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Sarasmiles' Lexapro Withdrawal


Sarasmiles

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Hi Everyone. I am Sara, and I am a 50 year old woman (yikes! I feel old when I say that!)  I have a long history of antidepressant use. I first went on Prozac when it was all over the news as a miracle drug, back in the late '80s. I was about 25 years old. 

 

Prozac was on the cover of Newsweek back then. Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote an article about it that appeared in Mademoiselle magazine. When I read her article, I thought, "that's me! I need that drug!"  I saw myself as always having been somewhat depressed, and as seeing the world through a dark cloud. I remember I diagnosed myself as "dysthymic".  I was not severely depressed.  My doctor cheerfully prescribed Prozac for me when I asked him to.  I now see that as a fateful day, because I have been dependent on antidepressants ever since.  I have wondered again and again if starting in on Prozac at that early age altered my brain in some irreversible way, so that I can't be okay without an SSRI.

 

I have had stretches of time without the drugs. Three healthy pregnancies, each followed by a year of breastfeeding. In those child-bearing and nursing years I was not on medication, and I was not depressed.   I started to struggle with depression when I was still nursing my then 13 month old, third son.  I decided to wean him, and go back on medication.  At that time, I tried Celexa, which had taken over for Prozac in popularity, at least from my perspective. Celexa made me feel very tired, and I eventually went back to Prozac.  As always, I felt that Prozac inhibited my sexual feelings, and it made it impossible for me to have an orgasm.I also felt that it made me emotionally numb. I couldn't cry while I was on it.  I felt that this made me easier for my husband to live with, but it felt strange to me.  I was glad for the mood lift, but not happy with those side effects.  When I complained to my doctor, he suggested we try Effexor, and I really can't remember why I eventually wanted off of that, but I did.  Getting off of Effexor was horrible. Brain zaps and irritability and bad rebound/withdrawal depression, and I went back on Prozac.

 

Since then I have withdrawn myself several times, always with some brain zaps and teariness...feeling sad, lonely, dark inside... About a year ago I went to a new psychiatrist who suggested I try Lexapro.  He said it might have fewer sexual side effects and be less "numbing" than Prozac.  He was right. My sexual responses were still muted (any time I withdraw from an antidepressant they come back), but better than on Prozac.  I have been on Lexapro for about a year, and I have gained 20 pounds. True, I am also now 50 years old, but I have no signs of menopause, and I eat well and exercise regularly.  The weight gain is very upsetting to me.

 

I want to get off of Lexapro, but I am very scared.  Sometimes I think I should accept that I need medication for life.  As I said above, my greatest fear is that I have permanently damaged my brain.  I am taking 20 mg./day and have not begun a taper. I will meet with my psychiatrist on Friday this week, and I know he will try and persuade me to try a new drug.  I don't know what I'll do when he pressures me about this. I am glad to have found this site to share these worries!

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I forgot to mention that I have also been on Wellbutrin. No sexual side effects, no weight gain, but I felt very irritable and on edge on it. I had no trouble coming off of it, as I recall. 

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Hi Sarasmiles,

 

Welcome to SA. You will find the people on this site friendly, knowledgable and supportive.

 

One of the difficulties with the medical profession is that they can't conceive that your drug might be your problem. The answer is often more drugs, different drugs etc.

 

In terms of permanent damage, nobody knows. However, I have faith in our brains capacity to re grow and develop given the chance. This means withdrawing very slowly to allow it to adjust and not traumatising it along the way. It also means learning non drug strategies to cope with our emotions and life experiences.

 

I also think very few people need medication for life. That idea fuels vulnerability and fear. There is a very big industry profiting from that.

 

Here is a couple of links to read. Perhaps you can take them with you on your next visit to the psych. Ask him to support you in comi off medication well.

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6632-the-rule-of-3kis-keep-it-simple-keep-it-slow-keep-it-stable/

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/406-tips-for-tapering-off-lexapro-escitalopram/

 

Dalsaan

Please note - I am not a medical practitioner and I do not give medical advice. I offer an opinion based on my own experiences, reading and discussion with others.On Effexor for 2 months at the start of 2005. Had extreme insomnia as an adverse reaction. Changed to mirtazapine. Have been trying to get off since mid 2008 with numerous failures including CTs and slow (but not slow enough tapers)Have slow tapered at 10 per cent or less for years. I have liquid mirtazapine made at a compounding chemist.

Was on 1.6 ml as at 19 March 2014.

Dropped to 1.5 ml 7 June 2014. Dropped to 1.4 in about September.

Dropped to 1.3 on 20 December 2014. Dropped to 1.2 in mid Jan 2015.

Dropped to 1 ml in late Feb 2015. I think my old medication had run out of puff so I tried 1ml when I got the new stuff and it seems to be going ok. Sleep has been good over the last week (as of 13/3/15).

Dropped to 1/2 ml 14/11/15 Fatigue still there as are memory and cognition problems. Sleep is patchy but liveable compared to what it has been in the past.

 

DRUG FREE - as at 1st May 2017

 

>My intro post is here - http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2250-dalsaan

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Hi Sarasmiles . . . welcome to SA , glad you found your way here.

 

I had a similar start to my journey as you (see signature under my post).   You're right to be nervous about tapering. These are very dangerous drugs.

There's a thread in the Tapering section called "tips for tapering off Lexapro".

The most important thing seems to be to taper very slowly , specially for those on ad's for many years.   You can wait to stabilize after each cut for as long as you need.

Doesn't matter if it takes a number of years , you need to let your central nervous system readjust after each cut.   Someone described it like removing the trellis that your cns is growing around ... if you remove a little at a time , the plant can readjust and strengthen.   If you remove too much at a time , the plant falls over.

 

Best wishes for this journey , Fresh

1987-1997 pertofran , prothiaden , Prozac 1997-2002 Zoloft 2002-2004 effexor 2004-2010 Lexapro 40mg

2010-2012Cymbalta 120mg

Sept. 2012 -decreased 90mg in 6months. Care taken over by Dr Lucire in March 2013 , decreased last 30mg at 2mg per week over 3 months. July 21 , 2013- last dose of Cymbalta

Protracted withdrawal syndrome kicked in badly Jan.2014 Unrelenting akathisia until May 2014. Voluntary hosp. admission. Cocktail of Seroquel, Ativan and mirtazapine and I was well enough to go home after 14 days. Stopped all hosp. meds in next few months.

July 2014 felt v.depressed - couldn't stop crying. Started pristiq 50mg. Felt improvement within days and continued to improve, so stayed on 50mg for 8 months.

Began taper 28 Feb. 2015. Pristiq 50mg down to 45mg. Had one month of w/d symptoms. Started CES therapy in March. No w/d symptoms down to 30mg.

October 2015 , taking 25mg Pristiq. Capsules compounded with slow-release additive.

