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Pathfinder: scared of relapse


Pathfinder

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Hi Everyone,

I’m a male in early 40s from Europe (Sorry for my English - it is not my native language), father of two wonderful children and married with loving wife. On year 2012 I started with generic escitalopram 10mg due to depression (lack of energy, motivation and loss of interest into the things I used to enjoy). Felt better and stopped taking them after about 10 months (two-week tapper). Had some anxiety, but that was all.

 

After a few months, I slowly relapsed back to initial down filling. Reinstated 10mg of escitalopram, felt better and stopped (two week tapper) again after 18 months. That time I experienced more severe symptoms like anxiety, panic, fear, severe depression so I freaked up and reinstated. Felt better again, but this time continued with treatment for two years. I again felt ok and had much more energy but I also noticed emotional numbness, and that was the main reason I stopped taking ADs again after two years.

 

This time I tapered 25% every three weeks and took last quarter of a pill in the end of January 2017. After a few days, I started to experience strange insomnia (on average I only slept 2-3 hours per night) but I was still full of energy and happy. All this changed suddenly after one month when I was introduced to the withdrawal hell that was severe beyond something I could ever imagine.  

 

Severe depression attacks mixed with panic and fear, severe insomnia, blurred vision, eye floaters, muscle twitches, constant nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, depersonalization-derealization, concentration problems, brain fog… This mixed symptoms eased a little after 2 months and I felt a little better for 2-3 weeks. After that, symptoms gradually worsened again. This time the biggest issue was crippling depression and anhedonia, but it was still mixing with other symptoms, but other symptoms was not so extreme anymore and also now I manage to sleep 6 hours per night mostly.

 

However, depression is really bad right now and I’m really scared that I’m relapsing again with stronger than pretreatment depression. The only positive thing is, that last two months I started to experience some short windows (a few minutes to max a few hours) long windows when I suddenly fill great, optimistic and when I am able to experience emotions in such intensity that it makes me cry. This happens every few days, but then I get hit again with severe depression and tension which I think it gets deeper and deeper. Right now, I have filling that this moments of joy are only some interferences between relapsing to depression.

 

I’m really scared right now and so tired of constant struggle to stay alive and try to function as much as possible, to be a father, husband and to somehow function in my job. I’m so afraid of relapse and I want my emotions back so much!

Edited by KarenB
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  • Moderator Emeritus

Pathfinder -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

I'm sorry that you didn't have better advice about how to taper safely off escitalopram.  Sadly, very few people get this from their doctors or pharmacists.  You've discontinued escitalopram 3 times: two times tapering from 10 mg to 0 in two weeks, and again in late 2016 by decreasing dose by 25% every 3 weeks.  Your last taper was slower than your first two.

 

Escitalopram is a very potent medication and many people need to taper it very slowly. If they don't taper slowly enough, withdrawal symptoms arise.  This sounds very much like what you have experienced.  Please read these topics for more information about symptoms:

What is withdrawal syndrome.

Glenmullen’s withdrawal symptom list.  -- files containing the checklist can be downloaded in the first post

 

Reinstating a very small dose of escitalopram will probably diminish your symptoms; it doesn't work, however, for everyone.  Given escitalopram's potency and the fact that your last dose (2.5mg) was 6 months ago (Jan. 2017), it may make sense to introduce a low dose of a medication, likely fluoxetine (Prozac), that is not as difficult to discontinue.  Are you willing to consider reinstating a low dose of escitalopram or introducing a low dose of another medication? Please post your answer in a reply.  To understand the benefits and risks of reinstating, please read:

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

 

If you do return to a medication, escitalopram or fluoxetine, your symptoms will need time to stabilize. Only after you have been stable at a dose for 2-3 months, you might then consider tapering that dose but doing it far more slowly than you previously have.  Please read:

Before you begin tapering -- what you need to know.

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?.

Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

 

You'll find links to discussions about common symptoms in the first post of this topic: Important topics about symptoms including sleep problems.

 

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.

A signature helps us help you: when we can see this information below your questions, we can answer them more quickly and completely.

 

I've given you lots to read and one thing to do, so I'll wrap up.  Please do take the time to create a signature. 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 Pathfinder: scared of relapse

Thank you scallywag!

