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Morethanadecade

Morethanadecade: five days into 5 mg taper of Lexapro / Cipralex / escitalopram

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Morethanadecade

Hi everyone,

 

I have been on one antidepressant or another since I was 16; I am 38 now. I have been on Cipralex for at least 13 years. Five days ago, I reduced my Lexapro/Cipralex from 20 to 15 mg (depending which country you are from - shoutout to the Canadians in the forum). My new psych suggested I wouldn’t notice a 5 mg drop, and I didn’t at first, but today I felt low and this evening, I was extremely irritable. A few hours past the time I usual take my dose, I had nervous system hypersensitivity (head zaps, reaction to noises, etc). That’s when I put two-and-two together. Withdrawal.

 

I was never one that could miss a dose without repercussions. Even if I took it late I noticed withdrawal start to set in. After my son was born, they suspected I had serotonin syndrome and I had to drop from 30 mg to 20, with no tapering. I had hot flashes for months and moths, but thankfully no brain zaps.

 

When I was a teenager, I went off Paxil and forgot who I was for almost a day. But I don’t recall any long-term symptoms. Maybe I have forgotten.

 

At this point, I am concerned about the impact tapering may have on my life, especially on my already strained marriage and on my work performance and young son. I want to be healthy and as unencumbered by a drug as possible - I don’t want withdrawal leading my behaviour. So much so, that sometimes I think staying on lexapro forever is a better option.

 

i still wrestle with this, but the main reason I want to go off my meds is that I think the strange side effect feelings i attribute to lexapro is a main instigator for my continued anxiety and panic attacks. I think the cure is worse than the disease, so to speak. 

 

I am also dismayed by the new research that suggests SSRIs change how the brain works. I have been on them for so long... 

 

Thanks for listening. Good luck to you all.

 

 


  • 14 yearsLexapro (max dose 30 mg)
  • July 22 - tapered 5 mg (20 to 15 mg)
  • 1995 - 1997, Paxil; 1997 - 2005, Celexa with intermittent Wellbutrin; 2005 - 2013, Seroquel low dose for sleep. 

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Morethanadecade

Since writing my post I dove into some of the lexapro topics and my anxiety spiked. Feeling a bit panicky (sincerely) about the WD I feel now...


  • 14 yearsLexapro (max dose 30 mg)
  • July 22 - tapered 5 mg (20 to 15 mg)
  • 1995 - 1997, Paxil; 1997 - 2005, Celexa with intermittent Wellbutrin; 2005 - 2013, Seroquel low dose for sleep. 

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ChessieCat

(Your 2nd post has just come through as I completed this post.  I hope the information helps.)

 

Hi Morethan and welcome to SA,

 

I am pleased that you have found SA so soon after you reduced.  Reducing from 20mg to 15mg is a 25% reduction.  SA's recommended tapering protocol is no more than 10% of the current dose followed by a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

You have two options.  Either hold at this dose and wait about 3 months before making another reduction or, what I think is the better option, do an updose from your next dose and take 18mg which is the dose you "should" have reduced to.  It takes about 4 days for a dose change to get to full level in the blood and a bit longer for it to register in the brain, so you may only just be starting to notice symptoms

 

This topic explains how to get the dose you need:  Tips for tapering off Lexapro (escitalopram)

 

You may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms which you haven't connected to reducing your dose too quickly:  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist

 

Regarding the first option of holding on 15mg, you may be able to get away with a 25% reduction (but I would definitely be holding for 3 months) because of the occupancy rate of the drug.  I won't try and explain that here, but this is the topic about it:  Why taper paper: dose-occupancy curves

 

I will provide some additional information in my next post.

 

This is your own introduction topic, which is the place to ask questions about your own situation and journal your progress.

Here's some additional information which might help you to understand what is happening:

 

Recovery isn't linear it happens in a Windows and Waves Pattern

 

Withdrawal Normal Description


When we take a psychiatric drug, we are adding chemical/s to the brain.  The brain then has to change to adapt to getting the chemical/s.  It might have to change something to do with A and then once that change has been made it affects B so another change has to be made and so on down the line.  It is a chain reaction, a domino effect.

