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Valdemar: Second time on Escitalopram: adverse reaction and severe withdrawal


Valdamar

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Background info: I had a very stressful last year with finishing my masters, losing a job due to Corona, needing a new job to be able to get a work permit and not knowing if it is possible because of Corona, also not being able to fly and see my family due to restrictions. I also have been dealing with an anxiety disorder for years but no other medical conditions. 

 

In September 2020, I was so stressed with my thesis, I had three severe and long panic attacks that left me feeling like my nervous system was fried. I went to my psychiatrist who prescribed me 5 mg of Escitalopram (starting with 2,5 mg) since I had taken it for 1,5 years before and it helped. 

 

Back to medication: I knew the first weeks would be tough with more anxiety and gut issues but it was worse than before. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, had more panic attacks. I also developed vertigo, tremor, blurred vision, sensitive stomach, heart palpitations, my resting heart rate went up and I started hearing my pulse in my ears which would increase significantly if I would get up after sitting or lying down. I told the psychiatrist about it and he suggested that maybe my veins are close to my ears. 

 

Except it didn't go away after a month and a half and I went to my GP to did an ECG which was fine except for tachycardia. My blood results from back in October were also fine except for low vitamin D. He suggested increasing the dose which my psychiatrist confirmed. I tried going from 5 mg to 6 mg but the side effects weren't going away and I started to fear that I'm going to do more damage by continuing and decided to start tapering off which the psychiatrist said was fine cause of the continuing side effects. He told me to lower the dose by 1 mg after every 2-3 weeks to prevent withdrawal (which I only now realise was too fast but I also was desperate to get rid of the side effects). 

 

Withdrawal: I started tapering in the mid of January. I instantly got withdrawal—more anxiety, flu-like symptoms, strong fatigue. It would get better after a couple of weeks and I would lower the dose again) When I got down to three in mid February, the severe withdrawal kicked in and I had panic attacks, gut issues, more tremor, muscle jerks and brain zaps, blurred vision, heart palpitations, insomnia and waking up with my heart pounding. It subsided after a month and I lowered the dose to 2 mg in the middle of March which gave me muscle aches and joint pain. I took another month to lower to one and almost another month to zero. 

 

I still have withdrawal symptoms—mostly anxiety, tremor, vertigo, blurred vision, brain zaps, feeling strange in my skin, no appetite, hypersensitivity, heart palpitations & internal vibration. But I think I've slowly been getting better—more energetic and I've also improved my situation which cause me so much stress. Hearing my pulse has subsided and sometimes goes away even. There are waves and windows and I've noticed one pattern that the doctors couldn't really explain. I mostly hear my pulse after eating or standing up which my GP suggested has to do with blood pressure. If I eat heavy foods, I have this episode that is similar to a panic attack and often sends me into panic—my heart rate increases and pounds in my ears, my stomach gets upset, if I try to get up my heart rate becomes really fast and I start to shake really bad. This subsides after a couple of hours but leaves me tired the next day. I hope this will go away with time. 

 

It surprised me that the second time has been so different than the first. There are, of course, many factors playing in at the same time, so it's hard to say what caused what. In the end, it mostly made my already stressful year much more stressful and terrifying. 

Edited by Gridley

2017 Mirtazapine, 3 months, stopped cold turkey, 1 month withdrawal

2018-2019 Escitalopram 5mg (3 months on 10 mg), 1,5 years, tapered off, no withdrawal

2020-2021 Escitalopram started with 2,5 mg went up to 6 mg, immediate adverse reaction & side effects, started tapering off after three months, severe withdrawal, stopped taking them as of May 1st from 1mg to 0, severe withdrawal peaked after 3-4 weeks, light withdrawal (mid June 2021) 

Supplements: Magnesium, Omega 3 (Algae oil)

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to SA, Valdemar.  Thank you for completing your drug signature.

 

It appears, as you've identified in your Introduction title, that you're experiencing both an adverse reaction and withdrawal from Escitalopram.  It's a very encouraging sign that you're getting better.  You will heal--the damage is not permanent--but it will take some time.  The symptoms you describe are typical of adverse reaction and of withdrawal, and they will fade with time.

