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Dallas977: Questions Regarding Lexapro (Escitalopram) Withdrawal.


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It is no secret that Lexapro causes weight gain, I am not sure what it does to the body to cause this, I have read that it damages your thyroid which in return effects your metabolism (I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism while on Lexapro and now take Synthroid, Not sure if this is related to the Lexapro or not)  I just know that every person I have ever talked to or read about that has taken Lexapro has complained about weight gain. I myself had always been extremely fit my entire life and as soon as I started the Lexapro the weight just came on, it came on slowly but it never stopped, until eventually I was overweight. I only really read into this recently when I started really trying to make an effort to get back into shape. I was going to the gym 6 days a week, doing a mix of cardio and strength training. I cut out soda and other bad foods and was eating healthy, I was only consuming 1300 cals max per day. I did this for weeks with no results at all, I started researching Lexapro and weight gain, Many saying no matter how hard they try they cannot lose weight while on Lexapro. I decided to stop taking it, I had been wanting to stop for months now but finding out this was enough for me to immediately discard all my remaining pills, I know going cold turkey is frowned upon but I did not want this drug in my system for another second.


So my question is to any of you out there that have experienced this, were you able to get your metabolism back and lose the weight after stopping Lexapro? and if so how long did it take you to notice results?

Another question I had that is not related to weight-gain, is if anyone withdrawing from Lexapro has experienced symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain/upper back pain, that gets worse while taking a deep breath, laughing, or coughing. I've never had any respiratory problems in my life until this withdrawal. I saw my doctor and she said everything seemed fine. so I'm not really sure.


Thanks for taking the time to read my post and I hope to hear from all of you, Today marks one month since my last dose of Lexapro and I'm feeling a bit better, The withdrawals are still there but I know it wont last forever and I just need to fight through it.

2007- Diagnosed with GAD, Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. Prescribed 20 MG of Lexapro.
Dec 2015- Switched from Lexapro to Pristiq for 2 weeks, went back to Lexapro.
Feb 2016- Lowered dose to 10 mg, then 5 mg, went back up to 10mg.
April 10th 2016- Decided I was going to quit Lexapro for good, Final dose taken that day was 10mg.

May 10th 2016- One Month Lexapro Free

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Welcome Dallas,


I don't have experience with your issues listed there, but wanted to welcome you to SA.  I'm sure someone who does will be along soon.  I can point you in the direction of some info you might find useful as you navigate w/d.

I know going cold turkey is frowned upon but I did not want this drug in my system for another second.

The troublesome thing with SSRIs is that you can't just flush their effects out of your system.  They change the way your brain works, and that takes much longer to heal.  Suddenly stopping the drug leaves your brain and Central Nervous System in shock.  It's like yanking a trellis out of a garden instead of gently untangling the plants and slowly removing the wood.  Too much trauma for the plants/your brain.  (For the source of that simile plus further discussion see http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1160-how-psychiatric-drugs-remodel-your-brain/)


So considering you'll be affected in an on-going manner either way, you may as well choose the path more conducive to healing.


Withdrawals can last for months or years, depending on the individual and how they either tapered or CT'd.  There is also the possibility that they will get worse before they get better.  I say this not to alarm you but only to be sure you've got all the facts before you make a decision.  (I really don't like having to tell people that :()


Shortness of breath during tapering

Symptom Checklist


We recommend a gentle taper, reducing by no more than 10% of your current dose each month.  This allows your brain time to adjust as you go, and lessens any withdrawal.  If you decide you'd like to try the gentler route, we have a thread that discusses reinstatement here:http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/7562-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-reduce-withdrawal-symptoms/  Once you were stable again you could then taper off gently.


Many people find Fish oil and Magnesium useful during withdrawal.   


Have a read of those and then you can come back to this thread to discuss things further.  This can be your journal to record your tapering and healing progress, and to ask questions. 


Welcome to SA,


2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

2023 December - Now on 5 micro-beads Effexor. Minimal symptoms but much more time needed between drops. Symptoms begin to increase.

2024 April - Updosed to 6 microbeads - immediate increase in symptoms for 4 days. Decreased to 5 microbeads.

 'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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there was an information document that I got from Drugs.com, which they had gotten off the FDA website: it stated that it had been shown that EVEN ONE DOSE of Citalopram (the one I was on) can CHANGE THE WIRING IN THE BRAIN. They think the tract from the amygdala to/from the hypothalamus is changed - the hypothalamus being the area where this type of unnatural weight gain is governed. I think this may mean that your emotions may really be made manifest in your body weight.   Since I got down to skin and bones on withdrawl(s) from various drugs, I wasn't concerned, but I've now I've been off Citalopram for over 8 months, and I  noticed that my anti-Parkinson drug doesn't 'work' unless I eat something soon after taking it, and I can become an obsessive eater at times gobbling up anything in arm's reach.   Other psychotherapeutic drugs do the same thing with weight, like Paxil.


I don't know if there is an answer to this. The best think I can think of is to put your side effects into the appropriate section on the Rxisk website and it will get reported to the FDA and other regulators.

Retired in  May, 2010, still working part time  as Occupational Therapist in North Toronto Community Health Clinic - 6 family practice docs + vrs allied health professionals. I was resp. for  home or clinic "Barrier-free" patient population, i.e. CP/MS/MD/spinal cord inj/disease pts.- independent living but requiring Attendant Care - power wheelchair dependent people/; also Seniors' Advisory Ctte./Advocacy staff liaison to Board; [received good evaluation on mandatory College of OT's practice review].   Otherwise, stayed active in bicycling,  gym,  yoga, walking, theatre volunteering.  Enjoyed eating out in mid-level restaurants, liked my city on Lake Ontario. Enjoyed travel to Stratford, ON, time spent with friends and on farm.    I was not on any Rx drugs, no health problems, but took lots of health food dietary vitamins and supplements - stupid me [same corporations, same profit motive, no regulation of product by governmental or other oversight body.

