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azjordy: 2 years of Lexapro - what now?


azjordy

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Hello, everyone.  I am happy to have discovered this website because I would love feedback regarding my current struggles.  

 

Last Friday (June 30th) I was having dinner and out of nowhere my blood chilled, heart started racing and I began to feel like I was losing my vision.  I live at an apartment complex, so I thought going to the pool and being around people would help... Unfortunately I feel that decision made my anxiety attack worse, so I returned to my apartment and began pacing for what felt like hours.  Eventually I was able to sit down and eventually hit a wall (like most people describe after having an anxiety attack).  I slept for about two hours then woke up and chatted with a friend.  

 

The whole event was extremely scary as I had never had such overwhelming fear consume my body.  Ever since this attack I have noticed extremely severe anxiety consume nearly everything I do.  I find going to the store, shopping for groceries, or even making a trip to the gas station for a drink extremely difficult on my mind.  

 

I fear that this sudden wave of anxiousness is due to my discontinuation of Lexapro.  I was put on Lexapro my senior year of high school to help the college decision process and overall lethargy and hopeless go away.  

 

I am now twenty years old (a junior in college) and I decided that I should try getting off these pills because I didn't feel like I had any use for them anymore and that "no one stays on them forever."  The tapering process was difficult.  I found certain things I didn't normally find irritating or daunting... well, just that.  

 

It took roughly 2 months for me to get off of Lexapro entirely and I am now 1-month into being completely off and am now facing severe anxiety.  I saw a doctor this past Monday and his only real recommendation was that people are curious about quitting their antidepressant, but it's not always best.  He wrote me a script for 10mg of Lexapro and recommended that I go back on the drug.  

 

I am very torn on what to do regarding Lexapro because I have witnessed how difficult it was for me to get off of it, but I absolutely cannot keeping living in this hellish state that I have been in for 4 days now.  Any comments, suggestions or questions would be extremely helpful as I am planned to see another doctor tomorrow that specializes in anxiety.    

Edited by scallywag
insert paragraph breaks for readability

[Lexapro]: February 2015 - June 2017 at 20mg.

Tapering Process Began April 11th, 2017.

Decreased 5mg every 2 weeks from April 11th - June 6th. 

Reinstated July 5th, 2017 at 10mg.

Dosage increased to 20mg July 12th.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

azjordy -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

I'm sorry that your discontinuation of Lexapro threw you into levels of anxiety and panic not previously experienced. Lexapro is one of the strongest SSRI medications and needs to be discontinued very gradually.

 

Please tell us more about your 2-month taper, including the # mg of your last dose and the approximate date you took your last dose.

 

You say that it's only been about one month since your last dose. You're in a period of time where reinstating Lexapro at a dose lower than your previous one is likely to be effective. It's good to read that you are considering that and that you have a prescription for 10 mg. Reinstating a small dose can help ease uncomfortable and painful symptoms. When we have more information about your taper and last dose, we can suggest a reinstatement dose for you to consider. It will likely be less than 10 mg. Please read at least the first posts of these two discussion topics:

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

 

You went through difficulty tapering off Lexapro because neither your doctor nor the dispensing pharmacist gave you good information about how to taper. That doesn't mean that there isn't any relevant information or a better way to discontinue such medications.  We suggest that people taper by decreasing no more than 10% and making the decreases no more often than once per month.  This slow, gradual reduction is intended to "sneak" the drug out of your system without triggering a strong reaction of your CNS (central nervous system).  You can read more about that here:

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?.

How your brain responds to psychiatric drugs - aka "Brain remodeling"

Youtube video, 4 minutes: Healing from antidepressants


About your appointment with a doctor who specializes in anxiety:

Doctors rarely consider the symptoms you're having as withdrawal and are likely to diagnose them as a recurrence/relapse of a previous condition or as a new condition. Doctors also rarely prescribe therapy to assist patients in expanding their capacity to identify the causes of anxiety and to deal with the emotions and sensations. The medical model now is heavily if not entirely reliant on prescription medications.  I'd wager that the doctor you're seeing today or tomorrow will give you a prescription for at least one medication, most likely for two. To learn how others have handled discussions with doctors, please read:

What to expect from your doctor about withdrawal symptoms.

How do you talk to your doctor about tapering and withdrawal.


Anxiety and panic are very common symptoms in withdrawal. Joseph Glenmullen, psychiatrist and faculty at Harvard Medical School as well as author of The Anti-Depressant Solution (a book for "lay people" about discontinuing SSRI meds), has developed a list of the most common symptoms. You can download a list of those in the first post of this topic:

Glenmullen’s withdrawal symptom list.