 

Unfortunately my doc. who prescribed me this meds believes that there is no such thing as antidepressants WD, and I was assured that I'm relapsing and I need to continue with the treatment... I'm so glad I found this forum, and finally realised what's going on whit me.

In two weeks will be half a year since I took last 2,5mg of escitalopram, so I decided I wont reinstate and I will continue to fight symptoms, fight depression, fight to get back emotions, fight for my children, my wife!

Right now is really hard, but there are also some short moments when I fill better, when I can fill the emotions with all the power, and this gives me som strength to go through dark moments.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Thanks for acknowledging my post.  One of my challenges as a moderator is reading that people are willing to continue suffering difficult symptoms instead of trying the only thing that has been known to work to reduce them.  I do hope that your travels on the 0 mg road get easier soon.

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 post

Try not to be afraid as when we are afraid, our nervous system gets ramped up, and we become more anxious. Rather than fighting, you might want to consider trying to get an "acceptance" mode: try to relax, meditate, try to calm yourself, take things one day or even one hour at a time, etc. 

Dec 1, 2016. 10 mg zyprexa for 1.5 month. Started taper mid-Jan. 2017. Cut 1.25 mg every 2 weeks; smaller cuts 2.5 mg down. Stopped at .6 mg. May 7, 2017: zyprexa free. 
Zoloft: Dec1, 2016, 200 mg. Started taper: Jun12, 2017: 197.5 mg; Jun19,:195 mg; July 2:185mg; July 9,:180 mg; July16,: 175; July 23: 170; July 30: 165; Aug6: 160; Aug13: 155; Aug. 20: 150; Aug.27: 146 mg; Sept3: 145 mg; Sept10:143 mg; Sept17:140 mg....Nov5: 122 mg...Dec3:112.5 mg; Jan14, 2018: 95 mg...Jan28: 90 mg; Feb21:80 mg; Mar11: 75 mg; May2:70 mg; May15: 68 mg; May28: 65 mg; Jun9: 62 mg;Jun25: 60 mg:July22: 55 mg; Aug25: 45 mg. Aug28: 50 mg...Oct 28: 38 mg; Dec.4: 30 mg; Jan8,2019: 25mg; Feb6: 23.5 mg; Apr1:17.5mg; May1:1 mg; May 5: 18;  May 18:15mg; June 16:12.5mg; Sept 10:11 mg; Sept.16:10 mg; Oct. 1: 9mg; Nov. 27: 8mg; Dec.5: 7mg; Jan.1,2020, 6 mg; Feb1: 5 mg; May 1: 2.5 mg; Jn 1: 2 mg; Jy 1: 1.5 mg
Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pw4tjImAJ92OIVyRvZoZYjqxiKMk7wvp-ljiIi1olRo/edit#gid=0

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Good point, Madeleine. 

 

Pathfinder -- please check out this topic on Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.  The tips work for cognitive and physical symptoms too.

 

Also

Change the channel - dealing with cognitive symptoms.

Non-drug techniques for dealing with physical pain.

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 post

Thank you Madeleine and scallywag.

 

I am working a lot on non-drug techniques and also try to be physically active as much as possible.

Actually last two days has been quite good with much less severe symptoms. There was almost no nausea and no severe anxiety and depression. Most annoying symptoms ware anhedonia and so-so sleap. I try to enjoy this moments as much as possible, since I am aware that dark days will come again. But today is today and I today I feel better.

 

I wish all the best to all of you!

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Glad to hear the last couple of days were better.  May you have many more  ?

Dec 1, 2016. 10 mg zyprexa for 1.5 month. Started taper mid-Jan. 2017. Cut 1.25 mg every 2 weeks; smaller cuts 2.5 mg down. Stopped at .6 mg. May 7, 2017: zyprexa free. 
Zoloft: Dec1, 2016, 200 mg. Started taper: Jun12, 2017: 197.5 mg; Jun19,:195 mg; July 2:185mg; July 9,:180 mg; July16,: 175; July 23: 170; July 30: 165; Aug6: 160; Aug13: 155; Aug. 20: 150; Aug.27: 146 mg; Sept3: 145 mg; Sept10:143 mg; Sept17:140 mg....Nov5: 122 mg...Dec3:112.5 mg; Jan14, 2018: 95 mg...Jan28: 90 mg; Feb21:80 mg; Mar11: 75 mg; May2:70 mg; May15: 68 mg; May28: 65 mg; Jun9: 62 mg;Jun25: 60 mg:July22: 55 mg; Aug25: 45 mg. Aug28: 50 mg...Oct 28: 38 mg; Dec.4: 30 mg; Jan8,2019: 25mg; Feb6: 23.5 mg; Apr1:17.5mg; May1:1 mg; May 5: 18;  May 18:15mg; June 16:12.5mg; Sept 10:11 mg; Sept.16:10 mg; Oct. 1: 9mg; Nov. 27: 8mg; Dec.5: 7mg; Jan.1,2020, 6 mg; Feb1: 5 mg; May 1: 2.5 mg; Jn 1: 2 mg; Jy 1: 1.5 mg
Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pw4tjImAJ92OIVyRvZoZYjqxiKMk7wvp-ljiIi1olRo/edit#gid=0

