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Survive: Successful tapering off Lexapro


Survive

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Hello all.  I am just shy of two weeks off of Lexapro after a few months of tapering.  It has been very manageable.  Before I tell you how I did it, let me say I am the type that gets ALL the side effects from SSRI's.  I had a bad experience with zoloft and paxil.  They both about killed me.  So, needless to say I was frightened to come off Lex.  I found a site that had a good formula and I followed it. 

 

I was on 10mg.

 

Mg for mg, Lex is twice as strong as other ssri’s and it has a VERY short half-life.  That is why tapering slowly is so important!  I tapered 10% every two weeks.  It was not exactly 10% as I used a knife to cut the pills.  As it got down in mg, the taper was more because I couldn’t cut off 10% of 5mg… too hard… but I tried.  The main point here is I took my time.  I stuck to the two week per step down.  Once I got to 5 – I used the 5mg pills… and started cutting those.

 

I also did the following and I did it RELIGIOUSLY.

  • Breakfast – fish oil (helps eliminate the zaps and good for brain rebuilding from what i have read)

  • Lunch – had 250mg of Magnesium (helps with anxiety), and QAULITY multi-vitamin, and Allergy pill, Fish oil

  • Dinner – fish oil

  • Bed time – 500MG of Magnesium and sometimes a Tylenol for soreness (from working out).  (I Cant take ibuprofen and Lex together according to what I have read on Medscape)

  • I exercise almost every week day (helps me with anxiety and side effects of taper).  Even if only a 30 minute walk.

  • If symptoms of taper were uncomfortable – I ate dark chocolate.  IT HELPED! 

  • I see my therapist every week or two and I discussed the whole thing before I started to get his support

  • I talk with my wife when I am feeling like crap.  She gave me encouragement and reminded me its temporary

  • I pray every morning and night

 

Observations

  • About day 2 or 3 after a step down, I would feel pretty jiggy…  But, not near as bad as when I tried getting off without any help or as bad as paxil and zoloft for me.

  • Virtually NO brain zaps!  You read that correctly – the fish oil works for me!!!! 

  • The lower the dosage the longer I felt jiggy during that first week.

  • Week 2 after a step down, I almost always felt great

  • If I felt like crap – I would

    • Remind myself it’s a physical reaction to the medicine leaving

    • Remind myself its temporary

    • If I got anxiety – I would use the 3”x3” sticky note pad I kept with me and write the following (I include an example)

      • Situation: feeling jittery and going into meeting

      • Thoughts: I am afraid I will have an anxiety attack in the meeting.  I am afraid of making a fool of myself.  I am afraid of getting brain lock and looking stupid.

      • Emotions:  fear

      • Physical sensations:  jittery, heart racing, sweaty, tingly stomach (etc)

      • Alternative Thoughts:  I don’t have to be a finished product (as a person).  Its ok to make mistakes.  I know what I am doing.  This feeling is temporary.  Even if I make a mistake or fool of myself, I will survive this.  No one ever died of being uncomfortable.

    • The above would help relieve the emotional hooks into the physical feelings and vice versa.

    • I invariably felt better within 5-10 minutes if not sooner.

  • When I stepped off - the physical feelings, though mild, are lasting longer.  But they are manageable. 

  • I don’t think I ever had a brain zap – however, after stepping off, I do get a weird feeling sometimes like someone is holding a half-way depleted 9volt battery to my brain… just like a low grade electric weirdness… NOTHING like a brain zap… I just figure that if I wasn’t taking the fish oil, how much worse it would be.

  • One of the side effects of Lex for me was a tingly stomach – its gone now! 

  • Once I was down to about 2.5mg – sex started working again.  I could finish!!!  Man, is that great to finish again.  Truth be told, I am finishing more than I should this past week…just because I missed it so much.  Lol

  • After stepping off, I notice I am more crabby than usual.  My daughter called me out on it.  So, I am checking myself…  Writing about it and talking about it with wife.  I apologized to my daughter!

    • Transparency has been key to getting through this.  Going it alone doesn’t work for me anymore (I am typically a reserved, tough it out on my own, type of person – it doesn’t work with this – having support is invaluable to my mental condition)

  • My wife and therapist both said they are surprised how well I am doing.  I will be honest – I am surprised also.

 

I am writing this so as maybe to bring hope to someone out there.  This medicine can be scary and there is VERY FEW success stories or tips and tricks to follow.  All I ever found was horror stories.  So, I promised myself I would share my story if it worked for me.

 

If I think of anything else pertinent, I will follow up.  Good luck to you and God bless you.  My prayers for those still suffering will be daily.  You are not alone.

Last thing - I am not a doctor.  Everything I did, I got from someone else.  I am simply sharing what I did.  I am not recommending anything.
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Paxil about killed me.  Getting off of it was tough.  It was over 10 years ago.

 

I got a new psych and he put me on prozac to help with getting off paxil.  It worked! 

 

Funny, I just red somewhere that prozac can help with getting off of other ssri's because of the incredibly long half-life.

