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professionalfwoosh: My Lexapro Taper Journey so far


professionalfwoosh

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Posted (edited)

Hello! I discovered this website through the r/Lexapro subreddit and felt so relieved to see many others struggling with the same issues with withdrawal as I am. I started Lexapro in November 2022 and stayed on 10mg for a year. I was seeing a psychiatrist for this medicine but decided to "ghost" him; I wanted to get off Lexapro since I felt like it wasn't helping me anymore and I felt emotionally blunted, but he insisted on either changing to a different antidepressant or increasing the dose (I reluctantly followed his advice and briefly increased to 15mg but that made things worse for me emotionally and physically. I went back down to 10mg). I really wanted to stop taking this medicine, so I dropped my psychiatrist and turned to my general practitioner to discuss plans for tapering.

 

I began tapering in November 2023. I decreased to 5mg for 3 weeks, then to 2.5mg for 3 weeks. Here, I experienced zero withdrawal symptoms. All went to hell once I dropped to 0mg in December 2023. I experienced the following symptoms, all of which were extremely intense and had me bedridden, sobbing, and curled into a ball all day:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Depersonalization/derealization
  • Indigestion
  • Vertigo
  • Brain zaps (I think? I'm not entirely sure what they're supposed to feel like)

 

After a couple days and talking to my practitioner again, I went back on 2.5mg and held that for a couple months. The withdrawal symptoms stopped after a couple days. In March 2024, I tried tapering again. I've tried several different plans and after each decrease I experience withdrawal symptoms again for 3-7 days, although less intense. I've also been experiencing ongoing symptoms like GI issues (nausea, bloating, loss of appetite, stomach pain), more frequent panic/anxiety attacks, some memory loss, nightmares, shortness of breath, and being easily winded. Here is a summary of my dosage decreases since March 2024:

  • March 11, 2024: 2.0mg
  • March 24, 2024 (2 weeks later): 1.8mg
  • April 14, 2024 (3 weeks later): 1.6mg
  • May 5, 2024 (3 weeks later): 1.4mg
  • May 6, 2024 (1 day later): 1.6mg - I experienced much more intense withdrawals, so I updosed
  • May 13, 2024 (1 week later): 1.56mg
  • Currently on 1.56mg

 

Withdrawal syndrome is interfering with my school, work, and personal life. I really just want to get this over with or at least find a plan that will minimize these symptoms. I want to go back to feeling normal. I realize that tapering can take a very long time, but honestly the only thing I care about is getting rid of these symptoms.

Edited by Erimus
Swapped 2023 with 2024 in the tapering dates, as per original posters comment

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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Apologies!! I meant 2024!! I started tapering from 2.5mg in 2024! All the dates should say 2024 accordingly!

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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  • Moderator
Posted (edited)

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.

 

 

The best way to eliminate/reduce withdrawal symptoms is a gradual taper. If you read our guidelines you will see we suggest no more than 10% of your current dose per month. I would suggest waiting for at least one month from your previous cut to allow things to stabilise. Your next cut would be from 1.56mg to 1.40mg (1.56*0.9), you would then wait a month, before making your next reduction to 1.26mg (1.40*0.9).

 

 

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

 

We recommend tapering by no more than 10% of your CURRENT dose each month, to limit withdrawal symptoms. E.g. 10mg --> 9mg --> 8.1mg --> 7.29mg

 

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.

 

Here are a few of the most useful links:

 

--------Important topics in the Tapering forum and FAQ--------

 

Micro tapering

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

How to make a liquid from tablets or capsules

 

Using a scale to weigh and measure doses

 

--------From the Symptoms and Self-Care Forums--------
 
What is withdrawal syndrome?
 
