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HP2019

HP2019: Lexapro withdrawal symptoms

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HP2019

I was recently directed to this site from someone who has gone through a withdrawal journey. I figured it would be helpful to gain more support and get some feedback on this process

 

In April 2018 I experienced severe panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, and suicidal thoughts. A routine doctors appointment describing my panic attacks and my high heart rate landed me in the ER and an overnight observation. Prior to being discharged I was seen by a psychiatrist who recommended me starting Effexor. Immediately I panicked and discussed it with my mom who is a lexapro user and my husband. My husband isn’t a fan of medications and typically I am not as well but I couldn’t imagine going through my days with the constant thoughts and fears. I decided to give the lexapro a try. It took me 3 months to adjust to being on lexapro, it was a horrible period of thoughts, feelings, and depression but my family and therapist helped me through. 

 

Since January, I’ve been feeling less anxious and more like myself. Less thoughts and feeling as though I could overcome my anxiety and depression with exercise and therapy.  In June I had an appointment with my primary doctor whom took control of my lexapro following my hospitalization. He has always supported me coming off of the drug and trying natural vitamins, exercise, and therapy. In June I went from 10 mg to 5 mg for 4 weeks. Then in July I went from 5mg every other day. August began 0mg. Now throughout the titrating process I felt great, minimal anxiety and intermittent thoughts but I was coping well.

 

As of September 5th, four weeks of no lexapro I began experiencing increased irritability, a massive panic attack, depression, fear. Last week I started having big periods of crying, which I have never experienced. This past week it has gotten worse, whole days of crying spells and severe anxiety with fear of thoughts and dread. My mom is away in Europe for 2 weeks leaving me to care for my dad, I’m off on PTO. I feel so horrible. My husband is between our home and my parents house.  I’m trying to stay busy by exercising and playing video games but the feelings just come back and it’s frightening. Now I’m experiencing increased nausea and difficulty sleeping. I recently stopped therapy two weeks ago, I’ve decided to seek help from a new therapist in two weeks. I have a doctor appointment Thursday in which I’m hoping to get some answers, mainly that this is withdrawal and I will get through it but it is harder than I thought. Any help or advice during this time would be so appreciated 

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Carmie

Hi HP,

 

Welcome to SA. I’m sorry you’re going through withdrawals. You tapered too quickly and your brain is trying to find some homeostasis. It’s recommended not to taper any more than 10% a month. I’m actually tapering around 4% every six weeks to two months at the moment. Jumping from 10mg to 5mg was going down by 50% . That’s way too big a jump. 

 

Also taking medication every second day and going cold turkey destabilises the brain too. 

 

What date in August did you jump off the Lexapro?

 

The only thing that’s helped some people to find a baseline with their symptoms again is to reinstate a small amount. Maybe start as small as 0.5 mgs. I’ll ask the other moderators whether they feel you should reinstate a bit more than that. If you start small you can always up it a bit more if you need to. It is best to reinstate within the first three months, the sooner the better.

 

Reinstatement doesn’t work for everyone, sometimes it makes things worse, but it has helped lots and lots of people. I updosed once when I tapered too quickly and it helped me. 

 

Sometimes when people have cold turkeyed or tapered way too quickly they are still suffering from withdrawals many years later. You are the only one who can decide whether to reinstate though. The only other thing that will stop the severe withdrawals is time, but how long that will take no one knows. 

 

Please be careful with vitamins too as they ramp up your symptoms. The only supplements recommended on this site are fish oil and magnesium. Some people can’t tolerate them either, but they’ve been beneficial for many.

 

Are you on any other medications? What are in your supplements?

 

Please let us know how you’re doing, sending hugs🤗

 

 

Edited by Carmie
Typo

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lexapoison

Please listen to the mods. I took lexapro for 5 weeks, tapered over 4 weeks and now over 2 months later I’m in hell and it’s getting worse. Please take their advice and good luck.

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HP2019

Thanks for all the information! I ceased the lexapro on August 3rd.

 

I’m worried about reinstating and never being able to get off the lexapro. It would be so much easier knowing that if a month from now I’ll be through the withdrawal and not need to reinstate. Or even a small dose of something to get me through the real tough times.

