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Staystrong: bad experience tapering off Lexapro


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I started Lexapro when I was 15 for anxiety and panic attacks and it did wonders for me. I have been on lexapro now for 11 years and for 6 of those years been on 20mg. (Thanks to my psychiatrist who would always tell me to keep going up on the dosage whenever I would feel the slightest amount of anxiety).


A few years ago I started working with a naturopathic doctor to help with my anxiety and to plan on weaning off.


June of 2018 I decided I am going to try to taper off VERY slowly. I started just scraping off the edge of my lexapro trying to get 18-19mg. For a month I did this and sometimes would cut off more than others (prob sometimes getting 16-17mg).


For the first few weeks I felt no side effects. I traveled to Canada over the summer and did drink quit a bit as well as missing a dose. When I got back from Canada all of my withdrawal symptoms started. I felt nauseous, had racing thoughts, couldn’t sleep, crying for no reason, anxious, having panic attacks, brain zaps, and foggy thinking. I tried to go through it for a couple days but work was starting (I work in a school) and couldn’t go to work feeling like this so I went back up to my original dose of 20mg.


For the first week of being back up I felt back to my normal self until that weekend when I went out drinking. Now, I have drank on my medication for many years and never had any side effects. But after that weekend I started having the same withdrawal symptoms again for about a week.


I went to my psychiatrist and she told me to take a Xanax (go figure). So I took .12mg of Xanax for a couple days to get through work and all the natural supplements my naturopathic doctor had told me to take. The symptoms have slowly started going away.


I got an MRI and EEG to make sure nothing else was going on in my brain. Those test came back normal.


Though things have slowly gotten better, I haven’t returned to how I was before I started weaning. I now experience some dizziness occasionally, brain zaps, and feelings of anxiety.


I just want to know if anything like this has happened to anyone ? I am not a big medication person and would like to be off medication someday. I have been reading a lot about CBD oil for anxiety and may try that. 


Thank you


Edited by ChessieCat
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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Staystrong: bad experience tapering off Lexapro
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Hi Staystrong and welcome aboard,


I'm sorry you've had to experience some W/D(withdrawal) symptoms.   And glad that you are now getting some relief from them.

Here at survivingantidepressants we generally recommend a taper of 10%, or less, if highly sensitive to changes in dosages.

Why taper by 10% of my dosage*

We advocate for a harm reduction approach to getting off these medications.  The 10% reduction is based on each previous dose, rather than the starting dose.  


When we take medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug. When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  

Also with the changes in medications, up and down.......often havoc results on an already sensitized nervous system.


Dr Glenmullen's withdrawal symptom checklist

You may find many of your symptoms ^ included here



Please put your withdrawal history into a signature

this is really important, as it allows us to see your situation at a glance.  Just follow the instructions in that link.  The signature is the portion that you can see below others posts, unless viewing from a phone device.  You can still, however, do a signature from a phone device.


I'll include our Tips for tapering off Lexapro/escitalopram here as well. 


The only 2 supplements that we can currently recommend having in your toolbox are:

Omega 3, fatty acids( fish oil)

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

It's best to just start one new thing at a time however,  start low, then keep records as to what you are adding or changing.

The Omega's(fish oil) can be helpful for some,  for the brain zaps, and the magnesium is often calming and helps with some of the anxiety/fears.

What are you currently using for supplements?


We also have a whole section devoted to Symptoms and Self Care.  I'll just include one more link to non-drug coping

In the first post there........there is a whole indexed list, with links to lot's of topics and coping skills that you might find of interest and helpful.

We've had fairly mixed reports and reactions, to members experiences with CBD oil.  Here's our topic on that as well:  Cannabis, marijuana, THC, and CBD and Hemp oil


We also have a tapering forum/section on the site.  You can find information there, especially on microtapering, or the brassmonkey slide method of tapering, which may be more gentle on you.  I've given you so many links in this first welcome post, that I will hold on those links for now.

Do feel free to look around, and get familiar with the site now too!.


If I were you I'd be cautious with the Xanax usage as well.  Often, it only takes a week or two of regular usage to  become addicted to the benzo's.  While the A/D's(antidepressants) tend to cause more physiological changes, and dependencies, the benzos may become psychologically addictive as well.

Alcohol can also be a determent to healing, while in W/D, or while in a sensitive nervous system state.  I think that since you've had an 11 year history with your A/D, you might have a sensitive nervous system now.

Would you put your present medications into the drug interaction checker here https://www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.php

Then copy and paste here in your introduction.  You can include alcohol as well, just to see.


Welcome again and great to have you here.

This is your introduction/journal page, you have now introduced yourself to the community.........ask any questions regarding your individual situation here, as well as keep a record about your W/D journey here as well.


Love, peace, healing, and growth,




Edited by manymoretodays

2022 May- continuing with limited activity on site, just something I need to do right now

Started with psycho meds/psychiatric care circa 1988.  In retrospect, and on contemplation, situational overwhelm.

Rounding up to 30 years of medications(30 medication trials, poly-pharmacy maximum was 3 at one time).

5/28/2015-off Adderal salts 2.5mg. (I had been on that since hospital 10/2014)

12/2015---just holding, holding, holding, with trileptal/oxcarb at 75 mg. 1/2 tab at hs.  My last psycho med ever!  Tapered @ 10% every 4 weeks, sometimes 2 weeks to

2016 Dec 16 medication free!!

Longer signature post here, with current supplements.

Herb and alcohol free since 5/15/2016.  And.....I quit smoking 11/2021. Lapsed.  Redo of quit smoking 9/28/2022.  Can you say Hallelujah?(took me long enough)💜

None of my posts are intended as medical advice.  Please discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical provider.  My success story:  Blue skies ahead, clear sailing


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