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Hi all,

 

It has been almost a week since my last post and I must say that things didn't changed much. For now still no severe symptoms as two weeks ago, but more like constant mild depression and anxiety. Them most bothering  psychological symptoms are anhedonia (no enjoyment and emotional numbness) and lack of energy. I hope that this will also improve over time since I can't imagine to live like this the rest of my life.

Anyway, comparing to a few weeks ago things did improve (change from extreme ups and downs to more constant state) and I hope to see more improvements over time.

 

Best wishes to all of you,

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  • 4 months later...

Dear friends,

 

It has been a while since my last post here. Currently 10 months after my fast taper. Things did improve during this time. Still experiencing waves and windows, but wawes are becoming easier and windows longer.

During waves I still suffer with strong depression and anxiety, anhedonia, no emotions and fatigue,  but not so badly as few months ago. I fill like there is no hope and that things will never get better. Still some sudden bursts of anger, but more manageable as before. There is no clear pattern in the length of waves and windows. Waves can last forom a few days to a few weeks. Windows can last from a few minutes to a week. Transitions between waves and windows can be like flipping the switch.

During the windows I started to enjoy my life, emotions are back and my thinking is positive. I can say that I feel much better than I felt when I was on antidepressants.

Overall I can say that healing is slowly, slowly, slowly happening.

 

I would like to say thank you to everyone here! Reading your positive posts can be lifesaving during bad wave!

 

I wish all the best to all of you!

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Great update  man! Good for you and encouraging for all of us...I've had the most intense wave yet (four months)..and this idea of transition to wave or window happening in an instant keeps me going. I've experienced dramatic overnight changes now and then so that's the hope. Things rough right now but can change tonight!

late July...lexapro 10 seroquel 25.....due to mild depression......adverse reaction, suicidal thoughts, hospitalization

August....felt that meds were ripping stomach apart....docs didn't believe me..upped meds to seroquel 125, lexapro 20, mirtazapine 30, olanzapine 20....stayed on these drugs unitl mid november......severe anhedonia all the time...mid novemeber 2016 , began taper.....very small windows of emotion...Christmas....off everything by Christmas day......last six weeks, cried and laughed on a number of occasions for first time since taking initial meds....8 occasions of strong emotion over 6 weeks in ealry 2016.......doubting recovery......

BIG WINDOW IN july 2017, felt incredible, lasted a month or so, felt close to recovered...window left, september to Chrimstas 17 was anhedonic hell.....Turn of the year, January 2018, some very strong days (a window) offering renewed hope

back to hell until late February 2018, strong 10 day window....followed by anhedonic wave for 7 months straight! not a flicker of normalcy

September 2018 ...incredible window...followed by three month wave.January 2019.... a strong window

window subsided, but new baseline was higher.....life since January 2019 ( 9 months and counting) has been far better. Complete anhedonia is gone!! God, I've tears writing that. I am far from recovered, but far from hell...to use a scale, if life is rated out of a hundred, I was about minus 50 for the majority of 2 years..I know feel about 30 per cent of self, experiences intermittent flickers of normal life regularly....My days have more quality and I am optimistic of recovery. 

 

 

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Great update indeed! Thank you! 

Hope you continuous and faster healing !

