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Caligula: Withdrawal from CIPRALEX (LEXAPRO) 15mg


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Posted (edited)

Hello,

 

Nice to meet you all. I'm initiating this thread to offer support for myself and potentially others who may be experiencing similar challenges.

 

I began taking 10mg of Cipralex when I was 27 years old. On and off for the majority of my life, I had experienced varying levels of anxiety. While I still managed to function, it often felt like I was struggling more than my peers. After several years of trying different approaches, my doctor recommended trying this SSRI. Though hesitant initially, my doctor persuaded me to give it a try, assuring me that discontinuing it would be straightforward..

 

And it did work. Remarkably so. After a couple of months, I felt like a new person. I remember thinking, "Is this how people usually feel? How refreshing."

 

However, after a couple of years, I began experiencing difficult weeks. For about a week at a time, I would feel worse than I did before starting the medication. Eventually, these episodes became more frequent, occurring around 6-7 times a year.

 

In 2021, I attempted to discontinue usage. Following the doctor's instructions, I tapered off 10mg over two weeks. It was a dreadful experience. I only managed a few weeks before returning to the medication. Soon the challenging weeks came back and this time it was suggested i bumbed it up to 15mg. It worked for a while, but then the "weeks" started again.

 

Determined to try again, I sought additional support for quitting the drug. Unfortunately, such resources are scarce in Sweden and i had not yet discovered this forum. If I had, I would have approached the situation differently. I would have requested the medication in liquid form and tapered it by 10% at a time. However, that opportunity has now passed. Anyhow i found a doctor willing to help me taper over 6 weeks. While the tapering period was manageable, discontinuing the drug completely was horrendous. Here's what I experienced (not in any particular order):

 

- Brain zaps
- Restless legs
- Insomnia
- Sadness
- Irritability
- Fear
- Forgetfulness
- Inability to experience joy
- Difficulty focusing
- Indecisiveness
- Mild panic attacks
- Headaches

 

It has been approximately 5 months since I completely stopped taking Cipralex. Some symptoms have subsided, but many persist. I would rank them as follows, with 1 being the most severe:

 

1. Sadness: I struggle to find joy in anything, even activities I used to enjoy immensely.
2. Irritability: Despite my efforts to remain calm, I often find myself losing control and becoming irritable with those close to me, leading to further distress.
3. Fear: I feel an overwhelming sense of apprehension in various life situations.
4. Indecisiveness: Making decisions, once straightforward for me, has become a daunting task.
5. Difficulty focusing: I frequently find myself zoning out and needing to reread or reprocess information.
6. Forgetfulness: Both short-term and long-term memory lapses occur frequently.
7. Restless legs: Though initially uncomfortable, this symptom has improved and become more manageable over time.

 

If I could offer any advice to someone going through the same experience as me, it would be the following:

 

- Remember, your thoughts are not reality. Strive to observe them without passing judgment.
- Be open and honest with the people close to you about what you're going through.

- Despite the constant urge to isolate, try to do the opposite, even if it's in less intimidating situations than large gatherings. Push yourself to leave the house.

- I have a routine i follow as often as possible, but especially when facing daunting tasks. Personally, I find that taking a cold bath (at 5 degrees Celsius for 3 minutes) followed by exercise significantly reduces my anxiety. While some research suggests this may help stimulate serotonin production, I can only attest to its effectiveness for me. If cold baths aren't possible, ice-cold showers are an alternative. I learned about this approach from a friend who successfully tapered off benzodiazepines, and I began exploring it when discontinuing my medication. The Wim Hof Method is a helpful resource in this regard.

 

I'm here if anyone has any questions and will provide updates whenever I notice a change in my withdrawal symptoms. I must say, there are brief periods where things improve slightly, but at present, they are scarce.

 

Thank you for reading,

//Caligula

Edited by Emonda
Name to title

Medical backstory:

 

2016-2022 10mg Cipralex (Lexapro)
2022-2023 15mg Cipralex (Lexapro)

20231016 - 7.5mg
20231030 - 5mg
20231114 - 2.5mg
20231203 - 0mg

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  • Emonda changed the title to Caligula: Withdrawal from CIPRALEX (LEXAPRO) 15mg
  • Moderator

Hello, and welcome to Surviving Antidepressants. We are a peer support forum to assist in tapering off psychiatric drugs safely, or recovering from psychiatric drug withdrawal.

 

This topic is for anything relating to you, and any questions you have. Please do not start another topic.

 

All the answers you are looking for regarding tapering and antidepressant withdrawal are on this site. Please search around and continue to read as much as you can manage. Use the site search function to search for specific words or phrases, such as drugs or symptoms.

 

 

The symptoms you were experiencing on the medication sound like what we colloquially call "poopout", or tachyphylaxis. It's when the drug loses efficacy after a number of years. As you've learnt, the only way out was to taper off.