 

A request: Would you summarize your history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly?

  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.
  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs.
  • Link to Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.

 

I've posted a number of things for you to read and to do.  I hope it's not overwhelming.  If you need a place to start, please post the details of your taper and create a signature that lists your medication and withdrawal history (doses and dates).

 

I hope you'll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation. I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but am glad that you found us.

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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  • ChessieCat changed the title to azjordy: 2 years of Lexapro - what now?

Thank you for all of the information, Scallywag.  

 

I have changed my signature as well as my decision to not use Lexapro.  I came to the conclusion that stopping 20mg of Lexapro after 2 months was too fast for my brain to handle.  As of now, I am on day #2 of reinstating Lexapro back into my system.  The past 6 days have been extremely difficult for me to handle as everyday activities such as going to the grocery store seem unbearable.  

 

Additionally, I have pinpointed a few variables that I believe are troubling me and are not helping with my anxiety.

 

1.  Living in Phoenix during the Summer is extremely difficult and limiting because of the brutal temperatures during the day

2. I am currently living in an apartment for the summer (and my family is on the other side of the country).  Not having them around during these times is hard.  Sometimes I want the parental reassurance that everything is going to be ok. 

3.  I do not have that great of a doctor in AZ.  The doctor that originally prescribed Lexapro to me in 2015 is back in Pennsylvania with my family.  Here in Arizona, I really only have access to the on-campus health services and "FastMed."  Sometimes I worry that not having something laying around (drugs) is going to be a problem for me should my anxiety take a turn for the worse.

4. I am not eating much.  I am normally someone who eats well-over the 2,000 calorie recommendation, and for the first period of my life, I'm feeling like I'm having to force-feed myself.  My anxiety gives me stomach pain, which causes me not to eat.  When I don't eat, I get anxiety and feel light-headed/fatigued.  It really is just a vicious circle.

 

My tapering schedule was completely produced on my own accord without guidance from a doctor.  I tapered 5mg every 2 weeks for the course of 2 months.  After hitting 0mg at week 8, I felt really good.  I did not think anything was wrong and I felt better being off the drug.  

 

I believe what initially triggered my anxiety was the daytime heat.  Wednesday (June 28th) I had lunch with a friend and it was about 2 blocks of walking in direct sunlight on black pavement.  The temperature was about 110 degrees and by the time we had reached the car, I was on the verge of a panic attack.  I thought it was a fluke and didn't put much of my mind on it.  Two days later, my panic attack occurred.  At this point, I am not sure what to do other than to wait for Lexapro to swoop down and rescue me from my own mental anguish.  I have thought of absolute worst-case scenarios (flying home to Pennsylvania and checking into a hospital) for example just for the reassurance that I will have an option should things get beyond help.

 

Summing up, I would like to receive some feedback regarding the variables that bother me (listed above).  Day-by-day goes by and things do not seem to feel better.  Are my reasonings for my current state setting me up for disaster?  

[Lexapro]: February 2015 - June 2017 at 20mg.

Tapering Process Began April 11th, 2017.

Decreased 5mg every 2 weeks from April 11th - June 6th. 

Reinstated July 5th, 2017 at 10mg.

Dosage increased to 20mg July 12th.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

azjordy,  I'm glad you reinstated Lexapro.  It may take some time for your anxiety to lift. 

How long to stabilize after reinstating or updosing.

 

Thanks for posting about how you tapered.

  • On what day in June did you take the last dose of your taper plan?
  • Was that dose 5 mg?
  • Would you edit your signature to include a note about how you tapered, "decreased 5 mg every 2 weeks" and the approximate date of the last day of that taper?

Something that can be helpful in managing withdrawal and tapering is tracking symptoms. Please keep notes on paper of your symptoms and the times of your dose(s). This post has a useful format for a daily log:

Take notes of doses and symptoms.

 

High temperatures are a stress on the human body. I doubt that it was the sole factor in triggering your symptoms. Many people, if not most, experience a period of feeling wonderful after a rapid discontinuation from a psych med, a "honeymoon" of sorts. Then symptoms SLAM them.  Lexapro is a very strong medication and discontinuation from it should be handled cautiously.  Here's are two links with explanations and analogies that helped me understand the effect of these meds on my CNS (central nervous system):

How your brain responds to psychiatric drugs - aka "Brain remodeling"

Youtube video, 4 minutes: Healing from antidepressants

 

Many people dealing with anxiety in withdrawal have found the information at these links useful:

Neuro-emotions.