March 2016 , 21mg

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I hate the thought of taking a number of years to taper, but I do remember how awful my prior quits were.  Today I cut a tiny sliver off of my 20 mg. pill.  Not very precise. I am going to read around the site to see how important precision is!  So far, I feel no effects, but it's only been one day at a tiny bit less Lex.

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  • Administrator

Welcome, Sarasmiles.

 

Precision is important. This is explained in the links dalsaan worked so hard to give you -- as is the fact that Lexapro is available in a liquid for tapering.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Thank you all.  Altostrata, it sounds like you might be chastising me for not having acknowledged and appreciated Dalsaan's hard work in providing the links. I feel bad about that. I was rushing and busy and overwhelmed with many worries when I posted about not knowing how important precision was. I have since gone back to read the information in all the links, and it is very helpful.  Thank you, Dalsaan! Your post was very helpful and kind. 

Thank you also, Fresh, for your empathy and support. It means a lot to me.

 

This morning I will talk with my psychiatrist. My guess is that he will push for me to switch to Effexor, because I have complained about weight gain and sexual dysfunction on Lexapro.  After reading this site about Effexor withdrawal, which sounds like it can be worse than Lexapro withdrawal, I am prepared to say no to that suggestion.  It's weird how I have a fear of standing up for myself with my psychiatrist. He is young and kind and very informal, and he treats me with respect. I am a psychotherapist myself, although I am a clinical social worker. That puts me in a "down" position from him, but he does not treat me that way. I am probably at least 15 years older than he is and maybe that helps. In any case, I have this fear that he will find me "non-compliant'. In the field we use the term "help rejecting complainer", and I have a fear of being perceived as that if I don't do what he suggests. He will NOT think I should go off of meds entirely.  I have tried before and fallen to pieces, so why would I do it again?

 

My marriage is in grave trouble right now, and rocking the boat of my mental health seems crazy. Maybe this is NOT the time to begin a taper.  I want off of the Lex, in part because I am tired of trying to overcome marital unhappiness with medication. But withdrawal symptoms will complicate the picture, and I don't want to wonder, or have my husband or our couples therapist wonder, if reducing my meds is a major factor in our troubles. If I cry when I'm on meds, my husband can't say "well, you aren't medicated. You need meds".  If I cry coming off of them, he can blame that and not acknowledge the true unhappiness.  I may be very confused by my "neuro emotions" versus my true emotions.  

 

I am treating this as a journal, and will continue to think things through here. I am grateful for any feedback.

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sarasmiles, hey.

wow - 50 years old! that's like half a century. just a few more years and you'll qualify for senior deals on coffee! :) sorry! i don't know why i feel so goofy this morning - i must be feeling better in the wake of my last cut. totally joking on the 50 thing (the gray hair filling in on my sidewalls assures that). c'mon s'smiles, don't you know 50 is the new 30?! ok, on to the real stuff.

i'm sorry to hear you are in such a predicament with the drugs. i need to tell you flat-out that i don't believe in the "i need medication for life" scenario. while it is true the drugs have changed your brain, the healing potential of those same affected areas is so exponential and thorough - you will return to form. but perhaps not before a few sails through more churning, foreboding waters.

my parents started me on psychotropic medications when i was a child (late 70s, early 80s) after the nuns told them i wasn't academically living up to my capabilities. there were all these wonder drugs (now considered barbaric even by the medical establishment) that would do the trick. not so much. anyway, as years unfolded, i bounced from drug to drug until the "fit" hit the proverbial "shan" in 2012 and my entire system said "enough" and essentially collapsed into a smoldering hell-on-earth i never dreamed possible. i had the same thought as you, as so many here - what if i can't live without these drugs in my brain? i mean it had been so long that i had been on them!

now nearly three years into my intense withdrawal from boths benzos and ADs, i have to tell you - unequivocally - i am a stronger, happier, and more full human being than i EVER was on those drugs. and even as i am in the last 2mgs of my final drug to taper from, after the temporary withdrawal settles after each cut, i find it just keeps getting better.

i'm not really a gambling sort of man, but were i to put money on it - i'd say that if you stuck through the withdrawal and got yourself clean and clear of the ssris, you would likely find a "you" that you never realized you'd lost. and you'd be happy for doing so. for me now, even the "depression" i get has a nicer flavor to it. if i am sad, i'm just sad and that is cool. i go write some whacky dark poetry in a journal and a day later, things are back to fine. depression is normal. i'm not talking suicidal/homicidal/can't groom/get-out-of-bed depression - but the run of the mill depression. normal. if anyone, ANYONE tells you they never feel depressed, they are either

A. Lying

B. Boring

personally, i'd take a pass on a med switch. i don't think that's really what you're going after - you wouldn't have found this little cyber-sanitarium if you didn't want off. i think you've made it pretty clear you're looking to bail from the drug-wagon. it's nice you have a friendly psychiatrist and i can understand how you feel in terms of your position versus his, career-wise - but holy mackerel, be non-compliant! some of the worst mistakes of my life, including the medications i used, were the result of perfect, crystal-clear, yes ma'am/sir compliance. be non-compliant - listen to some punk rock and tell him "hellllll no!" just my opinion.

i'm sorry to hear about your marriage. i will tell you this - withdrawal has the potential to tear down a marriage like nothing else. it can also foritfy love and make it foundational. but it sounds like yours is already in a tricky spot. proceed with caution - of course. especially if you are looking to salvage what you have. withdrawal symptoms may, just may, complicate the life-swirl around you, and perhaps your spouse will attribute such and such a behavior to you coming off the meds. but again, when the dust begins to settle and you find yourself again - your true unmasked self - might you find that your Prozac in the 80s (and everything after) was the very cause of some of the same issues that are complicating your life, and marriage, now? and that in the absence of those chemicals and with healing occurring, you may find the very solution to much of what is troubling you now? i'm just thinking out-loud. but i'm thinking it would be a less palatable idea, a less idea option, especially if you are already experiencing discomfort from the meds now, to continue in the name of some sort of stability that probably doesn't exist anyway.

it seems like you have some key choices to make right now, sarasmiles. take them each as they come. be pragmatic, and it'll all work out.

hang in there.

dave
 

1996 - .5mg Ativan as needed, 7.5mg Remeron daily2008 - .5mg Xanax, Ativan discontinued, Remeron continued2012 - .5mg Xanax, .25mg Ativan 3x daily, Remeron continued2/2012 - Jumped from Remeron, continued .5mg Xanax .25mg Ativan 3x daily4/2012 - Began rapid taper of .5mg Xanax .25mg Ativan 3x daily6/2012 - Jumped from Xanax and Ativan, voluntary hospitalization followed7/2012 - 2nd voluntary hospitalization, reinstated Remeron, bumped to 30mg, also given risperidone.8/2012 - discontinued risperidone, tried gabapentin, dicontinued gabapentin, Remeron 30mg continued10/2012 to current - tapered Remeron 10% every 4 to 6 weeks (sometimes more time) using liquid compound12/2014 - 2mg Remeron 1/16/2015 - 1.9mg Remeron 8/1/2015 -1.6mg Remeron - 03/1/2016 - 1.5mg Remeron - 1/2/2017 1.3mg - 5/7/2017 1.2mg - 5/13/2017 - syringe size change - 6/8/2017 - 1.1mg - 7/10/2017 - 1mg - 9/1/2017 - 0.9mg - 10/22/2017 - 0.8mg - 11/22/2017 - 0.7mg - 2/2/2018 - 0.6mg - 3/13/2018 - new compound pharmacy - 5/20/2018 - 0.5mg - 8/31/2018 - 0.4mg - 11/16/2018 - 0.3mg - 12/24/2018 - 0.2mg - 4/1/2019 - 0.1mg - 5/1/2019 - .05mg - 0mg achieved 2019-06-15. 🤞

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Wow, Dave, what an incredibly thought provoking, insightful response! Thank you.  

