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Kyle: Long-term anxiety and panic attacks after stopping Lexapro (and others) quickly, even after reinstatement?


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Hey there! So I'm now 19 and my life has been hell for over a year now. I have a bit of a history with antidepressants. I started Zoloft at age 12 and ended up quitting after a year or so, no issues (below is my med list after starting Zoloft again at age 14). For 3 years until completely stopping drugs, I was on Lexapro, propranolol, and gabapentin. These drugs were used for depression and migraines. Through things like therapy, I was able to overcome depression and mild-to-moderate anxiety. I was tired of being medicated and wanted off. Unfortunately, my GP took me off of things wayyyy too fast. I went from 20mg of Lexapro to none in the span of 4 weeks (subtracting 5mg per week). I then got off the other two in four weeks each.

 

I experienced intense withdrawals from these but figured it was just part of the process. One of these symptoms was anxiety, panic attacks, and hot flashes/sweating. After a few weeks of WDs, things seemed pretty good. However, I quickly began getting panic attacks and experienced intense anxiety--especially physical symptoms such as hot flashes, pounding heartbeat, etc. Anxiety had always been a mental thing for me, but now it's extremely physical.

 

I got back on all the original drugs after 6 months off them. But now, even almost a year later, I'm still experiencing intense physical symptoms (I hate hot flashes). Getting back on the meds helped, but I'm not the confident person I used to be. I've been homebound and an anxious/depressed wreck for the past year.

 

It's almost as if those withdrawals unlocked something in me. Now I don't know what to do. Is it possible for this to happen? Did I just develop anxiety or are these longterm withdrawal effects that are there even with reinstating?

 

I'm sorry it's a lot to read, but I'm feeling very lost right now and don't know what to do or what caused this to happen. Life was so good and it depresses me to see the state that I'm now in. I wasted my entire 18th year of life being anxious beyond belief. Thanks so much.

 

Starting

  • Started Zoloft 100mg October 2014 (age 14), 50mg -> 100mg
  • Switched from Zoloft 100mg to Lexapro 10mg May 2017 (age 15)
  • Bumped up to Lexapro 20mg June 2017 (age 15)
  • Started Gabapentin 1600mg/day October 2017 (age 15)
  • Started Propranolol 40mg/day May 2018 (age 16)

 

Stopping

  • Stopped Lexapro 20mg October 2019 (age 17), tapered down 5mg/week until stopped completely
  • Stopped Propranolol 40mg/day October 2019 (age 17), tapered down 10mg/week until stopped completely
  • Stopped Gabapentin 1600mg/day November 2019 (age 18), tapered 400mg/week until stopped completely
  • Drug free for 6 months

 

Starting Again

  • Started Lexapro 20mg May 2020 (age 18), 10mg -> 20mg
  • Started Propranolol ER 120mg June 2020 (age 18), 60mg -> 80mg -> 120mg
  • Started Gabapentin 1600mg/day July 2020 (age 18)
  • Started Buspirone 60mg/day November 2020 (age 19)

Started psychiatric drugs at 14 years old.

October 2014 - Zoloft 100 mg

May 2017 - switched to Lexapro 10 mg, increased to 20 mg June 2017

October 2017 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

May 2018 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, propranolol 40 mg

October 2019 - tapered off Lexapro and propranolol

November 2019 - tapered off gabapentin

December 2019 - April 2020 - drug free

May 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg

June 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg

July 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

November 2020 -  Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, buspirone 60 mg

 

More details are found in this post.

 

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  • Shep changed the title to Kyle: Long-term anxiety and panic attacks after stopping Lexapro (and others) quickly, even after reinstatement?
  • Administrator

Hi, Kyle.

 

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants.

 

Thank you for such a clearly written first post. I was able to take your list of drugs and dates and place them into your signature. Your signature is your drug history which shows up underneath each post. It helps us see your history and your current drugs at a glance.

