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Froggy: tapering off Lexapro after 12 years


froggy

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Hey everyone!

 

I went on 20mg escitalopram sometime around 2009-2010 for social anxiety when I was about 15.  It really helped, but I really think it's long run its course. I tried going off of it around 2014, but the withdrawal effects (brain zaps, weird taste in my mouth, mood swings) were too much for me to handle.   I'm going to try again.  

 

I had an appointment with a psychiatrist on April 12th. I told her that I wanted to do a very slow taper-- somewhere around 2mg dosage decrease each month-- but she wouldn't work with me to do this.  Can't really afford to shop around more and find someone who will help me do it the way I want so I'm doing it her way (at least for now), which starts with going from 20mg to 15mg, which I will be on for 3 weeks.  I'm now on my 5th day on this dose and it's the first day I've noticed anything.  I feel mostly fine really, but kind of...foggy? It's a little difficult to focus my eyes and I feel a little on edge.  Not positive it's from the tapering, but definitely could be.

 

It's my plan to document things here, but I'm also a little conflicted about it!  I worry that I'll give myself psychosomatic symptoms if I overthink it too much.  I'll stick around as long as I feel it serves me well. 

2010 escitalopram (20 mg)

2022 escitalopram 20 mg -Apr 12 taper down - 15 mg

May 12, 2022 -12.5 mg

June 12, 2022- 10mg (held for 1 year)

June 27, 2023- 7.5 mg 

 

 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Froggy: Tapering off Lexapro after 12 years
  • Moderator

@froggy

 

Welcome to SA from one "frog" to another. We are a volunteer ran site helping people taper off antidepressants and other medications, or have tapered off and are healing.

 

This is your introduction page where you will receive information, ask questions and meet other members. We ask that each member only have one introduction page so we can keep all your information in one place.

 

I can tell you, without a doubt, your psychiatrist is having you taper way too fast. There are not many psychiatrist's, or any other type of dr that knows how to taper off of these medications without sending you into extreme wd symptoms. It took me almost 5 years to taper off of 10 mg Escitalopram and I made a lot of mistakes.

 


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 


Tips for tapering off escitalopram (Lexapro)

 

Dr. Joseph Glenmullen's withdrawal symptom checklist

 


What is withdrawal syndrome?

 

The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

The lower you get on the dosage, the harder it is going to become. I'm going to give you a link on how to talk to your dr so you can taper at a safe speed and dosage.

 

How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?

 

We don't suggest supplements on here because they tend to be stimulating to the desensitized nervous system. We do however, suggest 2. If you would like to try one, try a small amount and wait a few days before introducing the other.

 

Magnesium

Omega-3 Fish Oil

 

I hope you find these links helpful and are able to slow your taper way down to help with all the wd symptoms. Please let us know if you have any questions.

 

 

PREVIOUS medications and discontinuations: Have been on medications since 1996. 

 Valium, Gabapentin, Lamictal, Prilosec and Zantac from 2000 to 2015 with a fast taper by a psychiatrist.

 Liquid Lexapro Nov, 2016 to 31-March, 2019 Lexapro free!!! (total Lexapro taper was 4 years-started with pill form)

---CURRENT MEDICATIONS:Supplements:Milk Thistle, Metamucil, Magnesium Citrate, Vitamin D3, Levothyroxine 25mcg, Vitamin C, Krill oil.

Xanax 1mg 3x day June, 2000 to 19-September, 2020 Went from .150 grams (average weight of 1 Xanax) 3x day to .003 grams 3x day. April 1, 2021 went back on 1mg a day. Started tapering May 19, 2023. July 28, 2023-approximately .87mg. Dr. fast tapered me at the end and realized he messed up. Prescribe it again and I am doing "slower than a turtle" taper.

19-September, 2020 Xanax free!!! (total Xanax taper was 15-1/2 months-1-June, 2019-19-September, 2020)

I am not a medical professional.

The suggestions I make are based on personal experience.

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  • Mentor
23 hours ago, froggy said:

I tried going off of it around 2014, but the withdrawal effects (brain zaps, weird taste in my mouth, mood swings) were too much for me to handle.

If they were too much for you to handle then it is very likely going to be the same this time. I would not tell the Dr you are tapering and instead say you have changed your mind but taper at the SA recommended rate. These doctors get people into dreadful WD troubles and then compound things by adding more drugs / saying it’s not WD….. my own psychiatrist said she ‘didn’t know’ when I said I couldn’t get off, so in my case she absolved herself of any and all responsibility.  You only need to read some threads on here to see how bad things can get.

am not a medical professional. I provide information and make suggestions based on my own experience and SA guidelines. I am unable to respond to private messages. 

