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Seer: Lexapro CT - currently in windows/waves of withdrawal


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Hello all,

 

I'll start this off with an introduction on how I got here.

 

Back in September 2020 I was driven to the ER for what I now know was a panic attack (heart racing, blurry vision, dizziness, etc.).

I saw a neurologist at the ER, whom I followed up with shortly after in October 2020. The neurologist took one look at me, told me I was anxious, and sent me out the door with a prescription for 10mg Lexapro (which is unfortunately far too common). I started taking this on 10/20/2021. The first week on this seemed to amplify all anxious symptoms, but then surprisingly made me feel great (calmer, more energized, optimistic, etc.). I didn't ask questions as I was fairly naive at the time and trusted the neurologist's decision. A few months in I started experiencing days of extreme fatigue, and random bouts of dizziness/blurred vision. I managed to ignore these and attributed them to migraines.

 

Fast forward to February 2021. The days of fatigue and random bouts of dizziness/blurred vision are still happening, yet more frequently. I also noticed a general sense of feeling numb, as if things did not matter as much. I remember one day I forgot to take my dose (for the first time) and I made it until about noon at work. Symptoms were extreme fatigue, dizziness, head pressure, racing heart and a few more that I can't remember. Once again, I was naive and still didn't consider Lexapro as the issue. The next day I took my normal dose and everything returned back to normal.

 

It's now March 2021. For some reason I decided to start questioning the efficacy of the Lexapro as I was starting to have anxious symptoms yet again. I also had a profound realization that I had become dependent on this drug to function day-to-day in order to "manage" my anxiety, and would be for the rest of my life. This is when I began my research (engineer by trade, heavily science/statistically driven), and to say I was shocked is an understatement. SSRI's are prescribed based on a theory, there is no scientific evidence that has proved SSRI's do what they are intended to do. The primary driver is anecdotal evidence, which absolutely blew my mind (once again, engineering perspective). I'm sure these drugs are helpful to some people, but oh my is this interesting. Journalist Robert Whitaker summarizes the history/efficacy of psychiatric drugs brilliantly, check him out if you haven't already.

 

I was aware of 'potential' withdrawal symptoms through brief internet research (unfortunately did not find SA until 3 months off), was willing to tough it out for a few weeks and I quit cold turkey on March 4th 2021.

 

As many of you have unfortunately experienced, nothing could have prepared me for what would happen during the coming months. The acute withdrawal phase hit almost immediately, parking me in bed for a few days followed by another week of dragging myself around. Over the next few weeks I had the typical symptoms: brain zaps, extreme fatigue, dizziness, headaches/head pressure, chest pain, muscle aches, panic attacks, and many many more. At the end of March I began to feel fairly normal and could function enough to return to daily activities. Fast forward to June 2021 and I got absolutely slammed with withdrawal symptoms. The mental/psychological symptoms were intense and frightening as the only psychological issues I have had in the past was anxiety. These consisted of: intrusive thoughts, DP/DR, OCD, insomnia, depression, extreme anxiety (way worse than pre-lexapro), anhedonia and some more I can't remember. Physical symptoms were: DIZZINESS (this was by far my worst physical symptom), tinnitus, extreme fatigue, migraines, neck stiffness, pins/needles, light sensitivity, chest pain, and just about every other symptoms you've read about. I have been to almost every doctor/specialist you could think of and according to modern medicine I was the 'healthiest person' they've seen. I had started to lose faith in modern medicine and begun to look for solutions myself.....

 

Then I found SA and everything made sense. I have been reading many of the stories here (mostly success :)) and I cannot thank the people here enough for the information/hope that is provided.

 

Anyway, here I am 7+ months after quitting Lexapro cold turkey. I have been in the windows/waves pattern for the past 4 months with noticeable improvements. I was actually debating on posting a success story last week because I had been feeling so great, but unfortunately a wave hit - although minor in comparison to the beginning. This has consisted of insomnia, intrusive thoughts, minor DP/DR, light sensitivity and generally feeling out of it.

 

So that's about it. I will continue to update this post accordingly as time goes on, and eventually will post my success story.
 

Cheers,

 

- Seer

 

 

 

 

Started Lexapro on 10/20/2020 at 10mg.

 

CT quit Lexapro on 3/04/2021.

