Jump to content

betterway: withdrawal from Lexapro much harder than I thought


betterway

Recommended Posts

I'm so relieved to have found this group! I was on lexapro for more than 15 years- 5 mg day- and last spring I decided to taper with the goal of being lexapro free.  I was able to do so with the help of a compounding pharmacy over the course of three or four months. I felt pretty dicey  throughout the process- no help from my shrink who believes that  one can do this by mixing the pills in applesauce and take  just a few weeks to become drug free.  I am now off Lexapro but feel terrible- I cry frequently and my emotions are always in a turmoil. I am anxious/depressed.

Is this part of the withdrawl or is it my natural state now?  My reading informs me that I tapered off much too fast and that the withdrawl symptoms can last a long time. Not sure how to proceed- I started DBT therapy a few weeks ago so too soon to tell if it will help.  So far, my emotions seem to be even more unregulated! BTW,  I was put on lexapro  when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and over the years I tried to get off the drug but the side effects were so awful I never succeeded until now. Any  ideas or thoughts would  be helpful as I decide if I should restart an antidepressant or soldier on and hope that  things will get better.

 

Link to post
  • Moderator

Welcome to SA, betterway.  I'm sorry you're feeling bad.  

 

This is withdrawal, not your natural state.  As you've read, you did taper off too fast.  We recommend tapering no more than 10% of your current dose every four weeks.  A slow taper is especially important at the low doses, such as 5mg and below.  I'm currently tapering Lexapro myself.

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

It's also true that withdrawal can last a long time.  Unfortunately, we can't predict how long.  We know that you will heal, but we can't say when. Your symptoms are typical withdrawal symptoms. So that you have a better idea of what you're experiencing, here is some information on withdrawal and healing.

 

What is withdrawal syndrome.

 

Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF) 

 

 The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

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:

 

Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

                                  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.

 

AND

 

   On 12/3/2015 at 10:41 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.  

 

You might want to consider reinstatement of a tiny dose of Lexapro.  Reinstatement of a very small dose of the original drug is the only known way to help alleviate withdrawal syndrome.  The only other alternative is to try and wait out the symptoms and manage as best you can until your central nervous system returns to homeostasis.  Unfortunately, as I said earlier,  no one can give you an exact timeline as to when you will start feeling better and while some do recover relatively easily, for others it can take many months or longer.  

 

Reinstatement isn't a guarantee of diminished symptoms for everyone but it's the best tactic available.  You began your taper in spring, finishing  in fall.  So it's been around five months since your last dose.   Reinstatement predictably works up to 3 months after last dose.  This isn't to say reinstatement won't work, but it might not.  We usually suggest a much smaller reinstatement dose than your last dose.  These drugs are strong, and If you take too much it may be too much for your brain.  Then, once you've stabilized on the reinstated dosage, which can take several months,  you can begin a 10% per month taper down to zero.   Please read:

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms. -- at least the first page of the topic

 

So that's the choice.  Try a reinstatement or, as you say, soldier on through.  If reinstatement is something you want to consider, let me know and I'll suggest a dosage.  It's good that you have a compounding pharmacy, which makes working with the very low doses much easier.  Please do not reinstate without letting us suggest a dosage.

 

We recommend using non-drug techniques to cope with withdrawal.  Take a look at the links in the following link and see which technique you think might be helpful.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

Here are some link to help you deal with anxiety.

 

Audio:  How to Recover from Anxiety - Dr Claire Weekes
 

 

VIDEO:  Peace from Nervous Suffering - Claire Weekes (1 hour) (http://sendvid.com/vgquc1dg)

 

Anxiety Stuff - all kinds of stuff about anxiety attacks and things that help …

 

10 minute Restorative Yoga for Relaxation | Up the wall

 

I've used the previous yoga pose and it is very good for 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 magnesium (glycinate is a good form) and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 

 

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 

 

Add in one at a time and 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.

 
 

 

 

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper 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  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, 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.

Link to post

thank you  Gridley, for  reading my note and also I appreciate your suggestions. Not sure about  re- introduction- but I really feel terrible. When I  tapered down to zero lexapro, I was fortunate to be staying in  Lucca, Italy so I was feeling more or less OK. Italy has that effect on me :)  I could handle the ups and downs and took good care of myself. But I arrived back in Toronto at the end of November and that's when I started feeling  really bad and it has only gotten worse. Is it still withdrawl?  I admit I hate winter and I know its not helping me feel better. But It's the continual weeping that gets me down the most.

DBT  group therapy might prove to be helpful, but so far I feel  rather worse now after starting it three weeks ago. It is also incredibly expensive so that is a concern.

My shrink is not terrible helpful. In Canada, shrinks are purveyors of drugs and not much more, though mine is willing to talk to me so I am considered lucky. 

How would I go about re-instatement and for how long?

Thanks for your honesty and help.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
  • manymoretodays changed the title to betterway: withdrawl from Lexapro much harder than I thought
  • Moderator
37 minutes ago, betterway said:

Is it still withdrawl?

Yes.

 

37 minutes ago, betterway said:

How would I go about re-instatement and for how long?

 

If you choose to reinstate, I'd suggest reinstating 0.3mg of Lexapro, which you'd take for several weeks or months until your system stabilized.  During reinstatement,  you probably would continue to have waves and windows, but symptoms wouldn't be as intense. Then, when you stabilized, you'd begin a 10% taper off that dose.

 

It takes a little over a week for the full effects of the reinstatement to be felt, but you should start feeling better little by little as the days pass.  If 0.3 isn't enough, it would be easy to increase it very slightly using your compounding pharmacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper 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  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, 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.