Mirtazepine 15mg Nov 2018 -April 2019  April - Sept 2019 Mirtazepine down to around 6mg - skipping days to taper

October 2019 - Dec 2019 unwell from failed taper including jumping about in doses 

15 December 2019 to 13 June 2021 15mg Mirtazepine 

14 June 2021 started brass monkey Slide.  
2021: 23 August 12.3mg, 28 October 11.1mg, 6 Dec 10mg

2022: 12 Feb 8.5, 25 Oct 4.5mg

2023: 16 Jan 3.6mg, 28 Sept 1.8mg

2024: 13 May 1.1mg

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Thanks for the input, both of you.

I've officially been on the new dose for 8 days at this point, and I still feel good, which is a relief. Weird taste in my mouth is no longer there and I mentally feel good. I spoke to my therapist yesterday and talked about what might be best for me moving forward...I decided not to return to the psychiatrist I saw before because she was dismissive of my concerns and seemed unwilling to work with me on doing a slow taper.  I can't afford to see another psychiatrist (seeing this one cost me nearly $300 with insurance) so I'm going to try to do it through my PCP.  Going to print out some information about slow tapering and hope she's willing to listen.  If not, going to do some DIY stuff to taper myself off at a rate I'm more comfortable with.  Really sucks that doctors are so stubborn about this. 

2010 escitalopram (20 mg)

2022 escitalopram 20 mg -Apr 12 taper down - 15 mg

May 12, 2022 -12.5 mg

June 12, 2022- 10mg (held for 1 year)

June 27, 2023- 7.5 mg 

 

 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Some members don't tell their doctor / medical professional that they are tapering.  The important thing is to be able to get what you need for your taper for the duration of your taper.

 

how-to-talk-to-a-doctor-about-tapering-and-withdrawal-what-to-expect

* NO LONGER ACTIVE on SA *

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:  (6 year taper)      0mg Pristiq  on 13th November 2021

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering from Oct 2015 - 13 Nov 2021   LAST DOSE 0.0025mg

Post 0 updates start here    My tapering program     My Intro (goes to tapering graph)

 VIDEO:   Antidepressant Withdrawal Syndrome and its Management

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  • 4 months later...

Update!

Steps down were pretty uneventful until I hit 10mg.  I went down from 12.5 to 10mg around June 12th and have not gone down any further.  

It truly hasn't been awful, nothing that bad thankfully!  But my anxiety has definitely gone up significantly at this dose.  I've had good days and bad days, but I have this kind of low-level hum of panic and anxiety just kind of there at all times.  I'm not sure how much of it is life circumstances (I just started a pretty intense online course and have a huge deadline coming up for work) and how much is the dosage change.

 

In the past month I've started grinding my teeth a lot in my sleep and have a lot of neck pain and headaches.   Just feel less capable, generally, of dealing with stress without feeling completely overwhelmed.  Minor setbacks have sent me spiraling for days.  My short-term memory has been INSANELY bad!! But I'm hanging in there.  Been taking multiple walks in the park by the pond every day, stopped drinking (haven't drank in a month! It hasn't made a huge difference but I think it's the right decision and makes me feel a bit better), and working out every other day.  

 

I plan to stay on the 10 mg for a while.  I want to taper off completely eventually, but I am struggling too much with my anxiety right now and don't know if I can deal with doing it right now. 😕 

2010 escitalopram (20 mg)

2022 escitalopram 20 mg -Apr 12 taper down - 15 mg

May 12, 2022 -12.5 mg

June 12, 2022- 10mg (held for 1 year)

June 27, 2023- 7.5 mg 

 

 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Froggy: tapering off Lexapro after 12 years
  • 9 months later...

Posting another update!

 

I was not planning to stay on 10mg for so long, but I wanted to be sure that I felt completely stable and ready for the next step down. I feel really good now; whatever symptoms I had from the last decrease were nothing I couldn't tolerate.  Life circumstances have improved a lot since my last post so it'll be easier to differentiate life-induced stress from withdrawal symptoms.  

I just finished a huge project I've been working on for years, and will be spending most of next month on a relaxing time in the country with my girlfriend, so I feel that this is a good opportunity to take the next step down.  I am on my second day of 7.5 mg, down from 10 mg.  I know that smaller decreases are recommended, but I'm still struggling to get my doctor to work with me/can't afford to look for another one.  I think I'm going to try to make my own liquid solution OR really push to get one prescribed for my next decrease.  If it takes me years to get to zero then so be it!  So far I have not noticed any symptoms other than a bit of fogginess.  Will continue to update on future changes. 