 

Acute withdrawal hit almost immediately. Windows/wave pattern ever since.

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  • Moderator

Hello, and welcome to SA.  We are a volunteer-run community of people who have been or are getting off of psychiatric drugs.  You have come to the right place!  Congratulations on quitting Lexapro!  I'm almost off of this nasty drug myself.  All the symptoms your mentioned are classic for withdrawal from SSRI drugs.  It's fantastic that you are seeing noticeable improvements!  You are well on your way to recovery.  

 

I'll give you some links to help you understand your situation.  You may have already read many of these, but SA has a huge amount of info, so I'll go ahead and give them to you just in case.  

 

Here is some information about how these drugs actually work.   This explains why we get symptoms from going off of these medications.

 

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain

 

 

This helps you understand what withdrawal syndrome is: 

 

Video on Recovery from Psych Drugs

 

What is Happening in Your Brain

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

This link gives a list of many of the symptoms of withdrawal:  

 

Glenmullen Withdrawal Checklist

 

Here are some techniques to cope with symptoms: 

 

Non Drug Ways to Cope with Withdrawal Symptoms

 

 

We don't suggest many supplements, but 2 that many of us find helpful are magnesium and omega-3 fish oil. Here are the links for info about those. It is suggested to add one at a time, and start with a low dose to see how it affects you. 


Magnesium

 

Omega 3 Fish Oil

 

Please keep us posted on how you are doing.  Take care! 

***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, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05 

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

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

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello!

 

Here's an update on how this is going:

 

Over the past 10 days I've had 3 good-great days, 2 decent days and 5 bad days, with 1/5 being very bad.

 

The most troubling symptoms continue to be DP/DR, insomnia + fatigue, intrusive thoughts and light sensitivity. During the very bad day I had flu-like symptoms (this has been common during waves throughout my experience) as well as migraine symptoms. 

 

I would like to also mention I attended a wedding this past weekend (did not drink) and was able to function, hold conversations and engage for the entire 8 hours - something I didn't think would be possible. This is a big milestone :) 

 

It seems like I've hit a shorter turnaround of windows/waves, where as in the past I'd have week-month long waves and day-week windows.

 

From what I've seen here this seems to be common, but any additional comments/guidance would be appreciated!

 

- Seer

 

Started Lexapro on 10/20/2020 at 10mg.

 

CT quit Lexapro on 3/04/2021.

 

Acute withdrawal hit almost immediately. Windows/wave pattern ever since.

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  • Moderator

It sounds as though you are having the windows and waves pattern of recovery, which is very typical of antidepressant withdrawal.  I'm glad you did not drink at the wedding.  

 

Here are some things you can do to help your nervous system to heal: 

 

1) avoid all alcohol and any other mind altering substances 

 

2) avoid intense exercise, unless it does not affect you.  Exercise stimulates adrenaline and cortisol, which activates the nervous system and creates or intensifies anxiety, sleeplessness, agitation, etc.  

 

3) avoid major stressors if possible

 

4) avoid negative, toxic, overly dramatic people 

 

5) do gentle exercise each day, such as walking 

 

6) get outside for natural light (even on cloudy days there is lots of natural light outside). 

 

7) get out in nature 

 

😎 eat healthy, natural foods.  Stay away from MSG and aspartame, which are exitotoxins for the nervous system. 

 

9) take magnesium and omega 3 supplements.  See post 1 for more details.  

 

10) have a routine - regular bedtimes, wake up time, mealtimes, etc.  

 

11) avoid catastrophic thinking, negative ruminations, forgive people who have hurt you in the past.  Try to be optimistic.  

 

12) take time to rest and recharge

 

12) never forget that in time, you will heal, even if it doesn't feel like now.  Try reading some success stories on the home page of the website. 

***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, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05 

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

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

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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  • 2 weeks later...

@getofflex thank you for the helpful tips, it is much appreciated.

 

It's been 2 weeks since my last update, here it is:

 

Week 36:

I have been hit by a huge wave, with all 14 days being bad to very bad. The most troubling symptoms are: DP/DR, emotional numbness/apathy, irrational irritability & frustration, depression, dizziness, fatigue, intrusive thoughts.
I would say this is the 2nd most intense wave I've been hit by, the most intense was around 5 months with similar symptoms. 

