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  1. Diagnosis: Pure-O OCD, mid-moderate ADD (in freshman year of university) Initially was prescribed clomipramine 50mg for 8 weeks but suffered withdrawal for 2 weeks. I never wanted to be on medication ever again but my doctor told me that Escitalopram would help me with withdrawal and told me that I would suffer nausea and/or diarrhea for a few weeks. I suffered tremendously for the 2 years I was on Escitalopram, with akathasis, worsening memory, numbing, complete loss of libido and empathy (I used to be a very social and loving human), aggression, etc. These symptoms were always attributed to my pure o-ocd, and my Escitalopram dosage was always increased (up to a dosage of 40 mg). It was finally after doing my own research that I realized that I was suffering many months of SSRI-induced changes in my brain. I do know that these are not common, but I was never warned, and my life has been absolutely destroyed. I almost attempted to kill myself on several occasions but thankfully by wonderful girlfriend stopped me, and later found out herself how damaging these medications were to me. My doctor also prescribed me Clonazepam for 7 months straight (I had to write my MCAT while withdrawing from Clonazepam, which ruined my memory, cognition even more, and induced progressively more anxiety due to tolerance); variable doses of Vyvanse, Escitalopram up to 40mg, and Wellbutrin (which I said no to, as I realized that I will not live a life constantly on drugs that just damage everything I worked hard to achieve). I discontinued Vortioxetine 5 mg (which I was on for 6 weeks from middle of Oct. to Dec. 7, 2018). Near the end of October, my 10mg of Escitalopram (reinstatement from 2mg to 5mg to 10mg from August - October, 2018) was decreased by another doctor to 0mg which I immediately had a very severe withdrawal reaction so I reinstated back to 2mg and over the course of 2 weeks tapered to 1mg. I never managed to stabilize again, and since discontinuing Vortioxetine, I have suffered the following symptoms (after the first 3 weeks of typical acute withdrawal syndrome): 1. Constantly: severe brain fog (before mads had near-photographic memory, 4.0 GPA student, top of the class, very creative in the research lab etc.), emotionally numb, lethargic (former highly competitive athlete), blank mind 24/7, lack of personality, and weird somatic obsessions. Thankfully, no sleep problems at all (I am very exhausted and so sleep longer than I normally would). 2. During waves: squeezing head feeling, burning and itching over body, and even worse fog. I have been now only on 1mg escitalopram for the past 78 days, and for the past 6 months have been taking 12 capsules of HardyNutritionals DENs a day, which have helped completely eliminate anxiety. My question is, for people that are relatively young (21 years of age), could the severe cognitive impairment and brain fog alleviate in the next few months? When do I decide to start tapering off 1mg? I should mention also that I have been taking 3000mg of fish oil every day for the past 7 months, meditating, and I do exercise mildly for at least 20-30 min a day. I used to be able to run marathons but now if I try to do intensive aerobic exercise, the symptoms of skin burning and itching, squeezing head feeling and facial muscle tension, etc. all intensify so I stopped trying until I stabilize. I should mention that I am supposed to graduate from a top ranked university in the world this year and am supposed to go to a top 5 medical school (8 year MD-PhD Program) in the United States. Unfortunately, due to the severe brain fog and other symptoms I cannot even process information properly and have zero thoughts, so will have to very likely take a leave of absence and defer medical school for 1 year (to finish all my university courses). Ever since going up from 20mg of escitalopram to 30 and then 40mg back in December 2017, I've been slower cognitively and progressively more emotionally numb and anxious. During my taper beginning in early May 2018, I went down to 15mg and started feeling better (memory and creativity very slowly returning), but then rushed the last 15mg in a matter of 2 weeks and suffered severe dizziness, brain fog, mood swings, etc. for 5 weeks before reinstating to 2mg like mentioned above. The whole reason I tapered off rapidly and then tried vortioxetine was because I was interviewing at the most competitive medical schools in the world and desperately needed even 20% of my brain back. Unfortunately, now I realize vortioxetine just destabilized my CNS even more, and I should have just slowly tapered off the 10mg (post-reinstatement). Believe me, as soon as I enter medical school and throughout downstream residency and fellowship training, I will do my absolute best to change the curriculum in psychiatry even though I am interested in pediatric neurosurgery. I will raise awareness in the community and change psychiatry, neurology and all other practices that prescribe toxic psychoactive medications for good! Further, I will definitely allocate a good chunk of my research on the epigenetic and structural changes induced by SSRIs coupled with genetic sequencing in order to predict why certain individuals undergo protracted withdrawal syndrome while others can cold turkey with relative ease. I have done countless literature research and agree that we know very little about the non-SERT targets of these medications and their downstream epigenetic and metabolic effects in the brain and throughout the body. Once in medical school, I am willing to educate professors and my attendings about proper 10% tapering method, and also the dangers of these medications. I should mention that until this mess of withdrawal occured I was very actively involved in cutting-edge cancer and molecular genetics research, and published manuscripts, so I am very aware of how little we know about the precise molecular mechanisms of all these neurological and psychiatric diseases. I do also know that these drugs are all useless after several months because receptors and downstream signaling pathways adapt, hence why these meds all end up causing more harm than good in the long run.
