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KentuckySlim

KentuckySlim: 5 years on escitalopram / Lexapro

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KentuckySlim


Hi Everyone.

 

A large part of this post is me venting a bit and getting things off my chest. I know many of you may be in a similar boat so I'd like to share with you my own experience, as perhaps relating can help you out as expressing it may help me.

 

I started taking escitalopram/lexapro in Spring 2014 following the end of a relationship I probably should not have been in. I had mixed feelings about the woman from the start, but since I so rarely feel attraction I figured I should give it a shot because I was getting into my late 20s and have not had a serious relationship since high school. I kept seeing her even though my gut kept saying "no", as I thought that something was inherently wrong in me. My gut almost always says "no" whenever I date, even when I have no idea why it's saying no. The therapist I was seeing at the time thought I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder, mentioning that some people do seek medical treatment for it, some stay with CBT, and some prefer both. I talked to the doctor and they were, of course, more than happy to prescribe it.

 

Now this is an important point I need to make: I took this drug under the assumption that I was simply too anxious to fall in love, and that if I was less anxious I would be far more "able" to fall in love with someone. I took it to answer the philisophical question of "am I too anxious to fall in love, or am I just not really into her and that leads me to be anxious because I feel bad for leading her on". I must add that I am also naturally introspective and introverted, two things that have lead me in the past to date little and not have as much experience as I should.

First few months on the drug were actually pretty good! I found a new job, moved to a new city where I had some friends already, and established a healthy social life that fit my personality. I did some online dating, which was successful in the sense of getting dates and establishing more confidence with women, but no relationship.

 

I met my now ex-gf of 2+ years through an in-person social event. We hit it off and started dating. Thing is, I didn't fall in love with her either, but we kept dating because things were pretty good! Common interests, got along well, were really on the same wavelength on most everything. She was my best friend and I shared everything with her, even the parts of me I'm not proud of.

Still, during the whole time we were together, I always felt like something was missing. Like I was 90% of the way there to the kind of partner I wanted to spend my life with, but I just wasn't able to fall in love with her for whatever reason. I played the role of a good boyfriend and hoped that feelings would materialize over time. Some did, like compassion, concern, care, friendship, excitement for her wins, sorrow for her losses, wanting the best for her, not wanting her to be sad. But the romantic feelings didn't show up, though I did care for her greatly (and still do).

 

Eventually we broke up, earlier this year, because she wanted to move in together and I just knew inside that it was not the right decision for me to make. So we broke up.

I cried like hell for a week, even on 10 mg. My emotions were not entirely suppressed during this time, I could still laugh and cry and feel normal anxiety.

 

I have since decided to get off the drug, and since early may this year my taper has looked like the following. Every 8-10 days I would drop down to the next dose.
10 mg -> 7,5mg (no real issues, minor headaches)
7,5 -> 5 mg (had bad effects, went back up to 7.5 to stabilize)
7.5->7.0
7 -> 6.25
6.25 -> 5
5 -> 4
4 -> 3.25
3.25 -> 2.5
2.5 -> 1.875
1.875 -> 1.25
1.25 -> 0.625
0.625 -> 0 (August 5)

 

About 3 months overall. Obviously a fast taper.

 

At each dose change there was a headache from days 3-5, but then that would abate. I felt angry and irritated most of the time.

Since going to 0.625, and then 0, I have felt sadness like I have not known before except in circumstances of extreme loss, such as the death of a loved one. It feels like I am back where I was when I broke up with my gf. I cry over everything. I think of little things we used to do together and it sets me off. I wake up and I cry. My gf has a dog that I absolutely adore and just thinking about her makes me so goddamn sad that all I can do is sit and cry. I feel like all the progress I made in getting my life back together and moving on from the emotional amputation of the breakup has been brought back up with a vengeance.

 

I have read Helen Fisher's articles/book about SSRIs potentially making people unable to fall in love or fall out of love. I find this quite ironic because it was literally the reason why I started taking SSRIs in the first place. Now it turns out they may have been contributing negatively to my own goal of finding a partner to fall in love with and settle down. This part is really messing with my mind, especially today, because it makes me so uncertain as to what is real and what is not, if my gut is believable or if it's just a liar. I feel like I am back where I was in 2014, although this time with a plethora of neuro-emotions messing everything up.

 

I realize now that I am definitely suffering from WD. I am planning to reinstate back to 0.625mg (easiest way to cut the pill). I believe this is an appropriate decision, but I want to check with you fine folk. Is reinstating a good idea? Should I go higher? Not reinstate and wait it out?

 

I am very glad I have found this site, otherwise I think I would be on the verge of a breakdown due to not understanding what's going on in my head.

 

Thank you

 

 

 

 

 

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Gridley

Welcome to SA, KentuckySlim.  I'm sorry you're having these withdrawal symptoms.

 

As you already know, you tapered much faster than our recommendation (10% of current dose every four weeks). 

 

Reinstatement is the only known way to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.  The only alternative is to wait it out.  While some recover fairly quickly, for others it can take months, or longer, to regain homeostasis.

 

Reinstatement isn't a guarantee of diminished symptoms for everyone but it's the best tactic available.  You're still in the time period where reinstatement predictably works, and it is best to reinstate as soon as possible after withdrawal symptoms occur. We usually suggest a very small reinstatement.  Your system has become sensitized and If you take too much it may be too much for your brain and can cause you become unstable.   Then, once you've stabilized on that dosage, which can take several months,  you can begin a 10% per month taper down to zero.   Why taper by 10% of my dosage?
 
Please read:
 
About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms. -- at least the first page of the topic
 

How are you measuring your doses?  The 0.625mg you mentioned sounds reasonable.  If you can measure 0.5mg, that would  be even better.  

 

Keep in mind that it will take about a week for the dose to get to steady state in your bloodstream.  Th effect should get stronger during that time.  If 0.625  (or 0.5 if you can measure it) is enough, it still may take some some weeks or months for your nervous system to settle down.  You'll have ups and down, but symptoms won't be as intense.  Reinstatement doesn't eliminate withdrawal symptoms completely but brings them down to a tolerable level.
 

Please keep notes on paper to track how you're doing and post them here in your Introduction topic each day.

 

So you have a better understanding of what you're experiencing, here is some information on withdrawal.

 

 
 
When we take medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). 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.  
 
These explain it really well:

 

 

   On 8/30/2011 at 2:28 PM,  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.

This is your Introduction topic, where you can post your daily notes, ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

 

 

 
 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Began taper using Brassmonkey slide Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Current from Oct. 21, 2020 at 0.025mg

Taper is 99.875% complete.

 

Lorazepam 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, resumed a few months later. CT 2000.  1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept, 2016 increased to 0.5 X 3 in split dose. Sept. 2019 increased to 0.625 X 3 after crossover to new brand

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 15mg.  Aug 2016, discovered SA, updosed to 25mg and holding.  Taper is 66% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, melatonin .3mg


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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KentuckySlim

Thanks Gridley. I appreciate your response and this forum.

 

0.625 is simply 1/16th of a 10mg pill, which I can make relatively easily with a razor. I could also do 0.5 by smashing up a 5mg pill and carefully dividing it into 10 small piles. I have done this before earlier in the taper, and kept the small piles in a shallow Tupperware container, without moving it around.

 

I realize I do need to taper a lot slower now, but it wasn’t until I was where I am in the past week that I really read through this site. So, here I am. 

 

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