 

Also, fish oil and magnesium has been a godsend for me.  NO BRAIN ZAPS for me!  Magnesium helps me with anxiety.  Also, good multi-vitamin helps me.  And, I drink a lot of h20

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Hey all - I used the OP method (for the most part) and it worked. 

 

I posted a new thread on successful tapering off lexapro.

 

to the OP of this thread.  THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

To those still suffering, you are not alone.  My prayers are with you.

 

Edited by KarenB
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  • scallywag changed the title to Survive: Successful Tapering off Lexapro
  • Moderator Emeritus

Survive -- thanks for posting to share what worked for you coming off Lexapro.

 

There will be many people who find comfort AND useful ideas in what you've written.

 

How are you feeling now?  Please stay in touch to let us know how you're doing.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.
1997-1999 Effexor; 2002-2005 Effexor XR 37.5 mg linear taper, dropping same #beads/week with bad results

Cymbalta 60 mg 2012 - 2015; 2016: 20 mg to 7 mg exact doses and dates in this post; 2017: 6.3 mg to  0.0 mg  Aug. 12; details here


scallywag's Introduction
Online spreadsheet for dose taper calculations and nz11's THE WORKS spreadsheet

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  • Moderator

Thank you, Survive.  Great post.

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg 

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper.  Current dose as of Jan. 11, 2022: 5.4mg 

Taper is 71% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 16mg.  

Held until Aug 2021, tapered for 4 weeks to 14.4mg and holding.  

Taper is 80% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Survive - Welcome to SA,

 

I've moved these posts of yours from round the forum to the Intro section so we can get you started with your info in one place. 

 

At what point in your tapering are you now - or are you finished? 

 

Karen

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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hi this is interesting  to me ,I'm wondering about going to Prozac because I'm in so much torture with venlafaxine .

its a tricky dilemma and scary .

a full list of drugs and dates would be great thanks survive .

PB

Alcohol free since February 2015 

1MG diazepam

4.5MG PROZAC.

 

 

 

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On 2017-06-15 at 11:54 PM, KarenB said:

At what point in your tapering are you now - or are you finished?

I am currently finished.  15 days since last dose.

Edited by scallywag
trimmed quote to relevant portion
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On 2017-06-16 at 3:31 PM, powerback said:

hi this is interesting  to me ,I'm wondering about going to Prozac because I'm in so much torture with venlafaxine .

Hello, I have read many times that the extremely long half-life of prozac makes it easier to get off of it.  I also read that some doc's us it to help people get off other SSRI's.  What is interesting is this:  my doctor (about 10 years go) did exactly that.  I was having a horrendous time getting off of paxil.  He switched me to prozac... and it was real easy getting of the prozac. 

 

Edited by scallywag
trimmed quote to relevant portion
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Update:  15 days since last dose.  Every day gets better and better.  What I notice is I start feeling a bit crappy towards the end of the day now.

 

I also notice that some of my old thought patterns are coming back.  Not all of them good...  Such as my extreme attention to detail.  I miss nothing...  That is great in my career!  Not so good in my marriage!  LOL  Seriously...  So, I am having to check myself at home and not get all nit-picky with my family.  I talked about it with my counsiler today and he gave me some tools to use when I start getting my laser focused judgementalness...  For example:  Life is too short to get all bent out of shape about the q-tips my wife left on the counter top...  Pepper my attention to detail with a bit of OCD... and you have a naggy husband... I dont want to be that way anymore. 

 

So, while I feel like I am doing great without the med's so far, I still have to work on ME. 

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  • Moderator Emeritus

It's great that you are noticing improvements Survive.  And I'm glad you have help with continuing the work on shaping who you want to be.  It was doing that sort of work that really made the difference to myself and my healing from child-hood trauma. 

 

One tool I used was building up in my mind the distinction between two different 'worlds' - the Trauma world, and the Grace world.  In a tricky situation with my family, I'd try to stop and think, 'Am I acting as a person who comes from a trauma world, or a grace world?'  And I'd try to shift into responding from the Grace world.  The more times I did it, the stronger the pattern became.  Now days I usually respond from the Grace world, fairly automatically. 

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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As someone working so hard to fight through Lexapro withdrawals and not reinstate... this gave me hope! Thank you!

Edited by scallywag
added quote for context; then realized ebean started an intro and thus deleted quote
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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Survive: Successful tapering off Lexapro
14 hours ago, KarenB said:

It's great that you are noticing improvements Survive.  And I'm glad you have help with continuing the work on shaping who you want to be.  It was doing that sort of work that really made the difference to myself and my healing from child-hood trauma. 

 

One tool I used was building up in my mind the distinction between two different 'worlds' - the Trauma world, and the Grace world.  In a tricky situation with my family, I'd try to stop and think, 'Am I acting as a person who comes from a trauma world, or a grace world?'  And I'd try to shift into responding from the Grace world.  The more times I did it, the stronger the pattern became.  Now days I usually respond from the Grace world, fairly automatically. 

That is a great tool.