  2. Hi everyone. I would much prefer to have never known this existed, but here I am and I'm grateful to find others that understand this pain. This will be a long story, but if you could read this it would be appreciated. Let me tell you a bit about my story. I'm currently 23, and was prescribed Lexapro (10mg) when I was 19 for some health anxiety I was having (3.5 years on it). I began the medication and moved away with my partner. I never felt the medication changed much, just masked my emotions a bit. A few months ago I spoke to my doctor and told him I wished to stop lexapro, and I reduced to 5mg for a few weeks, then stopped. Things were going okay for a few weeks but then I was having some severe light sensitivity and shaking a bit, my doctor and I decided I should go back onto lexapro (10mg again), which I did but something felt off. I didn't recognise my own left arm and freaked out, at this stage I had been back on lexapro for 10 days. I told my doctor I didn't want the medication and he told me to wean off for 5 days then stop. I did this, and felt okay, but 3 days later It all spiraled. I walked into my house and sat down to watch a movie, when it felt like a younger version of myself had entered my head, it felt like I was 2 people at the same time, next thing I know my head is spinning, I'm crying, shaking not knowing what was happening. I became depersonalised from my own body, had what sounded like a helicopter in my head. Had ringing in my ears, disassociated from every part of myself and was jolting all over. This was happening for 4 days, and I had no idea what was going on. My partner drove me to the local emergency room and the doctor there stated I was experiencing severe withdrawals from Lexapro, and I had 2 options, either restart lexapro 10mg or wait it out. I let my parnter and mother make the decision for me because I couldn't, and was put back on 10mg. After 3 weeks of being on 10mg again, I could function, but felt really unnatural in my own body, still couldn't Identify my emotions, couldnt cry about it and felt trapped. I knew I needed to get off this drug, and weaned down to 5mg for 3 weeks, once I weaned to 5mg I began having sleep paralysis, crying again, jolting in time, horribly vivid dreams, night sweats, extreme emotions and distorted memory function, I lost 10kg over the 3 weeks, and began having psychosis. Hearing voices in my head saying incoherent things. Having visual disturbances when I was trying to sleep, became fearful of peoples eyes. I had to stop the medication completely because I was terrified of it. I went and spoke to a psychiatrist which didn't believe all of this was happening and said it's a bad case of anxiety. I was really frustrated and distressed. I stopped lexapro completely 5 days ago, and the voices in my head aren't there anymore (I may get one or 2 when trying to sleep) and the visual hallucinations have almost gone also, the fear of eyes is no longer there, but now I'm crying every day, and am fearful of what the day brings. I really struggle to identify who I even am and what is normal in my head and what isn't. I found a great psychologist whom is an ex drug addict and believes what's happening is real, which really helps to have a medical professional on my side. I have a great support team which helps too, but I don't know what to do next. I go walking and wonder why I'm on a walk. My memories don't feel like memories but more flashbacks. Now I need to be honest, for the first time in my life I have contemplated suicide because I don't know how I can get through this, but I do make sure I call someone when I have these thoughts. I've noticed having a bath and listening to motivational speeches about creating your own reality and how your brain can recover from almost anything is helpful, but the slightest insight from anyone who has had even a remotely similar experience would be really appreciated. Thank you for reading this.
