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Violets: escitalopram / Lexapro / Cipralex protracted withdrawal

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Hey @Violets

 

Sorry for the late reply. I’m just finding it really difficult to deal with this.

Its truly awful, 

Thank you, it is nice knowing i have lovely people to talk to. My poor partner has heard it too much already. I’m 33 and was planning on getting married and now I’m dealing with this. 

 

My cognition isn’t great but it’s a lot better that before. I just can’t handle this feeling. I’ve been feeling this popping sound in my head like the pressure is escaping. During the day my brain change from pressure to vibrations and tingling or just emptiness. The only way I know I’m tired is my eyes get heavy and my body feels tired but when I try to sleep it’s like a brick behind my eyes. I don’t know what I’m feeling wheather it be tired or happy or sad relaxed angry.  Are you experiencing this? 

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Violets

@Button

 

I understand you very well, it’s living hell. I have tried to explain my situation to my close friends/family too, but no one gets me ofcourse. So it’s nice to know that there are other people out there who can somewhat relate. Sorry to hear that your wedding plans got interrupted by this, hope your partner is understanding. 

 

How much better is it? Are you able to work (if you do so)? Mine is still awful when it comes to planning and doing complexe tasks, so I can’t study at all. I am only able to do simple manual labor like house chores and some drawing, other than that I’m totally cognitively disabled.

 

I have also had that popping/fizzing sound in my head, but it was in the process of weaning myself off. And I also have tingling in my brain now, it comes and goes during the day.

 

How are your emotions? Are you completely numb all the time? I myself experience total anhedonia and PSSD still, and I don’t even feel hungry or tired. Totally disconnected from my bodily sensations for the most part. By what you’re discribing it sounds like you’re going through something similar.

 

Do you experience total apathy as well? I know I have a lot of stuff to do, but I can’t force myself to do anything. It’s so frustrating and makes me terrified about the future because I’m essentially lobotomized now. It’s truly an awful existence, seems like my emotions aren’t coming back ever again. Hope that there are some improvements on your part at least. 

 

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jakethesnake

Hey violets I’ve been reading through your comments and I feel like I’m in a very similar state to you. I’m so sorry. What has happened to you is tragic. I wish that your reality was one in which your biggest concern was studying for finals instead of facing the crushing reality of emotional anesthesia. I wish that all this bullsh*t had never happened to you. It’s horryfing isn’t it? (Even if you can’t actually feel it). I’m so sorry. I share so many of the fears that you’ve expressed. I’m so afraid that I’m damaged beyond repair. I already had a problem before antidepressants, so how am I expected to cope with this thrown on top. I’d take depressive rumination over emotional anesthesia any day. I don’t know if it’s any consolation, but I wanted to let you know that I can relate to what youre going through and that you’re not alone in your suffering.

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Violets

@jakethesnake 


Hello there, Jake! 
Thank you for sharing your experience. Indeed it sounds like we're in a pretty similar situation, symptom-wise. I'm also sorry about what happened to you, since you're so young. 
And yes, it is horrifying, even tho it's impossible to feel the true horror of the situation. It's hard not to obsess and despair over the circumstances, since it seems pretty damn permanent. I know it can get better, but somehow I feel like this will never resolve. There are too many symptoms that point in the direction of similar stories with people who never recover. But I guess we should stay hopeful, I'd rather get hit with my emotions again and actually care and feel. The only thing we can do while we play the waiting game is to try to keep busy and just exist, even tho I'm not sure how long this can continue, since I'm not a functional individual anymore and things are falling apart in terms of studies, housing, etc. Have you also had to postpone your studies?  

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jakethesnake
On 3/26/2019 at 4:32 AM, Violets said:

Have you also had to postpone your studies?  