 

the vitamins I’ve been taking since June are: multivitamin, b complex, b12, vitamin D, magnesium, fish oil, and a probiotic.  

 

Today I woke up feeling ok, just scared of when it will hit me again. Such a terrible process

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Carmie

You’re welcome HP,

 

I’m afraid no one can tell any of us how we will be in a month, or even a year or longer. You may stabilise quickly without reinstatement, but you may not. You are the only one that can make the decision to reinstate or not,  but if you do decide to do so the sooner the better as I mentioned, it’s best to do it within the first three months. 

 

The founder of this site, Altostrata cold turkeyed her meds and she went through withdrawals for over eight years, whereas others recover quicker. We’re all different and we all have different experiences. 

 

Withdrawals come in windows and waves. Windows are when they aren’t too bad, and waves are when they ramp up. There’s nothing linear about them. I’ve had non stop waves that have lasted for months, other times I’ve had some reprieve from them for a few weeks. Sometimes you get windows and waves all in the same day. Sometimes the waves are really intense, sometimes they’re bearable. They are all over the place as our brains are trying to find some kind of equilibrium again. 

 

When you mentioned taking a small bit of something when the going get tough, what did you mean? With antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepines it’s important that we take the same amount at the same time every day. If we take them here and there haphazardly they will make our brains even more sensitised, and that will take them even longer to heal.

 

I see you’re taking B vitamins and other multivitamins. B vitamins are actually extremely stimulating for most people when going through withdrawals, so it’s not really a good idea to take them. The only supplements we recommend on here are fish oil and magnesium, which you’re already taking. 

 

I’m really sorry you’re in this predicament. We are all suffering here on this site. I’ve got about ten more years of tapering to go because my brain has been so sensitised by the millions of meds I was put on and off. We can’t change the past though, so we just have to do our best to keep coping. I find having lots of distractions helps me get through the waves. I hope that you have things that can distract you when the waves get bad. 

 

Sending hugs🤗

 

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manymoretodays
3 hours ago, HP2019 said:

Thanks for all the information! I ceased the lexapro on August 3rd.

 

I’m worried about reinstating and never being able to get off the lexapro. It would be so much easier knowing that if a month from now I’ll be through the withdrawal and not need to reinstate. Or even a small dose of something to get me through the real tough times.

 

the vitamins I’ve been taking since June are: multivitamin, b complex, b12, vitamin D, magnesium, fish oil, and a probiotic.  

 

Hi HP2019 and welcome aboard,

Do you have any Lexapro left?  More on reinstatement:

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

Can you take a look at ^ ?

Most information is right there in the first post.  As you've noted that you just started experiencing WD symptoms, you may be a good candidate for reinstatement.

*Also note that we often recommend a first trial of reinstatement at a much lower dose than what many doctors would have you do.

 

 

I agree with Carmie here, best to start at 0.5 to 1.0 mg of the Lexapro.  Then take it at the same time each day, and unless you feel much worse, continue with the same small dose of 0.5 mg for 4 to 7 days.  It may not relieve all of your WD symptoms, yet might take the edge off, or make them more bearable.

 

If you don't have any left to work with, you could ask your doctor for some liquid Lexapro(which the pharmacy would then provide to you).  If you have tablets remaining, you could also make your own liquid Lexapro.  You'll see more on that in the following link.  Again, right in the first post near the bottom:
Tips for tapering off Lexapro(escitalopram)

 

And then ask, right here, on your introduction page, if you have further questions or concerns.

 

I pretty much CTed(cold turkeyed) off escitalopram.......and so wish I had known, or one of the doctors I was seeing, had known, that a small(teeny tiny dose) might have relieved my WD symptoms.  By the time I arrived here at survivingantidepressants.org, I had been off of the Lex/escitalopram for over 6 months and did not opt for reinstatement, that far out.  Plus I was already dependent on 2 more meds., which after time, I tapered off of.

 

You'll be able to get off the Lexapro later, and in a more judicious, and harm reduction way, then you attempted last time. 

 

Welcome again and best,

Love, peace, healing, and growth,

manymoretodays(mmt)

 

 

 

 

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manymoretodays

Hi again HP,

If no Lexapro/escitalopram left, another option would be to reinstate with Celexa(citalopram) considered to be Lexapro's somewhat kinder, gentler cousin.  Again, just starting with perhaps, a 0.5 mg to 1.0 mg dose, and holding at that for 4 days to a week, while keeping notes as to it's effect, along the way.