About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms
 
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

 

Taper calculator spreadsheet

 

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: 55.09mg  (1 July 2024)

2) Mirtazapine:

15mg - Nov 2020

SUPPLEMENTS:

Cod liver oil, Magnesium, Vitamin C

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  • Moderator
19 hours ago, professionalfwoosh said:

After a couple days and talking to my practitioner again, I went back on 2.5mg and held that for a couple months. The withdrawal symptoms stopped after a couple days. In March 2024, I tried tapering again. I've tried several different plans and after each decrease I experience withdrawal symptoms again for 3-7 days, although less intense. I've also been experiencing ongoing symptoms like GI issues (nausea, bloating, loss of appetite, stomach pain), more frequent panic/anxiety attacks, some memory loss, nightmares, shortness of breath, and being easily winded. Here is a summary of my dosage decreases since March 2024:

  • March 11, 2024: 2.0mg
  • March 24, 2024 (2 weeks later): 1.8mg
  • April 14, 2024 (3 weeks later): 1.6mg
  • May 5, 2024 (3 weeks later): 1.4mg
  • May 6, 2024 (1 day later): 1.6mg - I experienced much more intense withdrawals, so I updosed
  • May 13, 2024 (1 week later): 1.56mg
  • Currently on 1.56mg

 

Withdrawal syndrome is interfering with my school, work, and personal life. I really just want to get this over with or at least find a plan that will minimize these symptoms. I want to go back to feeling normal. I realize that tapering can take a very long time, but honestly the only thing I care about is getting rid of these symptoms.

Hi @professionalfwoosh!  It sounds to me like you need to slow down your tapering!  Your body is sending you some signals, and if your withdrawal symptoms are interfering with your day to day life, slowing down is the best course.  If I were in your shoes, I would hold right where you are until you feel more stable.   Sadly, I think many of us start out with the idea that the sooner we get the drug out of our system, the better, but after being on these drugs for a while, they leave a footprint.  Our serotonin receptors are down regulated, our gene expression has changed- there's a whole host of chemical reactions that take place in our body.  If we remove the drug too quickly, our body hasn't had the time to reverse these changes, and we suffer, as you are finding out.  You may have to hold here for a few months before trying another drop- and that's ok!  This is a marathon, not a sprint!  Hang in there, and don't hesitate to keep posting here- there's lots of supportive people around who are walking the same path as you!

1995- 2007- On and off multiple antidepressants (Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, escitalopram). Memory poor- can’t remember dates. Always tapered fast or CT.  2007- tapered Wellbutrin, zopiclone and escitalopram over one month to get pregnant.  Withdrawal hell for many years.

2009- Daughter born 🥰 Post partum depression/psychosis- no meds taken.

2016- Back on escitalopram due to job change/anxiety

2022- Severe covid infection- Diagnosed with long covid 08/22.

2023- 01/23- Long term disability approved for long covid.  Started taper under MD advice from 20mg: 11/23- 15mg. 2024- March-10mg. Started low dose naltrexone for long covid-5mg- terrible reaction, reduced to 0.5mg.  April- 10mg escitalopram, 1.0mg LDN. May 1- 9.0mg escitalopram, 1.0mg LDN. May 15- 9.0mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  June 12- 8.5mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  July 8- Brassmonkey micro taper started.  8.4mg escitalopram, 1.5mg LDN.  July 15- 8.3mg esc, 1.5mg LDN.  July 18 8.3mg esc, 2.0mg LDN

 

Supplements/other meds: Vitamin D, B12, Claritin

 

I am not a doctor.  I don't even play one on TV.  This is not medical advice, but based on personal experience.  Please consult a medical professional.

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thank you all! i will definitely wait at least a month before making any sort of decrease. and i’ll stick to no more than a 10% reduction each time. i have noticed that if i stay on a dose for a month or more my symptoms subside. thanks again for being so welcoming and for the advice!!

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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  • 2 weeks later...

so.. my dose changes were actually a little more complicated than what i originally wrote. i was naive and thought it would over complicate things to write every bit down, but now i realize every change counts. and im currently paying for it. i actually jumped from 1.56mg to 1.54mg on May 19, 2024 as i wanted to try the brassmonkey slide, then went down to 1.52mg on May 20, 2024 (the following day) because i realized i was supposed to drop to 1.52mg, not 1.54mg. then i freaked out due to withdrawal symptoms and jumped back up to 1.56mg and haven’t made any changes as of today (June 4, 2024). 

 

since making the first post i also got hit with a cold and i think my body couldn’t handle trying to repair itself from both withdrawal and infection, so my withdrawal symptoms became much worse and the cold symptoms felt much more intense than they usually do. it lasted around 10 days and im doing better now cold-wise, but the withdrawals are still kicking my butt. 