I had to initially drop my classes last semester because the withdrawal was so bad. I had pretty bad cognitive side effects in the beginning. I couldn’t read or focus. Akathisia was a constant 24/7. That all went away for me, so hopefully it goes away for you too. I am actually enrolled right now in my classes and I have no problem reading lengthy textbook readings and writing lengthy papers and forming complex arguments, but the realization that my PSSD is only getting worse really hit me hard this past week so I haven’t been to class in a week. Currently I still have A’s in all my classes but ive given up on my studies and am prepared to bomb all my classes by the end of the semester. Probably not the best attitude but I just can’t see myself living a fulfilling life with PSSD and this significant alteration to my personality, let alone care enough to finish college. Right now I’m gonna focus on trying to find meaning in life (just spending time with friends and family) because I’m pretty damn suicidal about this.

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Hey @Violets

 

Its truly awful, 

Thank you, it is nice knowing i have lovely people to talk to. My poor partner has heard it too much already. I’m 33 

This is just unbearable 

My cognition isn’t great I just seem to have memories that have no emotions attachment to them like i used to and I still feel like my head is empty. I just feel pain and pressure and heaviness in my brain and tingling. I was talking on the phone earlier and it’s like I don’t have any thoughts or feelings while speaking. If feels like I don’t know where my words are coming from. But I otherwise feel normal is like I’m trapped in my head and all my life experience are gone. I can’t funtion like this. Do you get the pressure and tingling? 

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Violets

@jakethesnake

I'm glad that your cognition is better, mine is slightly better too, in terms of forming arguments, reading and writing, but since my studies require heavy processing and a lot of brain power and creativity, it is totally impossible for me to follow up, so I had to give up on my classes yesterday. I'm struggling a lot with finding motivation or meaning in doing anything too, it's like I've become totally lobotomized, I struggle even with taking care of myself because everything seems pointless and I lack the chemicals in my brain that trigger any sort of motivation. I have literally NO emotions and it makes me pretty suicidal too, knowing that they might not return ever again. You say that you have some emotions left, even though they're blunted and I think it's a promising sign, you just have to wait it out, I guess. And yes, my PSSD drives me crazy too, so I totally get how horrible it is for you, I'm sorry you have to go through this. But it's probably wise to try to keep yourself occupied by spending time with family and friends. Somehow it triggers me even more to be around people, because I then truly experience the total lack of feelings and emotions and it makes me extremely miserable because I just can't connect to the reality and others anymore. The worst part is not being able to feel love for my family. They are supportive and say it will pass, and I really wish they were right, but I've had no improvements so far and since I stopped my medication pretty abruptly, I think the chances are slim to start feeling again. Even tho I still have some hope deep inside, I just don't want to accept this new reality, so I'm really trying to hang in there, but it's very hard.

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Violets

@Button

I totally get what you mean. I too have memories coming up, but no emotions, apart from some blunted sadness over the lost ability to feel. I have more ruminations and thoughts these days, it seems, but they all revolve around my miserable situation, for the most part. I too feel blank when talking on the phone and I can't make any decisions or tell others what I want because of the emotional nothingness. I don't have head pressure, but I get tingling in the left part of my brain when I'm supposed to have a feeling. My fried brain lacks this ability and it makes me angry that I can't force myself to either, it really sucks. I'm getting more and more depressed about this, I'd rather have my darkest depression back full force with all the feelings attached than this. But I guess we just have to hang in there and cling to the bits of hope we still have, I'm trying to do so at least for the sake of my family. 

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@Violets

 

so sorry Violets  I think some of my last msg attached to the new one. I will respond to you properly soon 😊

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dcrmt
On 3/19/2019 at 4:46 PM, Violets said:

 All the symptoms I have now are pretty much stable and nothing changes from day to day, no variatons in mood or physical symptoms, so it seems pretty permanent to me, it has lasted for 5-6 weeks already, and it indicates that the probability is very high that I am one of those cases where people are stuck in this forever.

  

 I don’t think reinstatement will help to get my libido or emotions back, since I never had it on the drug either. If anything, I felt even more zombified on it. The only thing that was better was my cognition, but that’s about it.




