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Kasey: could use some opinions

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Kasey

Moderator note: link to benzo forum thread - Kasey: Question about insomnia

 

Hi, I'm glad I found this site.  I'm an older male, and have been suffering from depression for much of my life, pretty deep but not major.  I was always able to got to work and live but since retiring early some years ago I lost my zest, which would come back when taking Yoga classes, studying music, etc.   Anyway, I had some problems starting last summer, and went into a funk.  I asked my GP doctor last month for a prescription to Lexapro, which I started about 3 weeks ago (10 mg.)  I now have very strong reservations about continuing this drug, due to what I've read about withdrawal symptoms.  I have been going for CBT and Mindfullness therapy for a couple of months, which has helped quite a bit.   I know nobody can tell me what is right, but I think that I should just cut my doses in half for a week and stop.  If I get too far into it, and suffer withdrawals when quitting, in the future, I am afraid that I will return to benzos, besides other problems that quitting may entail. I didn't know that Lexapro withdrawal is comparatively brutal, otherwise I wouldn't have started it.  I would appreciate some opinions.  

 

Thank you.

 

 

Edited by Shep
added link to benzo forum thread and tags

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scallywag

Kasey -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)

 

I'm glad you started to ask questions before you got too far down a thorny and rocky path with escitalopram (lexapro).  After 3 weeks, a 50% cut may be too much. What do you think about taking 7.5 mg for a week (25% decrease) to see how your body responds? If no symptoms, then cut to 5 mg and hold for a week. If no symptoms, then cut to 2.5 mg and hold for a week before discontinuing entirely.  If withdrawal symptoms do arise, then you won't have to make significant adjustments.  A couple of links with lists of withdrawal symptoms so you know what might occur:

Important topics about symptoms including sleep problems.

Glenmullen’s withdrawal symptom list.

 

Some links that I hope you won't need but will put here for quick reference

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

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?.

Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

 

CBT and mindfulness are non-drug techniques we often suggest that members investigate.  You may find other ideas in these topics:

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

Change the channel - dealing with cognitive symptoms.

 

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.

Please let us know what you choose to do with decreasing dose and how that goes for you.

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Kasey

Thank you, Scallywag.  I will start tapering tomorrow, at 7.5 mg. a day.  One thing I've learned about life, no matter how bad things get, they can get worse, and I am very fortunate that I caught, and began correcting, this before a more significant amount of time had passed.  A thousand thanks.

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Altostrata

Kasey, it sounds like you're happiest when learning new things. This isn't a bad trait. What you need to do is schedule more activities that interest you, and get out and do them.

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nz11

Welcome Kasey

Would you be so kind to confirm if you have ever taken a psychoactive drug prior to the Lexapro you are currently on.

You could reveal this  by doing the drug sig that SW requested.

Regards

nz11

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Kasey
9 hours ago, nz11 said:

Welcome Kasey

Would you be so kind to confirm if you have ever taken a psychoactive drug prior to the Lexapro you are currently on.

You could reveal this  by doing the drug sig that SW requested.

Regards

nz11

nz11,Thank you very much.

 

In July 2017, I got tinnitus, and became very uncomfortable and distressed by it.  I acquired a Rx for Clonazepam in Sept., 2017, which worked very good at giving me relief in the beginning, and that's when the trouble began.  I realized by Dec.2017 that I had developed a dependence on them, and decided to try an SSRI as a replacement, but have since come to think that this was also a mistake.   I want to be entirely drug free. 

 

I have listed a summary of my psychoactive, and benzodiazepine, drugs in my signature.  

 

 

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Kasey
9 hours ago, Altostrata said:

Kasey, it sounds like you're happiest when learning new things. This isn't a bad trait. What you need to do is schedule more activities that interest you, and get out and do them.

Altostrata, you are 100% correct.  I am attempting to do this, it's just very cold right now and I'm limited by certain conditions and circumstances (it's complicated).  Thank you! 

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nz11

Thank you for revealing the full extent of your drug exposure.

No disrespect to the SW but he was not aware of this info when he replied to you. 

Please confirm if you have or haven't cut the dose of lex to 7.5mg. 

Do you think you are stable at the moment?

imo you are going to have to approach this taper carefully. 

Your brain has been significantly altered with all the prior use  and  your brains chemical imbalance is seriously upset (iatrogenically) this includes the serotonin and all the other chemicals that act in concert with it.

Clearly you are taking the lex to cover benzo wdl. 

We have a resident benzo expert who hopefully may comment ...Shep are you there?

I think you should hold any changes until the SW is informed of this history.

 

nz11

 

 

 

 

 

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Kasey
30 minutes ago, nz11 said:

Holy Cow Kasey that is an extensive psych drug exposure stretching back longer than three weeks.