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

The Dr. Claire Weekes Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System

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

Link to comment

Okay, I was able to edit my signature to include my old tapering plan.  Regarding your questions,

 

  • On what day in June did you take the last dose of your taper plan?
  • Was that dose 5 mg?

If I had to guess, my last dose was probably June 6th (or somewhere around that).  I remember 3-7 days prior to June 6th I found myself getting impatient with the tapering process and began to take 1.5-3mg at night instead of 5mg.  After a few days of the 1.5-3mg I decided "Ok, well I'll just stop now."  

 

It really is difficult staying positive and hopeful at times.  Doing this alone (away from my family and familiar doctors) is extremely difficult and I wonder at times if I should just fly home for the remainder of Summer break.  Although a flight this late in advance would be very expensive, it wouldn't be impossible for my family to book.  I am feeling better on the 3rd day of reinstating Lexapro, but there are times when anxiety fills my body and I just think "I can't do this again today."  I feel emotionally and physically drained.  

 

Thank you for working with me so far, Scallywag.  Your links have been helpful!

[Lexapro]: February 2015 - June 2017 at 20mg.

Tapering Process Began April 11th, 2017.

Decreased 5mg every 2 weeks from April 11th - June 6th. 

Reinstated July 5th, 2017 at 10mg.

Dosage increased to 20mg July 12th.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Staying positive in the face of symptoms is a challenge.  Many members find it helpful to connect with others by posting in their intro topics or finding a common interest in the other forums

Relationships.

-- in the Relationships forum, a topic for members lining in the Southwest US

Finding meaning.

Off-topic.

 

You can find the intro topics of others tapering lexapro by clicking on the tag that is below the title of your intro topic.

Edited by scallywag
add link to southwest US members

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

Link to comment

I have decided that I am going to fly to Pennsylvania for a couple weeks before school starts to clear my head.  Reinstating Lexapro has helped tremendously, but I am really disliking that amount of time I am spending alone in my apartment.  In addition to the 110+ degree temps, I think that there are too many cons outweighing the good here to see me through my track to feeling healthy again.  I have an appointment for Monday with my doctor here in AZ and I plan on asking about when or if I should up my dosage of 10mg.  I am also going to ask for either more vistaril or something to help me get through the long flight.  I am hoping my decision to fly away for a couple weeks helps (I'm thinking it will!).

[Lexapro]: February 2015 - June 2017 at 20mg.

Tapering Process Began April 11th, 2017.

Decreased 5mg every 2 weeks from April 11th - June 6th. 

Reinstated July 5th, 2017 at 10mg.

Dosage increased to 20mg July 12th.

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Hello anyone and everyone,

 

I have now been home (away from the Phoenix heat) since July 11th.  On Wednesday (the 12th) I asked my doctor what she thought about my request to go up from 10mg to 20mg. She said that the decision is OK by her and I have been taking 20mg for four days now.  Taking 20mg all at once felt a little overwhelming at first... I had sort of a head-rush at first and felt the side effects took their toll on me as I am taking it during the afternoon. 

 

Some of the anxiety I was enduring in AZ has gone away, but I am still finding everyday life a little difficult.  I spend most of my days in the living room (with the TV and my laptop) and have some friends over at night.  

Some of the symptoms I am still experiencing are dry mouth, stomach problems (diarrhea), poor appetite, and anxiety.  

 

I am finding that reminding myself that all of my issues are 100% common and are all directly linked to the medication is helpful.  Sometimes the anxiety takes it's toll on me and the only thing I feel I can do is lay down and focus on breathing.  While this works the majority of the time, I am still fearful of triggering massive anxiety that may lead to a panic attack. Because of this, I am finding myself avoiding ALL bad foods, leaving the house to go somewhere far, and taking any risks in general.  I believe the poor appetite symptom is because my anxiety attack was triggered from a fried meal and now my mind does not want me to have that ever again.

 

Additionally, I am finding that I can't seem to stay busy outside of watching TV and/or using my laptop.  I went to a nearby park the other day with my parents and dogs and after roughly a mile of walking in humidity, I was beginning to feel extremely uneasy and anxious.  It is events like these that do not really encourage me to leave the house (and I know agoraphobia is common when dealing with dosage difficulties).  

 

Any comments, suggestions or further questions are greatly appreciated as I love being apart of a friendly community during this hard time of my life.

 

[Lexapro]: February 2015 - June 2017 at 20mg.

Tapering Process Began April 11th, 2017.

Decreased 5mg every 2 weeks from April 11th - June 6th. 

Reinstated July 5th, 2017 at 10mg.

Dosage increased to 20mg July 12th.

Link to comment
  • Moderator Emeritus

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

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Hello, it's been about two weeks since my last update.  

