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someguy3452: 5 years of Paxil and Lexapro, would like to get off this


someguy3452

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Hi, 

 

My story started somewhere about 2014-2015 (don't remember exactly, time flies on these chemicals). Was diagnosed with Panic Disorder and GAD, got a prescription of Paxil 20mg. Took it for around 1 year and stopped since it helped and I felt ok for most of the time (meaning no anxiety, but also no other emotions).

 

It was a standard quick taper prescribed by a doc, too around 3 weeks. Initially experienced brain zaps (especially when moving eyes horizontally), vertigo, nausea etc. pushed through all of that, it was couple of weeks, I was stable but quite depressed afterwards, then anxiety and akathisia kicked in. I felt really anxious about everything when was trying to go to sleep, I needed to stand up and walk around, it was very difficult to lay down because of this anxiety levels.

 

I decided to go to psychiatrist and was restarted on Paxil again, I didn't have any idea that this could be a WD at that time (it was around march/april 2016). 

 

I was on paroxetine couple of months, but then I met my girlfriend and because of unability to reach orgasm I went to another doctor who switched me to Lexapro 10 mg, that helped with those symptoms. On paroxetine I was extroverted (while I'm introvert normally), but on lexapro I was again introverted, but not anxious so I went on it for couple of years 10 mg, then upped to 15 mg for no apparent reason somewhere around 2019.

 

Fast forward to 2021 I started to think that this is not helping me whatsoever and my life is being lived with me not really fully participating in it emotially, I felt emotionally numb, and that was the feedback I got from others. I talked to doctor and did a quick taper from 15 mg to 0 in around 1,5 - 2 months. Actually the initial effects after I went to 0 were just some brain zaps (barely noticeable, not the same as after paxil years before), some light sensitivity (it was june/summer), nothing really that I could not bare with.

 

Fast forward 3 months, stress at work, I started to feel very anxious, again started to have these feelings of agitation in the evenings, mornings, through the day, I barely coped, I could not really focus at work and have very intrusive anxious thoughts, I found this forum, and the inner compass initiative page and learnt about WD a little bit. felt really scared. Canceled some work related stuff because of anxiety when before that was some normall stuff. I was anxious of feeling lonely.

 

I went to psych and restarted on 5 mg Lexapro. I'm now 1 week into this, and feel no anxiety any more, at least these strong spells, I think I'm more stable now, it's just 1 week so everything can still change, but now I can cope, and job is not that stressful any more.

 

Now I'm thinking about the best approach, I still want to go off it, but I would like to taper slowly 10% per month as advised. Not now of course, I think I will still stay on 5 mg for some more time, and then start to taper when I'm ready and when I got enough information on how to prepare those dosages. 

 

I did some bloodwork when I had this anxiety before restarting, my testosterone got to levels around 300, when I started paroxetine in the past it reached 900, on lexapro it was around 600-700 my cortisol was bit over the lab high range, I guess it's all related to what was going on. 

 

I would like to join the forum to share my journey further, and learn on how to taper properly and get support in coping with what future holds.

 

Thank you, it might be bit messy reading sorry for that.

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added spacing for easier reading

2014-2015 - paroxetine 20mg -> 2015 summer - paroxetine quick 1 month taper (as per doc) -> 2015 - autumn - WD symptoms (didn't know it's wd yet)

2016 march - paroxetine 20mg -> 2016 april - switch from paroxetine to lexapro 10mg -> 2016 - 2019 - lexapro 10mg -> 2019 - 2021 - lexapro 15mg

quick taper:

2021 - 13 Apr - 10 mg, 8 may - 7,5 mg, 25 may - 5mg, 21 june - 2,5 mg, 24 june - 0mg

2021 - 16 oct - lexapro 5mg (reinstantiate due to WD symptoms)

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to someguy3452: 5 years of Paxil and Lexapro, would like to get off this
  • 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!  

 

On 10/24/2021 at 2:49 PM, someguy3452 said:

Now I'm thinking about the best approach, I still want to go off it, but I would like to taper slowly 10% per month as advised. Not now of course, I think I will still stay on 5 mg for some more time, and then start to taper when I'm ready and when I got enough information on how to prepare those dosages.

You are definitely on the right track!  This is what I would do, too.  I suggest staying on the 5 mg for a good long time to really allow your nervous system a chance to heal, and adjust to the 5 mg of Lexapro.  You might give it a good 6 to 9 months since you did a very fast taper to zero earlier this year.  Lexapro is a very powerful drug, and needs to be treated with great caution.  