 

I've been reading a lot of success stories lately (S/O @Aeroman, @KenA, @pug and more, you guys are the BEST) that have provided unmeasurable help. Each time I try to convince myself I will never heal, this is something else, I read these over and over again.

 

An open question to everyone: The most disturbing of my symptoms is the intrusive thoughts that "none of this matters" "this isn't real" "what's the point of life anyways" etc. I have never experienced these prior to w/d, yet they continue to bombard me on a daily basis. Has anyone else experienced similar thoughts? I'm optimistic they will go away with time, but any comments would be appreciated.

 

Thank you all,

 

- Seer

Started Lexapro on 10/20/2020 at 10mg.

 

CT quit Lexapro on 3/04/2021.

 

Acute withdrawal hit almost immediately. Windows/wave pattern ever since.

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  • Moderator Emeritus
22 minutes ago, Seer said:

@getofflex thank you for the helpful tips, it is much appreciated.

 

It's been 2 weeks since my last update, here it is:

 

Week 36:

I have been hit by a huge wave, with all 14 days being bad to very bad. The most troubling symptoms are: DP/DR, emotional numbness/apathy, irrational irritability & frustration, depression, dizziness, fatigue, intrusive thoughts.
I would say this is the 2nd most intense wave I've been hit by, the most intense was around 5 months with similar symptoms. 

 

I've been reading a lot of success stories lately (S/O @Aeroman, @KenA, @pug and more, you guys are the BEST) that have provided unmeasurable help. Each time I try to convince myself I will never heal, this is something else, I read these over and over again.

 

An open question to everyone: The most disturbing of my symptoms is the intrusive thoughts that "none of this matters" "this isn't real" "what's the point of life anyways" etc. I have never experienced these prior to w/d, yet they continue to bombard me on a daily basis. Has anyone else experienced similar thoughts? I'm optimistic they will go away with time, but any comments would be appreciated.

 

Thank you all,

 

- Seer

Hi Seer, you are going through anxiety/panic attacks, right?  Intrusive thoughts/racing mind may be also part of the anxiety stuff.  I have had them.  The more I tried to make them stop, the more they came.  What I did was use the Dr. Claire Weekes' method and let them be.  Don't try to stop them - they are "just" thoughts.  They will snuff themselves out overtime.

Lexparo 10mg user for 2.5 years. Last dose was 2/27/2008 after a fast 1 month taper. Recovered around 2011. Had issues with depression, anxiety, akathasia, inner restlessness, vertigo, insomnia, loss of appetite, eye floaters just to name a few. Basically rode it out, employing the Dr. Claire Weekes method.

 

Took Cipro in July of 2014 and have been having set backs with nausea, vertigo, anxiety (racing thoughts), and depression the last half of 2014.

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  • Moderator
1 hour ago, Seer said:

I've been reading a lot of success stories lately (S/O @Aeroman, @KenA, @pug and more, you guys are the BEST) that have provided unmeasurable help. Each time I try to convince myself I will never heal, this is something else, I read these over and over again.

I'm glad the success stories are so helpful.  It's easy to believe we will never heal, because when we are in a wave, our brain fools us into thinking we are in a different world from which we will never escape.  

 

1 hour ago, Seer said:

The most disturbing of my symptoms is the intrusive thoughts that "none of this matters" "this isn't real" "what's the point of life anyways" etc. I have never experienced these prior to w/d, yet they continue to bombard me on a daily basis. Has anyone else experienced similar thoughts?

Ohh, yes.  I must confess that I occasionally get these thoughts too.  It's important to realize that thoughts, especially from a WD brain on fire, are not always based on facts.  This technique may help: 

 

APPLE Technique

 

I just came across a very nice technique that really helps me.  It's called APPLE. I have printed it and have it where I can see it every day and be reminded of it so I internalize this technique. 

 

A - Acknowledge Notice and acknowledge the thought or uncertainty as it comes to mind. 

 

P - Pause Don't react as you normally do.  Don't react at all.  Just pause and breathe.   

 

P - Pull Back Tell yourself this is just the thought or worry talking, and this apparent need for worry or analysis or certainty is not helpful and not necessary.  It is only a thought or feeling.  Don't believe everything you think.  Thoughts are not statements or facts.   