I was badly affected by this same drug (but wasn't aware of the extent while I was on it) and I've recovered cognitively after being on it for the better part of 6 years - on high doses too. 

It sounds like you were very sensitive to the drug, but most of what you describe of the drugs effects are what it does to most people to some extent, just much worse. You were on it for long enough to have 'adjusted' to it so I wouldn't even think about considering any effects permanent until you're at least year out with no change.

As far as I know it's not genes themselves that are altered but expression of genes and things like the numbers of serotonin receptors in the synapses (and not doubt a lot of other things). Thing is even something like Caffeine results in you ending up with more adenosine receptors in the brain, it alters gene expression (just google it) but when you stop taking it the brain eventually returns to equilibrium.

Obviously SSRI's cause a lot of very bad and potentially quite long lasting changes in the brain and it takes a long time to return to equilibrium, and recovering might even involve a sort of 'false equilibrium' that then ends when some other system affected by the drugs adjusts to the drug being gone months later.
I felt "okay" and stable - after initially ceasing SSRI's the various times I'd tried to quit including the final one, after the brain zaps ended I thought that was it, but it wasn't - I didn't get hit by the full extent of withdrawal until about 5 months off and I wasn't truly on the mend until about 9 months after the last pill. 

Definitely don't reinstate though, you were on for a relatively short period on a low dose, you'd quickly end up spending several times as much time taking the drug "trying to get off it safely" than the amount of time you were on it in the first place.

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Violets

@dcrmt 

I'm glad that you recovered your cognition. For me it seems like it goes hand in hand with the lack of emotions, so the one thing is not going to improve without the other. And yeah, everyone's physiology is different, so everyone reacts differently in terms of changes in the brain. I was extremely unlucky and am now stuck in the worst state possible, which seems to get worse day by day. I don't really believe in "recovery" in terms of the brain healing itself. I guess I have to try supplements and potentially other medications in order to get some improvements with the HORRIBLE anhedonia. No way is it something that will go away by itself, it seems. I can't even feel my body in terms of many sensations like cold and hunger, so it's VERY bad. 

Did you have your full emotional range while on Lexapro? And what symptoms were you hit with after 5 months? I remember stumbling upon your story, but I don't quite remember, sorry. 

And yeah, there is no point in reinstating, pretty sure it won't fix the damage in any way, probably only make it worse. 

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dcrmt
16 hours ago, Violets said:

Did you have your full emotional range while on Lexapro?


No, absolutely not. I didn't have a full emotional range on zoloft or any other SSRI/SNRI either.


One psychiatrist I had some dealings with who's critical of SSRI's and the way they're prescribed described them as not so much antidepressants but "emotional tranquilizers", and that if anything making people emotionally numb is the only way in which they actually 'work'.

I agree you've been hit badly, but I wanted to point out that what you've reported sound like really bad versions of the 'normal' side effects of the drug, as opposed to a couple of the very bad 'adverse reaction' stories I dimly recall from a previous website that involved things like splitting headaches and neurological symptoms after taking a single pill or a very short period on the drug. 

 

16 hours ago, Violets said:

And what symptoms were you hit with after 5 months


The main things I remember off the top of my head were insanely intense mood swings usually going up and down over the course of a day between being almost manic and completely despondent, weird stuff with memory which would come and go (particularly difficulties remembering the period when I was on lexapro) that coincided with panic attacks and abdominal pain, and a couple of distinct 'events' that lasted maybe half an hour each time which I guess were denationalization/derealization where I couldn't really remember who I was, felt completely detached and just had this really distinct weird mental state that's difficult to describe. 

It does seem to often be the case that after discontinuing these drugs and in particular after doing it rapidly there's initial withdrawal like brain zaps which goes away and then for a period of months the person feels 'okay' or at least seems stable, then after 5 or 6 months give or take they start getting hit by a whole new set of withdrawal symptoms which eventually tail off. Everyone is different but I don't think you should regard your current state as permanent so early.