 

On 10/24/2021 at 2:49 PM, someguy3452 said:

I went to psych and restarted on 5 mg Lexapro. I'm now 1 week into this, and feel no anxiety any more, at least these strong spells, I think I'm more stable now, it's just 1 week so everything can still change, but now I can cope, and job is not that stressful any more.

I'm very glad to hear that the reinstatement is helping.  Do be very careful about making any more drug changes your psychiatrist tells you to.  These guys are trained to put people on drugs, and he/she may try to further increase your Lexapro, or add other drugs.  I've seen too many people made worse and worse by following such advice by doctors, unfortunately.  Many people end up on drug carousels because of this. 

 

Can you please give us specific information about your drug history for all drugs you are on and have been on, especially for the past 18-24 months?  It would be especially helpful to have the details of your drugs in a concise vertical list (no symptoms), only drug names, specific dates (as best you can say for example early March if you don't recall the day) and dosages of each medication decrease or increase.  Use this format: 

drug name: date, dose, date, dose, date, dose ...

drug name: date, dose, date dose, date, dose ... 

etcetera

Please read the link below for instructions.  This will allow us to give you the best guidance.  

 

How to List Drug History in Signature

 

Here is some information about how these drugs actually work.   This explains why we get symptoms from going off of these medications, and why it's so important to taper so slowly and carefully, and be very cautious about changing our doses: 

 

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

 

 

Tapering is best done extremely slowly, and we generally taper by 10% of the current dose no more than once every 4 weeks, so that the taper becomes exponentially smaller.

 

 Why Taper by 10% of my Dosage  

 

Tips for Tapering Lexapro

 

 

Also, as we are recovering, we suggest keeping things slow, simple, and stable. 

 

Keep it Simple, Slow, and Stable

 

Considerations About Stability - Stop Jumping Around

 

Here is a link with checklists of common WD symptoms: 

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen Withdrawal Symptom Checklists

 

 

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

 

I've given you quite a bit of information here.  Everything will make sense once you understand what you are really dealing with.  It will take time and patience to get off of this, but it can be done.  Good luck, and keep us posted on how you are doing.  

Please do not tag me, unless it is an urgent question about tapering or reinstatement. 

 

***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, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

Ibuprofen 800 mg, Tylenol 1000 mg, Benadryl 50 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone on occasion, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, 3 PM, before bed

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

suppl noon: calcium

suppl supper: calcium

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2 mg

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Thank you for your response, I updated the footer. 

 

Yeah, have better and worse days, especially mornings are the worst, but at least currently it's nothing in comparision to couple of weeks before, when extreme anxiety / akathisia kicked in. I could not really lay down in bed needed to stand up and pace in agitation and anxiety, read about akathisia and probably that was it. After reinstantiation so far this didn't happen. This wave I guess was triggered by stress, before I really havent felt much of a WD, I mean, I was bit depressed, but havent got any scary symptoms like these, but remember couple of years ago when went off paroxetine had the same thing, so it was likely a withdrawal reaction, and it started around the same time after last dose (3 months I think).

 

Currently I'm splitting 10mg tablets in halves but I'm bit anxious that I'm taking different dosages each day (like ~4mg/~6mg..) since it's difficult to split evenly, I'm going to try to get prescription for 5mg tabs, that would at least help with that. Not thinking about getting lower in any short time period, so no concerned with that at the moment. Hoping the stabilization comes my way...

2014-2015 - paroxetine 20mg -> 2015 summer - paroxetine quick 1 month taper (as per doc) -> 2015 - autumn - WD symptoms (didn't know it's wd yet)

2016 march - paroxetine 20mg -> 2016 april - switch from paroxetine to lexapro 10mg -> 2016 - 2019 - lexapro 10mg -> 2019 - 2021 - lexapro 15mg

quick taper:

2021 - 13 Apr - 10 mg, 8 may - 7,5 mg, 25 may - 5mg, 21 june - 2,5 mg, 24 june - 0mg

2021 - 16 oct - lexapro 5mg (reinstantiate due to WD symptoms)

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  • Moderator
23 hours ago, someguy3452 said:

I'm going to try to get prescription for 5mg tabs

 

Sounds like a good idea for your hold.  Liquid titration and scales could also help.

I am not a health professional - your actions are your own.  