 

L - Let Go Let go of the thought or feeling.  It will pass.  You don't have to respond to it.  You might imagine the thought floating away in a bubble or cloud.   

 

E - Explore Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, you are OK.  Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing.  Notice the ground beneath you.  Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell.  Right now.  Then shift your focus of attention to something else - on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the thought or worry, or do something else - mindfully - with your full attention.  

***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, May 21 - 0.09, June 15 - 0.08 Aug 16 - 0.07, Oct 6 - 0.06, Nov 21 0.05 

Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone nightly, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at breakfast, 3 PM 

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

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2.5 mg

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Aeroman Thank you for the reply sir! I appreciate this advice, I read her book and thought I was accepting my situation but the more I thought about it I haven't completely accepted my symptoms. I play her audios on YouTube daily and this has been helping! I also read the book DARE by Barry McDonagh which seems to be a modern take on Dr. Weekes' methods.

 

@getofflex Thank you for the advice, much appreciated! I love this acronym, very smilier to Dr. Weekes' methodology. This experience has forced me to (try) understand our brains since knowledge has always helped me dispel fear. It's interesting, once conscious of our thoughts to realize we are NOT our thoughts. I've utilized mediation to practice this separation, which has helped!

 

Week 38 (few days early):

 

The wave from my previous post cleared up around Week 37 and I have a fantastic 6 day window where I've felt the best I have since pre-medications. Unfortunately I've got thrown into another wave as of 3 days ago, with all of the same symptoms from my previous post returning - insomnia has been the worst. I will note that although back into a wave, I'm much more capable of coping with the symptoms, albeit sometimes they get the best of me.

 

I've had a vacation planned for this week for a long time and alllllmost talked myself out of going, but here I am at the airport! Full of anxiety and DP/DR but I've decided this isn't going to continue to steal life away from me. Accept the symptoms and push through!

 

- Seer

 

Started Lexapro on 10/20/2020 at 10mg.

 

CT quit Lexapro on 3/04/2021.

 

Acute withdrawal hit almost immediately. Windows/wave pattern ever since.

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Another update,

 

This wave has increased in intensity and I was forced to head home early. Insomnia & fatigue, dizziness, intrusive thoughts, flu like symptoms, heightened anxiety.

 

It's very hard for me to believe this is still WD almost 9 months out, but I've ruled out everything else. This too shall pass....

 

- Seer

Started Lexapro on 10/20/2020 at 10mg.

 

CT quit Lexapro on 3/04/2021.

 

Acute withdrawal hit almost immediately. Windows/wave pattern ever since.

Link to comment
1 hour ago, Seer said:

Another update,

 

This wave has increased in intensity and I was forced to head home early. Insomnia & fatigue, dizziness, intrusive thoughts, flu like symptoms, heightened anxiety.

 

It's very hard for me to believe this is still WD almost 9 months out, but I've ruled out everything else. This too shall pass....

 

- Seer

Have no doubt it’s withdrawl. I was on a low dose of Zoloft fir few weeks, got addicted very fast, 13 months later I am still dealing with withdrawal. The effects of these drugs are long lasting, despite doctors saying the go away in couple of weeks. But time heals everything at the end, we just don’t know how long it ll take for each person and that makes things even much more difficult.

Aug. 16-17, 2020, cipralex: went CRAZY! Recovered in 24hrs

 

Aug.28,2020; 3.5 weeks 25mg sertraline/4.5 weeks taper

Oct. 25: Last dose (4mg)

Symptoms while on zoloft

DPDR/out of my body/soul despair/feeling dead;eye floaters/ tinnitus/no appetite; constant fear, anxiety/panics

4 months OFF: pure hell

soul despair, anxiety/fear, brain disconnection/ DPDR, brain feels swollen-numb/crazy/bedridden barely functioning, tinnitus, eye lid twitches; face spasms. Feeling slightly better after 10pm.

- sleep & appetite are fine

9 months OFF: Constant hell, no windows, same symptoms as above  (only eye and face twitches have stopped) plus intense arm/shoulder pain and visual issues. Tinnitus replaced by head buzzing. 

10 months-1 year: all above symptoms, plus Insomnia (out of nowhere), depression, no peace of mind (mental Akathisia?). No windows or feeling better late nights.

Sept 2021-present 2.5mg melatonin 

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