Thank you for revealing this.

No disrespect to the SW but he was not aware of this info when he replied to you. 

Please confirm if you have or haven't cut the dose of lex to 7.5mg. 

 

 

 

Thank YOU!   I did not know how to use the signature feature, until today.  Yes, I cut the  lexapro dose to 7.5 mg this morning.  My symptoms from quitting the benzos, 11 days ago, have been leveling off a bit, but I understand that I still have a ways to go. Also, until recently, I had no idea that I was taking the klonopin equivalent to many more valium pills.  

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Kasey
15 minutes ago, Kasey said:

Thank YOU!   I did not know how to use the signature feature, until today.  Yes, I cut the  lexapro dose to 7.5 mg this morning.  My symptoms from quitting the benzos, 11 days ago, have been leveling off a bit, but I understand that I still have a ways to go. Also, until recently, I had no idea that I was taking the klonopin equivalent to many times more valium pills.  

 

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Shep
22 minutes ago, Kasey said:

Yes, I cut the  lexapro dose to 7.5 mg this morning.  My symptoms from quitting the benzos, 11 days ago, have been leveling off a bit, but I understand that I still have a ways to go. Also, until recently, I had no idea that I was taking the klonapin equivalent to many more valium pills.  

 

Hi, Kasey.

 

You are quite right - Klonopin is much more potent than Valium. In fact, it's 20 times more potent. And it only takes 2 - 4 weeks for dependency to set in with a benzo even when you don't take it every day. 

 

For antidepressants, many people are successful with a reinstatement two or three months (or even longer) after they've been completely off the drug. However, benzo reinstatement is best done within 2 - 4 weeks. So you are within that reinstatement time frame.

 

Because you've only been on the SSRI for 3 weeks, I would focus on getting off that drug before dependency sets in (antidepressant dependency usually occurs within 1 month). Scallywag has given good instructions for doing so. 

 

NZ does raise a valid point that the Lexapro was stared to help with Klonopin withdrawal, which is why I mentioned benzo reinstatement. This is going to be a hard call, though, whether you'll want to reinstate the benzo or not. It really depends on your symptoms.  How severe are your symptoms?  How many hours a night are you sleeping? Are you able to handle the benzo withdrawal as you also discontinue the AD withdrawal using non-drug coping techniques?

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

As you let us know more about your symptoms, we can better advise you. 

 

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Kasey
38 minutes ago, Shep said:

 

Hi, Kasey.

 

You are quite right - Klonopin is much more potent than Valium. In fact, it's 20 times more potent. And it only takes 2 - 4 weeks for dependency to set in with a benzo even when you don't take it every day. 

 

For antidepressants, many people are successful with a reinstatement two or three months (or even longer) after they've been completely off the drug. However, benzo reinstatement is best done within 2 - 4 weeks. So you are within that reinstatement time frame.

 

Because you've only been on the SSRI for 3 weeks, I would focus on getting off that drug before dependency sets in (antidepressant dependency usually occurs within 1 month). Scallywag has given good instructions for doing so. 

 

NZ does raise a valid point that the Lexapro was stared to help with Klonopin withdrawal, which is why I mentioned benzo reinstatement. This is going to be a hard call, though, whether you'll want to reinstate the benzo or not. It really depends on your symptoms.  How severe are your symptoms?  How many hours a night are you sleeping? Are you able to handle the benzo withdrawal as you also discontinue the AD withdrawal using non-drug coping techniques?

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

As you let us know more about your symptoms, we can better advise you. 

 

Thanks, Shep! 

 

The benzo WD symptoms were a bit more severe at the end of last week.  There's been no tremors, vomiting, etc., at all at any time, and my sleeping has improved somewhat.  I use CBT and Mindfullness, as best I can, to get myself centered.  

 

For the 3 months I was on klonopin, in 2017, I used it four times in Oct., eight times in Nov., and about 16 times in Dec.,  with the most frequent use between Dec. 17 and 28, totaling almost 4 mgs,  then I stopped Dec. 28 after tapering to.25 mgs for a few days   The doctor's original Rx was  to take 1 mg 2X a day, in Sept., for three weeks, but I only used 16 of the 42 pills since I've had them. I know that I was over-prescribed.  I think I can do this, and having this kind of expert, caring help on this board, makes all the difference.  

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nz11

thanks Shep:)

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Kasey
On 1/8/2018 at 1:13 PM, nz11 said:

Thank you for revealing the full extent of your drug exposure.

No disrespect to the SW but he was not aware of this info when he replied to you. 

Please confirm if you have or haven't cut the dose of lex to 7.5mg. 

Do you think you are stable at the moment?

imo you are going to have to approach this taper carefully. 