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Jordgoode21

Hiya I can truly relate to this 

 

I got put on Celexa (citalopram) 18 days in all hell broke loose my cns and went crazy I started to get internal vibrations that go on 24/7, feels like my brain is moving about makes noises some times, horrific dreams, increased anxiety almost mania, pains all over my body, skin not feeling real and my hair has got so much thinner feels like I’m aging real quick, tinitus, bowel problems, don’t feel hungry and get dry mouth real easy

 

they took me off that and put me on Prozac which made it worse I was on that for 4 days

 

the symtpoms have persisted so much it’s been 4 weeks since I’ve come off everything

 

the past month and a half has flown by, I can barely remember anything and just generally don’t feel normal or feel like I will return to normality it’s hell

 

ive even lost my job because of what damage theses ssri’s have done to me and I’m just praying that it will get better one day

 

hang in there though there’s plenty of people saying it gets better all we can do is hope

 

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Monty95
On 3/12/2019 at 9:56 PM, Violets said:

@Monty95

 

It just seems neverending, this nothingness. I know it takes time, but I don’t have that time, nor patience. I was suffering a lot with my depression, but this is even worse, now that I know that I have been chemically damaged and it might never imrpove. I am very gloomy, but this uncertainty and torture is too much to deal with. I can’t be functional and I can’t connect with other humans and it’s much worse than being «just» depressed. I’d rather take that pain over this. 

 

I too have had days in the past when I didn’t feel tired or hungry, in fact I really struggle with it right now, I don’t feel thirsty or hungry often. These pills have ruined every system in my body, it’s bizzare and I still can’t believe it. It makes it even harder to be hopeful and I’m really struggling with accepting it. 

 

Sorry for not being supportive, I’m just having a really bad day today. 

 

 

 

 

Hey Violets,

 

I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, I did attempt it but was hoping to have better news to encourage you with. Please don’t ever feel the need to apologise for being upset , I think it’s just human to want to vent to somebody who understands or has experienced something similar. I feel the same way about the endless waiting, as though I’m stuck inside my own dead body waiting for a chance to live again while others around me carry on with their lives, blocked by an insurmountable disconnect between the two realities. It feels as though I’m floating through time and space without a sense of self or narrator to embed, contextualise or remember the disconnected series of events I’m witnessing but can’t participate in. Time itself seems to have lost a lot of meaning, strangely I can almost relate and feel more connected to old memories than the present moment. Sorry, I know all of this sounds really dark and depressing. I heard someone compare the depersonalisation to an lsd trip and just floating/accepting and working with it until it passes, knowing it will eventually come to an end. Trying to see it as a temporary state where the old you and the ‘new you’ have to work together to get through it. I’m a pretty impatient person though and it’s been 3 months! Anyway I was thinking about you and hoping you’re feeling a bit better, it honestly sucks so much that anyone should have to go through this, it all seems so unecessary and unbelievable. I’m barely coping and I currently have no responsibilities or stressors in terms of housing etc. so can’t imagine how you’re handling them on top of everything else. I have had several windows of a few hours where the derealisation and depersonalisation improved and I felt close to 100% myself again, it’s always so disappointing to wake the next day in the dream again. My appetite and sleep have improved and are back to normal, which I think is unusual, but I’ve always slept far too much if anything so at least that worked in my favour in this situation! Anhedonia might have improved about 5%, I can tolerate things I used to enjoy, if not enjoy them or engage in the way I used to but i’m not completely dissociated in the way I was. I now understand what you meant about apathy though, I can stare into space without noticing passing time, at the back of my mind I am aware things need to be done but cannot force myself to care at all. The cognitive decline is probably worse if anything, I remember obsessively researching about what may have caused this a few months ago, now i’m basically incapable of grasping or processing complex information, in addition to short term and working memory issues, interest, planning, spontaneity, creativity etc. I feel as though I had instant access to a whole host of data, opinions, interpretations, likes/dislikes which could be manipulated to interpret and navigate my environment, now there’s just a blank. This experience has illustrated just how complex and poorly understood the human brain is & I really can’t believe the arrogance and hubris of people seeking to chemically alter such a delicate mechanism. I will definitely never take normalcy for granted again, provided I get to experience it at some point. I don’t know whether you’re able to relate to any of this and if you’ve made progress with any of your own symptoms or at least are managing to cope with them any better, I really hope so as I know how distressing this can be! It’s just occurred to me I should probably have saved most of this for my own thread, I didn’t mean to obsess over my own symptoms so much on your page. Hopefully you’ve stopped updating because you’re too busy with life and feeling much better.