 

Please read your signature and feel free to correct anything I may have missed. A direct link to your signature is here:

 

Account Settings - Create or Update Your Signature

 

 

On 2/4/2021 at 5:02 AM, Kyle said:

Did I just develop anxiety or are these longterm withdrawal effects that are there even with reinstating?

 

These drugs are notorious for delayed withdrawal. It looks like you got hit with withdrawal and then your doctors placed you on too high a restatement dose. Please have a read of at least the first post in this thread:

 

About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms

 

 

Because you've now been on those high doses for 7 months for lexapro, gabapentin, and propranolel and 3 months for the buspirone, there's not much you can do except try and stabilize and then set up a slow and careful taper. The reason I linked to that reinstatement thread is so you can see how these drugs affect us and make us more sensitive to them. That's likely why you ended up on that fourth drug 3 months ago. 

 

I'm very glad you did your research and found this site. You can get off these drugs and go onto have a wonderful, drug-free life. 

 

I was 17 when I first was drugged, so I would encourage you to learn all you can about non-drug ways of handling your emotions. Those who are drugged young have a lot of catching up to do because we weren't given the opportunity to grow up practicing how to handle our emotions without our emotions being blunted by drugs. But it's possible to learn these skills at any age. Please see:

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Please note withdrawal comes with lots of windows and waves (ups and downs), so you'll have plenty of chances to practice your new non-drug coping skills. Please see:

 

The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

 

How psychiatric drugs remodel your brain

 

Healing from antidepressants. Patterns of recovery video (4 minutes)

 

We recommend coming off stimulating drugs first in order to preserve sleep. Please see:

 

Taking multiple psych drugs? Which drug to taper first?

 

So you'll likely want to come off the Lexapro first. Here is more on that:

 

Tips for tapering off escitalopram (Lexapro)

 


Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

You may want to go with the Bassmonkey Slide:

 

The Brassmonkey Slide Method of Micro-tapering

 

Please continue to use this thread to document your taper and to ask plenty of questions. 

 

 

 

 

Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


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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Thank you @Shep for the detailed reply! The links were very helpful and I relate a lot to these experiences (especially the early morning cortisol!) Do you have any guess as to how long it could take to get back to my previous state while on the meds? I can’t imagine to start tapering until I’m in a reasonable spot

Started psychiatric drugs at 14 years old.

October 2014 - Zoloft 100 mg

May 2017 - switched to Lexapro 10 mg, increased to 20 mg June 2017

October 2017 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

May 2018 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, propranolol 40 mg

October 2019 - tapered off Lexapro and propranolol

November 2019 - tapered off gabapentin

December 2019 - April 2020 - drug free

May 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg

June 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg

July 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

November 2020 -  Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, buspirone 60 mg

 

More details are found in this post.

 

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  • Administrator

I wish I could give you a timeline, Kyle. It may help to go through a daily drug and symptoms journal with you and see if we might be able to work with the timing of your drugs to make you more comfortable. This could speed up the process and get you to a better baseline and ready to taper sooner. 

 

You're taking 3 drugs that are sedating, so they may be causing a paradoxical reaction. A paradoxical reaction is when a drug works the opposite of what you expect from it. The more you dampen down your nervous system with sedating drugs, the more your nervous system fights to stay alert. This creates the paradoxical reaction and can increase symptoms. A drug and symptoms journal will allow us to see your symptoms within the context of when you take your drugs and we can see if a timing change can help lower the symptoms. 

 

Please see the below quote box for instructions on writing a daily drug and symptoms journal. Please also include any supplements you're taking and the number of hours you're sleeping at night. 

 

 

On 9/27/2016 at 2:49 PM, Altostrata said:

In the course of discussion in your Introductions forum topic, you may be asked to keep notes on paper of your daily symptom pattern, including when you take your drugs, their dosages, and any symptoms. We ask this because there may be something we can do to reduce the symptoms.