Please do not seek tapering support via private message

My taper visualised as a graph   |   My intro thread

Backdrop:  2003 10mg olanzapine | 2004 2-3mg risperidone | end 2014 3wks aripiprazole

2015: olanzapine  10 -> 7½ -> 6⅔ -> 5mg  by crude pill cutter

2018:  Mar 5.00mg -> water titrated taper -> Aug2.5mg tablet and hold

Jan 2019 2.50mg water titration -> Jan 2020 1.214  -> Jan 2021 0.44 -> 2 Oct 0.205 ->3 Oct ZERO🥂

"Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country did to you"  -- KMFDM

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  • Moderator
On 10/26/2021 at 10:24 PM, someguy3452 said:

Thank you for your response, I updated the footer. 

 

Yeah, have better and worse days, especially mornings are the worst, but at least currently it's nothing in comparision to couple of weeks before, when extreme anxiety / akathisia kicked in. I could not really lay down in bed needed to stand up and pace in agitation and anxiety, read about akathisia and probably that was it. After reinstantiation so far this didn't happen. This wave I guess was triggered by stress, before I really havent felt much of a WD, I mean, I was bit depressed, but havent got any scary symptoms like these, but remember couple of years ago when went off paroxetine had the same thing, so it was likely a withdrawal reaction, and it started around the same time after last dose (3 months I think).

 

Currently I'm splitting 10mg tablets in halves but I'm bit anxious that I'm taking different dosages each day (like ~4mg/~6mg..) since it's difficult to split evenly, I'm going to try to get prescription for 5mg tabs, that would at least help with that. Not thinking about getting lower in any short time period, so no concerned with that at the moment. Hoping the stabilization comes my way...

Welcome to SA @someguy3452

 

The links you have been provided above are really important. Please read them carefully if you haven't done so yet. I will add one more here to help with measuring your specific medicine. 

 

I want to reiterate the advice above to not make any changes and avoid as much stress to the system as possible. One thing that seems to send lots of members into chaos and a wave is the use of coffee, alcohol or pot. They seem harmless enough but in withdrawal our systems are very sensitive and it is really important to avoid them. Some people can handle coffee at certain times but alcohol almost always seems to set people back. 

 

You are on the right track and after a good hold should be on your way to get off of these drugs. 


Please feel free to engage with the other members on their threads as well, sometimes the friendships created here can sustain us more than the ones off-line with people who don't necessarily understand what we're going through. 

 

Take care of yourself

OMW

 

I am not a doctor and this should not be considered medical advice. You can use the information provided in whatever way you want and all decisions on your treatment are yours. 

 

If you would like to get a response from me directly please type @Onmyway some place in your message so I get notified of your post. I am not able to follow all of the threads all the time.

 

Aug  2000 - July 2003 (ct, 4-6 wk wd) , citalopram 20 mg,  xanax prn, wellbutrin for a few months, trazodone prn 

Dec 2004 - July 2018 citalopram 20 mg, xanax prn (rarely used)

Aug 2018 - citalopram 40 mg (self titrated up)

September 2018 - January 2019 tapered citalopram - 40/30/20/10/5 no issues until a week after reaching 0

Feb 2019 0.25 xanax - 0.5/day (3 weeks) over to klonopin 0.25 once a day to manage severe wd

March 6, reinstated citalopram 2.5 mg (liquid), klonopin 0.25 mg for sleep 2-3 times a week

Apr 1st citalopram 2.0 mg (liquid), klonopin 0.25 once a week, 

citalopram (liquid) 4/14/19 -1.8 mg, 5/8/19 - 1.6 mg,  7/27/19 -1.5 mg,  8/15/19 - 1.35, 2/21/21 - 1.1 (smaller drops in between), 6/20/21 - 1.03 mg, 8/7/21- 1.025, 8/11/21 - 1.02, 8/15/21 - 1.015, 9/3/21 - 0.925 (fingers crossed!), 10/8/21 - 0.9, 10/18/21 - 0.875, 12/31/21 - 0.85, 1/7/22 - 0.825, 1/14/22 - 0.8, 1/22/22 - 0.785

 

Supplements: magnesium citrate and bi-glycinate

 

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  • Mentor

Hello @someguy3452 and Welcome! And glad you made it here! 
like you I started out on Paxil and ended up on Lexapro. And tried to withdraw to fast a few times and with time I noticed same symptoms each time and finally I learned it’s withdrawals. I’ve had to hold for 6 to 9 months a few times before I found SA. When tapered too fast these drugs will send nervous system into chaos. And it takes several months to calm down.  

