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BlushingYellow: Tough withdrawal from Lexapro


BlushingYellow

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Hi friends. I am writing to you in sheer desperation and panic. I hope that someone can help me alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

A little background. I am 33. At the age of 17, I had a pretty significant episode of depression. I was prescribed Prozac and sent on my way. At some point (my memory evades me) I was switched to Celexa. I became suicidal and made an attempt on my life at the age of 20. After about a year, I recovered and stopped taking all meds with no withdrawal symptoms to note. At the age of 24, I began feeling dizzy, having racing thoughts and eye pain. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and prescribed 20 mg Lexapro. The treatment worked well and I felt much better. Although, I will note that I feel like my memory and cognition have suffered drastically while on it! I have been taking Lexapro for the past 9 years.

When I got pregnant with my first child, I decided to stop treatment. I cut my dose back to 10 mg and had horrific withdrawal. I was very nauseous, had brain zaps and terrible anxiety. I also have a strange eye pain?! After 13 days I couldn't handle it anymore and went back to my 20 mg.

A few years later I attempted to stop again. The withdrawl symptoms were too much. I caved.

I hate being a slave to this medication. I am terribly sick if I miss a single dose! Over the past year, I've gradually cut back my dose from 20mg to 15mg to 10 mg. I have withdrawal symptoms each time that typically get better within 2 weeks. At this point, my anxiety symptoms and irritability are very high! But, I can't help but wonder if they are true anxiety symptoms or are being caused by the Lexapro?

My Family Doctor has no concept that withdrawing from SSRIs can cause big problems. In fact, he basically told me I was imagining the brain zaps and other issues. I'm so frustrated! It's nice to know I'm not the only one feeling this way. I'm determined to get off of this stuff. I'm terrified that I've potentially already caused irreversible damage.

5 days ago I tapered from 10 to 5 mg. I'm struggling. I read about the liquid. I'm wondering if that might be the answer?!

Edited by scallywag
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Hello, BlushingYellow - welcome to SA!

 

I'm glad you found us before things have gotten more out of control with withdrawal.  Your tapering has been quite steep by our standards.  We recommend a taper schedule of 10% of the previous month's dose every four weeks.  Your last taper was 50%, so you can see why your nervous system was quite unhappy about that!

 

A bit of housekeeping before I continue. If you would be so kind, can you fill out your signature block with your med history, including current meds and dosages?  Please put your withdrawal history in your signature

 

I have seen from many an anecdotal story here that people often are able to come off of a med without problems once, maybe twice, but after that, the nervous system becomes so touchy that even dosage reductions become problematic. let alone cold turkey stops or relatively fast tapers.  The reasons are explained in these topics:

 

Introduction to AD Withdrawal Syndrome

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 
Since you just went to 5 mg five days ago, I would strongly urge you to go back to 10 mg and stabilize there for a couple of weeks or longer before proceeding with a 10% taper.  You should be feeling solid before ever doing a med cut.
 
 
This topic should help, and yes, the liquid version would be very helpful if you can get your doc to prescribe it for you.  
 
 
Your family doctor is pretty typical in his attitude and lack of knowledge.  They throw patients on these drugs willy-nilly with no informed consent, and don't understand what is happening to the nervous system on these meds which necessitates much slower tapering than what they commonly recommend and were taught by Big Pharma.
 
So, please have a read of those topics and then come back with your questions!
 
SG

Started ADs back around 1995 after bad break-up, starting with Prozac.  Switched to Wellbutrin, and then to Effexor in 2002
Effexor XR 2002-2014 up to 225 mg at one point, down to 37.5 mg towards end but back up to 75 mg in 2014; now realize I had W/D as I dropped down, memory very poor about history.  Extreme emotions, poor concentration as I stepped back down, didn't connect the dots!
Summer 2014 reduced to 0 very quickly, was sick of anhedonia/sexual dysfunction due to meds, depression never controlled if not worse. Didn't recognize WD since symptoms built slowly (thought I had ADD! and menopausal on top of it), starting with severe sweats, very bad cog-fog and memory issues, culminating in weight loss, severe anxiety and depression, panic, severe apathy and insomnia by eight months off.  Saw p-doc who put me on Remeron, increased from 7.5 mg/day to 37.5 mg by May 22, 2015; still doing very badly though able to sleep.

June 1. 2015 Reinstated Effexor XR 37.5 mg, Remeron dropped to 30 mg PM. Immediate relief of symptoms, like nothing had ever happened!  Joined SA and began on advice of friend who recognized it was WD all along! Began tapering in July 2015.

Been tapering both meds ever since, focusing on one more than the other or doing no more than 5% of each per month.