  3. I have been through 8 months of hell and I need to get back to normal! Please help! I started taking Lexapro in 2010 for anxiety after they put me, post Thyroid surgery on hormones, which were way too much. I developed a lone Afib and tons of palpitations (PVCs and PACs). I got off the Hormon meds and on Lexapro, 10mg. Everything was PERFECT, I felt great, never had palpitations again, never anxiety, nothing. Then, in July of 2016 I decided to taper Lexapro off...and I was very afraid that the palpitations would return. I went from 10mg to 10 every other day for a month, then 10mg every other day to 5mg every day, then 5 mg every other day, then 2,5 every day, then 2.5 every other day. All was still fine, I felt great, the process took 4 months or so. Then, middle of September I went from 2.5 to 0 and BOOM...I suddenly, within a week became super tired, extremely exhausted. Then... October 1st my face started swelling under my left eye, on November 7 I developed ear pain in the left ear and on October 14 I had a light concussion (did not pass out) On November 10 my left side of my face paralyzed (Bell's Palsy or Ramsey Hunt, both was diagnosed) and I was prescribed Prednescome. That when my palpitations came back. My facial paralysis disappeared but I was still very very tired and had many palpitations. So I REINSTATED Lexapro 10mg on January 7th. Nothing has changed. I'm still super tired, have no energy, my palpitations are in the 1000's a day, I have light headaches in the back every day and I have the attention span of a monkey. The problem is that several things happened at the same time: Getting off of Lexapro, coming back from a World trip where I got stung by insects, having stress, and getting a concussion. But I all really started AFTER I got off Lexapro (well, maybe except an insect sting, I was tested for Lyme). All thyroid tests are fine, and I never had an issue with anything hypo since the thyroid was removed in 2008. I have had all kinds of tests, MRI of the brain, ekg's and echo for the palpitations and so on. Nothing. But I'm not anxious or depressed either. It looks to me like my current state is caused by not using Lexapro anymore. But would I still feel bad, although I have been back on Lexapro for 4 months now? My doc recommended doubling up to 20mg of Lexapro but I'm extremely hesitant to do so. Or maybe all this is caused by my light concussion and I hit the vagus nerve. Please please let me know if I did anything wrong regarding the Lexapro. Thank you!!! Steve
  4. Hi all, I have been lurking around this forum for some time now I am presently attempting my 5th withdrawal from psychiatric drugs in 3.5 years. In March of 2012 I was taken by my friend/housemate (who coincidentally is a doctor who was doing a placement in a psych ward at the time), to the emergency room as I was presenting with symptoms of mania. I had been up for days drinking, barely sleeping or eating. Not surprisingly, I was pacing and chain smoking. By 2012, I had been drinking alcoholically for 5 years getting progressively worse, to the point that in 2013 I would binge drink for a month on and one off, drinking up to 3 bottles of wine throughout the day. I had already attended AA meetings at the time and my family, close friends, and I, were well aware that I had a drinking problem. However, my friend, who meant well, must have been very concerned and wanted to help me in the best way she knew how, by taking me to see her colleagues where I was tentatively diagnosed as Bipolar II, mixed state, rapid cycling, and put onto 10mg of Zyprexa. After this first hospitalisation, my drinking got worse and worse and I was hospitalised 12 more times (about once a month) that year. In May 2012, I entered my first open ward psych hospital and stayed for two weeks (still working as an actor and a theatre critic during the two weeks as I was able to leave the facility). I became more involved with AA but was too unstable to really engage with the program. I was drunk more than I was sober and by then, I was on Lithium as well, with a solid diagnosis of bipolar and alcohol dependence. I was put on Naltrexone to help me stop drinking too. In December of that year I emerged from a drinking binge on Christmas day and had to go to hospital to detox on Valium. After 2 days, I snuck out, got drunk and was luckily found by my family across the street in blackout, taken back to emergency, where I fell into a coma and had to be resuscitated. I was put into a locked ward for 5 days to detox and to protect me from my drinking that was about to kill me. Heavily sedated on Valium. Within 2 weeks I was in rehab. I spent 3 months in rehab sober from alcohol. I was taken of Zyprexa which gave me an odd obsession and fear of my own death and my family’s death, as well as made me slow to recall words and 10 kilos heavier. When the doc told me I would put on weight, I scoffed. I have always been weedy and struggled to put weight on. I wasn't laughing 2 months later when I couldn't button up any of my trousers anymore. Before I was taken off Zyprexa I was put on 5mg of Lexapro to deal with the morbid thoughts caused by Zyprexa. Great idea, thanks for that random state psychiatrist who kept missing my appointments as she was so busy. So, I was on 450mg slow release Lithium and eventually moved up to 10mg Lexapro, this became my "regular” dose. I am lucky, this is a relatively low amount of meds for someone as "sick" as me to have been put on. Nonetheless, a killer to get off. In May of 2013, 1 month out of rehab, I relapsed on alcohol, and had my last hurrah. 