 

What we need to see for every single day over several days is what symptoms you get before and after you take your drugs. If you're not taking any drugs and have withdrawal symptoms, we still need to see your symptom pattern throughout the day:

 

The time of day, dosage, and severity of symptoms are essential information. Include

 

- Time and dosage for all drugs taken throughout the day, psychiatric and non-psychiatric.

- Following each dose, note any symptoms. If you are having a reaction to the drug, it may take hours for a symptom to show up -- that's why we ask you to keep notes all day long.

- If you're not taking any drugs, your symptoms throughout the day.

- Your sleep pattern. Since so many drugs disturb sleep, if you find you're waking in the middle of the night, it could be from a drug you took earlier in the evening. If you're not taking any drugs, there may be ways you can improve your sleep.

And so forth. A diary, in chronological order, looking something like this:
 

Example:


DATE:

 

6 a.m. Woke with anxiety
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
10:00 p.m. Took 50mg Seroquel
10:20 p.m. Feeling dizzy
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

 

Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


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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  • Moderator
getofflex

@Kyle, my heart goes out to you.  I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.  The good news is you are young, so your nervous system should definitely be able to heal from this.  My husband has a good friend who was on psych meds from the time he was 10 years old, on them many years, but he eventually got off, and now he is fine and lives a happy and normal life.  So you can do it.  

 

I'm almost off of Lexapro, and I'm gradually feeling better and better.  Don't give up hope!  Please keep us posted on how you are doing.  You are doing a great thing by going through the links that Shep gave you.  If you hang in there, you will become very strong and wise through this process.  I'm praying for you.  

Jennifer

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10 

Trazodone.  used 50 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Xanax. used 0.5 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Benadryl 50 mg, Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, multivitamin, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 3 mg, calcium

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  • Administrator

@KyleHow are you feeling? 

Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


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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@getofflex Thank you for your kind words!

Started psychiatric drugs at 14 years old.

October 2014 - Zoloft 100 mg

May 2017 - switched to Lexapro 10 mg, increased to 20 mg June 2017

October 2017 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

May 2018 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, propranolol 40 mg

October 2019 - tapered off Lexapro and propranolol

November 2019 - tapered off gabapentin

December 2019 - April 2020 - drug free

May 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg

June 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg

July 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

November 2020 -  Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, buspirone 60 mg

 

More details are found in this post.

 

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@Shep I don’t suspect any paradoxical reaction as the drugs have all helped me get closer to where I want to be. I’m definitely not ready to get off anything yet as I wish to stabilize first

Started psychiatric drugs at 14 years old.

October 2014 - Zoloft 100 mg

May 2017 - switched to Lexapro 10 mg, increased to 20 mg June 2017

October 2017 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

May 2018 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, propranolol 40 mg

October 2019 - tapered off Lexapro and propranolol

November 2019 - tapered off gabapentin

December 2019 - April 2020 - drug free

May 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg

June 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg

July 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

November 2020 -  Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, buspirone 60 mg

 

More details are found in this post.

 

Link to post
  • Administrator

Thanks for the additional information, Kyle. Let us know when you're ready to taper and if you have any questions. 

Drug free May 22, 2015 after 30 years of neuroleptics, benzos, z-drugs, so-called "anti"-depressants, and amphetamines 

 

My Success Story:  Shep's Success: "Leaving Plato's Cave"

 

And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ~ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


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

@Shep Thank you! My biggest reason for joining was just to figure out why I’ve became the way I am. A lot of these stories I definitely can relate to

Started psychiatric drugs at 14 years old.

October 2014 - Zoloft 100 mg

May 2017 - switched to Lexapro 10 mg, increased to 20 mg June 2017

October 2017 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

May 2018 - Lexapro 20 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, propranolol 40 mg

October 2019 - tapered off Lexapro and propranolol

November 2019 - tapered off gabapentin

December 2019 - April 2020 - drug free

May 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg

June 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg

July 2020 - Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg

November 2020 -  Lexapro 20 mg, propranolol ER 120 mg, gabapentin 1600 mg, buspirone 60 mg

 

More details are found in this post.

 

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