 

Reflecting on some of the symptoms I've listed (dry mouth, poor appetite, stomach problems and anxiety), mostly all have diminished.  I still am experiencing anxiety at times, but not to the point where I sit all day, worrying about issues that are irrelevant.  Something that has become an issue that took some time for me to realize that I touched on in my last update: "I am finding myself avoiding ALL bad foods, leaving the house to go somewhere far, and taking any risks in general."

 

I believe that since my panic attack I have developed a new, mild form of a specific anxiety, agoraphobia.  I knew that leaving the house was bothering me (even if it was just for dinner up the road) and that this was going to be a new hurdle for me.  I have done some research on agoraphobia and found myself identifying with a lot of it's common triggers (waiting in lines, not being in control of the driver's seat, not being able to escape, traffic, feeling as if you would not be able to handle the fear because you are not in your safe space, etc.)  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a "correct" method toward combatting agoraphobia, only suggestions that may be advantageous in the path to recovery.  

Even if it is just a couple times a day, I am forcing myself out of the house to run an errand, drive around, or pick up groceries.  Who would've thought beating a fear of leaving your safe zone would be ... leaving your safe zone!

 

As always, the anxiety and mental instability does still get to me at times and I feel as if I have months ahead of me for a full recovery.  I am leaving Pennsylvania to return back to school and am apprehensive toward the four-hour flight, the lifestyle adjustment and getting back into another routine.  Unfortunately, Summer break is coming to an end and I cannot spend my entire life in my parent's house making myself feel comfortable and trying to shield myself from any potential triggers.  I am allowing Lexapro to continue to do it's thing and can only take life day-by-day and hope I can live life without all of these fears like I used to do.

 

Any comments, questions, suggestions or helpful links are extremely appreciated!

 

-Jordy

 

[Lexapro]: February 2015 - June 2017 at 20mg.

Tapering Process Began April 11th, 2017.

Decreased 5mg every 2 weeks from April 11th - June 6th. 

Reinstated July 5th, 2017 at 10mg.

Dosage increased to 20mg July 12th.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello, everyone.  I'd like to update those keeping up on my thread with my progress as well as some things I've learned over the course of this hectic 6-week period.

 

To anyone reading my thread for the first time, my reasoning for posting on this website is to gain knowledge and new perspectives on antidepressants as well as informing others of my personal experience with withdrawal, reinstatement, side effects, anxiety and agoraphobia.

 

In my last post, I mentioned that some of my withdrawal symptoms (dry mouth, poor appetite, stomach issues, etc.) were diminished and that is still showing to be true.  Since having my first anxiety attack, I have eliminated all caffeine, fried food, most spicy sauces and foods as well as most dairy products.  I have found that these changes have improved my health for the better and that I am losing weight.  The only health concern I have at the moment are moments of fatigue and faintness.  I have always lived a relatively sedentary lifestyle and I wonder with the exclusion of these foods, has my blood pressure or blood sugar or something changed?  I try not to worry about this, but I have reached out to my doctor as of today regarding this problem.

 

The most difficult part of this entire experience was the lingering anxiety that resulted from my first panic attack.  (As is completely common after experiencing a traumatic event such as a panic attack), agoraphobia has been something that I have had to combat with my mind using 110% concentration.  Reflecting back on the beginning of this all, I could not leave the house and drive around and go anywhere without facing crippling anxiety.  The most effective tool I used to lessen agoraphobia was to choose to "fight" instead of flight in difficult situations.  This, of course, is easier said than done.  I was pretty unsatisfied and upset that a magic "anti-agoraphobia" pill did not exist and that I would have to put myself on the correct track alone.  There were times that I decided to drive home and "flight," but I always felt bad that I was regressing for doing so.  The most comforting bit of advice I read was that panic, no matter how daunting or overwhelming, cannot harm you in any capacity and that it will pass.

 

I sometimes wonder where I would be today had I not reinstated Lexapro last month.  Reinstating Lexapro (as well as mental toughness and coping mechanisms) have seem to put me on a good enough track to start school with a clear mind and attitude toward life.  I am not certain when I will choose to taper Lexapro again in the future, but I have learned from this experience that everyone is not always supposed to get off of their prescription.  

 

-As always, questions, comments, and suggestions are welcomed and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.  Thank you for reading =)

[Lexapro]: February 2015 - June 2017 at 20mg.

Tapering Process Began April 11th, 2017.

Decreased 5mg every 2 weeks from April 11th - June 6th. 

Reinstated July 5th, 2017 at 10mg.

Dosage increased to 20mg July 12th.

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