 

I met with my psychiatrist today, and as I predicted he suggested I try Effexor.  I told him I did not want to do that; that I don't want to be on anything, let alone something that may prove even harder for me to get off of than Lexapro.  He suggested we taper me off of Lexapro, while also adding a low dose (10 mg.) of Prozac. He thought that would make the taper easier and then I can see how I feel on Prozac, how I do with losing weight, and whether or not I want to stay on it. Prozac was hard, but not awful, for me to come off of in the past.  I signed up for this plan, although part of me did want to say, "hell no! No more drugs!"  I think the major deciding factor for me is that my marriage really is in crisis...like hot off the press crisis. Had a couples therapy session a couple of nights ago that opened up a big can of worms (more like poisonous snakes, really) and I think you are ABSOLUTELY right that he will attribute any mood issues, tears, ways of expressing myself to the drug withdrawal. I might, too. I need to take it slowly with getting free of drugs, and deal with the issues with my husband as best I can.

 

I do agree that I may realize that many of my problems go back to my having started prozac in the 80s.  I feel it has sort of stunted my growth and stifled my once powerful voice.  I find that pretty heart breaking to think of.  It's not too late though (old as you so kindly point out 50 is).  I have years ahead in which to return to the genuine, emotional, open, vulnerable self I once was.  I'm just not sure if my husband will want to come along for the ride. 

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Sorry, Sarasmiles, I was carrying over some frustration from somewhere, I'm sure.

 

Is it your intention to continue forward on Prozac instead of Lexapro or are you using Prozac as a bridge to come off Lexapro? The Prozac switch or "bridging" with Prozac

 

For what it's worth, we recommend trying a direct taper rather than a bridging strategy to come off a drug. Switching to another drug carries an additional risk that you might suffer withdrawal syndrome from the first drug even though you're taking the second one.

 

Lexapro comes in a liquid form for tapering.

 

Unfortunately, there is never an ideal time to taper.

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Sara, hey.

 

You are welcome for the message. You'll get through this.

 

Alto is giving you some good advice in terms of bridging, if you are considering that. Tapering directly from the Lexapro is a better strategy.

 

And there is NEVER an ideal time to taper for sure. But I would look at this as a sort of rebirth.

 

Hang in there.

 

Dave

1996 - .5mg Ativan as needed, 7.5mg Remeron daily2008 - .5mg Xanax, Ativan discontinued, Remeron continued2012 - .5mg Xanax, .25mg Ativan 3x daily, Remeron continued2/2012 - Jumped from Remeron, continued .5mg Xanax .25mg Ativan 3x daily4/2012 - Began rapid taper of .5mg Xanax .25mg Ativan 3x daily6/2012 - Jumped from Xanax and Ativan, voluntary hospitalization followed7/2012 - 2nd voluntary hospitalization, reinstated Remeron, bumped to 30mg, also given risperidone.8/2012 - discontinued risperidone, tried gabapentin, dicontinued gabapentin, Remeron 30mg continued10/2012 to current - tapered Remeron 10% every 4 to 6 weeks (sometimes more time) using liquid compound12/2014 - 2mg Remeron 1/16/2015 - 1.9mg Remeron 8/1/2015 -1.6mg Remeron - 03/1/2016 - 1.5mg Remeron - 1/2/2017 1.3mg - 5/7/2017 1.2mg - 5/13/2017 - syringe size change - 6/8/2017 - 1.1mg - 7/10/2017 - 1mg - 9/1/2017 - 0.9mg - 10/22/2017 - 0.8mg - 11/22/2017 - 0.7mg - 2/2/2018 - 0.6mg - 3/13/2018 - new compound pharmacy - 5/20/2018 - 0.5mg - 8/31/2018 - 0.4mg - 11/16/2018 - 0.3mg - 12/24/2018 - 0.2mg - 4/1/2019 - 0.1mg - 5/1/2019 - .05mg - 0mg achieved 2019-06-15. 🤞

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Thanks Altostrata and Dave.  My psychiatrist is not thinking of the Prozac as a bridge drug, although I was. I read the article here on bridging with Prozac and am not sure what to do. I would like to be off of any and all ADs, but most of all I want to be off of Lexapro.  My marital issues are so intense right now (and we have three boys, ages 11, 13 and 15)  so I am very cognizant of not wanting to expose them to a lot of unhappiness and high level emotional turmoil. If it were just me, I would be more willing to take a chance on a slow taper from Lexapro, and try and cope with the moods that I know will come with that.  But I don't want to start a lot of crying, irritability and rage or extreme fatigue when I need to parent my wonderful kids. I need to be able to drive them all over the place, be patient with them, and not worry them too much about how mom is doing.  It complicates things. Of course, I know everyone has complications and other people to consider.  I also get that there is never a good time for a taper. But isn't it better to do it when things feel relatively stable, and not when couples therapy has just heated up, with the question of "can we save this marriage" in the lurch?

 

I think I will do the transition my doc recommended (continue 20 mg. Lexapro while adding 10 mg. Prozac for one week. Cut back to 10 mg. Lexapro for the second week, while taking the 10 mg. Prozac.  Cut back to 5 mg. Lexapro for the third week, while still taking 10 mg. Prozac. We meet after that to discuss.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi  Sarasmiles   , thanks for the update.     I'm not nearly as eloquent as Dave but I want to draw your attention to a number of things to consider.

 

- If you go from 20mg to 10mg of Lexapro , you may well get w/d symptoms.   That's a 50% cut , which as you know is considered too much on this site.   You may  experience them straight away , or perhaps a week or two after.     If you then cut another 50% the following week , it's even more likely.    Cuts of 5-10% are suggested in the tapering forums , with periods of 4-6 weeks on each dose.    This allows your cns to regain some stability at each level.

 

- You might be able to get stable on only 5mg of Prozac.    If this is possible , wouldn't you be better off trying a lower dose first?