 

Best, Michelle.

 

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Violets

@Monty95

Thanks for stopping by, Michelle!

Unfortunately there has been no improvements for me, that's why I don't see any point in updating. Full-blown anhedonia, no feelings/emotions, no feeling of hunger or tiredness, so complete PSSD in other words. No windows, no fluctuations, nothing. Almost no one has recovered from my state naturally, so there's that.
I guess our cases are different. Sounds like your experience is more DP/DR. I'm sorry to hear that you're going through that, but having windows sounds promising at least! And yes, messing with the human brain like that is completely unacceptable. I guess I fell for all the "success" AD-stories out there and now I've basically totally ruined my life. Sorry for being a downer, haha. At least it sounds like you've had some improvements in your case, I really hope they continue for you. :)

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Monty95

@Violets

Jesus. What even is this life? I just want to reach out and give you a huge hug through the computer and for you to know this will be okay at some point. Honestly just from the way you write you seem like such a lovely, cool person with a lot to offer and with a lot of life left to enjoy ahead of you. I think I was guilty of thinking its current year etc. so everything is basically fine and in the west there are institutions that safeguard public health & rigorous scientific standards in place to protect patients/consumers and now I'm paying the price for that complacency. This does blow my mind though and I struggle to accept it every day now. I in no way meant to suggest YOU were guilty of hubris in taking the AD, this is a case of an extremely subtle and successful exercise in marketing that crosses into a social/political and medical narrative that's indoctrinated into the public consciousness and yet is totally lacking in foundation. Doctors should be ashamed for swallowing this cr** so uncritically and pushing this on patients as a matter of course when just scratching the surface of the claims made reveals how disingenuous the whole enterprise is. Also, I just wanted to stress I did have COMPLETE anhedonia, with no pleasurable response to any stimulus, just absolute numb detachment & I've seen a very minor improvement in this. My emotions are very blunted and faint but occasionally I'll feel something, so I don't think its hopeless. I had strong emotional blunting when I started taking effexor, to the point where I couldn't cry or feel any anxiety - I actually understood this to be the intention of the 'medication', however by the end of the first year of taking it the effect had worn off and I had an emotional range that was basically normal, I could certainly feel happiness, anxiety, attraction, sadness etc. There does seem to be a link between anhedonia/emotional blunting and PSSD, however I'm not convinced that they're inextricably linked because I had extreme emotional blunting on effexor and no sexual dysfunction/numbing and had some genital anaesthesia when I started paroxetine with no emotional blunting or anhedonia that resolved when I stopped taking it. I don't think its black and white and I don't think its necessarily permanent because it gradually lifted for me in the past. I am really worried about the cognitive dysfunction though, I've never experienced anything like it in my life and can't find much in the way of recovery stories so it does terrify me, I'm not sure whether your experience is at all similar, or if you've seen improvements with this? Honestly I think you're stronger than you know and you will get through this and look back on this time in the future & it will just be one crazy chapter of your life and a bad dream. You're going to be okay in the end, it gets better!

