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RuuRee

My experience with Lexapro withdrawal

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RuuRee

Hi All,

 

I recently stumbled upon this site in hope that it would shed some light on my withdrawal experience. To start, I will give a background on my medication history. I started Lexapro in 2013 and went from 10 mgs to 20mgs. Xanax as needed for panic attacks (which would happen once in a blue moon).

This year I dealt with a lot of stress from work and I started having frequent panic attacks and headaches in July/August of 2019. Then in August, I went to the ER for the headaches and enlarged pupil (to rule out stroke, etc. - I have a history of DVT blood clot). 

Went to my PCP a week later, told him I was worried the Lexapro was giving me the headaches and that I wanted to try something different to help with the anxiety. Knew nothing about weaning off ADs - went down to 10mgs of the Lexapro in a week and then to 0 as per the DR, while adding 150mgs of Welbutrin. 

I had withdrawal symptoms for about 2-3 weeks, and the Welbutrin was not helping after about a month so I stopped taking it. From there, I could feel my anxiety and some depression creeping back in, but the headaches were gone. 

I was starting a new project with work in October which is where things dramatically went downhill with my anxiety. I would come home and be so paralyzed with anxiety that I could barely get off the couch. I could barely eat or carry out my daily functions, let alone leave the house.

The worst of the symptoms was the morning anxiety. I would wake up feeling very overwhelmed, fidgety, and start immediately feeling nauseous. I’d also feel terrified/fearful for most of the day.

The only thing that helps with any of the symptoms is Xanax - I’ll take anywhere from .25mgs to .5mgs, once, usually in the morning/early afternoon.

I am also a Type 1 Diabetic and I’m lucky my blood sugars have been okay, but I should be eating more. I’ve lost almost 15 lbs since October. 

PCP put me on Prozac 6 weeks ago and I was just upped to 40mgs by my Psychiatrist last week. Symptoms have been better - appetite and nausea has been better, but I still am not eating as I should be. Still feeling very fearful for the most part and I’m really scared it’s going to interfere with my job, especially since it gives me most of my anxiety.

Started taking 200mgs of Magnesium 2 weeks ago, especially since being in ketosis really depletes your body of it...not sure if it is that or the Prozac but sleep has been better.

I’m worried that I’m going to have to depend on the Xanax to get me through most days until I stabilize on the Prozac. I’d like to be able to start yoga/meditation/exercising but I have little motivation to do anything.

My family and the friends that I do have have been very supportive, which has been really helpful and reassuring. I also see a therapist who has been trying to give me techniques to help reduce my anxiety. 

As far as my Psychiatrist, he believes that what I am feeling right now is a return of anxiety and not from withdrawal, which I do not agree with after reading numerous posts on this website. I think most of this is debilitating withdrawal and a small percentage is a return of anxiety. 

At this point I am looking for any suggestions or support from those who have and are going through similar experiences. It is not easy finding people who are, and talking to those who have never gone through this just don’t understand what it’s like so it’s hard to relate. I’d like to think there is light at the end of the tunnel for me, but it feels like I will never reach that point. And one day I’d like to be off of ADs for good, but right now that doesn’t feel like an option for me...😢

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Gridley

Welcome to SA, RuuRee.  I'm sorry you're having these difficult symptoms.

 

The symptoms you're experiencing are withdrawal from a too-fast taper of Lexapro and Wellbutrin.  Anxiety is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms.  Early morning anxiety, caused by cortisol spikes, is also typical in withdrawal, as is lack of motivation and lack of appetite. Psychiatrists don't believe in protracted withdrawal and typically will say that the symptoms are the "return of the underlying condition."

 

 
 
Here are some techniques that might be helpful in dealing with anxiety.
 
 
We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are the magnesium you're already taking and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. You might consider adding an omega.

 

 

Please start at a low dose in case you do experience problems.
 
This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.
 

 

 

 

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RuuRee

I was thinking about reinstating the Lexapro, but it's been almost 3 months since I've been off it and I'm not sure if reinstating will work - plus I am on Prozac 40mg now so I'm not even sure if adding the old med on top of the Prozac is a good idea, and I don't want to wean off at this point either.

 

Update on symptoms:

  • I don't feel as paralyzed, and the morning anxiety improved, but I still have anxiety for most of the day. The only thing that really helps is Xanax. I really don't want to become dependent on Xanax, but I do take it when necessary in small doses, usually once for the day. I feel like I may have to start taking it more often, especially to help me get through work
  • My appetite has improved, but I'm still having a hard time eating shortly after I wake up. 
  • Decision making is DIFFICULT - doesn't matter what it is...taking a shower, laundry, making food, etc. I have no motivation whatsoever. I feel like I am forcing myself to get even the simplest things done.
  • I've been having ALOT of social anxiety which is generally not like me (although I was experiencing some of this before I started meds due to the anxiety) and I'm not sure if that is just return of symptoms pre-meds

At this point I am looking for support and kind words as I am feeling both helpless and hopeless. I just want to stop feeling so terrified all the time and I want to be happy and live my best life. And I know feeling better is not going to happen overnight, but I hoping that I can make small improvements and add fulfillment to my life in time. I would never wish this experience on anyone. 