 

 

2010 escitalopram (20 mg)

2022 escitalopram 20 mg -Apr 12 taper down - 15 mg

May 12, 2022 -12.5 mg

June 12, 2022- 10mg (held for 1 year)

June 27, 2023- 7.5 mg 

 

 

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Been on this dose (7.5 mg) for a little over a week and symptoms today are the worst they've been so far, but nothing unbearable really.  I feel absolutely exhausted and very on edge, and I have no appetite.  Heart racing a bit.  Having some weird stuff going on in my brain (things are feeling a bit surreal and it's hard to think straight, kinda feels like I'm high) but there's a big storm here today which is a migraine trigger for me, so I think that's contributing to what I'm feeling.  

I haven't been sleeping the greatest the last few nights, but turning on soothing noises on my phone and breathing deeply has helped. 

All that said, I don't feel overly concerned about any of this and am ready for whatever happens next.  I have a good support system there for me and a very relaxing month ahead of me so it should all go ok, even if I do have to deal with some unpleasantness. 

2010 escitalopram (20 mg)

2022 escitalopram 20 mg -Apr 12 taper down - 15 mg

May 12, 2022 -12.5 mg

June 12, 2022- 10mg (held for 1 year)

June 27, 2023- 7.5 mg 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another update! Now have been on 7.5mg for 20 days and haven't had noticeable WD symptoms for about 5 days now.  Feeling good!

I had about a week of waves of anxiety, heart palpitations, irritability/restlessness, and mild insomnia.  It felt pretty bad at times, but it passed relatively quickly.  Also a creepy-crawly feeling in my limbs, which is the only thing I'm still sometimes experiencing.  It's not disruptive though.  I wanted to taper down again sooner, but won't be able to until next month because I'm currently out of state.  Going to get a liquid Rx for the remaining taper.  With the way it's been going I'm feeling confident, but I know it tends to get a bit more difficult the lower the dose.  I want to stay hopeful though! 

2010 escitalopram (20 mg)

2022 escitalopram 20 mg -Apr 12 taper down - 15 mg

May 12, 2022 -12.5 mg

June 12, 2022- 10mg (held for 1 year)

June 27, 2023- 7.5 mg 

 

 

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Hi Froggy,

 

Good to hear you've been doing well so far! It's true that things get more difficult the lower you get, so I do recommend staying cautious. I didn't notice withdrawal symptoms until I was below 4 mg (started at 20 mg paroxetine, switched to citalopram at 10 mg), but am finding it pretty tough since getting below 2 mg.

 

Do you take any medication when you have migraine attacks? I have migraine drugs myself, and they are probably interacting with my tapering, as the drugs work on serotonin receptors. That might also be something for you to be cautious about.

2006 - Paroxetine, 20 mg

2008 / 2018 - Several mostly unsuccessful attempts at tapering, without knowledge of withdrawal

2019 - Decrease from 20 mg to 15 mg (June), from 15 mg to 10 mg (Dec)

2020 - Switch to 10 mg liquid citalopram (Feb), decrease to 8 mg (Apr), 6 mg (June), 4 mg (July) without clear symptoms. 3.2 mg (Sep 9), 3 mg (Sep 23), 2.8 mg (Oct 10), 2.6 mg (Oct 26), 2 mg (Nov 13).  Tapered to 1.68 mg in steps of 0.16 mg (Dec 3). Withdrawal kicked in hard. Increase to 1.8 mg (Dec 8), increase to 1.92 mg (Dec 18)

2021 - Increase to 2.2 mg (Jan 1), decrease to 2 mg (Feb 8 ), 1.92 mg (March 21), 1.8 mg (Apr 2), 1.68 mg (Apr 25), 1.56 mg (June 6), 1.52 mg (Sep 5), 1.48 mg (Sep 20), 1.44 mg (Oct 4), 1.4 mg (Oct 18), 1.36 (Nov 1)

2022 - 1.32 mg (Feb 4) - Covid (March 7) - 1.28 mg (Jul 21), 1.24 mg (Oct 3), 1.2 mg (Nov 26)

2023 - Holding at 1.2 mg for most of the yearOn Dec 28 started a nano-slide of 0.002 mg reductions almost daily.

2024 - Down to 1.178 mg by Jan 17. Still more withdrawal symptoms than wanted. Updose to 1.184 mg (Jan 18), updose to 1.188 mg (Jan 20), updose to 1.192 (Jan 30). Reduction to 1.19 (March 13), updose to 1.2 (March 26). Planning on holding a looong time on this dose.

 

Other medication: sumatriptan 50 mg, when needed (migraine)

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