5 days of hell. Suicide attempt, rented hotel room, drinking into oblivion, became a missing person, arrested for assaulting a police office (charges dropped as they felt sorry for me thankfully), strapped to a stretcher 2 nights in a row, lying to my father's face etc. All the good stuff. Obviously my meds routine was not on the ball at this point, or at all during these benders. I was on and off. After this binge, I had attended my 2nd outpatient psych ward for 2 weeks. I got a sponsor at AA, started doing 90 meetings in 90 days, doing the steps. I got 3 months of sobriety up, slipped on August 11, 2013 and had 5 glasses of wine. These were my last 5. I have been sober from alcohol since August 12, 2013. Now, I'm just going to stop right here and tell you a bit about myself. My description paints me as very erratic, which I was in those last few years, however, that was not always the case. I was a happy child, always top of my class. I had a problem with authority in high school but I managed it in my final year and I managed to graduate well and get into the university course of my choice. I had achieved a BA Hons degree in English literature and then an MA in Journalism by 2011, with a whole lotta binging and partying in between. I travelled the world, starting in Tokyo in 2002, Canada and London in the mid-2000s, all across south-east Asia and Europe. In 2006, I volunteered in Nepal, went back in 2007 and established an NGO. I held down jobs, relationships etc. But amidst it all there were ups and downs, “tragic” break-ups, an inability to relate well with family, friends and partners, regular alcohol and recreational drug use and abuse from age 14 to 30. It's just that is got harder to keep up the charade of being normal by 2011. I just gave into the drink and drank. Thing is, I had very rarely taken prescription drugs until 2012. My family are militantly into natural therapies, yoga, meditation, and I'd always felt similarly and been very suspicious of docs and prescription meds. By 2012 I was defeated by alcohol and I felt I didn't have much choice. 3 years since I was first put on them and I often feel I have very little choice in my decision to come off them. It is my 5th attempt, each ending badly regardless of tapering or not. The only thing that is different this time is that 2 weeks ago I was told by my new psychiatrist in London (I moved here from Australia in May of this year) that after months of us talking and getting to know each other, she thinks that my initial diagnosis was wrong, that I was exhibiting signs of bipolar because of excessive alcohol use, and that she will taper me off my psychiatric meds to be sure once and for all that I am not bipolar. I think I have known for some time. While I was able to accept that I am an alcoholic (this is a genetic thing), I could never fully accept the bipolar. Not because I am in denial or any of that tripe that people like to put on us - I have been through the 12 steps, and I have tried to be as damn well honest with myself as possible, and, I was still left with this lingering doubt, hence why I have continued to try and live without the meds. I am over 2 years sober from alcohol now. I am stable in so many ways that I wasn’t in the past. I have a loving and supportive partner (my highschool sweetheart), attend regular AA meetings, have a GP, and attend regular therapy, plus I have the help of a supportive psychiatrist. I am healthy. I eat a balanced diet, do moderate exercise each day. I am attentive to my sleep patterns. It is my time to get off this stuff. It has made me slow in the head and unable to continue my job as a journalist. I worked as a legal journalist here is London but had to resign because of a lack of concentration, sleepiness etc. All side effects I NEVER had before I was on psych meds. The most I have been able to do for work over the last few years is freelance journalism and part-time nannying and tutoring. Today I had to resign from my casual nannying role as at day 3 off the withdrawal, anxiety and agoraphobia has set in and I’m becoming too manic to responsibly care for children. There is no point dragging this poor family through my sh*tty withdrawal. It is irresponsible and the kids deserve better. I will not let this get me down. I still have my online work and my meetings and that is about all I imagine I will be taking on over the next month or so, but I am not disillusioned into thinking this will only take 1 month. I know now. And, I know that this is NOT a return of my bipolar "symptoms", particularly since I never had symptoms like this before I was medicated. This is discontinuation, this is withdrawal, and it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. It has already marred years of my life and I will not allow it to drag on any further. Lol, ok, just convincing myself there. Thanks for reading, if you even made it this far. Rant over.
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