 

More on getting a small dose from the usual prescriptions here:

Tips for tapering off Celexa(citalopram)

 

And please don't hestitate to ask, if unsure about anything.  We can also get you directed to more information regarding WD and coping as needed.  I just don't want to overwhelm you with information from the get go, and not sure how much you've familiarized yourself with the site to date.

 

I agree with Carmie's cautions around supplements now too. 

BASIC SUPPLEMENT TOOLKIT

King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

 

Also this:

Important topics about symptoms, including sleep problems

many topics indexed in ^, right in the first post there, in our Symptoms and Self care forum

 

And okay, I see you may be seeing your doctor on Thursday, so here is more:

* Information that may be helpful, and the first one, you might share with your doctor:

*Why taper by 10% of my dosage

What is withdrawal syndrome

The windows and waves pattern of stabilization
Delayed onset of WD symptoms

(from the symptoms and self care forum, and tapering forum, if you return to the Home page, you'll see the forums organized there)

 

Best,

mmt

Edited by manymoretodays

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HP2019

I’m worried about reinstating and it being more difficult to come off in a few months. Or making my system even worse. It took me months to adjust to being on lexapro but I just kept thinking it was going to plateau and get better. Once it did and I worked through some things in therapy I realized I did not want to be on the medication and wanted to prepare for trying to get pregnant next year.

 

it seems like my pattern this past week has been real bad one day to manageable the next. Today I just had a cry in the morning but now I’m feeling more myself and not having the dread feelings. I’m wondering if this is a good sign that it may ease up over the next month?

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manymoretodays

Windows and waves it sounds like.

And here's another pearl:  neuroemotions

 

No telling.....as far as if it is going to just ease on up and be over......yet, since you were on the drug for well over a year I believe, it's possible,

that symptoms may continue for some time.

25 minutes ago, HP2019 said:

I’m worried about reinstating and it being more difficult to come off in a few months. Or making my system even worse.

 

I honestly don't think it will be more difficult to come off of citalopram or escitalopram, after you stabilize on a teeny dose.  If it makes your system worse, you would just stop it too, during the reinstatement trial.  It might help.  You'll still, most likely, have time to prepare for conception and pregnancy, just fine I bet.  B) 

 

Please put your withdrawal history in your signature

  This is the information you see at the bottom of someone's post. This will help people understand your situation no matter where you post on the site. You'll see the instructions for doing that, in the link.

 

All for now and keep us updated with your decision.

 

L, P, H, and G,

mmt

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Sassenach

Hi HP

 

Welcome from me too.

 

Carmie and MMT have given great advice and a lot of info.

 

MMT noticed above that you are seeing your doctor soon and possibly a new therapist.

It is difficult for us to say this because everyone trusts their doctors.

However neither they nor psychiatrists know the reality of withdrawal from these drugs.

If they accept you are in withdrawal you may have found a rare breed.

It is more likely you will be told that the the drug is long gone from your system, and your symptoms are a return of your original condition.

If that happens reinstatement of the original dose will also be recommended.

Please do not do this it is unsafe.

If you take the time to explore the site and threads you will find that Carmie and MMT are correct you are definitely experiencing W/D symptoms.

I C/Ted Lexapro and had to reinstate after 3 months.

It worked but the sooner it is done the more likely it is to succeed.

The best of help is available on here.

 

Good luck

 

Sassenach

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lexapoison

Some people can get off ADs fine, for others it can be an absolute nightmare that lasts for a very long time. It’s your decision to reinstate but just know the mods on this site are the best there are when it comes to dealing with this. If you find your symptoms holding steady or getting better then that can be a good sign. But if you start noticing them getting worse to the point it’s unbearable then I think it’s time to start thinking about reinstating, the mods will know best this just my opinion. The problem is reinstatement works best when done ASAP so it becomes tricky waiting to see if you get better because that reinstatement window may close. Like many say on this site coming off slower is actually quicker because when you come off too quick the symptoms can last a very very long time and can be really really harsh. Good luck and I hope you get better very soon!