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Violets

@monty95 
Thank you for being so kind. Well, maybe I was a cool person with a lot to offer at some point but it was before my illness and whole this AD-mess. The issue is that cases like ours are relatively "rare", but the fact that they happen at all should be evidence enough to not prescribe this life-ruining poison to anyone. But it's all about the money, of course. I got this blunting after I started escitalopram, a few weeks in, but I still had bouts of depression. After I stopped, I went completely numb with no anxiety or any kind of emotional response. Regarding the cognitive disfunction, it was very bad the first two weeks, but I guess it has gotten slightly better with time, I think it will resolve for you as well. I really hope this will resolve, but the only thing we have is hope and the time runs out.. 

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Monty95

This makes me so sad. I'm just oscillating between hope and complete despair also, months on end with no clear end in sight is a kind of torture. I desperately want to live, but not like this, its unbearable. If this suffering was due to a accident or naturally occurring illness it would be one thing but the fact these pills were offered under the guise of help is just so ironic and tragic and makes it so difficult to accept. I should try to be more positive but I'm struggling so much with this right now. Just know that you're still the same person you always were inside, you're loved and valued and you have it within you to come through this and thrive. I'm just so angry that this happens to people though, no matter how rare it is, its a kind of injustice and loss too great to contemplate.

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Violets

I’m sorry you’re suffering too, I fully understand your struggle. How long have you been off everything now? I also want to live, but not in this state. I really hope you somehow stabilize soon. It might take you a couple of years to do so, but the fact that your symptoms are fluctuating might actually be a good sign, as it means that your brain is doing «something» to try and repair itself. :) 

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KMart95

You are so early on in your withdrawal. I am early too, and i'll admit that i've bee  negative a lot.. but you SHOULD fall for those sucess stories because they happen all the time. You are young. Your brain will recover. I have never heard of one single person going their whole life with antidepressant withdrawal. Everyone recovers. Some at a very slow gradual rate, but you are not permanently damaged and I hope you can try to keep that in mind. 

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Monty95
13 hours ago, Violets said:

I’m sorry you’re suffering too, I fully understand your struggle. How long have you been off everything now? I also want to live, but not in this state. I really hope you somehow stabilize soon. It might take you a couple of years to do so, but the fact that your symptoms are fluctuating might actually be a good sign, as it means that your brain is doing «something» to try and repair itself. :) 

 

I’m actually still taking 2 mg Effexor, as I had to reinstate in February, which is kind of ironic, as I hated the idea of being dependent on a drug and worrying about accidentally running out etc. and was one of the reasons I decided to stop taking it. I didn’t even manage to achieve that! & now I have to open capsules and sort through beads to find similar sizes, while cognitively impaired, can’t drive/work/organise a dr’s appt., I’m completely dependent on my family, so that worked out well! I think I may have kindled myself with dose changes also as I now have nausea, heart palpitations, akathisia, tremor, muscle pains all going on, living the dream. Choosing not to reinstate in your case might have been the lower risk option, I suppose nothing is certain in this though. I try to look on any change as a good sign but it’s frustratingly slow and my cognition and vision problems seem not to change at all which leads me to believe they’ll be here for quite some time at least. I have heard of cases where people woke up one day with their symptoms gone out of the blue though, so I think it just depends. I think it’s encouraging you’ve seen positive changes in your cognitive skills, we seem to have the opposite attitude, as I think it seems plausible to reverse the anhedonia and emotional numbing but find it hard to believe my cognition will ever return to what it was. When/if we get through this (& I believe you will) we’ll definitely have a 100 fold appreciation for life and not take anything for granted in the way I’ve been guilty of in the past. I hope you’re able to hang in there for the moment, enjoy the small things as much as you can and appreciate time with your loved ones/family until this sh** passes (It will pass!)

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Button

Hi Violets, 

 

i just wanted to check in and see how you are doing? 

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Violets

@button 

Hey!

I'm still the same, no changes, if anything things are getting worse. What about you? 

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My entire brain feel empty some time some things switch on but I feel it’s worst now too. I have buzzing on my organs and I can’t feel my throat. I’m devastated if I could feel it. I’m sorry your not feeling better

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