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  1. Before describing my situation, I want to start by thanking all those who have posted here, particularly those few who keep it updated and try to organize it. Even though today I'm in at a really low point, the information I've found here has been extremely valuable. I hope that I can not only continue getting good information, but that maybe my story might help somebody else sometime. Apologies in advance if I am too long-winded or detailed. CASE HISTORY AND WD SYMPTOMS: I'll skip the ancient history. In short I started taking citalopram in my twenties for depression., and I'm now 46, so it has been around 20 years. I can't recall dosages, but for the last few years I've been on only 10mg. Finally feeling like I was in a fairly stable place in my life, I thought I'd see if I could go off them. I knew this had to be done "slowly", but what this meant exactly was pretty vague. I dropped down to 5mg, and stayed like that for a long time (6 mo?), with no ill effect. I had the impression that this was the lowest medically effective dose, so I could do no more tapering. I may have done a couple weeks of every-other-day, but in February 2020 I stopped altogether. I thought (wrongly, it seems) that was tapering enough. I recall having a couple of weird initial weeks, but I'd describe the withdrawal symptoms as manageable (no depression, just dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea and what I now know to be "brain zaps"). My doctor had given me 0.25mg tablets of Alprazolam (Xanax, "benzo") and I was instructed to take 1/2 a tablet only when feeling sufficiently bad, but I tried to take that as little as possible. These symptoms mostly lifted, and, if I recall correctly, I proceeded to have a couple of quite decent months. It was a lovely spring in spite of Covid, I was focused on my work and quite happy overall. But there were some odd things: I was irrationally irritable and easy to anger. Idiotic things (the sound of food being chewed, etc.) were extremely irritating to me. Then, at the end of April, I had a really horribly depressed day out of nowhere, and my sleep started to fall apart. I would wake up every night at almost exactly the same time, around 5am, and I'd be extremely hot (night sweats). I also started experiencing serious pain in the back of my neck, which I attributed to sleeping funny and a fall I had while skiing several months prior. At this point I had made no connection between these symptoms and coming off the SSRI, as I had never heard of SSRI withdrawal syndrome. But something wasn't right, and even the zopiclone I was given for temporary help sleeping didn't prevent the 5am wake up. I started keeping a journal, charting my sleep, exercise, sleeping-pill intake and so on. My strong feeling was that I didn't have a "mental" problem (not depression, not anxiety), I had a hormone problem causing sleeplessness. My mind might race a bit, but my symptoms all felt more physical than emotional. I recall forcing myself to get exercise (short runs) and eat healthy (lots of smoothies, etc). At this point I googled something about irritability and SSRIs, and made my way to this site. Here I learned (from "Altostrata" - thanks) that my nervous system was likely hypersensitized, and the 5am wake-up was caused by an over-reaction to the hormone cortisol, which is naturally released around dawn to start the wake-up process. This made a lot of sense, and explained my situation perfectly. (Thank you again!) THE IMPORTANT PART FOR ME NOW: I experienced several "windows" (term used on this site and elsewhere to indicate a period of mostly clear, good days, in contrast with "waves" of heavy symptoms), but by the end of July I began to think I needed to go back on something. My goal, then and now, is quality of life, and if that meant I did indeed need some small quantity of drug, so be it. (Just MY point of view, not a judgement of anyone else!). I read on this site about the dangers of going back on at a "normal" dose, like the 5mg recommended by the doctor. My particular situation was at high risk for "kindling", since by this point I'd been off the citalopram for around 6 months, and citalopram has a short half-life. (All this learned from this site!). I tried a 5mg tablet cut in 4 (about 1.25mg), but on day two felt like I was freaking out. After a few days, I tried again, an 1/8th of a pill, smaller than a grain of rice. I ordered a scale to weigh the dose, as suggested. By the second day I was experiencing GREATLY REDUCED WD SYMPTOMS, and felt like I was out of the woods. I wanted to create an account and tell everybody about my success story, to help others. But by a few days later, things started going downhill again. Was that just a window? The hot flashes and brain zaps were gone, but a general lethargy combined somehow with nervousness persisted. I thought perhaps I had adapted to the miniscule dose, and went up to 1/4 tablet. To cut this long story a bit shorter, I slowly progressed over the course of a few weeks up to 1/2 a tablet. I felt I was in the extremely difficult situation (for which I'm seeking the community's help) - Is my situation caused by too much drug (kindling) or not enough?? How to distinguish WD symptoms and symptoms caused by going back on the drug? I saw my doctor, who feels that anything less than 5mg is just not going to help. She suggested taking 5mg and warned me that the first two weeks were likely going to be difficult, so I should take .25mg of xanax as well for the first two weeks. I've tried this for the last few days, and indeed they have been difficult. But I'm not convinced that they'll get better in two weeks! Now, seeing all this in black and white, I think likely