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Gridley
16 hours ago, RuuRee said:

was thinking about reinstating the Lexapro, but it's been almost 3 months since I've been off it and I'm not sure if reinstating will work - plus I am on Prozac 40mg now so I'm not even sure if adding the old med on top of the Prozac is a good idea, and I don't want to wean off at this point either.

 

I wouldn't recommend reinstating Lexapro on top of the Prozac.  

 

You will heal.  It's just going to take time.

 

One thing that's helpful to many members is commenting on other members' threads, with just a kind word of encouragement and empathy.  That way you get to know other members, who can be a big help in supporting you in this process.

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sunnysideup69

Hi Ruuree,

Hang in there, listen to the mods advice, they are a knowledgeable crew. Lots of us are going thru similar, you will improve but it can be slow, so please don't feel discouraged, it WILL happen. It's good to take a look at others on your drug via the search function although, to be honest, I worked out that whatever the anti dep, the WD symptoms are very similar.

Sending you a wave from London.

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Heath

Hello Ruuree

stay the course patience is key! Let your body stabilize on one med one dose. I’ve just found this site also and as you years ago I tried to stop without much knowledge of withdrawals thinking I would just have to stay on them. We are so fortunate to have these folks to help guide us. 95% drs know nothing of withdrawals. They will just change meds, dose or add drugs. This will totally confuse the situation and not help. Over the years I learned the hard way about patience and letting system stabilize. Decision making problems is part of anxiety which is from withdrawals. I know this myself. We cannot make sudden changes that is not in our vocabulary with these drugs.   Stay the corse with same dose Prozac and let it stabilize this may take many months. That is step 1. Depending on how long I’ve let the withdrawals symptoms last determines how long till I stabilize. 

Example if I change dose too fast and have symptoms for a week then get back to previous dose I can stabilize in about a month. But if I change dose too fast and let symptoms roll on for a month and then go to dr and listen to him and change drug or dose it may take me 5 months to stabilize. Listen to these mods on here they definitely know what they are talking about. Hang in there peace will come!!!

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Onmyway

Welcome RR,

Glad you found your way here! I'd follow Gridley's recommendation and suggest that you don't add the Lexapro. I'd also be careful with Xanax though I do understand the necessity. I did the same thing when I was coming off for a month. I wonder if you can try substituting the magnesium for Xanax every time and see how that goes. Although if you have been taking them for 3 months you may have developed dependence which just means that you'll have to wean off of them. But your goal now is to stabilize which seems that is happening.

 

To help with the nausea I used to eat ginger cookies. I still can't eat till noon but you just get used to it. Can you try drinking calories until you feel ready to eat? Some juice? Or milk? I had to give up coffee (9 months now). Recently I've also discovered sleep meditation by Sleep Cove but there are some motivational ones as well online. I wonder if those will help with getting things done. 

 

Good luck on this long and tortuous journey we are taking! You're in good company here!

 

Your symptoms will get better as you've already seen. Just keep at it day by day and hour by hour.

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RuuRee

It's nice knowing there are people going through the same thing who can relate. Sometimes when I get discouraged, I do come on here and read through other threads. I think I will start commenting on others 😊 I honestly thought I was going crazy and that there was NO way that what I was and am going through is a "return of symptoms." I felt like I was going to die, and that I was shriveling up into nothing. Anxiety can sure do crazy things to the body. 

 

So as far as the Xanax usage, I didn't start taking it until the second month in of my severe symptoms - so November of this year. I was taking it every day at one point, which fluctuated from .25 - .5 mgs in the mornings, just once for the day. There are days now when I go without it, because I do not want to become dependent on it. The days I do take it is when I can't take anymore of the stress building-up and I can't concentrate or function much. 

 

I just increased my dose of Magnesium to 400 mg before bed...any suggestions for splitting this dose up throughout the day? Maybe 200 mgs every 12 hours, before bed and early afternoon maybe? I also stopped drinking caffeine for a while and just recently started drinking decaf here and there, so far so good with that. 

 

I think the hardest part of all this is trying to convince myself that I am going to be okay and it is just my anxiety when I am feeling overwhelmed or going through a bad wave. Even when I try techniques to try and resolve it, it still lingers in the background so my mind always returns to it. I hope that increasing the dose of Prozac to 40 mgs will help...I just want to feel like myself again. I want to heal, and I want to discover a new me. One day I would like to come of anti-depressants all together - when I am ready. 