Drug free Sep. 23 2017

2009 Mar.: lexapro 10mg for headache for 2 weeks.

2009-2012: on and off 1/4 to 1/3 of 10mg

2012 June--2013 Jan,: 1/4-1/3 of 10mg generic, bad jaw pain

2013 Jan-Mar: 10 mg generic. severe jaw and head pain;

2013 Mar--Aug. started tapering (liquid ever since) from 10 to 5 (one step) then gradually down to 2.25 mg by July. first ever panic attack, severe head/jaw pain

2013 Aug.: back to 2.75 mg; Nov: back to Brand Lex. 2.75mg -- 3mg,

2014 June: stopped PPI, head pressure/numbness. up-dosed 4.5mg, severe reaction mental symptoms added on

2014 Aug--2015 Aug: Micro taper down to 3.2mg, .025mg (<1%) cut holding 2-3 weeks.

2015 Aug 15th, Accidental one dose of 4.2mg. worsening brain non-functional, swollen head, body, coma like, DR

2016 Feb., started dosing 10am through 11 pm everyday 2/13--3.2mg, 3/15-- 2.9mg, 4/19-- 2.6mg, 6/26--2.2mg, 7/22 --1.9mg, 8/16--1.8mg,8/31--1.7m g, 9/13--1.6mg, 9/27--1.5mg, 10/8--1.4mg, 10/14--1.3mg, 11/1--1.2mg, 11/29--1.1mg, 12/12--1mg, 12/22--0.9mg

2017: 1/7--0.8mg, 1/15--0.7mg, 1/17--0.6mg, 1/20--0.52, 1/21--0.4mg, 1/22--0.26, 1/23--0.2, 2/13--0.13mg, 2/20--0.06mg, 3/18--0.13mg, 6/1--0.12mg, 7/6--0.1mg, 7/14--0.08mg, 8/17--0.04mg, 8/20--0.03mg, 8/28--0.02mg, 9/6--0.0205mg, 9/8--0.02mg, 9/17--0.015mg, 9/20--0.01mg, 9/21--0.0048mg, 9/22--0.0001mg,

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On 12/9/2017 at 9:52 PM, nicolantana said:

Great update  man! Good for you and encouraging for all of us...I've had the most intense wave yet (four months)..and this idea of transition to wave or window happening in an instant keeps me going. I've experienced dramatic overnight changes now and then so that's the hope. Things rough right now but can change tonight!

 

Hi Nicoltana,

 

Sorry to hear that you are in a bad wave. It is hard to be hit by another bad wave after feeling better for some longer time. I know that it is hard to believe that you will get better when you are in a bad wave, but believe me the harder and longer the wave will be, the clearer and bigger window will follow!

 

I’m currently somewhere between wave and window. Not badly depressed but without motivation and feeling empty.

 

I wish the window will open soon for you and stay opened forever!

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On 12/10/2017 at 7:36 AM, LexAnger said:

Great update indeed! Thank you! 

Hope you continuous and faster healing !

 

Hi Lex,

 

Thank you! All the best to you too!

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Thank you!!! let's hope so. what a tough process but can't wait to be unleashed on life again..

late July...lexapro 10 seroquel 25.....due to mild depression......adverse reaction, suicidal thoughts, hospitalization

August....felt that meds were ripping stomach apart....docs didn't believe me..upped meds to seroquel 125, lexapro 20, mirtazapine 30, olanzapine 20....stayed on these drugs unitl mid november......severe anhedonia all the time...mid novemeber 2016 , began taper.....very small windows of emotion...Christmas....off everything by Christmas day......last six weeks, cried and laughed on a number of occasions for first time since taking initial meds....8 occasions of strong emotion over 6 weeks in ealry 2016.......doubting recovery......

BIG WINDOW IN july 2017, felt incredible, lasted a month or so, felt close to recovered...window left, september to Chrimstas 17 was anhedonic hell.....Turn of the year, January 2018, some very strong days (a window) offering renewed hope

back to hell until late February 2018, strong 10 day window....followed by anhedonic wave for 7 months straight! not a flicker of normalcy

September 2018 ...incredible window...followed by three month wave.January 2019.... a strong window

window subsided, but new baseline was higher.....life since January 2019 ( 9 months and counting) has been far better. Complete anhedonia is gone!! God, I've tears writing that. I am far from recovered, but far from hell...to use a scale, if life is rated out of a hundred, I was about minus 50 for the majority of 2 years..I know feel about 30 per cent of self, experiences intermittent flickers of normal life regularly....My days have more quality and I am optimistic of recovery. 

 

 

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