withdrawal, but am unable to find much specific information -- I suspect partially because it was never one of the more "popular" antidepressants (I've personally never known anyone else who was on it), and partially because of the brand name version being withdrawn from the market in the past couple of years anyway. Anyone else had an experience specifically with Serzone? As I said, of course I will be doing this under the care of my doctor, but it would be handy to hear if anyone else might have a story to share.

Possibly relevant: the other two meds I'm on are Levoxyl (thyroid replacement hormone, which I've been on for about eight years since they took my thyroid out due to cancer), and Loestrin (low-dose birth control pill, which I went on last month after being off it for about two years). Before I went on Serzone, I had a couple of very brief (and extremely negative) experiences with Prozac and Zoloft, but have not been on any other antidepressants.
posted by scody to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I took Serzone for a few months back in 2002 (it didn't work) and I seem to remember that in order to go off it, just like most other antidepressants, you just have to taper off. There weren't any weird withdrawal symptoms that I remember experiencing.

Effexor, on the other hand... I've been slowly tapering off since April. From 150mg/day, I'm now down to 75mg every 3 or 4 days.
posted by elisabeth r at 1:16 PM on August 14, 2005

In my experience in my practice, withdrawal from nefazodone's pretty mild (i.e., no symptoms), especially if you taper off it. You could be the one to have that funny idiosyncratic reaction, though, so just be aware of what's going on with your mind and body as you do it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:45 PM on August 14, 2005

You might check Crazy Meds - they seem to have information on just about every type of antidepressant.
posted by Serena at 5:43 PM on August 14, 2005

I was on Serzone for about two years. When I tapered off the meds, I went through some nasty withdrawal. I became extremely cranky and morose, with plenty of dark thoughts to go along with it. Fortunately, it did pass after a few days, though I'm sure I was hell to live with during that time. Having never been through withdrawal before, I didn't realize at the time what I was experiencing. Perhaps you should consider a few days off when you finally taper off to zero dosage.
posted by nightengine at 5:54 PM on August 14, 2005

Make sure you are in full communication with your friends/family/whatever. Let them know that you're coming off meds and ask them to be on the lookout for odd behaviour from you, and to let you know when it's happening. This will greatly aide you in recognizing what's going on, especially regarding relapse into a depressive state.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:36 PM on August 14, 2005

Excellent information can be found HERE. SSRI withdrawal is something you will find little "scientific information" on as the drug companies insist that SSRI's are "non-habit forming." (Untrue, of course.)

As for "specific information" on Serzone, it can be difficult. However, not all that important as SSRI's are all very, very similar in their chemical structure. Serzone however is different enough to apparently be the cause of much liver damage.

I wish you the best in getting off of Serzone in a way that will not be too uncomfortable. I also applaud you for making the decision to taper the drug -- and good riddance.

Good luck!

posted by Independent Scholarship at 8:13 PM on August 14, 2005

Serzone's not an SSRI.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:54 PM on August 14, 2005

I was on Serzone for about a year, paired up with Xanax, for depression and panic disorder. I used to be on Aurorix (and the Xanax too) but that gave me headaches so I got changed over to Serzone.

At some point taking the meds just made me drowsy and numb, so I decided not to take them. I was already on very low doses anyway (lowest possible for both - half the lowest tablet) and my psychiatrist didn't want me to get a dependency on a medicine that was in limited supply, so I decided to just stop.

I have been off both medications for about a year and a half now.

I do have relapses once in a while (more the depression than the panic attacks) but they're managable and I'm better at noticing them early and handling them. I didn't have any weird withdrawal symptoms, though that was probably because my body was telling me it didn't need them anymore.

I felt better when I stopped taking medication; like I could feel again. It's lucky that I never really developed an addiction to it; I did really depend on it for the first year or so, but after a while my body just said "ok, enough is enough". The lowest doses made me feel overdosed.

Good luck. It can be done.
posted by divabat at 9:23 PM on August 14, 2005

basic coming off anti-seizure meds for me was to cut the dosage in half every week. i pretty much knew it was time to go off and just needed the "ok" from someone I trusted.

i am also big on working the body somatically (bodywork, yoga, sex) during the release as a means of gearing your senses/brain in a positive.......kind of like a positive visceral jumpstart.

i have little experience coming off anti-depressants.
posted by goalyeehah at 11:30 PM on August 14, 2005


You're absolutely right. Serzone is nefazodone and is NOT an SSRI. I was not thinking when I wrote that. It's still good she's getting off the Serzone due to the liver damage issues that has taken it off the market in most parts of the world.

Thanks for the clarification.
posted by Independent Scholarship at 11:35 PM on August 14, 2005

the liver damage issues that has taken it off the market in most parts of the world.

I believe it has not been taken off market but rather the owner of the Serzone trademark has ceased to market it as such. IANAD or a trademark attorney.

I've been on nefazodone for several years, and I went off it briefly last summer. The main thing I noticed was that I was much less sleepy. Instead of drifting off at 10:30 every night, I was easily able to stay up till midnight and get up at the regular time (7:00) without feeling pooped.

I went back on the stuff after I realized my mood was heading straight down the terlet without it, btw.
posted by scratch at 6:52 AM on August 15, 2005

I believe it has not been taken off market but rather the owner of the Serzone trademark has ceased to market it as such. IANAD or a trademark attorney.

That's what my psychiatrist told me.
posted by divabat at 7:01 PM on August 17, 2005

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