 

- Even though you'll be starting Prozac , there are no guarantees it will prevent Lexapro withdrawal symptoms.

 

I know you have a lot on your plate , and I want only for you to do the transition with as little fall-out as possible.

 

Fresh

1987-1997 pertofran , prothiaden , Prozac 1997-2002 Zoloft 2002-2004 effexor 2004-2010 Lexapro 40mg

2010-2012Cymbalta 120mg

Sept. 2012 -decreased 90mg in 6months. Care taken over by Dr Lucire in March 2013 , decreased last 30mg at 2mg per week over 3 months. July 21 , 2013- last dose of Cymbalta

Protracted withdrawal syndrome kicked in badly Jan.2014 Unrelenting akathisia until May 2014. Voluntary hosp. admission. Cocktail of Seroquel, Ativan and mirtazapine and I was well enough to go home after 14 days. Stopped all hosp. meds in next few months.

July 2014 felt v.depressed - couldn't stop crying. Started pristiq 50mg. Felt improvement within days and continued to improve, so stayed on 50mg for 8 months.

Began taper 28 Feb. 2015. Pristiq 50mg down to 45mg. Had one month of w/d symptoms. Started CES therapy in March. No w/d symptoms down to 30mg.

October 2015 , taking 25mg Pristiq. Capsules compounded with slow-release additive.

March 2016 , 21mg

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Thanks Fresh. Good thoughts. I like the idea of taking just 5mg. of the Prozac.  It's crazy how hard it is for me to disobey the doc...I could do the taper more slowly; it's telling him that I want to do it differently than he recommends that feels hard. Kinda silly.

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It's crazy how hard it is for me to disobey the doc...I could do the taper more slowly; it's telling him that I want to do it differently than he recommends that feels hard. Kinda silly.

 

Hi Sarasmiles,

 

It is totally understandable to feel intimidated by a psychiatrist. The reality is that the vast majority of modern psychiatrists just simply aren't aware of Protracted SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome, or simply disregard it. Most of them actually believe that SSRI WD can't last for more than 6 weeks. This has been disproven a thousand times over, yet they cling to the idea that their drugs are quite harmless.

 

If you feel intimidated by your psychiatrist, then he is not working with you as a team, and he may do you more harm than good in the long run. The problem is that we "fall under their spell" when we go into their office. They hold all the cards, they act from a position of power: "they know all, and we are just mental patients" to them. It's completely asinine. 

 

The sad fact is that modern psychiatrists are just way off the mark when it comes to managing SSRI use and discontinuation in their patients.

 

They have not taken these meds themselves, they have no personal experience with the side effects and reality of years-long, brutal, protracted withdrawal. When we suffer from WD months after stopping or during a long slow taper, the doctors always blame the patient's psych history on the symptoms. They prescribe MORE drugs to deal with WD symptoms, thinking they are addressing your psych problems.

 

I would trust the advice of those on here who have been on these medications for decades. They give great advice about how to carry out a long slow taper. 

 

My psychiatrist was intellectually impressive, cool as a cucumber, and sat on a pretty high pedestal. Looking back, the man was quite ignorant of the real effects of long-term SSRI use. The Doctor's Oath is "First, do no harm". My doctor, and the doctors of most folks on here, have done a LOT more harm with their ignorance; sadly there is no doubt about that. Just read the thousands of stories of mismanaged psychiatric care as documented on blogs such as this one. 

 

I am so happy to be off Lexapro for one year, and am dealing with the difficult WD waves as they come. I would be extremely wary to trust a psychiatrist ever again with my precious brain. I can't believe how many years of distress they have caused me, and continue to cause so many more people harm. If you read my thread, you will understand my point of view. My point of view is shared by many here. The reckless, ridiculous way they dish out these drugs is literally mind boggling. And their failure to recognize obvious WD symptoms which pop up months later like clockwork, is astonishing.

 

But that's just my experience. If you are happy with your psychiatrist and his management of your situation, then stick with him. My instinct tells me that if you feel intimidated by him, something is wrong.

 

My friend had one of those rare doctors who discouraged him to pop a pill for his anxiety and depression. Oh, how I wish I had that doctor !

 

Looking back over my last 18 years of living with SSRIs, my biggest mistake was to place trust in psychiatrists and in the ability of a pill to make life easier, without having to pay such a dear cost. It's been a disaster.

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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Thank you, Clearday! I did read your thread, and am sorry for how much you've suffered. Congratulations on being off of Lexapro for a year! It sounds like you are healing every day.

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Thank you, Clearday! I did read your thread, and am sorry for how much you've suffered. Congratulations on being off of Lexapro for a year! It sounds like you are healing every day.

 

Good luck to you! And sorry for your suffering too. We soldier on!

 

I am so looking forward to a better future. And it is already happening.... 

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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  • Moderator Emeritus

How are you doing Sara ?

:)

1987-1997 pertofran , prothiaden , Prozac 1997-2002 Zoloft 2002-2004 effexor 2004-2010 Lexapro 40mg

2010-2012Cymbalta 120mg

Sept. 2012 -decreased 90mg in 6months. Care taken over by Dr Lucire in March 2013 , decreased last 30mg at 2mg per week over 3 months. July 21 , 2013- last dose of Cymbalta

Protracted withdrawal syndrome kicked in badly Jan.2014 Unrelenting akathisia until May 2014. Voluntary hosp. admission. Cocktail of Seroquel, Ativan and mirtazapine and I was well enough to go home after 14 days. Stopped all hosp. meds in next few months.

July 2014 felt v.depressed - couldn't stop crying. Started pristiq 50mg. Felt improvement within days and continued to improve, so stayed on 50mg for 8 months.

Began taper 28 Feb. 2015. Pristiq 50mg down to 45mg. Had one month of w/d symptoms. Started CES therapy in March. No w/d symptoms down to 30mg.

October 2015 , taking 25mg Pristiq. Capsules compounded with slow-release additive.

March 2016 , 21mg

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I'm okay, Fresh! Thanks for asking!  It's funny, I "knew" and got to very much like someone with the screen name "Fresh" on another group support website.  I feel like I'm addressing her when I address you!

 

I am uncertain about whether or not to keep posting here, because I've decided to try following my doctor's instructions, and I know they are not what is recommended on this site. I would like to keep using this as a journal, and reading other people's thoughts, but I have this feeling it will be irritating to other people if I don't follow the advice of the folks here, and then I complain about struggling! Then again, if that happens, I guess I can be an example of "what not to do"!

 

There are several reasons why I want to try my doctor's plan. For one, I have always trusted him. He's smart, well educated (Harvard guy, on the staff at McLean Hospital...) He has never pushed me, or tried to coerce me into doing anything I didn't want to do, or taking any drug I didn't want to take.  He thinks the Prozac will help me withdraw from the Lexapro, and I want to see if that's true.  Then I think I can get off the Prozac, because I've done that before. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't awful.