 

my nervous system is NOT happy with all the rapid changes and i’ve been experiencing debilitating stomach pain, dizziness, nausea, disequilibrium, dissociation, and panic attacks since i the day i dropped to 1.54mg. i’m still trying to recover from this and it’s been really hard. i can barely leave the house. i’m seeing a gastroenterologist tomorrow to see if there’s anything i can do about the stomach issues; i’ve had GI issues for the majority of my life anyway, the withdrawal has just made it much worse. i can’t eat even a tiny meal without being bedridden with stomach pain for the next 2-4 hours. i suspect i may have developed gastroparesis, but i’ll see what the gastroenterologist says. to be honest, it’s been slowly getting better since the cold went away, but it gets difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. i know it hasn’t even been a year for me yet of experiencing withdrawals and others have been through much worse, but man… it’s really getting to me. i just can’t wait for all of this to be over and to live my life normally again.

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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  • 1 month later...

hello! just wanted to give an update and get thoughts from others. having a hard time atm.

 

i went to the gastroenterologist and he prescribed me 40mg omeprazole daily and had me do an upper endoscopy, gastric emptying test, and ultrasound for my abdomen. all my tests came back normal, except for mild inflammation in my stomach. i was told the omeprazole should help with my stomach pain but it has barely improved. nearly every meal i have gives me terrible stomach pain. i’ve had stomach pain before but this is unlike anything i’ve felt. it feels like my stomach WANTS to digest the food but is having trouble doing so (i told my GI doctor this). i have a follow up appointment with him on wednesday and i will bring up that the pain has not improved.

 

i’ll also add that yesterday, i took a plan b pill (levonorgestrel) due to accident with my partner. i’ve taken it twice before and had zero side effects, but i hadn’t started tapering yet. that night i felt very angry and upset for no reason. i was also due to decrease my lexapro dose from 1.56mg to 1.54mg, so i did that the same night as well. i really probably shouldn’t have.. 2 hours after i took my lexapro i experienced what felt like an adverse reaction (?) i was clammy, intensely shaking, nauseous, and my heart was racing. i was freaking out and it was terrible. i eventually went to sleep, but i would wake up several times feeling the same.

 

then the next day (today), i honestly can’t tell if i felt sick from the plan b or the lexapro decrease. i had been on 1.56mg for 7 weeks so i figured that was enough time to stabilize. but anyway this whole day i’ve been nauseous, weak, had headaches, and i could barely eat. i wish i hadn’t decreased until i knew the plan b was out of my system. my mom has been very adamant about me decreasing as soon as possible, so i guess i caved in. now i can’t tell what’s causing my symptoms!! i’m very emetophobic so whenever i feel nauseous like this it sends me into a spiral. i’m lost on what to do right now! if anyone has any advice, or if anyone is still following this topic, please let me know your thoughts!! :(

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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  • Moderator
7 hours ago, professionalfwoosh said:

i’ve had stomach pain before but this is unlike anything i’ve felt. it feels like my stomach WANTS to digest the food but is having trouble doing so (i told my GI doctor this). i have a follow up appointment with him on wednesday and i will bring up that the pain has not improved.

It's likely a nervous system problem that is giving you the stomach pain, I've had it like you described. There has been times when my stomach just wouldn't accept food because of nervous system chaos. I resorted to liquid meals when I couldn't eat solid food.

 

There is an interaction between omeprazole and escitalopram, due to them both using the same primary metaboliser, which can cause increased levels of escitalopram in your blood plasma. I suggest you do not take it, your doctor should've checked this. See: https://www.drugs.com/interactions-check.php?drug_list=1013-0,1750-0

 

7 hours ago, professionalfwoosh said:

my mom has been very adamant about me decreasing as soon as possible, so i guess i caved in.

How old are you? Please ignore background noise from family members who think they know better than you about your symptoms. You must prioritise number 1 in this predicament.

 

You are trying to change too many variables at the same time, I suggest you hold on your current dose of escitalopram for a considerable number of weeks. When things have calmed down you can resume a careful micro taper.

