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MikeyB: Getting through withdrawal related depression and anxiety

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Hey all, 


Looking for some advice and encouragement :(.


Just to give you some dates and background.


October-November 2016 - suffered sudden hearing loss that was treated with high doses of prednisone.  Caused me to have severe anxiety and panic attacks, which I'd never had before.  

November 2016 - Went to a psychiatrist on encouragement of my doctor since I was having so many side effects from the treatment from my hearing loss.  Psych told me to take 50mg Zoloft for 3-6 months.  Upon starting Zoloft, I started feeling really depressed, jittery, anxious, fatigued, etc.  Felt really terrible.  

January 2017 - Evened out on Zoloft and started feeling pretty good again.

June 2017 - Was told my treatment was over and was told to just stop taking Zoloft.  I was told just to quit cold turkey.

June-August 2017 - Became very depressed (but was still functional), sensitive, crying spells, obsessive thinking etc.  Things I never had before.  Didn't know that I was possibly experiencing withdrawal and that I hadn't tapered.

September 2017 - Doctor recommended I take 10mg Lexapro.  On day 1 of 5mg, all my depressive symptoms went away, but the drug made me feel very anxious.  Never went up to 10mg.  Stayed on 5 mg for 2 months and then took 2.5 mg for 3 weeks and then got off.

November 2017 - Stopped taking Lexapro entirely. 


Since then it's been a rough journey.  Sometimes feel very depressed, sometimes very anxious, and sometimes fine.  It makes me very angry because I didn't experience depression at all before I started taking the first anti-depressant.  I'm doing what I think I should be doing to manage and let things take their course.  I exercise, see friends, am working, etc.  But there are some days it's just really tough.  


I don't want to go back on another drug because I'm 100% convinced that these drugs are the cause of these issues to begin with and I don't want to be on this crazy train for years and years.  


I know I took substantially lower doses of these drugs than other folks, but I'm generally extremely sensitive to all forms of medication.  Is there anything anyone can recommend to help me get through this, so that I can help with my recovery?


Is there anything else to do besides "just dealing with it?"  Any supplements, herbal remedies, exercises, relaxation techniques anyone can recommend?


I'm currently taking vitamin d, magnesium, and tumeric.  Doing running, yoga, weighlifting, swimming.  And trying to take it easy.


Any love, support, and advice would be very much appreciated.


All the best,





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Welcome, MikeyB.


Yes, you had withdrawal syndrome from Zoloft and taking another SSRI, Lexapro, made the withdrawal symptoms go away. However, 5mg Lexapro was too strong for you -- milligram for milligram, it's several times stronger than other SSRIs.


You might find relief from the withdrawal symptoms without the side effects by taking perhaps 1mg Lexapro. You'd stay on that for a while, then taper off later. Read


What is withdrawal syndrome?
About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms


Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)


Otherwise, many people do better with fish oil and magnesium supplements, see




A lot of people find them helpful. Try a little bit of one at a time to see how it affects you.


You have to decide if your withdrawal syndrome is severe enough to take a little Lexapro, If you do not want to try reinstatement, you'll have to manage your symptoms, see


Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms




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Hey Altostrata,


I really appreciate your message!  So one of the things that has been extremely frustrating for me is that I've been in touch now with 3 psychiatrists this past year and everyone says the following:


The dose I was on Zoloft was so small (50mg) that it shouldn't have caused any withdrawal symptoms. When I first started having issues after getting off the Zoloft, my psych said to me, "I guess it's the original symptoms coming back."  When I told him that I never had any of these issues (depression, severe anxiety, being highly emotional, crying spells) before taking Zoloft, he said, "Well I guess you have a chemical imbalance and you need something now." 


I believed him and that's why I started taking the Lexapro.  When I started on the Lexapro of 5mg and I told my doctor that I felt instantly better within one day, he told me that it was entirely just a placebo and that there was no chance that the drug actually had any effect in that short amount of time.  


That was when I got curious and started to really question whether my psychiatrist knew anything at all (and wondering why I was paying him).  The 5mg of Lexapro cured any depression-related symptoms, but I did get one really bad side effect.  It caused me to feel hyper anxious and jittery.  It was very uncomfortable, which was why I was so desperate to taper off of it after 2 months.