All the symptoms you are experiencing now are common with the post-acute withdrawal odyssey, and we would expect them to very slowly improve and fade over the coming months. Despite your current challenges, it sounds like you are coping quite well with your situation.

 

On 5/11/2024 at 12:31 PM, Caligula said:

The Wim Hof Method is a helpful resource in this regard.

Just be careful with the breathing methods he suggests, I found they are far too intense for someone going through this. I prefer slower diaphragmatic breathing exercises.

Here are a few of the most useful links:

 

--------From the Symptoms and Self-Care Forums--------

 
What is withdrawal syndrome?
 
The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Hypersensitivity and Kindling

 

We only recommend two supplements. Omega 3 Fish Oil and Magnesium. Both should be introduced separately and increased slowly.

 

Regards

Erimus

Edited by Erimus

Active Monday-Friday UK time

 

MEDICATION:

1) Sertraline:

50mg - Oct 2020, 100mg - Dec 2020, 50mg - April 2021, 75mg - May 2021, 50mg - Sep 2021; 55mg - 23 Feb 2024; 60mg - 20 March 2024; Start tapering - 24 April 2024

Current dose: 57.93mg  (15 May 2024)

2) Mirtazapine:

15mg - Nov 2020

SUPPLEMENTS:

Cod liver oil, Magnesium, Vitamin C

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Hi Caligula,

if I understand you correctly, you quit 7.5mg Escitalopram over the course of about 6 weeks, ending at the beginning of Dez. 2023. And you still suffer from symptoms that you started to experience during those 6 weeks?!

 

In that case your taper has been extremely fast and this is probably the reason why you are still suffering. I did a fast taper over the course of roughly 3 month and it broke me. A lot of people need to get gradually off those drugs over the course of years if they want to avoid severe suffering.

Earlier drug history:

Paroxetine  2001 until 2003, quit cold turkey, don't remember dose; Venlafaxine 2005 until Dez. 2023, mostly 75mg xr per day, for about 4 years 37.5mg xr; quite a lot of Antihistamines because of allergy; there were other drugs that I don't remember all, but nothing what I consistently took over a longer period of time, for example Lorazepam 0.5mg prn.

Recent developments:

Dez 2023 - 03/13/2024 quitting Venlafaxine 75mg (skipping doses); 04/07/2024 reinstating Venlafaxine 12,5mg; 04/17/2024 Venlafaxine 25mg; 4/29/24 until 5/4/24 Trimipramine, 5mg going down to zero over 5 days

Drugs right now:

Venlafaxine 25mg; supplements: 500mg magnesium, 100mg aspirin and melatonin spray

 

I am no medical expert. I am dependent on Venlafaxine, trying to find and give peer support in this community and simply giving my opinion. Double check any information before you take action, for example with your doctor.

 

First they sell addictive drugs as harmless and then they leave you alone dosing fractions of a mg correctly or plunging into the abyss.

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On 5/14/2024 at 10:34 AM, Erimus said:

The symptoms you were experiencing on the medication sound like what we colloquially call "poopout", or tachyphylaxis. It's when the drug loses efficacy after a number of years. As you've learnt, the only way out was to taper off.

Thank you. I'll look into it.

 

On 5/14/2024 at 10:34 AM, Erimus said:

Just be careful with the breathing methods he suggest, I found they are far too intense for someone going through this. I prefer slower diaphragmatic breathing exercises.

I've been incorporating ice baths and breathing exercises into my routine almost since I began my phase-out, and they've been invaluable to me. They've truly been a lifesaver.

Medical backstory:

 

2016-2022 10mg Cipralex (Lexapro)
2022-2023 15mg Cipralex (Lexapro)

20231016 - 7.5mg
20231030 - 5mg
20231114 - 2.5mg
20231203 - 0mg

Link to comment
On 5/14/2024 at 11:14 AM, Alfred1977 said:

if I understand you correctly, you quit 7.5mg Escitalopram over the course of about 6 weeks, ending at the beginning of Dez. 2023. And you still suffer from symptoms that you started to experience during those 6 weeks?!

Tes.

 

On 5/14/2024 at 11:14 AM, Alfred1977 said:

In that case your taper has been extremely fast and this is probably the reason why you are still suffering. I did a fast taper over the course of roughly 3 month and it broke me. A lot of people need to get gradually off those drugs over the course of years if they want to avoid severe suffering.

Yes, it happened too quickly, but not by choice. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough support or knowledge from medical professionals.

Medical backstory:

 

2016-2022 10mg Cipralex (Lexapro)
2022-2023 15mg Cipralex (Lexapro)

20231016 - 7.5mg
20231030 - 5mg
20231114 - 2.5mg
20231203 - 0mg

Link to comment
13 hours ago, Caligula said:

Yes, it happened too quickly, but not by choice. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough support or knowledge from medical professionals.

Same with me.