 

So, as of today I cut my 20mg. tablet of Lexapro in half, and took that.  I also took 10mg. of Prozac, which I have been doing for a week.  I felt fine until about 3:00 this afternoon, when I began to feel light headed. I'm now tucked in bed with a cup of tea, and just resting.  I will keep posting about this experience here, unless I get the message that I shouldn't post about tapering this fast on this site.

 

Thanks!

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It is 8:20 on the first evening of my cut back to 10 mg. Lexapro. I actually feel peaceful. Light-headed, but in a kind of pleasant, relaxed way. I'm sipping some magnesium ("Natural Calm") and feel tired but relaxed.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Sara, hey.

 

You should, without question, continue posting/journaling here - no matter what course of action you take. It all adds to the collective learning experience. At the end of the day, we should be empowered to make our own health decisions and feel good about them. I get the sense that you feel sound in following the path you and your doctor have set into motion. You've said that. If you can heal in this way, then I for one am behind that even if it doesn't coincide with what I might choose. All of our situations vary.

 

It is very cool that you feel peaceful this evening. I hope that you continue to feel well.

 

Hang in there.

 

Dave

1996 - .5mg Ativan as needed, 7.5mg Remeron daily2008 - .5mg Xanax, Ativan discontinued, Remeron continued2012 - .5mg Xanax, .25mg Ativan 3x daily, Remeron continued2/2012 - Jumped from Remeron, continued .5mg Xanax .25mg Ativan 3x daily4/2012 - Began rapid taper of .5mg Xanax .25mg Ativan 3x daily6/2012 - Jumped from Xanax and Ativan, voluntary hospitalization followed7/2012 - 2nd voluntary hospitalization, reinstated Remeron, bumped to 30mg, also given risperidone.8/2012 - discontinued risperidone, tried gabapentin, dicontinued gabapentin, Remeron 30mg continued10/2012 to current - tapered Remeron 10% every 4 to 6 weeks (sometimes more time) using liquid compound12/2014 - 2mg Remeron 1/16/2015 - 1.9mg Remeron 8/1/2015 -1.6mg Remeron - 03/1/2016 - 1.5mg Remeron - 1/2/2017 1.3mg - 5/7/2017 1.2mg - 5/13/2017 - syringe size change - 6/8/2017 - 1.1mg - 7/10/2017 - 1mg - 9/1/2017 - 0.9mg - 10/22/2017 - 0.8mg - 11/22/2017 - 0.7mg - 2/2/2018 - 0.6mg - 3/13/2018 - new compound pharmacy - 5/20/2018 - 0.5mg - 8/31/2018 - 0.4mg - 11/16/2018 - 0.3mg - 12/24/2018 - 0.2mg - 4/1/2019 - 0.1mg - 5/1/2019 - .05mg - 0mg achieved 2019-06-15. 🤞

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thanks for being here - 

 

I agree 100% with Dave -

 

We are adults, we make our own decisions based on our own situations, and knowledge of ourselves. I am happy that you have a doctor you can trust. This site is a great place to get as much information and support as possible to help you make your own decision about your plan for recovery.

 

If things go well, we want to hear it; if they go bad, we want to hear it. This is not an exact science. On these websites, I often have been told things like "you can reinstate, and either it will help or it will make things worse". And I like advice like that, because it acknowledges that often there is no sure clear path to feeling better. It shows that the ball is always in our court, and that we are free to choose whatever path we want to take. Nobody can take that away from us.

 

Good luck, and keep coming back!

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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  • Administrator

....

 

I think I will do the transition my doc recommended (continue 20 mg. Lexapro while adding 10 mg. Prozac for one week. Cut back to 10 mg. Lexapro for the second week, while taking the 10 mg. Prozac.  Cut back to 5 mg. Lexapro for the third week, while still taking 10 mg. Prozac. We meet after that to discuss.

 

Sarasmiles, bridging with Prozac is not at all an exact science. The method your doctor suggested is probably fine.

 

The Prozac needs to replace the Lexapro; for unknown reasons, a somewhat lower dose of Prozac seems to work for the switch and many doctors recommend this.

 

A dose of Prozac lower than 10mg may or may not compensate for 20mg Lexapro.

 

If you intend to taper the Prozac, you may wish to stay on it for at least several months to allow your nervous system to accommodate. Then see Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

 

What is the rationale for your continuing on an antidepressant?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • Moderator

Hi SaraSmiles (such a sad song, I always loved it, too), young thing!

 

If you read enough personal stories in here you will find that at some point nearly all of us have ignored the advice of the wise members here.

 

And nearly always - not right away - sometimes months later - paid a dear price for it.  This is not a threat, nor a warning, just an observation:  some of us have to learn the hard way.

 

I'm really nervous about a 50% cut in Lexapro so soon.  1.  50% is too big a cut.  2.  You haven't been on the Prozac long enough for it to "take over" from the Lexapro.  It's like jumping out of an airplane with 1/2 of 2 parachutes - will you be able to put one whole parachute together before the ground comes up to meet you?

 

Please keep us posted.  And I'll give you a tip:  Alto is the wisest of us - she is one of the top 6 authorities on psych drug withrdawal in the world.  No I don't think she has letters after her name or certificates or pieces of paper to prove it - but if she says something:  95% of the time, she is right. 

 

So my input is:  you may have to updose the lexapro in order to come off it.  You do need to slow down.    MAYBE you will have no problems from a 50% cut.  but that is over the top in my opinion, and gambling with your life and marriage.  Slower is better, it gives your brain time to readjust and shift - and here's the bonus of slow:  it will be less extreme and easier on your marriage. Slow, 10% tapers let you control the process.  If you start to go wobbly, you can updose 5-10%, or just hold, and keep holding until you are ready, and stable, and have the space to do it again.

 

A drastic med change is like letting a tornado into your brain, into your life.  Wouldn't you rather just have high winds and rain?  Psychiatrists and doctors have wrecked many a life with their suggestions - even trusted ones.  (see: http://www.beyondmeds.com )

 

I think Dalsaan posted it, but I cannot emphasize it enough:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

 

And Fresh referred to this quote from Rhi, above, the quote is SO VALUABLE that I will post it in full:

 

Rhi wrote (and is requoted several times on this site):

 

 A lot of people, including healthcare practitioners; in fact, I guess, most people-- are operating from entirely the wrong paradigm, or way of thinking, about these meds. They're thinking of them like aspirin--as something that has an effect when it's in your system, and then when it gets out of your system the effect goes away.

That's not what happens with medications that alter neurotransmitter function, we are learning.

What happens when you change the chemistry of the brain is, the brain adjusts its chemistry and structure to try to return to homeostasis, or biochemical and functional balance. It tries to restabilize the chemistry. 

For example: SSRI antidepressants work as "serotonin reuptake inhibitors." That is, they cause serotonin to remain in the space between neurons, rather than being taken back up into the cells to be re-used, like it would be in a normal healthy nondrugged brain.