12 mg Effexor and 5.8 mg Remeron (mirtazapine SolTabs to make a solution with OraPlus) as of 5/4/2017 

Update 3/14/18: 2.9 mg Remeron and 6 mg Effexor; 6/10/18:  2.6 mg Remeron and 4.9 mg Effexor

 

My intro: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/9313-squirrellygirl-effexor-withdrawal-etc/page-2#entry196679

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

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Hi BlushingYellow, a fellow Lexapro user here.

I've been on 5 mg for a few years and felt good. Recently dried to withdraw further but that triggered an 'old program' in my brain. Updosed to 15 within two weeks...noticed that this wasnt working so tapered to 5 again in two weeks. Bad idea! I decided to take it much slower... I would advise you to stay on 5 mg for at least 4 weeks before making another drop(see 10% schedule). Consider the liquid form or make a liquid yourself. (There are topics about how to do this on SA).

 

Let us know how you are doing!

All my life: Occasional panic attacks. 2003: Burnout  2004: intrusion (OCD'ish) / anxiety. Therapies: acupuncture, Chinese herbs, hypnotherapy --> symptoms were manageable (did return once in a while), depression lifted.
2007 - Relapse, started with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Therapist recommended Fevarin (fluvoxamine) 150 mg. Recovery after 3 months and remained stable. Mild side effects.
2009 - Tapered fluvoxamine. No withdrawal symptoms. 2010 - Relapse, same Pure O thought and anxiety.  Started taking 100 mg of fluvoxamine but after 9 weeks no change in symptoms. Did not have any effect on Pure O thought. Switched to Lexapro (escitalopram) 20 mg.  Drug started working within 3 weeks. Mild side effects. Slowly over the years tapered to 5 mg.
2015: Lots of personal issues and setbacks, occasional panic attack. 2016: April started skipping doses; 5mg escitalopram every other day (in hindsight a bad idea)
May: Major relapse, anxiety and intrusion returned. Depression. Increased from 2,5 mg 15 mg in two weeks. Side effects: neuro-emotions
June: Escitalopram has no effect on the frequency of the intrusion...after 4 weeks my general doctor advised me to do a fast taper to 5mg. Withdrawal effects (2/3 weeks): neuro-emotions, lack of focus, crying spells, fatigue, muscle twitches in legs, cortisol spikes just before waking up July: Stable on 5 mg. Depression and intrusion lifted during holiday (lots of sunshine, long walks and relaxing) August: Drop down to 2,5 mg. Withdrawal effects (tinnitus, headagues) are noticeable, but still mild in comparison to the big drop earlier.
22th August: stopped escitalopram completely. Cortisol spikes just before waking up, still OCD (only temporary improvements), WD-depression and WD-neuro emotions.
Update 6 dec: no medication, any withdrawal symptoms not noticable. Taking supplements for intrusive thoughts and overall well being: N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) omega 3 fish oils, zinc, vitamin d, magnesium l-threonate, ginko biloba

 

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Blushing Yellow you aren't alone! I just went through a dreadful period of intense withdrawal and am currently on 10 mg and ( at least for today) I am doing okay. My worst symptoms included nausea, diarrhea, headaches, brain zaps, and horrible anxiety - sound familiar? I am fairly new to the forum but have received lots of good information and encouragement. From what I've read, you can be free of Lexapro but it's a very slow process, so be patient and be kind to yourself - you aren't imagining things. If you need to go back up to relieve the worst symptoms, do it! Don't suffer needlessly - it doesn't help in the long run. Sending healing thought your way!

1995 started on Prozac

1997 - 2005 - tried various SSRIs Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor because of sleep issues with Prozac. Developed "serotonin sickness" with Effexor

2005 Started Lexapro at 10 mg, increased to 30 mg by 2011

2014 Wellbutrin XL 150 mg added

2016 Lexapro 30 mg

March 2016 forced Lexapro dose reduction by health insurance from 30 mg to 20 mg.

6/10/16 "cold-turkey" from 20 mg to 0

7/9/16 reinstated 10 mg Lexapro, after experiencing intense discontinuation/withdrawal symptoms.

Wellbutrin dose continues at 150 mg throughout 2016

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Welcome BY

I agree with SG go back to 10mg and hold there until stable and it could take several months.

 

Your doctor is misinformed and i would consider changing doctors.

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/988-recommended-doctors-therapists-or-clinics/

 

Psychiatrists are being forced to face the evidence that SSRI withdrawal symptoms are indeed long lasting and damaging to physical and mental health. SSRI Withdrawal Effects Are Brutal and Long Lasting. Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida (CCHR Florida) 2015.