Active Monday-Friday UK time

 

Taper calculator spreadsheet

 

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: 55.09mg  (1 July 2024)

2) Mirtazapine:

15mg - Nov 2020

SUPPLEMENTS:

Cod liver oil, Magnesium, Vitamin C

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2 hours ago, Erimus said:

How old are you?

i’m 20, still living at home with my parents (i commute to university). my mom doesn’t really understand how SSRIs work and has suggested multiple times that i go cold turkey just so i can “be miserable for 2 weeks and be done with it.” i’ve tried explaining that it very likely won’t just be 2 weeks of withdrawal and i may intensely damage my nervous system. i’m definitely not going to follow her advice, but both her and my dad just want the lexapro out of my system as soon as possible. i do as well, but obviously i prioritize minimizing my withdrawal symptoms. i don’t mind being on this medicine for a couple years if it means i have little to no withdrawal. my mom thinks my stomach pain is due to me not eating as well. i’ve lost 15lbs since tapering. she thinks i need to start taking probiotics, but im afraid to add even more supplements into the mix. 

 

3 hours ago, Erimus said:

It's likely a nervous system problem that is giving you the stomach pain, I've had it like you described.

did your stomach pain ever go away? if so, how long did it take? and what did you do to improve it or cope with it?

 

2 hours ago, Erimus said:

I suggest you hold on your current dose of escitalopram for a considerable number of weeks.

i just changed to 1.54mg two nights ago. should i keep this dose or reinstate to 1.56mg? this is the first time i’ve tried the method of waiting at least a month before decreasing (see signature). i wanted to try decreasing once before next college semester begins to see if this new plan of waiting a minimum 4 weeks gives me a more bearable amount of withdrawal symptoms. i would rather deal with those symptoms during summer break than school. i was wondering if i should even wait 2 months or more before decreasing again, to play it even safer. 

 

2 hours ago, Erimus said:

I suggest you do not take it, your doctor should've checked this.

i will definitely bring this up on wednesday. i stopped taking it a couple days ago since i ran out anyway.

 

thank you for your reply and for your advice! it helps to know others have experienced similar symptoms. 

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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i went to my GI appointment today and was diagnosed with functional dyspepsia since all my tests came back normal. however he’s putting me on 3 new medications and i’m a bit scared to take them, especially since one of them is a stronger PPI. i did talk to him about my lexapro withdrawal and raised concerns about interactions or the chance that all my gut issues are related to withdrawal. he said it’s very possible; apparently low-dose antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to those with functional dyspepsia, and since my body was so used to a high dose of antidepressants, the lack of it can no longer help the dyspepsia.

 

of course, i expressed that i REALLY don’t want to resort to antidepressants again so we are trying everything other than that until something helps. i know it just takes time for gut issues to heal from withdrawal but i’ve had gut issues for the majority of my life years before i started antidepressants (withdrawal has just made it worse) so i figured seeing a GI doctor wouldn’t hurt anyway. 

 

so the doctor prescribed me esomeprazole (the PPI) for 2 months, sucralfate (to coat my stomach lining) as needed, and an antispasmodic (i think it was diclycomine) as needed. he also told me to take miralax every day.

 

i’m kind of skeptical about putting more medicines in my body but my doctor said i can stop taking the last two if i find they aren’t helping me. i’ve already been taking miralax for a week and it slightly helps me i think. i’ve been experiencing some nausea these past few days since i decreased my lexapro dose, but i assume that’s just from the decrease and probably the plan b as well.

 

i will post an update once i start taking the medicines to see if anything has improved.

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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Just now, professionalfwoosh said:

raised concerns about interactions

i forgot to add that my doctor said all the medicines shouldn’t interact with lexapro. i hope he’s right

Starting dose: 10mg Lexapro

Successful taper from November 2023 - December 2023 with no symptoms until 2.5mg -> 0mg.

Taper History from 2.5mg: 2.0mg (Mar 11 2024) -> 1.8mg (Mar 24 2024) -> 1.6mg (Apr 14 2024) -> 1.4mg (May 5 2024) -> 1.6mg (May 6 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 13 2024) -> 1.54mg (May 19 2024) -> 1.52mg (May 20 2024) -> 1.56mg (May 21 2024) -> 1.54mg (Jul 13 2024)

Current dose: 1.54mg

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  • Moderator
9 hours ago, professionalfwoosh said:

i forgot to add that my doctor said all the medicines shouldn’t interact with lexapro. i hope he’s right

I suggest you check https://www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.html when adding new combinations.

Active Monday-Friday UK time

 

Taper calculator spreadsheet

 

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: 55.09mg  (1 July 2024)

2) Mirtazapine:

15mg - Nov 2020

SUPPLEMENTS:

Cod liver oil, Magnesium, Vitamin C

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