Your brain has been significantly altered with all the prior use  and  your brains chemical imbalance is seriously upset (iatrogenically) this includes the serotonin and all the other chemicals that act in concert with it.

Clearly you are taking the lex to cover benzo wdl. 

We have a resident benzo expert who hopefully may comment ...Shep are you there?

I think you should hold any changes until the SW is informed of this history.

 

nz11

nz11, thanks I did not see the last part of your post.   I have a lot of fears, and also emotional insecurity.  I might be very upset with myself if I took benzos again, and I feel somewhat hopeless.   I don't want to predict anything, I may just work through this this like planned, and be OK after a while with no severe problems.   I really don't think that I should take benzos, it's just too risky.  Thanks once again, it's very reassuring to have this kind of concern and expertise that I can learn from. 

Edited by scallywag
deleted blank lines at end of quote

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nz11

Not to worry SW and Shep are right its better to be off the lex.

And if all goes well it will be  hopefully sooner rather than later.

You are going to have to find nondrug coping ways to help do this.

These drugs are very dangerous.

My heart sank when I read your drug sig to see that after being free of them for 7 years you returned to them once again.

I'm just appalled at doctors to allow people to walk in and ask for whatever and without hesitating they give it! Next please. No clinical assessment required!

 

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Altostrata

Kasey, please wait at least a week, maybe more, before reducing escilatopram again. Please let us know how you're doing.

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Kasey
8 minutes ago, Altostrata said:

Kasey, please wait at least a week, maybe more, before reducing escilatopram again. Please let us know how you're doing.

Thanks, I will do both.  I'm very, very grateful that I found this site, because there's no way I would have managed to find  such important advice and information elsewhere. 

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Shep
14 hours ago, Kasey said:

The benzo WD symptoms were a bit more severe at the end of last week.  There's been no tremors, vomiting, etc., at all at any time, and my sleeping has improved somewhat.  I use CBT and Mindfullness, as best I can, to get myself centered.  

 

For the 3 months I was on klonopin, in 2017, I used it four times in Oct., eight times in Nov., and about 16 times in Dec.,  with the most frequent use between Dec. 17 and 28, totaling almost 4 mgs,  then I stopped Dec. 28 after tapering to.25 mgs for a few days   The doctor's original Rx was  to take 1 mg 2X a day, in Sept., for three weeks, but I only used 16 of the 42 pills since I've had them. I know that I was over-prescribed.  I think I can do this, and having this kind of expert, caring help on this board, makes all the difference.  

 

You were wise to recognize that you were over-prescribed and limit the times you took them. 

 

The fact that you're now 12 days off and seeing improvements is a good sign that your dependency wasn't as bad and your ability to go to non-drug coping strategies of CBT and mindfulness are great. 

 

Please note that benzos are notorious for causing kindling, meaning that each time you go on and come off them, the withdrawal is much worse. So this is a class of drugs you'll want to avoid if at all possible in the future. While there is a 2 - 4 week time frame where it's considered safe to reinstate, after that it can get very unpredictable. After that time frame, you'll likely do better to stay with the CBT and mindfulness and give your mind/body the space and time to heal on its own. It looks like you're already headed toward that healing path already, but I did think it important to mention the kindling concept. 

 

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA because many people find their injured nervous systems simply can't handle them, however, the two we do recommend are fish oil and magnesium. Many people report that these are soothing and calming to the nervous system. However, some people are still sensitive even to these, so please only start one at a time and at a low dose to see how you do.  For more information, please see:

 

King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)

 

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

 

Epsom salts baths -- another way to relax with magnesium

 

Please continue to let us know how you're doing. 

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Kasey

Thanks Shep.

 

Yesterday was very stressful, and today I'm paying for it with diarrhea, anxiety, etc.  I'm not headed out for much activity today,  have a weekly CBT session that I usually take the subway/underground to, but today my therapist and I will meet via SKYPE.  

 

Thanks for the supplement tips. I have been taking fish oil for a while, might increase the dosage.  As for magnesium, I cut off a piece of about 1/4 of one of my wife's Magnesium Citrate softgell pills, which contain about 125 mg. each, so that the dosage is far less.  Hopefully that will help.  

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Kasey

I would like to clarify that I did not start taking Lexapro solely as a solution to my overuse of Klonapin, nor did I originally intend to stop after such a short time.  I thought I wanted to try it for depression, and hopefully it would be also beneficial in handling my anxiety, rather than continuing to use Klonapin or another benzo for that purpose.  After I found out about the risks and  dangers of it (Lex), thanks in a very large part to this site, I decided to get off of it ASAP.  

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nz11
4 hours ago, Kasey said:

Yesterday was very stressful, and today I'm paying for it with diarrhea, anxiety, etc

Kasey think back to all the times you have previously  gone of psych drugs ...was it followed by diarrhea and anxiety etc. 