So the brain, which wants to re-establish normal signaling and function, adapts to the higher level of serotonin between neurons (in the "synapse", the space between neurons where signals get passed along). It does this by removing serotonin receptors, so that the signal is reduced and changed to something closer to normal. It also decreases the amount of serotonin it produces overall. 

To do that, genes have to be turned on and off; new proteins have to be made; whole cascades of chemical reactions have to be changed, which means turning on and off OTHER genes; cells are destroyed, new cells are made; in other words, a complex physiologic remodeling takes place. This takes place over time. The brain does not grow and change rapidly. 

This is a vast oversimplification of the amount of adaptation that takes place in the brain when we change its normal chemistry, but that's the principle.

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. 

 

Keep us in the loop, you'll be glad you did!

"Easy, easy - just go easy and you'll finish." - Hawaiian Kapuna

 

Holding is hard work, holding is a blessing. Give your brain time to heal before you try again.

 

My suggestions are not medical advice, you are in charge of your own medical choices.

 

A lifetime of being prescribed antidepressants that caused problems (30 years in total). At age 35 flipped to "bipolar," but was not diagnosed for 5 years. Started my journey in Midwest United States. Crossed the Pacific for love and hope; currently living in Australia.   CT Seroquel 25 mg some time in 2013.   Tapered Reboxetine 4 mg Oct 2013 to Sept 2014 = GONE (3 years on Reboxetine).     Tapered Lithium 900 to 475 MG (alternating with the SNRI) Jan 2014 - Nov 2014, tapered Lithium 475 mg Jan 2015 -  Feb 2016 = GONE (10 years  on Lithium).  Many mistakes in dry cutting dosages were made.


The tedious thread (my intro):  JanCarol ☼ Reboxetine first, then Lithium

The happy thread (my success story):  JanCarol - Undiagnosed  Off all bipolar drugs

My own blog:  https://shamanexplorations.com/shamans-blog/

 

 

I have been psych drug FREE since 1 Feb 2016!

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Thank you all for taking the time to respond to me and share your thoughts. It's scary to read some of what you write.  It makes me realize how much patience people here have who go so very slowly with their withdrawal.  It makes me sad to think my poor brain has so much healing to do...I just want to be off of all drugs NOW...but I hear what you are saying and I am suitably scared.

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My laptop battery was dying, so I kept that brief.  I would just add that reading on this site has made me see something very differently.  When I have gone off of antidepressants in the past, I have often had physical symptoms initially (primarily brain zaps) but felt okay emotionally. The strong emotions (sadness, uncontrollable crying, irritability) have come a bit later (a month to two or three months). Since I had read and also been told by psychiatrists that depression which "recurs" after a month or more is a "relapse of the original depression", and NOT withdrawal, I believed that I must be depressed again and need to go back on an SSRI.  Now I see that I was probably experiencing protracted withdrawal. The "if it happens after the initial withdrawal period, it must be a relapse" theory may have been a terrible lie. I am sick with the thought.

 

Anyway, today is day four of my decrease from 20 mg. Lexapro to 10 mg,. and day 11 of the addition of 10 mg. Prozac.  I am having only very mild dizziness and late afternoon fatigue.  I hear what you are all saying about this being too drastic a cut, and needing to slow down. I know I may be walking toward a very dark place. I can't turn around. I am 50 years old, and I have had too many years of numbing, weight gaining, lack of libido and even lack of romantic, loving feelings. I want to be off of the drugs, and I don't want to take years to get there. I have to at least try this quick reduction/transition to Prozac 10mg., and then withdrawal from Prozac.  Maybe I'm crazy...if it hasn't worked for anyone else here, why would I think it could work for me?  I don't know. I just have to try.  I could stay on the Prozac until spring. I know withdrawing in February is a bad idea for me. I live in New England, where it is -2 degrees out this morning, and our world is covered in snow. In better weather, running is a big part of my "treatment".  I can hold on with the Prozac until spring, and then  I could  taper very slowly off of that.  I just want off of the Lexapro soon.  

 

Alto, you asked what the rationale is for staying on an antidepressant. There isn't one, in my eyes.  My psychiatrist and my therapist (an LICSW) would both disagree. They both think I suffer too much when I go off of meds, and that I "deserve" the cushioning the meds provide. I honestly think my therapist doesn't want to see me suffer. I think she cares, in a very genuine way. She has seen me off meds, crying throughout every session, and unable to find joy in life. She doesn't want me to go through that again. I don't want to, either.  I am hoping against hope that I can do okay with the switch to Prozac, and then take that taper cautiously.

 

Thanks for listening!
Sara

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Since I had read and also been told by psychiatrists that depression which "recurs" after a month or more is a "relapse of the original depression", and NOT withdrawal, I believed that I must be depressed again and need to go back on an SSRI.  Now I see that I was probably experiencing protracted withdrawal. The "if it happens after the initial withdrawal period, it must be a relapse" theory may have been a terrible lie. I am sick with the thought.

 

Hi Sara -

 

I read over your initial post at the top of this thread. Extremely similar to my story and I have similar thoughts about what ADs have meant for me over the years. Same as you, the long term dysthymia is what put me on SSRIs most recently. The Lexapro cleared it right up. I was on it for five years, now off it for one year.

 

Yes, I am sick at the knowledge that my doctors did not recognize my clear symptoms of protracted withdrawal. Put it this way. I have been off Lexapro for a year now, and have had no recurrence of dysthymia or depression. But the delayed onset of other strictly physical symptoms of withdrawal have hit me in waves, first at 7 months out (weird insomnia) then at 10 months out (head pressure, ear ringing, sensitive nervous system overall). Regarding Rhi's long quote above, that is a great summary of what the accepted knowledge is regarding how these SSRIs affect us. I am one year out, and my brain is clearly going through a long term rearranging process to adjust to a new biochemistry without Lexapro. I have some important improvements, and some difficult setbacks. Windows and waves. 

 

So this whole theory of "I need to be on antidepressants" to resolve these problems is ridiculous. I didn't have any of these symptoms prior to SSRI use, and I did not go on SSRIs for "insomnia or ear ringing", I went on them for dysthymia, which is at bay. My doctor said recently that maybe I need to go back on Lexapro to get rid of the ear ringing. So now we're using these drugs for ear ringing? It's very clear they've dropped the ball. I went through a similar ordeal years ago with Prozac. Took years of protracted WD to largely recover from that.

 

When this knowledge sinks in, it is a bitter pill. It is scary, and we all wonder the same thing - am I permanently damaged from these drugs, do I need to go back on these drugs forever in order to feel ok? What have I done to myself? 

 

The good news is that for most people, withdrawal is not as severe as it is for those with protracted withdrawal, and they report feeling back to normal in a few months. For those of us here - we are a minority of patients for which recovery just seems to take a lot longer. So there is good reason to hope for a large degree of recovery.  Each person's recovery is unique.