 

Its crazy how I became this person with these habit patterns to deal with the mental/emotional trauma and I didn't not even know it was happening.  I too had trauma... and I thought it was all normal...  Unknown to me was a lifetime of habits and personality that was developing as a result of that trauma....  I just had no idea.  My councilor looked at me once and said something to the effect of; "You have had a lot of trauma in your life!"... and she was genuine about it..  I was shocked by that statement...  It all seemed normal to me... LOL...  I had no idea the level of compensation I was doing mentally to avoid that **** from ever happening again, and to make it ok in my head, and to make sense of it....

 

Not sure if I am making any sense... but.. I guess, sexual abuse, physical abuse, parents surprise divorce, drug/alcohol abuse, lost in the woods, no dad, sister had traumatic brain injury in car accident... really is trauma... who knew?  LOL.  Is it all normal human existence?? Or, is my brain such that I cant handle that stuff?  LOL  Who knows.  Who cares.  What I do know is I have to be open to feeling those feelings, discussing them, and moving on...  I have to look at the way I react (as you said above)...  I have to be open and honest...

 

I am a feeling, impression guy... I rarely remember details... I remember an impression or feeling.  So, because of that - sometimes I have to 'formalize' my thoughts so I don't forget details that are important.  By this I mean, write a list!  hehe...   I have been working on a list for living an anxiety free life.  This is what I have so far.  Its simple.

 

Keep in mind - these are things I actually do on a DAILY basis:

1.  Be honest and open about my feelings (no 'going it alone')

2.  Pray every morning and night

3.  Meditate (simply 15-30 minutes of breathing exercises if nothing else)

4.  Diligently seek to be of service in some way - or to seek good.

 

Stay strong out there.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I get the feeling you're gonna be okay, Survive.  Or, as we say in New Zealand, Sweet as, bro

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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Update:

 

19 days and things are continuing to get better.  It was worth the wait.

 

I do get an occasional dizzy spell.  A bit of vertigo now and again.  I feel like my mojo is coming back.  I am starting to lose a pound or two...  (I gained 22 on lex)

 

Might I recommend going to a local animal shelter and volunteering... It was helpful for me.  I find it relaxing and being of service is good mojo.

 

I am sticking to my regimen of supplements, and exercising. 

 

I am not 100 % ... but at this point I feel better than I did while on the junk.  Also, I am sleeping well....

 

My prayers are with you all.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Survive.

 

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hope you will be saved of something called delayed onset if withdrawal symptoms. So this is a small word of caution.

 

I'm writing from my phone so I can't see all the details of your taper but you did go faster than we recommend here.

 

Last time I stopped taking Lexapro at 2.5 mg (before I found this site). For the firsty 30 days I actually felt quite ok. Only occasional crabbiness. Never had brain zaps. After 40 days off the whole hell broke lose. I really hope it doesn't happen to you.

 

In any case we wait for a few months or more to write a success story. Good luck and keep us posted.

Current: Xanax 0.26 (down from 2 mg in 2013), Lexapro 2.85 mg (down from 5 mg 2013)

Amitriptyline (tricyclic AD) and clonazepam for 3 months to treat headache in 1996 
1999. - present Xanax prn up to 3 mg.
2000-2005 Prozac CT twice, 2005-2010 Zoloft CT 3 times, 2010-2013 Escitalopram 10 mg
went from 2.5 to zero on 7 Aug 2013, bad crash 40 days after
reinstated to 5 mg Escitalopram 4Oct 2013 and holding liquid Xanax every 5 hours
28 Jan 2014 Xanax 1.9, 18 Apr  2015 1 mg,  25 June 2015 Lex 4.8, 6 Aug Lexapro 4.6, 1 Jan 2016 0.64  Xanax     9 month hold

24 Sept 2016 4.5 Lex, 17 Oct 4.4 Lex (Nov 0.63 Xanax, Dec 0.625 Xanax), 1 Jan 2017 4.3 Lex, 24 Jan 4.2, 5 Feb 4.1, 24 Mar 4 mg, 10 Apr 3.9 mg, May 3.85, June 3.8, July 3.75, 22 July 3.7, 15 Aug 3.65, 17 Sept 3.6, 1 Jan 2018 3.55, 19 Jan 3.5, 16 Mar 3.4, 14 Apr 3.3, 23 May 3.2, 16 June 3.15, 15 Jul 3.1, 31 Jul 3, 21 Aug 2.9 26 Sept 2.85, 14 Nov Xan 0.61, 1 Dec 0.59, 19 Dec 0.58, 4 Jan 0.565, 6 Feb 0.55, 20 Feb 0.535, 1 Mar 0.505, 10 Mar 0.475, 14 Mar 0.45, 4 Apr 0.415, 13 Apr 0.37, 21 Apr 0.33, 29 Apr 0.29, 10 May 0.27, 17 May 0.25, 28 May 0.22, 19 June 0.22, 21 Jun updose to 0.24, 24 Jun updose to 0.26

Supplements: Omega 3 + Vit E, Vit C, D, magnesium, Taurine, probiotic 

I'm not a medical professional. Any advice I give is based on my own experience and reading. 

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