I've increased my dosage too quickly, and I'll do better to go back down to maybe 1/4 tab. I'm just so disappointed that there doesn't seem to be an obvious right answer that makes me feel better more quickly! So many other sites say "SSRI withdrawal syndrome can be cured in a couple days by going back on the drug" - but this doesn't seem to be the case. I feel totally lost and unsure of how to proceed. I'm so exhausted by trying to figure this all out, I just want to get checked into some magic rehab hospital where they knock me out and I wake up four months later feeling fine. Looking back I can also see that my symptoms have shifted very much from "purely physical" (like hot flashes) to the emotional. I've had whole days lost in front of the TV, or, like this morning, terrified to get out of bed or check my email. The insomnia is AWFUL - after 4am I can neither wake up nor fall asleep. If I try to wake I'm exhausted, when I try to sleep I can only seem to get to the brink, when some sort of nervous reaction zaps me awake again. Feelings of total despair, a strong sense that there is no way out of this (I seem to be damned if I take the stuff or not), and recently, hints of some very dark thoughts indeed, as I cannot imagine having to face mornings like this one for the rest of my life! On the plus side, I do have a very loving wife who is very supportive and understanding. I'm totally ashamed of all this, of who I am right now, and would give anything, everything to simply go back to that day when I decided to go off. Things were fine, or as fine as can be expected for me. But regret gets one nowhere, and we all have to remember that there ARE good days ahead, somehow. CONCRETE QUESTIONS for anyone who is able to chip in: 1) On the one hand it seems pretty clearly I've tried to reinstate too fast. Likely best to go back down, but not to zero? Try to stay at 1.25mg for at least two weeks? 2) How does the Alprazolam (xanax) fit into this? I read something about how it helps temporarily, but then you can go into a "benzo hangover", which is worse? 3) Am I just bailing out of the full 5mg dose too soon? My doctor said it would be a hard two weeks, maybe I should just try to tough it out? She's lovely, but I don't think this sort of thing is her specialization. 4) Should I find a psychiatrist (even though where I live it will likely be a month or more before I can get in)? Or will they just start saying I'm bipolar and pumping me full of other things? Anyway this is getting pretty rambly now so I'll stop. Thanks to anybody who reads this and has any thoughts. Anyone else going through hard times right now, just keep hanging in there - the only thing that is sure is that things will change.
  2. Hello everyone, I've been on 20mg of Lexapro for aprox 24 months now with no breaks. It's been great for me but since I'm leaving USA after living here for more than 15 years, and returning to my homeland of New Zealand, I decided to just quit taking my Meds and see how I handle life "drug free" so to say. I've seen my doctor a couple of times and she thought it was a great idea also. Two weeks ago I stopped taking them. I'd done all of my reaserch so knew what to expect. The first week of not taking them I felt no change at all. The beginning of the second week the insomnia, disturbing dreams, return of sex drive and night sweats started. There was no gradual build-up easing me into the withdrawals, it was like - BAM, this is happening! My initial withdrawals were wicked insomnia - cured by taking one or two doctor prescribed10mg Zolpidem sleeping pills. I was first precribed the sleeping pill TraZODone 100mg but these made things so much worse. My night sweats seemed worse when I didn't knock myself out with the doctor precribed sleeping pills but the horrible frightening dreams continued. The first two nights of the symptoms were the worst. I would wake up soaking wet and cold, and my dreams were so frightening I really didn't want to go back to sleep. But like I said, that level of withdrawal just lasted 2 nights then it subsided a little. Also feeling sexually aroused. I could handle all of that ok, but then yesterday the extreme "pinging" introduced itself to me!! I'm glad I researched the withdrawal symptoms beforehand as I would have no way of trying to explain this "feeling" to a doctor if needed. It's the weirdest feeling I've every had and Id like it go away please, lol! I have to laugh as staying positive is what I do best. Most things i've read relates the pinging sensation to feeling like a tiny electric shock or "zaps" in the brain. I don't feel anything in my brain or head but I do feel that sensation in EVERY other cell throughout my body. Earlier on today when I made the terrible mistake of going to the pub for a beer, after just a few sips I honstly thought my body was going to "ping and "zap" out of control. I had a pretty serious anxiety attack and my disability dog and I peaced out of there and got home ASAP! Lesson learnt - no drinking alcohol until the withdrawals subside and best to just stay in my home!! Also my body odor is horrible no matter how much I shower and then cover myself with a nice smelling lotion ... within an hour I smell terrible again. I don't feel like eating or ( as discovered today) drinking alcohol - YEA, time to loose weight and detox! Oh, and I'm avoiding contact with anyone due to uncontrollable mood swings ( which was my reason for taking the Lexapro to start off with). I'm trying to stay busy doing yard work to keep my mind busy and focused and that has helped. Thankfully my energy is great. I'm super glad to have found this page, even if it's to vent a little. Thanks for being here ????
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