 

Difficulty in stopping psychiatric drugs can lead misinformed or unscrupulous health professionals to tell patients that they need to take their drugs for the rest of their lives when they really need to taper and withdraw from them in a careful manner.   Breggin 2014.

 

"Increased professional awareness of discontinuation symptoms is necessary to prevent misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment." Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2000 Dec;102(6):466-7; discussion 467-8. Misdiagnosis of antidepressant discontinuation symptoms. Haddad PM, Qureshi M.

Thought for the day: Lets stand up, and let’s speak out , together. G Olsen

We have until the 14th. Feb 2018. 

URGENT REQUEST Please consider submitting  for the petition on Prescribed Drug Dependence and Withdrawal currently awaiting its third consideration at the Scottish Parliament. You don't even have to be from Scotland. By clicking on the link below you can read some of the previous submissions but be warned many of them are quite harrowing.

http://www.parliament.scot/GettingInvolved/Petitions/PE01651   

Please tell them about your problems taking and withdrawing from antidepressants and/or benzos.

Send by email to petitions@parliament.scot and quote PE01651 in the subject heading. Keep to a maximum of 3 sides of A4 and you can't name for legal reasons any doctor you have consulted. Tell them if you wish to remain anonymous. We need the numbers to help convince the committee members we are not isolated cases. You have until mid February. Thank you

Recovering paxil addict

None of the published articles shed light on what ssri's ... actually do or what their hazards might be. Healy 2013. 

This is so true, with anything you get on these drugs, dependance, tapering, withdrawal symptoms, side effects, just silent. And if there is something mentioned then their is a serious disconnect between what is said and reality! 

  "Every time I read of a multi-person shooting, I always presume that person had just started a SSRI or had just stopped."  Dr Mosher. Me too! 

Over two decades later, the number of antidepressant prescriptions a year is slightly more than the number of people in the Western world. Most (nine out of 10) prescriptions are for patients who faced difficulties on stopping, equating to about a tenth of the population. These patients are often advised to continue treatment because their difficulties indicate they need ongoing treatment, just as a person with diabetes needs insulin. Healy 2015

I believe the ssri era will soon stand as one of the most shameful in the history of medicine. Healy 2015

Let people help people ... in a natural, kind, non-addictive (and non-big pharma) way. J Broadley 2017

 

 

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Hi Blushing Yellow,

 

Fellow Lexapro tapered here. At my highest dose I was at 40 mg. Makes me gasp to think of it now. I have had to pause my taper a couple of times to get off other meds that the Lexapro had made necessary. I'm down to 10 mg now and holding. I'm a whole different person already! I had completely forgotten about the "me" these drugs were hiding.

 

I'm anxious to continue the rest of my taper to see what other good things await, but I plan to take it much slower from here. This first year has been anything but easy, and I'm in no hurry to return to those dark places.

 

Take it easy. Be good to yourself. You CAN do this. You are not alone.

PatriciaVP@AbleWriterSays My Intro

 

Zoloft 150-200 mg- on and off between 1998 and 2004.

 

Lexapro 40 mg - 2004-2013 30 mg 2013 - August 2015 20 mg August 2015- September 2015 15 mg September 2015 - October 2015 10 mg October 2015 -Nov. 1 2015. Nov. 2015 increased dose to 12.5 mg to stabilize. Dec. 28 2015 11.25 mg March 29, 2016 10 mg. August 1, 2016 9 mg. October 23, 2016 8.1 mg. Nov. 29, 2016 7.5 mg. Feb. 25, 2017 7 mg. April 9, 2017 6.5 mg. June 2017 6 mg. Aug. 2018 5.75 mg March 2019 5.5 mg Apr. 2019 5.25 mg. June 2019 5 mg Sept. 2019 4.75 mg Nov. 2019 4.5 mg Dec. 2019  4.25 April 7 2020 4mg 

 

Depakote 1000 mg 2008-2013  750 2013-Dec 2015 500 mg Dec 2015 to Feb 2, 2016. Sopped completely Feb 2 2016.

 

Adderall 40mg 2004-Feb 29, 2016. Feb 29,2016 - reduced Adderall to 20 mg based on pdoc's recommendations. March 29, 2016 - Reduced Adderall to 15 mg. April 30 reduced Adderall to 10 mgs. May 28, 2016 reduced Adderall to 5 mgs.June 8, 2016 stopped taking Adderall due to extreme agitation.

 

Amphetamine 20mg 2008 - 1/16. 1/16 - Stopped Amphetamine completely because pdoc did not renew script.

WWW.PSYCHFREE.NET 

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