Earlier drug history:

Paroxetine  2001 until 2003, quit cold turkey, don't remember dose; Venlafaxine 2005 until Dez. 2023, mostly 75mg xr per day, for about 4 years 37.5mg xr; quite a lot of Antihistamines because of allergy; there were other drugs that I don't remember all, but nothing what I consistently took over a longer period of time, for example Lorazepam 0.5mg prn.

Recent developments:

Dez 2023 - 03/13/2024 quitting Venlafaxine 75mg (skipping doses); 04/07/2024 reinstating Venlafaxine 12,5mg; 04/17/2024 Venlafaxine 25mg; 4/29/24 until 5/4/24 Trimipramine, 5mg going down to zero over 5 days

Drugs right now:

Venlafaxine 25mg; supplements: 500mg magnesium, 100mg aspirin and melatonin spray

 

I am no medical expert. I am dependent on Venlafaxine, trying to find and give peer support in this community and simply giving my opinion. Double check any information before you take action, for example with your doctor.

 

First they sell addictive drugs as harmless and then they leave you alone dosing fractions of a mg correctly or plunging into the abyss.

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Hello friends,

 

It has been a tough week. I´ve felt more personality-changed than in a long time.

 

I have my son every other week, and the week I have him I always look forward to with a mix of excitement and dread since I started my withdrawal. Excitement because he is a super nice kid and we have fun together. The dread comes from the fact that sometimes I am short-tempered and irritable with him, even though I really don't want to be. It's like I know that now you are angry, and it's unreasonable because he is 6, but I can't do anything about it. Completely powerless.

 

It feels like I’m becoming more and more socially misfit with each passing day. I've always had a bit of trouble connecting with people, instead I've had a few really good friends that I feel safe with. So in larger groups, I always feel strange, very conscious about trying to do the right thing. 

This weekend I made my debut as an assistant coach in my son's soccer team. It's been an emotional hangover for the past 24 hours. It went okay, until one of the other coaches did something that I thought was over the line. It wasn't a huge deal, but apparently I took it incredibly badly and have been obsessed with it ever since. My brain refuses to let go.

 

It's as if all my usual "character flaws" are coming through with incredible force in this.

 

So now I sit here, early morning, with shame that I can't connect with other people, that no one likes me, and fear that I have a whole Sunday ahead of me where my son and I will try to find something fun to do. And I hope I can keep my mood in check.

 

Take care,

Medical backstory:

 

2016-2022 10mg Cipralex (Lexapro)
2022-2023 15mg Cipralex (Lexapro)

20231016 - 7.5mg
20231030 - 5mg
20231114 - 2.5mg
20231203 - 0mg

Link to comment
On 5/16/2024 at 10:08 AM, Alfred1977 said:

Same with me.

Ah i see. How are you feeling?

Medical backstory:

 

2016-2022 10mg Cipralex (Lexapro)
2022-2023 15mg Cipralex (Lexapro)

20231016 - 7.5mg
20231030 - 5mg
20231114 - 2.5mg
20231203 - 0mg

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Caligula said:

Ah i see. How are you feeling?

Thank you for asking. Compared to the time around when I reinstated and the 4 weeks after that I'd say quite alright. I had pretty severe insomnia and anxiety with cortisol spikes and this stuff. This is significantly less now, however actually I am still feeling pretty bad. I am still anxious, I worry a lot, lost hope and feel depressed. I wonder again if I should push myself more or rest (same question in the beginning). I am doing almost nothing at the moment and find it hard to distinguish between withdrawal and psychological factors. Probably both matter.

 

1 hour ago, Caligula said:

It feels like I’m becoming more and more socially misfit with each passing day. I've always had a bit of trouble connecting with people

I got issues with that too.

 

Do you like Roman history?

Earlier drug history:

Paroxetine  2001 until 2003, quit cold turkey, don't remember dose; Venlafaxine 2005 until Dez. 2023, mostly 75mg xr per day, for about 4 years 37.5mg xr; quite a lot of Antihistamines because of allergy; there were other drugs that I don't remember all, but nothing what I consistently took over a longer period of time, for example Lorazepam 0.5mg prn.

Recent developments:

Dez 2023 - 03/13/2024 quitting Venlafaxine 75mg (skipping doses); 04/07/2024 reinstating Venlafaxine 12,5mg; 04/17/2024 Venlafaxine 25mg; 4/29/24 until 5/4/24 Trimipramine, 5mg going down to zero over 5 days

Drugs right now:

Venlafaxine 25mg; supplements: 500mg magnesium, 100mg aspirin and melatonin spray

 

I am no medical expert. I am dependent on Venlafaxine, trying to find and give peer support in this community and simply giving my opinion. Double check any information before you take action, for example with your doctor.

 

First they sell addictive drugs as harmless and then they leave you alone dosing fractions of a mg correctly or plunging into the abyss.

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