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RuuRee

Gosh this week has been awful. I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed and the only thing that makes me feel better is the Xanax which I hate to rely on but I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know why I’m feeling crappy again, maybe I’m going through another wave, maybe it’s all work related stress. I did just up my Prozac dose to 40 mgs about 2 weeks ago, has anyone ever experienced worsening of symptoms introducing a new AD? Or upping their dose? I feel like the same thing happened when I started on 20 mgs it took about 5-6 weeks to start feeling better...

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Heath

Yes Ruuree I have always had these symptoms changing brand or dose. You have had some big med changes in the last 3 months that’s too fast. You’ve been on Prozac for about 7 weeks. Your cns can’t handle that much change! You are experiencing withdrawal/side effects. That is no doubt. You can look at my signature I have been where you are a few times. I’ve learned!!! You have to let your body stabilize. This may take 3 months or 7 months ? We don’t know but it will settle. Look back at your past and you may get an idea for this time line. It usually takes me 3?to 6 months depending on how long I let the withdrawal symptoms hang around. The withdrawal symptoms anxiety will tell you that you have to go to dr and change meds or something tight now. Try not to do that unless emergency. Stay the course with Prozac and same dose and it will settle! Don’t keep changing it and it will settle!!!

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RuuRee

Another tough day. Lately I’ll sleep until I need to get up so I end up oversleeping and tossing and turning after I SHOULD be getting up after 8 hrs. I’ve been on the couch a lot, haven’t been eating well which does not help (plus I’m a Type 1 Diabetic). Too scared to go anywhere or do much...I don’t know how I’m going to get through work this week. I’m afraid I’m going to freeze up and not be able to function. I may have to rely on the Xanax for the week. I need my job I need my health insurance being Diabetic in the U.S. is EXPENSIVE and losing my job would absolutely break me. Even on the Prozac I’m not feeling much relief right now, I asked my psychiatrist if this anxiety is from increasing my dose he said most likely not. I honestly thing it is a combination of withdrawal symptoms and the Prozac. I am hoping I can stabilize on the Prozac sooner rather than later... I would really hate to keep increasing my dose. I am getting so discouraged in this wave. I feel like there is no end in sight with all of this. 😞

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Sassenach

Hi Ree

 

Your symptoms appear to have worsened since the updose, is that correct.

Were you sleeping as much prior to updosing?

Prozac has a long half life and continues to build in the body even after dose increases stop.

On 12/5/2019 at 4:20 PM, RuuRee said:

I started on 20 mgs it took about 5-6 weeks to start feeling better...

If you were feeling better, why was the dose increased?

"Wellbutrin: mid August 2019 - mid September 2019 " What dose of WEllbutrin were you taking?

Would you please update your drug signature to include the date the Prozac was updosed.

 

Sassenach

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RuuRee

@Sassenach Symptoms were better, but all the sudden they are worse this past week and close to how bad they were when this all first started (early OCT) - have had a lot of work stuff going on so that could definitely be contributing. I've been sleeping about the same since updosing, if not a little better. I saw a psychiatrist who recommended updosing the Prozac - he explained to me that someone with anxiety generally needs a higher dose. I was taking 150 mgs of Wellbutrin, stopped cold turkey after about a month. My drug signature has been updated if you want to take a look. Thank you for taking the time to help me out!

 

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RuuRee

I really can’t say if the Prozac is making me feel like this or if I’m just having a bad wave. Today was so awful. I’m finally feeling better but I took Xanax .25mgs x 2, about 6 hrs apart. I reallllly hate to rely on it but it does help me eat and I need to eat being a Type 1 Diabetic or things could get dangerous really fast with my blood sugars. Also the more I’m able to eat, the more I feel better. Has anyone else had that happen where they can’t really eat but once they do their symptoms improve? 

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Sassenach
20 hours ago, RuuRee said:

I saw a psychiatrist who recommended updosing the Prozac - he explained to me that someone with anxiety generally needs a higher dose

Hi Ree

Your psych's comment is nonsense.

The issue is not anxiety but W/D brought on by your recent drug doses.

You are currently on 40mgs of Prozac which is equivalent to 150mgs of Wellbutrin, equivalent to 18mgs of Lexapro.

Any updose would put you on a higher level of A/D than ever before.

We would certainly not advise this.

My concern is that the current Prozac dose may be too high for your destabilised CNS.