 

I did not know about protracted WD until five months ago. I was kept in the dark. Once I figured it out, it all fit like a glove. I finally found what has been causing me all these problems for years. And believe me, I have been trying to figure it out! 

 

I quit cold turkey because I "just wanted to be off these drugs". BAD MOVE. I pulled the rug out from under my nervous system. A nasty thing to do, to let my brain get dependent on an SSRI and then one day just say, "Sorry, brain, no more SSRI, deal with it!" I continue to pay for it one year later, with much difficulty. I did the same thing with Prozac years ago. Horrible. If I could do it over, I would do a long slow taper over a couple years to minimize the impact. So whether you do the bridging thing, or long slow taper, or decide to stay on the drug, I suggest to get as much knowledge as you can as you plan your course of action. Which you seem to be doing! Hopefully your recovery will go much smoother than mine.

 

In spite of all this, over these last eleven years of not knowing what was dogging me, and poor recovery management, I have had many good days and much enjoyable life experiences. It's just that I feel like I've been driving around on a flat tire. And I had to fight my way through a lot of it. The great part, is that now, for me, and for you - the confusion is over. We know what is happening.

 

Regarding the prospect of recovery, check out this thread, and I include a quote from it - from one who took 4 1/2 yrs to recover:

 

 http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3523-success-recovery-from-protracted-zoloft-withdrawal-and-pssd/

 

“The recovery was slow and painful, but I became conscious of every little improvement as it happened. I got used to the pattern: something would get better for a while, then suddenly everything would swing right back and all that recovery would vanish. But I learnt the trick - once something had recovered temporarily, it was only a matter of time before it recovered permanently. It made no difference if it came back for a while... it had already revealed its weakness, and sooner or later it was going to be gone for good. That was true in every single case.”

 

Have you read the 10% taper thread in forums? Very important.

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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And....I am not here to suggest any course of action, I can only tell you my experience. I can tell you, that if I could do it over, go back in a time machine to one year ago - when I was stable on 5mg Lexapro - I would do a long slow 10% taper off the 5 mg, weather out the WD effects during the drops, and get down to zero. And then I would take my marbles and go home. My experience tells me that I would probably have challenging withdrawal during that process and even after going to zero, but not as bad as doing cold turkey. Personally I would not want to add a different drug to the mix to confuse things. It seems there is no easy way to short-circuit the withdrawal process, only ways to soften the landing. But maybe the bridging method has had success, and will soften the landing for you. I don't know.

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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Thank you, Clearday. I so appreciate your feedback, thoughts and shared experiences!

 

Today was day 5 of taking 10 mg. Lexapro with 10 mg. Prozac. I feel okay, but it is early days and I am still on a hefty dose of drugs. I had a couple of brain zaps today, and was light-headed at times.  Emotionally, I am stable so far, in spite of having a couples therapy session as well as an individual session today. 

 

I've also lost 3 pounds in the last 5 days, without changing my diet. 

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Brain zaps are so weird. What is good about them is that they are a calling card, a signature, that whatever other symptoms we are feeling, if brain zaps are there, we know that SSRIs are probably causing them too.

 

I am one year off any SSRIs. And as I experience my waves of symptoms, there always is an occasional brain zap that lets me know "Hi, it's me, Lexapro withdrawal, and I am causing your head pressure, tinnitus, insomnia", or whatever the symptom du jour it is. I don't need to ask any doctor about what is causing my other symptoms. It's call clear to me. Who would ever think that WD symptoms from a med could surface one year out? These drugs are so bizarre. They really rearrange our neurochemistry. And how amazing is it that our brains never give up trying to restore our natural balance,once we decide to move away from the drugs.  

 

You are moving forward on your path to recovery. I wish you strength! I am going on my 3 mile run now.

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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Thank you, Clearday!  Yes, brain zaps are weird. Sometimes they don't really bother me...I even feel them as somewhat pleasant, like a slight buzz, at times. Other times they make me a little nauseous and are distracting.  I'm sorry you're still having them, and other symptoms, after a year. I like your perspective though, that they are like a calling card...that sounds kind of gentle.

 

Today was fine, and I was feeling pretty upbeat and cheerful this morning. Now it is 11pm, and I am in bed but a little dizzy, and having zaps as I glance at the screen of my laptop or around the room.  According to my doctor, I should go down to 5mg. Lexapro tomorrow. I think that is too much of a cut, especially since I am already symptomatic.   Also, he wanted me to increase to 20 mg. Prozac this week, and I'm still at 10mg...because I don't want to increase that when my goal is to come off of it. I'm actually not sure what I'll do in the morning...I'll report back. 

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I decided to go ahead and reduce to 5 mg. of Lexapro yesterday, and took the same today. I know full well that I am taking a risk by moving this fast. I am staying with 10 mg. of Prozac, hoping that will cushion me at least a little from the withdrawal from Lexapro.   I'm scheduled to see my psychiatrist on Monday. He had told me to increase the Prozac to 20 mg. this week, but I haven't done that. I have a lot I want to talk to him about, including much of what I've read on this site. 

 

I'm reluctant to raise the Prozac (actually, it's the generic, fluoxetine) when my goal is to get off of it. I know from experience that at 20 mg. fluoxetine, my libido is gone and I am unable to have an orgasm. On 10 mg. I am okay...not my most sexual self, but not totally numb and not anorgasmic.  I hate the thought of taking 20 mg. again.  As so many people know, it takes a toll on a marriage or other sexual relationship to be dampened by drugs. When the SSRIs have been fully on board, I have developed almost an aversion to sex. When you can't feel much, and you know the efforts involved will likely be fruitless, it can become burdensome and off-putting.  I guess that is an aversion.  This is a cruel side effect, and a huge trade-off so many people make...

 

In the last few days I've spent a lot of time reading about SSRI "discontinuation syndrome" and about changes in the brain made by these drugs.  It horrifies me that this goes on. Why aren't there lawsuits? Why are the drug companies still allowed to sell these drugs if they damage our brains? Who will prove it, and how? I find myself wondering what would have happened to me in the last 25 years if I had never started on Prozac back then. Would I have struggled with depression for all these years?  Will I struggle for the rest of my life? Will I ever be able to get off of the drugs entirely, or have they done so much harm, I will never be happy without them?

 

Today I was okay. So far, I seem to feel pretty good for most of the day, but late in the afternoon I start to feel light-headed and a little dizzy. As timing goes, it's not bad...It is the time of day when it's okay for me to wind down and not be "on" as much as I need to at work. I still make dinner for my family, and spend the evening with them, but it's acceptable for me to watch TV or read with them, and okay if I am sleepy or foggy if we're playing a board game, or just hanging out. I can tolerate it, so far.

But that "so far" is ominous.  I am acutely aware that I may be just around the corner from harder times. 