  • I think dietary supplement SAMe either triggered or contributed to sudden and accelerating deterioration into Parkinsonism, esp. late in 2011- I have  since found several scientific journal articles to support my opinion - all of my 5 doctors (family doc and 4 neurologists ignored it.)
  • Diagnosed at two major Toronto hospitals with "Idiopathic Parkinsonism" in early 2012.
  • Primary sympt. at that time:  rigidity, spasticity, slowness, deteriorating cursive writing, shaking arms/hands, severe burning pain in feet/knees/back, severe insomnia - no tremor at that time.
  • First Rx drug: generic sinemet [Apo-levocarb] 100/25  (3x/day) April 21, 2012. This drug was never very effective; only had ~ 1 hr ''ON" time, no matter the dose./timing. Sometimes sinemet seemed to make things worse rather than better, i.e. more muscle tone./cogwheeling/severe night sweats/low blood pressure.  
  • Next Rx drug; Zopiclone; neuro said it was NOt a  benzo., but worked on same receptors, therefore she never warned me re withdrawal problems. Took it for ~ 3 years nearly every night. Seemed to work well.
  • Third RX drug: Lorazepam. I asked Neuro for it as it seemed to make the levocarb work better and helped wth anxiety.  Neuro advised it was addictive, but never explained about tolerance, withdrawal, down-regulation of receptors. I took 0.25 mg once or twice a WEEK at first and that tiny amound helped for a day at least.
  • Fourth RX drug: Mirapex. i was still plagued by mostly "down" time with rigidity and non-movement disorders, so agreed to try Mirapex.  i never got up to the therapeutic dose (near threshold) because it made me so sick and it seemed to make things worse, i.e. more muscle tone, problems with balance, severe nausea.  Read manufacturer's monograph updated to 2012 and decided the risk was worth it, benefit unlikely.

My self-initiated withdrawals.  Every time i've changed one drug, i've had to make changes in the others too, e.g. at 20 mg Citalopram i had too much sinemet (dyskinesias) so i lowered sinemet to ~1000 mg and that was better.  Also, as Citalopram has gone down, Lorazepam has had to increase 'cause it seem not to last as long or work as well.

  • So on my own, I decided to taper off Mirapex, not knowing a thing about withdrawal problems. Whew!  Thanks to zopiclone and increased frequency and dose of Lorazepam, i got off Mirapex in March 2013.
  • Next I took myself off Zopiclone after reading very negative things about its' long-term use.  I was doing this without guidance or help from MD's. I increased sinemet and lorazepam to cope with the withdrawal effects of Zopiclone. Going off Zopiclone made PD symptoms worse; neuro wanted to put me on Entacapone, but i declined it.

More MD's/more problems with Rx drugs.

  • Zopiclone withdrawal + Incr. levocarb and incr. lorazepam landed me in the ER at CAMH, where there is a priscription drug withdrawal program, so I thought they could help me. The doctor took me off Zopiclone and Lorazepam and substituted Clonazepam alone.  From the first day Clonazepam caused frightening and serious side effects, like periods of amnesia, loss of balance, dizziness, memory problems, mental processing problems, serious nausea - worst was interdose withdrawal every 4 hours resulting in 'panic attacks' - i was jumping out of my skin!
  • Another RX drug: My own neuro gave me Citalopram to help me withdraw from Clonazepam.  Didnt work; after 2-3 weeks the Citalopram became a bigger problem with side effects than the Clonazepam. Neuro switched Lorazepam to replace the Clonazepam, but left me on the Citalopram. 
  • Rapid loss of 40 lbs of body weight into undernourished zone.
  • I ended up in ER with my forehead bashed down to the bone as a result of 'syncope'; unconscious for unknown lenght of time, probably only a few minutes. Neuro threw me under the bus - now said i needed the Citalopram for depression and Lorazepam for anxiety disorder - said there was an emotional component to my complaints and made a referral to a psychiatrist. I didnt go to him, but tried to get into a addictions/withdrawal program at that hospital, did see a 5th year psych. MD there. 
  • i got copies of last few neuro/psych reports to my family doctor - I was shocked.  I think the neuro/family doc were afraid i'd sue them or complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons, so; they set up a 'defense' with psychiatric diagnosis to explain drug side effects and head injury, even suggested i might have 'psyhogenic' Parkinsonism.

More self-initiated withdrawal.

  • I decided to get off most dangerous drug first - Citalopram; it never made me feel anything other than sick and near invalid from side-effects.
  • Have reduced dose from 20 mgs to, recently, 5 mg.  Having a terrible time - every day seems new problem - today it was akathisia coming out of nowhere - took Benadryl - it helps.
  • Nearly house-bound now. 

Current drugs:  Citalopram (taper: 20 mg to 15 mg to 12.5 to 10 to  5 to 2.5, then zero.)  44 days at zero, getting worse side effects now than when I was 'ON' it.  Apo-Levocarb, immediate release (recent dose =1500mg) =~1250mg in 10 doses/day;/2-3 levo-carb CR/day;/Lorazepam (from 1.0 mg to 2.5 or 3, or more mg/day. Benadryl as needed. Tylenol as needed to reduce 'fever' feeling in head and/or headache. Occasional Advil.

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