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HP2019

Hi everyone just an update

 

I went to my primary doctor today with a written list of dates and symptoms I had been experiencing. He told me that it was indeed withdrawal. Was very happy he did not indicate this was anxiety or depression coming back. He said he sees this all the time with antidepressants; I mentioned I should’ve titrated slower and he agreed saying he should’ve had me go a little slower. He also said since my symptoms are easing up that I should be doing well within the next 4 weeks but that I just had to get through this period of time. He also said he wanted to give me a prescription of .50 Ativan in only case of emergency when it becomes unbearable, urging me to try and go without it but at least having the idea of something there in case I cannot handle it will give me some piece of mind. He also wants to see me in 6 weeks to be sure I’m through the withdrawal period.

 

overall good news and happy that my doctor really is the rare breed out there 😊

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manymoretodays

Hi HP,

And thanks for the update on your visit. 

No interest then in trying a low, teeny dose, for reinstatement?

So, you feel your symptoms are easing up without anything........that's great.

Please go careful with that Ativan.  It only takes 2-4 weeks for a dependency to develop with benzo's.

A lot of us just opt for non-drug coping too.  Learning new methods of coping with symptoms of distress, that don't involve drugs.  Some benefit from therapy and such. 

 

You might have some waves and windows past your 6 week follow up appointment.  And then again, you may not.  PAWS- protracted(or post) acute withdrawal syndrome.  Hoping you get clear sailing from here on out.  Excellent, that you are feeling much better since you first posted then.

 

Do let us know how you are doing, from time to time, if you would, please.  Thank you.

 

L, P, H, and G,

mmt

 

 

 

Edited by manymoretodays
PAWS- had left out acute

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Sassenach

Hi Hp

 

Delighted you found a good doctor and one who will work with you.

 

Good luck

 

Sassenach

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jozeff

Hi hp2019!

 

Welcome, very very recognizable story.

 

It's probably not too late for you to reinstate or take some actions. It doesn't always have to be a nightmare when tapering too fast. Unfortunately most of us here are suffering from wd. 

 

When you are on a stable dose it's important to take it very slowly. I jumped up and down with this stuff with no problems but suddenly wd kicked in. I take it very slowly now. 

 

The hard part indeed is not knowing when all this will be over. You have to be strong and keep faith. Also don't try to focus too much on your symptoms. I know how incredibly hard that can be but it's the only thing that really helps when feeling low. Just accept that this is the way you feel now and within a few hours it may all be different.

 

Good luck and we'll keep in touch!

 

Jozeff

 

Jozeff

 

 

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composter

Hi HP that is amazing that you have a primary doctor who acknowledges withdrawal and has seen it before. I do want to underscore what others have said that reinstatement could indeed ease your symptoms and make it better for you overall to resume your life and THEN taper at the 10% recommended here.

 

Just to chime in here with my experience: I tapered too quickly for my nervous system and ended up in severe withdrawal where I couldn't even walk, had inhuman levels of anxiety, and had the most painful headaches of my life (like bombs going off in my head). I was within the proper window and received life saving advice to reinstate. I, too, was hesitant to do that but I'm so glad that I did because most of my symptoms improved after 2 months on the reinstatement. I think I would have been much worse off if I didn't reinstate.

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HP2019

Hi everyone

 

its been about a month since I’ve posted. In that month I’ve experienced some good days with windows and now I’m in the midst of a wave that has lasted about a week. It’s exhausting, just a feeling of dread and fear that I’ll never be the same again. My mind starts to look for things to be anxious about to just distract myself from this feeling. Luckily I’ve only had to take an Ativan once in this past month. But now I’m starting to lose hope that I’m still in withdrawal and possibly need to just be on lexapro again. I keep fighting and saying no I can go without as I do feel it is getting better, but I’m impatient and am ready for normalcy in my life again

 

I’ve started seeing a new therapist, once every other week. I feel she is helpful but then I always have these thoughts that no matter what that won’t even help me through this either

 

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xyz

hi HP,

sorry to hear that you are not feeling good.

i got off lexapro 10mg.

you were not on it very long. you will be okay. ride the wave if you can.

this is not permanent. you will feel good again.

the most important part is to develop coping skills and to realize that the panic is not real.

you will be okay no matter what. you have everything in you to get there.

it is a slow process but maybe the time you need to get stronger.

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