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It horrifies me that this goes on. Why aren't there lawsuits? Why are the drug companies still allowed to sell these drugs if they damage our brains? Who will prove it, and how? I find myself wondering what would have happened to me in the last 25 years if I had never started on Prozac back then. Would I have struggled with depression for all these years?  Will I struggle for the rest of my life? Will I ever be able to get off of the drugs entirely, or have they done so much harm, I will never be happy without them?

 

Ditto, ditto, ditto.... How many times per day does this exact sequence of questions play out in my mind, and in the minds of so many others who have trod this path.....

 

We did seek help for depression,etc, and maybe the drugs did help for awhile - we tried the drugs, but for us they backfired - now we think it was't worth the price we have to pay for the relief we got from our natural ailments; we wish we tried something else - no easy answers; 

 

It's like a grief process, once we figure out what really happened - first denial/bewilderment, then anger, then acceptance......

 

We grieve for the life that might have been without these medications, and for the time lost to the struggle of withdrawal and recovery -

 

We get angry at just how ludicrous, unnecessary, and insane the whole process was that got us here - the ignorance of modern medicine - 

 

This certainly isn't the first time the medical establishment got it wrong, it has happened over and over in the past -

 

All that matters now is how do we salvage what is left....and make the best of the good days to come....

 

All sorts of unfair things happen to so many people - accidents, illness, war, circumstances, etc - this is just what happened to us -

 

Given your history, you should be able to recover well - 

 

The neurochemistry of our brains have been altered for now, and we just need time to let our brains stabilize and get back close to normal - 

 

But all that matters is if we can recover to the point that we can enjoy life -

 

As hard as my withdrawal battles for years have been, I have always been able to scrape enough enjoyment out of life that life is absolutely worth it - and I look forward to many years of enjoyment to come, regardless of some lingering neurological changes that continue to heal - our brains are amazing, they want to heal, and have great powers of healing.

 

It is a long tough road, and in many ways we become stronger for the struggle. So many people are forced into struggles they didn't ask for, we are just another example of that very common theme -

 

Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans -

 

And recovery from years of SSRI use certainly happens.

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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 It horrifies me that this goes on. Why aren't there lawsuits? Why are the drug companies still allowed to sell these drugs if they damage our brains? Who will prove it, and how?

 

The damage caused to us by the SSRI drugs is not so easily measured. If we went blind from these drugs, the damage would be obvious, the victims would get cash settlements from lawsuits and the drugs would be taken off the market. 

 

And many (not all) of our protracted SSRI WD symptoms are also symptoms caused by depression and anxiety. And because of delayed onset withdrawal, which often occurs many months after discontinuing, the doctors and pharmaceutical companies can just blame a relapse of our "mental illness" as the cause behind them.

 

Their studies acknowledge "acute withdrawal" as uncomfortable symptoms which last no longer than six weeks after discontinuing. The studies don't track those patients to discover that six months later, perhaps they "crashed". They call that the illness relapse, and throw more meds at the patient. We now know that these "crashes" are clearly due to delayed onset withdrawal, not any underlying mental illness. We all had to learn this the hard way. The bizarre and brutal physical symptoms occurring along with or without any recurring depression/anxiety clearly point to protracted withdrawal from these powerful brain altering drugs.

 

There is absolutely no incentive for Big Pharma and prescribing doctors to correct this gross mismanagement. The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion dollar global giant. Big Pharma lobbyists pump millions of dollars to members of Congress to support the distribution of their SSRI drugs. Doctors are also compensated by the industry to distribute their products. Doctors themselves see an easy path to treat their patients by throwing pills at them. And the pills do help many people, and most patients don't wind up with brutal protracted SSRI withdrawal. But a huge minority do suffer long term injury by these drugs. A good analogy was how Big Tobacco was able to get away with saying their products were harmless for decades. And the cause and effect of tobacco on health was so much more obvious and measurable, yet they got away with it for so long. 

 

Many doctors do want to help their patients feel better. But being human, and professionals, they also know they must cover their butt when it comes to accusations of possible malpractice. When faced with an accusation that the drugs they are prescribing - the tools of their trade - are actually causing such profound and widespread harm, they circle the wagons and blame the patients, not the drugs. They will do everything they can to convince themselves and their patients that their drugs are not to blame. Classic denial and avoidance of responsibility is the result.

 

One legal definition of serious physical injury is "protracted loss of use or impairment of a bodily function". Clearly, all of us suffering from protracted SSRI withdrawal syndrome have suffered serious physical injury due to the treatment prescribed by our doctors. I certainly have.

Hell hath no fury as an SSRI scorned.....

 

Prozac:   20 mg 1996 – May 2003 CT to 0 mg; by Aug 03 CRASH then protracted WD 3 yrs

Zoloft:    2004 few weeks;, CT to 0 mg

Effexor:  2005 few months CT to 0 mg; bad withdrawal. 

Lexapro:  10 mg from 2009 – 2011; cut dose in half to:

Lexapro:    5 mg from 2011 – Feb. 2014; CT to 0 mg; 2 months of fatigue, followed by:
Aug - Oct 2014 Lexapro WD Insomnia Wave; sleeping very good from Nov 2014 - Nov 2015; broken sleep pattern Dec 2015 - Jan 2016

Dec 2014 - present: Brutal Lexapro WD ear ringing/head ringing/head pressure lasting for 14 months now.

 

24 months SSRI-free  

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Thank you for sharing those thoughts, Clearday. Everything you said makes sense to me. Unless brain scans can show damage done, I suppose pharmacologists and doctors can always believe that symptoms of withdrawal are simply signs of "relapse", even if the symptoms aren't limited to mood/sleep/appetite problems.   The last time I attempted discontinuation after a quick (6 week) taper, my psychiatrist seemed to think that the dizziness and brain zaps were withdrawal symptoms. He was less convinced about the irritability, tearfulness and depressed outlook, which he attributed to a return of depression, and therefor a need for medication. I readily agreed, writing in my journal at the time, "I'm just someone who does better on an SSRI. I hope I never put myself through this again. I have to accept that I need to stay on medication..."

 

And here I am, less than a year later, trying to get off them again. This time, though, thanks in large part to this site, I'm better educated.  I will not be so quick to believe I'm "relapsing" or have a "chemical imbalance" that needs correcting. I really don't believe that anymore.

 

I am going in to see my psychiatrist this morning, and I am going to have to tell him that I haven't gone up to 20 mg. of Prozac, as he recommended. I am going to have to talk with him about this whole thing, and see what he has to say about the idea of protracted withdrawal symptoms. I am prepared to hear him argue against the idea, and to encourage me to use the medication, go up in dose, and accept that I need it. I fear he will remind me of how much I was suffering when last I quit, and that I will feel small and vulnerable.  I will be taking all of you at this site with me, sitting on my shoulder, reminding me that doctors don't understand all of this as well as those of us who go through it do.

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