 

same drug, same dose, same time everyday and you will heal. Just keep it steady. Nervous system does not like changes especially right now. 
 

drs do not know much if anything about withdrawals or don’t want to. All they have in their tool box is pills. So if you go see him and complain 90% chance you walking out with a new prescription.  Thus beginning of drug merry go round, been there. 

Most of us have been where you are. 
During your long hold learn all you can there is so much valuable info here. Just a little at a time. 
wish you well

2000-2013 Paxil - 1 year fast taper

2013-2018 drug merry go round with dr. 
zoloft, cymbalta, lamictal, Prozac.

 Nov. 2018 lexapro 15 mgs, Dec. 2019 to Mar. 2020 10mg. Jul 2020 to October 2020 8.5 ml.
Oct 2020 reinstated to 9 ml.
Apr 2021 to Jul  7ml. Oct 2021 to Jan 2022 5.9ml, Mar 5 2022 5.8 ml, Mar 12 5.7ml, Mar 20 5.6ml, Mar 27 5.5ml, April 23 5.4ml, April 30 5.3ml, May 7 5.2ml,  Jul 9, 5.4ml, 

Klonopin as needed, present Celebrex 200 - 400 mg daily as needed, 1000 to 2000 mg  turmeric Qunol daily as needed, Trader Joe’s omega 3, Prilosec very rarely if desperate 

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Thank you for all of your responses, really appreciate it, and feel encouraged. 

 

What happened now, since couple of days on the reinstantiated 5 mg (it's 2 weeks mark now) - I feel almost like I when I was on 15 mg, I mean, difficult to tell exactly, but in regard to anxiety levels, all those scary symptoms I had before reinstantiation are basically gone. I see that I'm more emotially numb now - which is bad, however it also mean I don't feel anxious, which is good. Before that I was scared even of being alone at home, now I'm actually fine and really confortable with it, even wanting it, I can meditate freely without intrusive thoughts causing me to stop because of approaching panic and anxiety. Sleep is better now, sometimes I wake up during the night, but I just go back to sleep in minutes. Before reinstantiation it was difficult to go to sleep because of anxiety levels, and in the mornings I was waking up with panic/akathisia/anxiety/agitation, racing heart - difficult to exactly name it, but it was difficult to stay in bed after waking up - I needed to stand up immediately and pace. Also in regard to concentration at work, it's normal now, earlier I could not really concentrate on tasks because of intrusive thoughts and anxiety - last days were actually fine. Perhaps it's just some days, but it's how I feel now and I'm putting this post here to share it, and to keep a log. What do you think, is this a good sign ? 

 

I'm still worried that the pillcutter I'm using cut the pills not in exact halves, I bought a scale and a 10mg pill is 120 mg, and halves usually have like 58/62 or something like that, hope I will manage to get a prescription for 5mg tablets, there is no liquid formulation available in my country unfortunately.

2014-2015 - paroxetine 20mg -> 2015 summer - paroxetine quick 1 month taper (as per doc) -> 2015 - autumn - WD symptoms (didn't know it's wd yet)

2016 march - paroxetine 20mg -> 2016 april - switch from paroxetine to lexapro 10mg -> 2016 - 2019 - lexapro 10mg -> 2019 - 2021 - lexapro 15mg

quick taper:

2021 - 13 Apr - 10 mg, 8 may - 7,5 mg, 25 may - 5mg, 21 june - 2,5 mg, 24 june - 0mg

2021 - 16 oct - lexapro 5mg (reinstantiate due to WD symptoms)

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  • 2 months later...
  • Moderator
On 10/30/2021 at 3:45 PM, someguy3452 said:

Perhaps it's just some days, but it's how I feel now and I'm putting this post here to share it, and to keep a log. What do you think, is this a good sign ? 

 

Sorry for the very late response.  It sounds like the drug is doing what it is supposed to do - cause emotional numbness.  I'm glad your withdrawal symptoms are gone.  

 

To you intend to taper off of this, or just stay on the drug?  

 

Please do not tag me, unless it is an urgent question about tapering or reinstatement. 

 

***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, Dec. 17 0.04, Jan 14 '22 0.03, Feb 19 0.02, Apr 18 0.01, May 15 0.005,  Jul 8, 0.00.  Psych Drug Free as of July 8, 2022!!  Woohoo!!!

Ibuprofen 800 mg, Tylenol 1000 mg, Benadryl 50 mg as needed

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

Trazodone on occasion, stopped in late 2019

Xanax on occasion, stopped in late 2019

magnesium in small amounts at 4 AM, 3 PM, before bed

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

suppl noon: calcium

suppl supper: calcium

suppl 8 PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 2 mg

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