 

The same thing happens when we take the drug away.  That's why it's possible to experience such a vast array of withdrawal symptoms, and they can change, and be of different intensity.

 

are-we-there-yet-how-long-is-withdrawal-going-to-take

 

These explain it really well:

 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

On 8/31/2011 at 5:28 AM, Rhiannon said:

When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.

 

AND

 

On 12/4/2015 at 2:41 AM, apace41 said:

Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  

 


Being very patient.  I'll get there - slowly.  ETA mid 2021

ADs:  25 years - 1 unknown, Prozac (caused muscle weakness), Zoloft/sertraline; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after)

Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (mild Serotonin Toxicity)

Began tapering Oct 2015  Current from 17 Oct 2020:  Pristiq 0.56 mg (compounded + liquid)

My tapering program

My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)

My website - includes my brief history + links to videos & information on the web

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

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ChessieCat

Also, when you get a chance, please create your drug signature using the following format.   Keep it simple.  NO diagnoses or symptoms please - thank you.

  • details for last 2 years - dates, ALL drugs, doses
  • summary for older than 2 years - just years and drug/s

Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature


Being very patient.  I'll get there - slowly.  ETA mid 2021

ADs:  25 years - 1 unknown, Prozac (caused muscle weakness), Zoloft/sertraline; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after)

Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (mild Serotonin Toxicity)

Began tapering Oct 2015  Current from 17 Oct 2020:  Pristiq 0.56 mg (compounded + liquid)

My tapering program

My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)

My website - includes my brief history + links to videos & information on the web

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

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ChessieCat
14 minutes ago, ChessieCat said:

I will provide some additional information in my next post.

 

Sorry about the two posts being merged.  The software has just started merging posts which are made very close together.


Being very patient.  I'll get there - slowly.  ETA mid 2021

ADs:  25 years - 1 unknown, Prozac (caused muscle weakness), Zoloft/sertraline; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after)

Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (mild Serotonin Toxicity)

Began tapering Oct 2015  Current from 17 Oct 2020:  Pristiq 0.56 mg (compounded + liquid)

My tapering program

My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)

My website - includes my brief history + links to videos & information on the web

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

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Morethanadecade

I didn’t notice a merge, but thanks! Info is very helpful. Not sure what I am going to do - hold tight or bump back up a bit...


  • 14 yearsLexapro (max dose 30 mg)
  • July 22 - tapered 5 mg (20 to 15 mg)
  • 1995 - 1997, Paxil; 1997 - 2005, Celexa with intermittent Wellbutrin; 2005 - 2013, Seroquel low dose for sleep. 

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ChessieCat

Best thing to do is read the information/links provided so that you understand what is happening and understand the difference in your options.  Keep in mind that you have started getting withdrawal symptoms very soon after the dose change got to full level in the blood and brain zaps (which I've experienced myself) are a fairly "serious" (but not harmful) indication that your brain needs more of the drug.

 

My own experience might help you to understand how these drugs can affect us.

 

I was taking 100mg Pristiq and because it is only available in 50mg and 100mg doses I started taking 50mg.  Over a 2 week period my brain fog got worse and worse and even walking took my full concentration.  It was at this time that I researched and found SA.  They suggested that I increase my dose but I wanted to find out more about what they were suggesting and of course the brain fog made it difficult to take in the information I was reading.  However, a couple of days after joining SA I was unable to type.  I have been a professional typist for 40+ years so I knew something was wrong.  I decided to take extra Pristiq and after only about 4 hours I was able to type again and the brain fog was lifting.  I had a benchmark so I had proof that it was the lack of drug that caused the brain fog and inability to type.  The difference was like night and day.  I also knew that there was no way that this was wishful thinking etc.


Being very patient.  I'll get there - slowly.  ETA mid 2021

ADs:  25 years - 1 unknown, Prozac (caused muscle weakness), Zoloft/sertraline; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after)

Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (mild Serotonin Toxicity)

Began tapering Oct 2015  Current from 17 Oct 2020:  Pristiq 0.56 mg (compounded + liquid)

My tapering program

My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)

My website - includes my brief history + links to videos & information on the web

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

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