 

The fact that your experience the second time was so much more difficult than the first time is not at all uncommon.  Each time you start and stop, then start and stop a drug, your nervous system become more sensitized.  The first time might be easy, but the second time is due to the increasing sensitization of your system.  This process is known as kindling.  Again, you will heal and recover.

 

So that you have a better idea of what you're experiencing, here is some information on adverse reactions, withdrawal and the healing process.

 

But I only took it for a Week

 

 

 

 

When we take psychiatric medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  

 

These explain the healing process really well.

 

 

 

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 
 

 

 

Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems. Get supplements that are single ingredient (not mixed with other types of supplements).

 

This is your Introduction topic, where you can complete your drug signature, questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

 

 

Edited by Gridley

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium 

End 2021  year 1 of Valium taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of Valium taper at 2.75mg 

End 2023 year 3 of Valium taper at 1mg

Jan. 24, 2024: Hold at 1mg and shift to Imipramine taper.

Taper is 95% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan.-Sept. 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Jan. 24, 2024: Resume Imipramine taper.  Current dose as of May 2: 6.1mg

Taper is 92% complete.  

  

Supplements: multiple, quercetin, omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg, iron, serrapeptase, nattokinase


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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  • Gridley changed the title to Valdemar: Second time on Escitalopram: adverse reaction and severe withdrawal

Thank you so much for your response and for the links, Gridley. And many thanks to you and your team for creating and moderating such a helpful website.

 

I'm currently in another wave but as I mentioned before, it is somewhat weaker than previous waves. it is still very unpleasant and frustrating—partly because it's been going on for months now—but I'm not shaking as bad, my anxiety isn't as overwhelming, my heart doesn't pound in my ears as strongly and at such length as before along with less pronounced muscle tension, acid reflux & sensitive stomach, joint pain & hands tingling. It's encouraging to hear the next wave should be weaker. 

2017 Mirtazapine, 3 months, stopped cold turkey, 1 month withdrawal

2018-2019 Escitalopram 5mg (3 months on 10 mg), 1,5 years, tapered off, no withdrawal

2020-2021 Escitalopram started with 2,5 mg went up to 6 mg, immediate adverse reaction & side effects, started tapering off after three months, severe withdrawal, stopped taking them as of May 1st from 1mg to 0, severe withdrawal peaked after 3-4 weeks, light withdrawal (mid June 2021) 

Supplements: Magnesium, Omega 3 (Algae oil)

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  • Moderator Emeritus

@Valdamar

I know it's frustrating, but you are improving and that's a great sign of healing.

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium 

End 2021  year 1 of Valium taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of Valium taper at 2.75mg 

End 2023 year 3 of Valium taper at 1mg

Jan. 24, 2024: Hold at 1mg and shift to Imipramine taper.

Taper is 95% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan.-Sept. 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Jan. 24, 2024: Resume Imipramine taper.  Current dose as of May 2: 6.1mg

Taper is 92% complete.  

  

Supplements: multiple, quercetin, omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg, iron, serrapeptase, nattokinase


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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Unfortunately it seemed to improve until a week and a half ago and then I plunged into another strong wave and so far I've had no reprieve. I've been dealing with these waves since I started to take Escitalopram. 

 

The stomach irritability and stomach gas drive me up the wall cause I find it hard to predict what foods cause it. I thought it was heavy foods but sometimes they are fine. It happens whether or not I eat histamine-rich food. If I don't notice an anxiety spiral, it just adds a panic attack on top of stomach issues which are always followed by feeling wired, my heart pounding in my ears (I don't know if its pulsating tinnitus or something else) and sometimes BMs. 

 

The fatigue makes it difficult to function. It seems to get worse when I change my position from lying down to sitting up and then standing and walking. 

 

2017 Mirtazapine, 3 months, stopped cold turkey, 1 month withdrawal

2018-2019 Escitalopram 5mg (3 months on 10 mg), 1,5 years, tapered off, no withdrawal

2020-2021 Escitalopram started with 2,5 mg went up to 6 mg, immediate adverse reaction & side effects, started tapering off after three months, severe withdrawal, stopped taking them as of May 1st from 1mg to 0, severe withdrawal peaked after 3-4 weeks, light withdrawal (mid June 2021) 

Supplements: Magnesium, Omega 3 (Algae oil)

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  • 1 month later...