 

Are you able to go on about the 'etc' part....

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nz11
1 minute ago, Kasey said:

I decided to get off of it ASAP

What do you mean by this.

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Kasey
37 minutes ago, nz11 said:

Kasey think back to all the times you have previously  gone of psych drugs ...was it followed by diarrhea and anxiety etc. 

 

Are you able to go on about the 'etc' part....

nz11, My bad, should have just left "etc." out, or elaborated. 

 

I don't remember much about it.  I've only gone off psyh drugs three times in the past.  If there were any serious side effects, I think I would have remembered. 

 

Nothing else really bad (IMO) has yet happened this time, other than a lot of anxiety,  a moderate problem with sleeping (which is improving somewhat) and weight loss.   

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Kasey
38 minutes ago, nz11 said:

What do you mean by this.

Again, my bad.  I should have said that I'd like to get off Lexapro, as soon as safely possible.   

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Kasey

Hi, it's been three weeks since I last posted, thought this might be a good time for an update.  

 

I finished my Lexapro taper three days ago.   I originally took 10 mg's for three weeks, came to the conclusion that I did not want to continue this drug, then did a three week taper, so hopefully my recovery won't take very long.  There have been symptoms such as muscle pain, sharp pain in the chest and arm which I have found is common during tapering/withdrawal from this drug, anxiety, stomach distress, and an increase in tinnitus (which I had before the Lexapro).  I've also had some obsessive/compulsive problems, which some of the members of this site have reported experiencing during tapering and W/D.  The latter symptoms are mostly worry related, about health problems, whether real or imagined. 

 

I've been off Klonapin for about five weeks, as well, and intend to stay off that as well. 

 

I have been able to sleep better lately, usually for five to seven hours a night.  Although I wake up every couple of hours, I'm usually able to get back to sleep after a few minutes.  

 

Thanks for the advice and support!   

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Shep

Thanks for coming back and updating, Kasey. It sounds like overall you are doing better. Hopefully, as you sleep better, other symptoms will fade off, as well. 

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Kasey
1 hour ago, Shep said:

Thanks for coming back and updating, Kasey. It sounds like overall you are doing better. Hopefully, as you sleep better, other symptoms will fade off, as well. 

Thanks very much, Shep.  The remaining symptoms aren't that bad, definitely not debilitating.  I'm doing much better already, and I expect most of them to fade off soon,  with the exception of the tinnitus which was there before the drug use, so I'm in the process of habituating to it which will take some time. 

 

  

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Kasey

Hi all.  

 

I haven't been around here much for the last five or six months, just wanted to check in.  I've managed to steer clear of benzos and antidepressants, since I quit both around 7 - 7.5 months ago.  It hasn't been easy, I originally thought that the post-withdrawal symptoms would mostly, or completely, be gone by this time. They are not,  but I'm trying my best to keep it together.   I still wonder every day if it would have been better to have tapered clonazepam instead of going CT, but at this point there's it's pointless to worry about it, and reinstatement is not an option.   Thanks for the support, and this site is a very valuable resource. 

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Carmie

Hi Kasey, 

 

How have you been doing? Sending hugs🤗

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Kasey
2 hours ago, Carmie said:

Hi Kasey, 

 

How have you been doing? Sending hugs🤗

Carmie, thanks so much for asking, I'm happy to say that I've improved lately, in several respects.  It's been a year since I'm off the Lexapro and Klonopin, the latter of which really did a number on me.  Best wishes for the New Year! 

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Carmie

Hi Kasey, 

 

I’m glad you’ve improved a lot. What wonderful news! In February you said that your symptoms weren’t that debilitating. Are they even better now? How is the tinnitus? You did say though you had that before the meds. 

 

Wishing you all the best with your continued recovery💚

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Kasey
3 hours ago, Carmie said:

Hi Kasey, 

 

I’m glad you’ve improved a lot. What wonderful news! In February you said that your symptoms weren’t that debilitating. Are they even better now? How is the tinnitus? You did say though you had that before the meds. 

 

Wishing you all the best with your continued recovery💚

Thanks Carmie.   My symptoms waxed and waned throughout 2018,  with weakness, insomnia and depression being very prevalent in the spring through the fall.  I'm finally noticing improvements, and having windows, which I'm thankful for.     

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Carmie
13 hours ago, Kasey said:

Thanks Carmie.   My symptoms waxed and waned throughout 2018,  with weakness, insomnia and depression being very prevalent in the spring through the fall.  I'm finally noticing improvements, and having windows, which I'm thankful for.     

 

Hi Kasey, 

 

Yay for Windows! Don’t you love when they come. I’m so glad you’re noticing improvements. Please keep us updated💚

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