It would be a big help if you could post a diary in the following format:

DATE:

 

6 a.m. Woke with anxiety 5
8 a.m. Took 2.5mg Lexapro
10 a.m. Stomach is upset
10:30 a.m. Ate breakfast
11:35 a.m. Got a headache, lasted one hour
12:35 p.m. Ate lunch
4 p.m. Feel a bit better
5 p.m. Took 2.5mg Lexapro
6 p.m. Ate dinner
9:20 p.m. Headache 3
10:00 p.m. Took 50mg Seroquel
10:20 p.m. Feeling dizzy 6
10:30 p.m. Fell asleep
2:30 a.m. Woke, took 3mg Ambien (NOT "took 1/2 tablet Ambien")
2:45 a.m. Fell asleep
4:30 a.m. Woke but got back to sleep

Numbers are severity from 0-10, how you actually rate them is irrelevant as long as they are relative from day to day.

This will enable us to track and evaluate your progress at a glance.

If you can do this I will ask Alto to comment on the dosage when we have 3/4 days of diaries.

15 hours ago, RuuRee said:

I reallllly hate to rely on it but it does help me eat and I need to eat being a Type 1 Diabetic or things could get dangerous really fast with my blood sugars. Also the more I’m able to eat, the more I feel better. Has anyone else had that happen where they can’t really eat but once they do their symptoms improve? 

You need to eat so whatever helps at present.

It is normal in W/D to lose your appetite but it will pass.

 

Sass

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Gemma92

Hello RuuRee! I am dropping by to give you my support! ❤Hang in there! We will make it!

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RuuRee

12/7/19:

- 9am woke up, anxiety level at 8/10, feeling nauseous 

- 10:30am took meds 40 mg Prozac, antihistamine, levothyroxine, 200 mgs Mag, vitamin D, and then took .25 Xanax 

- 11:30am ate a Cliff bar, took another .25 Xanax 

- 12pm finally got out of bed and showered 

- 1pm feeling better, anxiety at 2/10

- 3pm ate half of Poké bowl 

-5pm feeling of derealization (went to store)

- 630pm ate some pizza 

- 11:30pm anxiety starting to rise, 5/10..took 200 mgs Mag

- 12am fell asleep 

 

12/8/2019 (today)

- 8am woke up, anxiety at 5/10, feel a little nauseous 

- 9am took meds 40 mg Prozac, antihistamine, levothyroxine, Mag, vitamin D, and then took .5 Xanax 

- 11am slept for about 3 hrs

- 2pm anxiety at 8/10

- 330pm ate other half of Poké bowl

- 630pm headache 3/10, anxiety 6/10

 

This weekend has been horrible. Yesterday I was hysterical in the morning and early afternoon. My mom came over to help me eat at 1130 and then my Dad came over and helped me construct an email to my boss regarding a leave of absence from work. I’ve been having trouble with daily functions again, getting out of bed, eating, overthinking, feeling overwhelmed all the time. Today, I finally talked to my boss who was really understanding and kind. Now I can’t stop thinking about how much my life is falling apart, how I don’t know when I’m going to be able to work again and if I even want to return to my current job. I don’t think my job offers short term disability, so I may no longer have a source of income and I’m probably going to lose my apartment and have to move in with my parents. I’m scared I’m going to lose my health insurance which I heavily rely on since I’m Diabetic. I have student loans and a car loan I have to pay for. I’m scared of losing my car. I don’t want to rely on my parents to pay for stuff. I don’t know what to do. I can’t stop thinking about all the awful things to come. I feel so lost I feel like my life is never going to be the same, and that I’m never going to be able to pick myself back up and be independent. I feel like I’m going to die, or that it would be better if I were dead because I can’t handle this. At this point I don’t even know if the Prozac I’m on is a good fit, even though I might just need to “stabilize” on it. I wish this terrible nightmare would end...

 

 

 

 

 

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RuuRee

@Gemma92 thank you so much ❤️ Even though everyone is a stranger to one another on this site, it is so nice to have support. To know that we are not alone in this....

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Heath

Ruuree this will soon pass! In a few months you will feel much better. Just try and be patient and steady. After your body stabilizes you will be able to start thinking about tapering as the moderators will guide you. Right now because you nervous system is unstable side effects/withdrawals- anxiety it’s causing you to think negatively. I also experienced this. I had to take a little klonopin as needed to try and work and sleep. But after 4 months or so stopped needing the klonopin. Try and make yourself walk outside, eat, good sleep, be with friends and family. Look on YouTube for honest guys mediation stick in some earbuds it would calm me and help me sleep the waterfall and ocean sounds. Concentrate on getting better. You will get better! Hang in there ! 

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Tom37

Sorry to hear you haven’t been doing so well. Try not to worry about it as slowly you will start to improve. May be more tough times ahead but we have to go through it to get to the other side.

 

Try not to stress to much about your job or your car etc. You seem quite young so even if you lost your job you will have plenty of time to make up for it. Sounds like your parents are there to support you so while it doesn’t fee great to reply on them, that’s what parents are for. This is just a temporary illness and while it may take a while to recover from, one year or two years is a very small part of your life. 

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