I'm so glad I found this topic cause I've had an adverse reaction to Escitalopram and I have excessive burping which sometimes causes discomfort/pain in my chest and also ear & sinus pressure (plus ringing and my pulse pounding in my ears) and muscle weakness. I also have weird periods of heightened heart rate, shaking &  anxiety after eating. And I cannot establish a pattern cause I can eat something and it's fine and then eat the same thing the next day and have this reaction.

 

Is there anyone for whom these issues went away though? Cause I've been off the drug for two months now and they are still there, although they fluctuate, some days are better, some days are worse. 

2017 Mirtazapine, 3 months, stopped cold turkey, 1 month withdrawal

2018-2019 Escitalopram 5mg (3 months on 10 mg), 1,5 years, tapered off, no withdrawal

2020-2021 Escitalopram started with 2,5 mg went up to 6 mg, immediate adverse reaction & side effects, started tapering off after three months, severe withdrawal, stopped taking them as of May 1st from 1mg to 0, severe withdrawal peaked after 3-4 weeks, light withdrawal (mid June 2021) 

Supplements: Magnesium, Omega 3 (Algae oil)

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Previous post moved to your intro topic to keep your history all in one place.  Please post questions and discussion about your situation in this one thread, to avoid confusion and duplication of efforts.  Thank you.  

 

These drugs make profound changes to our nervous system, and our nervous system is highly complex.  Therefore, it can take months to years for the effects of withdrawal to resolve themselves as our nervous system heals itself.  Here are some threads about these types of issues.  Here are some threads where other members have similar issues:

 

 Digestive Problems

 

Here is how to do a search to see what other members have the same issue you do.  Go to google,

and type "survivingantidepressants.org burping".  You should find some hits.  You could do the same with your other symptoms.  You should eventually get better, as long as you stay off the mind altering drugs and substances.  Hang in there - someday this will be a thing of the past.  

Edited by getofflex

Please do not private message me.  Only tag me for urgent questions about tapering and reinstating - thank you.  

 

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

 

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 2010 - 10 mg;  started taper August 2017, recent taper info: Apr 2 '20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, before bed

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, vit C, vit E, multivitamin, zinc

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, extended release vitamin C, melatonin 2 mg

 

Paxil 2002 - 2010, switched to Lexapro 2010 

Trazodone 50 mg. 2002 - 2019, fast tapered in 2019 

Xanax 0.5 mg as needed 2002 - 2019, up to 3x weekly 

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  • 1 month later...

After being off the drugs for three months, I've seen some improvement. I still have digestive issues like bloating but being a bit unstable/dizzy, higher heart rate, agitation & nervousness after eating are barely noticeable now. I have had a long period of my arms and hands aching and tingling (which made me worry I have MS) but it's gone too now. My pulsatile tinnitus is better as well, it's quieter and goes away often. Also, I no longer experience dread and overwhelming panic attacks. My eye focus is better but occasionally seeing lights is still there. The fatigue is frustrating but it's not as encompassing.

 

At times it's hard to recognise what's psychosomatic and what's not. A lot of the problems seem to stem from intense anxiety, agitation and restlessness which I've acquired from the drugs. I've been working of consciously lowering the level of hyperawareness and hyperarousal although on some days it seems to be just there, and it seems to help with other symptoms. 

2017 Mirtazapine, 3 months, stopped cold turkey, 1 month withdrawal

2018-2019 Escitalopram 5mg (3 months on 10 mg), 1,5 years, tapered off, no withdrawal

2020-2021 Escitalopram started with 2,5 mg went up to 6 mg, immediate adverse reaction & side effects, started tapering off after three months, severe withdrawal, stopped taking them as of May 1st from 1mg to 0, severe withdrawal peaked after 3-4 weeks, light withdrawal (mid June 2021) 

Supplements: Magnesium, Omega 3 (Algae oil)

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