Link to post
  • Moderator Emeritus
3 hours ago, betterway said:

thank you  Gridley, for  reading my note and also I appreciate your suggestions. Not sure about  re- introduction- but I really feel terrible. When I  tapered down to zero lexapro, I was fortunate to be staying in  Lucca, Italy so I was feeling more or less OK. Italy has that effect on me :)  I could handle the ups and downs and took good care of myself. But I arrived back in Toronto at the end of November and that's when I started feeling  really bad and it has only gotten worse. Is it still withdrawl?  I admit I hate winter and I know its not helping me feel better. But It's the continual weeping that gets me down the most.

DBT  group therapy might prove to be helpful, but so far I feel  rather worse now after starting it three weeks ago. It is also incredibly expensive so that is a concern.

My shrink is not terrible helpful. In Canada, shrinks are purveyors of drugs and not much more, though mine is willing to talk to me so I am considered lucky. 

How would I go about re-instatement and for how long?

Thanks for your honesty and help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi betterway, glad you found us! Gridley will give you advice about reinstatement much better than I can. I did want to reassure you that yes, this is withdrawal, and in fact it's a pretty typical course. It seems that people coming off ADs often get through the acute period okay, settle down and feel like they're doing pretty well, then get hit with delayed withdrawal symptoms later, often around three months out. Dr. Shipko says he often sees that this happens when a stressor occurs, which moving back to Toronto in winter might have been for you. Regardless, the okay-for-a-while-then-hit-hard-later pattern is very common and that's what's happening to you. We don't know what causes it, since nobody is doing research on this. People usually get diagnosed with "relapse" and then put back on drugs. It's not relapse, though. It's a withdrawal syndrome.

 

Hang in there, you're in the right place, you'll get good information and support here. 

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

Link to post

thank you for your insights. I want to  avoid going back on anti-depressants and it helps me to know that you have experience with what I'm going thru.  Do you think that ativan might lessen some of the withdrawl symptoms?

I've had insomnia for years and in Canada I can now use cannabis (THC oil) to help with sleep. But when I was in Italy this fall, I used ativan- (THC not an option there) maybe that's  at least partly why the symptoms were not as severe? 

Do you think  ativan might  be safe to help me get thru the next few months?

 

thanks for any opinions!

Link to post
On 2/18/2020 at 3:19 PM, Gridley said:

Yes.

 

 

If you choose to reinstate, I'd suggest reinstating 0.3mg of Lexapro, which you'd take for several weeks or months until your system stabilized.  During reinstatement,  you probably would continue to have waves and windows, but symptoms wouldn't be as intense. Then, when you stabilized, you'd begin a 10% taper off that dose.

 

It takes a little over a week for the full effects of the reinstatement to be felt, but you should start feeling better little by little as the days pass.  If 0.3 isn't enough, it would be easy to increase it very slightly using your compounding pharmacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post

i talked to my shrink yesterday. He suggests I reinstate with 2.5 mg lexapro.  He says that if I feel better, my symptoms are certainly withdrawal.   what do you think of this advice? he is finally  accepting that  withdrawal from anti depressants  is a real thing and I believe that more psychiatrists will support us in time. But so many of us are suffering now! 

Also, I have had  a lot of itching for the last few months- always at night, no matter what place or bed I sleeping in. My feet,hands, legs are so itchy I will draw blood by scratching. I try to take an antihistamine like claritin- and it usually helps.  Has anyone heard of this symptom before?    thanks in advance, for any advice 

Link to post
  • Moderator
32 minutes ago, betterway said:

He suggests I reinstate with 2.5 mg lexapro.

Very likely that's far too much.

 

Tell me your taper schedule and the dosage you were on before you jumped to zero.

 

Itching is a common withdrawal symptom.

 

You asked in an earlier post (which I didn't see, sorry) about Ativan.  We don't recommend starting a new drug to deal with withdrawal symptoms.  Ativan is highly addictive and you can become dependent within 2-4 weeks of regular use.  After you're dependent, you no longer get the original benefit and all you're doing is "feeding the beast," i.e., staving off withdrawal.

 

How long were you on the Ativan in Italy?

Edited by Gridley

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper 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  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, 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.

Link to post

i used ativan  (1 mg) most nights to sleep for october and most of november while in italy. have not used it since I returned to canada but wondered if it might help when I feel particularly bad. now i know not to even try.

my taper  from lexapro looked like this:

decreased dose from 2.5 mg by 0.5 mg every two weeks starting  june 2019

ending at .5 mg  starting  aug 15 for two weeks.

By september 1 , i was down to nothing. and feeling  not so great.  but  i was in italy by then so life was  pretty good despite some issues.

I think i am going to try to tough it out because I don't think i can get my shrink to  write me a script for lexapro for  a dose smaller than 2.5 mg.   I might be able to find a new  primary care doctor who would do it but not sure. most doctors here don't know  about withdrawal, they  sure love to write the prescriptions though!

 

thanks again for all your help!  It helps to understand the itching as part of withdrawal- i need to  remember to take  claritin every night!

 

Link to post

learning a lot from your post...thanks..

1989 Started taking Antidepressants. I have been on all of them.

2/13/20 cut back my zoloft from 150 to 125. 

as of 3/4/20:

zoloft 125 

abilify-2.5mg

clonazepam .5mg -

ativan 1mg- take as needed. probably take 4-5 pills a month) 

magnesium citrate, fish oil, GABA, multi vitamin, calcium, D3

 

 

Link to post
  • ChessieCat changed the title to betterway: withdrawal from Lexapro much harder than I thought

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use Privacy Policy