When I went down to 2.5mg, I felt better than I had on the 5mg, but I was still suffering from anxiety and jitteriness that was directly caused by the drug.  It was like one day on 5mg I felt Jittery Level 8 and on 2.5 mg I felt Jittery level 4.  Still uncomfortable, but easier to deal with.


At this point, I consulted with my psychiatrist and a different psychiatrist that my friend recommended.  Both of them agreed that the Lexapro was a bad pill for me.  But they both said that being 2.5mg was so small that I was taking the equivalent of "a sugar pill with side effects."  They both told me just to stop cold turkey and see how I do.  


Now, about your suggestion of possibly taking 1mg of Lexapro, the thing is I don't know exactly how to do that.  I live overseas and Lexapro only comes in 5 and 10mg tablets.  I was already using a pill cutter to cut it into 2.5mg.  Every time I tried to cut it lower than that, it just get terribly inaccurate.  There is no liquid version of the stuff over here either.


Due to how bad I felt on the Lexapro, I felt that stopping altogether was all I could do (as these psychiatrists recommended) and just suffer through the consequences with the hopes that my brain and body will go back to equilibrium.


I don't mean to come off as ungrateful since I know there are so many people on this forum that obviously started taking anti-depressants due to experiencing severe depression.  But it just makes me really upset because I never had this before.  I only started feeling depressed when I started taking Zoloft.  I was never warned about any of the potential side effects or of any withdrawal related symptoms.  When I started experiencing them, my doctor poo pooed it and said "You'll be fine soon." And I was and then I was addicted.


Altostrata, if you have any tips on how I could theoretically do the 1mg thing based on the current conditions, I'd appreciate it.  Otherwise, based on what I've written above, can you guess how long it'll take me to really even out?

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Very few doctors, even psychiatrists, know anything about tapering or withdrawal syndrome or even adverse effects of psychiatric drugs.


Going on and off drugs and experiencing adverse effects sensitizes your nervous system to the effects of the drugs. We have many people here who have reinstated tiny doses and found relief.


If you read Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram) you will see instructions for how to make a liquid from it to take a small dose.


Please read the links we give you, they explain what we're suggesting to you.

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Thank you so much for this information, but I have a few follow up questions that I couldn't seem to understand from the links.


1. Amount of water to mix it with - In the video example, it took a 50mg pill and combined it with 50ml of water, basically 1mg per 1ml.    Does that mean that if I have a 10mg tablet of Lexapro and I want to do this that I should combine it with a 10ml of water and that's all, so that it's 1 for 1?  Effectively if I want to take 1 mg of Lexapro, I would just take 1ml of this dose per day?


2. How long should I do this taper for?  A couple of weeks or a couple of months?  I currently nineteen 10mg pills of Lexapro left, which means if I did 1 per day, I could make that last for 190 days (not that I want to do this for that long).  


Thank you again for the info. If I do this 1mg thing, I'd like to do it right (of course), so if you could let me know about how best to mix it with water that would be great.


I'm also going to try upping the amount of magnesium and omega3 I take.


Looking forward to hearing from you.

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On 1/11/2018 at 11:05 PM, MikeyB said:

Amount of water to mix it with - In the video example, it took a 50mg pill and combined it with 50ml of water, basically 1mg per 1ml.    Does that mean that if I have a 10mg tablet of Lexapro and I want to do this that I should combine it with a 10ml of water and that's all, so that it's 1 for 1?  Effectively if I want to take 1 mg of Lexapro, I would just take 1ml of this dose per day?


A 1:1 dilution would be easiest to calculate, but you can mix the pill in any amount of water, just keep notes about your formula so you can figure out how to take 1mg Lexapro. For example, you could mix a 10mg tablet with 100mL and get 1mg in 10mL. That amount of water might work better to dissolve the tablet and be measurable in an oral syringe.


Please read Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram) for rate of taper. We recommend 10% per month, calculated on the last dosage, the amount of decrease keeps getting smaller.


However, tapering would be at least a couple of months after reinstatement. You need to let your nervous system settle down.

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